Beware of Slipping Down the Slopes of Despair!

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It was a hot summer afternoon, years ago when my father took off work early to take me fishing at one of the Snake River reservoirs in southern Idaho. We were positioning ourselves on the concrete slopes of the reservoir, anticipating a great time of fishing. I had noticed since some of the water had been released the day before it had left wet damp moss exposed on the lower section of the slopes. Yet, as a naive young man, I foolishly ran over across the moss without any caution and immediately began sliding down to the water level. It was with a quick protective hand that my father grasped me and pulled me out of what could have been a slimy slide to a momentary destruction.

In like manner there are definite seasons in our lives that we can find ourselves going through, that if not careful or clothed in God’s armor (Eph. 6:12-13), we can slide deep into dark waters of despair.


When you listen to the voice of the enemy, it will always plunder you in depths of despair.


It’s in our vulnerability that the enemy, will begin to plunder us with his accusations and lies, trying to destroy us as children of God. (Jn 10:10, 1 Peter 5:8) He looks for every opportunity to entice you into venturing out on the slippery slopes of your journey.

The demonic spirit that was working through queen Jezebel when she announced her intent to kill Elijah, which began his slide down the wet slope of despair. We read, in 1 Kings 19:9-10, “…he went into a cave…”, where the Lord said to Him, “What are you doing here?”. Elijah, had just experienced God’s awesome victory on the summit of Mt Carmel days earlier, but now finds himself in a cave, wallowing in despair and causing him to have a distorted perspective. Speaking out of his fear and hopelessness Elijah replies to the Lord “I alone am left; and they seek to take my life”. He began to feel that everyone was against him when it was actually just the demonic agenda through Jezebel.

Elijah was a victorious Godly prophet that was in the flow of what God was doing, until He started listening to the voice of the enemy through the queen. Then instead of him standing in the victory of God, he ran and hid in a cave. He began to believe the lie that everyone was against Him. He came to the place of not wanting to stand for God but


Jesus will always call to you from the banks of your failures so He can realign you.


to Die. (v4) What a change and drastic plunge into the deepest of darkness! Who would have even imagined this fearless and determined prophet that the king and godly officer feared? (1 Kings181-1 7)

Peter himself was also deceived to the point of being pushed onto the wet mossy slopes of despair, through the extraordinary circumstances that he and the other disciples went through. Being under such pressure, Peter slid to such a dark place that he uttered these words to the other six disciples in Jn 21:3, “I am going fishing.” In other words he was saying, I quit and I am going back to my former lifestyle. Evidently he had kept his tackle box from years earlier, so to speak, by the back door making it easy to fall back on. And not him only but his despair moved the disciples present down that same deluge of discouragement.

It was in those times that we see the graciousness of our Lord. With Elijah it was that still small voice that reached out and brought him out of the cave with a new fervor. Peter was pulled out of the depths of the unfruitfulness of despair through the words of the resurrected Lord. (1 Kings19, Jn 21:12-19) Let me encourage you to allow the word of God to reach out to you also and pull you back to Him.

 

Pt. 2 – In This Season …Look For the Divine Appointments!

1a divine appI love when God gives you that kiss from heaven, the orchestration of divine appointments, letting you know that He has complete control of every part of your journey. And If we’re not careful we can nonchalantly shrug off these God moments with thinking they are just natural circumstances. Losing the incredible joy of knowing the creator of the universe loves you enough to wrap around your situation the warmth and comfort of the evidence of His love and value for you.

Now back to doctor Luke’s story in Luke 2:25-35 where he says there was a righteous man named Simeon who had yielded himself to the Holy Spirit which had led him to come to the temple. In verse 26 we read, “it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ”. It was a divine set up! There in the temple comes Mary, Joseph and Jesus the Christ wrapped in probably her most beautiful covering. The moment that Simeon and the world had been waiting


Just when we feel things are over, God steps in with His touch and says “They are just Beginning”!


for is now upon them, with no dress rehearsal the camera of history is running. With no doubt to the readers we are convinced of the Holy Spirit’s working in that one place with and for so many people. But truthfully for the characters of this pivotal moment in time they could have brushed it off as just another day of longing in their lives. Yet, this day not only was fulfilling a promise to Simeon who was waiting in faith, but continued to confirm to Mary the words of God, that Gabriel had said nine months earlier, and also affirming to Joseph that his faith filled obedience was important and ordained by God.

