Sunday, November 23, 2014

Are You Rich?

A dear saint of God who had spent most of her life blessing others through prayer, giving, ministering in nursing homes, distributing bread and food to those in need just went home to be with the Lord.  During her life she purposed to bless every single person she met. 

The night before her funeral God showed me in Proverbs that, in spite of her appearance of having very little material possessions, she was very rich.  The world looks through fallen-nature eyes and thinks that the rich people are those with billions of dollars, fancy cars and houses, and lives of ease and comfort.  But in reality, Jesus made it clear that true riches are only what we give away.  You are only as rich as what you have given to Him and to others.  Matthew 6:20 encourages us to lay up treasures in heaven that can never be lost.  In God's sight and for all eternity, she is rich.

Most of us in the Western world think that we are barely making it, working to provide money to pay bills and meet expenses, with little left over to spend for luxuries or even to bless others.  However, the question is "what is rich?"  Are we hungry or do we have food enough to eat?  Do we have clothes to wear and a roof over our heads?  Do we have some of the comforts of life: heat, lights, and electricity?  What about clean water, cooking appliances, beds and furniture, flooring and carpet, or a car or two for transportation? What about entertainment items such as televisions, computers, music devices, smart phones and high-speed Internet, eating out or an occasional movie?  We get addicted to having the latest "things" and even start feeling sorry for ourselves if we can't buy the latest item immediately.  Often we live with completely twisted and distorted concepts of our needs and the provision we have.  In fact, we are rich and have received much.

Lets start with two simple truths.  Every thing that we have is given.  1 Corinthians 4:7 asks "what do you have that you did not receive?"  God does "give us all things richly to enjoy" according to 1 Timothy 6:17, so He does not resent us having good things.  He does, however, want us to at least be like the tenth leper and return to give thanks.  Thanks giving is more than words, it is an attitude of appreciation that is so overwhelming that only serving the One who gave it makes sense. 

Secondly, God gives us resources so we can be like Him.  God is a giver.  He so loved the world that He gave His only Son.  He loves a cheerful giver.  Isaiah 55 says He gives bread to the eater and seed to the sower.  So there is always enough to meet our needs and always enough to bless someone else.  We are called to bless (1 Peter 4:7) that we may receive the blessing.  Do you see the sowing and reaping principle: Give and it will be given, forgive and you will be forgiven, bless and you will be blessed.  This life is just an internship for the position God has destined for us for eternity.  We are allowed to sow seeds that bear eternal fruit, that can make a difference for eternity in someone's life.  But most of all, using our God-given resources provides an opportunity to become a giver like Him.

So, are you rich, in the things that matter?  Do you recognize where everything you have came from?  Are you seeking to use your resources to return blessings to God and to meet the needs of others?  May the Lord give you a heart of thanksgiving so you can enjoy being rich, now and forever!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Awesome God!

We serve an awesome God.  He intensely loves each one of us.  He was pleased to see His Son bruised or crucified just so we could be with Him forever.  He is 100% faithful to His promises.  He knows our every thought and desire.  Yet at the same time, He continues to rule the universe.  In the book of Revelation, God clearly shows His master plan to deal with every evil in the world and to establish His glorious kingdom on the earth. 

In other words, He will always be the infinite God who created all things "by Him, through Him, and for Him." and who will triumph over all.  Actually He has already conquered all evil through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ.  It is only a matter of time and of inevitable steps to see all things put under His feet and as many as possible come to know Him.

Be not deceived.  God is not mocked.  What a man sows is what he will reap.  Secular man may say what comes around goes around.  Either way, the point is that God controls the outcome of our choices and actions.  God invites us to accept His direction or instructions so He can bless and fill our lives with the fullness He intended. When we choose to reject His way and go against His Word, the consequences always lead to death.  Man in our fallen state likes to pretend he is "God" and thinks he can do whatever he wants without consequences.  Big mistake. 

In our world man has become so arrogant that he exalts homosexuality, acts like killing babies in the womb is an acceptable practice, and continues to act like Christianity and God's Word is a detriment to the progress of mankind.  However, as the Word states "God is not mocked" and there will be a day of reckoning.  God resists the proud. 

On a global scale, when countries bless Israel, they are blessed.  When they curse or try to destroy Israel, they are cursed and will reap the consequences. Yet for the past few years the US had led a campaign to force Israel to be divided into a Palestinian state and a Jewish state.  A recent prophecy (given by several people in various parts of the world) speaks a warning to the United States: If we divide Israel, God will divide the United States.  The specifics are quite awesome with a large meteor hitting near Puerto Rico and both the tsunami and the earthquake literally dividing the United States from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, as well as major destruction on the east and west coast.  In another prophecy given this October by a recognized prophet )hordes of terrorists crossed the southern border and caused great difficulty and destruction.  In disgust over the federal government leaving the border so open and not doing anything, the people of America lost heart and became divided.

These prophecies may be a warning and a call for God's people to pray.  If the United States continues to pursue this dangerous stance of dividing Israel there will be significant consequences.  It is always foolish to pick on God's chosen people.  Ask Hitler.  Likewise, our government policy concerning our border has subjected our people to great risk.  No wonder 1 Timothy 2:1 calls Christians to "first of all" pray for their leaders.  Yet God in His awesome love offers hope for things to change if "my people humble themselves and pray" so He can "heal our land."

