HEALING Is Just A Prayer, A Word and A Touch Away

A STUDY IN THE BOOK OF ACTS – Acts 9:32-43; 1 Kings 17:9-24

QUOTE: “Joy is a Journey Experience.  We have it, but every so often, we feel we suddenly need it.” By John Slythe

The Book of Acts is full of miraculous healings and the JOY that comes with them.

We read that Peter has been traveling around Israel for a time when we pick up the story. Perhaps he is on an evangelism tour spreading the GOOD NEWS from place to place.

We now join him in Chapter 9 in Lydda where he is visiting the saints of the city.  

In the name of Jesus Christ, a man is healed that had been bed-ridden for 8 years.  “GET UP AND GET YOUR MATT” (make your bed).  [9:34]

When reading about these accounts of healing it leaves me wondering at times when it seems like God doesn’t do them as much today like we read in Acts.  I know we’ve all heard about people like Bennie Han or Earnest Angley.  People go them to receive a BLESSING, they want HEALING, HOLINESS and I hope that some are really touched by God through people like these.  BUT if they are fakes…if they are in it for the money, then I can assure they have received their just reward in full.  And I wonder what case they may face at the day of judgment if they are misrepresenting God…if they are fake teachers…then God is going to deal with them.

Don’t get me wrong.  I believe that God can and does HEAL people today.

I further believe that God can and will use anyone to move and encourage.  But it is always God who does the healing!

The “healers” we know and read about today, pretty much let people come to them. They set up shop in a church or auditorium and advertise that they are in town.

Notice that Peter is visiting groups of new believers where he picks a man that we can guess was a beggar lying by the street and HEALS him there.

Peter goes to him–Peter sees and goes to his need.

Verse 34:  And Peter said to him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ (the Messiah) [now] makes you whole. Get up and make your bed!  And immediately [Aeneas] stood up.  (Amplified Bible)

People see the change in Aeneas.

Perhaps it was a busy time of the day with lots of people in the streets.  I could almost imagine the reaction of this man as he reacts; like a person on a TV Game Show like “The Price is Right.”  The jumping and shouting because they have won the big prize.

So, the people who respond know what they have seen and BELIEVE!

Verse 35:  All those who lived in Lydda and the plain of Sharon saw him and turned to the LORD.  (NIV Bible)

A pretty simple transaction:  HEAL a known cripple and people join the church.

A Lot of Questions May Arise, Like…

Wouldn’t that fill-up churches?  Wouldn’t it make the whole FAITH thing so much easier?  Why is it that God doesn’t seem to work that way?  If He did pretty much everyone would BELIEVE, right?

If God worked like that what would be missing?  Would there be any need for FAITH?

If the church grew because of ‘miraculous healings’ all the time then would there be any MYSTERY left?

Our Story Continues with Tabitha or If You Prefer, Dorcas (v. 36-37):

Acts 9:36-37.

Our story continues with TABITHA or if you prefer, DORCAS (vs. 36).

TABITHA is Hebrew and DORCAS is Greek and it translates to us as “gazelle.”  This is not said to be some sort of nickname meaning her parents gave her, a name that was full of promise and description.  Maybe something to live up too.

She is a BELIEVER that has heard the GOOD NEWS from someone.  Maybe Philip came through town.

Tabitha’s Character –

Evidently, she loved to sew and probably very good at it.  She also seems to have had means to purchase the materials because the people she was making them for probably couldn’t afford it.

Tabitha becomes sick and dies! (v. 37)

THAT SOUNDS FAST!  As sickness and death so often are.

Her body is then washed (prepared for burial) and placed in an upstairs room.

Some followers of Jesus (disciples) heard about Peter traveling nearby, perhaps spreading stories of miraculous HEALING.

I am left with many questions at this point in my reading that I don’t have all the answers:

Do you send messengers to Lydda when Tabitha is very sick or when she dies?  Nine miles take a while to cross on foot so the men sent to get Peter would have to do 18 or more miles by the time they found Peter.

Now if she was DEAD when they left we’re talking about a pretty impressive MIRACLE and not a resuscitation.

PETER went with them (vs. 30).

The Amplified bible reads,  “So Peter [immediately] rose and accompanied them…”  He didn’t have to think about going or pray about the situation until he got an answer, he got up and went!

When he finally arrives he is taken upstairs to the room.  

All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.  I don’t think this was “show and tell” by the ladies. More than likely, they were wearing Dorcas’ workmanship, clothes she had painstakingly made.

Tabitha was being mourned and cried for by the widows, a strong indication that she too was a widow herself.

This lady was such a gift to the community.  She was busy and generous.  She made the lives around her better.

We don’t know what the circle of women said or asked Peter to do.  

But, I know the kind of things we say today in similar circumstances:

  • WHY her or him?
  • She was the best cook, ever!
  • She worked on all the committees.
  • There are plenty of bad people in the world…why would a loving God take her?

SCRIPTURE TELLS US WHAT PETER DOES NEXT (Vs. 40):

[40 a.] “Peter sent them all out of the room and got down on his knees and prayed”

I asked myself several questions at this point of the story, like why didn’t Peter ask the widows to all hold hands and pray for a miracle?  Or try to comfort the women by saying Tabitha is in a better place with Jesus with no more sickness.  Why did he send Tabitha’s close friends out of the room?

The bible account here in Acts reminded me of a similar story in the OT;  in a place called Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon:

And the word of the Lord came to Elijah to go to a widow who he found gathering sticks  (1 Kings 17:9-10).