It had now been 40 days since the birth of Jesus, the shepherds were now back tending the sheep in the fields and the excitement of the heavenly announcement had become news of yesterday. The hustle and bustle of this extraordinary season was transitioning into a way of life as this new family had already taken baby Jesus to be circumcised on the eighth day and now Mary and Joseph enter the temple on her completion of days of purification for the birth of a male child. (Lev 12:1-8) It is interesting to me that in the same length of time as the Holy Spirit had taken Jesus into


Our Life Struggles fade in light of His affirming Divine Kiss from Heaven


the wilderness for forty days before He was thrust into His earthly ministry of power, leading to His bodily sacrifice on the cross. We now see these 30 years earlier that the child Jesus has also been in waiting the same length of time for His dedication into the world as the glorious Savior with a sacrifice for Him in the Temple ceremony. (Lk. 2:24)

And “folks, that’s not all”! At that very moment, the scripture also points out, a widow named Anna who had been travailing for most of her adult life, possibly up to 84 years, in prayer and fasting, (Lk 2:36-38) Interceding in the temple for the spiritual birthing of the gift of God to the world. Who by the Hand of the Father’s fate was just brought in for His dedication for the world! (Jn. 3:16)

They all seemed to be assembled and brought together through divine means. God doesn’t just throw things together like we do in making “Everything but the kitchen sink” soup. Each of these characters had a unique story of personal hardship and struggle in their walk of faith. But God uses them as part of His gloriously orchestrated triumphant entry. It was in this moment that the world, as well as each of these characters experienced God’s divine kiss and assurance of His redeeming plan.

It shouldn’t be Just for one Day! We should begin Thanks-Living.

1a - thankfulI heard a story about a little boy who was handed an orange by a man trying to be kind. The boy’s mother asked, “What do you say to the nice man?” The little boy thought and handed the orange back and said, “Peel it.”

As rude as this boy in the story seems to be, what’s more shocking is that this attitude is prevalent throughout our society. Everywhere we turn we can see it filtering through this great nation of ours. We have raised a generation of self-absorbed people that are blinded to everything other than their desires and needs. We have forgotten the simple act of gratitude.

We have made a make-believe, self absorbed, mystical world that around our own us! We have established ourselves as king in our own little kingdoms! We have made our society nothing more than a “Me, Myself and I” culture that has started us down a slippery slope of ungratefulness. The scripture says in 1 Tim. 3:1-2 that in the last days


Why do we celebrate one day every year to be thankful and return to self-centered living the day after


men will be lovers of themselves and unthankful, as well as, with other selfish attributes. These actions have nurtured and raised a generation of unthankful people. We celebrate one day every year to be thankful and return to self-centered living the day after.

This reminds me of the story of the ten lepers that stood afar as Jesus entered a certain village. They lifted their voices so that Jesus could hear them and cried out, “have mercy on us!” Jesus responds telling them to go and show themselves to the priest, who had the final decision in pronouncing them clean or defiled.

As the lepers went in obedience to His words, the very disease that had kept them estranged from society incredibly dries up and instantly they are healed. Now if this was the end of the story it would be a great lesson on obedience and God’s mercy, but it goes even deeper. The story continues with the scene of only one of the ten returning to give


It’s truly time to stop the madness of self-centeredness and develop a lifestyle of thankfulness


thanks for the miracle from God. The author points out that this healed man was not a Jew but a Samaritan. He wasn’t educated in the traditions and things of God. Yet he knew enough to be eternally grateful for the life changing miracle he was given. Many times those who profess to be Christians are out-done by unbeliever who is touched by God’s mercy.

Where were the other nine? This demoralizing disease had unfairly handicapped them all. They had all been separated from society and their families and dreams. Yet, when they were radically healed and set free by a merciful loving God that heard and responded to their cries. All but one of them chose not to even take the time to come and say, “Thank You”.

It’s time we develop a lifestyle of gratitude towards God and become obedient to the scripture, “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thes 5:18). We can become a person of gratitude by being thankful in three simple areas. First, by being thankful for everything He has done. Secondly, being thankful for everything He is doing in our lives and thirdly, walking in faith by being thankful for everything He is going to do in our lives.

When we become grateful in these areas it will develop a heart of gratitude in us which will flow out to and through others.

It’s truly time to stop the madness of self-centeredness and develop a lifestyle of thankfulness, not just a day of thanksgiving! God wants Thanks-living!

