OUR VISION: Moving Forward With Given Opportunities

CHANGING THE MAINTENANCE MODE MENTALITY:

Yep, “maintenance mode”.  I’m referring to changing from a maintenance mentality to a growth mentality!  I talking about having a VISION–about having HOPE in your spiritual life.  And Biblically, where is there a better place to begin but in the BOOK OF RUTH of the Old Testament.

BACKGROUND:

We find Naomi and Ruth (mother-in-law and daughter-in-law) in a bleak situation, especially for Naomi.

—  Chapter One of Ruth —

Naomi has left her own country, lost her husband, lost her two sons, and one of her daughter-in-laws left too; at Naomi’s recommendation.

—  Chapter Two —

Naomi and Ruth return to Naomi’s country.  Ruth goes out into the fields to glean enough grain (‘leftovers’ for the poor on the outside edges of the fields) to keep them alive.  And, they discover they have a relative to ease their struggle in surviving.

NAOMI’S VISION?

Naomi sees this as God’s hand involved in their lives.  In fact, the Message Bible puts it this way:

“God hasn’t walked out on us after all!

He still loves us, in bad times as well as good!

— Ruth 2:20 —

— In Chapter Three —

The Barley Fields Provision
The Barley Field’s Opportunity

In Chapter 3 of Ruth, we find a chapter of FULL BLOWN HOPE; hope that helps them plan!  It’s HOPE that helps Naomi come up with a strategy and in the Amplified Bible, Naomi says,

Ruth 3:1-3:

“THEN NAOMI her mother-in-law said to Ruth,  My daughter, shall I not seek rest or a home for you, that you may prosper?  And now is not Boaz, with whose maidens you were, our relative?  See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor.  Wash and anoint yourself therefore, and put on your best clothes and go down to the threshing floor, but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking.”

Then Naomi continues the process and says,

“Sit still, my daughter, until you know how the matter will turn out; for the man will not rest until he has concluded the matter this day”  (Ruth 3:8 NKJV).

THE SITUATION WAS BLEAK!

Naomi’s husband dies, both her sons are dead, one daughter-in-law had left the family circle.  A terrible situation was at hand.

NAOMI could have given up ALL HOPE…had a pity party.  She could have just thought to herself– All I’m going to do is trying to survive under the circumstances.

Some people do that– all they are living for is SURVIVAL.  They go into a survival mode and get into a maintenance mode.  Have you been there?  I certainly have.

I’ve heard of stories of people who die right after they retire; my grandfather was the perfect example.  Within five years after he retired from the Railroad in San Bernardino, California (40+ years), granddad just gave up!  He had been LIVING for the job.

People who die after their spouse dies because they had been living for their partner; when they lost the very thing they were living for, they also lost HOPE and lost their VISION.

Individuals do that–they lose hope–but some churches do that too.  The Bible talks about this–look at Proverbs 29:18:

“Where there is no VISION, the people perish”

VISION LOST–

When VISION is lost, individually or in churches, people start thinking with a maintenance mentality rather than a growth mentality.  They think SURVIVAL is enough–when in reality…it is not!

In preparing for this BLOG-POST, I ran across this statement in my studies and I want to unwrap it for you to ponder:

Most churches don’t die for lack of money–they die for lack of vision!  “Where there is no vision, the people perish”

What is seen
What is seen

WHAT VISION GIVES AND DOES:

Jonathan Swift once said:  “VISION is the art of seeing what is invisible to others”.  Looking at the picture above, people will give different answers to what they see:  “I see a bunch a stars. That’s all I see.”  Or, “I see a face”; “I see an angel!”.

What VISION does is to help us dream; gives us HOPE in our doing, our moving forward in God’s given opportunities.

And HOPE helps us seek endeavors with energy and excitement.

VISION helps us make plans; HOPE helps is in coming up with strategies.

“Can this be Naomi’s circumstance?”

Naomi had reached a point in her life  where she had given up hope; lost her vision and was ready to lie down and die!

“Don’t call me Naomi [pleasant],”  she told them.  “Call me Mara [bitter],

because the Almighty has made my life bitter.

I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.

Why call me Naomi?

The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.

~ Ruth 1:20-21 ~

All Naomi wanted out of life was to survive!  She had gone into maintenance mode.

BUT THEN…she caught a vision–hope returned!

She saw a person who could step in and take care of her family.  So, she came up with a strategy–a plan that could change the rest of her life–and it worked!

Alexander Graham Bell, who had the VISION to discover the telephone; a better way to communicate with people who are not physically in front of us, once said:

“When one door closes another door opens but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.”

JESUS Too, Has Given Us A Strategy for Church Growth–

Now I’m not talking about another church program of “church growth in the community”.  As the cliché states: Been there, done that, bought the T-Shirt!  

And over 40 years of being a Christian, I’ve attended so many “church growth” seminars, I could almost conduct one in my own church involving community outreach–NOT!

In my studying over the years; in the Book of Acts in the Bible–the First Church–I noticed the numbers increased daily…by the thousands!  And in my detective investigation into God’s Word, I found that there was a VISION:  Spiritual Quality first, then Physical Quantity afterwords!  Did you catch that?  Don’t miss the vision!

OPPORTUNITIES:

“And day after day they regularly assembled in the temple with united purpose, and in their homes they broke bread [including the Lord’s Supper–Communion].  They partook of their food with gladness and simplicity and generous hearts,    Constantly praising God and being in favor and good will with ALL people; and the Lord kept adding (to their number) daily those who were being saved (from spiritual death)”  (Acts 2:46-47 AMP).

