Who Is Melchizedek in the Bible…Or As I Like to Call Him, ‘Mel’?


If one goes to the Internet to answer this question, there are all sorts of claims made in the name of ‘Melchizedek”.  I’ve come across the name, once again, in bible study in The Letter to the Hebrews 7:1-22, and to save me the time of writing down “Melchizedek,” over and over again, I took the liberty of calling him ‘Mel’.

Many religious groups with ties to Christianity make claims regarding Melchizedek.  Ancient Gnostics go to great explanations of claiming Melchizedek was actually Jesus [For more on the term “Gnostic,” go to GotQuestions.org/”What is the definition of the term Gnostic? ]. Others say he was the archangel, Michael.

Suffice to say, I don’t recommend an Internet search answering these sorts of questions.

In Hebrews 7, the information presented gives the most information about ‘Mel’ in the entire Bible.

Of course, Melchizedek first shows up in our Bible in Genesis … 12 pages into my Bible.

  • Genesis 12 contains God’s call of Abram and God’s promise that would make Abram a great nation and Blessed him (Genesis 12:2).
  • Genesis 13 includes the story of Abram (Abraham) and his nephew Lot agreeing to separate and occupy different territories in the new land.
  • At the beginning of Genesis 14, there’s a report of war among several kings.  Caught up in the plunder of war, Lot was carried off by the victory and apparent victim of circumstance, Lot was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  • In the middle of Genesis 14, Abram learns of his nephew’s plight, takes a group of 318 soldiers, routs Lot’s captors and liberates Lot, his possessions, and all the people with him.

It was after Abram’s return from the victory that the story unfolds with Melchizedek.  Even though it is contained in just three chapters in our Bibles, it was a significant encounter for Abram.  Mostly because it’s a moment in which Abram acknowledged God’s Blessing on his life:

  • He chose the Blessing of the priest over the spoils of war offered by the other kings.
  • He credited God for the victory won.
  • He tithed, giving an offering in worship to “God most high”.

AND THIS IS THE END OF THE ACCOUNT.

There are no more details about ‘Mel’ to be found in Genesis.

Most history books I’ve run across don’t deny the existence of Melchizedek, but they don’t have much else to add either.

Aside from our text in Hebrews in this study, the only other place I could find in the Bible was Psalm 110.

Psalm 110 is what Bible scholars call a Messianic psalm, a prophecy that describes the ultimate Savior, the Victor that would deliver God’s people for all eternity.

And this particular Psalm describes the Messiah as “a priest after the manner and order of Melchizedek”  (verse 4).  

Sound familiar?

Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf.

He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

This duplication of this specific language presented at the end of Chapter 6 of Hebrews is in the precise language of Psalm 110.

Hebrews 6:20 (AMP)

[20] Where Jesus has entered in for us [in advance], a Forerunner having become a High Priest forever after the order (with the rank) of Melchizedek.

This is to remind us that none of this is primarily about ‘Mel’…it’s all about Jesus!

Although, as a Word Detective, it might be really tantalizing to think of all this in terms of unlocking some great mystery about this baffling Melchizedek.  The main point I find here is to tie Jesus to the prophecy found in Psalm 110.  So we will be best served to look at this passage of Scripture not so much for answers to the question “Who is Melchizedek?”  Rather, what we should really be after are the answers to the greater question, “Who is Jesus?”

The author who penned these words under the leading and inspiration of the Holy Spirit has no interest in leading us as readers to Melchizedek.  We are being led to Jesus!

What is found in this passage of Scripture now is Melchizedek being used as an illustration to help us understand more about Christ Jesus.

Melchizedek’s position is worth taking a close look at in Hebrews 7.

The beginning of the chapter explains that he is both king and priest.  Specifically king of Salem (ancient Jerusalem), priest of God Most High.

Jesus too is both King and Priest.

This mention of genealogy seems curious when it comes to studying this in the context of the Bible, especially the Old Testament historical books.  Unlike almost every other figure in the O.T. historical books, ‘Mel’ has no genealogical context.  He isn’t identified as “the son of” anyone, no begat.

Neither his birth nor death is recorded.

In Melchizedek’s case, scripture is silent about all that made him unique.  In this case, what distinguishes Melchizedek isn’t his genealogy, but his righteousness, peace, his association with God Most High!

Verses 4-10 makes us aware of Abraham’s position in respect to Melchizedek.

Abraham, the father of faith, the one through whom God chose to create a special people for Himself, subservient to Melchizedek.

  1. Abraham tithed to Melchizedek–giving him, in an act of worship, a tenth of what he had.
  2. ‘Mel’ blessed Abraham.

First the blessing and then the tenth. 

The lesser person is blessed by the greater.  Abraham wasn’t BLESSED because he tithed.

He gave because he was already BLESSED!

Jesus, too, is greater than Abraham.

Jesus, through this illustration, is associated in a superior order than all kings and priests, especially all those kings and priests that would come from Abraham.

Verses 11-14 make more of this idea of genealogy and ancestry.

The LAW given by Moses, established the tribe of Levi, the tribe of priests.

But Jesus wasn’t a Levite, as ‘Mel’ wasn’t a Levitical priest; Jesus was from the tribe of Judah.

Under the old covenant, one would be a law-breaker if one claimed to be a PRIEST but not qualified by his genealogy,

If you weren’t a LEVITE, you couldn’t be a PRIEST.

But like Melchizedek, who preceded the Levites, Jesus is a PRIEST superior to the Levitical priesthood not on the basis of RULES or ANCESTRY, but on the basis of the POWER of an indestructible life…a life everlasting! 

So, Jesus makes possible what the imperfections of the old priestly order could never deliver.

Jesus introduces “a better HOPE” as described in verse 19.

In the priestly order, only a select few could dare approach YHWH, but Jesus set aside what “was weak and useless” and made a way “by which we draw near to God.”

The old order of SACRIFICES made in the old order of Levitical priests, in which men continually offered payment for SIN through offerings, was set aside.

There were no chairs in the Temple or Tabernacle, for the work was not done.  But Jesus accomplished for us, once and for all, A NEW HOPE by which we draw near to God.

Finally, these last verses in the passage take our mind and spirit back to the prophecy in Psalm 110.  We have to remember, the point here is that Jesus isn’t merely like a king, like a priest, like a Messiah.  

The POINT here is…Jesus IS that Messiah!

He is sealed with an oath from the Creator (“The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind” Psalm 110:4) and not a priest by association or ancestry, but a PRIEST by declaration.

God said to him:  “The Lord has sworn (made an OATH) and will not change His mind:  ‘You are a priest forever'”

(verse 22 b.) – Because of His OATH. Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.  A whole new order, a new way, a new deal, a better covenant…

“SO WHAT?” you might say.

At one level, the “so what,” is simply the benefit of study.  The illustration found in Hebrews regarding Melchizedek gets a little technical, I’ll admit, but it’s powerful!  There’s a real reward that comes with a clearer understanding of God’s Word.

That understanding draws us closer to God and for this confidence that comes from the Word, we can shout, “AMEN”!

There’s of course, this very practical reminder…to keep our focus on Jesus.

‘Mel’ is one of those figures that has been hijacked and made into something that was never intended by many.

If you were googling Melchizedek, you’d soon find yourself way out in the theological weeds.  You can also go to Amazon.com and find all sorts of books that would want to take you down all sorts of weird roads.

But those “roads” take people away from the plain and simple basics of our faith.

We should take away from this study, a reminder that Scripture points us to Jesus.  We don’t need to search for secrets and mysteries about Melchizedek; the intent of this passage of Scripture is clearly to draw our attention and understanding to Jesus:

He is…

  • King of Righteousness
  • King of Peace
  • Priest Forever.

We’re reminded of the continuity of our faith.  That all ancient history points to the hinge of history, Jesus our Savior.

…that all religious practice, all rules, and law, all sacrifice and worship…ALL of it is trumped (if you will), superseded by a Superior Order, Jesus, the promised priest forever!

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS

The New International Commentary On The New Testament – The Letter To The Hebrews

PHOTO/IMAGES:  Google Image Search – Settings, advanced.

Bible Translations used:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); and other translations used are so noted.

 

 

STUFF Happens In Life, So What’s Next?

I’m sure that many of you reading this already know that “stuff” happens in our lives.  You also understand those difficult things, unimaginable things, seem to come out of nowhere.

Now I’ve heard over the years people’s interesting answers to the “Why’s”, the “What for’s”.  And you know, there’s some really bad information floating around in the halls of religion to why stuff happens.  Here are but a few answers I’ve noticed and embraced by so-called “TV preachers and preacherettes”.

They say things like the reason things (STUFF) is happening to you right now is your fault, you don’t have enough FAITH or you have some SIN of unbelief in your life.  Their cure for your problem usually comes from some “power of positive thinking” message or “name it and claim it” sermon.  Most of this has no legitimate place in the church.

I can give you many examples and biblical reasons why stuff happens, even to “good people.”  And this brings me to illustrate my point using the life of the Apostle Paul and his own words–

We are the sum of all our experiences both good and bad!

Paul’s Recognition that Stuff Happens In Life…prior to becoming a ‘born again’ believer begins in Acts 26.

There have been many important events in history and obviously, the life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ are at the top of the list but beyond that, the conversion of Saul of Tarsus ranks with the most important and influential events ever!

He describes his conversion to Christianity in Acts 26:12-18 in his defense before King Agrippa.

Paul’s life after his commission –

Paul describes many of the things (the “stuff”) that happened to him after his commission in his 2nd Letter to the church at Corinth:

2 Corinthians 11:21-28 (NIV)

[21] To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that!  Whatever anyone else dares to boast about–I am speaking as a fool–I also dare to boast about.  [22] Are they speaking Hebrews?  So am I.  Are they Israelites?  So am I.  [23] Are they servants of Christ?  (I am out of my mind to talk like this) I am more.  I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again.  [24] Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.  [25] Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked.  I spent a night and a day in the open sea.  [26] I have been constantly on the move.  I have been in danger from rivers, in danger of bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles, in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea, and in danger from false believers.  [27] I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep.  I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food.  I have been cold and naked.  [28]  who is weak, and I do not feel weak?  Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?

PHILIPPIANS is one of Paul’s Prison Letters…

And in VERSE 13, he speaks of his “chains”:  

Philippians 1:13 (NIV)

“As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.”

According to what most scholars believe, Paul was under house arrest in Rome.  He would later finish his “race” when he was re-arrested and imprisoned in the Maritime jail.  Church history generally looks to Paul’s martyrdom outside the city of Rome at the hands of his Roman captors and it’s from this second imprisonment we have the 2nd letter to Timothy, considered Paul’s “last will and testament” (2 Timothy 4:6-18).

Paul’s Realization When STUFF Happens – 

Most of us want to view the STUFF of life through a microscope whereas Paul looked at life through a telescope!  He envisioned things that had happened to him as a teaching moment.

Contemporary wisdom would say that what had happened to Paul was a BAD THING…BAD STUFF! And that’s true, it was.

But Paul saw everything through the lens of the providential arrangement of God–GOD’S PROVIDENCE–GOD’S IN CONTROL!  

The English Standard Version translates verse 12 in this way:

Philippians 1:12 (ESV)

“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.”

Paul declares that his “…CHAINS in Christ…” revealed to the Imperial Guard and everyone else in the palace that he was imprisoned for Christ’s sake.

The news spread from guard to guard, to the families of the guards, and then to the front doorsteps of Caesar’s household.