Faithful Follower or Fair-Weathered Fan?

a1 fan

Like a spiritual father that he was, Paul exhorts his spiritual children in Corinth to not be swishy washy in their walk. We read his words in 1 Cor 15:58 where he says, “…be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord”. As he closed this first letter he seemed to be giving them a last nugget of encouragement to keep them from vacillating in their commitment to following Christ.

Some years back when our hometown team was on the verge of going to the World Series, which they did eventually clinched. People came out of the woodwork and jumped on the bandwagon of being a fan. Everyone was buying t-shirts, banners and talking the talk at the water fountain and coffee counter. Everyone seemed to be diehard committed fans all of a sudden. They call these type fans, fare-weathered fans, because they are only committed to the team when it is easy and convenient.

I think many believers fall in this same type category of commitment in their walk with the Lord. You might call them fare weathered Christians. They are committed to Christ and His teachings as long as there aren’t any storms of life or a losing season in their daily disciplines. On the other side of the coin when they are in the midst of over flowing blessings it is easy to jump on the bandwagon of commitment. Yet, Paul knew that the believer was called to stand firm in their faith no matter what comes their way. Jesus said in Luke 9:62, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God”. Therefore, Paul also exhorts the believers in 1 Cor 9:24-26 to be like


   Only being committed when it is easy and convenient is being a fare-weathered fan for Christ


the runner in a race that runs to win the race not just to be strolling down the track of life and also to those believers in Ephesus He says, “having done all to stand therefore stand”. (Eph. 6:12) Commitment without endurance is just a desire that never manifests into reality. The followers of Christ must live a lifestyle committed to being obedience to Christ rather than just being hinged with some sort of sacrifice. What I am trying to say is there must be more than just sacrifice. (1 Sam 15:22-23) Commitment is a must for every believer!

In Ps. 132 we read the psalmists conversation with the Lord, where he prayed that God would remember David’s commitment to Him. From the sheep fields to the Kingship it seems that this determined commitment that was birthed in him, grew more and more over time. The Spirit describes his determination and intensity in Acts 13:22, saying, “a man after My own heart, who will do all My will”. The Psalmist briefly reminds God of David’s commitment in Ps 132:2-5 which says, “How he … vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob: “Surely I will not go into the chamber of my house, Or go up to the comfort of my bed; I will not give sleep to my eyes … Until I find a place for the Lord”. David never strayed from this passionate commitment to God, in fact if anything, it increased. Scripture reveals how David wasn’t perfect, but his heart was moved for God and the more he leaned into intimacy with Jesus, I believe God kept pouring His heart into him. In a sense, you could say God was stoking the fire of heaven in David’s heart over the years.

After your gone, how will people remember your commitment to God? What will be written on your headstone? Have you given Him opportunity to increase your burning passion to the point that your commitment is at the same intensity as David?

 

 

 

 

 

The Cost of Impatience

1a1aa - impatienceThere’s nothing like entering the stage of life where God blesses you with children. It is an incredible season, yet the transition between only having to worry about yourself to the wake up call of now having a baby that doesn’t understand patience and timing can be eye opening to say the least. I remember in that season how the nights that I was beyond tired was when our sweet cuddly bundle of love turned into a screaming creature from the dark side. That sweet little crying baby never understood anyone else’s needs, only that they wanted their bottle now and that you’re not moving fast enough!

Sadly, many believers are responding in the same way when it comes to receiving the promises of God. When things aren’t coming together in their timetable they begin to be agitated and respond with unwarranted reactions that can, if not stopped, abort the promises of God. It says in Prov. 13:12, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick”. When we are faced with delays we can quickly turn to hopelessness and begin to lose heart, even becoming sluggish in achieving God’s promises.

We see this happening on one of Moses many trips up the mountain. We read in Ex 32:1, “Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, … we do not know what has become of him”.  Now, remember these are the people that God delivered from the Egyptians. God ended hundreds of years of slavery through a great show of His power. (Gen.15:13-14) He went before them as a “Pillar of Fire and a Cloud by day! (Ex 13:21-22)  He opened the Red Sea for a way of escape and then closed it upon the vicious army coming to annihilate them! (Ex 14:21-23, 27-28) Then shortly before this passage the children of Israel had seen God descend upon Mount Sinai in a dark cloud with rumblings and lightening’s, speaking audibly the Ten Commandments before all the children of Israel. (Ex 20:18-19, 22)

They truly had multiple encounters with their all-powerful God that had chosen them to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation before Him, (Ex. 19:6) yet they still slid to a place of impatience when Moses delayed coming down the mountain. You would think after a number of times witnessing God calling him up to commune with Him and to receive instruction on their behalf, that they would be patient and content. Yet it was not so!

