Friday, July 6, 2012

The Same Pain

Acts 14:20
20But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.

The apostles Paul and Barnabas had to seriously convince the people of Lystra that they were not gods but men just as they were. They preached with such boldness and performed miracles that they were mistaken as such. Yet all it took was some Jews from Antioch and Iconium to turn the crowd against them. And before long Paul was stoned and left for dead. Some of you may recall that Paul was present for Stephen's stoning when he addressed the Sanhedrin after being accused of blasphemy. It was all because he received great power from the Holy Spirit as a worker of miracles and wonders and being blessed with the gift of wisdom. Paul endured the same pain that he witnessed and approved of for Stephen who was devoted to the Lord. Stephen's death was a catalyst to Paul's Damascus encounter. Paul too was left for dead but the apostles came to his aide and through prayer and faith, Paul was miraculously restored and continued his ministry. Things can come full circle. The Lord allowed Paul to taste the destruction he stood in approval of for Stephen but didn't let him die. Watch what you do to someone. Even as the Lord redeems you, getting away from the pain you assisted in or caused another may not be possible. God can allow you to experience what you did as not only a reminder but for purposes of humility.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Who Else is Suffering?

1Kings 17:1
1Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, "As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word."

Elijah was one of the greatest prophets that ever lived. He served the Lord wholeheartedly. Ahab had become King of Israel. He used to serve the Lord wholeheartedly then he married Jezebel who worshiped a false god by the name of Baal. Ahab knew he was not to marry Jezebel because she did not serve the God of Israel but did so anyway. To make matters worse he began to rebuild the walls of Jericho. God did not want the walls of Jericho to be rebuilt because the ungated/unwalled town was supposed to be a reminder of what God had done when He gave the land over to Joshua and the Israelites. Ahab even sacrificed his sons to do it. As judgement for Ahab's evil deeds, there was to be no rain for three years. Not only did Ahab suffer but he caused a whole kingdom to suffer with him. What's wrong with this picture? When the Lord says don't do something, He means it. Not listening can cause inconvenience and pain to the one who negates His instruction. However, the pain can be  much greater when that one is responsible for the lives of others in some capacity. Ahab's deed of rebuilding the walls of Jericho would undo the evidence of God's miracle. Bad move. And for Ahab to marry a woman who he knew would not serve the God he serve though he was earthly ruler over God's people is a spit in the face of God as well. It showed that not only did Jezebel not respect God, but she didn't respect her husband nor did she respect his reign over God's people. What's wrong with this picture? So to get Ahab's attention, suffering had to come. Jezebel's disrespect of her husband, King Ahab didn't end there. And Ahab's lack of correcting her misdeeds, even the murder she ordered of an innocent man, led to Jezebel's death and Ahab's as well. How much suffering can one's willful disobedience cause? One only need to look at the story of Ahab and Jezebel's reign. Are you suffering for your disobedience? Better yet, is there anyone else suffering with you?

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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Belief After the Fact

John 2:22
22After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.

Jesus was in the temple and he was so angry because it was nearly Passover and he found men selling goods and tables where they exchanged money. The men were robbing the people because they were charging interest and the fact that they did within the temple courts caused Jesus to turn over their tables and strike them with whips. It's the only time you see Jesus get outraged but it was in regard for what? God's temple. Jesus was not void of emotion at all. Actually, He, like our Heavenly Father, has plenty of emotion. But what upset the Jews was Jesus response when they asked by what authority did he destroy their little market. He said "Destroy this temple and I will raise it again in three days." The Jews were beside themselves with anger but had no idea Jesus was talking about what they would do to Him a few years later. It would be then they would understand His authority. The disciples didn't get either until after Jesus came back to see them after His resurrection. Like the disciples, many don't believe things until after they have taken place. The saying, "hindsight is 20/20" is most appropriate. When Jesus tells you something is going to take place do you have belief after the fact like the disciples? Do  you misunderstand like the Jews? Has Jesus told you something before about you, your life or someone you think you know and you didn't believe until after something major happened? Belief after the fact usually brings one to a place of humility because the lack of belief is what caused you to go your own way. It's different if Jesus tells you something and you're not connecting the dots because He's speaking to you in riddles. Jesus has done this since His ministry began. Even dreams revealed in the Old Testament were in riddles and they still are. Belief after the fact causes you to focus where Jesus wants you to focus from that point forward. Have you had a belief after the fact moment? It's okay. Even the disciples had it. Yes, It may come with hiccups for you but nothing is too hard for God.

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Get Your Huose In Order

2Kings 20:1
1In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, "This is what the Lord says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover."

Do you understand that God does not have to give you any warning that your life is about to end? King Hezekiah was blessed enough to receive a warning and had time to petition the Lord in order to change his circumstances. Indeed the Lord graced him with an additional fifteen years as Hezekiah had faithfully served the Lord. Do you understand that God doesn't have to do that for you or anyone else? He can take you or me like a thief in he night with no warning whatsoever. To illustrate the point I have a testimony. Last Friday night I was with my church family as we had finished a meeting and dinner. We were in Virginia when the severe storm/decerdo rolled in. As we got up from the table we all saw a flash of lighting. We figured we needed to hurry up and get in our cars and go. We got as far as the light at the corner when suddenly a sea of blackness overtook the area and all the lights went out. The winds blew so strong that in a matter of two minutes we saw trees three trees fall. Several of us took cover at a nearby gas station. As we waited for the storm to pass the wind was so strong that it shook our cars to the point that they could've been picked up in mid-air. I've heard howling wind but this sounded more like a train. The rain and hail pelted strongly. As I sat alone in my car and looked around at what was happening I realized that if God wanted to take me right then and there, He could. And truthfully, I could feel the prayers of my fellow church members in the next car going up as I looked around in amazement. It was at that moment I knew that  If the Lord was ready for me, then I was ready for Him. I was secure enough in my walk with Christ that I didn't feel like I had to beg and plead with the Lord the way I did four years ago like I spoke about in my book. See, four years ago, I was still shucking and jiving God.  This time, It was well with my soul. When it was all over, I cracked up laughing and praised God the entire way home. It was my reminder that He is in control at ALL times. Why am I sharing this with you? Frankly, you don't know when the Lord is going to say you've lived long enough. And if you've been "shucking and jiving" God, trust and believe,  your time of it will surely come to an end. God is sovereign and He can do what He pleases. We are created for His pleasure not the other way around. When will you understand that God doesn't need to play games the way men and women do? With a snap of finger, it can be over. Get your house in order.

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