Moldy Milk and a Stressed Out Honey

Honey Maid Graham CrackersWhen someone says milk and honey… I think honey maid graham crackers and milk… or chocolate milk… or ice cream! MM makes me hungry!

About 20 times in the Bible the Promised Land is referred to as a land flowing with milk and honey.

But I don’t think I ever remember hearing about moldy houses and leprosy in the Promised Land. In Leviticus 14:34 we read, “When you enter the land of Canaan, which I am giving you as your possession, and I put a spreading mold (or leprosy) in a house..

WHAT?!! Seriously? So let’s review the Israelites story. They were oppressed so God sent 10 horrible plagues to release them from slavery. They were almost killed by the Egyptian army right before the waters of the Red Sea parted and they crossed through between intimidating walls of water about the height of the Sears Tower in Chicago. They thought they would starve in the desert but God provided manna every day. They thought they would die of thirst but water was provided out of rocks. Then, after their angry ancestors had died in the desert, it was time to enter the promised land. So the priests stood for at least 2 hours in the Jordan waiting for God to dry it up so they could cross, and they dug up rocks out of the riverbed as memorials, and then they were circumcised. To complete the journey they had to overtake the fortified cities like Jericho and defeat the giants like the Anakites!

And after overcoming 45 years of adversity, after their families had moved in and unpacked, and thrown away the moving boxes, they faced another challenge.   The husbands had to go tell their wives, “Honey, I’m sorry, this house has mold. We have to pack everything back up and move out for at least a week!”

The challenge for the Israelites was to remember how God had already provided.  They had to remember His deep love for them, like a father carrying a son (De 1:31).  They had to hold onto His desire to continue to be their Redeemer. Truly, as it says in Deuteronomy 6:11, they did live in houses filled with good things they did not provide. They were still exceedingly blessed, even with moldy milk and a stressed out honey! Do you see life’s hardness or God’s goodness in your circumstances this month? (Blog from September 15, 2014.)

Day Away With God Resource

 

Thanks for committing time to seek the Lord.  Please find a place that inspires you and plan to spend time in solitude.  Just you, the Holy Spirit, a Bible, and a journal.  If you take your computer commit yourself to no surfing and no work.  The goal is to hear from God.

Please read Matthew 16:13-20.

Jesus asked His disciples “Who do you say that I am?” And then He said to Simon, “You are…” and He described what kind of person Peter would be and how he would function in the Kingdom.

Jesus cares about who we think He is.  And He cares about who we think we are.  He also wants us to have direction, guidance, and a clear sense of calling.  We are the church, the called out.  Who we are and what He calls us to transcends the circumstances we find ourselves in.  It’s also important we keep the boundaries in the right place.

As you spend time with Him please start a saved document entitled “Listening.Yr.Mo.Da.Location”.   Please ask Him these questions and then listen… just a Bible, a journal, and quiet…

  1. Who are You, Lord? -Mt 16:15-17
  • Which of Your attributes are important to me currently?

 

 

  1. Who am I, Lord? -Mt 16:18
  • Who have You created me to be?
  • What kind of son or daughter do YOU intend me to be? Our understanding of who He is will determine much of who He wants us to be as His sons and daugthers.
  • What kind of spouse do You want me to be?
  • What kind of parent do you want me to be?
  • What kind of professional do you want me to be?
  1. What am I to do, Lord? Where are we going?  Mt 16:19

 

  1. What are the boundaries, Lord? -Mt 16:20

 

Dynamic, Fruitful Charisma 1, Diesels and Disney

Disney Diesel

In the world of pick-up trucks, the new diesel trucks are changing everything. They are generally considered to be the most fuel efficient, highest powered, longest lasting engines you can buy.   New diesel engines help trucks haul larger loads faster and farther on less fuel.  Having an efficient, high-powered, long lasting engine is a blessing.

