Planning to Fail (PART ONE)

SCRIPTURE STUDY IN JAMES 4:13-17

First, I would suggest you have your Bible close by in this study, for I’m going to be addressing your FUTURE.

[13] Now listen, you who say,  “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”  [14] Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  [15] Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”  [16] As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes.  All such boasting is evil.  [17] If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

GOOD INTENTIONS [Additional Bible verses: 1 John 3:18; Colossians 3:1-25; Psalm 126:1-2; 1 Timothy 2:4;Psalm 119:105;2 Peter 1:20-21; Romans 13:1-7; John 7:16, 14:15].

Verse 13:  “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”

Most of us are interested in the future.  We want to know what’s ahead of us down the road in our families, our job, our community, and yes, our church.

People have different ways of looking ahead.  Would you believe that some use tea leaves, others use palm reading, others even use astrology?  Those are a little more sophisticated.  The real books like Megatrends and other things, trying to understand what the FUTURE holds are too numerous to name.  So I want to look closely at what God has revealed in His Word.

In James Chapter 4, we read a story about a first-century wheeler-dealer, a boastful businessman, a man who was making plans for his future.  

The man in the story, who in many respects, would be called a successful man in the first century or the 21st Century.  But let me first give you a definition of failure I once read about years ago in a journal.  It most likely will be a different definition than you’re used to:

“Failure is succeeding at the wrong thing”

Everyone in your community, your workplace, maybe calling your life a SUCCESS and you may secretly see yourself as an abysmal FAILURE.

THREE MISTAKES

This man in the story made three mistakes we should avoid.

First, beware of Self-centered Planning.

Listen to this man.  Get inside of his head, if you can, on his planning for the future.  He’s looking forward to a tremendous, successful, business endeavor.  And first of all, he’s planning the period of time it will take.  Look in verse 13:  “a year…”

Now this man, in his thinking, says, “All right.  Today, or tomorrow, I’m going to go to a city and I’m going to stay there a year.”  So I don’t know about you, but I can see this man pulling out his calendar.  He has his sharp pencil while he’s looking at these things.  And so, he encircles this day and draws a line through this year and he says, “That’s where I’m going to invest my time this coming year.”

But he’s not finished yet!

He’s also PLANNING the place where he’s going to.  Get out the travel brochures and the laptop!

Look again at verse 13:

“I will go into such a city…”

Now he has a ton of cities out there to choose from.  But he’s looking at THIS city, the advantages here, the advantages there.  He says, “That’s the city!”  And so on Rand’s Road Map, he puts a circle around THIS city.  Over here on the calendar, he has the DATE underlined.

So he has already planned the place, and he’s planned the time period.  But not only that, he goes on to plan something else.

Planning the Procedure.

Now he’s going to BUY and SELL.

Evidently, he has some marketing plan up his sleeve.  Maybe he has a degree in Marketing from the University of Jerusalem.  And he says, “I can buy the product for this and I can sell it for that and I can make a tidy profit.”

So he has planned.  He has planned the period, the place, and the procedure.  He’s also planned the PROFIT: “…I will buy and sell and make a profit.”  THAT’S IT!

It sounds good to me,  It isn’t like he’s doing anything wrong.  The Bible certainly doesn’t condemn business; it encourages it.  The Bible doesn’t condemn planning or making a profit either.  It encourages it.  These things are not wrong.

So, what then is wrong with this man?

Well, he left God out of his plans altogether.  He’s not consulting with God nor is he seeking God’s WILL in this.

This seemingly ‘self-made man’ is like so many today.

Your WORSHIP LIFE is one thing, your BUSINESS LIFE is another thing.

You’ve divided your life into the secular and the sacred.  And so you come to church and worship, and then plan your life as if there were no God.  Oh, you might run your plans by a family member, a close friend first before going ahead with your plan.  You know, it’s good to get a second opinion.  And the biggest fool isn’t the man who says there’s no God; the biggest fool is the man who says there’s a God and then doesn’t live like it!

THE KEY

Do you really take God into your planning?

The key to all of this is in VERSE 15:

Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

He’d not said, “Lord, what is Your will?”  He’s not seeking the will of God first.  He’s not saying, “Oh God, show me Your will?”  He says, “I’m going to do it this time.  I’m going to do the procedure–I’m going to make this kind of money.”

How many times in my Christian life have failed to seek God’s will in my plans?

Have you ever asked God, “Lord, BLESS what I’m doing,” rather than, “Lord, help me to do what You’re blessing” to find really the will of God?

God wants to show you His will.

He wants to show you His will as you look toward your future.  Here are a few encouraging Bible verses to meditate on.

PSALM 32, VERSE 8 – Here’s A PROMISE:

I [the Lord] will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. [AMP]

By the way, to GUIDE with God’s eye means that you have a very close relationship with Him.

When my children were little and my wife and I both sang in the church choir, they would at times be cutting up.  Nobody else would know it, but I’d look down and say from the choir loft, “You’re going to get it, right where you are!”  And then go right on, just GUIDING with our eyes.  There, and they’d straighten up.

That’s the kind of intimate relationship we need with the Lord.

JOHN 16, VERSE 13 –

Jesus gives the PROMISE with more specificity, speaking of the Holy Spirit:

“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth.  He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come.”  [NIV]

We have a heavenly GUIDE.  He’s the Holy Spirit.  He’s here to LEAD us.

One more verse, Romans 8, VERSE 14 –

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  [AMP]

How wonderful it is to know that we’re sons and daughters of the King–God’s GUIDING us with His eye.  How wonderful to hear His voice in a dark world, saying, “This is the way, walk in it.”  How wonderful to be led by the Spirit of God.

God has a PLAN for every area of your life, no, just at your church.