The human spirit has a tendency to want things now not later, even if that means trying to help God fulfill His plan with our own strength. Just as Abram and Sari, when they became impatient and produced an Ishmael themselves. (Gen. 16:1-2) Esau was so hungry and impatient after hunting all day that he sold His birthright for soup. (Gen. 25:29-35, Heb. 12:16)

Israel’s impatience motivated them to pursue Aaron to create a god of gold that they might serve and worship it. (Ex. 32:1-2) The gold that they used is what they received from the Egyptians when they left bondage. Isn’t it like many of God’s people in our society? We get tired of contending for His promises, so we create a golden calf that fits our convenience out of the blessings we received from God in the first place.

Let me encourage you as Paul said, not to be weary along the journey, for we will see God’s promises fulfilled if we don’t quit! (Gal. 6:9) Our impatience will only end up costing us the blessings we received from God.

Thoughts to Ponder:  

  • Have you ever been so impatient for whatever reason and did something foolish?
  • Have you ever known anyone to try and help God fulfill what He has promised you? Explain?

 Quotes to Tweet:

  • The human spirit has a tendency to want things now not later, even if that means trying to help God fulfill His plan with our own strength. billvirgin.com 
  • When we are faced with delays we can quickly turn to hopelessness and begin to lose heart, even becoming sluggish in achieving God’s promises. – billvirgin.com

#TheresACostToOurImpatience           #DontDiscardWhatGodAccepts    

 

 

Quit Giving the Enemy a Foothold in your Life

Nothings worse than standing on one foot trying to balance yourself all the while you’re trying to get out of the pickle your in. Our pasture had a marshy section in it where the creek would over flow and saturate the ground making it hard to walk through with out having some type of a dilemma. At this particular time the suction of the mud monster held onto my rubber boot making my stocking foot come out of the boot. Even though it might be funny, the point is once something or someone gets a foothold on you, you’re either stopped or extremely hindered in your journey.

Paul exhorts the believers in Ephesus as they fulfill the purposes of God in their lives to not make the mistake of giving place or foothold to the enemy. He says, “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. (Eph 4:26-27)

The enemy gets a foothold in our lives when we willfully sin and continue to walk in disobedience, as well as when we are entertaining wrong beliefs and doctrine in our lives that are contrary to God’s word. James teaches us that temptation comes when we are drawn away by our own “desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death”. (James 1:14-15) When we are pulled away by our fleshly desires the enemy waits to ensnare us and fasten his hold on us.

Recently I was in Alaska for a wedding and while heading to our destination on Hwy 1 we were paralleling the Cook Inlet. I was awe struck at the beauty of the mountains cascading into the inlet with a trace of snow up high on the peaks. My driver was explaining how the tide comes in and out at drastic fluctuations levels up to approximately 29 ft. twice a day. When the tide is out, much of it has no water and is just mud. They call it the Mud flats, which have many stories, some fact and some legends of how different ones have gotten stuck.

The mud is supposedly made up of Glacier Silt, which I understand are finer than the sand and are shaped like billions of small angles that lodge together making an airtight seal around anything that happens to penetrate a soft spot. One such story many years ago is of a husband and wife who were going to cross over the mud flats on four wheelers and dredge for gold but in the midst of the process the wife step off into the mud and ended up getting so stuck that they could not get her free before the frigid tide came back in causing her to drown.

Paul encouraged young Timothy to walk worthy before the Lord so not to get ensnared by the devil. (1 Tim 3:7) Jesus said in John 14:30, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me. Jesus who is our example shows us that we can follow His example and live without the devil having a foothold in our lives.

Anytime we venture off the beaten path that God has set for us, walking in places we have no business in, we can get caught in the silk of the enemy. In John’s Gospel we read where Jesus said, “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed”. Jesus came to set us free from the foothold of the enemy. We read in 1 John 3:8 where it says, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil”. So quit giving the enemy a foothold!

Sing like Pottery that’s taken out of the Fire

a1 pottery in kilnThe anticipation of getting to see our finished clay pottery was overwhelming. It was almost like being a young child before we were able to open Christmas presents. We had gone to the Potter’s House and learned about the process from start to finish. Then as if with God’s divine grace the potter let each of us young students make our own piece of pottery. But due to the curing and drying time that it entailed before the firing we left them at the potter’s shop. Now a month later and once they were done being fired in the kiln, they were delivered to our art classroom. The buzz of the news went through the school like a wild fire in the dry prairie.