The First Miracle:  The widow and her son were broke with an all but empty pantry except for a handful of meal and a little jar of oil.  (Vs. 13-15)

VERSE 13-15:   Elijah said to her, FEAR NOT…For thus says the Lord…She did as Elijah said.  And she and he and her household ate for many days.

VERSE 17:  After these things…

There always seems to be an “after these things” moments in one’s life.  The widow’s son became sick, and his sickness was so severe that there was no breath left in him.  HE DIED!

[18]  And she said to Elijah, What have you against me, O man of God?  Have you come to me to call my sin to remembrance and to slay my son?

Elijah sees the lack of faith in the mother as he says to her “Give me your son.  And he took him from her bosom and carried him up into the chamber where he stayed…”  

The Second Miracle…AND HE PRAYED!  (Vss. 20-24)

AND THE RESULTS OF ELIJAH’S PRAYER, WORD, AND TOUCH…

[24] And the woman said to Elijah,  “By this [“the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived”- vs. 22],  I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.”

A Seed Is Planted In The Upper Room (Acts 9:40-43):

Back to our story in Acts 9, we don’t know if the gathered believers had accepted Dorcas’ DEATH, or if they actually asked for a MIRACLE.  It also doesn’t look like Peter knows the woman lying there except through the witnessing of the ladies.

PETER sent them out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed.

I don’t believe Peter’s PRAYER was the kind of prayer we are most familiar with in a group setting or even in the privacy of our home.  Maybe that’s why he sent them out of the room.  I think it was the type of prayer that James refers to as “earnest”, “fervent” PRAYER (James 5:16,17).  Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary describes fervently–“to be hot, to boil”; to “strive,” laboring fervently.”  James refers to “fervent” or “earnest” prayer as…

“The earnest (heartfelt, continued, fervent) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available  [dynamic in its working]”  James 5:16 (AMP).

After Peter’s ‘fervent’ prayer, turning to the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up!” She opened her eyes and seeing Peter she sat up.

I don’t know about you, but if I am going through some stuff, whether spiritual or physical and in need of a MIRACLE, I want to choose people who I know are going pray for me fervently and has no hesitating, no doubting in their FAITH!  (James 1:5-7).

And the SEED Grows…

Peter then called the believers and the widows back into the room where he presents Tabitha to them ALIVE.  Not only did the Miracle get their attention and strengthen their faith, the SEED OF FAITH was spread throughout the area:

[42] And this became known throughout all Joppa, and many came to believe on the Lord [to adhere to and trust in and rely on Him as the Christ and as their Savior].

Tabitha’s resurrection BLESSED the people of the community because a gifted worker was given back to them that loved her and were benefited from her presence.  More people became born-again believers because of the event.

MIRACLES ARE A WONDERFUL THING, BUT…

But Miracles are secondary to the message; the message about the greatest miracle of all, that the ultimate healing is the ETERNAL LIFE that Jesus offers us through faith in Him.  The MESSAGE that Jesus died on the Cross and paid for our sins and that if we trust in what He did to save us we can be so free from both sin’s penalty and sin’s bondage.

The MIRACLE of the Cross sets us free!

At their best, MIRACLES draws a crowd to hear the MESSAGE or serves to demonstrate the AUTHORITY of the Message.

I truly believe that God didn’t stop doing Healing Miracles in the Book of Acts.  We are living out our lives of Acts 29.  The God of the Bible hasn’t changed, he still works Miracles–He works them for the same reasons he always has!

  • TO INCREASE OUR FAITH.
  • TO SHOW HIS COMPASSION and…
  • TO DRAW THE LOST TO FAITH IN CHRIST.

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CREDITS FOR THIS BLOG:

All Photos:  Google Image Search, Advanced Settings.

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

Commentary:  Getting Results In Prayer– [Fervent Prayer]:  https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2011/02/21/getting-results-in-prayer-iii/

“For Cryin Out Loud!’

Bible Text:  Mark 10:46-52 (E.S.V.)

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46  And they came to Jericho, And as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. 47  /and when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say,  “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”  48  And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent.  But he cried out ALL THE MORE,  “Son of David, have mercy on me.”  49  And Jesus stopped and said,  “Call him.”  And they called the blind man, saying to him,  “Take heart.  Get up, He is calling you.”  50  And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus,  51 And Jesus said to him,  “What do you want of me to do for you?”  And the blind man said to Him,  “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.”  52  And Jesus said to him,  “Go your way; your faith has made you well.”  And immediately he recovered his sight and followed Him on the way.

A BLIND MAN’S CRY –

JESUS and His disciples are on the way to Jerusalem, passing through Jericho, where we are introduced to a BLIND BEGGAR.  His name, for me at least, is one of the strange moments in the Gospel of Mark.

BARTIMAEUS, which is sometimes seen as his given name, is actually the man’s “last name.”  BARTIMAEUS is an Aramaic phrase: bar timaeus, where “bar” means “son.”  [*[i] footnote].

If you are perceptive here, and notice that if you take away the “bar,” you’ve got “Timaeus.” So for those of you who don’t speak Aramaic (including myself), what Mark is telling us is that BARTIMAEUS is Aramaic for “Son of Timaeus.”  

Also worth noting, “timaios”, the Greek word, means “honorable.”

Sitting on the roadside, passing time away…

While on their way to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover, JESUS and His followers were enjoying perhaps, a Carnival-like atmosphere:  Vendors had booths set up along the roadway trying to attract business from people passing by.  Shouting to the people as they passed by.

Reminded me of our little County Fair held in August of every year where vendor’s booths are selling everything from Wood Burning/Pellet stoves, to Poffertjes, a Dutch dessert desired by all the community residents.  People come for miles for this Dutch Treat.