Your education, your business, your marriage; God has a PLAN for your life.

DO YOU WANT IT?

[Continued in PART TWO]

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CREDITS

PHOTOS/IMAGES:  Google Image search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP).

SOURCE:  Topical Bible – What Does the Bible Say About Good Intentions.

 

 

You Better Turn Your Radio On!

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I’m old enough to remember the “Good old days,” when the radio at our house was always on.  From listening to radio serials every night at specific times: Tom Mix, Captain Midnight, Gabriel Heatter and the News (my parents’ choice), just to mention a few.  And of course, there was the music.  I grew up listening to my parents love of music: Guy Lombardo on New Year’s Eve, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, the Big Band sounds.

In my teenage years, the radio continued to influence my taste.  Although the styles had changed, my desire to listen had not: Rock & Roll, Folk music, Surfer music, Motown.  Whatever was popular in the music world, I had turned the radio on to listen where ever I was–in the car, at home, or at the beach.

And remembering how the RADIO effected my life growing up, coincidentally, I was watching a documentary on TV recently, regarding air traffic over our country today.  It pointed out in detail, that if there wasn’t an Emergency FREQUENCY (also known as GUARD) available to pilots and air traffic controllers, it would be a disaster waiting to happen.  By turning on the TRANSPONDER to 7700–locator frequency, the device automatically receives the radio signal.

GUARD is a frequency used on the aircraft band that is reserved for EMERGENCY communications for aircraft in distress or an emergency, and in addition used by air traffic control to warn aircraft flying into restricted or prohibited airspace.  The frequency is 121.5 MHz for civilian aircraft  [*See Footnote [i] ].

As Christians, we have access to the emergency frequency that responds to our concerns in PRAYER.  Being not tuned in may lead you into an unplanned nosedive in your circumstance–a crash landing, so to speak.

Turn Your RADIO on!

The prophet Jeremiah shows us that God gives incredible directions when we call upon Him.

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JEREMIAH 33:1-3 (Amplified Bible):

[1]  MOREOVER, THE word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the second time, while he was still shut up in the court of the guard, saying,

[2]  Thus says the Lord Who made [the earth], the Lord Who formed it to establish it–the Lord is His name:

[3]  Call to Me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things, fenced in and hidden, which you do not know (do not distinguish and recognize, have knowledge of and understand).

Jeremiah wrote these words as a prisoner (v. 1).  So much wickedness in the land existed among the people and God said, destruction was on the horizon!

Neither Jeremiah nor the kingdom of Judah could stop the Babylonian army.  Yet God says to call Him, and He will answer and do incredible things.  It was His PROMISE in the middle of their trouble and despair.

The Bible is full with PROMISES of prayer:

Psalm 50:15 – “And call on Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall honor and glorify Me.”

Matthew 21:22 – “And whatever you ask for in prayer, having faith and [really] believing, you will receive.”

John 16:24 – “Up to this time you have not asked a [single] thing in My Name [as representing all that I AM]; but now ask and keep on asking and you will receive, so that your joy (gladness, delight) may be full and complete.”

So why have so many given up on asking in PRAYING?

“Oh, I haven’t really given up on prayer. I just don’t pray unless someone ask me to pray for them or somebody else.  You know, like at church.”

Just maybe, we need a better understanding on how we can use the emergency FREQUENCY on our radios before we give up on PRAYER.

If you don’t know how to dial in the FREQUENCY, nothing will happen!

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If you don’t push the POWER button on your car radio, nothing will happen!

Jeremiah 33:3 provides us with a KNEEBOARD (pilot’s accessory) synopsis of PRAYER:

Pilot's KNEEBOARD
Pilot’s KNEEBOARD
  • CALL to Him.
  • He will answer
  • He will tell us of things we do not know.

“CALL” to the Lord sounds easy enough.

The Hebrew root word for “CALL” means to call out after you encounter someone.  Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words says,  “Calling” in this sense constitutes a PRAYER prompted by recognize need and directed to One who is able and willing to respond (Psalm 145:18; Isaiah 55:6).”

When using 121.5 MHz on the radio,the pilot is expected to state the nature of the problem.  The pilot will also be asked if he wants to declare an emergency.  The declaration ranges from stating you have a “problem”, not to serious, to “mayday-mayday-mayday”, life threatening.

The Lord wants us to CALL, regardless of how serious the need.

  • When lacking something–CALL on Jehovah-Jireh; the LORD provides (Gen. 22:13).
  • When hurting–CALL on Jehovah-Rapha; the LORD our healer (Exodus 15:26).
  • When in the valley of the shadow of death–CALL on Jehovah-Rohi; the LORD is our Shepherd (Psalm 23:1).
  • When troubled or distressed–CALL on Jehovah-Shalom; the LORD is peace (Judges 6:24).

Did you know, Jesus’ disciples never asked Him to teach them to SING, to PREACH, or how to WITNESS.  Rather, they asked Him:  “Lord, teach us to PRAY” (Luke 11:1).

When we CALL, we must be sincere in our requests–not as hypocrites.  We can’t pray “Hallowed be Thy Name”–then cuss at our neighbor.

Nor can we say piously, “Thy will be done”–then continue to live as we please.

“Give us daily bread”–cannot be followed by hoarding & selfish gain.

“Forgive our sins”–will not work if we then carry grudges to bed at night.

The hypocrite prays “Lead us not into temptation”–but not until the party is over.

Don’t CALL on God’s EMERGENCY frequency on your radio UNLESS…you EXPECT an answer!

Let me give you an ILLUSTRATION:

A tavern owner was being built in a previously dry town (No alcohol here!).  Christians began an all-night prayer vigil, asking God to intervene.  A bolt of lightning suddenly struck the tavern, burning it to the ground.  The owner of the Bar sued the local church for destruction of his establishment.  So, the church lawyered up and claimed they were not responsible.  The judge said, “It appears the tavern owner believes in prayer & Christians do not.”