This very sight had to give great comfort and joy to the brethren at Phillipi.

Second, Paul ended the Philippians letter by saying,

Philippians 4:22 (AMP) – “All the saints (God’s consecrated ones here) wish to be remembered to you, especially those of Caesar’s household.”

It’s important to understand rightly the phrase Paul uses here.  That’s what Word Detectives do!

“Caesar’s household” doesn’t mean Caesar’s kiss in kin.  

Caesar’s household was the regular phrase for what we would call the Imperial Civil Service; it had members all over the known world.  The palace officials, the secretaries, the people who were in charge of the Imperial revenues, those who were responsible for the day-to-day administration of the EMPIRE, all these were known as “Caesar’s household”.  [See Footnote [1] ].

Look at what Paul says next in VERSE 14:

He says that most of the “…brethren…” were emboldened by his chains and they preached the Word without fear.

This is important and a great lesson for believers today.

When we SHARE our faith it serves to give encouragement to those around us.

And Paul’s Response When STUFF Happens… (Philippians 1:18-19) –

“Happiness depends on happenings, but JOY depends on Jesus!”

The overwhelming THEME of Philippians is JOY.

16 times Paul uses the word JOY or REJOICE.

He’s THANKFUL in the midst of his STUFF…

#1.  Christ is proclaimed.

Paul acknowledges that some preach Christ because they’re jealous and quarrelsome, but others do so from genuine goodwill.  They do so from love and because they know that God has given me, Paul, the work of defending the GOSPEL.

The others don’t proclaim Christ sincerely but instead, from a spirit of selfish ambition; they think that they will make more trouble for me while I’m in prison.

IT DOESN’T MATTER!

I’m happy about it–just so long as Christ is preached in every way possible, right or wrong.  And I will continue to be happy!

#2.  Christ is honored – Philippians 1:20-21 (NKJ)

Many who are reading this, or know of someone who is struggling with some STUFF that has happened or happening in life have questions but no answers to the circumstances faced.

Maybe I can give you a few things that might help you and others understand the “stuff” that happens.

FIRST, and this is important, you’ll never understand what’s going on without a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

NOTHING WILL MAKE SENSE APART FROM THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD.

Proverbs 3:1-6 (NIV)

[1] My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart,  [2] for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity.  [3] Let love and faithfulness never leave you, bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.  [4] Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.  [5] Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  [6] In all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.

Ask Him to help you see LIFE the way He does.  I know that’s hard but that’s where TRUST comes in to play.

Remember what He said…

Isaiah 55:8-9 (AMP)

[8] For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the Lord.  [9] For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.

James 1:5 (NIV)

[5] If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

James 3:17 (NIV)

[17] But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

God Will Make A Way in a Tragedy…

In other words, as we depend on the Lord in difficult circumstances–in the STUFF that can surround us at times, when we persevere in doing what’s right even when it’s hard.

Several years ago, Don Moen was awakened in the middle of the night by a phone call.  His mother-in-law called to tell him that a tragic car accident involving his wife’s sister and her husband, and their four small boys on a road trip when the tragedy occurred.  The oldest, who was eight, was killed instantly.  The others in the car were seriously injured.

As Don and his wife grieved and poured out their hearts to the Lord, Don felt helpless at communicating hope and grace to his wife’s sister and brother-in-law.

Don recalls how God helped him through the tragedy:

“It was as if the Lord gave me these words”

__________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS & FOOTNOTES

Media:  YouTube Video – Don Moen, God Will Make A Way, 1990; Integrity’s Hosanna Music/ASCAP.

Photos:  Google Image Search, subject to copyright.

Footnote [i]:  William Barclay, The Letters to The Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); other versions used are noted in the text.

 

Is the Evidence of GENUINENESS in Christianity Really There?

A BIBLE STUDY IN 1 JOHN 3:4-10

As the WORD DETECTIVE, as we all should be, and looking at the evidence in this passage, I’ve found VERSE 9 to be one of the most difficult passages in the Bible to understand and explain.  It is often quoted to teach a child of God that once you become a “born again believer,” you will never sin.  And many honest and sincere people believe this, devoting themselves to the attainment of what is commonly called, “sinless perfection.”

1 John 3:9 (NIV) –

[9] No one who is born of God will continue to sin because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning because he has been born of God.

But is this doctrine really taught in the Bible?

The ANSWER is “no” for two reasons:

#1.  There is clear teaching in the Bible.

When you come to a difficult passage to understand and explain the meaning to others, we should seek to interpret it in context with clearer teachings offered in Scripture.  To say this passage teaches a Christian never commits SIN contradicts clear teaching in this same book of the Bible:

#2.  There is the common testimony of the Bible.

In the Bible, we are told of the great Saints, all of whom were imperfect!  The Word of God doesn’t cover up their faults.  It’s made very clear in Scripture that there’s only One spoken of who is SINLESS–Jesus Christ.

For these TWO REASONS, we should say that the Bible doesn’t teach sinless perfection.  But if that is the case, what’s the deal with the words given in 1 John 3:9 mean then?

As a “Word detective” I, of course, wanted to look at this verse in an effort to find the answer to the questions that can and will arise.

GOD’S PROVISION – vs. 4-5 (Amplified Bible)

[4] Everyone who commits (practices) sin is guilty of lawlessness; for [that is what] sin is, lawlessness (the breaking, violating of God’s law by transgression or neglect–being unrestrained and unregulated by His commands and will).

[5]  You know that He appeared in visible form and became Man to take away [upon Himself] sins, and in Him, there is no sin [essentially and forever].

I love to use different Bible translations in studying Scripture, helping me answer questions that can arise.  And it goes without saying, Holy Spirit always clarifies the answer.

When Jesus came into the world, He made a perfect provision for our salvation which makes it possible our DELIVERANCE from SIN’S PENALTY…SIN’S POWER, and eventually, SIN’S PRESENCE.

Therefore, Jesus’ SACRIFICE provided us with daily VICTORY over SIN in our life.

The Necessity of His Provision (v. 4).

HUMAN SIN made the CROSS necessary.

God is a JUST God, along with being a LOVING Heavenly Father.  God wanted a restored relationship of His Creation that was lost in the Garden (Genesis Chapter 3).

But He also needed to see the JUSTICE carried out with respect to the violation of His law.  How could these TWO attributes be satisfied simultaneously?

THE CROSS.  It had to be!

God took on flesh in the person of Christ Jesus to do for mankind what we could never do for ourselves–pay the PENALTY for our SIN in such a way to make possible a personal relationship with Himself.  NOW THAT’S REAL LOVE!

In searching the Scriptures, the PENALTY of our sin is so great, that left to pay it on our own, requires an eternity’s worth of suffering, meaning that we would never be able to be set free from sin’s penalty and have a RELATIONSHIP with Abba, Father.

God took on FLESH in the person of Jesus and lived a SINLESS life in order to QUALIFY and represent human race and pay the PENALTY of OUR SIN.  And because He was God in the flesh, He could pay that infinite PENALTY in a finite period of time on the Cross.

He provided FORGIVENESS to the entire human race and proved that sin’s penalty was fully PAID by being raised from the dead, ascending back to heaven leaving an offering of the Holy Spirit to bind the relationship with Himself to all who choose to receive His GIFT of eternal life.

Romans 6:23 (Easy-to-read Version -ERV)

[23] When people sin, they earn what sin pays–death.  But God gives his people a free gift–eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Nature of His Provision (vs. 5, 8) –

  • He came to provide us VICTORY over sin (vs. 5).
  • He came to provide us VICTORY over Satan (vs. 8).

ILLUSTRATION: The Dallas Texans, Not the Cowboys *[See Footnote [i] ]

The first NFL franchise in the state was in 1952–The Dallas Texans.

The Texans had a brief history and existing for only one year, posting a win/loss record of 1-11.  A former member of the team, before he was cut, recalls a story of the team’s equipment manager, Willie Garcia, who had never seen a football game in his life.  “Willie had one wooden leg.  When they kicked the ball into the high grass during practice, no one wanted to go after it because of SNAKES.  Willie would volunteer and said, ‘I’ve got a 50-50 chance the SNAKE will go for the wrong leg.'”

On our own, there’s always a chance of getting “bit” by the devil.  But because of the CROSS, the FEAR of him should no longer be.

By the PROVISION of the Savior, our lives need not be dominated by SIN and SATAN!

The PRACTICE of the SAVED (vs. 6-7) –

 

John doesn’t say a SAVED PERSON won’t sin.  What he does say is a Christian won’t “keep on sinning.”

The Amplified Bible reads “[deliberately, knowing, and habitually]” commits SIN.

So truly SAVED people DON’T live to do what God says is wrong!

They DO practice RIGHTEOUSNESS (Vs. 7) –

A truly Saved Person, a genuine Christian, lives to do what is right in God’s eyes and not their own.  John says those who are born again DON’T PRACTICE SIN but practice RIGHTEOUSNESS.

SIN in the life of a true believer should be the exception and not the rule.  If you are genuine in your belief, you don’t practice SIN.

So what does the word “PRACTICE” mean? 

The English Oxford Dictionary, Item #3 reads  “a Repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it.”  

SAVED people occasionally do wrong, just as the LOST occasionally do right.

The FACT that the SAVED occasionally does what is wrong doesn’t make him any less saved than the FACT that a LOST person who occasionally is found doing something right makes him any less lost.

In Matthew 7:17, Jesus says that a corrupt tree brings forth corrupt fruit and a good tree brings forth good fruit.  Occasionally you might find a good apple off a bad tree, and occasionally you might get a bad apple off a good tree, but normally, the FRUIT of a good tree will be good.

So it is in the life of a child of God.

That’s what John is saying here.  He’s not saying you will never sin if you’re a child of God.  He’s saying that the direction you take should be pointed toward God–doing the things that please Him.

The POWER OF SALVATION (Vs. 9-10) –

[9] Those who are children of God do not continue to sin, for God’s very nature is in them; and because God is their Father, they cannot continue to sin.

[10] Here is the clear difference between God’s children and the Devil’s children; those who do not do what is right or do not love others are not God’s children.  Good News Translation (GNT)

When one is BORN AGAIN…born of the Spirit (1 John 3:6-7)the Holy Spirit takes up residence in his/her life (Romans 8:16; Ephesians 1:13-14).

As a result of the Spirit’s presence, we should have…

A NEW DESIRE (V. 9 b ).

The phrase, “they cannot continue to sin” speaks of the NEW DESIRE on the part of those who are BORN AGAIN.

The apostle Paul put it this way in Romans 7:22 (AMP): 

For I endorse and delight in the Law of God in my inmost self [with my new nature].

The Bible says that when a person is SAVED…BORN AGAIN, “God writes His law on their heart” (Jeremiah 31:33; Hebrews 8:10).

The CHILD OF GOD has the DESIRE to do what God says is right.  That doesn’t mean we always succeed, but it does mean that is what we want to do!

A Methodist Evangelist named Dr. Morrison taught the Doctrine of Holiness and it was said that he came closer to practicing it than most people do.  Someone once asked Dr. Morrison jokingly, “Dr. Morrison, have you gotten to a place where you cannot sin?”  Dr. Morrison answered, “No, my brother, I have not yet gotten to where I cannot sin, but I have gotten to where I cannot sin and enjoy it.”

That’s to be the testimony of every truly born again child of God.