BARTIMAEUS was sitting beside the roadway, begging.  He was BLIND; He didn’t have anything to sell, he was just CALLING OUT FOR MERCY from those who walked by.

In that society, there was no welfare or social security; if you couldn’t work or didn’t have someone to take care of you, then you begged for money or food to eat.  It was a very sad situation for this blind man, and little sympathy to boot!

When BARTIMAEUS heard of JESUS walking in front of him, he began to CRY OUT LOUD to Him,  “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

CRY OUT TO GOD–BE BOLD!

The Bible says that as soon as the blind man heard about JESUS, he began “cryin out loud!”

BARTIMAEUS could have just wished in his heart that JESUS would touch him.  He could have just asked someone to go and talk to JESUS about his disability, but Bartimaeus knew his healing depended on a close encounter of himself and JESUS.

Blind people don’t like to be helped unless it’s their last resource.  So, he took matters into his own hands and just started to CRY FOR MERCY louder, and louder.

Are you in need of a MIRACLE where you are sitting?

How hard do you need it?

How desperate are you?

Maybe, just maybe, it is time for you to do Something Bold and drastic.

“This blind man threw off his coat, jumped up, and went to Jesus.”

Doing Something Different…

Sometimes, we just need to do something out of the ordinary; doing the same old thing over and over…

Television host, Dr. Phil, often asking his guests who seem to be in a quandary over failing to obtain desired results from the dilemma;  “So how’s that working for you?” he would ask.

A blank stare was the answer. The TV psychologist would then explain, they needed to do some different things to achieve the results.

BARTIMAEUS’ COAT –

Bartimaeus’ coat in this story represented his old way of life.  It was his “beggar uniform.”

He was dressed for begging.

Hebrews 12:1 says;  “…let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance and that sin which so readily clings to and entangles us…”

It says to lay aside every burden and every sin; WHATEVER it is that is keeping JESUS first in your life.  WHATEVER is holding you back from surrendering your life to JESUS.

BARTIMAEUS took off his coat to run to Jesus.  He did something bold, dramatic, and different.

How many times have you heard people say,

“When I get older”; “When I get more time”; “When I get the chance”; “After I get past this test, or this meeting, or this problem, or this trouble.”

TODAY is your day to RUN to JESUS…lay aside your prejudice against the Lord!

JESUS is passing by this very place and there is no greater opportunity to accept Him as your LORD AND SAVIOR!

Our Current Values…

Our current values may be blinding you, and holding you back.

Bartimaeus was the son of Timaeus=”highly prized” (of great value).   He was a blind man who Jesus healed that day.  It was significant that he was the son of a highly prized man.

Our HERITAGE in life often determines the VALUES we receive from our parents and our traditions which may blind us to the TRUTH of the Gospel message.

How many times over the years have I heard people saying  “I was raised Catholic” or “I’m a Jew by birth.”  People link who they are with family beliefs and some are strong in those beliefs, while others chose to reject their parent’s beliefs.

You know one day you’ll be confronted with the Gospel Truth and you may resist what has been presented and written in the Bible all because it may go against your beliefs or the beliefs of your family.

God does everything for a reason…

I know BARTIMAEUS wasn’t blind because of his father, but I want to mention the fact that he was the descendant of an important man.  His family was known by the religious community and his father’s name deserved to be mentioned in the Bible.  Not only the Bible documents who this man was so the fact that he was healed could be confirmed.

But the fact that he was the son of a highly prized man didn’t allow him to have VISION, he was blind!

There are two kinds of BLINDNESS:  Physical Blindness and Spiritual Blindness.

Bartimaeus was physically blind but he had enough spiritual vision to break with his past and embrace the POWER of Jesus Christ.

JESUS IS ASKING,  “What do you want me to do for you?”

JESUS is still asking the same question today to all those who call on His name.

Joel 2:32:  “And whoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered and saved.”

What does it mean to “call on” someone?  Let me give you one example:

When a doctor goes to the hospital to “call on” some of his patients, he doesn’t merely walk into the room and say,  “I just wanted to come by and say, ‘Hello’.  I wish you the best.  Now pay me!”  

On the contrary, he involves himself in a SERVICE:  He examines the patient, listens to the patient’s concerns, gives further instructions regarding the patient’s hopeful recovery.

Then often times prescribes medication.  ALL of these elements may be involved in a doctor “calling upon” a patient.

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When we call upon the LORD, it shouldn’t be just a matter of doing a request.  God is not just interested in answering our requests.

JESUS is here to ask you  “What do you want Me to do for you?”  but there’s a CATCH!

ON THE DAY OF PENTECOST–ACTS 2:

PETER preached about this important subject.  He quoted from the prophecy of Joel and told those in Jerusalem on Pentecost “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be SAVED”  (Acts 2:21).  He told them how to go about “calling on the name of JESUS.”

The people gathered in the crowd in Acts 2, didn’t understand Peter’s reference to the prophet Joel, so in Acts 2:37, we see bewilderment on the faces of the first Church ask “Brethren, what shall we do?”

And we see that Peter responded to their question and told them what they must do to be SAVED; he didn’t say, “I’ve already told you once what to do!”

You can be SAVED by PetitIoning God for SALVATION through PRAYER–

JUST “CALL ON HIS NAME”

Peter needed to give a clear explanation to them what it meant by “calling on the name of the LORD.”

Instead of repeating this statement–one more time–Peter commanded them saying,

“Repent (change your views and purpose to accept the will of God in your inner selves instead of rejecting it) and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of and release from your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”  (Acts 2:38).