JESUS doesn’t want His people to “just maintain”–He wants them in a growth mentality.  Where is that STRATEGY found in Scripture?  Well, I found it in the last chapter of the book of Matthew–Chapter 28:

“And Jesus came up and spoke to them saying,  “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age”  (Matthew 28:18-20 NASB).

Simply stated, JESUS’ STRATEGY IS…

#1  BRING THEM IN,

#2  BUILD THEM UP,

#3  TRAIN THEM UP,

#4  SEND THEM OUT.

That’s JESUS’ VISION STATEMENT and it should be the same for us:

We plan to bring people in to this church assembly…

We plan to build them up…

We plan to train them up…

We plan to send them out.

All you pastors and church leaders who are reading this blog of mine, might be asking right now,  How is this going to happen, we’ve tried this approach before?  Maybe I can help get you back on the right track; get you out of the maintenance mode.

“THE CLASSROOM STRATEGY”:

CLASS 101–  DEVELOPING Strong Church Members.

CLASS 201–  EQUIPPING  The Saints–skills needed for being a strong Christian.

CLASS 301–  TRAINING Church Attenders.

*I used the word “attenders” instead of “church members” because I want to follow the apostle Paul’s teaching in Colossians 3:11, 16 —[*See my past Blog-Posts: “Membership Has Its Privileges!” – PART ONE, TWO and THREE].

CLASS 401–  COMMISSIONING Seasonal Believers to reach the community for Christ’s sake!

THIS IS THE STRATEGY OF “HOPE”:

This is a strategy of church growth; spiritually and numerically.  No more maintenance mentality for me.  How about you?

I want our church (the greater Church), to be all that God has planned for it to be; not an organization for those to gather at during the week.  But, a living, breathing, Holy Spirit filled organism.  Do you see the difference between the two words?

I want to be all God intends for me to be.  How about you?  Do you want to grow in the Lord?  Do you want to develop into a mature Christian?

Then join with me and make the pledge as we serve Christ together!

Let me hear form you!

Naomi's and Our Instructions!
Naomi’s and Our Instructions!

Our Destiny Won’t and Can’t Be Overlooked!

Queen Esther
Queen Esther

THE BOOK OF ESTHER:

“For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance shall arise for the Jews from else-where, but you and your father’s house will perish.

AND WHO KNOWS but that YOU have come to the kingdom for such a time as this and for this very occasion?”  (Esther 4:14).

Do I really have SPECIFIC PURPOSE in Life?

In 1963, I was single and working a grave yard shift at a local grocery store chain in Southern California.  I was a part-time student at a local Community College along with some morning classes during the week.  So, on specific days, I would get off work at 7:30 AM; drive to school and attend a 9 AM class, then come home and sleep until 4:30 PM and do it again starting!   at midnight!  I’m exhausted from just recounting the story.  And to make thing worse– at the ripe old age of 21 at the time, my social life was all but non-existent.

One day, pulling my car up in front of the house and sitting there for sometime, I got out of the car and proceeded to kicked the rear tire, with a  loud proclamation to the neighborhood,  What am I doing all of this for?  There must be a better purpose in life other than work, school, money, girls etc.  Well, maybe not girls!  And by the way, in case you might be wondering, I wasn’t a Christian at this time in my life, nor have any relationship with the Lord.  Oh I knew there was a GOD and I knew what Christmas and Easter were all about…but NO RELATIONSHIP. Not until I was married, had three children and reached the ripe old age of 30 did a new relationship begin!  That’s another whole story.

GOD HAS A PLAN:

Jeremiah 1:5  (KJV):

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

Psalm 139:13  (NIV):

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

—  Moses was born to lead the children of Israel of Bondage.

—  Elijah was born to be a prophet.

—  Noah was born to build the ark.

—  John the Baptist was born as forerunner of Christ Jesus to baptize in the wilderness. 

—  Paul was born to preach and write most of the New Testament.

Until we discover our PURPOSE, our EXISTENCE, we have no meaning…because PURPOSE becomes the source of FULFILLMENT.  And, success is NOT PURPOSE…because SUCCESS, without PURPOSE, is LIFE without meaning and no, that statement isn’t out of Rick Warren’s book, A Purpose Driven Life [sorry, I’ve never read it!].

DURING THE TIME GOD MADE ESTHER QUEEN…

Haman wanted to kill ALL the Jews and Esther being a Jew, was told by her Uncle Mordecai,  she had the POWER to protect her people.  She was given this position as queen by God for such a time as this…

Although there isn’t an explicit reference to God in the Hebrew text, God’s providence is clearly over His covenant people throughout the reading of THE BOOK OF ESTHER.

Seeking a Purpose–

 Many people today turn to drugs, alcohol, sex, career, seeking a PURPOSE.  Putting a 250-channel remote control in our hands…we’re still restless because the things of life don’t really satisfy.  Maybe for an instance, but afterword, we want more!

We have been born to have a RELATIONSHIP with God and when this happens, God’s purpose becomes our purpose…

JESUS CAME WITH PURPOSE AND DESTINY:

And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem. ~ Luke 9:51 (KJV).

Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me, yet not My will, but (always) Yours, be done. ~ Luke 22:42 (AMP).

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. ~ Romans 8:28 (NASB).