Praying with EXPECTATION–God does indeed “ANSWER” Prayer.

Could it possibly be, that when we think that God doesn’t answer OUR prayers, we aren’t praying with EXPECTATION?

How often I’ve heard when people pray, “If it be your will. God.”  Do we sometimes need an escape clause when we our praying, especially in group prayer, perhaps covering our EXPECTATION that God probably won’t answer?  At least, with an answer that meets our expectation.

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Yet, what we ask for is often not as reasonable as we think.

A young school boy was saying his nightly prayer:  “Please make Lynden (where I reside) the capital of Washington State.”

His mother asked,  “Why did you ask for that?”

The boy replied,  “Because that’s what I put down on my test today at school.”

When we ask & then don’t receive, perhaps we’ve asked with the wrong motives.  Proverbs 15:29 (AMP):

“The Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the [consistently] righteous (the upright, in right standing with Him).”

There is faulty logic to conclude when the Lord hears our prayers that it means He will answer to OUR EXPECTATIONS!  We don’t make request, petitions, because we are righteous. but because of the Lord’s MERCY!!

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We can be assured that GOD answers EVERY PRAYER in a merciful manner.

ANSWERS can come in 4-Ways:  No, Slow, Grow, Go.

Say your daughter asks you if she can have some CANDY.  You might say “No” because there’s a reason for not giving her the candy.

I have two daughters that contracted Type I, Diabetes when they were quite young. Many times when other children were receiving candy, they would ask my wife and I for just one piece, not knowing the consequences of their requests.

A “Slow” may be the response if you say, just “one piece.”  A “Grow” answer is allowing a piece of candy AFTER she cleans her bedroom.  The “Go” reply means help yourself, you’re READY to eat the candy!

Greedy girl with pile of sweets laying on the table and with troubled expression on the face
Greedy girl with pile of sweets laying on the table and with troubled expression on the face

In the Gospel of John, Jesus’ tells us,  “Ask and keep on asking and you will receive, so that your JOY (gladness, delight) may be full and complete”  

JOY then, can come when we see God’s hand in the ANSWER; when we realize how breathtaking His ANSWER really is!

And not only will God “ANSWER” us, He will answer us of the things we do not know or can imagine (Jeremiah 33:3).

Philip, a disciple, asked Jesus if 8 months wages (about $40) would feed 5000 folks (Mark 6:37).  The only answer the disciples saw was 3 barley loaves and 2 small fish.  Then Jesus showed them a great and unsearchable thing:  5,000 were fed!

In 1973, a young couple accepted Christ as their Savior a year earlier when they were confronted with a dilemma presented by their pastor’s message one Sunday morning:  “To Tithe or Not to Tithe”.  With three children, a car payment, a mortgage, and barely getting by financially, there was no way they could take 10% out of the budget and give it to the Lord.  “PRAY about it,” they were told.  “How do we do that?” the husband asked.  “Just simply ask the LORD for help in making the decision, then trust Him in His answer.”  Well, the decision was made, or so they thought.  “We just can do this right now.”  But several months later, a “spiritual light bulb” came on.  “We can do this!”  And with their faithfulness and trust, they’ve been BLESSED ever since with “things they did not know or could imagine.”  

That young family was my family, over 43 years ago, and God is still answering our PRAYERS!

The Lord can answer in bigger and better ways than you can pray.  But, you need to turn your radio to the EMERGENCY frequency in times of spiritual failure.

If you need direction and purpose in your life–He will answer you.  After all, Jesus says “I came that they [you] may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance to the full, till it overflows”  (John 10:10 AMP).

If you’re feeling more burdens than you can bear–let Him tell you the answer.  Our awesome, omnipotent, loving God will ANSWER Prayers, if you CALL!

 


Credit & Sources –

Footnote [1]:  Wikipedia – Aircraft emergency frequency.

Commentary:  Sermon Notes on Jeremiah 33:3 by Tom Doubt. Baptist/Minister.

Photo Credits:  Photo Pin/Shutterstock; Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP); King James Bible (KJV).

God’s RESUME for His Disciples–That’s Us!

I ran across an example of a RESUME in my studies this week, to preface a biblical study in Psalms:

Resumes of Apostles

To: Jesus, Son of Joseph

Woodcrafter’s Carpenter Shop

Nazareth 25922

From: Jordan Management Consultants

Dear Sir:

Thank you for submitting the resumes of the twelve men you have picked for managerial positions in your new organization.  All of them have now taken our battery of tests; and we have not only run the results through our computer, but also arranged personal interviews for each of them with our psychologist and vocational aptitude consultant.

The profiles of all tests are included, and you will want to study each of them carefully.

As part of our service, we make some general comments for your guidance, much as an auditor will include some general statements. This is given as a result of staff consultation, and comes without any additional fee.

It is our staff opinion that most of your nominees are lacking in background, education and vocational aptitude for the type of enterprise you are undertaking. They do not have the team concept. We would recommend that you continue your search for persons of experience in managerial ability and proven capability.

Simon Peter is emotionally unstable and given to fits of temper. Andrew has absolutely no qualities of leadership. The two brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, place personal interest above company loyalty. Thomas demonstrates a questioning attitude that would tend to undermine morale. We feel that it is our duty to tell you that Matthew had been blacklisted by the Greater Jerusalem Better Business Bureau; James, the son of Alpheus, and Thaddeus definitely have radical leanings, and they both registered a high score on the manic-depressive scale.