So there are RULES…

I don’t know about you, but I hate rules: wear a bicycle helmet, buckle your seat belt, don’t use your cell phone while driving, Speed Limit signs…

But sometimes, the RULES we face are put in place for our benefit–to give us protection from the hazards ahead.

The RULE that Peter gives to us is to call upon the LORD for a petition of healing or to ask JESUS a miracle.  You need to REPENT from your sins including any unconfessed sin; sin that you were unaware of at the time.

There you can expect the LORD to ask this amazing question, “what do you want Me to do for you?”

GOD is calling…will you answer?

JESUS is waiting for your decision.  He is expecting you to get rid of the “beggar’s” cloak and call on His name.

Are you going to get attached to the past and reject Him, or, can you make a bold move and just begin cryin out loud for the Lord?

GOD is waiting on you!

And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.”  And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way  (Mark 10:52 ESV).

 


 

CREDITS: Mark 10:46-52 – Commentary by Karl Jacobson; The Blind Bartimaeus from The Journal of Biblical Accuracy.

PHOTOS:  Google Search Images; Photo Pin.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible, except where noted.  

 

“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).

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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 

 

 

 

Christmas Behind Us…So What’s Next?

– THE MIRACLE BIRTH –

Christians just celebrated the birth of Jesus, the Savior of the World.  Every year my wife and I re-watch the DVD of The Nativity on the night before Christmas.  There lies in a manger, a crib between Mary and Joseph as they lay the baby Jesus gently down in a bed of hay.

10810578894_f922494b07
Baby Lying In A Crib

One night a wife found her husband standing over their infant’s crib.  As she watched him looking down at their very first baby, she saw a face with mixed emotions…disbelief, doubt, delight, amazement, enchantment, skepticism.  Touched by this unusual display and the deep emotions it aroused, she slipped her loving arm around her husband.  “A penny for your thoughts,” she said.  My wife occasionally asks me the same question, “A penny for your thoughts,” even after 50 years of marriage while I stare into an empty space of a room.

Her husbands response?  “It’s amazing” he replied.  “I just can’t see a crib like that for only $46.50.”  

Now in the original Christmas Story, I’m positive that Joseph and Mary’s dialogue never considered the costs involved of a borrowed crib in the manger.  They were thankful that they had a place at all!

Here, in both stories, lay one of the greatest MIRACLES in God’s creation.  In the first story I shared, all the father saw was a CRIB.  As baby JESUS lay in His crib…Joseph and Mary saw what lay within.  Not the uncleanliness of barn animals, the town’s people reactions, the cold of the night.  They were focused on the Miracle!

Many times people FOCUS upon God’s handiwork and only see the outside manifestation…never the MIRACLE of the birth of a new baby… or, the MIRACLE BIRTH OF A NEW CHRISTIAN!

SOMETHING EXCEPTIONAL HAPPENS DURING THE SPIRITUAL REBIRTH.

Something very exceptional dies within each Christian when we obey Jesus; by repenting of our sins and being buried in Christian Baptism and a new life is born.

We receive a promise…

“Repent  (change your views and purpose to accept the will of God in your inner selves instead of rejecting it)  and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of and release from your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”  (Acts 2:38 AMP).

There are those who believe that the Holy Spirit is some kind of inanimate object – like the crib that held that baby – AND they see only the crib, NOT the miracle within.

What the Bible Tells Us that the Spirit of God Does Within Us–

~ helps us in our prayers

~ guides us

~ teaches us

~ AND empowers us

BUT perhaps the most captivating thing that the Holy Spirit was sent to do was implied in Acts 1:8:

But YOU shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and YOU shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all of Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth.

Notice the Bible verse says first, they had to receive Holy Spirit – and then they would be His witnesses.  The Holy Spirit came first – then the witnesses.

Now that might sound rather peculiar at first reading.  These people gathered here had been with JESUS from the beginning of His ministry. They had been schooled, taught by JESUS and sat at His feet.

BUT Acts 1:8 implies they should become witnesses AFTER receiving the Holy Spirit.  Why should they have to wait?  Why not just start witnessing right then and there?

WELL, they could have…but they would have been lacking the “DUNAMIS” — the POWER to effectively witness.

We get the English word “dynamite” from the Greek word “dunamis”.  

In other words, they could have begun witnessing in the surrounding communities without the Holy Spirit but it wouldn’t have the same exploding power.

My wife gave me a wonderful surprise Christmas gift this year–an Electric Hedge Trimmer!  I’ve been trimming the hedges along side of our home for years with only hand shears.  Now the shears got the job done alright, but with the POWER  TRIMMER…the task becomes less difficult.

FRUSTRATION Can Come With WITNESSING:

Have you ever felt frustrated in witnessing…inviting someone to church…talking to them about JESUS?  Trust me, it can come with FRUSTRATION and INTIMIDATION.

Understanding  Prevents Frustration–

It’s my belief that part of our frustration in our sharing JESUS (“witnessing”) can come from NOT UNDERSTANDING the pivotal role that Holy Spirit can play in helping us share our faith with others.

JESUS said:  “However, I am telling you nothing but the truth when I say it is profitable for you that I go away.  Because if I do not go away, the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you [into close fellowship with you]; but if I go away, I will send Him to you,    And when He comes, He will CONVICT and CONVINCE the world and bring demonstration to it about sin and about righteousness and about judgement”  (John 16:7, 8 AMP).

It is NOT our job to CONVICT and CONVINCE the World… 

One of the primary jobs for God’s Spirit in this world of ours is convicting people of their sin; their need for righteousness and the impending judgement.