For God saved us and called us to live a holy life.  He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was His plan from before the beginning. ~ 2 Timothy 1:9 (NLT).

HOW GREAT is the love the father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!  The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. ~ 1 John 3:1 (NIV).

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be had not yet been made known.  But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. ~ 1 John 3:2 (NIV).

OUR DESTINY?  WE HAVE BEEN BORN–ANOINTED–SET-APART TO INFLUENCE OTHERS!

The Christian walk in life is a FAITH WALK.  God doesn’t always reveal His perfect will and allow us to see our DESTINY He has set in place for our lives.  But that is no excuse to bury your head in the sand and wait for God to call you home.

He asks us to TRUST Him and take a leap of faith, allowing Him to guide our every step along the way until we come to the end.  Often, it is not until we have reached a milestone or accomplish a major goal that we can look back and see that God has been leading us all along.

With that all said, you might be questioning God right where you are at this moment in time: Why am I here?  Can’t I accomplish great things for your Kingdom at some other place?

Esther Felt the Pain!

Esther couldn’t understand why…why God would allow her to be forced to marry a pagan King; then taken from her family, to live in a palace, where she felt more like a prisoner than a Queen.

According to the Persian Law, Esther could not even go to her husband the King, without his prior approval.  If Esther were to attempt to walk in the presence of the King, without permission, she would be instantly killed if he didn’t want to see her.

Esther’s Destiny Could Not Be Overlooked!

AND THE RESULTS?

Esther’s people shared in the Queen’s Destiny–God’s Plan:

“The Jews had light [a dawn of new hope] and gladness and joy and honor.    And in every province and in every city, wherever the king’s command and his decree came, the Jews had gladness and joy, a feast and a holiday.  And many from among the peoples of the land [submitted themselves to Jewish rite and] became Jews, for the fear of the Jews had fallen upon them”  (Esther 8:16-17 AMP).

YOU’RE NEVER TOO OLD OR YOUNG TO DO WHAT GOD HAS CALLED YOU TO DO:

Moses was 40 years old when he began tending sheep in Median and did the same mundane chores for 40 years.  When Moses was 80 years old God called him for His purpose.

When is became a born-again Christian in 1972, I was told by a wise old pastor:  Mel, God has a special calling just for you in life.  My thought process at the time?  Okay pastor, what “calling” is that?  It took over 20 years to discover it and another 20 to follow through with it.  What was it? TEACHING!

Ways to Determine Your Purpose in Life–

When I was investigating Esther’s Destiny; her calling…I uncovered some informative ways to determine God’s calling in your life by John Piper:  10 Ways to Determine God’s Calling in Your Life ~ April 25, 2005.

Although the ten questions were directed to people who desired committing their lives to the Mission Field, I thought Mr. Piper wouldn’t mind if I shared with you a few ways of not overlooking your destiny–your God blessed purpose here on earth.

Our calling can be deep-seated and lasting in our spirit (our hearts).  After all, it is the work of God [not your work] that brings your heart to a point of conviction.  All things considered–including Scripture–this pathway is the path to obedience.

[Esther’s pathway was chosen by God but it was her chosen obedience  that couldn’t be overlooked].

 Conviction is not infallible–

Although conviction isn’t perfect, but when it is of God, it certainly brings peace to your soul.

How does God waken such a calling in our lives?

John Piper suggest 10 Ways in grasping God’s plan for your life and only one of them is infallible–The Bible.  [I’ll present only 2-ways for reference.]  All others are relative and are not absolute but still important for determination.

Also, various combinations he lists are fuel God uses to drive the engine for His calling in your life.

#1. Above all, know your Bible and saturate your mind with it:

God’s Word, His will for your life shapes our minds:  Psalm 1:1-3.

It makes us burn for Christ:  Luke 24:32.

#2.  Know your gifts and know yourself:

Every Christian has spiritual gifts (1 Peter 4:10-11 AMP):

“As each of you has received a gift (a particular spiritual talent, a gracious divine endowment), employ it for one another as [befits] good trustees of god’s many-sided grace [faithful stewards of the extremely diverse powers and gifts granted to Christians by unmerited favor].”

“Whoever speaks, [let him do it as one who utters] oracles of God; whoever renders service, [let him do it] as with the strength which God furnishes abundantly, so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ (the Messiah).  To Him be the glory and dominion forever and ever.  Amen.”

Knowing your special gifts shapes your convictions about your calling and knowing yourself (as Paul illustrates in Romans 7:15-24), deepens your sense of fitness in various ministries.  Remember, this can be over-ridden by other facts that come into play.

This is but two means given by John Piper, to get you thinking.  If you want the other 8, you will have to go to John Piper’s book.

ARE YOU LISTENING FOR GOD’S CALL IN YOUR LIFE…DISCERNING YOUR DESTINY?

A blogging friend and published author, Jeannie Pallett, said recently in a message,  “I won’t be blogging this week.  I think my life [‘my destiny’]    is about to change…a sensing God wants me to open our home for my unsaved niece to live here for awhile” [the words in brackets are mine].

God’s Main Call First–

Careful Listening
Careful Listening

First, is to a restored relationship then a close fellowship.  Have you ever tried to have a verbal conversation with someone and they did all the talking?  You couldn’t even get a word in edge-ways ; an answer, if it really was a question.  How do you feel?  How does God feel when you do all the talking–asking all the time, but never listening for His answers.  That is not relationship or fellowship.  That’s spiritual deafness!