The Bible says that the Holy Spirit is an everlasting, completely efficient, all powerful person.  He is everlasting because He is a deposit of the Father into a person’s life who trusts Jesus as their Savior and Lord, sealing them for eternal life in heaven.  To be efficient means to produce results with little or no waste.  The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is efficient, as there is no work of God that is ever wasted (1 Co 15:58, Isaiah 55:1, Jn 6:39, Jn 18:9).  The Holy Spirit is also the representative of God’s great power in a person’s life.  The Bible’s Greek word for power is dunamis or dynomis, and for those car guys out there, the Greek is noticeably close to the words Duramax (diesels) and Dynomax (exhausts). It’s also where the words dynomite and dynamic come from!  The Bible says this dynamic power is the same as the miraculous power exerted in Christ when the Father (Ro 6:4, Ga 1:1), the Son (Jn 2:19, Jn 10:18), and the Holy Spirit (1Pe 3:18, Ro 8:11), raised Him from the dead (Eph 1:19-20).  Romans 8:11 says, “If the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you.”  Thus the Holy spirit is an everlasting, completely efficient, and all powerful person, who lives inside every believer (Ac 2:42) of Christ.

My girls love to watch the Disney channel.  I think ever since 12-year-old Annette Funicello became a mousketeer in 1955, Disney has had a knack for finding high charisma kids.  Charisma is a compelling talent (or divinely conferred power) that can inspire devotion in others.  In 1 Corinthians 12:1 and 12:4, the Bible says we should not be uninformed of the “charisma” of the Holy Spirit. I regularly ask my kids while watching Disney with them, “Is it possible for someone without the Holy Spirit to have as much charisma as a believer?”  (Insert eye roll) They respond, “No dad!”

The Holy Spirit is our comforter (Jn 15:26), our conviction (Jn 16:8), and our competency or qualification (2 Co 3:6).  He is our sanctifier (Ro 15:16), our sufficiency (2 Co 3:5) and our serenity (Gal 5:22).  He is more dynamic than a Duramax, and has more charisma than Disney.  Next we’ll learn what His dynamic, fruitful charisma produces in a believer’s life.

Smile, You’re The Apple Of His Eye!

apple-of-my-eye1I had traveled alone, and after a 14 hour flight I had arrived in Shanghai.  I had no idea where I was going, so I followed the Americans through the airport trying to navigate strange signs.  I made it through fingerprinting… then immigration… then picked up my bags and passed screening.  Finally I came around the corner into a large group of people waiting, mostly short Asians.  And then I saw him!  My brother stood head and shoulder above the crowd, and he made sure that I knew he was excited to see me!  That was cool.  I’ll never forget the joy of seeing my brother on the other side of the world.

In Luke chapter two, “the angel said to (the shepherds), ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.’”  They were learning that God loved them so much, He was sending His one and only Son (Jn 3:16) to be their Savior.  And while we celebrate how excited we are that Jesus came to us, we maybe overlook that the Christmas story is about our Heavenly Father working out His plan to reconcile us to Himself, so He can communicate to us how excited He is to see us and to be close to us again!

One of my friends sang his bride a love song at their wedding.  The guys were amazed he pulled it off.  The ladies seemed to think it was so sweet, the kind of thing every girl wishes someone would do for her.  The Bible says in Zephaniah 3:17, “The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by his love; He will exult over you with loud singing.”  The Bible is teaching us God sent Jesus at Christmas, to restore our relationship, so He could rejoice over us with gladness, and affirm His love for us by loudly singing us a love song!

When you picture God in your mind how is He looking at you?  Is He distant and unapproachable?  Is He stern and condescending?  Is He scowling and disapproving?  If you have trusted Jesus as your Savior and Lord, the Bible portrays a very different image of Him.  In Psalm 147:11, He is the Father who delights in those who trust in Him.  He is pleased with, or He takes pleasure in, those who hope in His steadfast love.  The Numbers 6:25 blessing is that the Lord would “smile on you and be gracious to you!”

The Christmas story is good news that creates great joy.  I hope you spend time considering how much your Heavenly Father loves you in Christ Jesus.  And I hope you are satisfied with His steadfast love, so that you can rejoice and be glad all your days (Ps 90:14).  Be encouraged friends, and smile — you are the apple of His eye (Ps 17:8)!

I Know The Plan

321742566-I-know-God-has-bigger-and-better

One of my favorite football coaches was asked a question about his leadership following the game.  He had just been beaten badly by a rival, he was navigating ongoing player discipline issues, and he looked exhausted and discouraged.  A reporter asked him, “Do you think you’ve lost the team?” and he answered, “I don’t know.” Two days later he was fired. I learned a valuable lesson from that coach I respect so much. I learned that one of the most important tools of a leader is confidence in the plan.  