One of the candidates, however, shows great potential. He is a man of ability and resourcefulness, meets people well, has a keen business mind, and has contacts in high places. He is highly motivated, ambitious, and responsible. We recommend Judas Iscariot as your controller and right-hand man. All of the other profiles are self-explanatory.

We wish you every success in your new venture.

Sincerely,

Jordan Management Consultants

  Continue reading “God’s RESUME for His Disciples–That’s Us!”

IN THE MIDST-Disappointed, Perplexed and Disillusioned (part two)

(Part Two) – Looking Further Into the Qualities of God in Remembering:

GOD’S IMMANENCE: God’s presence in Creation–a personal and relational God.

In PART ONE, we discussed how in the midst of circumstances–when we become disappointed, perplexed (baffled, confused, mystified), and disillusioned with where we find our self in life.  FEAR often sets in to our spirit; of what is going to happen to us and our family.  We get the wrong images of and misbelief about who God is, which then keeps us from God’s presence.

FEAR Casts out LOVE–

“There is no fear in love, [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror!  For fear brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love”  (1 John 4:18 AMP).

GOD IS LOVE (1 John 4:16):

God’s IMMANENCE is how He is unwavering; determined to be with us. close to us and for us.  We have a LOVING COMPASSIONATE GOD who chose to be attentive to our pleading cries IN THE MIDST…forgiving and merciful.

‘God Believers’ in Old Testament (First Kings 8)–

GOD shows His goodness through fulfilling everything He promised David.

There were visible signs of encouragement!

— a throne…Solomon reigning.

— a new magnificent Temple.

The people were EXPECTING God to not only stay or tabernacle with them as before; not to actually dwell, but abide–settle permanently in a House as it were (Solomon’s Temple).  Or as The Message Bible reads: “move into the neighborhood”–to stay with them forever!

Yet, was there some selfishness to this motive?  Did they want to keep God for themselves under their control somehow?  Do we?

How patient and longsuffering do you think God is?

Most believe that God would bless us if obedient and good; did what God wanted, but do you believe God would bless you with His goodness, even if you chose the total opposite of what He wanted, even when you failed Him over and over again?

I made an amazing discovery in my WORD Detective investigation from this Biblical story,  God does just that…remembering that prayers are inspired by God’s Spirit; a gift of His grace & prompting…we see very interesting words God puts in Solomon’s mouth (1 Kings 8:22-53).  Solomon actually prayed for God’s mercy from all the consequences the nation of Israel were going to experience from the people’s sins.

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The people disobeyed ALL THE WARNINGS; chose curses instead of blessings.  But God already knew this, since He spoke about this very thing through Moses in Deuteronomy 28–warning the people of the consequences and rewards of disobedience and obedience–through blessings and curses. 

God’s Presents Us with Choices and His Recommendation:

I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you that I have set before you LIFE and DEATH, the BLESSINGS and the CURSES; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live  (Deuteronomy 30:19 AMP).

Wrong Choices Made–

Everyone of the disasters that Solomon prayed about in 1 Kings 8, actually happened as a consequence of wrong choices & actions:

— Defeat by Enemy Forces,

— Drought,

— Famine,

— Pestilence,

— Natural Disasters,

— and Plenty of Wars.

Do any of the items listed above sound familiar in our world today?

It all culminates in a nation of God’s people, going into exile… and as Psalm 89 says, rather than becoming a nation where foreigners are attracted to come and pray, Israel and Jerusalem become an object of mockery and ridicule (just as God warned Solomon in 1 Kings 9:6-9):

[8] This house shall become a heap of ruins; every passerby shall be astonished and shall hiss [with surprise] and say,  Why has the Lord done thus to this land and to this house?  [9] Then they will answer,  Because they forsook the Lord their God,  Who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and have laid hold of other gods and have worshiped and served them; therefore the Lord has brought on them all this evil  (1 Kings 9:8-9 AMP).

The people were in a long-term state of sinning against God and yet…God turned this kingship into a blessing and fully redeemed it through JESUS; who is the true Son of David, the Promised King of Kings–whose reign of shalom peace will never end.  He is the anointed Savior, who sacrificed himself for us; extends His forgiveness to full restoration to you and I.

A LEGACY TO DAVID:

God gave the throne and enduring kingdom, a legacy to David in spite of his sinfulness.  God allowed Solomon to build the temple and promised to all–His presence to be present in this man-made temple, even though He couldn’t be contained, even in the vastness of the universe.  All of this in spite of Solomon and the mixed motives of the people trying to box Him in–to domesticate Him for their own benefit.

Though God knew of Solomon’s upcoming actions, even though he was given the gift of wisdom–even wrote the Book of Proverbs–yet he would later live foolishly, turning his heart away after many other loves and hundreds of wives and concubines–worshiping false idols from many nations that came along with them.

GOD, His name, the temple and the worship of God is not a commodity to be used as a means for our own selfish ends, yet that is what Solomon and the people of Israel made them.

You might be asking the question at this point of the series, “What’s all of this have to do with me and my life as it is right now…IN THE MIDST, as you call it?”

Wisdom Given…

WISDOM is not a possession!  It is a gift and we can lose it… if we let go of the reverence for God, the Lord of our lives.  It’s a slow fade when we give ourselves and our hearts away.

No one demonstrates this erosion in his life more fully than king Solomon:

He did everything that God warned the kings not to do–

Solomon Examples: misusing power; amassing weapons, riches, wives; let his heart go astray; lost his reverence for God; turning away from following the Law…

All of the above and more, because he proudly considered himself better than other people (Deuteronomy 17:14-20).

And yet, God is still merciful–

Later in life, Solomon writes Ecclesiastes, realizing all the mistakes he has made in the past; how he’s wasted his life chasing after many dreams and desires that turned out to be illusions…all is vanity and futility without God.  He repents and at the end of his life realizes that worshiping God is indeed, above everything else.