Eternal life that comes with being a Christian is not just accepting JESUS as your Lord & Savior, then waiting around to go to heaven and live for ever.  It’s about relationship with God–getting to know Him, serving Him and obeying Him because you love Him:

John 17:3–  Now this is eternal life that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

John 15:15–  I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business.  Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

John 15:14–  You are my friends if you do what I command.” 

“God’s call is for you to be His loyal friend, for whatever purpose He has for your life” ~ Oswald chambers “My Utmost For His Highest”.

The apostle Paul tells the church located in Corinth:

“God is faithful (reliable, trustworthy, and therefore ever true to His promise, and He can be depended on); by Him you were called into companionship and participation with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord”  (1 Corinthians 1:9 AMP).

GOD’S SPECIFIC CALLING FOR YOUR LIFE:

What is God’s call in your life?

That’s the question many Christians wonder about and seek an answer to.  Is it full time ministry, or to be a missionary, or to be a lay person, or…?  You need to prayerfully seek God and ask Him to help you discern His special plan and calling designed especially for your life.  Ask Him to give you the faith and courage to follow–obey–whenever He leads you.  You will be the happiest and full of joy when you are in the middle of God’s will and plan.

 

The Necessity of Bridging the “Generational Gaps” in the Last Days

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“THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, ISAAC AND JACOB”

The above Bible verse is one of God’s most revealing titles for Himself.  Throughout Scripture, the righteous declare their purpose; to declare the glory of God to the next generation:

“Yes, even when I am old and gray-headed, O God, forsake me not, [but keep me alive] until I have declared Your mighty strength to [this] generation, and Your might and power to all that are to come”  (Psalm 71:18 AMP).

“One generation shall land Your works to another and shall declare Your mighty acts”  (Psalm 145:4 AMP).

We can see clearly that each generation is called by God to build on the foundation left to the previous generation.  Therefore, ALL GENERATIONS are in great need of each other in completing the work that God has called His corporate Body to fill.

At The End Of The Age…

Malachi 4:5, 6:  Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord;    And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.  (KJV)

There WILL be a great generational warfare at the end of the age.  SATAN has a plan already in action– to cause tremendous disunity and mistrust between generations.  It’s already happening in the world around us, more so than we’ve ever seen before.

Nevertheless, SATAN will ultimately FAIL–because the Lord has already ordained at a key moment at the end of times– one of restoration among generations!

THE WORK OF RESTORATION:

Part of the reason this work of restoration will be so glorious, is because of the severe darkness of the times.  Even as we see as fulfillment of Malachi 4:5, 6; we also see the fulfillment of 2 Timothy 3:1-5:

BUT MARK this:  There will be terrible times in the last days.  People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of God–  (NIV)

Even as SATAN is attempting to create outright warfare among the generations, the Lord is restoring unity to them.  He is beginning this work inside of many churches.  Within our families,  our ministries, our churches, jobs, schools, etc;

GOD is knitting together multi-generational teams to fulfill various purpose for His kingdom.  In some areas of Christianity, God’s plan might not have manifested, but it doesn’t change the fulfillment of God’s plan.

There has to be a willingness to listen!

Sometimes the greatest barrier within the church, is the barrier of differing views on how one should please the Lord.  One might even think this would be…THE UNITING FACTOR within the church!

For the mature in Christ, I believe that it is.  However, with prideful and immature Christians (and none of us are perfect yet), different opinions on how one should please the Lord have become major issues and stumbling blocks–even the pastor to the members of the church and vice versa.

BARRIERS EXPOSED–DIFFERENCES UNVEILED:

Psalm 145:4:

Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts; let them proclaim your power  (NLT).

The most recognizable barrier between people in general are the generational mindsets  in church and society.  We argue over how involved Christians should be in everything from politics to rock bands.

And Questions Arise…

What are the limits one should keep, in reaching out to the lost and dying world?

What is mere legalism masquerading as holiness?  And, what about true holiness misconstrued as legalism?

How tolerant is the Lord to our cultural blind spots?

What are His greatest hates?

What are His greatest loves?

We should know that the answers, in part, only to be found in the mix of varying generations who are willing to listen to each other.

The very thing that often rubs us the wrong way is destined to separate the wheat from the chaff in our own hearts.

RESTORATION COMES WITH INVOLVEMENT:

Death to Old Loyalties–

BELIEVING in the RESTORATION of the generations is part of GOD’s end time plan and will play a major role in silencing the Enemy.  It cannot arrive at this union without some BLOOD (dying to self and applying the BLOOD OF JESUS to our minds); SWEAT (it will take true effort on our part); and TEARS (repentance, prayer and seeing GOD’S face).

“It’s just not happening for me in ‘my situation’ “

If you and I are in a particular situation of generational conflict, let us take heart.  If we respond correctly and find that GOD is working His character in us, He will bring reconciliation like nothing the world has seen before.

Within the Church confines today, GOD is raising up the peacemakers (Matthew 5:9).  We all have the opportunity to be a part of this group, but the only way to do so is to die to self; die to our old loyalties.

THERE ARE WARNINGS FOR US ALL:

IF YOU are of the younger generation, it’s crucial to remember some LESSONS laid down in your Bible:

“CHILDREN, OBEY your parents in the Lord, for this right.  Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise;  That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth”  (Eph. 6:1-3 KJV).

“Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations; ask your father, and he will show you, your elders, and they will tell you”  (Deut. 32:7 AMP).

“Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith”  (Hebrews 13:7 NASB).

There is WISDOM in the older generation that can only be received by those whose hunger for truth and formed humility in their hearts.  If all that you want to do is DEFEND your views, you’re robbing yourself from all the wisdom and understanding that is available.

Holding to the STANDARDS of ages past doesn’t necessarily equate with a “religious spirit”.  Almost always, there are good reasons to their standards, and those who are seeking wisdom and understanding will LISTEN with an open mind.  PASTORS, this applies to your way of thinking as well as the youth leaders sitting under your instructions and guidance.

There is nothing more foolish than a younger person, who thinks they have seen it all, trying to correct an elder! [not the position, but of a spiritual mature, older generational saint].

If you are reading this Blog-post and are a ‘older’ member in your church, NO AMEN’s here.  I’m not talking to you, yet.  I’m specifically referring to the younger generation!

Like Elihu in the Book of Job:  Better to keep your mouth shut until the appropriate time to speak.

Now to Those Who Are Older–

First of all, let me just say, I am of the older generation; “senior-citizens”, as society calls me.  We should diligently work to see Christ being formed within those who the Lord has entrusted to us.

But like good doctors, we must be certain of what we have to offer is the right cure to those who are ailing.

Similar symptoms not always point to the same disease; the wrong medicine can kill, rather than heal a person who is infected.  We must remember that some traditions are neither good or bad–and enforcing them in a legalistic way might be a stumbling block to the younger generation; the children, who need the right balance between freedom and law.

“And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?”  (Matthew 15:3 NIV).

“And fathers, do not irritate and provoke your children to anger–do not exasperate them to resentment–but rear them [tenderly] in the training and discipline and the counsel and admonition of the Lord”  (Eph. 6:4 AMP).

THE IMPORTANCE OF ‘ONE GENERATION’:

ONE GENERATION
ONE GENERATION

There is actually ONE HOLY GENERATION that GOD is extracting from all the ages of human history.  And, it is clear from Scripture, that the entire Body of Christ is actually the same generation no matter what age they live in!

Look closely at the following Bible Verse, written over two thousand years ago:

“BUT ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a peculiar people, that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light”  (1 Peter 2:9 KJV).

Psalm 24 also speaks of this same generation:

“THE EARTH is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the waters.  Who may ascend the hill of the Lord?  Who may stand in his holy place?  He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false.  He will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God his Savior.  Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, O God of Jacob”  (verses 1-6 NIV).

From these verses we can see that there is a spiritual generation and has nothing to do with our date of birth.  It is a generation of over-comers,  one earth in all of human history.  It transcends 20, 50, 500, 3,000 years difference of natural age.

The year of our birth doesn’t qualify or disqualify us being part of this generation.  Rather, it is the attitude of the heart.

The famous verse from Joel as quoted by Peter in Acts is specifically for both the old and the young:

[17] “And it shall come to pass in the last days, God declares, that I will pour out of y Spirit upon all mankind, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy and your young men shall see visions and your old men shall dream dreams.  [18] Yes, and on My menservants also and on My maidservants in those days I will pour out My Spirit, and they shall prophesy”  (Acts 2:17-18).

The Apostle Peter in Acts, who applied the above verses, is part of the same generation that you and I belong to.  We are the generations who seek His Face.  So, let’s make up our minds not to view each other after the flesh, but after the life and calling of the Spirit within us.

“Mingling of Generations”–

1_large_gen_trombones340What does that mean?  It means to deliberately commingle with other generations and yielding to the Holy Spirit as He works out the rough edges of relationships in life.  Whether in a Community Orchestra, or in church ministries.

We need each other in fulfilling the Great Commission by moving in holiness together from where we are in the right now! 

BE LISTENING TO THE CALL:

What is “THE CALL” we are to be listening for?  As the rest of the world experiences greater alienation to each other, becoming more unrestricted.

We then, as true believers in our Lord Jesus, must reach out with compassion, demonstrating the wonder-working power of the Holy Spirit.  O, that this restoration spirit begins within the church…my church, your church.

The World is Watching…

The world is literally dying… to see this LOVE MANIFESTED anywhere!  Once they see it in play, they will run to Him the Restorer of us all.  We must live out this call right where GOD has planted us–our family, our neighborhoods, our workplace and our churches.  Really, this is a call at the very hour, being manifested [made visible] in our day-to-day lives; we should want to see a sweeping move of the glory of God more than anything else in the world.  NO PRAYER, NO GLORY!

The “Bridging” Begins with Prayer–

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“And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places; thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called,  The Repairer of the breach, The Restorer of paths to dwell in”  (Isaiah 58:12 KJV).

Nehemiah: Healing Brokenness–Never Give Up!

Never Giving Up!

Nehemiah 4:14-23  (NIV Translation):

After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them.  Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”

When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to his own work.

From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor.  The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah who were building the wall.  Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked.  But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me.

Then I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall.  Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there.  Our God will fight for us!”

So we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out.  At that time I also said to the people, “Have every man and his helper stay inside Jerusalem at night, so they can serve us as guards by night and workmen by day.”  Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went for water.

Samuel Smiles was a political advocate in Scotland in 1837.  As my investigation began this week, I ran across the following quotation of Doctor Smiles:

“The battle of life is, in most cases fought uphill; and to win it without a struggle were perhaps to win it without honor.  If there were no difficulties there would be no success; if there were nothing to struggle for, there would be nothing to achieve.”