In 2 Tim 2:20-22 Paul writes young Timothy and uses the allegory of a house and furniture to our spiritual man saying, “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work”. Paul in his exhorting Timothy brings out the truth that there are things in our lives that will bring honor to God and His purposes and then there are also things that bring dishonor.

If we will embrace the cleansing and working of God, the Master potter, in our lives we will be purged from anything dishonoring and become vessels of honor. Paul let’s us know that we have a responsibility ourselves as we submit to the potters forming and shaping in our lives. When we yield to His workings then we become useful to the Master and are equipped for His work. To the Ephesians Paul shares this same thought in Eph 2:10, where we read, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them”. Also to the Roman believers Paul says, “Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor”? (Rom 9:20-21)

As I am often taken back to the memory of that tour of the potter’s shop, where I remember the potter saying how the drying time of the clay pottery was so crucial and important. He said it might seem boring, as it should take between 1 to 2 weeks of just sitting and drying, but that you don’t want to hurry the process. When it is prematurely quickened most often it will bring cracks and damage to the clay pot, ending in returning to the soaking and reforming which adds much more time to the process. But when its done right the dry clay pottery goes into the kiln. The kiln is a oven that will perfectly fire the pottery from 1800 up to 2200 degrees. Then to bring beauty and brilliance it is glazed and fired again. When the piece of pottery comes out of the fiery kiln you can tap it with a utensil and it will bring forth a beautiful sound.

In our lives we can see God’s commitment to developing us into vessels of Honor in the same process as the natural potter does to His pottery. We will have times of sitting and drying and seasons of extreme heat being turned up in our lives. Peter says in 1 Peter 4:12-13, “do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice…”. When we embrace the fires in our life, keeping our eyes on Jesus we will be as the pot that sings. Glorifying the Lord!

Just a mound of clay in the Potters Hands!

adult arts and crafts clay dirty

Remember how the school field trips would inspirer you when you were young and inquisitive? There’s one that seems to stand out in my mind. It was when we were taken down along the Snake River to a potter’s house. We were given an extensive tour and explanation of the whole process of digging your own clay from the banks of the river to making of a beautiful finished vase. I can still remember how intriguing it was then and how helpful it has been to me through my life.

This illustration of the potter and clay along with the whole process is played out in many different passages in scripture and has helped me to be acquainted to Gods working in our lives. The scripture says, “We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand”. In the same manner that God fashioned Adam out of the ground He also molds us into His image for our lives. (Gen 2:7, Isa 64:8) On my shelf I have a pitcher that I made from the inspiration of that fieldtrip which is a constant reminder of His molding and shaping of our lives.

We read in Jer. 18:1-9 that even Jeremiah was instructed to go to the potters shed so God could give him understanding on His workings and His will. In verse 3-4, it says, “I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something at the wheel. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make”. Then he says to the children of Israel through this prophet, “…can I not do with you as this potter”? The master potter personally shapes and creates us as a vessel of honor for His service. Just as the man who showed us young students how he takes a raw lump of clay and begins to work it into his desired and planned shape, so the creator does the same with us.

The raw clay that came from the banks of the river was put into a barrel to soak in water. Then once it softens and becomes pliable it was worked over a screen to eliminate any rocks or hardened materials that would cause a flaw in the finished product. Isaiah describes it as the potter treading the clay. (Isa 45:25) It’s the same in our own lives that we must have times of soaking and being worked to get any deposits in our lives out as not to later bring devastation in us. When Jeremiah went down to watch the potter he describes it in such a way, “there he was, making something at the wheel. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again.” (Jer 18:4) You see once the hunk of clay is put on the potter’s wheel, he then begins to spin the wheel and balances the mound of clay adding more water at times making it easier to shape. But if there is any small dry areas or pebbles it will put a defect in the shape as it is being worked. Therefore, the potter then remakes it. As Job declares in Job 10:8-9, “You made me like a handcrafted piece of pottery”. It’s a process with the end masterpiece in mind. (Eph 2:10)

The great potter is at work in us and is trustworthy as He shapes and molds us as He sees fit! Why would we ever question the Potter how he has molded the clay. (Rom 9:20-21) We can be at Peace knowing He has our best interests in mind!

The Resurrection of Jesus demands that we live for Him!