Learning How To Live In GENUINENESS By Yielding to the Spirit –

“Yielding to” in Vine’s Greek New Testament Dictionary uses the Greek word “Peitho”; to PERSUADE BY, in contrast to “yielding” to one’s own SINFUL NATURE, something Paul had to grow to learn and as something every ‘GENUINE CHRISTIAN’ likewise needs to grow and learn.

2 Peter 1:3-4

 

An unbeliever has one nature, received a birth; a sinful nature.

But when we TRUST CHRIST, receiving a NEW nature with the Spirit’s presence in our life, a new power is provided for us.  No longer do we need to surrender to our sinful nature, give into temptation and live for sin.  Our DESIRE should be to surrender to the leading of Holy Spirit, resisting temptation and living for God!  That my friends is GENUINENESS!!

A NEW BELIEVER asked a church small group how they were doing in their Christian walk, especially around others.  They replied that it felt like they had a black dog and a white dog inside of them, constantly fighting with each other.  They were asked which dog was winning.  And their REPLY?  “The one I feed the most.”

Looking at your lifestyle right now.  Which one are you feeding the most?

___________________________________________________________________________   

FOOTNOTES & CREDITS –

Footnote [i] :  Story printed in the Los Angeles Times, December 18, 1992.

Dictionary used:  Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Words.

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search, using Bible verses as a reference.

Bible Translations:  Noted in the text.

 

Sizing Up the Real Estate Market – PART TWO

Sizing up the HOUSING MARKET

HAGGAI 2:6-9 (AMP) – THE GORY COMES!

[6] For thus says the LORD of hosts:  Yet once more, in a little while,  I will shake and make tremble the [starry] heavens, the earth, the sea, and the dry land;  [Heb. 12:26]

[7] And I will shake all nations and the desire and the precious things of all nations shall come in and I will fill this house with splendor, says the LORD of hosts.  [Isa. 60:5; Matt. 2:1-12]

[8] The silver is Mine and the gold is Mine, says the LORD of hosts.

[9] The latter glory of this house [with its successor, to which Jesus came] shall be greater than the former,  says the LORD of hosts; and in this place will I give peace and prosperity, says the LORD of hosts.

Our SERVICE will be better when we come with OUR PRIORITIES in order!

If the prioritized people will RISE UP…we ain’t seen nothing yet, folks!

PROVISION comes!

Right in the midst of famine FAVOR can fall.

PEACE comes!

In the midst of chaos, upheaval, and uncertainty.  We can be at REST!

While some argue over carpet color, music styles and whether to reach out or not, we can see God’s church packed from top to bottom and front to back  

IT IS HIS GLORY, not ours.

HAGGAI 2:18-22 – A SECURE FOUNDATION

[18] “From this day on, from this twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, give careful thought in the day when the foundation of the LORD’S temple was laid.  Give careful thought;  [19] Is there yet any seed left in the barn?  Until now, the vine and the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have not borne fruit. 

” ‘From this day on I will bless you.’ “

[20] The word of the LORD came to Haggai a second time on the twenty-fourth day of the month;  [21] “Tell Zerubbabel governor of Judah that I will shake the heavens and the earth.  [22] I will overturn royal thrones and shatter the power of the foreign kingdoms.  I will overthrow chariots and their drivers; horses and their riders will fall, each by the sword of his brother.”

The day the foundation was secured their HARVEST changed!

BEFORE they had even planted a HARVEST was PROMISED!

BEFORE the first link in the chain was broken their BONDAGE was dealt with, on the DAY the FOUNDATION was built, VICTORY and DELIVERANCE were set in motion.

BEFORE the first punch was thrown or landed they found themselves in a fixed fight because of their RIGHT PRIORITIES!

I don’t know about you, but that’s the kind of life I desire!

Let me throw open several questions:

  • Are you killing yourself trying to live BLESSED?
  • Are you seeking provision for you and your family?
  • Are you trying to secure your life?
  • Are you fitting battles that seem like you can’t win?
  • Are you working without God?

Matthew 16:26 (AMP):  “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life [his blessed life in the kingdom of God]?  Or what would a man give as an exchange for his [blessed] life [in the kingdom of God]?”

Location, location, location

HEAR THE HOUSING REPORT AND RESPOND!

Either you and I need to change our priorities or the HOUSE will be in ruins and our PROVISION will be wasted.  We need to REPENT–change course–do an about-face.

Paying so much attention to your own house you have no regard or thought to His HOUSE!

Our PRIORITIES are messed up and the result is finding ourselves barren; our lives are meaningless and unblessed!  I believe that we’ve either forgotten or don’t really believe the words in Matthew 6:33 anymore!

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

When we get the ORDER right–the KINGDOM first–as His house flourishes our houses will spring to life once again!  REVIVAL has always been there if we know where to search!

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS

Photos:  Google Image Search

Bible Translations:  Nnew International Version (NIV) and Amplified Bible (AMP).

 

 

 

 

Maneuvering Your Way Through the Bumps In Life

PSALM 116:7-8:

[7]  Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

[8]  For You have delivered my life from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from stumbling and falling.

img_4303

In 1978-1980, I commuted from home to work every day, over 100 miles each way. To keep me company on the long ride, I would listen to Paul Harvey. a conservative talk show host, true stories he told every morning.  One of my favorites was a lady who went to a local newspaper to report the death of her husband.  She took a glowing four page report to the obituary counter.  Upon seeing it, the counter’s clerk said,  “Ma’am, you should know that it costs $.50 a word to put that in the paper.”  Stunned, the wife took it back and re-wrote it.  It now said “Sam Brown dies.”  The clerk said, “I’m sorry ma’am, but there’s a 7-word minimum.”  The widow took it back and counting on her fingers wrote:  “Sam Brown dies…’88 Ford for sale.”

Somewhere, in between the humorous, quick fix Paul Harvey’s widow and the person today–who for years cannot bring themselves to go on with their life because of GRIEF (a “bump”), believe there’s an equilibrium of emotion that God wants for us.

Ecclesiastes 3:4 (GNT): 

[4]  “He sets the time for sorrow and the time for joy, the time for mourning and the time for dancing.”

The author of PSALM 116 went through the process of GRIEF and was able to find comfort in the process.

GRIEF is a natural response to loss.  It is the emotional suffering one feels when something or someone the individual loses is taken away  [See footnote [i] ].

If you have never experienced the emotion of LOSS before, trust me, someday you will.

Since it is an involuntary emotion, it’s not wrong to express GRIEF, in fact it is normal.

The apostle Paul, a man who experienced loss, wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4:13,  “Now also we would not have you ignorant, brethren, about those who fall asleep [in death], that you may not grieve [for them] as the rest do who have no hope [beyond the grave]” (Amplified Bible-AMP).

He doesn’t say “don’t grieve,” but in your GRIEF, remember to place your HOPE in God.

PSALM 116, most commentators agree, that it’s a “Psalm of Grief.”  They are not sure of the circumstances but looking at some of the words the psalmist uses…

Vs. 3:   “death was around me”; “I suffered anguish and grief’

Vs. 10:  “I am greatly afflicted.”

So the Psalmist has been grieving, and although we’re not sure of the cause of his mourning, we do know that GRIEF can come in a variety of ways.

The most common GRIEF experienced is from the loss of a loved one.

I believe this is behind the Psalmist’s sorrow.

Vs. 15:  “Precious (important and no light matter) in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints (His loving ones).”

The loss of a loved one, especially if they are young or the death is sudden, may be the hardest kind of GRIEF to deal with, but it’s not the only source.  The loss of possessions, the loss of health, even the loss of a pet.

Some commentators feel that when the Psalmist says in vs. 3,  “the cords and sorrows of death were around me,” that maybe he was referring to his own health.

A loss of health can certainly cause GRIEF, but it is also not uncommon for a person going through intense GRIEF to have a variance of HEALTH PROBLEMS; insomnia, exhaustion, head aches, anxiety, depression and more.

And GRIEF can come from a loss of RELATIONSHIP too.

Counselors often say that a DIVORCE is tougher to live with than DEATH.  They live with the ever-present loss of the partnership, the loss of companionship, and unfulfilled expectations.

That brings us now, how do we RESPOND to GRIEF.

Since there’s a variety of reasons that we suffer, I wanted to look at how we respond to it.  But as I thought about our responses, I felt the importance of what one trying to HELP the GRIEF STRICKEN should do and not do.

Let’s face it, many have not suffered these kind of losses and it’s crucial that we have some idea how to respond to others when a critical loss happens.

In my Detective investigation of GRIEF, I ran across a survey taken by Bob Russell, a preacher in Louisville, Kentucky, involving people who’ve gone through the GRIEVING PROCESS.

I’m going to borrow and share with you the 10 practical suggestions of the “do’s” & “don’ts” to help us understand how to help someone who’s GRIEVING:

(1)  Don’t avoid the person who MOURNS.

We worry sometimes about “I don’t know what to say.”  “I’ll feel so awkward at the funeral home.”  The worst thing we can do when someone is GRIEVING is to do nothing.

(2)  Don’t think you have to say the “right thing.”

The people in the SURVEY said consistently, the person who helped the most was the close friend who was just there…sitting next tom them, just listening.

(3)  Don’t treat the survivor differently.

For example, if you would have invited the couple to the party, then invite the widow or widower to the party.

(4)  Do understand the GRIEVING PROCESS takes a long time.

BE PATIENT!

(5)  Don’t think it’s necessary to bring it up every time you’re with them.

DON’T say, “How are you REALLY doing?”  DON’T push!

(6)  Do expect their EMOTIONS to fluctuate.

The survivor isn’t always going to feel badly.  Let them be happy, let them be sad, maybe all in a matter of moments.

(7)  Do be willing to reminisce.

Sometimes I think they won’t want to hear something about their love one because it might make them feel bad.

Let them talk about their memories, then you can join in with them by saying “You know one time Frank and I were…” -OR- “I remember how Frank loved to give me a big hug every time we met.”

(8)  Do be personal in your remembrances.

If you know something nice to say, then say it!  “O, your mother was so wonderful to me.”  “Your Dad’s strong faith was such a blessing to me.”

(9)  Do keep your sense of humor.  “A cheerful heart does good like medicine (Proverbs 17:22 LB).

536747_4192361084728_498858354_n

Vance Havner, a famous preacher, when someone would come up to him after the death of his wife and say,  “Sorry you lost your wife.”  He’d smile and say, “Well, don’t be…after all, somethings not lost if you know its location!  And I know right where to find her!”

But remember, Proverbs 14:13 (AMP) also says:  

“Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful, and the end of mirth us heaviness and grief.”

So, even though we should keep a sense of humor, don’t think the laughter means the PAIN is completely over.

(10)  And Do remember, the time you are needed the most, is not immediately.

Oh, you need to be there from the start but so does everyone else.  But 6-8 weeks or 6 months later, when everyone else is gone…that’s when you’re needed most!

KNOW THAT THERE IS HELP WITH GRIEF AVAILABLE WHEN YOU NEED IT!

grief-support

FIRST, know that there is HELP from God.

It’s important that those going through GRIEF–the “bumps in the road”–know that the Lord offers some incredible resources to help HEAL.

The Psalmist here mentions several, starting with Vs. 5:  “Our God is merciful (compassionate)”.

You, or someone you know, when going through the GRIEF process, are not alone.

JESUS knows how you feel because He has been where you are.  Read the 6th Chapter of the Gospel of John sometime, where you’ll find the murder of John the Baptist’s murder.  When Jesus finds out the news of his cousin, his friend, his co-worker John, he wanted to get away from people and be by Himself.  He wanted space to GRIEVE.