Looking back over my life, I have been in certain circumstances (uphill battles)–reaching a point where I was ready to throw in the towel and give up.  We sometimes become so tired and frustrated in ‘fighting the battle’, we get exhausted and feel like there’s no use in continuing to even try.

Whether it’s a job, a relationship, health related problems, school, trying to lose weight, etc…we sometimes just don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel.  We would rather just quit the whole process–the FIGHT.  Have you been there before?

And then someone comes up to you, who doesn’t know where you’ve been or what you are going through and asks:  “How have things been going with you and your family lately?”

And you answer, “Well, it’s been an uphill battle of late.  How about you?”

Their answer is often the same as yours, “an uphill battle” or they don’t realize in the slightest that you are going through stress and pain; they smile and say something like  “Well, nice seeing you again.  Say hello to your wife/husband for me.”

WHAT ARE THE “BATTLES” WE FACE?

“After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people,  “Don’t be afraid of them.  Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes”  (Nehemiah 4:14).

1.  WE BATTLE FEAR AND ANXIETY:

Remember the Lord and focus our thoughts on Him in our circumstances no matter what they are:

“The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble.  He cares for those who trust in Him”  (Nahum 1:7).

The presence and peace of God comes when we put Him in the middle of our circumstances and issues of life.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”  (Philippians 4:6-7).

When my wife went through breast cancer several years ago, we of course were both anxious in the outcome of surgery and radiation.  We both used the above verse in our quiet times and confessed the words verbally to one another.  Did anxiety completely disappear?  No, it didn’t but…the peace of God, which transcends–goes beyond understanding, gave us PEACE; guarded our hearts, minds and soul.  We were that confident because God said so; His Word promises that our hearts and minds will be guarded against the attacks of anxiousness, fear, and doubt.

ANXIETY and FEAR causes us to ignore the God of possibilities or potential:

FEAR can force believers into re-activity, disastrous and concrete thinking:

*  Pushes us from God.

*  Injures our trust in God’s deliverance.

*  Avoids healthy spiritual disciplines.

*  Distracts us from our faith.

*  Chooses circumstance-centerness.

There is an answer…but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving.

2.  WE BATTLE ISOLATION:

“From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor.  The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah who were building the wall.  Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other,”  (Nehemiah 4:16-17).

I LOVE THIS!  Each builder had a TROWEL in one hand in which to build, the other hand carried a sword to defend himself.  These two weapons or instruments should be in the hands of believers today, and carried always.  There is nothing like preparedness before we are faced with difficult circumstances that will come our way.  And yes, they will come your way!

The Trowel–

The TROWEL represents the fact that believers should build themselves up in the FAITH.  I disagree with folks who say that when a person is first saved (“born again”), they should immediately jump in the body and start serving.  I don’t think new converts to Christianity should be used to quickly in the ministry.

THE FIRST NEED is to learn by experience that Jesus saves and keeps and satisfies.  It’s wonderful to hear So-and-So was saved Sunday morning or last week; but let us hear from that person a year or two from today to see if they have been BUILT UP in THE FAITH (“discipleship”).

The Sword–

We need to hold the SWORD of the Spirit: the Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God where we defend ourselves.  We need the TROWEL in one hand and the SWORD in the other.

3.  WE BATTLE INDEPENDENCE:

I Thessalonians 5:11:

“THEREFORE encourage one another and build each other up…”

Standing there at the wall with a trowel full of mortar is going to BUILD UP anything that is broken.  You have to work at it and not all by yourself!

4.  WE BATTLE IGNORANCE OF GOD’S WORD:

Psalm 119:19:

“I am a stranger on earth; do not hide your commands from me.”

2 Timothy 3:16-17:

“All Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,  so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

So, how then are we going to WIN THE BATTLE?

BY FIGHTING WITH OUR GOD–remember that our God fights for us:

Romans 8:31:

“If God is for us, who [can be] against us?  [Who can be our foe, if God is on our side?]”  (Amplified Bible).

Joshua 23:10-11:

“One of you routs a thousand, because the Lord you God fights for you, just as He promised.  So be very careful to love the Lord your God”  (NIV Bible).

2 Timothy 1:7:

“God doesn’t want us to be shy with His gifts, but bold and loving and sensible”  (The Message Bible).

WE HAVE POWER: (dunamus)-

“DUNAMUS”, the Greek word for power can be translated into the English language as “dynamite; explosive power”–strength, power, ability–

–  power for performing miracles.

–  power for maintaining purity.

–  power and resources to use in the Assembly (the Church).

–  power to overcome in anything we face in life!

John 14:27:

“Peace I leave you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”  (NIV Bible).

Isaiah 43:1-2:

But now, this is what the Lord says–he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”

What I like to do when I’m going through trials–passing through, deep waters, passing through rivers of life and even walking through the fire…I like to read out loud a certain Bible verse such as Isaiah 43:1-2 and make it personal.  *[use a concordance for help]

Every time I see the word “you”, I replace it with Mel: He created Mel, He formed me in my mothers womb; He has summoned me by my name, “Mel”–Mel you are mine.  I think you get my drift.

We Fight With PERSEVERANCE!

Nehemiah 4:21-23 NIV Bible:

So we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out.  At that time I also said to the people,  “Have every man and his helper stay inside Jerusalem at night, so they can serve as guards by night and workmen by day.”  Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went into the water.