You can also regain WISDOM and God’s MERCY and His relentless LOVE restored IF…you return to God, the source of ALL GOOD THINGS, including wisdom and love.

God even blesses us when we choose to go against Him.  Are you surprised?

The Israelites wanted a king

God never intended for His people to have or need a king.  But the Israelites saw their neighbors had kings, so they prayed to God…We need one too!  Kind of like keeping up with the Jones of the neighborhood.  God even told them if He gave them a kings, they would be sorry.  My mom and dad told me the same when I was a child–You will be sorry Mel.  They knew ahead of time the consequences that came along with my request.

Our Heavenly Father lets us have what our flesh desires…even when He warns us about the harmful consequences to us.  And it breaks His heart and hurts Him in the process.

In His heart of LOVE, He is constantly waiting for you, aching with yearning for your return to His presence with outstretched arms, ready to give you a ‘big hug’!  [The Parable of the Prodigal Son–Luke 15:11-32]. 

Is it too late?

Maybe you are reading this blog series, thinking that it’s too late.  You’ve failed miserably in this mess you call life–disappointed, perplexed and disillusioned.  You might be feeling there’s no turning back, or some sinful habits or patterns or ways that you think or believe about yourself–in the midst of all of what you’re going through right now.  Feelings of rejection, low-self-esteem, hurts, trauma; that keeps you emotionally bound–STRONGHOLDS–that plague your life that you just can’t seem to overcome.

THE PROMISE:  With Our God Comes GRACE, MERCY, HOPE, FORGIVENESS–

With our God, who is patient and kind, full of Grace and Mercy, there is HOPE!  God will hear and He will FORGIVE:

2 Chronicles 7:14, God gives the PROMISE:

If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves,

pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity My face

and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven,

forgive their sin, and heal their land.

I like to think that God’s promise in the above verse is conditional — with the use of the word...”IF”:

IF…YOU HUMBLE YOURSELF,

IF…YOU PRAY,

IF…YOU SEEK,

IF…YOU CRAVE,

IF..YOU REQUIRE OF NECESSITY OF GOD’S PRESENCE–HIS FACE,

IF…YOU REPENT–TURN FROM WICKED WAYS,

THEN–and only then, will God hear from heaven, forgive sin, and heal their land.

Back to the beginning–The story of Adrian Plass (part one):

The youth worker’s life was seen as a field of overrun weeds and bramble…a wasteland…and he was feeling hopeless.  But the man of God goes on and says,

But wait…I see fire burning up the weeds and then ashes being put back into the soil and now the soil is enriched with all that was burned up.  And the Lord puts a sign over this field…

“NOTHING SHALL BE WASTED”

Philippians 3:13-14 AMP:

I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.

I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward.

The Lord desires to pour out on us ALL THE BLESSINGS and JOYS in Him that we’ve missed or missing IN THE MIDST-Disappointed, Perplexed and Disillusioned.  Yet He doesn’t make it all up with outpourings alone!  These “outpourings” become “overflowing s” in our life:

And the [threshing] floors shall be full of grain and the vats shall overflow with juice [of the grape] and oil”  (Joel 2:24 AMP).

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy.  I [JESUS] came that they [YOU] may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)”  (John 10:10 AMP).

IN THE MIDST–Disappointed, Perplexed and Disillusioned (part one)

What Do We Do With A False Sense Of Security?

The Story of Adrian Plass–

I want to begin this post with a story of a church youth worker–it could be any dedicated Christian worker involved in ministry:

A youth worker had been involved for years of zealous ministry, burning both ends of the candle in the needs of inner-city youth and he “burnt out”.  He had a complete emotional breakdown, became so depressed, he was admitted to a psychiatric ward to recover.

During his stay he started to keep a diary as part of therapy in reflecting on his past life and present.  At a certain time, he felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to seek out a certain man of God who lived in another city.  He made an appointment with the man and traveled there.

This man of God sat down with him to pray, then he paused in listening prayer,  “God has shown me a picture of a field overrun with weeds, thorns and brambles.  THIS FIELD REPRESENTS YOUR LIFE.”

This burnt out young man thought,  “Oh that’s great!  That’s my life alright.  Nothing but weeds.  That’s how God sees my life…a useless wasteland.”

Overrun with WEEDS and BRAMBLE
Overrun with WEEDS and BRAMBLE

A STUDY IN 1 KINGS 8:

Some Questions before the journey begins–

— Have you been perplexed and disillusioned, or even now, experiencing these feelings, of “being in the weeds”?

— Are you disappointed at God in the midst of pain and suffering?

— Are you thinking or have thought God is punishing you for something in your past?

Disappointed, Perplexed and Disillusioned?

You are not alone if you are asking yourself questions.  We have all, at one time or another, been stuck with the WHY’S...why is this happening to me?  I’ve read in my Bible almost every day–I go to church, even when I don’t feel like it–I pray and do good to others–so WHY NOW LORD?

An important exercise to begin–

Reflecting, remembering and looking back over your life can sometimes be trying–making sense of how you started with the promises, the dreams and ideals that God gave you.  Maybe you tried to make sense of  God’s promises in your given given situation, trying to remember how God revealed Himself,  in light of  where He was clearly leading in His promises.  So what went wrong along the way?

The Journey Begins–THE BIBLICAL BACKGROUND FIRST:

The referenced story in The First Book Of Kings, is written by someone who asked himself and his people the same question:  WHAT WENT WRONG?

They’re in EXILE looking back at their history, trying to make sense of where they find themselves.