Hebrews 4:15 says,  “We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all–all but the sin”  (MSG).

God knows exactly how you feel and offers His compassion.

Next, God promises protection – Vs. 6:

[6]  “The Lord protects the simple and the children; I was facing death, and then he saved me.”  (TLB)

Allow the LOSS your going through, whatever it is, draw you into a DEEPER dependence on Him.

God promises DELIVERANCE from GRIEF – Vs. 8:

[8]  For You have delivered my life from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from stumbling and falling  (AMP).

Now, it’s going to take time to make progress through the journey.  But God is with you every step of the way.  He will DELIVER you!

You’ll have to experience some depression probably, but not total defeat.  I’ve said to my wife many times when hearing about the GRIEF in a church family,  “I don’t know how people go through this without the Lord; without Christian friends.”

That conversation brought me to Peter’s words to mind.

1 Peter 1:5-6 (AMP):

[5]  Being guarded by God’s power through [your] faith [till you fully inherit that final] salvation that is ready to be revealed [for you] in the last time.

[6]  [You should] be exceedingly glad on this account, though now for a little while you may be distressed by trials and suffer temptations.

I love the way The Living Bible (TLB) words Vs. 6:  “There is wonderful joy ahead, even though the going is rough for a while down here.”

So, there’s God’s promised help in terms of His promises but He also offers help in terms of His people.

You see, God’s greatest PROMISE is heaven, but His greatest help lies in those who have undergone GRIEF and understand how essential He is to getting us through those “bumps in life.”

The apostle Paul tells us in the 1st chapter of 2 Corinthians about how this works:

[3]  “Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  [4] who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God”  (NIV).

“I HAVE TRAVELED DOWN THE SAME ROAD”

2-corinthians-1-3-and-4-comfort

I was reading a little devotional commentary that is true to the Word of God.  Dr. George Truett, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas for 50 years, told the following story of a young, unbelieving couple in a sermon.

The young couple, who had just lost their baby, came to Dr. Truett, asking him to conduct the funeral, so he did.

He said later, he had joy of seeing them both come to trust the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior.

Many months later, he said the young mother who had lost her child stepped forward, went to a young girl’s side and said,  “I passed through this and I know what you’re passing through.  God called me and through the darkness I came to Him.  He’s comforted me and He’ll comfort you.”

Dr. Truett said the first mother did more for the second mother than I could have done, maybe in days or months.  For the first young mother had traveled down the same road of GRIEF & SUFFERING  [See footnote [ii] ].

That’s what Paul is talking about in the help of others who are have the same experience in life.

You are never alone in your GRIEF, and know this about our heavenly Father–

“Precious (important and no light matter) in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints (His loving ones)”  (Psalm 116:15).

 


CREDITS & FOOTNOTES

Footnote [i]:  Wikipedia, the Free encyclopedia- the word GRIEF.

Footnote [ii]:  https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/comfort-sometime…th-skin-on-them/

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  The Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(The M.I.C.) Manipulator In Charge

ap_nixon_watergate_testimony_45293229-4_3

Early in the morning of June 17, 1972, several burglars were arrested inside of the office of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), located in the Watergate building in Washington, D.C..  This was no ordinary robbery. The prowlers were connected to President Richard Nixon’s reelection campaign, and they had been caught while attempting to wiretap phones and steal secret documents.  While historians are not sure whether Nixon knew about Watergate espionage operation before it happened, rest assure, he took steps to cover it up after words, raising “hush money” for the burglars, trying to stop the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) from investigating the crime, destroying evidence and firing uncooperative staff members.  In August 1974, after his role in the Watergate conspiracy had finally come to light, the president resigned.

Throughout history, many attempts have been made to cover up incompetence, immorality and even crimes.  In the Bible, cover ups appear very early.  Adam and Eve sought to cover their nakedness and hide from God, not realizing their efforts betrayed their SIN and GUILT.

images

In my study in 2 Samuel 11 this past week, one of the great cover-up attempts of all time takes place, and like so many,

IT TOO…falls disastrously!

Proverbs 24:8 (NIV):

“He who plots evil will be known as a schemer.”

DAVID’S ATTEMPT TO MANIPULATE OTHERS IN ORDER TO HIDE HIS SIN –

This SIN was due to David’s lust and arrogance.  PERIOD!

David had no desire for Bathsheba to become his wife, or even to carry on an adulterous affair with her.  His intent was but for a ‘one night stand’, and she went home.  That was that, or so it seemed.  I hope you have your bibles alongside you as we go through the events unveiled in Chapter 11.

When David heard from Bathsheba that this ‘fling’ resulted in pregnancy…the Scripture narrative reveals David’s desperate attempt to cover up his sin with Bathsheba.

As we all know, it didn’t work out and it actually made matters so much worse.  As Sir Walter Scott once said, “O, what a tangled web we weave when we practice to deceive.”

DAVID’S PROBLEM –

pancakes-stackemhighDavid didn’t know how to stop what he started and decides to stack one SIN upon another.

There are many lessons to be learned from this tragic episode of David’s life, which if heeded, will keep us all from duplicating them in our own lives.

So, the KING, DAVID, tries to “legitimize” the unfortunate circumstances; He instructs his Four Star General Joab, to bring Bathsheba’s military husband home from the Ammonite Campaign, making it possible for him to enjoy the intimacies of marriage.

2 Samuel 11:7:

“When Uriah had come to him, David asked him how Joab was, how the people fared, and how the war progressed.”

David orchestrated this homecoming, so to speak, to appear as though it served one purpose–while it actually served David’s purpose of concealing his own sin.

Webster’s definition for “A MANIPULATOR IN CHARGE” (Manipulation):  One who “manages or influences skillfully, especially in an unfair manner; to manipulate people’s feelings.”

So David PRETENDED that he was interested in the General, the Military, and the progress of the war.

BUT the real reason for getting Uriah back was to make it possible for him to enjoy the intimacies of marriage.  Thus it would be possible to attach the paternity question of the child to him.

MANIPULATORS PROFESS (to Honor) – verses 8-13.

After reading these verses, we see David scheming by suggesting Uriah get cleaned up from his return from the front lines of war.  Soldiers didn’t wear combat boots in the day, but sandals.

[8] David said to Uriah,  “Go down to your house and wash your feet…”

Yeah, Uriah.  Go home and enjoy your R&R and here, take this sack of groceries home, maybe a few candles too and have a romantic evening with your wife.

But Uriah wanted no part of the comforts offered by the king.  His argument was, how could he be allowed the comforts of home and a conjugal visit while his friends in combat were deprived of them?

[11] Uriah said to David,  “The ark and Israel and Judah live in tents, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field. Shall I then go to my house to eat and drink and lie with my wife? As you live and as my soul lives, I will not do this thing.”

Since this scheme wasn’t working, David decided he was going to need to convince (“manipulate”) Uriah another way.

How many times have we tried to manipulate others, in coming around to our way of thinking by presenting another plan?

David’s thinking was, I’m going to ‘buddy’ up to Uriah.

What do ‘buddies’ do?  Well, in this case, they get drunk together.  But this wasn’t friendship.  It was David resorting to another scheme to induce Uriah to go home to his wife (v. 12-13).

Uriah is presented as a faithful and pious soldier who had more respect for the law of God when he was drunk than his king did when he was sober.

So David’s deceptive plot of pretense of coming home and professing to be his buddy didn’t work.

COVER-UPS Began Early in Our History.

Adam and Eve tried to COVER-UP with leaves, but their efforts only betrayed their guilt.  This cover-up by David’s manipulation is like so many others, failing completely!

How David, the “Apple of God’s Eye” (Psalm 17:8), has fallen from the man he once was.  And if you’re thinking to yourself, how could this happen to a man who had God’s call, who was anointed by the King of kings…we are ALL vulnerable to SIN!  What we do with our actions…do we cover them up, or do we CONFESS OUR SIN?  (1 John 1:9-10).

MANIPULATORS PANIC (when it doesn’t go their way).

david-gives-the-letter-to-uriah-grenico-17th-cen-11x11

Verses 14-17:

[14] In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah.  [15] And he wrote in the letter,  “Put Uriah in the front line of the heaviest fighting and withdraw from him, that he may be struck down and die.”  [16] So when Joab was besieging the city, he assigned Uriah opposite where he knew the enemy’s most valiant men were.  [17] And the men of the city came out and fought with Joab, and some of the servants of David fell, Uriah the Hittite died also.

When your plans do go as expected, do you ever PANIC?  

DAVID is getting desperate at this point of the story.  When Uriah refuses to sleep with his wife, David panics.  Once David began his efforts to cover up his SIN, each step taken from that point lead in deeper and deeper into sin!

FIRST, he LUSTED, then he committed ADULTERY, then DECEIT, and finally MURDER.

Our day has had its share of highly placed people who made matters worse as they looked to cover up their wrongdoing.

THE PLOT THICKENS

To show how calloused David had become and how noble Uriah was, David sent a letter that plotted the Hittites death by Uriah himself (verses 14 & 15).:

[14] In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah.

[15] And he wrote in the letter,  “Put Uriah in the front line of the heaviest fighting and withdraw from him, that he may be struck down and die.”

I find it amazing how we can get so caught up in our own deceptions, that we want to recruit others into our tangled web.  The DECEIT and DECEPTION woven in our plans must bring more people to join in the conspiracy.  We want to spread our guilt and shame around so that the weight of our SIN is more distributed.

David’s plan was to put Uriah in the front of an intense battle, then withdraw so he would be killed.  While General Joab had no qualms about accomplishing David’s goal, he amended his plan as having too great of risk both to himself and David.  The king’s plan would have been too obvious to everyone and would have made many of those who fought that day under Joab’s command to doubt his commitment to them.

So Joab led an attack against a part of the city where he knew the resistance was the greatest.  In the heat of the battle, Joab lost several men [wasn’t in the “plan’], including Uriah (vv. 16-17).

images (1)

MANIPULATORS PLANS (place others in danger) – (vv. 18-25)

Mission Accomplished.  Uriah is dead!

Joab knew that he had to let the king know that his objective had been accomplished– without revealing to anyone else that the TWO OF THEM murdered Uriah in such a way as just another casualty of war.

Another Cover-up, perhaps?

Joab didn’t exactly follow the instructions of the Commander-In-Chief’s letter.  The collateral damage to the troops wasn’t suppose to happen.

The king’s desires had come to fruition…to a point.  But now, how can one possibly report this fiasco in a way that doesn’t make Joab look like a fool (at best), or a murderer (at worst)?

So the messenger was told that after David raised his objections, he was to reveal to him that “your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also”  (vv.18-21). 

The news of Uriah’s death calmed the king and in the message that was sent back to Joab, David covered the treachery with insincerity in tone:

Oh well, “the sword devours one as well as another” (v. 27).

MANIPULATORS PUNISHED (in God’s timing) – (vv. 26-27):

[26] When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for Uriah.  [27] And when the mourning was past, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son.  But the thing that David had done was evil in the sight of the LORD.

David, though he had broken at least three of the Ten Commandments God had given Israel for the purpose of relating to God and to fellow-man–he had COVETED another man’s wife, committed ADULTERY, and MURDERED.  And yet, who can judge the judge; who can question the actions of the king?

The answer comes in the final verse of the chapter in words that suggest that no one stands above the law of God.  What seemed to David a final ending to what would have been a very sticky situation was but the beginning of problems because (verse 27) set in motion events that would trouble David till his death [David was trying to legitimize his SIN, making Uriah a casualty of war, making Bathsheba a widow. He now can marry this woman and raise the child as his own, which of course it is].

