Stupidity Is Not A Virtue

A STUDY IN THE BOOK OF DANIEL

One of the worst things about the English language is that too often we don’t really know how to use our own words.  DATA, for instance, is plural.  There’s no such thing as one data point.  Or, take the word CORPORATE.  When you see that word I suspect you’re thinking of Microsoft or Amazon as examples (I live in Washington State).  Well, originally it just used to mean any task undertaken together.  You know, lots of people corporately coming together for a single purpose.  It used to be that the *opposite* of corporate was an idiot–literally a solitary single person who didn’t go for the BENEFITS of being part of the group.  It used to be that AN IDIOT was just somebody who stuck to himself–in a peculiar way.

“Oh, oh.  I know where you’re going,” you might be thinking.

But I’ll tell you the word that’s been messed up the most and that’s the word ‘CHURCH’.  Christians aren’t idiots.  We know that a church is a group of people–it’s a CORPORATE GATHERING of the body of Christ.

But let’s face it: when you think of THE CHURCH, you’re probably thinking of a building.  The truth is, it’s so easy to think of THE CHURCH as a building because it’s easier for THE CHURCH to be a place more than a way of life.  We can visualize a place and identify with it better.  It’s safer when it’s a building we go to once a week more so than AN ATTITUDE which defines our lives.

Well, that might be what we think, but it’s too limited.  At times, I fear we may be in danger of losing our CORPORATE notion of CHURCH.  I believe the fellowship I’ve been gathering with for the past 5 years has a better understanding of CHURCH as a people, but we can always do better.  We do a pretty good job of carrying for each other, praying for one another in times of need.  But even we have friends and neighbors and colleagues that NEED us as well.  Too many isolated people are imprisoned voluntarily in the cells of their own homes when what simply they need most is companionship and friendship of a God-breathed individual more interested in serving God than himself.

Our God is a CORPORATE God.

Not in the sense of the way of doing things according to some rules laid down, but in the sense of togetherness that He desires for us.

WE WORSHIP HIM IN COMMUNITY.

It’s a community centered on Jesus to be sure, but it’s not, as we suppose, just a ‘Jesus and me‘ thing.

SCRIPTURE  Daniel 2:14-30

In my study this week and at first thought, I noticed a missing detail, but it is a detail that shows up time and time again centered on RELATIONSHIP. Think about the RELATIONSHIP that Daniel has with Arioch, the king’s captain.  Think about the RELATIONSHIP Daniel has with his young friends.  See how it is these relationships ultimately bring Daniel closer in relationship to God.

Well, okay, Arioch’s job was perhaps to bring Daniel a bit closer to God than Daniel was expecting, but I noticed here, how Daniel was able to talk with him so freely.  Clearly, Daniel and Arioch had a pre-existing RELATIONSHIP, so string that together that Daniel could ask Arioch to risk not only his job but his neck, in delaying the king’s order.  That doesn’t happen by accident.  I sure that they must have spent time together.  There’s nothing to suggest that Arioch could have cared a lick about Daniel’s god.  But he CARED about Daniel.  And through RELATIONSHIP he could learn to appreciate his god, I know it’s a cliché, but it’s so true.  We are often the only Bible our friends will ever read.

STUPIDITY ON DISPLAY!

One cold and rainy day while visiting my brother and his family in Texas, we had all decided to venture out to the family property, the Ranch, and see all the progress that had been made.  After arrival, we reluctantly got out the vehicles into the inclement weather, shivering, but trying to stay enthusiastic.  My dad, my wife, and my sister-in-law’s sister decided it was wiser to remain in the car.  My dad was in the front seat while the girls were in the back seat, unnoticed by dad.

After seeing the family out in the cold and wet elements he shouted, Stupid, Stupid, Stupid not noticing the ladies in the back seat grinning, knowing that he had no idea they were there..  My wife still muses at the event.

I noticed in this passage of Scripture the only STUPIDITY on display is the one who is acting by himself?

I mean, why is the KING so furious that he wants to kill off the entire government?  WHY?  Because he is acting foolhardy and alone.

This isn’t CORPORATE unless perhaps if you were a big accounting firm.  Corporate acts are slow and deliberate because they benefit from counsel.

More importantly, I specifically noticed the FELLOWSHIP of the believers present: Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.  They all came together to PRAY.

It just so happened the Word came to Daniel.  That’s a group in total HUMILITY to God and to each other.  I doubt they cared which one of them actually heard from God directly.  They were simply living out the commandments.

GOD IS COMMUNITY.