As Christians we have an unfair advantage when it comes to leadership.  We’re trusting the Lord Jesus who always knows the plan (Jer. 29:11) and is faithful to establish us (2 Thes. 3:3),  so we can be confident He will complete the plan in us (Phil. 1:6, He. 12:2). But our feelings will betray us.

Elijah experienced overwhelming discouragement and burnout in 1 Kings 19.  He was being threatened and chased because God had used him mightily. The Bible says that he was so exhausted he lay down and prayed that he might die.  An angel came to encourage him to eat because the journey was too great for him. If we had asked him that day how would overcome Jezebel, I’m guessing he would have said, “I don’t know.”  If we had asked him if he would survive the difficulty, I’m guessing he would have said, “I don’t know.” If we had asked Elijah that day about his leadership ability I’m guessing he would have said, “I don’t know.”   These battles of uncertainty are exhausting and scary, and each of us has been there from time to time. Later in the chapter, Elijah’s confidence in the Lord’s plan is renewed and he goes back to work.

Paul said in Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.  22 But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me… 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith.”  Paul knew how to answer every question and was confident in every overbearing difficulty. He knew we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them (Eph. 2:10).  

Nebraska head coach Scott Frost recently said after starting the season 0 and 5, “it would have been easier to stay where we were comfortable, but there’s not going to be a place where it’s sweeter or more fun for me than here, when we get this right.  Wherever I’m going to coach, we’re going to teach our players to play with a desire to excel with no fear of failure.  ”

Dear Christian leader, the next time you’re in a great difficulty, or you’re exhausted or discouraged, and you’re asked a question about your leadership, be careful not to say “I don’t know.”  Start with what you know. Be confident in who He’s created you to be and what He’s called you to do. Be confident that He will complete it, and your only work is to believe (John 6:29). Remain in fellowship with Christ so that you can be full of courage and not shrink back (1 John 2:28).  Communicate the confidence you have in following Christ, and demonstrate humility by inviting other wise counsel into the discussion. After sharing what you’re confident in, ask other key leaders what wisdom they can share with you, and acknowledge the “I don’t know” when it comes to the details.  And always, when you’re just really not sure, “lay down before you hurt yourself,” and allow the Lord to minister His Bread to you until you can get up in confident humility again.

Keep Your Chin Up Tiger!

Chin Up Tiger crop

My grandpa was a man of few words.  He would often whistle while helping his neighbors fix something, or whistle while doing the dishes for Grandma after dinner.  But one phrase I remember him saying to me often was, “Keep your chin up tiger!”

Romans 5:2-5 says, “Through (Jesus) we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Does that say rejoice in sufferings… really?  Suffering produces hope?  How?

The word “rejoice” comes from a root word which literally means “neck,” or “that which holds the head upright.”  It refers to living with a God-given confidence that comes from having a proper perspective to deal successfully with a matter. To rejoice could be translated, “Keep your chin up tiger!”  Looking back, I now realize when Grandpa was telling me to keep my chin up, he was telling me to whistle and be confident in the worries and discouragements. He was telling me that I’d get through this, because God had a right perspective and a good plan for me.

The Bible says we are to rejoice or “keep our chin up” in sufferings.  Sufferings are difficult situations that create an internal pressure which makes us feel trapped with no way of escape.  The Bible says these trapped and hopeless feelings bear a good fruit in our lives.  They are actually for our good…?

The Bible says keeping the right perspective in sufferings produces three things: endurance, character, and hope.  Endurance or steadfastness is God’s enabling grace that helps us to remain under the challenges He allots in life.  Romans 14:4 says, “for the Lord is able to make (you) stand.”  James 1:2-4 says it this way, “Count it all joy… when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  Endurance or steadfastness comes in trials and sufferings when we come to a place of contentment that allows us to say, “The Lord is my Good Shepherd, I have everything I need (Ps 23:1).”

Character is a genuineness that comes from being approved through testing.  Have you ever watched someone you respect respond in a difficult situation and think to yourself, “I think they can get through anything?”  These are men and women of character, who have been tested and come forth as gold (Job 23:10).  Psalm 66:10 says, “For You have tested us, O God; You have refined us as silver is refined.”  Ephesians 4 says we should mature to the measure of the full stature of Christ, no longer tossed to and fro by the waves of this life.  He created you for Christ-like character!