Sin has a sneaky way of compounding itself!

Before you know it, you’re more deeply involved in it than you ever thought you’d be.

Temptations and Manipulation Are Cousins!

You cannot control the course of your destiny once you allow yourself to begin to flirt with SIN.  It will capture you.  It will ensnare you.  And ultimately, it will destroy you.

David once killed GIANTS.  Now the GIANT is killing him.

Uriah is a reminder to us today: God doesn’t always deliver the RIGHTEOUS from the hand of the wicked immediately, or even in this lifetime.

DANIEL’S THREE FRIENDS –

Daniel’s three friends told the king that THEIR GOD was able to deliver them.  They didn’t presume that He would or that He must.  And God did deliver them!  [See Daniel 3:17, 18; 19-28]

God Is Able
God Is Able

I think Christians look upon this DELIVERANCE as the rule, rather than the exception.  But when Uriah faithfully serves his king (DAVID), he loses his life.

God is not obliged to ‘bail us out of trouble’ or keep us from trials and tribulations just because we TRUST in Him.

In the Old Testament, as in the New, God sometimes delivers His people from the hands of wicked people, but often He doesn’t.

Their “deliverance” comes with the Messiah, the LORD JESUS CHRIST.  

Uriah, like ALL of the Old Testament saints, died without receiving his full reward, and that is because God wanted him to wait.  Uriah, like many saints, was not delivered from the hands of the WICKED–THE MANIPULATORS.  [READ Hebrews 11:13-16; 37-40] 

 


CREDITS:

Watergate Scandal Facts & Summary @ HISTORY.com

Photos:  Google Search Images.

Bible Translation:  Amplified Bible (AMP).

 

A GUIDE For Witnessing In A Christ-like Manner

you will be my witnessesIn my reading of Scripture every morning, my set-aside devotional time, there’s one book in the New Testament that refreshes my spirit over and over again.  It was the first book of the Bible I read through after I was “born again” in 1972.  The book, The Gospel Of John.  

Many truths set forth in John’s gospel have made a great impact on my Christian life.  First and foremost, there is no greater honor than to be a part of God’s work of telling others about Jesus.  So this is where I want to begin; sharing from my own experiences and giving a beginning guide to today’s oft forgotten term… Witnessing to others about Jesus Christ.

We hear from pastor’s sermons at least once a year from a familiar passage in Acts 1:8  “and you shall be My witnesses…”  Now if we take that verse to heart, seriously, maybe we need to reevaluate our preparedness to obey Christ’s command.

WHAT IS A WITNESS?

WITNESS Definitions:  Merriam Webster;  [2] One that gives evidence;  [5] public affirmation by word or example.

The word WITNESS we are most familiar with comes to us from the legal sphere, derived from the root meaning “to bear in mind,” “to be careful.”  Thus a witness in the field of law is one who has the knowledge of something by recollection and experience and who can tell about it accurately.

Biblically speaking, A WITNESS is born when one is born again, that is, when you experience the POWER of God in your own personal death, burial and resurrection. In that sense, Christian Witnessing is not optional, nor is it mandatory.  It is inevitable.

When I first had knowledge of what a witness was, and internalizing Jesus’ message in Acts 1:8 of being “witnesses” in the community, this next little tidbit was added to my spirit: 

The word MARTYR: “comes from the Greek word for “witness”.  Early Christians were often put to death for the “witness” of Christ Jesus.

Boy, after having that scary thought placed in my mind, I needed some real motivation if… I was going to be a witness for Jesus.  But where was that motivation going to come from?

A GUIDE to Being A WITNESS:

8984030392_bfbfa33a52_b

In John chapter four, JESUS is passing through Samaria.  He comes to Jacob’s well, tired from His journey and He sits down (John 4:6).

Now the disciples have gone into a nearby town Sychar, to buy food (John 4:5, 8).  The Bible says it was about the sixth hour which most likely be around noon.

LUNCH TIME!

In my last job before retiring, I was required to be at my desk by 6 AM.  So by the time lunch time rolled around, I needed to get away from the office, where I could sit down, get a bite to eat, and relax.  Many times, several of my co-workers would show up at the same place.  I didn’t invite them to come.  They just showed up!

In this portion of Scripture, we see Jesus’ human side and see that He is tired and evidently hungry, just like when we get tired and hungry.

Notice how Jesus uses a common physical thirst to cause the lady at the well to ask questions about deeper eternal matters.

I was intrigued once more to focus on their discussion.  Remember, they are total strangers to one another–not co-workers, not BFF’s, but strangers.

STEP #1.  Jesus arouses the woman’s curiosity with a promise; the quenching a natural spiritual thirst common to all mankind.  That spiritual thirst which people try to satisfy through giving into the flesh, drinking in the world’s views and Satan’s lies.  Sadly, only a few drink of the Living Water offered by the Lord.

John 4:13-14:

[13] Jesus answer her, “All who drink of this water will be thirsty again.  

THE PROMISE…

[14] But whoever takes a drink of the water that I will give him shall never, no never, be thirsty any more.  But the water that I will give him shall become a spring of water welling up (flowing, bubbling)  [continually]  within him unto (into, for) eternal life.”

By Divine Appointment – A Personal Story

Working for a large company for over fifteen years, starting as a truck driver and working myself up through the ranks to Branch Manager, in February, 1985, the company was sold, and my services were no longer needed.  I was to be replaced by new management.  Although I was given a decent severance pay package, my self-worth was definitely damaged in the process.

Two weeks later, I received a phone call from an old business associate, who had heard through the grapevine reasons for my termination.  He asked the question–“Would I be interested in taking a job out-of-state?”  “That depends,” I answered.  “Where is ‘out-of-state’?”  HAWAII.  So, two days later, I found myself sitting in front of the president of large Hawaiian Wholesale Plumbing Company on the island of Oahu.

The next several months was a time in my life I have reflected on in detail for years. For my stay was for a brief time.  At the time, A Divine Appointment wasn’t even a thought. But God had set His plan in motion long before I had a clue.

After accepting the new job, part of my negotiated package was housing and a company vehicle to use until my family and automobile arrived from the mainland.  Since the president’s daughter and son-in-law lived nearby and also worked at the same office, I carpooled with the young man…for over two months.  Our conversation varied during the heavy commute, from family to music choices (the car radio was always active), to Hawaiian lifestyle compared to mainland lifestyle.  Then one day he asked, “I’ve noticed you go to church every Sunday.  What church do you attend?”  The opportunity at the well was there and I took it!

I answered his question with a question; asking him his religious background and did he have a personal relationship with JESUS; a few weeks later led him to Christ.

Hawaii wasn’t the place for my family and I to live, and I returned to the mainland; unemployed to employment…and back to unemployment… all with three month’s time.

WHY?  God had a DIVINE APPOINTMENT in mind and I had the privilege to be a part of.  It wasn’t until I returned to my original starting point did I fully understand the details in my going.

Divine Providence brings always amazing things and Jesus doesn’t want you to miss the opportunities He gives you.

Three simple truths we can hold on to here as laid down by Jesus to help all Christians in their daily witness.  For after all, when we leave our front door in the morning, we don’t go out witnessing; we witness as we go.  It may be today, next week, next month or off and on through out the calendar year.  But know this: God wants to use you.

So how can we follow the simple example of Christ with confidence that Jesus is going to use us?

The FIRST THING I noticed that Jesus did was to make a connection.

The woman who lived a sinful life came out to get water and He makes the connection with her.

You have family members, friends and co-workers just like this lady and you need to be making connections.  Jesus made the connection in being obedient to His Father who was sending Him to Galilee.

All Divine Appointments that are set up for you come about as you are obedient to the Lord’s call on your life.  

Divine Providence brings all glorious things into existence.  Jesus doesn’t want you to miss the opportunities He gives you.

Is there someone in your workplace that you want to reach for Christ?  Is there a neighbor, a family member you’ve been praying for?  Ask the Lord for a connection.

Jesus had a need for water and the lady had a way of getting water from a well that was very deep.  The depth is around 70 feet to the water line with a depth of about 105 feet (Harper’s Bible Dictionary, Jacob’s Well).

The point being Jesus, being a man, had a NEED that could not be met without her help.

We all have some needs that we cannot meet and there is someone who is bound by sin who can help you meet that need.

This is a wonderful opportunity to make a connection. It may be an answer to a question about work, home repairs, a physical task you cannot do on your own.

Make a connection with someone who would be shocked that you even noticed them let alone asked them for help.

The lady at the well asks,  “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?”  (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans) – (John 4:9)

A Little History About Samaritans –

Samaria is right about center of Israel.  When Israel fell to the Assyrians, Samaria was theacts_1_8_1 place where the poorest were left behind.  They intermarried with other races and brought in a false priest.  Add to that, they began false worship and twisted Scripture while rejecting everything in the Old Testament except the first five books of the Bible (2 Kings 17).

There are many PREJUDICES that keep people from hearing the gospel message of Jesus.

PREJUDICES of the people who are living in sin.  They convince themselves that obedient Christians don’t want to associate with them or care about their needs, problems or concerns.

Jesus’ lifestyle was to be out among sinners, ministering to the sick, the needy, meeting practical and spiritual needs to all who would accept what God was doing through Him.

“Must needs”  (John 4:4)

After looking at different bible translations, I like the KJV version the best:  “And he must needs pass through Samaria.”

Interesting TRUTH can be found here that the Holy Spirit wants us to grasp in our efforts to fulfill our part in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20).

“Must needs” in application means it was a necessity, a compulsion and Jesus’ destiny to go through Samaria for the sake of His mission.

There are THREE ROUTES Jesus could have taken.  But Jesus had to go through Samaria to lay down a foundational work of the gospel, because it was His Father’s will for Him (John 4:34).

THE SECOND TRUTH the Holy Spirit wants us to get hold of:  Jesus drew attention for temporary satisfaction to eternal fulfillment.

The core of Jesus’ mission at the well as defined in John 4:10 and 13 is to move the lady from what she does know to what she does not know.  He does this in stimulating her curiosity resulting in her asking a question about Him (John 4:12).  She wants to know who this man at the well is:

“Are You greater than and superior to our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well and who used to drink from it himself, and his sons and his cattle also?”

Through Jesus’ example, our goal is to get people from thinking and talking about what they know and talking about and asking they about what they don’t know.

How can we guide the conversation in our connections to talk about what they don’t know?  

One example, when people begin to talk about the problems their family is having, move them to ask about a Christian family that had the same problem, maybe your own family, but do not have them now.  

Point how Jesus did a work in their lives.  Remember the goal here is to be walking in obedience to the Lord.  The focus is to be speaking to people you connect with.  

Let the Lord lead you to the Divine Appointment; to a heart that is prepared to receive what the Lord has for them at that time on their life.

An important note to remember in witnessing to others: Jesus pointed the women’s attention to what matters in eternity.  There is a contrast to what will satisfy PHYSICAL Thirst (water drawn from a well by labor) and to SPIRITUAL Water that will bubble from the inside given by Jesus.

In this incident at Jacob’s Well, the Samaritan lady makes a request, “…Sir, give me this water so I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water!” (John 4:15).

This lady typifies many of the people we come across daily in our witnessing.  Because they are bound by SIN, they are so slow to respond to the things of God.

Like the lady at the well, many HEAR the gospel message, yet still want the things of God for all the wrong reasons.  In other words, she and those like her, still need a purifying of the heart.

