Friday, January 6, 2012

A Generation Left Behind

Judges 2:10-11
10After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. 11Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served Baals.

A generation gathered to their fathers means those that have died. African slaves within the Diaspora were not allowed to read and write so they relied on oral history to be passed down to the younger generations about who they were. But the Israelites that died never bothered to pass on what they knew of the Lord and His mighty acts. Not talking to the younger generation was a catalyst for them straying away from the Lord. Hosea 4:6 says that people perish from a lack of knowledge. A whole generation suffered not only in sin but in defeat because no one sat down to explain who the Lord is. It's no different from where we are now. Failing to teach children or anyone under our care about the ways of the Lord, the miracles witnessed and His saving grace is like setting them up to fail. The idea that they'll get what they need the best way they know how is assuming they actually know how. And like the next generation of Israelites, they not only didn't know but they started serving and worshiping things that were not of God. The price they paid was great because they were constantly defeated by their enemies.  If as the parent you are unwilling to take the time and tell them the right way, you not only set them up to fail but ultimately they are a reflection upon what God entrusted you to do that you did not. A generation left behind is often at a price no one bargains for after it's too late.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Are You Ready for the Next Level?

2 Corinthians 2:9

9The reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything.

The apostle Paul sent a letter to the church in Corinth regarding one who had caused grief. He asked the church to forgive and restore the one who was truly sorrowful and repentant for his actions that caused division amongst the body of Christ. But Paul stated that he wanted to test them to see if they would be obedient in everything. Paul meant that they would be obedient to the word of God.  A teacher always has to test his or her students to see if they comprehend what has been taught. Passing the test means moving to the next level. Not passing the test means the teacher will provide further instruction in the areas one is lacking to bring them to a place of understanding so they can pass the test the second time around. Do you know that God is the ultimate teacher? Do you know that He gives tests? Our earthly teachers usually give us tests with pen and paper or verbal tests but also through practical application. God is a hands on teacher. And just like Paul, there is a living classroom. The school of no walls gives God the ability to test however He sees fit. Sometimes the test is just like that of what Paul gave, obedience. Will you be obedient and do what He's asked you to do or will you go your own way when the opportunity presents itself? How you respond will determine if He can trust you to move you to the next level. What areas is God testing you in right now? Obedience is always in there somewhere. Obedience is one of the most authentic ways we can show the Lord we love Him. Have you absorbed what He's been teaching you? Do you require additional lessons in the area for further comprehension or are you ready for the next level?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Returned with the Same Measure

1 Kings 13:6
6Then the king said to the man of God, "Intercede with the Lord your God and pray for me that my hand may be restored." So the man of God interceded with the Lord, and the king's hand was restored and became as it was before.

King Jeroboam built idols and made alters to them. This act was not pleasing to God and therefore He sent a man of God also specifically referred to as a prophet in those days to pronounce judgement against Jeroboam for what he had done. When the judgement was issued, Jeroboam attempted to silence the man of God. But the hand he used to signal to his guards to capture the man was immediately shriveled up by God. Jeroboam knew that it could only be God that did it in retaliation for his attempt to harm His servant. Jeroboam then begged the man to intercede or pray on his behalf that God would restore him. The man of God had no hate for the king but did as he asked and he was restored. Jeroboam witnessed a miracle within his own body. God performs miracles for the purpose of converting unbelievers to believers. Jeroboam had turned away from God because of his rivalry with Rehoboam. And the more he received correction, the angrier he became until God decided to strike him. One must be careful how they treat the Lord's children. When one attempts to harm God's children because of the evil in their heart, God deals with that person justly. He may strike with pain or possibly take away something considered dear. It's an action to get the attention of the one inflicting harm. What one does God may return it with the same measure in which it was dealt to someone else. The man of God was only following the Lord's instruction. But as King Solomon has said, fools despise correction. The natural response is to retaliate. But one must be careful of who they're really retaliating against. Jeroboam was actually retaliating against God as God was the one who sent the man of God. Committing an act against one of God's servants is the same as doing it against God. There are serious consequences. If one doesn't repent then the punishment inflicted by God is just.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Come as You Are

Luke 5:27-28
27After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at this tax booth. "Follow me," Jesus said to him, 28and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.

According to Zondervan's NIV Study Bible, Levi was another name for Matthew. Levi was a tax collector where customs were collected. Remember, Capernaum along with other cities during that time were under Roman rule. Jesus passed by Levi and only said two words, "follow me." According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary, follow means 1. to go or come after 2. to proceed along <~the path> 3. to engage in a way of life. Jesus didn't ask Levi to attend to other affairs and then follow him, nor did he tell Levi to clean himself up and change his clothes and then follow him. Jesus simply meant, come as you are right now. While Levi held a huge banquet at his home filled with other tax collectors, the Pharisees looked down upon Jesus attending the banquet as tax collectors were considered low on the totem pole. But Jesus' response to them was short and to the point in Luke 5:31-32  31"It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance."  Basically, no one is righteous on their own merits. Only the blood of Jesus cleanses. But when Jesus says follow me, if we wait to "get ourselves right" to then follow Jesus, we miss the entire point of his message. Come as you are and let him fix you. If you could fix you, you would've already done it by now. You can't fix you alone. Allowing Jesus to reign in your life will cause change in you and then he'll fix the areas of your life that you thought couldn't be fixed. Do not believe the lie of the enemy that says you're not good enough to follow Jesus. Do not believe the lie of the enemy that says you're not worthy of him. Remember, Jesus choose you just like he did Levi. Let Jesus be your doctor to fix the broken areas of your heart and life.

Monday, January 2, 2012

God Does Everything with Purpose

Genesis 45:5
5And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.

Joseph had a sobering and sentimental moment with his brothers while in leadership in Egypt. So many years had passed that they had no idea it was Joseph. They thought surely he was dead because of what they had done. But sometimes when God changes you, people don't recognize you. And it's okay if they don't. It's okay if they see that God has made you over. Seeing you as a new man or woman in Christ can put someone else on the road to deliverance in ways we're not aware of. On top of that, Joesph had to explain to them not to be angry at themselves for selling him to the Egyptians. God knew what they were going to do and He used it for His purposes. The beauty of our Lord is that He can take anything that someone meant for evil against you and work it for His good. No matter what the person's motives are. The jealousy his brothers had toward him was the catalyst for their actions. Thoughts, became feelings which turned into action. But they had no idea they played right into God's plan anyway which was to prepare Joesph for his ultimate leadership role. What a set up!!! As we stare into the first few days of this new year, the new you that God wants to show you consists of the changes He will do on the inside first that will exude to your outer shell. It's for His glory that the Lord wants to make you over. Like Joesph, the Lord is preparing you for something and using every experience good or not so good to do so. What it is, well that's between you and Jesus but know that when it happens, you'll have the light bulb moment like Joseph, understanding that our God does everything with purpose.