And Hope is to anticipate and joyfully welcome what is certainly to come.  We rejoice in hope of the glory or good manifestation of God.  The Bible says His plan for us is good, and we have hope because He loves us, He has given us the Holy Spirit to comfort us, and ultimately we are promoted to eternity with Him through faith in Jesus.  The Bible says faith is the assurance of things hoped for (He 11:1).  And faith comes by hearing the word of the Lord (Ro 10:17).  If you need hope today have someone read the Bible aloud to you, or listen to an audio Bible.  There is always hope. Remember, “He is able, He is able, to accomplish what concerns you today!”  What thoughts of hope do you dwell on today?

So rejoice in sufferings, rejoice in hope, keep your chin up tiger!

Is My Heart Healthy?

Healthy Heart

Twice in my life I have struggled with chest pains and the doctors have given me an EKG.  They hook sensors up to your chest and they check your physical heart function.  While the physical health of our heart is very important, the spiritual health of our heart is even more important.

The following are notes from a message by Don Cousins that I found very valuable.   Pastor Don says, “The world says that we need to order everything in our external world, family, home, work, finances, health, etc.  the way we want it to be then we’ll know inner peace.  I don’t think I’ve spent a day in my life when everything in my external world was the way I wanted it to be.  To live in such a way to make that happen is simply exhausting!

Jesus cares more about who you are than who you appear to be. Jesus cares about our heart, our inner person, our mind, will, and emotions. The place of understanding, passion, and courage. The seat of our appetites and emotions. The Bible says life is not meant to be lived outside in, but inside out. ‘Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.’ —Proverbs 4:23 NIV  Jesus wants to transform us, so that who we appear to be matches who we really are. Jesus wants to shape our hearts, and then we’ll be able to negotiate and handle everything that happens in our external world. Our experience of shalom peace is not dependent on our external world, but on what’s happening inside our hearts. Peace can only come from having our heart right with God through faith in Jesus and the abiding of His Spirit within us. Then we can have shalom in spite of what’s happening in our outside world.

So how do we know if our spiritual heart is healthy?  Here are 10 checkpoints for us to consider.

Personal Awareness Checks

  1. Unwholesome Talk -But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.  —Matthew 15:18 NIV  (This might be negative, complaining, critical, judgmental, demanding, perverse, profanity, life sucking language, etc.)
  2. Impure Thoughts –For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. —Matthew 15:19 NIV (This might be feelings of resentment, lust, jealousy, etc)
  3. An Angry Spirit –Let the peace of Christ rule in your heart since as members of one body you were called to peace –Colossians 3:15. 26″In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27and do not give the devil a foothold…   30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  —Ephesians 4:26-27,30-31 NIV
  4. A Complaining Attitude -Do everything without complaining and arguing, —Philippians 2:14 NLT
  5. Anxiety and Unhealthy Fear -For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. —2 Timothy 1:7 NIV   Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. —Philippians 4:6 NIV  When I exercise, my mind is able to wander.  When my mind wanders I usually find what’s really in there.  When my heart rate accelerates, I’ve learned to ask myself why?  And there’s generally a direct correlation that my increased heart rate is indication of my spiritual heart disease of anxiety.  I need to get my heart right before God.

Spiritual Awareness Checks

  1. Diminished Hunger for God’s Word -Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. -—Colossians 3:16 NIV
  2. Discouragement in Prayer -Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up (lose heart). —Luke 18:1 NIV
  3. “Lip-service” Worship (critical of others “rule breaking”, to serve/give out of obligation-“‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’” -—Matthew 15:8-9 NIV
  4. Sense of Oppression -When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer —Psalm 32:3-4 NIV
  5. Missing Pasion or Misplaced Values -For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. —Jeremiah 29:11-13 NIV John Wesley said, “If you light yourself on fire, men will come to watch you burn.”  What are you on fire about?  Are you passionate about the things of God?  That’s in indicator of a healthy heart.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  —Matthew 6:21 NIV

“After going down that list, I have to admit I have a little spiritual heart disease going on.” –Don Cousins.

Jeremiah 17:9 says, “ The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”  Our hearts want to convince us we’re healthy, we’re fine.  But only with the Spirit’s daily help can we maintain a healthy heart. Is my heart healthy?  How bout yours?

To hear Pastor Don Cousins message, go to www.discoverychurch.org and look for Matthew’s Main Messages, June 17th, 2018.