You and I don’t have to convict people (change their hearts) regarding SALVATION.  That’s the Spirit’s job.  According to Scripture in Acts 1:8, we are to be WITNESSES.

Courtroom Testifying
Courtroom Testifying

Let me give you an Illustration:  In a courtroom, there is a judge, prosecutor, defense attorney,a defendant, AND witness.

Who gives TESTIMONY in the courtroom?  The witnesses do.

Do the witnesses prosecute the defendant?  Do the witnesses convict the defendant?  NO!  WITNESSES…witness…and they do their best to give honest and true testimony because they realize that the verdict may hinge on how well they give an account.  BUT their only job is TESTIFYING.

CONVICTING OF PEOPLE of their Sins & of the Need of Righteousness & the Closeness of Judgement…is the Spirit’s job–NOT OURS!

OUR TESTIMONY IS IMPORTANT:

In Romans 10:13-15, the apostle Paul says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be SAVED.”  How then, can they “call” on the one they have not believed in?  How can they believe in the one of who they haven’t heard?  And how can they he”ar without someone preaching to them?  And how can they preach unless they are sent?  As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

God’s Mandate 2000 Years Ago Is Still In Effect…”Be witnesses”

GOD has given every one of us (NOT just pastors), a MANDATE.  What’s a “mandate”?  According to the On-line Dictionary:  The noun is…”an official order or commission to do something”; the Verb is “to give (someone) authority to act in a certain way.”

So when Jesus says “you shall be My witnesses”, He is given us the AUTHORITY and the COMMISSION to be His witnesses here on earth after receiving the given POWER to do so.

Now I found it interesting in Acts 1:10, 11 after JESUS was caught up, and a cloud received and carried Him away out of their sight, what the disciples were found doing:

“And while they were gazing intently into heaven as He [Jesus] went, behold, two men [dressed] in white robes suddenly stood beside them”  (verse 10).

The messengers (angels) question becomes one to be asked to all of us:  “…why do you stand gazing into heaven?”  

JESUS had already said, “you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth” (Acts 1:8).  

The angels were encouraging the disciples (and us too!),  “Don’t just stand there and think about what’s in the ‘right now’, GO!”   Their words sunk into their hearts and in verse 12,  “Then [the disciples] went…”

Who Are the Preachers Today?

UNLESS someone preaches (witnesses), people cannot hear the Gospel Message…the Good News.

AND, if they don’t hear, they can’t believe…

AND, if they don’t believe, they don’t call…

AND, if they don’t call out, they won’t be SAVED!

This Is Our Service to God–

The SALVATION of the people we care about around us hinges on our FAITHFULNESS in our witnessing.  This is such a valuable SERVICE to God, that He regards even our feet (those who give testimony), of how they came to Jesus… as beautiful!

HOLY SPIRIT OPPORTUNITIES:

I believe that God’s Spirit gives each Christian believer opportunities to talk to others, IF…and that’s a big IF, if we just ask.  I’ve been reading of late in the Gospel of John, when I came upon 3-verses about “asking”.

John 14:12-14:

“I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, IF anyone steadfastly believes in Me, he will himself be able to do the things that I do; and he will do even greater things than these, because I go to the Father.    

“And I will do [I will grant] whatever you ask in My Name, so that the Father may be glorified and extolled in (through) the Son.

“[Yes]  I will grant [I myself will do for you] whatever you shall ask in My name  [as presenting all that I AM].”

Now most of the things we seem to ASK FOR, are things that will benefit us: food, clothing, roofs over our heads, a good job…  But how about asking for OPPORTUNITIES…opportunities to talk to other about Christ Jesus this coming new year.

SO, WHAT’S NEXT AFTER CHRISTMAS THIS YEAR?

We need to:

PRAY, ASK for God’s Spirit to prepare the hearts of people we want to talk to.  We don’t go out “witnessing”, we “witness” as we go after praying earnestly first.

TRUST the Holy Spirit to do His part as we go.

LISTEN for God as He guides you to people to speak with.

AND SPEAK about what God has done specifically for you and what He means personally to you.

We are truly living in the LAST DAYS.  The BAD NEWS is always hitting you in the face.  The GOOD NEWS should be always in our hearts, minds, and souls as we go.

JERUSALEM FIRST…our neighborhoods, our workplace, our communities.

JUDEA…the towns, cities, counties all around us.

SAMARIA…the bordering States, Provinces, Countries…

TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH!

What’s next?  The Time Is Now!

But you shall receive POWER (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be MY WITNESSES in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth.

Where is your JERUSALEM?

Waiting EXPECTANTLY As Believers

Oh how I can relate to this fotosearch.com  image back when my wife was pregnant years ago.  I was like the father in this picture, excited and could hardly wait in EXPECTATION of the births of our children.  We raised three children and looking back, each pregnancy came with the same excitement and anticipation of each miracle.  Maybe that is why they call us ‘expecting fathers/parents’.

In Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary, I found the Greek word apokaradokia for the noun EXPECTATION: “watching with an outstretched head,”  signifying a “strained expectancy, eager longing,” the stretching forth of the head indicating anexpectation of something from a certain place.  Wow!  That certainly was the case after my wife told me ‘we are pregnant.’  With that in mind, let’s move on from the natural to the spiritual.

Psalm 5 – A David Psalm (The MESSAGE):

(1-3)  “Listen, GOD!  Please, pay attention!  Can you make sense of these rumblings, my groans and cries?  King-God, I need your help.

Every morning you’ll hear me at it again.