They didn’t go to Temple (Church) together–Temple was over 800 miles away, and it was in ruins.  They simply came together out of common LOVE for an uncommon God who had supernaturally reached out to them and chose them for His kingdom.  I’m sure sometimes they wondered about their ‘chosen people’ status. But they knew if they were going to be FAITHFUL, they needed each other.

Today, we’d call that an Accountability Group:  A group of people comes together for the sake of the GOSPEL.

They come together in HUMILITY…COMMON LOVE for God and for one another.  They extend that LOVE to the world around them and they lift each other up.  When one is hurting, they extend God’s love.  When one of them is missing, they’re there.  And when one of them is REJOICING, they’re each lifted up in praise.

Christians are called to be a COMMUNITY of Christ-like believers that realize as great as our individuality is, our CORPORATE presence is in the WORSHIP of our King is even greater than ourselves.

As Christians, we are CALLED to overcome the world (1 John 5:5).  We do that precisely by being greater in LOVE, COMPASSION, and FRIENDSHIP.

Nowhere in the Bible does it say, ‘They will know that we are Christians by our…doctrines, or our theology–even our potlucks.’  No, the world recognizes how we love one another, how we visit one another, and how we care for each other.

THE PRINCIPLE laid down in Daniel is CORPORATE WORSHIP–with Mishael, Hananiah, and Azariah.

It is a PRINCIPLE I see all across the Bible.  For every great hero in the Bible, there’s a companion:

  • Adam had Eve
  • Moses had Mirian
  • Aaron and Joshua
  • Joshua had Caleb
  • David had Jonathan
  • Ester had Mordecai
  • Paul had Barnabas, even Jesus had Peter.

When the Lord said that it was not good for man to live alone, I think He meant more than just males and more than just marriage.

Daniel had Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego.

In Daniel 1, Daniel was already in close communion with these fellows.  In Daniel 3, you are probably familiar with the fiery furnace story.  These three are never mentioned except in COMMUNITY with one another.  Daniel is chock full of stores of integrity and courage in the face of dire circumstances–standing up when everyone else bows to the culture.

How did they do it?  They did it together!

How would you have liked to be a part of that small group?  I’m sure they had their squabbles and disagreements.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Shadrack thought Abednego was always late for the prayer group, and I wouldn’t be surprised that perhaps Meshach needed to shower more often.  I’m sure that each of them was an individual who was great in his own right–after all, you don’t get to be princes by being a wallflower.

But it’s a testament to their sense of CORPORATE LOVE for God that we don’t know anything about of these guys except as part of a group.

These men were all great, but they were all equal before God.  You cannot acknowledge God’s complete, scale-altering greatness, not see that any comparison to your fellow man is but petty foolishness.  That would be stupidity!

After praying corporately, Daniel is given the answer to the secret of the king’s dream.

[19]  Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night, and Daniel blessed the God of Heaven.

[20]  Daniel answered, Blessed, be the name of God forever and ever!  Doe WISDOM and MIGHT are His!

[21]  He changes the times and the seasons;  He removes kings and sets up kings.  He gives WISDOM to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding! 

I certainly don’t find stupidity in those who are blessed by God with “WISDOM” and “KNOWLEDGE” and “UNDERSTANDING”, do you?

We are all beings created for FELLOWSHIP with God and others.

WE ALL NEED EACH OTHER!

__________________________________________________________________

CREDITS –

Photos:  Google Image Search, advanced settings.

Dictionary:  Webster’s Online Dictionary.

Bible used:  Amplified Bible (AMP).

When Is “Enough”, Enough?

6a011168574e19970c01539046a676970bI was in a local pet store one day, wandering up and down the aisles, looking for the unusual, when I heard a constant rattling…almost annoying sound.

And the mystery was revealed.  HAMSTERS running in their little wheel as it spinned, running with all their might, but never getting anywhere.  They are running, the wheel is spinning, but nothing else changes.

In my close observation, I knew the spinning wheel is there for their exercise, but I wondered if the hamster might be thinking to himself when the wheel starts spinning,

“Yeah, I’m on my way now. Nothing can stop me.  I’m breaking out of this joint!”

The HAMSTER follows his trails in the cage, runs in the spinning wheel, giving everything he’s got, only that he hasn’t moved from inside the cage where he’s trapped.  There is nothing he can do to break the cycle on his own because there is a much more powerful, larger being, with vastly more intelligence already determined how his life will be spent and where he will go.  Sad commentary if you are a “pet” lover.

Many times, I too have felt like the little hamster;  I’m running in circles like the hamster but never getting anywhere.

That brings me to the Scripture found in Deuteronomy 2:1-3:

[1] THEN WE turned, and took our journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red Sea, as the Lord directed me; and for many days we journeyed around Mount Seir.