Jerusalem, their Holy City, has been ransacked and in ruin.  Their Temple has been destroyed by foreign powers, they’ve all been taken captive, including the former King (David’s descendant) and now they are living in a foreign land with resident aliens.  This was oppression of an empire, who usually was not sympathetic to them, their values or their God.

AND NOW… they were trying to think back where God made some important promises of enduring Kingship of David’s descendants, a Temple that was to be the center of worship; where God’s name and Presence remain forever.

Background of The Temple–

DAVID wanted to build GOD a Temple worthy of worshiping Him.  Instead, God promised him a legacy of an enduring house or Kingly dynasty.

GOD also told DAVID that his son would build the Temple.  So David spent many years preparing for that glorious day, collecting materials and articles for this Temple to be.

Solomon comes to the throne–

In the midst of struggle, who among David’s sons would become King?  The aging King David (with God’s prompting), selects Solomon.  Solomon starts construction in the 4th year of his reign and it takes 7 1/2 years and thousands of laborers/artisans to complete the task; including being completely covered…in costly gold.

THE PASSAGE (1 Kings 8):

Finally finishing the task, King Solomon calls all of Israel’s leaders and ‘common folk‘ to join in celebration of the big national Autumn Feast of Tabernacles and the dedication of the Temple; asking God’s Presence to dwell with His people–symbolized especially by bringing up of the Ark of the Covenant–representing God’s Sinai covenant given with the Law to Moses (the Torah) to all the people delivered from Egyptian slavery.

Temple Dedication–

4.The_7
Solomon’s Temple

This day was one of the most glorious days in the History of Israel.  The people finally have peace (David had conquered ALL their enemies in his 40 years of reign)…and, they had a consolidated kingdom with the pinnacle of success, power, wealth, and international renown.

First, the qualities of God–

Let’s look together at some qualities shown about God in this passage of Scripture.  I hope you have your Bible close by so we can look together.

Wrong images of and misbeliefs about God keep us from God presence, because FEAR CASTS OUT LOVE!

1.  GOD’S TRANSCENDENCE.

I used my ROGET’S THESAURUS for the above ‘fancy word’.  It means, God is way beyond us with all His qualities and attributes–ALL- KNOWING, ALL-POWERFUL, MAJESTIC, way beyond our limited understanding to grasp Him and who He is.  That said, in the time of the Old Testament, the acceptable means of worshiping was in sacrificing animals by fire.  The “how big” and “how much” to offer, was in order to express and give a sense of how powerful you imagined this Great God to be and what He is worth.

“King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel who had assembled before him were with him before the ark, sacrificing sheep and oxen, so many that they could not be reported or counted”  (1 Kings 8:5 AMP).

How much did it cost them in money and time to worship God?  How costly is our worship?

A Heavy Impenetrable Cloud and the Bright Shining Glory Filled the Temple–

God’s presence filled the house so much that the ministering priests could not enter to do any work (1 Kings 8:10-11).  In a parallel passage in 2 Chronicles 7:1-3  says, that after Solomon prayed, fire came down from heaven and consumed the offering and sacrifices.

Fire Came Down
Fire Came Down

How would you feel about God in your next week’s worship service or after your prayer time at home, God sent fire down in front of your eyes?

WHEN SOLOMON had finished praying, the fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord’s house.  The priests could not enter the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord’s house.  And when all the people of Israel saw how the fire came down and the glory of the Lord upon the house, they bowed with their faces upon the pavement and worshiped and praised the Lord saying,  For He is good, for His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever”  (2 Chronicles 7:1-3).

I highlighted the people’s words, for the purpose of remembering in life’s journey, while…IN THE MIDST–Disappointed, Perplexed and Disillusioned.  HOLD THAT THOUGHT.

One way of becoming complacent in our lives–in the midst–is when we lose our reverence for God.  Can you bring to mind right now, specific times that moved you deeply in beauty and awe of wonderment over God and His works?  The bible says the natural created world and the heavens, declare and reveal the glory of the Creator–give revelation of His splendor of His character (Psalm 19:11; 5:11; 108:5; Isaiah 6:3; Romans 1:20).

One Starry Night…

Several years ago, my wife and I celebrated our Wedding Anniversary at a B & B (bed and breakfast inn) in Leavenworth, Washington USA.  After dinner in town, we drove back to this wonderful re-created Swiss Chalet, and when we got out of the car, Dianne said Look up into the sky and see what an awesome God we have.

A Stary Night
A Starry Night

In the night sky, looking up was millions of stars, galaxies…millions of light years away…in a vast Universe.  Maybe sometimes, we have lost sight of the awesomeness of God…who cannot be contained because we have so timed and domesticated our view of God.  Maybe we have lost our wonderment along the journey–in the midst of disappointments, perplexities and disillusionment’s.  Just maybe we need to ask God to help us to recover this wonderment.  Only when we realize God’s grandeur, do we realize the tremendous sacrifice He made to stoop to care about us in His vast Universe.  Do we think we can control or domesticate this awesome God, put Him into our own boxes; try to manipulate Him in our agendas, in our timing as if He had to do our bidding?

THE SCENE OF WORSHIP:

It’s hard to believe from that scene of worship presented in 1 Kings, that Solomon and God’s people would so deteriorate into that very same thing I just mentioned.

In Jeremiah, the people eroded to an illusion because they had the Temple; that their salvation was secure and God was somehow bound to bless them–keep them safe–nothing bad would happen–no matter what their behavior was.

The PRIDE of Being Chosen…

In the Hebrew, there are several words mentioned for the English word PRIDE.  One in particular is the Hebrew word ga’on: “arrogance, presumptuousness, haughtiness, conceit.”

There were several reasons the Israelites would give us if we were there for their PRIDE:

— Having the ‘Golden Temple’.

— God’s Presence.

— Kingdom power.

— SUCCESS.