Being clothed today–

–  They had a mind-set to work,  v. 6

–  They had a heart to pray,  v. 9

–  They had an eye to watch,  v. 9 [seeing the spirit world]

–  They had an ear to hear,  v. 20.

Nehemiah says, “of course when we took a bath we took of our clothes”  (You see, there is HUMOR in the Bible.  Even in a crisis like this, the Lord inserted a little humor.)

Otherwise, they never removed their clothes–day or night in their struggles.  They were on guard all the time.

Oh, to be so clothed today with the armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-18).

ALWAYS BE PREPARED AHEAD OF TIME; grab your trowel and your sword and start patching and building up the ‘holes’ in your life today, never giving up!

“Payday Someday”

“Now Enoch, who lived seven generations after Adam, prophesied about these people.  He said, “Look, the Lord is coming with thousands of His holy ones.”  ~  JUDE 1:14

The Invitation Is Given–

Dr. R.G. Lee came to Moody Bible Institute, where he preached his famous message, “Payday Someday” to a crowd of about 4,000.  During his lifetime, he must have delivered that same message over a 1,000 times.  I had one pastor say to us, “I’m going to keep preaching about this topic until you all get it!”

On this particular day, after giving the sermon, he gave an invitation and three hundred people came forward to receive Christ.  After about twenty minutes of extending the invitation, turning to the president of Moody Dr. Culbertson and said,  “I never close a service while souls are still coming”–then turning the invitation over to him.

Dr. Culbertson urged the continued singing of the invitational hymn and another hundred or so came forward.  Finally, he turned the invitation over to Dr. Ironside, pastor of Moody Church and hundreds more responded.  All in all, 600 souls were gathered in to Christ following Dr. Lee’s sermon.

“Payday Someday” is a message people need to hear today.  Dr. Lee’s message must have been much like the message the prophet Enoch delivered:

To execute judgement upon all, and to convict all the ungodly

of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way,

and all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.

~ Jude 1:15 ~

The ONLY NAME
The ONLY NAME

The Only Name–

JESUS, it’s the only name people take in vain.  The only name people swear by…

— The ONLY NAME that stirs up hate and venom…

— The ONLY NAME which produces love in the hearts of many who speak it…

— And it is the ONLY NAME that can SAVE US!

“And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved”  (Acts 4:12 NAS).

No one says, “What in Allah’s name is going on?”  No one texts,  “OMB” for “Oh My Buddha”.  These facts help prove the case of Christianity is…THE TRUTH, and all else is false.  Only JESUS’ NAME has the power and punch behind it to matter.

The Reformed and The Transformed–

“The truth hurts and the truth helps, but truth is never neutral.”

1.  No one ever tells an enemy to ‘go to purgatory‘–there’s no impact in saying so…no truth in that non-existent place.

2.  People try to tell their enemy to ‘go to hell’…a place they supposedly don’t believe exists!

The Free Dictionary gives the following definitions:  REFORMED– “Improved in conduct or character; the removal of faults or abuses.”  TRANSFORMED– “To change markedly the appearance or form of; to change the nature, function, or condition of…”

For over 2,000 years, the name of JESUS not only reformed alcoholics, but transformed them.  And there’s more:

Purified prostitutes/ made liars tell the truth/ turned haters into lovers/ turned wife abusers into docile men/ made whore-mongers faithful/ cleaned up cursing mouths/ has saved souls from hell.

Every other religion on earth has this in common: their founder is today…DEAD!  BUT I can testify: “I serve a RISEN Savior” and that’s why…it is The Only Name!

What’s In A” Name”?

The following EXERCISE was suggested in a piece written by Toni Arden-Richey and Jody Deuisch Moore:

I was recently in a group of graduate students, and the facilitator started by having everyone introduce themselves to the group.  She instructed us to think about our name, and tell the group a story about your name.  It could be how you “got” your name, who named you what and why, or even how your name may have had a positive or negative influence in your life or in the life of someone closely related.  It is amazing how much some people will reveal themselves simply by talking about your NAME.

Philippians 2:10:

“that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.”  (NIV Bible)

No one will escape that “Name”!

A person doesn’t have to say God’s Name and then attach ‘damn’ after it–to take God’s Name in vain.  What do I mean when it is said, “taking God’s name in vain”?

Anytime, and I mean “anytime” we speak ‘flippantly’, in a way in which we are not talking about Him the way we are supposed to reverently, in truth–that is “taking God’s name in vain”.

Have you ever heard someone say, “Jesus Christ”, and it is obvious they’re not honoring Him in saying it?  Ever called down a person like that?  I HAVE.

If someone spoke of your wife/husband/mother’s name in disgust or in insult, would you defend them?  Have you ever defended your Father in heaven?

Wanna put someone in their place kindly, but effectively?

Years ago, I was playing tennis with a good friend of mine on a hot afternoon.  After missing his backhand shot after a long volley, he shouted out, “JESUS”!  Without thinking if the words that were about to come out of mouth were “kindly”, I yelled back across the net:  “I didn’t know you even knew my Jesus?  He is a close friend of mine too.”  

As my friend went to retrieve the tennis ball, he replied “Yeah, I get your point” and the match continued on.  Was he offended by my comments? I don’t think he was, but I was offended at him using my Lord’s Name JESUS in vain.

The Name of the Lord is Sacred–It Is a Holy Name!

At that NAME–

Angels bow down.