Every morning I lay out the pieces of my life on your altar and watch [EXPECTANTLY] for fire to come down.”

(7-8)  “And here I am, your invited guest–it’s incredible!

I enter your house; here I am, prostrate in your inner sanctum,

Waiting [EXPECTANTLY] for direction to get me safely through enemy lines.”

Now when writing my blogs, I seldom quote Scripture from The Message translation, but to emphasize a point of view, this particular version of the Bible really got my attention.  By the way, I added the bold and capitalized EXPECTANTLY, just to accent the blog title, Waiting EXPECTANTLY As Believers.

“EXPECTING” DEFINITION:

The Free Dictionary defines it this way: “To look forward to the probable occurrence or appearance of…  Synonym–Anticipate: “To look forward to, especially with pleasure; to expect.”

A Life Of EXPECTATION:

Psalm 5 is very beautiful and speaks of a life and existence in a child of God (believer) under the care and authority of the LORD.  The role is reversed; its the EXPECTATION of the child to the Father.

Certainly EXPECTATION is a ‘2-way Street’ so-to-speak:

Verse 3 – “In the morning You hear my voice, O Lord”

It’s not that God only hears in the morning since He doesn’t have a morning or evening!  That’s simply David’s expression in looking forward to; EXPECTING God’s involvement in his life.  It was David that woke and saw that time of day as NOT just a beautiful sunrise but another day of potential problems from King Saul.

Reading 1 Samuel 18, at a time when the Spirit of God was withdrawn from Saul you might notice that when there is a spiritual void…’the devil loves to fill it.’  But where was David coming from in all this?

Samuel had chosen David from all his brothers and anointed him.  Yet in this anointing, it had all been dispatched in defeating Goliath; the adulation of the people and the anger of Saul.  There is much more to the ANOINTING than one brief battle!  EXPECTATION is the exciting bit and waiting is the frustration.

Have you ever stood in a grocery line waiting and found the line next to you always moves the quickest?  Then you change lines!!!

It’s Not Waiting – Just Confidence.

I find myself at times in a big hurry and I want the event instantly.  Here in the Psalm, the emphasis seems not so much of the WAITING and IMPATIENCE, but it seems to me the emphasis is on David’s TOTAL DEPENDENCE on God.

Verse 3 in the NLT (New Living Translation):

“Each morning I bring my requests to you and WAIT EXPECTANTLY.”

It’s not so much on the time as on the Person he was waiting for.  Sometimes we can move with agitation; line to line or lane to lane in traffic.  We haven’t any control over the results since it’s in the hands of the cashier and the traffic officer, etc.

Our EXPECTATIONS In A Messed Up World:

The deceptions that Satan brings to this world are both frightening and sad; of men and women who are readily giving themselves over to gods and idols that are dead and unable to bring REAL LIFE.

That alone ought to make the Church sit up and take notice and make us stop the silly squabbles which have divided many.  It ought to make us reject that which is false and have an undivided mind-set of the things of God.

The words of Isaiah will be proved,“For from of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen a God besides You, Who works and shows Himself active on behalf of him who [earnestly] WAITS for Him”  (Isaiah 64:4 AMP).

The apostle Paul is presumed to have quoted this same verse in Isaiah in 1 Corinthians 2:9 AMP:

“What eye has not seen and ear has not heard and has not entered into the heart of man, [all that] God has prepared (made and keeps ready) for those who love Him [who hold Him in affectionate reverence, promptly obeying Him and gratefully recognizing the benefits He has bestowed].”

  Here lies the trouble of so many, unwilling to SEE or HEAR what God is saying to them.  Blind Eyes and Stopped Ears is the curse of so many, even in the church today.  They want instant access to the Father.  How many times must God show to us the way and speak directions to the ear, which they refuse either to see or hear because of their own agendas?  Don’t be DECEIVED of false timetables; the claims of those who worship false gods.  WAIT EXPECTANTLY for our God and live in His promises, being sure that He will move in your life.

Isaiah 8:17 says,

“And I will wait for the Lord, Who is hiding His face from the house of Jacob; and I will look for and hope in Him” (AMP).

God’s people were in a place where they couldn’t see God; with no evidence of Him being active on their behalf.  BUT their TRUST was still in Him.

Now go with me to the NT and see the story of Simeon.  He was an old man, a man who had the touch of God on his life and the PROMISE of God in his heart.  He would not die until he saw the Messiah:

“And now, Lord,  You are releasing Your servant to depart (leave this world) in peace, according to Your word”  (Luke 2:29 AMP).

How CONFIDENT Are You In God?

Oral Roberts used to use a chorus that some detested, why, I don’t know:

“EXPECT a miracle everyday,

EXPECT a miracle when you pray,

If you EXPECT it God will find a way,

To perform a miracle for you each day.”

EXPECTATIONS may be high and in the right place…but there are still times of WAITING for His answer!

Even when things seemingly go wrong, as His children, we can still TRUST-DELIGHT-COMMIT our ways to Him.  He is our strong foundation.

Psalms 37:3-7:  “TRUST (lean on, rely on, and be confident) in the Lord and do good; so shall you dwell in the land and feed surely on His faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed.  DELIGHT yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart.  COMMIT your way to the Lord [roll and repose each care of your load on Him]; TRUST also in Him and He will bring it to pass.  And He will make your uprightness and right standing with God go forth as the light, and your justice and right as [the shinning sun of] the noonday.  BE STILL and REST in the Lord; WAIT for Him and patiently lean yourself upon Him; fret not yourself because of Him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked devices to pass.”  (Amplified version).