— Well Fed.

— PROSPEROUS.

The people had been lulled into falsely thinking that ALL WAS WELL.  This was their False Security–they took all of God’s blessings and God for granted as a given–that could be demanded as a right.

WHAT IS OUR “FALSE SECURITY” IN THE MIDST?

Ronald Rolheiser in “The Shattered Lantern” states:

“To be a saint [or one of God’s people] is to be motivated by GRATITUDE, nothing more and nothing less.  In the end gratitude is the root of all virtue.  It lies at the base of love and charity…  Essentially the condition is this:  God tells Adam and Eve that they may receive life as a gift but they may never take life as if it were theirs by right…as long as you continue to receive and respect reality as gift, it will continue to give you life and goodness.  Conversely, as soon as you attempt actively to seize it, life will decrease and there will be shame, loss harmony, pain, death and loss of proper connection with God…LOVE can only be received as a gift.”

This mysterious God is GOD…

High above us, so Holy, He will not be domesticated with our agendas.  He wants us to RESPOND to Him, not with fear and distance, but in GRATITUDE and LOVE.

A Dog and Lion Story…

Years ago, I was an owner of an English Mastiff dog.  A dog at adulthood, who weighed 210 pounds and stood at 34 inches at his shoulders.  In coming up with a good name for him, I found in a dog breed book on English Mastiffs, that ‘as a Lion was to the cat family…English Mastiffs were to the dog family’.  So we named him ASLAN.  If you are acquainted with C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, you get the picture.

GOD is like the Lion, ASLAN:  the King of all Beasts.  He is not tame but He is good! 

“The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.  The Lord is GOOD TO ALL: and His tender mercies are over all his works” (Psalm 145).

God’s MERCY is “over all His works”!  Everything He does is based on mercy.  When He heals you, it’s because of His mercy.  When He gives you the finances to pay a bill, it is because of mercy.  Even your salvation–the act of being born again–is based on mercy.  The apostle Paul said it this way:

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:   Not of works, lest any man should boast”  (Ephesians 2:8, 9 KJV).

God’s character shows His goodness, but do we believe God cares that we can approach Him and actually have intimacy with Him?  God’s presence in creation doesn’t mean that He winds up creation like a watch and then sits back to watch it run.

I will continue this series in PART TWOGOD’S IMMANENCE.

“BEULAH LAND” – Heaven’s Border

“You shall no more be termed Forsaken, nor shall your land be called Desolate any more.  But you shall be called Hephzibah, and your land be called Beulah, for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married” ~ Isaiah 62:4.

“Beulah Land”

An Old Favorite Hymn from the Past:

Refrain:

“O Beulah Land sweet Beulah Land,  As on thy highest mount I stand,

I look away across the sea,  Where mansions are prepared for me,

And view the shining glory shore,  My Heav’n, my home forever more!

My Savior comes and walks with me,  And sweet communion here have we,

He gently leads me by His hand,  For this is Heaven’s border land.”

Hymn by Edgar Page Stites and John R. Sweney

The Hymn’s Beauty–

The words speak of the eternal glory prepared for believers in Christ Jesus.  Beulah Land is “Heaven’s border land,” a land where shines undimmed one blissful day.  For all my night has passed away.”

THE “BEULAH LAND” CONCEPT:

The term “Beulah Land” is unfamiliar to many people today.  This hymn is seldom sung in churches where praise songs, and contemporary Christian rock music dominate the worship experience.  This phenomenon is not peculiar to contemporary churches.  In a brief survey of hymnals, several denominations reveal that this hymn is unknown or no longer relevant in many churches today.

The Use of Biblical “Metaphors”–How God Makes Us Into Something New!

Metaphors are used throughout the Bible and the passage in Isaiah  62, is not an exception.  Now when I say “metaphor”, I don’t mean that it wasn’t real.  What I mean is that Scripture uses metaphors as a “picture language.”  It talks about our relationship with God; understanding what it means to have relationship with God is pretty difficult at times.  God uses language of our everyday lives to help us kind of get the idea.

Understanding what God makes us into, how God transforms us, and changes us.

First things first.  We need to realize what we were without God.  Isaiah 62:4, God says, “No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate.”

It seems we are dealing with a metaphor of the land.  Without God in our lives, we are like a “desolate” place.

Desolate and Barren Places

Without God, we’re EMPTY, BARREN, without the things we need in Life.

And yet, behind the words, is also the ideas of marriage.  It is the real metaphor going on here.  Without God…we’re deserted, left at the altar, left with no one who would marry us.

Now I’m not saying that it’s wrong to be single.  It all goes back to the way ancient Israelite culture was structured.  A woman who wasn’t married, had no good way in having an income on her own.  If her parents died, her brothers were dead or wouldn’t take her in, she was left without anyway to survive except to beg.  She was deserted and desolate.

Spiritually Speaking:

This concept describes our situation in life if we didn’t have JESUS.  We wouldn’t have anyway to survive spiritually without God.  We would find ourselves deserted and desolate, without the things we need in our spiritual life.

Now I’m not inferring that you, as a reader of this blog, are at this place in your life.  Yet, even when we believe in God, it doesn’t mean we never feel like we’re outside of God.  Even though we know JESUS has come into our lives, on accepting Him as Lord and Savior; and in the power of the Holy Spirit, we may feel at times deserted and desolate in our circumstances: illness, sickness, stress, anger, etc.

“NO LONGER” ARE WE FORSAKEN (verse 4):

“Hephzibah” is the Hebrew word used and it means “My delight is in her”.  And then we run across “Beulah”, which means “married”.  Remembering that God is working with the metaphor of marriage.  He uses the metaphor from that ancient Israelite culture; God is transforming you from an unmarried woman, who is desolate and deserted by society and begging for food.  And now, you are His delight–to be married to the Lord.