People who are carnal in their thinking and not yet surrendered to the Lord (Matthew Henry Commentary).

In John chapter four, we see that Jesus had to break the barrier that kept her from understanding.

The TRUTH that must be presented to all, including Christianity is FIRST,  the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ and all that He is.

The SECOND is the revelation on oneself.

It begins with the realization that LIFE lived without Him being Savior and Lord will not do; that one must be enlightened by the Holy Spirit that he is in great need of GRACE & MERCY of God.  Use your own testimony of how God’s Grace & Mercy made things new in your life.

The THIRD TRUTH I discovered is that the Lord wants us to grab hold of and pass on to others the importance:  What is a TRUE WORSHIPER?

Jesus said,  “You [Samaritans] do not know what you are worshiping [you worship what you do not comprehend]. We do know what we are worshiping [we worship what we have knowledge of and understand], for [after all] salvation comes from [among] the Jews.  A time will come, however, indeed it is already here, when the true (genuine) worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth (reality); for the Father is seeking just such people as these as His worshipers.  God is a Spirit (a spiritual Being) and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth (reality).”  (John 4:22-24 AMP).

Most of the people we come in contact with are like the Samaritans in a sense who have chosen a partial knowledge of God’s Word.  They, like the Samaritans, have selective worship.  They choose which portion of Scripture they like and disregard the rest.

No one can worship in spirit and truth without an honest heart, seeking God’s will through the whole council of the written Word.

That doesn’t mean that a worshiper has to know ALL of God’s Word, but they must have a heart desire in seeking the Lord’s will and a willingness to live out what has already been revealed to them.

Those who want to WITNESS as Jesus did must point out the Lord is looking for the worshipers who approach God through his spirit, to attain a closeness and intimacy with God–a new relationship.

TRUE WORSHIP is when the spirit, the immortal and invisible part of oneself, speaks to and meets God, who is immortal and invisible (William Barclay).

This study in John chapter four is but a GUIDE towards your making connections in your community.  Simply use what you have already been given and He will make the way for you to WITNESS for Jesus.

God has a DIVINE APPOINTMENT for you to keep–be ready and willing to keep it!!

 


CREDITS:

Photos & Map – Google image search.

The New Testament Meaning of “Witness” [Founders – by Ernest Reisinger]

Bible translations as noted in the text.

 

 

 

“Do You Hear What I hear?”

THE “FOUR VOICES” OF ISAIAH REVEALED IN STUDY

Scripture Study:  ISAIAH 40:1-11

VOICE #1,  “Comfort God’s People” – (40:1, 2).

“COMFORT, COMFORT my people, says your God.  Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.”  [New International Version, NIV].

God Loves to Comfort His People!

Follow along with how the apostle Paul refers to God in 2 Corinthians 1:3:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…(and here is the description) “the Father of sympathy (pity and mercy) and the God [who is the Source] of every COMFORT.”

And this isn’t the only place in the bible where we find God described as a COMFORTER…

PSALM 23, the psalmist says of God the Good Shepherd,  “Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”

“As one whom his mother comforts, so will I COMFORT you; you should be COMFORTED in Jerusalem.”  (Isaiah 66:13)

So God does love to COMFORT His people.

And…He is a great source of comfort…BUT…God recognizes we need someone with skin on them too!

"Sometimes we need someone with skin on them"
“Sometimes we need someone with skin on them”

A Mother’s Words of Comfort (See Footnote [i]):

Dr. George W. Truett, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas for 50 years, told a story of a young, unbelieving couple in a sermon.

The young couple, who had lost their baby, came to Dr. Truett, asking him to conduct the funeral, so he did.  He said later, he had such joy of seeing them both trust the Lord Jesus Christ.

Many months later, he said the young mother who had lost her child stepped forward, went to a young girl’s side and said, “I passed through this and I know what you’re passing through.  God called me, and through the darkness I came to Him.  He’s comforted me, and He’ll comfort you.”

God recognizes that just like that young girl in the story, sometimes we need someone in the FLESH to come and sit with us, hold our hand and listen to our heartache.

In the first verse of the text, God says,  “Comfort, Comfort My People…”

This command [“comfort” spoken in succession] is of God to comfort His people is directed not only to Isaiah, but to ALL of God’s prophets.

BUT before COMFORT can come…SIN was dealt with–that God calls His prophet to comfort.

The first 39 Chapters of Isaiah…

God doesn’t call Isaiah to “comfort” His people.  It’s only after “their” sin has been absolved that He can send the prophet Isaiah with words of COMFORT.

So in reading Chapters 40-66 of Isaiah, the words will show TRUE COMFORT consists (not in telling people what their ‘itchy’ ears want to hear), BUT in presenting the whole truth concerning their tragic condition.  AND…in causing them to SEE GOD as their only HOPE.

It is only when reality and ugliness of SIN raises its head that the announcement of DELIVERANCE can be made.

There’s A Prerequisite for COMFORT…

Apart from the Declaration of Judgment found in Chapters 1-39 of Isaiah, the WORDS OF COMFORT in 40-66 are without much point.

The prerequisite for comfort seen here in Isaiah is much the same as JESUS taught on the Sermon On The Mount–(Matthew Chapter 5).

He too talked about people being “comforted”–But before they could be comforted, JESUS SAID, they must be “poor in spirit” and acknowledge their absolute dependence upon God–and then they mustmourn” over their sin and hopeless condition…

“Blessed are those who mourn for they will be

COMFORTED”

VOICE #2 – “PREPARE THE WAY FOR THE LORD” – Isaiah 40:3-5

[3] “A voice of one who cries: Prepare in the wilderness the way of the Lord [clear away the obstacles]; make straight and smooth in the desert a highway for our God!  [4] Every valley shall be lifted and filled up, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the crooked and uneven shall be made straight and level, and the rough places made plain.  [5] And the glory (majesty and splendor) of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.”

Pope Francis was visiting the USA this past week, and as I watch all the proceedings on TV, I thought what preparations must have been made ahead of time for his arrival.

Isaiah here, pictures the scene played out by the Royal Road Builders–smoothing the way for their King, working diligently, removing barriers and obstacles in order to make the King’s journey somewhat easier.

The PROPHECY…

Though all the prophets had a part in preparing the way for JESUS’ entry into the world–this PROPHECY ultimately was fulfilled in the person of John the Baptist.

Three of the Gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, and Luke quote this verse from Isaiah and apply it to the Baptizer.

JOHN the Baptist Prepared the Way…

john-the-baptist2

John prepared the way by shouting out in the wilderness that the only way to get right with God–was to REPENT and be IMMERSED in baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

John also helped prepare the way by grooming some of JESUS’ first disciples – Peter, John, Andrew, and James.

Once John prepared the way–removed the obstacles–showed the futility of religious ritual–preached repentance–

Once John did this, then…the GLORY of the LORD was revealed.  John the Baptist prepared the way “FOR” (“I AM the way, the Truth, and the Light”)…

We still got some “PREPARING” to do today!

Is there now no more PREPARING for the Lord–since John the Baptist, clothed in camel’s-hair, eating wild locust, shouted in the wilderness?

In a way, YES.  But, in the way, NO.

YES, there is no preparing in the sense of preparing for the Lord’s earthly arrival.  JESUS has already come in the flesh.  John the Baptist prepared the way.

But in another sense, this PRINCIPLE still applies today.

The LORD still wants to REVEAL Himself in Glory to His church.  

But, before He can do this, there are OBSTACLES that must be removed; BARRIERS that must be torn down and ROUGH PLACES that must be made smooth again…So that JESUS can arrive and be EXALTED–LIFTED UP!

TODAY’S BARRIERS, OBSTACLES, AND ROUGH PLACES REVEALED: What has to be removed before the LORD’S GLORY shows up!

Making The Way Smooth…

Women labourers throw dust on a road tarmac under construction at Bharadva village in the western Indian state of Gujarat April 23, 2013. REUTERS/Amit Dave
Women labourers throw dust on a road tarmac under construction at Bharadva village in the western Indian state of Gujarat April 23, 2013. REUTERS/Amit Dave

What are we in the CHURCH lifting up rather than Christ Jesus?

We are lifting up…

  • Personal Sin,
  • Pride,
  • Prejudice,
  • Indifference,
  • Opinions,
  • Comfort,
  • Convenience,
  • Worldly Pleasures.

In a word, we are lifting up SELF.  If we want to see the Lord’s Glory revealed in His Church, we too must LISTEN to the voice of God and prepare the way…there is way too much talking and not enough listening to God’s Spirit.

We must make a straight path/raise valleys/lower mountains/level the rough ground and make the rugged places a Plain.

VOICE # 3  Is Crying, “Invest in the Eternal” – Isaiah 40:6-8:

[6]  “A voice says, Cry [prophesy]!  And I said, What shall I cry?  [The voice answered,  PROCLAIM:]  All flesh is as frail as grass, and all that makes attractive [its kindness, its goodwill, its mercy from God, its glory and comeliness, however good] is transitory, like the flower of the field.  [7] The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely [all] the people are like grass.  [8] The grass (a) withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”

(a.)  The apostle Peter quotes this verse (1 Pet. 1:24-25) and then adds, “and this Word is the good news which was preached to you” –which confirms as fact that Isaiah is here referring to the times of Christ the Messiah, the Anointed One *** (Amplified Bible footnote, Page 1029.).

PETER then goes on to say,

“SO BE done with every trace of wickedness (depravity, malignity) and all deceit and insincerity (pretense, hypocrisy) and grudges (envy and jealousy) and slander and evil speaking of every kind.  Like newborn babies you should crave (thirst for, earnestly desire) the pure (unadulterated) spiritual milk, that by it you may be nurtured and grow unto [completed] salvation”  (1 Peter 2:1, 2).

Since God’s Word is ETERNAL and everything in this world is NOT–we should rid ourselves the things of the world and crave God’s Word.

Unfortunately, we find that many people more often than not are CRAVING the temporary…craving the things of this world (money, looks, physic, career, pleasure) with passion.

While they pursue God’s Word with casual indifference…“I’ll get God’s Word from my pastor on Sunday.”  God says INVEST in something that will last!

Making Foolish Investments In The Temporary, Ignoring the Eternal…

JESUS addressed this issue in a parableLuke 12:16-21:  “What good is it to gain the world, yet lose your very soul?”

DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR?  

DO YOU HEAR THE VOICES?

The VOICES are calling God’s people and they’ve been calling for centuries…

  • “Comfort, Comfort My people”
  • “Prepare the way for the Lord”
  • “Invest in the eternal”

And there is one more voice, and the VOICE IS CRYING out to us,

“GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN” – Isaiah 40:9-11:

14375196895_078a809153

[9] You who bring good tidings to Zion, go up on a high mountain, You who bring good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, “Here is your God!”  [10] See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and His arm rules for Him. See, His reward is with Him and His recompense accompanies Him.  [11] He tends His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those who have young  (NIV Bible).

The Announcement of the Presence of God Must Be Proclaimed Far and Wide…

GOD’S PEOPLE are not to be silent; keeping the Good News of the Lord’s arrival to themselves.  We are to go up on a mountain, but not just any mountain.

We are to go on a HIGH MOUNTAIN.  And we are not to just softly speak about the Lord’s presence, we are to SHOUT!  Lift up our VOICE…

We are not to be intimidated but rather to shout…  

Here’s your God!!!  He is powerful and mighty!!!  He is a God who rewards greatly!!!”