[2] And the Lord spoke to me [Moses], saying  [3] You have roamed around this mountain country long enough; turn northward.

I want to direct you to look at a story presented in Deuteronomy; of a people in God’s Word that were caught in the same spinning wheel of life.  They seemed to be going nowhere because they had lost direction and just kept running in the same circle.

stock-photo-illustration-of-wheel-121045525

God had plainly set their path but for nearly 40 years they were on a journey to…how should I say it…NOWHERE!

Finally, the day came when they realized they didn’t have the answers; they had no true direction; and that someone greater than themselves had to direct their path if they were ever going to be anything other than mindless runners on the spinning wheel of life.

The sad part is that countless thousands had died in the process of running in circles while never finding the real meaning of existence, dying in a vast wilderness with their dreams and hopes lost forever.

God had made a way when He delivered them from the SLAVE PITS of Egypt.  A way for them with a greater PURPOSE, A DESTINY that would change their lives forever...IF… they would only follow His direction and remain FAITHFUL to His Purpose for their lives.

But FREEDOM has a price; and TRUE FREEDOM demands limitations.  Freedom without limitations becomes ANARCHY, which I see happening in our city streets today.

TRUE FREEDOM can only be found by following GOD’S PLAN; and everything else only leads to another form of SLAVERY; either to SIN within ourselves; or to the controlling hand of someone else who will dictate to us the conditions of life.

We will truly need a FIRM FOUNDATION to rely on; that won’t be shaken or changed with a determination to ‘stick to it’!  Of course, the only TRUE FOUNDATION is found in Jesus Christ, our Savior and the Word of God that will never fail, nor ever change.

Psalms 37:23-24:

[23] The steps of a [good] man are directed and established by the Lord when He delights in his way [and He busies Himself with his every step].

[24] Though he falls, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord grasps his hand in support and upholds him.

God never promised us a PATH without a few falls.

In service, in ministry to the saints or to the surrounding community.  He never said that life would be easy, not facing problems.

What He did PROMISE was that we would never be forsaken and even when we fall, the Lord will keep us by His hand.

God ALWAYS provides a way for FREEDOM to reign and for the VICTORY to be won if we just keep on, keep’n on in following Him.

ISRAEL began their journey; but they had much to learn, and so God predetermined them to take a long journey to get to their final destination:

Deuteronomy 2:1

THEN WE turned, and took our journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red Sea, as the Lord directed me; and for many days we journeyed around Mount Seir.

03990_000_bible-photo-2

From the pits of BONDAGE in Egypt, relating to our DELIVERANCE from the grip of SIN under the hand of Satan, Israel proceeded into the WILDERNESS, and area called Mount Seir where they wandered for many days, in fact, for 40 years.  They just kept going around in circles, moving their camp many times along the way.  Sometimes staying in one place for a few years, and then moving to another when the water ran dry, or the grass was gone for their animals.

I wonder how many times ISRAEL experienced a deja-vu moment in their wanderings?

How many times did one Israelite look at another and say,

“You know, I think we’ve been here before.  Something about this place looks familiar and I know I’ve climbed this mountain before.  I feel just like we are running in CIRCLES and nobody knows which way to go.”

I see the same thing happening in the world today.

Mankind has no clue of direction; history just keeps repeating itself and we don’t learn the lessons of the past.

The PATH has already been laid in front of us and we begin to wonder in our own understanding leading us to nowhere.  Our world has lost its way; no man has the ability to LEAD the human race to a place of perfect peace and safety; and every day the race just gets faster while the destination more obscure.

The same thing happens in the CHURCH as well, for we are the church.

Christians often express their concerns and just keep running in circles, never accomplish what they want to in their lives.  I know this to be true because I have been there before.

That place in MINISTRY where doubt and a critical spirit raises its ugly head...A MOUNTAIN blocking the progress of my journey.  Every day seems to end in disappointment and frustration because nothing ever seems to change.

Some of us struggle with the same old self-created HABITS and the WHEEL is spinning; we are trying as hard as we can but nothing is changing.

Let me give some encouragement in the Lord if you are in this position of “wheel spinning”–going around in circles.

Just keep on running, but run where God tells you to run.

The BAD HABITS may be A BAD TEMPER; A CRITICAL SPIRIT (I’m guilty!); LACK OF SELF-CONTROL…etc.

The BAD HABITS start out as mole hills and become mountains because we won’t quit talking about them.

In effect, we just keep CIRCLING Mount Seir just like Israel did for all those years.  The march goes on, time passes, but nothing seems to really change.  When is “Enough” enough?

And the LORD spoke to me saying, “You have roamed around this mountain long enough; turn northward”  (vs. 2, 3).