Thankfulness - sunsetOnce a year, most of the world comes together in the celebration of Christ’s triumphant entry, through the Passover, the crucifixion all the way to the empty tomb! Then it’s back to work on Monday as normal. Now, don’t get me wrong I love this season. It reminds me and re-aligns me with God’s purpose and love!

I am so glad the story of Jesus doesn’t stop at the cross or even at His burial? But, come to think about it, why do we even allow the story to stop at the resurrection? The Story of Jesus’ love for you and I goes on and on! It’s not over once the weekend is done, its actually just beginning. I do understand and have no problem with focusing on these three glorious foundational events annually. The basis of the gospel is most definitely the death, burial and resurrection of Christ! (1 Cor 15:1-4)

Yet, if we aren’t students of the scriptures we can miss so many things in the work of Christ. Peter brings to light that Jesus went to the chained demonic angels, who are awaiting their final judgment and proclaimed that His redemption of mankind was completed!(1 Pet 3:19) During these three days Jesus also took back the dominion from the devil that Adam and Eve had turned over to the deceiver(Gen.1:28, Lk 4:6, Col 2:15) , then Jesus gives it back to his children again once He goes to God the Father.(Matt 28:18-19, Jn 20:17-21, Lk 24:39) Where he also presents and leads the first fruits of the believing saints into heaven.(1 Cor 15:20) The story even continues, in the fact that He shows Himself to his followers over the next forty days before the great ascension.(Acts 1:1-2) But even after all this, Jesus which had foretold the disciples earlier (Jn 14:16-21) refuses to leave His followers by themselves, declaring in Acts 1:4-5, “He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father… “you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now’”. The last thing Jesus the resurrected Lord, lets them know before He ascends to the Father in the glory cloud is that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit would empower them to be a witnesses all over the world for Him. (Acts 1:8-10)

What happened on resurrection day is what gives His followers the authority and dominion as His ambassadors and the infilling of the Holy Spirit empowers us to walk victoriously here on this earth. Being confident with our assignment of making disciples and establishing the kingdom of God, knowing Jesus is now seated in heaven next to the Father interceding for us. (Rom 8:34-35) You see, the work of Jesus still continues as He leads us. Not only does Jesus call Himself the Good Shepherd, but also we read in Rev 7:17 that He is still shepherding His people throughout eternity.

Paul writes to the believers in Colosse and says, “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith”.(Col 2:6-8) Paul is telling the Christian that once they accepted what Jesus has done for them to continue living their life in the benefits and authority of it. Jesus became our substitution and therefore our redeemer from the bondages of the wicked one. His works enable us and demand us to live a life worthy of His calling with confidence. Therefore let me ask you, “What are you doing with the Message of the Cross? Is it nothing more than fooliness to you or is it the Power of God to be His witness”. (1 Cor 1:17) The resurrection of Jesus demands that we live for Him!

A Chosen Lamb for the Ultimate Sacrifice

11a 3 lamb           As Jesus approaches, John the Baptist boldly proclaims to all those that were around, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” For all of those that heard this statement whether fully or in part understood the ramification and significance of what John was saying.

When my girls were younger we were picked or maybe you could say, “punished” to be the foster parents of a small yearling lamb that we were to go and pick up from a local rancher. Then it would become our responsibility to bring it home and get it ready for the Easter program; which would entail scrubbing and washing, then drying and fluffing its beautiful wool. My young girls were so excited that they could hardly wait to get started on this adventure. I have to admit in the beginning I was looking forward to showing off my country boy upbringing as well. Once we arrived at the ranch, the gracious rancher took us out to a small pen where he was holding some orphan lambs so he could bottle-feed them. After the girls had a time of playing with each of them and falling in love with all of the lambs it was the moment of truth. My sweet young daughters had to pick just one, the right one! As they thought and talked and discussed and looked each one over and over they finally came to a mutual decision.

After thanking the amused rancher, who had a mysterious twinkle in his eyes making me question whether he knew something that maybe we were missing, we headed home. Well, that was only too soon confirmed when hours later this poor little cute innocent lamb was crying out for help from all the pampering and lavish love my girls were giving it. A bath with foaming suds and layers of soap, then hair dryers blowing from every angle with non-stop kisses from each of the girls.

What seemed to be a glorious memory making and life long lesson for my children seemed to come crashing down, when it became time to turn out the lights and go to bed with a sigh of accomplishment.

If only it would have ended with that fairytale ending. It was only moments after putting the lamb in our enclosed back suburban yard with lights turned off with a prayer and a kiss. That this little lamb must have finally came to the realization that something was drastically wrong and began to cry out for the normalcy of the stable. It was during this continual bleating and every home’s light coming on in our sweet quiet and quaint neighborhood, that I had the revelation of the Passover lamb, which was anything but a sweet child’s pet!