Psalm 5:12:  “For You, Lord, will bless the [uncompromisingly]  righteous [him who is upright and in right standing with You]; as with a shield You will surround him with goodwill (pleasure and favor).”

BEGIN TO RECLAIM YOUR MORNINGS WITH “EXPECTATIONS”:

When you RECLAIM your mornings for Christ:  You say “Good morning Lord” instead of “Good Lord, it’s morning.”

When you RECLAIM your mornings for Christ:  Your words no longer fall on deaf ears and they rise on eagles wings!

When you RECLAIM your mornings for Christ:  You no longer wander about aimlessly but instead you follow faithfully.

When you RECLAIM your mornings for Christ:  You no longer while away the hours, you redeem the time for eternity.

When you RECLAIM your mornings for Christ:  You are no longer rejected like an orphan.  You’re a child of the King.

When you RECLAIM your mornings for Christ:  You no longer live in fear getting caught but you stare fear down in the power of the cross.

When you RECLAIM your mornings for Christ:  You are no longer satisfied with survival but you hunger for revival!

When you RECLAIM your mornings for Christ; when you are WAITING EXPECTANTLY AS BELIEVERS IN CHRIST JESUS;

–It’s no longer us and them, but it’s Jesus coming again!

–It’s no longer who I am, but whose I am!

–It’s no longer where I’ve been, but where I’m going!

–It’s not about who I know, but who I follow!

–It’s not about, “Out of my way,” but it’s about, “Can I help you find your way?”

“But let all those who take refuge and put their trust in You rejoice; let them ever sing and shout for joy, because You make a covering over them and defend them; let those also who love Your name be joyful in You and be in high spirits”  (Psalm 5:11 AMP).

Now if that verse doesn’t encourage you to WAIT EXPECTANTLY , I don’t know what will.

Let’s Get With It–It’s Time To Shout!

“I AM JUST A STEP AWAY FROM A MIRACLE!”

[A STUDY IN JOSHUA–Y’hoshua in the Hebrew language]:

Recalling Successful Ventures Reinforces Future Daring!

“And Y’hoshua (Joshua) said to them, Pass over before the ark of the Lord your God in the midst of the Jordan, and take up every man of you a stone on his shoulder, as is the number of tribes of the Israelites,    That this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come,  What do these stones mean to you?    Then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it passed over the Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off.  So these stones shall be to the Israelites a memorial forever”  (Joshua 4:5-7 AMP).

It is not only important that the people crossed the swollen Jordan but to remember the event.  Giving thanks of past success is not only common courtesy but establishes a rhythm; a pattern of gratitude following satisfactory performance.

Crossing My River After Taking The “RED PILL!”

For almost my entire Christian life, my prayers and thanksgiving were…lets say, ‘Rabbit Foot’  type prayers.  I would give thanks, pray for safe family vacations, and of course pray for people when they would ask me.  After all, isn’t that what good Christians are supposed to do?  The answers of YES or NO!  Unless heartfelt, faithful, bold prayers are offered to God, the answer would always come back…well,  somewhat ‘muddled’; being not sure and lacking any confidence that God’s answer would be YES!

I left the RELIGIOUS ‘MATRIX’ and swallowed the “RED PILL’ in 2005; Holy Spirit gave me the choice.  Take the spiritual RED PILL and discover a wonderland or…take the BLUE PILL and stay indifferent [see my ABOUT page; Taking the Red Pill testimony].

Looking back across the river, I would still be in the same state of mind and spirit.  But the choice that was presented to me by the Holy Spirit enabled me to PASS OVER.  I will always remember that moment of establishing a rhythm; a pattern of gratitude with a new attitude; a renewing of my mind (Romans 12:1-3).

The Concept Of REMEMBERING and Giving THANKS–

This concept works for:

–God.

–Churches.

–Fellow workers.

–Families.

–Students.

–Teachers.

–And governments.

Anywhere there are POSITIONS of leadership and follow-ship.  Its remembering a job well-done and giving/getting PRAISE for it; in the RIGHT NOW!  It strengthens a bond and supplies the energy for future undertakings.  PRAISE is powerful, PRAISE is positive, PRAISE is promotional.

It Is Worthwhile To Stop Occasionally After “Passing Over”?

Occasionally we need to take stock of our heritage and the great under-lying principles which we operate in.  Ask yourself questions, “Are we staying true to our goals?  Are we opportunists, constantly looking for that which will work, or bring pain?

“For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you PASSED OVER, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up for us until we passed over.  That all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty and that you may reverence and fear the Lord your God forever”  (Joshua 4:23-24 AMP).

THE LAST MEAL OF MANNA–Joshua 5:11-12.

“And on that same day they ate the produce of the land: unleavened cakes and parched grain.  And the manna ceased on the day after they ate of the produce of the land; and the Israelites had manna no more, but the ate the fruit of the land of Canaan that year” [12].

At the same time, some traditions not worth keeping; some essentials from the past are now passe’.  They were once useful but now they are out of date.

This was true of the manna God had faithfully sustained an entire nation for a generation with simple food.  They couldn’t have existed without it, complaining and gripping though they did.  Suddenly available to them after their crossing or passing over, there were stored supplies of grain in a fertile land of frugal people.

LEADERS must be quick to discern when something is USEFUL and when it is not.  When a TRADITION should be carried on and when it should be laid aside.  When times have changed, things previously unavailable, suddenly become AVAILABLE.