The VOICE compels us to “Go Tell It On The Mountain” –

Matthew 5:14-16:

[14] You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  [15] Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a peck measure, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.  [16] Let you light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven.

ISAIAH began the second half of his ministry by hearing the VOICES OF GOD calling him to:

#1.  Comfort My people…

#2.  Prepare the way for the Lord…

#3.  Invest in the eternal…

#4.  Go tell it on the mountain.

And ISAIAH WAS FAITHFUL and answered those VOICES…

And the voices, are they still calling today?

Do you hear the voices?

Will you respond to what you hear?

Or, will you ignore them?


Footnotes & Credits:

Footnote [i] – https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/comfort-someti…h-skin-on-them/

Photo Credits- Google Image Search & Photo Pin.

Bible Translation:  The AMPLIFIED BIBLE, except where noted in the text.

Your BREAKTHROUGH Is Here!

BLOG TEXT: MICAH 2

pratz
A SHEEP GATHERING

MICAH’S DECLARATION:

Micah declares to the people of the day that the JUDGE was coming, referring to God!!

And God was angry because of widespread SIN of Idolatry and…covetousness, abuses, lawlessness, among other things.

And this isn’t just referring to the nation’s leaders, but to everyone who had cultivated a heart of acceptance to do evil in the sight of God.

The CULTIVATION Effect –

In Genesis 2:15, Adam’s job in the Garden was to “tend and keep”–or “cultivate and guard” what God had provided.

To CULTIVATE is the effort a farmer makes to ensure that he will produce a bountiful crop.

If a FARMER is lazy, if he fails to cultivate the ground, to do nothing to promote growth, nature will follow its course and the farm begins to degenerate.

If we don’t “guard” our hearts; we get lazy in reading and meditating on the Word of God, spiritual weeds (lies, excuses, rebellious spirit, lawlessness) will crop up and choke out any spiritual growth (fruit) that should be developing.

And in the place of SPIRITUAL FRUIT, we begin to nourish (cultivate) our fleshly heart, and sin gets a hold of our thoughts and we wind up at the wrong destination.

In place of FRUIT, SIN will reign in its place and our heart will begin to degenerate.

Proverbs 4:23-26 begins with this:  “Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life”  (v. 23).

Apathy can let down your guard…

We are often guilty of pointing a finger at our nation’s leaders, our elected politicians, while at the same time being somewhat complacent–apathetic– on what’s tolerated by society–  “Hey, I don’t support “X, Y, Z”, but I don’t want to be judgmental. There’s nothing I can do or say, so why bother.”

It might become THE LAW of the land, but as true believers, we don’t have to roll over and play dead–forget who we are in Christ JESUS.

What is about to happen isn’t going to be a pretty sight!

So God declares through the Prophet some pretty heavy things that were going to happen from their neglect, their laziness, for what they were doing to the people and for their sins!!

What ever they had taken, God was going to take from them!!!  This also refers to their impending captivity to Babylon.

The whole scene is not a pretty sight

Then in Chapter 2:12-13, the scene abruptly shifts to the LORD’S restoration–A “BREAKTHROUGH”!

I think we can all agree, before we were born again, our lives were under JUDGMENT because of our SIN!

Romans 3:23:  Since all have sinned and are falling short of the honor and glory which God bestows and receives.

If we are honest with ourselves, some of us did some pretty ugly things we’re not proud of.

We can look back and remember, some of us were pretty messed up.  Because of that, our SIN brought the JUDGMENT OF GOD on our lives.

Romans 2:5-6:  [5] “But by your callous stubbornness and impenitence of heart you are storing up wrath and indignation for yourself on the day of wrath and indignation, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.  [6] For He will render to every man according to his works.”

Romans 6:23:  “For the wages which sin pays is death, but the [bountiful] free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Then JESUS came into our lives and changed the course of everything!!!  Whether at the time, we weren’t aware of what just happened to us spiritually.  It still happened!!

RECOGNIZING THE FIVE “R’s” AND MORE!

We were REDEEMED, RECOVERED, RECLAIMED, RELEASED, RESCUED…brought back, purchased, delivered, dis-imprisoned, emancipated, liberated, loosened, set free, SAVED by the Precious Blood of JESUS!!!

1 Peter 1:18-19:

[18] “You must know (recognize) that you were redeemed (ransomed) from the useless (fruitless) way of living inherited by tradition from [your] forefathers, not with corruptible things [such as] silver and gold.  [19] But [you were purchased] with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a [sacrificial] lamb without blemish or spot.”

JESUS is our Savior, our liberator, our salvager, our salvation, THE MESSIAH!!

TRANSITION TO THE BREAKTHROUGH (verse 12):

In the book of MICAH, the people, as well as the leaders of the land, were under THE JUDGMENT of God.

Then, all of a sudden in Verse 12, a transition…a breaking through the Mist of Deception takes place.

BREAKTHROUGH-Sunset-Picture-800x533
THE BREAKTHROUGH IS HERE!

It is kind of like SALVATION–

First, you are not saved, then in a moment, you open up your heart to receive Christ and confess Him as Lord.

In that moment…YOU ARE SAVED!

Here in chapter two of Micah, we have the JUDGMENT OF GOD, and then all of a sudden, there’s RESTORATION to those that have survived (“overcomers”) all the ugliness and had been broken.

BREAKING THROUGH THE SHEEP’S’ GATE–

Micah 2:12-13 (N.L.T.) – RESTORATION:

[12]  “Someday, O Israel, I will gather you; I will gather the remnant who are left.  I will bring you together again like sheep in a pen, like a flock into pasture.  Yes your land will again be filled with noisy crowds!

[13]  Your leader will break out and lead you out of exile, out through the gates of the enemy cities, back to your own land.  Your king will lead you; the Lord himself will guide you.”

GOD CAN RESTORE!

God restores, renews, rebuilds, recovers…heals, cures, mends, retouches, refreshes and revives.

He RESTORES LIVES,

He RESTORES HEARTS,

He RESTORES MINDS,

He RESTORES RELATIONSHIPS & FRIENDSHIPS,

He RESTORES FAMILIES & MARRIAGES.

I think we all know and can give many testimonies that GOD is a GOD who RESTORES!

Jesus has the POWER of RESTORATION (verses 12-13)

In the text, there’s a remnant of God’s people spoken of in their land (foretold captivity), but they were broken, wounded, hurt people who were spread out over the land and…the prophet Micah declares to them that God would restore and gather them all together again.

“I will bring them together like sheep in a fold, like a flock in the middle of a pasture, they will be so numerous that they will make a lot of noise.”

This is a perfect picture of RESTORATION & HEALING.

The basic understanding here is God wants to restore & heal those who have been BROKEN OR HURT AND WOUNDED!!

As we go to Verse 13, there is something very deep-seated that needs further study.

BREAKTHROUGH!!!

As I studied and meditated on this verse of Scripture, the more I read it, the more powerful it became.  The “Breaker” has come up before them; they have broken up; and…they have passed through the gate and are gone out through it.

It’s like the image I used of the Gathered Sheep in a pen, excited to burst through the narrow gate.

DELIVERANCE!!!

It is a picture of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt, sudden and aggressive!  God broke down the gate of their captivity and lead them out of bondage.

It is a picture of deliverance, not conquest.  It’s not just breaking thru a barrier (the obstacle in the way) to get to the other side.  BUT…to BREAKTHROUGH; removing all other obstacles to keep them moving forward…then MOVING FORWARD!!

It’s a picture of being confined, like in prison, and all of a sudden the prison gate was blown open and set the prisoners free!!!

THE OBSTACLE?

And the OBSTACLE which was the gate was removed so they could get out; keep moving forward.

Without getting too heavy here, the basic understanding is God will remove any and all obstacles to get us where we need to be.  It is telling us today that God is the “BREAKER”.  That God is a God of BREAKTHROUGH!!!  He will remove those things that stand in our way of progress.

The Enemy Will Try to Put Obstacles In Our Path…

Satan will try to stop what God wants to do in our lives.  But God the Breaker, the God of Breakthrough, can and will clear a path to overthrow everything that stands in the way that God wants us to accomplish.

I don’t know about your circumstances, but I do know that in my Christian walk with God, when I need a BREAKTHROUGH, He will keep me moving forward.  And He can do the same for you.

We Need Some Breakthroughs Right Now…

#1.  For Our Churches–for souls to be saved and a supernatural move of Holy Spirit to touch the lives of His people.

A BREAKTHROUGH so spirit moved, that it couldn’t be refuted, challenged or denied; you knew, that you knew you were in the Presence of God.

#2.  We need a BREAKTHROUGH of the Holy Spirit Fire!

th_FIRE-1Like the AZUSA STREET REVIVAL.  It began with a meeting on April 9, 1906, led by Wilbur J. Seymour, the one-eyed 34-year-old son of former slaves.  [See Footnote [ii]].

A BREAKTHROUGH so awesome, that men and women would rise up to any occasion and do the work the Lord has called them to do!!

#3.  We need a BREAKTHROUGH in our VISION…

To look further than we’ve ever gone before.  To enlarge, to stretch, to lengthen, to strengthen and not hold back.

A VISION that goes beyond our borders–“Jerusalem” first, then Judea, Samaria…and the World!” (Acts 1:8 – paraphrased). 

This not only applies to the CHURCH as a corporate body, but also as an individual Christian.

You might need A BREAKTHROUGH in your VISION because right now, it’s dull and blurred.

You might need A BREAKTHROUGH so that you can clearly see what God has called you to do.

You might need A BREAKTHROUGH from apathy, indifference, and worst of all…LUKEWARMNESS.

We need a PHYSICAL BREAKTHROUGH!

Some need a FINANCIAL BREAKTHROUGH!

God wants us to know according to the words in Micah,  We don’t have to remain in the sheep pen…in the negative place we’re at, that He can give us BREAKTHROUGH!

God doesn’t want us to stay in captivity to any negative situation we find ourselves in.  He wants to BREAK down the gate and set us free–keep us moving in that direction.

THE GOD OF BREAKTHROUGH –

According to verse 13, God would clear a path for mankind and make a way to Himself.

Thank You Father for Your Son Jesus! 

God makes a way for us to be brought to Himself through His Son Jesus.  Thank God for His wonderful, awesome, amazing grace.

If you are reading this today, right where you are, JESUS wants you to experience A BREAKTHROUGH in your life.

You see SIN has the POWER to hold you captive.

But JESUS has a greater POWER TO SET YOU FREE FROM CAPTIVITY.

He wants to forgive you of all your sins, and come into your heart today.

If you will give Him your old life, He will give you a new one!!!


CREDITS & FOOTNOTES:

Footnote [i] : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azusa-Street-Revival

Photo Credits:  Google Images and computer storage/personal Pictures [“fire”].

Bible Translations Used:  Amplified Bible, except where noted in the Text.

 

“Feeling Stuck In Life With Just Watching the Sheep?”

"Do I really have to...?"
“Do I really have to…?”

The Phoebe Knapp Story–[*See Footnote [i]]

In 1873, those who probably knew Phoebe Knapp as nothing but an organist at her Methodist church in NYC.  She was a wealthy enough woman–her parents had left a large estate.  But much of it was tied up in her husband’s company National Union Life and Limb.

Nowadays, that company takes its name from the Metropolitan District of New York City, which eventually became successful and know as MetLife.

“Phoebe who?”