Things began to change for ISRAEL, and all the things in your life are changing as well.

Sometimes the CHANGE happens so slowly its unnoticeable at first, but eventually the CHANGE will be great.

Israel’s attitude changed one step at a time.  With each step forward they drew closer to the end of their journey.  Like the old saying, “How do you begin a journey of a thousand miles? By taking the first step.”   

And so it is with our walk with JESUS.

Those whose FAITH is too weak, fall by the wayside as the SEED of the gospel stolen from the heart; they will die right beside the path of life.

But the strong in the LORD, those who ‘sell out’ to God; serve Him with all their heart, mind, and soul and will remain FAITHFUL to the end; they will not only SURVIVE the JOURNEY…but will become VICTORIOUS over ALL THINGS!  (Luke 1:37)

God doesn’t give up on His people.  Though many never saw their PROMISE LAND; never occupied that land; God never forsook ISRAEL.

God won’t give up on you or me either!!  We are going to WIN the battle.  Romans 8:37 says, “Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him [Jesus] Who loved us.”  Have you ever heard of a “CONQUEROR” who ever lost a battle?  If they did, then they wouldn’t be called “conquerors”.

Whatever you are going through right now, you are going to OVERCOME this mountain in your life; if you just remain FAITHFUL until the race is won.

It’s time to quit circling around MOUNT SEIR.  Enough is enough!  Move on!!!

The ISRAELITE’S backs were facing the Promise Land, meaning they were going the opposite direction where God intended them to go; so God turned them around and placed them back on the right path.

The name “SEIR” means holiness; and they were wandering for 40 years just learning to be holy people unto the Lord!  Without HOLINESS–no man can see the Lord and you can’t see the PATH to walk in.  You are walking BLIND.

Now I began to think deeper about Mount Seir; how that it could represent some of the great mountain ranges in our lives that we must overcome.

I’ve already mentioned some of the HABITS which you, no doubt, have already mentally added to.

All of these things are just huge MOUNTAINS that seem to loom over us with DOUBT, and FEAR, and maybe SHAME.

So how do we get rid of that mountain (s)?

If you had to move a mountain and there was no way around it, or through it, how would you do it?  You would start by moving one rock at a time.

Just like you begin a journey of a thousand miles with one step–you move a mountain by moving one rock at a time.

Moving Mountains, One Rock at a Time
Moving Mountains, One Rock at a Time

Now sometimes you can speak to that mountain and YES, God can and will move some of the mountains out of your way.

BUT…there are MOUNTAINS in our lives that we are going to have to work on ourselves. Maybe for a lifetime.

Those MOUNTAINS are there for a purpose and you just have to keep moving them–one rock at a time until they are behind you instead of in front of you.

The TASK of OVERCOMING your mountain may seem impossible; but then that’s where God begins to work for you (Luke 1:37).

He makes the IMPOSSIBLE possible and He will not allow you to be overcome!

Banana-Oats-Fitness-Cookies-Howie-in-the-mountains

In your struggle to move your mountain, you will have times when you feel like you’re finally WINNING THE BATTLE!

Then suddenly…you find yourself in a pile of rock rubble, wondering if the VICTORY will ever come.

I have experienced this in my own life, finding myself in the “rubble” of CRITICISM.

I may go on for days, weeks, without being critical of someone or some thing.  But just when I think I’ve overcome it, here it comes again.  Often, my beloved wife of 51 years will give me that look without saying a word, knowing that I’ve lost my way–again!

But little by little, one STONE at a time, that MOUNTAIN is coming down.  I believe that most of my mountain has been moved; but there are still a few rocks and yes, boulders, that have to go.

We still have a lot of MOUNTAINS to move in our Christian lives.  None of us have cleared them all.  The KEY is to remove them and not just keep CIRCLING around them.

Never accept the excuse that “That’s just the way I am.  I can’t help it!”  That is a cop out!

We can’t allow ourselves the luxury of CAMPING on the wrong side of the MOUNTAIN forever when VICTORY in Jesus can only be found on the other side.

REMEMBER what the Lord said to Moses and the Children of Israel in Deuteronomy 2:2,3…

“You’ve been going around in circles in these hills long enough; go North” (The Message bible).

What mountains are you facing as you read my thoughts in this blog-study?  

Whatever it is, you can begin dismantling it right now!  Give it to JESUS; seek His help. Why move it alone?  You can do ALL THINGS through Christ Jesus, who strengthens you, but you have to let Him lead.

I am moving my stones right now!  What are your STONES?  There is no better time than right now to move NORTH!!

IN JESUS’ NAME

 


Photo Credits:  Photo Pin and Google Images.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible, except where noted.