The sound must have been deafening in Goshen that night many years ago when God instituted the Passover and the sacrifice of the unblemished lamb in every home. (Ex 12:3-13) Things had been tense anyway as the show down between Pharaoh and God’s servant Moses came to and end. To the Egyptians it was nothing less than a nightmare and to God’s children it was a magnificent beginning to a journey of God unfolding His love for His people as well as continuing to reveal Jesus Christ as the coming redeemer and the Lamb of God.

That night with what started to be a cute cuddly memory for my daughters had turned into a agony of a bleating lamb in my back yard. It seemed to bring another side to this story more than ever; I now understood the ramification and significance of what John had declared more than two thousand years ago. Jesus came to earth to be our Passover lamb. That through receiving Jesus’ agonizing and horrific sacrifice on the cross we might be redeemed from death and walk in a journey of victory as His children. (Luke 22:14-20)

Is God Really Concerned about Borders and Walls?

a2- wallsDoes God think walls are immoral and wrong? In His view, are we being unrighteous and unethical by having a fence or walls on our boarders? Looking at the whole of God’s Word and rightly interpreting it’s message brings a overwhelming understanding that God desires for those that choose to follow His standards to guard and watch out for anything that might be a distraction or hindrance to them. In a time of unrest and injustice God speaks through the prophet in Ezek 22:30 saying, “So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one”. God expects and requires His children to repair and keep the walls effective, not allowing any opposing danger to come in.

My own experience was while growing up each spring, we would have the task of repairing the fences and gates that had fallen down from natural elements, by wild animals or those that had no regard to our property borders. We would load the old yellow four-wheel drive with all the tools that were needed to fix and maintain the fence and walls and head up the mountain. Even though this particular job wasn’t the most easy or enjoyable on the ranch! It was certainly a necessity to secure the things that we


Doesn’t it make common sense to protect our children and keep them safe


held dear to our heart. There were sections that we were able to have fences on, other places that we could only have piled rocks and some places just had barriers like cattle guards, as well as, gates at different locations. It was something we didn’t just talk about but was a constant chore we had to do to keep livestock in and others out.

In the current headlines it is almost overwhelmingly filled with the pros and cons of a border wall. My personal question is, “is it really wrong for us to guard our property or inheritances with a fence or a wall? Doesn’t it make common sense to protect our children and keep them safe, as well as keep out what might hurt them?

Is that wrong or immoral? I understand that there can be abuses at times without monitoring. But, it’s not immoral but on the contrary it is what keeps our morality in tact. Those that think fences, border security and walls are immoral are people that are amoral. In other words they are individuals that are void of or not concerned with any morals or standards at all.

In scripture we see the comparison of natural walls and borders to the spiritual walls and borders we must maintain. A matter of fact in Prov 22:28 it says, “Do not remove the ancient landmark (borders) which your fathers have set.” The scripture is full of exhortations to fill the walls with watchmen, those that keep a lookout for oncoming danger. (Isa 62:6, Isa 52:8, Jer 51:12)

We must be as Nehemiah who was taken into captivity, (Neh. 1-13) and made to serve the Persian King in a culture contrary to God’s standards. He was stirred with a God given burden and through God’s favor and grace rallied his countrymen back in Jerusalem that existed in the rubble of fallen walls and were gripped by fear for the frequent raiding enemies. In the midst of threats and danger they rebuilt the walls and restored the gates. Stopping anything from corrupting God’s plan and standards. It’s time for the children of God to rebuild the walls and standards of righteousness in our land!

 

Don’t stop climbing, God has good things in store for you!

cropped-sawtooth-mountians11.jpgI began experiencing a whole new adventure growing up once we had moved to a ranch nestled in the midst of some of the most gorgeous mountainous landscape in central Idaho. Though in the beginning, this previous flatlander, was intimidating and claustrophobic, it soon became one of the greatest seasons of my younger life. It was through this experience that I learned many truths from nature and the mountains around. The first was that climbing a mountain is much like going through life, tough at times.

I think most of us can say there have been some mountain peaks and some valleys along our life’s journey. It is like the natural process when you climb to the summit of a literal mountain, you go through some valleys and ravines to get to the more elevated peaks. There seems to always be another valley before another peak, as we move higher and achieve greater heights. Existing in the lower bottoms of life or even camping in the higher plateaus might be more convenient and a whole lot easier, but there is no greater adventure or achievement then getting to the top. If you stay comfortable and not climb you will never get to see the incredible view or breath the fresh air that you do from the summit.