This is Not The Only Place in Scripture of God “Marrying His People.”

The powerful words used is in describing the relationship we have with God and will have when JESUS CHRIST is our groom and we the Church, become His Bride (Revelation 19).

JESUS comes to many of us–despite the fact that we are desolate and deserted; despite the fact we feel unlovable, despite ALL of our sins, our faults and bruises, past mistakes.  JESUS comes and says,  “My delight is in you.  You will be married to Me.”

“Something Like A Hero”–

I love the lyrics of a song by Charlotte Martin, and here are a few of the words I want you to pay attention too.  Try if you can to put yourself in the shoes of the woman in the song.

On Your Shore

I dig my heels into the dirt ’cause this one’s gonna hurt

Won’t let the wave wash me away, is what I always pray

In my heart I know you couldn’t see in the dark or find your way through me

Now I’m alone, my hands are numb how do I carry on?

And at the turn of the tide this part of me die

Am I washed on your shore and barely alive?

Here I am in my insecurity

Here I am with my damaged dignity

Here I am, you’re pulling me in too deep

Here I am

The woman in the song is feeling deserted and desolate, and even if her reasons for those feelings are different from yours, her experience is similar to ours.  There are things in our lives that make us feel deserted and desolate.  Which then makes us feel deserted by God and where we’re in a desolate place spiritually.

Here Is God’s Promise–Count on it!

“You [fill in your name] shall no more be termed Forsaken, nor shall your land [where your ‘spirit place’ is] be called Desolate any more.  But you shall be called Hephzibah  [My delight is in her], and your land be called Beulah [married]; for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married [owned and protected by the Lord]”  (Isaiah 62:4 AMP).

“Crying Out to God”–

As in the Charlotte Martin’s song, crying out to God is asking Him to rescue you from a desolate beach [in the sand dunes of a desert-above photo] of “insecurity” and “damaged dignity.”

God answers that prayer through Christ Jesus:

*  Where once you would’ve been named Deserted, God calls you “Hephzibah”–my delight in you!

*  Where once you were insecure, God gives you eternal security!

*  Where once you had a damaged dignity but God gives you “dignity”, sees you so wonderful, beautiful, holy!

TRANSFORMATION takes place in you through Faith.

Without God, you were on a desolate beach with insecurity, damaged dignity all around you and living without hope.  But now, through faith and confidence in The Groom, you are Hephzibah, Beulah, the delight of God, His bride.  You are secured in the marriage.

These are the gifts He gives to you at the ‘wedding shower.’  This is how HE transforms you!

See How God Decorates His Bride:

Look again at God’s words in Isaiah, see how He pours out the blessing on you, the way He dresses you in a beautiful gown {Tuxedos for the guys) which is His blessing.

I used to have difficulties as a man understanding the Biblical terms of being the Bride of Christ.  But when I realized that the Bride of Christ is describing the character of the Church, male or female becomes  gender neutral.  So relax men, you don’t have to dress up in a wedding gown.

Verse 1:  “I will not rest until her imputed righteousness and vindication go forth in brightness, and her salvation”

The Blessings radiates as does a burning torch.”

Verse 2:  “And the nations shall see your righteousness and vindication, and all kings shall behold your salvation and glory…”

Verse 3:  “You shall also be [so beautiful and prosperous as to be thought of as] a crown of glory and honor…a Royal diadem [exceeding beautiful]…”

“HEAVEN’S BORDER”:

The idea of the Land of Beulah as “Heaven’s Border” actually comes from John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim Progress”.  Bunyan says that “the Enchanted ground is place so nigh to the land of Beulah and so near the end of their race.”

He also says the Land of Beulah is a place “where the sun shineth night and day.”  I’m sure that Mr. Bunyan must have previously been meditating on God’s Word when being inspired to write down his thoughts (Isaiah 60:11; Rev. 21:24-27).

The Future Will Be Entirely Different for God’s People–the Church.

We will not lie forsaken nor left in desolation but will be called ‘His delight’ (Hebrew Hephzibah).  When His people stop trying to exalt themselves and again lean on and trust on the Groom, He will bless them.

The Conditioning of Choice, JOY, Commitment and Covenant

Many people call MARRIAGE a ‘contract’.  But that isn’t what God has promised–but He has given the Bride a covenant promise; He makes good His Word in conveying what He clearly wants to speak into our lives every day.

The Original Covenant Blessing Upon Marriage.

Genesis 1:28 is speaking about His creation of Adam and Eve:  “And God blessed them and said to them,  Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth”.  And now God’s promise, His covenant with the Church (His Bride) is in prospering the people and their dwelling place.

ISAIAH CONTINUES THE THOUGHT OF MARRIAGE – (verse 5):

“For as a young man marries a virgin, so shall your sons marry you; and as the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.”

Righteous Zion is no longer barren, forsaken, or desolate but is found to be a delight to God; have spiritual sons and bear spiritual fruit.

Thus God will rejoice with great joy over the Bride, His Church at the great wedding day! 

“My delight is in You”–Hephzibah–is still true for today’s believers.  When circumstances and problems attempt to destroy HOPE, you may hear your triumphant Bridegroom whisper to you His Bride (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:27; Revelation 21:2, 9),the new name that is for you and for you alone “The Lamb’s Wife”!

“The [Holy] Spirit and the bride (the church, the true Christians) say,  Come!  And let him who is listening say, Come!  And let everyone come who is thirsty [who is painfully conscious of his need of those things by which the soul is refreshed, supported, and strengthened]; and whoever [earnestly] desires to do it, let him come, take, appropriate, and drink the water of life without cost”  (Revelation 22:17 AMP).