Many churches have failed on this very aspect alone.  They continue to FEED on yesterday’s manna instead of today’s crop.  My wife said to me right after the both of us took THE RED PILL: “I am tired of eating dried-up and stale bread on the church floor, when I can smell fresh bread in the kitchen oven.”

LOOKING AT OUR PROBLEMS FROM ALL ANGLES:

“NOW JERICHO [a fenced town with high walls] was nightly closed because of the Israelites; no one went out or came in.  And the Lord said to Joshua,  See, I have given Jericho, its king and mighty men of valor, into your hands”  [2]  (Joshua 6:1-2 AMP).

FEAR is a paralyzer.  It halts progress, rational thinking and productive activity; it dominates and controls people’s thinking.  Jericho was a product of FEAR and it was about to be increased.  Since the gates had been shut in trying to contain the Israelite spies, they had not been opened since.  No one could come and go; no peace, no commerce, no one traveling.  They were worried sick about the attack they knew was coming.

MORE BAD NEWS kept coming.  The flooded Jordan wasn’t a barrier to their working God.  The stored supplies of corn were being consumed by the millions filling the Jordan valley…and now, more bad news!  A band of soldiers and some trumpet-blowing priests were quietly approaching their city and they couldn’t figure out the reason.

Any leader who works from FEAR or in FEAR is doomed to fail.  Keeping subordinates in line with FEAR will never do what encouragement will do.  However, FEAR can be an effective tool in use against the enemy.  It can incapacitate him effectively; heighten your control over him which leads to disastrous decisions and delusions on their part.

WAlKING AROUND THE CITY:

“You shall march around the enclosure, all the men of war going around the city once.  This you shall do for six days.  And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams’ horns; and on the seventh day you shall march around the enclosure seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets.  [4]  But Joshua commanded the people, You shall not shout or let your voice be heard, nor shall any word proceed out of your mouth until the day I tell you to shout.  Then you shall shout”  [10]  (Joshua 6:3-4, 10 AMP).

LEADERSHIP requires a formative knowledge of:  many disciplines, abilities, possibilities, dangers, procedures and outlooks.  A LEADER must be many things with a general and over-all knowledge of the entire operation and must be able to RELATE his vision and dreams in such manner that will be enthusiastic and willing.  Nothing accomplishes this better than a calculated walk around the situation; a look at the problem from every angle to ascertain that nothing is hidden or disguised or unmanageable.  It increases your FAITH!

KNOW SOMETHING THE ENEMY DOESN’T:

“When they make a long blast with the ram’s horn and you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the enclosure shall fall down in its place and the people shall go up [over it], every man straight before him”  (Joshua 6:5 AMP).

The ENEMY could make no sense of the daily parade around the city.  They couldn’t understand a war with no visual build-up of material and armament.  They couldn’t have possibly known that their city was about to FAIL with crumbling walls, without an arrow flying, a sword clanging or a shield swaying.  Or that God had a plan and relayed it to His children; His people never doubted or balked over the plan because they had seen God at work and were confident He could do it again.

A PLAN IS A POTENT WEAPON:

A God-given plan is infallible; and FOLLOWING God’s plan will mean success.  Not your own plan or working without one, but following God’s details in His plan.  The Israelites knew in advance how long the march would be; when to expect the final trumpet blast; when to shout and what the outcome would be.

A TIME TO SHOUT:

“And the seventh time, when the priests had blown the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, SHOUT!  For the Lord has given you the city”  (Joshua 6:15 AMP).

I don’t know about you, but personally, that sounds EXCITING and brings JOY!

Shouting is an activity of excitement, either of celebration or of a warning.  We are accustomed to this at sporting events where we think it is proper and necessary.  But we are hesitant and fearful of this as a church function in our communities.  Because we feel that God or at least our neighbors will be offended.  But when we have something exciting, something worthwhile to celebrate, a SHOUT of PRAISE is not only proper but encouraged.  Scripture even supports appropriate SHOUTING:

1 Samuel 4:5-7.

Ezra 3:11-13.

Psalm 5:11.

Psalm 32:10-11; 33:1.

FAITHFUL AND SWEATY PEOPLE:

The children of God had been anticipating this moment of VICTORY for 7 long days.  It had been PROMISED before they started the march around the city.  They could feel the excitement building as the crowd grew around the brink of the wall.  And the goal of VICTORY was getting nearer and nearer.  They had suppressed ALL talk to concentrate on one glorious sound…CELEBRATION at the trumpet signal.

Falling Walls:

“So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown,  When the people heard the sound of the trumpet, they raised a great shout, and [Jericho’s] wall fell down in its place, so that the [Israelites] went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city”  (Joshua 6:20 AMP).

What are we waiting for Church?  Does it seem like there are spiritual walls around your city?  The enemy is alive and well, but know this: his defeat was accomplished at the cross.  Jesus Christ is ALIVE and well; the TRUMPET has sounded and the curtain has been torn from top to bottom.  We in the Church have been quieted long enough.

“Do you not say,  It is still four months until harvest time comes?  Look!  I tell you, raise your eyes and observe the fields and see how they are already white for harvesting.  Already the reaper is getting his wages [he who does the cutting now has his reward], for he is gathering fruit (crop) unto life eternal, so that he who does the planting and he who does the reaping may rejoice [and SHOUT} together.  For in this the saying holds true,  One sows and another reaps.  I sent you to reap a crop for which you have not toiled.  Other men have labored and you have stepped in to reap the results of their work”     (John 4:35-38 AMP).  [I added, and SHOUT for emphasis].

The PLAN has been formulated for your city.  So it is up to us to carry out God’s plan and start marching around your city.  Let’s Get With It–It’s Time To Shout!