Demons tremble.

Satan has to flee.

We even honor and show respect to names of military generals: MacArthur, Patton, Schwarzkopf, and others.

And When It Comes To Opening Doors…

The name Trump may open doors of finance, Einstein may open doors of brilliance, Michelangelo may open doors of art,  but the NAME OF JESUS will open to you the doors of heaven:

Romans 10:13: 

For everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.

Psalm 8:1:

O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth!  You have set Your glory on the heavens.”

Psalm 111:9:

He has sent redemption to His people; He has commanded His covenant to be forever; holy is His name, inspiring awe, reverence, and godly fear.”

NAMES Are Very Significant to All of Us:

The Bible says,  a good name is better than great riches.  

Let me give you some names and then you call out to yourself, the first thing that comes to mind:

—  Judas

—  Thomas

—  Hitler

—  George Washington

What do you think about when you hear the name of GOD?

The Bible has over 300 names of GOD.  That’s because it’s impossible to capture the full character of who He is in one attempt:

Gen. 22 – Jehovah Jirah:  The Lord will provide.

Ezk. 48 – Jehovah Shammah:  The Lord is there.

Jer. 23 – Jehovah Sidon:  The Lord our righteousness.

Exodus 6 – El Shaddai:  The Lord is sufficient.

Exodus 15 – Jehovah Rapha:  The Lord our healer.

Exodus 17 – Jehovah Nissi:  The Lord our victory.

Judges 6 – Jehovah Shalom:  The Lord our peace.

Genesis 14 – Jehovah Elim:  The Most High God.

Matthew 1 – JESUS…there’s just something about that name!

JESUS IS:

The insatiable appetite of the TRUTH, the Trueness of LOVE, the Victory of GRACE, the Visibility of God.  It’s the honey to the taste, harmony to the ear, healing to the soul.

“CHRIST” is His messianic name; He is the Christ, the name that we wear as CHRIST ‘ians.  It’s a special privilege but an awesome responsibility.  Don’t wear the name and not be willing to back it up!

Christianity Is Not Like a Jacket…

It’s like taking JESUS’ name in vain, to casually wear it like a jacket that you can put on or take off, depending on who you’re with at the time and place where you’re at!

The  “CURSING GENERATION”:

We live today in the midst of the most cursing generation in all of human history.  It used to be that profanity was done secretly.  This is not so today.  Now it is heard on the radio, on television, and in the movies.  Movie ratings don’t reveal Christian ‘back-turning’ when the letter L”[Language] is listed.  It is often mentioned and put-off in conversation, “At least they didn’t us any ‘F-bombs’.”

Atheists say ‘hell’ all the time and claim not to believe in it.  Some say hell, and expect to go there, no problem.  And some have been saved from it, yet still say it…what a mockery, what a sad revelation about how many Christians are today.

Getting Back to JUDE’S Warnings, His Prophecies–

 ONE DEFINITION:  Remorse is the state of the truly repentant believer.

But I believe it goes far beyond just saying, “I’m sorry Lord I used your name in vain”.  Or, “I am sorry I cursed out the person in the  car that just cut in front of me.”

REMORSE is but the beginning.  TRUE REPENTANCE… is a change in direction of a habit, or a pattern developed over a period of time.  It is like walking north on a hiking trail and finding yourself down the wrong path.  So you turn 180 degrees and head due south; not NE, NW, W, E… but you turn back to the opposite direction you were headed.  That’s TRUE REPENTANCE!

Not so the ungodly…

JUDE 1:16 (ASV):

“These are murmurers and complainers, walking after their own lusts (and their mouth speaketh great swelling words), showing respect of persons for the sake of advantage.”

While we’ve always had those around us who blasphemed God, they will evidently increase in number as we approach the end of the age.

JUDE tells his readers,  “But you must remember, beloved, the predictions which were made by the apostles (the special messengers) of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).  They told you beforehand,  In the last days (in the end of time) there will be scoffers [who seek to gratify their own unholy desires], following after their own ungodly passions”  (JUDE 1:17-18 AMP).

I think that they’re already present.  The blatant public use of our Lord’s wonderful name is evidence that we are in the Last Times!

Payday

Those, the ungodly, who use profanity or speak blasphemy have no idea of their actions in fulfillment of biblical prophecies.  Nor do they realize that when the Lord returns, it will be “payday today”  for them.

Is there something we can do as true believers today?

JUDE  said in verses 22-23:

“And refute [so as to] convict some who dispute with you, and on some have mercy who waver and doubt.  [Strive to] save others, snatching [them] out of [the] fire; on others take pity [but] with fear, loathing even the garment spotted by the flesh and polluted by their sensuality.”  [Zech. 3:2-4]

TODAY’S PRAYER:

Dear heavenly Father, I never cease to be amazed at the unending of Your mercy, patience, grace, and forgiveness.  Thank You for SAVING me and “to the uttermost who came to God through [Christ]” (Hebrews 7:25)–even those who blaspheme against You.  Please give me boldness to speak to those who use Your name in vain and live after their own lusts that they, too, may be forgiven of their ungodly deeds before Jesus comes again.  In His name I pray.  AMEN.

If we truly believe when we pray this prayer…as a result, someone we know will escape “payday someday,” gradually gaining the victory over the habits of his old nature.

*[Recommended Post by The WORD Detective on PROFANITY: WATCHING OUR WORDS! – posted on June 14, 2012]