Maybe All I Need Is to Take A Vitamin !

THE FAITH VITAMIN:

If you are thinking to yourself right now,  “Another Blog-post about ‘FAITH’?” — I certainly hope, by the end of this page, you just might have a different perspective on the topic.

A.W. Tozier once said, “faith is the vitamin that makes all we take from the bible digestible.”

— We are SAVED by Faith.

— We walk by Faith.

— We are in the household of Faith.

TEXT:  ACTS 14:9, 10

[9] “This man was listening to Paul as he spoke, who, when he had fixed his gaze upon him, and had seen that he had faith to be made well,  [10]  said with a loud voice,  ‘Stand upright on your feet.’  And he leaped up and began to walk”  (NASB).

FAITH is perhaps one, if not the most important element necessary, to grow in the Christian walk.  George Muller , a Christian Evangelist, said “The beginning of anxiety is the end of FAITH and the beginning of true FAITH is the end of anxiety.”  If anyone would know the impact of those words, it would be Mr. Mueller.  He cared for 10,024 orphans in his lifetime (Wikipedia).

FAITH IS THE KEY:

This KEY that becomes available for us as Christians, unlocks the supernatural realm in our natural existence here on earth.

It is a journey–

Desert Wilderness
Desert Wilderness

Poor old Moses spent 40 years wandering in the desert eating nothing but bread off the ground, an occasional bird, and everyday, a million plus people would come up to him and ask,  “Are we there yet?”

Romans 12:3 tells us,  “For through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgement, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith”  (NASB).

What we do with it, how we use it, is up to us.  Hebrews 11:6 tells us WITHOUT FAITH…we can never make God happy.

We can’t compare our faith with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.  Please don’t do that!

Comparing will only lead to division–

There were three little kids who were talking after school one day.  One said, My brother is taking horseback lessons.  Another said, Well, my sister takes gymnastics.  The third child, not wanting to be outdone said, Well that’s nothing.  My sister takes antibiotics!”

TWO THINGS ARE TRUE ABOUT FAITH PEOPLE:

“People with FAITH feel like good things are about to happen!”

FEAR is the exact opposite of FAITH:

FAITH believes the absolute best will happen in every situation.

Being a Pollyanna Versus Being Faithful–

Webster’s Dictionary says one who is considered to be a POLLYANNA, is a person characterized by irrepressible optimism and a tendency to find good in everything.  So i think the two have similar qualities…but different at the same time.  One is God based (faithful) and one is personality induced (Pollyanna).  

THE NATURE OF FAITH IS…

“NOW FAITH is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”  (Hebrews 11:1).

So what does FAITH really look like?

In meditating [kept reading until the words spoke back to me] on Acts 14:9, I see a man crippled in his feet since birth.  He has never taken a step forward in his life; never ran barefoot through the grass in the park; never felt the hot beach sand between his toes.  He was just sitting there where he had been placed.

Many times over my life I’ve found my lack of faith was because…I was still sitting in the place where God put me long ago; never moving forward to what He had planned for in my spiritual life.  I had become weak in FAITH–giving up and not standing on God’s promises.

God Requires Legs of Faith–

What do I mean by “legs”?  It’s putting legs on our faith (like the crippled man), our praises and our prayer life so that we can move on to higher levels.

“And he leaped up and walked”  (verse 10).

NO FAITH…he would have remained sitting in the same spot…stilled crippled!  Have you ever felt “crippled” in you faith?

FAITH GETS YOUR ATTENTION:

“He was listening to Paul as he talked, and [Paul} gazing intently at him and observing that he had faith to be healed”  (Acts 14:9).

PEOPLE around you are listening and watching your FAITH–

This man listened to Paul as he spoke and when Paul fastened his eyes (or “gazed intently”) upon the crippled man, everything else went out of focus except…for what he understood in this man’s eyes.

Before we are able to SHARE THE GOSPEL we have to look at and notice others.

I have sometimes been in a conversation with someone after church services, when I began to notice their eyes.  The were not looking in my eyes any longer as we spoke.  Were they not interested in what I was saying?  Did I have a dirty spot on the front of my shirt I hadn’t noticed?  Their FOCUS had changed in a different direction; waving to someone towards the back of the auditorium, saying , “Excuse me, I haven’t seen that person in years!” , and off they go.  Did I miss something, did they?

Many folk are afraid to share and won’t look intently.  One man said to me in an Evangelism Training Program,  “Nothing strikes fear in me more than sharing my faith with a complete stranger.”  Why, it’s gotten so bad, I’ve enrolled in a Witness Relocation program!  [I added the last sentence to illustrate the thought].