I believe that many, even though they haven’t reached their destiny have made some significant progress as they have pursued God’s will for their lives. We must realize that our walk of faith is a process and doesn’t come over night. Going forward in faith will never be defined as “smooth and easy” but it does hold a promise of achieving Godly rewards. (1 Cor 9:25-26)

Speaking to Christians in Corinth Paul relates our walk of faith as running a race to win not to just nonchalantly participating in it. (vs 24) Also, Paul at the end of his life describes his own journey in 2 Tim 4:7-8 saying, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness”. Paul shares some of his testimony and journey in 2 Cor 11:23-28, where he lists what he had gone through. His words and life experiences confirm the fact that our journey of faith is anything but apathetical or uneventful, having what we would describe as ups and downs along the way.

If we are not focused during these times in the valleys they can seem like “failures or setbacks”, but if we keep our eyes on Jesus as our Good Shepherd and are surrendered to His will, then we can stand in confidence as overcomers. Paul declares this in Phil 4:13 where he says, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.

Even when we have gone through extreme and unpleasant situations along life’s climb we can come out better and stronger in our faith on the other side. These low points allow us to see and experience His faithfulness as He takes us by the hand and leads us, as a loving shepherd, through the shadows of death into green lush pastures. (Ps 23)

In Heb10:35-36 Paul encourages the believers to not cast their confidence in Christ away, but to endure in their faith and finish the will of God. Not being hindered by anything that would enslave us and stop us from completing our journey or “running the race” of faith. (1 Cor 9:25) We do this by keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, who is the author and finisher of our faith. (Heb 12:2) So don’t Stop Climbing Now! God has good things in store for you!

It might look Hopeless but it’s not over Yet!

Earthquake Destruction1The Scripture says whoever will come after Christ, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow Christ. (Mk. 8:34) It doesn’t come easy or cheap, but the effects are life changing. Leonard Ravenhill declares, “Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, GIVE ME REVIVAL in my soul and in my church and in my nation—or GIVE ME DEATH!”

Have you gotten to the place that ordinary routine is nauseating? I believe just religiously going to church, receiving nothing more than entertainment causes decay and a slow spiritual decline. If we are not going to obtain the best God has for us, then we might as well just go home to heaven. The choice is easy—either it is life or death! We must press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God!(Phil 3:14)

In the story of Esther, we see the divine orchestration of God. The Jews were in a desperate situation, with death lurking at the door of their comfort zone. It looked hopeless for they needed a miracle to get themselves out of this tight spot. They didn’t go looking for the hottest and most fiery Jewish evangelist to bring in a change. No! They got on their faces and began to fast and pray. They began to beseech God with fasting and prayer for his intervention and deliverance. In the end the stamp of approval on what she had done was God’s great deliverance for the Jewish people.

Anywhere you look in our society, you can see the destroyer at the door. The thief comes not but to steal, kill, and destroy. (Jn 10:10) Whatever we have, whether it is our life, our family, or our nation, it is his aim to destroy it. America, the great unsinkable land of opportunity, is on a course headed for destruction. The signs are in the sky. The evidence is clear. It is now the time to lay hold of the reason for which Christ has laid hold of us! Let us seek the Lord while he may still be found. I cringe at the thought of ever having the Lord speak about me as he did about Jerusalem. In Luke 19:44 Jesus says, “Because you did not know the time of your visitation,” there would be no peace, and Jerusalem would have destruction. Now is the season of our visitation. It says in Joel 2:28, “I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh.”

The church must awake out of its slumber and receive God’s visitation on his people. Then the church will reap in righteousness and see revival. Let us not wait till it’s too late to do something. The night is far spent; the hour is at hand. Using the words of the Psalmist, let us cry out to the Lord, “Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You.” The church must humble itself and repent from its arrogance and haughty attitudes. Peter speaks to the men of Israel in Acts 3:19. He tells them to, “Repent therefore and be converted,hat your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” Only through our brokenness and turning away from sin will we truly see the refreshing of the Lord. The time is now for us to sow in prayer and fasting. Instead of decreasing our prayer time, we need to increase in prayer power. We must search the very intent of our heart and get rid of every hindrance that would stand in the way of revival. Then ask the Lord right now to begin to stoke the fires and passion for revival in your hearts.