Phoebe Knapp
Phoebe Knapp

But in 1873, Phoebe wasn’t all that special.  During The Great Financial Panic of 1873, a similar version to The Great Depression, businesses were failing and the insurance market was in jeopardy.  But Phoebe and Joe felt called to providing insurance.  They stuck it out, and with God’s providence were able to continue their business.

Then in the 1880’s, comparative wealth rolled around.  With hard work and being in the right place at the right time, defining most businesses, Joe and Phoebe Knapp were able to gain wealth and fame running an American icon like MetLife.

But the Knapp’s most enduring legacy came in the depths.  In 1873, Phoebe was just an organist at church, she and her husband were best known for their piety.  But the KEY to who they were was their TRUST IN GOD and letting Him work through them through their circumstances.

THE SIMILARITY TO MOSES’ LIFE:  “I KNOW I’M A PRINCE, BUT I FEEL STUCK JUST WATCHING THE SHEEP!”

[Scripture Verses: Exodus 3:1-16; 4:1; 10-13]

God Had A Plan for Moses – Exodus 3…

When MOSES set out to accomplish righteous ends using his own methods, things didn’t go well.  When he set out to accomplish righteous ends using GOD’S METHODS…things worked out better.  But still, Moses was stuck out in the desert.  Casually reading the story in Exodus, for all practical purposes, MOSES was a nobody.

He was a man who was prince of Egypt, and now he finds himself watching sheep (Exodus 3:1).  Talk about a waste of potential. But GOD had a plan for Moses.  If God wants to do something, it’s going to happen!

God wanted Moses to be…THE MAN…the man who gave Israel His deliverance.  So God did something He doesn’t often do.  He called Moses directly (Exodus 3:2-4).

2818620403_263a50e67a

We all have some image in our minds of the BURNING BUSH.  It’s a famous encounter when God calls man, asks man to join Him in what He’s doing or about to do.  God still calls us today, even if He is less dramatic about it.  I’m not saying we can’t have a “burning bush” moment is life, because I’ve listened to others testimony.

Our sometimes responses…

I love looking at the JOY in peoples faces serving in ministry of the church by responding to God’s call.  For whatever reason, when God calls, their response is more like that of MOSES–Here I am, Send him/her.  

I have often heard the statistic “20% of the people in church do 80% of the work.”  Why is that the case?  One answer, one that I’ve found to be true in my own personal Christian walk is illustrated by the QUESTIONS of Moses, and more importantly, the ANSWERS God gives.

When God Calls Us to Join Him…

It’s pretty natural to have questions.  After all, He’s God, and well…we’re not.  How we answer these questions determines what part we’ll have in His work.

The Call from a Burning Bush – (Exodus 3:2-11)

6284178236_e6cacb55d2Notice in these verses Moses has a very natural reaction to God’s call in his life.

Here is GOD ALMIGHTY, calling out of a “burning bush, telling MOSES you’re to act on My behalf as Israel’s Deliverer.  That’s no easy task.  Moses’ track record already shown he can take God’s call and mess it up.  So what’s Moses’ first question?

“Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”  (Exodus 3:11 AMP).

In this age where SELF-ESTEEM is so important to teach our children, God has an interesting answer:

“I shall surely be with you…”  (3:12)

Notice God doesn’t say, “Oh, Moses you’ve been trained” or “Moses you’re good man.”  No, God says, ‘Who you are isn’t important.’

“IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER” 

Lacking in self-confidence during my teenage years, as most teenagers do, especially in the case of asking girls out on a date, I tried to build up my courage while in front of the bathroom mirror.  While getting ready for the big evening, I began singing loudly a lyric from Peggy Lee’s hit…“Mr. Wonderful” [ii].  However, I modified the words “Mr. Wonderful, that’s you'” to “Mr. Wonderful, that’s ME.”  Although it didn’t work too often, I enjoyed irritating my 7 year younger brother as he walked down the hallway.

Acting without CONFIDENCE…

I know people like that–venturing out into life with little or no confidence in what they have been asked to accomplish.  And yet, what is God’s answer?

It doesn’t matter who you are–what experience you have, or lack thereof–I’ve called you, and there’s only one thing you need to know–I’m with you.

MOSES’ SECOND QUESTION–

So, if it doesn’t matter who Moses is, then Moses asks the next logical question “OK, God, then who are you?”

The way Moses asks this question, I get the impression Moses is perhaps thinking back in time why he fled Egypt in the first place.  Notice his words in Exodus 3:13:

“When I come to the Israelites and say to them,  The God of your father has sent me to you, and they say to me,  What is His name?  What shall I say to them?”

In Exodus 2:14, Moses remembering what the Hebrew said when trying to intervene in their fight…”Who made you prince and a ruler over us?”  “What gives you the right?”

You see, people DON’T like being in charge and still are stuck on the first question of “Who am I?”  They’re the type who wants God’s ‘help’, yet not His leadership.

“GOD IS GOD, AND WE’RE NOT!”

That’s why Moses gets God’s name.  God isn’t the God of some particular thing, He’s just God!

“And God said to Moses,  I AM WHO I AM and I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE; and He said,  You shall say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you!”  (Exodus 3:14).

THAT statement alone is MYSTERY in and of itself–nothing can be added to it.  When people ask,  “Who does God think he is anyway?”  The answer is simply,  “I AM.”

God is allowed to be in charge, because He is God.  He was GOD yesterday, He is GOD today.  And when we’re dead and gone, GOD will still be GOD.  He is always a present tense God.

Before Abraham was,  I AM.  When He is ALPHA and OMEGA,  I AM.

Even when He hides His face, look up!  God is not dead,  “I AM”.

You see, it doesn’t matter who WE ARE.  GOD “IS”.

It’s NOT who I am, it’s who He is.

THE THIRD QUESTION OF MOSES–The TRUTH isn’t always easy to accept:

“But behold, they will not believe me or listen to and obey my voice; for they will say, The Lord has not appeared to you”  (4:1).

So Moses asks another question and…he raises it as an objection–he says…

‘Okay, I realize it’s not about me, I realize it’s who you are Lord.  But what if the people don’t believe me?’

That’s reasonable response.  I’ve imagined the same question as I sit down to write a new blog: ‘What if the people don’t believe what I’m writing– what truths am I trying to get across in my words?’

People in general like PROOF.  People want PROOF.

Our PROOF today comes from the written Word, the Bible–

For over 2000 years, eyewitness testimony and acts of God are right in front of us, so we can show consistency in what God has called us too, with what He has done in the past.

But in Moses’ time, most of them probably wouldn’t even been able to read.  So GOD talks to them in their terms.

God uses MIRACLES in His calling…

God gives Moses a MIRACLE to show that he, Moses, has been called by God.

Reenactment of MOSES holding his STAFF
Reenactment of MOSES holding his STAFF

I wondered in reading here, why doesn’t God just use a miracle and miraculously move all His people out of Egypt… without Moses?  And, why doesn’t He do the same for us today?  It would be so much easier!  But that’s not God’s style.

Following the Staff of Moses:

God gives Moses a staff–a sign to follow, but leaves the following of to the people.  You’d think that would be enough.  But Moses finally runs out of excuses.  He just lays his lack of confidence on the line:

“And Moses said to the Lord, O Lord, I am not eloquent or a man of words, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and have a heavy and awkward tongue”  (4:10).

To paraphrase Moses’ words here…‘LORD, PLEASE SEND SOMEONE ELSE.  I don’t want to do it!’  I know You made me; I know You care for me.  Moses is saying, “That’s just not who I want to be.”  

And so God says, “Okay.  Have it your way, I’ll give you Aaron.”   

Aaron isn’t always a helper–think about the Golden Calf, the grumbling and complaining.  But God says to Moses “You insist on doing it your way?  I can use that too.”  

It might not be PLAN “A”, but I’m God.  I can work with it.

GOD CARES FOR HIS PEOPLE…

But God doesn’t care about their own “self-images.”  He simply wants us to realize, it doesn’t matter who we are.  God is with us.

THE MIRACLES, the GREAT BIBLE STORIES that inspire us, that’s not what we aspire to; there is only a finite number of miracles, only so many stories to read.  Ultimately, GOD allows us to join Him.  He pleads with us to join Him.  But if we are to be God’s people, eventually we have to put up or shut up.  If we’re going to do God’s work here on earth, we must do it in HIS POWER.

THE FANNY CROSBY–[*See Footnote [iii] on the Fanny Crosby story.]

Doing God’s work in His power…

I’m sure you’ve heard this godly woman’s story before and doing the work of God in her own circumstances.

When Fanny was only six weeks old, she came down with a cold that affected her eyes.  Since the family doctor was out, a man who stood in his place; though he knew what to do, he ended up blinding the little girl instead.

Fanny  Crosby
Fanny Crosby

But God hadn’t given up on Fanny Crosby.  She was a smart girl and by the age of 10, she had memorized the entire New Testament.  When she was in her 20 s, she became a teacher and a well-known poet.

She became good friends with another school teacher at the time, a man by the name of Grover Cleveland who later became the President of the United States.  On several occasion in his Presidency, he would call Fanny to write a poem for a special occasion.

She truly was something of a wonder to behold, but even she was missing something.  When she was 30, a cholera epidemic swept through her town.  As she watched love ones die all around her, she realized even with all her great accomplishments, she only lived because of the POWER and the GRACE of God.

God had given her an amazing ability to put beautiful words down to pen based on the truths of God’s Word.  If you’ve ever sung ‘To God Be the Glory,’ you’ve sung one of her songs.  Or, ‘Jesus is Tenderly Calling’ and nearly 8000 other hymns came of this godly blind woman.

And so, in 1873, Fanny J. Crosby was living in God’s POWER, and doing His work.  At her church, the organist wanted a part in that too.  Her name was Phoebe Knapp.

Phoebe eventually could have been successful being the wife of an insurance tycoon.  But that’s not what Phoebe Knapp is known for today.  She composed a tune that she believed, had faith enough, to be of God and she wasn’t a POET.

Going to the home of her fellow church-member and friend, Phoebe asked Fanny Crosby, what does this song say to you? Phoebe played the notes on the keyboard and Fanny spoke these words:  “Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine.”

Having a lack of confidence in your ‘self-worth’ right now?

So it doesn’t matter if you are a farmer, a wealthy woman, a blind poet or even a “sheep watcher.”  It doesn’t matter who you are, but only who He is and what He will do through you.

You can have that BLESSED ASSURANCE, but only if JESUS is yours.  Or more importantly, that you are His.

I love the way the Amplified Bible’s reading of a verse in Philippians 4:

“I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency]”  ~ verse 13.

blessed-assurance_t

 SO WHAT IS YOUR STORY?

WHAT IS YOUR SONG?


FOOTNOTES:

[i] Phoebe Knapp story @ christianheritagefellowship.com/phoebe-palmer-knapp.

[ii] Title, music and Lyrics from Peggy Lee’s “Mr. Wonderful, That’s You.”

[iii] Fanny Crosby story from christianitytoday.com/Fanny Crosby/Christian History. 

PHOTO CREDITS:

Phoebe Palmer Knapp – Courtesy of the Christian Heritage Fellowship.

Fanny Crosby – Courtesy of Wikipedia/Fanny Crosby-religion.

“Burning Bush”; A man holding his “STAFF” ; and a child watching sheep- by Photo Pin.

BLESSED ASSURANCE – Courtesy of Google Images for Blessed Assurance.

BIBLE TRANSLATION USED FOR THIS POST:

Amplified Bible Translation – Published by Zondervan – http://www.zondervan.com