What Paul saw was expectancy and enthusiasm–

“…and he leaped up and walked”  (verse 10).

Paul saw this man who was now leaping up and down on the inside.

FAITH looked like unbridled enthusiasm.

San Diego Billy Graham Crusade
San Diego Billy Graham Crusade

I remember once being a counselor at a Billy Graham Crusade in San Diego, California.  The Crusades ran for several days and I had experience great joy in seeing many come to Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit within me and other counselors each night.

It was the last night of the Crusade and as the football stadium’s field began to clear, I turned to leave and notice two large men carrying a man in uniform by his arms towards me.  The soldier’s feet weren’t even touching the ground.  I stood there frozen, wandering what was coming next, when one of the men spoke up and said:  We are Marines!  We were SAVED on the first night and this Marine Private… needs to be SAVED too!  I had to explain to them,  JESUS doesn’t move like that.  That SALVATION comes from your friend by his FAITH in Jesus…not by your faith in Jesus.  He has to make his own choice.

I then asked the young Marine who was now standing on the grass between the two larger men [they had to be at least 6′ 4″],   “Would you like to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior tonight? ” He nodded yes, and accepted Christ.

What was his motivation?  Was it more than his friends insistence he come forward?  I can’t answer that question, but what I experienced was the expectancy and enthusiasm of two Marines who were inexperienced in their sharing JESUS, but had the FAITH to use their legs and leave the results to God!

Billy Graham Crusade as a Counselor
Billy Graham Crusade as a Counselor

“Launching Out in FAITH!”

Peter, in Luke 5,  is told by Jesus to “Put out into deep [water], and lower your nets for a haul” (verse 4).  In other words, go out beyond the boundaries you are comfortable in… that you’ve accepted for yourself in life.  Expand your perimeter, your comfort zone; start to think and live out of the box!

A Practicable Exercise After Taking the FAITH VITAMIN–

I was taking an Evangelism Training Class on Saturdays years ago, and asked my wife if she wanted to go along with me for the training session; the exercise.  Reluctantly, she agreed, and after our Pastor/teacher briefed us, we ventured out to the surrounding neighborhood on foot.  We both looked at each other and confessed, this was going to take a lot of FAITH,

On that particular Saturday morning, the one that I had invited my wife to attend, was…DOOR-TO-DOOR EVANGELISM.  Yep, you got it.  We were assigned street addresses and were to apply what we had learned in the classroom…door-to-door.

After several doors being shut in our faces, one man came to the door and actually seemed interested in what we were presenting (The Gospel Message of Salvation through the 4-Spiritual Laws).

A Hidden Voice–

“Who’s at the door?” a woman’s voice rang  out of nowhere.  “Don’t be talking to those people!  Close the door!”  I didn’t want to be rude and offend, but the Holy Spirit was telling me the whole time we were there…DON’T STOP SHARING...and our FAITH kept increasing.  

The man stepped outside onto the small porch, telling us that the voice we heard…was his wife, who was a Jehovah’s Witness.  We both thought later, this was certainly a “role-reversal”.

That was an experience that Dianne and I will always remember.  We were expanding our perimeter, our comfort zone, and were definitely living out of our boxes.  We both knew, by FAITH and confidence in His Word, that we were to go–with our feet–comfortable or not.

We left that house knowing, we had planted a Word-seed.  We had been faithful to God’s Word.  The results were up to Him and  based on our faithfulness and obedience to His Word and not by our works.

NO LIMITS HERE!

When we limit ourselves, we limit God.

FAITH knows that what we see is not all there is.  

What we are, is not all we will be.  

Where we are is not where we will end up.  

FAITH looks like unlimited potential.

Exhausting Every Human Resource Available–

In the Gospel of Mark, there was a woman who had been ill for 12 long years, exhausted from trying to get well.  All she had received back was bad reports.  In fact, instead of getting better, she go worse!

When she heard about Jesus, she went after Him (though it was against Jewish law to do so in public).  Because she thought to herself, if I can get close enough, to touch Him… I’ll be better!

That’s HOPE!

One definition of HOPE is, “A heartfelt expectation of something with an outstretched neck!”   She was expecting and willing to risk it all!

FAITHFULNESS is the willingness to take risks (with “an outstretched neck”); and that requires FAITH in order to produce the visible fruit.

So that they [us] should seek God, in the hope

that they might feel after Him and find Him,

although He is not far away from each one of us.

For in Him we live and move and have our being…

Acts 17:27-28

WHAT “FAITH” IS AND WHAT IT IS NOT:

FAITH IS… dead to doubt.

FAITH IS…blind to impossibilities.