So whether as a nation or on a personal level, God's principles stand. Our choices of obedience always produce reward and blessing.  God is an awesome God, far beyond man's ideas.  And in spite of His greatness, He is also so personal in His love for each person that He is constantly looking for opportunities and reasons to bless.  Because of the joy set before Him, Jesus willingly endured the cross.  In the same spirit. He sets great joy and reward before us to encourage our obedience and yielding to Him.  God looks forward to when He can say, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Saturday, May 31, 2014

God's Plan: Glory On!

Man was created in the image and likeness of God.  Hebrews states man was crowned with glory and honor.  Unfortunately, everyone knows man fell from his original position through disobedience.  However, the good news is that Jesus, according to Luke 19:10, came to restore that which was lost.  Notice the verse does not say "those" but "that," and "which" rather than "whom."  While it is true Jesus did come to save sinners, this verse declares Jesus came to restore the majestic presence of God, the very glory of God, that man lost through sin. 

Jesus is the most amazing character, so beyond human description, in taking the very worst human event and turning it into the most incredibly wonderful thing that could happen to man.  What could be worse than his own precious creation, the very ones whom He came to earth to make acceptable to be with Him forever in glory, for them to not only reject His message but brutally mock, torture, and kill Him?  Yet the awesome love of God turns this disgraceful act into the ultimate sacrifice that cleanses men of their evil.   Only God could pull off such a reversal of blame and willingly pay the price to transform all who receive it.  Yet His plan goes even beyond this.

God's way is perfect.  He not only wants to take off the old "flat tire" of fallen human nature but also put on a "brand new tire" of His glorious nature.  His blood takes away sin and the foundational sinful nature while His Spirit completes the process by powerfully transforming the heart and nature of man into partaking of the divine nature, becoming like Jesus Himself.  This plan is so absolutely wonderful that the mind of man cannot perceive it.

Our relationship with God isn't meant to be one where we are somehow deemed acceptable to God even though our inner desires and attitudes remain unchanged.  Rather man is redeemed from the consequences of sin and then allowed to experience the very presence of God which powerfully converts those who have been rescued into new creatures, going from glory to glory.   In Ezekiel 47 the picture of a clear river flowing from the temple of God completely changes and gives life to everything it touches.

The goal of the coming school year, "Glory On," is a declaration of God's desire and plan of accomplishing His glorious goal for us.  As we draw near and seek His glorious presence, He will draw near to us and cause His life and glory to come on us and radically transform everything about us, glory to glory, until we reflect His very being.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

But It's My String

  So many things seem out of control.  Work, long hours, pressure to succeed, bosses that demand more, need to bring home more money, co-workers who don't carry their weight, less qualified people being promoted, extra projects that aren't quite done, always feeling one step less than succeeding, etc., all which can cause stress and steal one's joy.  Then added to that are home responsibilities, spending time with the wife and children, making decisions, doing maintenance chores, fixing things that break, dealing with children and discipline, getting along with in-laws and relatives, keeping up with others, taking time for God or to even reflect on where I am really going.  Life has challenges.  How can the average person make it all work?   The key to this problem came to me during a special time in my life when I almost lost everything.

  When I first became a Spirit-filled Christian, nothing was impossible and God was so close and real that I didn't have a care in the world.  I was almost spoiled with the way God opened doors, released His power, and worked things out for me. On one particular experience, we were invited to share Jesus, His Word, and the power of the Holy Spirit with a group of high school seniors in another state. We were set for success.  We brought in a team of students that had some amazing testimonies of what God had done in their lives, and so on the first night they shared their heart in such a way that made the Lord so real and personal and inviting.  I sat in awe of how good God is.  Yet to my utter frustration, the young audience was not moved, but rather was throwing spitballs and jostling with one another.

 As leader of the team, it was my job to bring the pieces together and present the message that Jesus died for each one out of unconditional love.  My words were like drops of water bouncing off a flat rock.  I began to resent them and the more I tried to make the message clear the more their response was rejection or at least, complete disinterest.  Instead of loving them, I let myself become discouraged and totally frustrated.  So when we adjourned with the team for the night, all my emotions were spent and in my heart of hearts, I just wanted to get out of there.  I had had it.  I felt like God had deserted me.  Like a little kid running away from home, I made up my mind to get in the car and never come back. 

  God, being God, moved upon one of the team, the most unlikely guy who usually totally ignored me, to ask me to bless them before they went to bed.  I froze.  There was no way on God's earth I had anything in me to bless anyone.  I broke down and shared my hurt, letting them gather around and pray for me. Something was released and my heart and emotions were set free.  So the team went to bed and left me alone.  I turned to God and said, "God, don't you realize how close I was to giving up? I was one string from leaving forever."  That's when I heard, as strong as I have ever heard God's voice, "But it was My string."

Many waters have flowed over the damn since then, and at times the battle has grown in significance and intensity.  Yet the word hasn't changed.  Yesterday I saw on Youtube a video of Kathryn Kuhlman interviewing Cory ten Boom, in which Cory shared the message she received while in the Nazi concentration camp, that "No pit is so deep, that God is not deeper still."   Her testimony only verifies the word in 1 Corinthians 10:13, while talking about grace to bear trials, it declares, "God is faithful."  It is His string that holds you.