FAITH knows nothing but success in God Almighty through the POWER AND AUTHORITY He gives every believer.

FAITH IS NOT believing that God can, but it’s knowing that God will!

Hebrews 11:1 says that,

“Faith is the substance (that which stands by you/along side) the committed, unrelenting, unflinching confidence or companion of things hope for,    And the evidence (revelation, illumination) of things that are not visible to the natural eye.”

Taking the “FAITH VITAMIN” Produces Action–

Hebrews 11, “The Heroes Hall of Faith” Chapter, gives an illustration of the heroes of the Bible who took the faith vitamin:

[32]  And what shall I say further?  For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets.  [33] Who by [the help of] FAITH subdued kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promised blessings, closed the mouth of lions.”

Those Scripture verses tells us that FAITH subdued, FAITH worked, FAITH obtained, even stopped the mouth of a lion.

What then does FAITH look like?

When you find JESUS, you find the author (creator), finisher (completer) of your FAITH.  Christ in you…is the HOPE of Glory!  It’s time for all of us to take our daily Multi-Faith Vitamin and watch for the healthy results.

Moving Into the Sonlight–“Enoch Walked With God”

Moving With God

“And Enoch walked [in habitual fellowship] with God”

Genesis 5:22-24

WHO WAS ENOCH?

There isn’t much written about this man in Scripture.  But I did find  a “lost book” for reference; I almost felt like Indiana Jones looking for the lost artifact in the movies.

In fact, the book is referenced in the Bible in two places:

“And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the nation took vengeance upon their enemies. Is not this written in the Book of Jasher?” (Joshua 10:13).

“Behold, it is written in the Book of Jasher”  (2 Samuel 1:18).

The Book of Jasher

The first translation of a Hebrew book in 1613 was called “Sepir Ha Yasher”; The Book of the Upright.  Later, in 1750 it was translated as “The Book of Jasher“.  You can download the entire book from the internet.  I will get back to The Book of Jasher a little later in this blog.

Moving with God

“Feelings change, but walking with God takes faith.  It takes commitment.  And it takes consistency“.  Keeping this thought in mind

“And Enoch walked [in habitual fellowship] with God; and he was not”  (Genesis 5:24 AMP).

What an Epitaph for a man to put on his grave marker or headstone.  Enoch was not WHAT???

When you turn on the television anymore, it seems like the latest Hollywood divorce made the headlines–again!  There seems to be the understanding of commitment or feelings in the relationship wasn’t what it seemed to be in the beginning.  Our relationship with God at times, can be with passion, excitement in being a Christian and feeling great joy.  And there are times that I don’t feel it.  But I can’t say, “That’s it.  I’m not going to follow Jesus anymore.  It’s just too hard to please God.”

The Bible doesn’t say, “The just shall live by feelings,” rather it says “The man who through faith is just and upright shall live and shall live by faith”  (Romans 1:17 AMP).

FEELINGS change, while walking and moving with God takes FAITH; it takes COMMITMENT, and it takes CONSISTENCY.

WALKING with ENOCH AND LEARNING HIS SECRETS (Genesis 5:21-24)

Enoch lived during a unique time in human history as I believe we are living in unique times.  Enoch is a prototype of the last-days believer; how we are to live and move in the Son-light; waiting on the Lord to return and translate us; remove us from this earth; taking us home (Genesis 5:24). 

There are questions that arise:

— What set Enoch apart in his world?

How was he able to live a godly life in an ungodly world with sexual perversion and uncontrolled violence all around him?

3 Important Principles:

Principal One:  “Enoch walked with God”

Walking with God in the Christian life is used throughout Scripture.  But what does it mean to “walk with God”?  Is it really possible?

Walking or moving with God is not merely living by rules and regulations.  I don’t make New Year’s resolutions anymore because I wind up breaking them later.  It’s much more than that!

The prophet Amos reveals an important truth; about what it means to walk with God:

“Do two walk together except they make an appointment and have agreed?”  (Amos 3:3).

The word “together” gives the idea of two people moving in rhythm.  Like riding a tandem bicycle.  It is NOT getting God in rhythm with us but it is getting in rhythm with Him.  That’s what it means to walk with God; getting in a rhythm.

Principle Two:  Enoch was well-pleasing to God.

“And the soul of Enoch wrapped us in the instruction of the Lord, in knowledge and in understanding; and he wisely retired from the sons of men, and secreted himself from them for many days” ~ The Book of Jasher 3:2.

“Because of faith Enoch was caught up and transferred to heaven, so that he did not have a glimpse of death; and he was not found, because God had translated him. For even before he was taken to heaven, he received testimony [still on record] that he had pleased and been satisfactory to God”  (Hebrews 11:5 Amp).

In Genesis 5:21-24, the Amplified Bible says that Enoch walked in habitual fellowship.  God knows our weaknesses and shortcomings better than anyone else.  God is not as hard to please as we might think.  So how do we please God?

“For even this is thank worthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.  For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable [AMP says, well-pleasing] with God”  (1 Peter 2:19-20 KJV).

That is “conscience toward God” and not conscientiousness in an ordinary sense.  But in the conscious sense, it is ones relationship to God.  Verse 19 should remind us,  conscience toward God comes from a pure desire of pleasing Him.  That my friends is what God is seeking in our lives. A PURE HEART!

Principle Three:  “Enoch was a witness for God”

By now, we know that Enoch moved and walked with God.  We know that he was well-pleasing to God; as Enoch walked, as he pleased God.  And Enoch had a testimony and a witness.

I have been told before by well-meaning evangelistic minded Christians, that Christians should go out witnessing more.  The statement would be better put to us by saying, “Witness as you go.”  Every Christian has a testimony as Enoch did.  People were watching Enoch as he walked with God and people are watching us in our walk.  They are observing us.

In the Book of Jasher, Chapter 3, verse 3, it says that Enoch spent many years serving the Lord; praying before Him in his house.  Then the Angel of the Lord, which I believe was the pre-incarnate Christ, called to Enoch from heaven.  The “Angel of the Lord” is the visible Lord God of the Old Testament, as Jesus Christ is in the New Testament.

[4] “And he said, Rise, go forth from this house where you are hiding, appear before the sons of man and teach them the way they should go, the work they must accomplish to enter the ways of the Lord

[5] “And Enoch rose up according to the word of the Lord”  (Jasher 3:4-5).

We get to comfortable in our Christian settings; the church, the Bible studies, even our own prayer closets.  If we are going to walk with God we need to show some MOVEMENT and not just stand there debating about how we are going forth, eventually.  I’m not talking just to you, I’m talking to myself as well.

Enoch left his house, his place of comfort and protection and went to the sons of men; taught them the ways of the Lord, assembled them, acquainted them with the instruction of the Lord.  Enoch witnessed as he went, as he moved, as he walked with God.  I find myself too comfortable and …well, a bit lazy in my exercise of walking and moving into the ‘Sonlight’.  How about you?  Feeling a bit lethargic spiritually?  If your answer is YES, then you need to get “walking”.

Different Ideas of How to Please

Do you find yourself wanting to please those who are around you?  Most of the time I find myself wanting to please others for my own selfishness.  I want to be recognized, be praised, etc.  We all do.  We do deeds; we volunteer for a task to get recognized, to be publicly praised by the Church Pastor or Elders or Deacons or other believers.

Let me give you some Biblical ideas that please God, rather than what you think pleases God:

— DOING DEEDS!  “No unbelief or distrust made him waver (doubtingly question) concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong and was empowered by faith as he gave praise and glory to God”  (Romans 4:20 AMP).

— PUBLIC PRAISE!  “These people draw near Me with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but their hearts hold off and are far away from Me”  (Matthew 15:8).

— FALTERING FAITH!  [17] “So also faith, if it does not have works (deeds and actions of obedience to back it up), by itself is destitute of power (inoperative, dead)”  (James 2:17-26).

— RELIGIOUS RITUALS!  “If anyone thinks himself to be religious (piously observant of the external duties of faith) and does not bridle his tongue but deludes his own heart, this person’s religious service is worthless (futile, barren).  External religious worship [religion as it is expressed in outward acts] that is pure and unblemished in the sight of God the Father is this:  to visit and help and care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and need, and to keep oneself unspotted and uncontaminated from the world”  (James 1:26-27 AMP).

Enoch was not controlled by the world (Jude 14-16). The life of this man Enoch was that of a ‘preacher-man.’  He was a man who was separated to the task of getting out God’s message.  Not many of us are committed to that task, proclaiming the message of God.  What might the reasons be?

1.  Unpopular to the ungodly (Jude 14-15).

2.  Loss of loved ones (Jude 16).

3.  Jotting of Judgement (Jude 14).

Those particular reasons come from FEARFEAR doesn’t come from God.  You need to be moving into the Son Light!

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning FEAR), but [He has given us a spirit] of POWER and of LOVE and of CALM and WELL-BALANCED MIND and DISCIPLINE and SELF-CONTROL”  (2 Timothy 1:7 AMP).

In God’s perfect timing, we too will be as Enoch:

“Enoch walked [in habitual fellowship] with God; and he was not, for God took him [home with Him]”  (Genesis 5:24 AMP).