Let’s FEED not FIGHT.

Pestilence, Politics, Promises, and Patience

How is a believer supposed to respond to all of the changes and uncertainty of the times in which we live?  In Matthew 24 Jesus gives insight to His people for how to prepare for His second coming.  I’m finding it helpful to prioritize what the Scriptures say a disciple should be doing.  Matthew 24:45-49 says,  45“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? 46Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 47Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 48But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ 49and begins to beat his fellow servants…

To beat is to “repeatedly offend.”  Hmmm.  I am cautioned not to take out my frustrations regarding perceived delays, by arguing and being offended with others. Each of us is experiencing grief in different ways.  Disciples, let’s not beat one another, frustrated by delay.

Jesus says He hopes to find His wise and faithful servants feeding His household at the proper time.  The word feed means “to nourish or maintain, the food of the mind, the substance of instruction.”  Does your mind need to be nourished or instructed to be at peace today?  Does your confidence in the goodness of God need to be maintained again today?  Are you feeding on the substance of His Word?  Disciples, please join me in nourishing the minds of others with the encouragement of God’s word. 

May we await His coming by laboring for the harvest.  He is not surprised by pestilence, He is not delayed by politics, and He is not slow in keeping His promises. He is patient… not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Pe 3:9).  I said to my kids last night that my primary reason for wanting to change our family’s boundaries right now is impatience.  If impatience is a fruit of the flesh, and I make decisions in the flesh, will that ever go well?  May we make decisions from a place of patience, waiting on the Lord.  He alone will renew our wellbeing.  He alone can cause us to say it is well with my soul.  May we care more about building up the body than pursuing our personal freedoms, and may we care more about the harvest than we do the virus.  Be encouraged everyone!

Jesus Satisfies -Abide in the Anointing

Jesus Satisfies

From an early age I began praying, “Lord Jesus, save me and forgive me.” While trusting Him I have sought to honor him in my earthly pursuits. Through the years I have sought to be successful for Him of course, and hoped to be able to enjoy the finer things of life. But neither marrying my dream wife, nor having amazing kids, nor working my dream job, nor enjoying incredible vacations, has ever brought the sense of meaning and fulfillment that I though it would. Paul David Tripp says, “God (is the only place) where my heart will be satisfied… The heart of every human being looks for pleasure, fulfillment… because the heart of every human being is looking for God… Physical pleasures… are like the sign that points me to Disney World. When I see the first sign… I don’t stop there and have my vacation, because a sign is not the thing – a sign points me to the thing. I go on to Disney World and I have an awesome vacation.” I’ve been to Disney almost every year of my life – it’s one of my favorite places – but even Disney has not brought satisfaction that can last the trip home. Disney is an amazing pleasure of this life that is a road sign pointing us to the ever more amazing pleasure and satisfaction we are to find in Christ. “All my life I had a longing for a drink from some clear spring, that I hoped would quench the burning of the thirst I felt within. Hallelujah! I have found Him whom my soul so long has craved! Jesus satisfies my longings, through His blood I now am saved.” Bill Gaither

Play https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8F1FaREThYw

But how do you find this satisfaction and pleasure in the Lord? So many times following Jesus through the years I have found myself in a valley of loss and trouble. It’s dark sometimes, and full of fear. But I have met Him in the valley. And I have learned to abide in His anointing. I John 2:27 talks about this anointing saying, As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.” His anointing has taught me the way and leads me through every time.

Do you want to find Him whom your soul has craved? Do you want to find the satisfaction to all your longings?!

How about you join me for family devotions tonight? No I’m not hosting a Facebook live… But you can take a Bible and read aloud I John 2:27 with your loved ones.

Then you can pray aloud with me…. “Lord Jesus, please save me and forgive me of my sins. You promised in your Word that you would baptize or immerse us continually in the person of the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:8, Eph. 5:18), and I want the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38) with me today. I want to abide in your anointing Lord Jesus! Abiding in your anointing is all I need. When we’re in the valley or the enemy attacks, Lord we know you surround your servants (Psalm 34:7). We know you’ll provide everything we need (Romans 8:32, 2 Peter 1:3). Lord we know you deliver us from every fear (Ps 34:4). Lord we know you promised that those who take refuge in You will not be condemned (Ps 34:22), but You will deliver them from all their troubles (Ps 34:19). Lord Jesus we magnify you (Ps 34:3) in our family, and pray that the goodness of God will pass before us (Ex 33:19) in ways that we will never forget. We pray that our loved ones will taste and see that the Lord is good (Ps 34:8). Lord we abide in Your anointing. Lord we bless You at all times (Ps 34:1) and our faces are radiant (Ps 34:5) with Your goodness in our lives. We have tasted and seen that You are good and we praise You. You’re a good God and we love You. In Jesus name, Amen.”

Please play https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfW2mkkMTAg

By This Time Tomorrow II

By This Time Tomorrow You Can Do It

In part one, we discussed how as disciples of Jesus, we’re called to participate in the great spiritual battle of soul reconciliation called “The Great Commission.” The Bible reminds us our battle is not against a flesh and blood opponent, but against the spiritual forces of evil (Galatians 6:12). Oftentimes after a great spiritual victory, we hear a spiritual taunt telling us to, “Back off the intentional relational transformational discipleship!” What should we do?!

We read in 1 Kings 19 that after Jezebel had taunted Elijah, the Lord recommended a few things to Elijah, to ease his state of distress.

Two times the angel says to Elijah, “Arise and eat (1 Kings 19:5,7).” Elijah ate, drank and rested, caring for his physical needs. I could take the spiritual approach and tell you this means we should read the Word. That would be great advice! But I think it’s important to recognize that, in the words of John Ortberg, “Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is take a nap.” These spiritual battles are physically draining. We need to take heed of ourselves, and realize when “the journey [has been] too much (1 Kings 19:7).” Make sure you’re getting enough rest, eating nourishing foods, and drinking enough water.

The second instruction given to Elijah was, “Go outside before the Lord… and listen for His low whisper (1 Kings 19:11-12).” I used to go to a fitness club to use the treadmill and elliptical machines. But I noticed my time with the Lord at the gym was not like our times together when I went outside and walked. I’m always looking to hear that Voice behind me saying, “This is the way, walk in it (Isaiah 30:2).” And maybe like Adam heard the physical sound of the Lord walking in the garden in the cool of the day (Genesis 3:8), I hear Him better outside? I now bundle up and walk outside in the cold all winter long! It’s where I hear God best. His gentle whisper strengthens me day by day. I’m so thankful that like David, I can say I’ve learned to strengthen myself in the Lord. (1 Samuel 30:6)

Finally, Elijah was told to “Go back to the wilderness and anoint” three leaders (1 Kings 19:15). Sometimes the places we’re called to serve can begin to feel like the wilderness. And those that serve with us may privately feel a spiritual dryness, or battle fears and insecurities themselves. When the Lord told Elijah to anoint three leaders, his job was to affirm God’s call on their lives. In a recent “Last Man Standing” episode Tim Allen’s character said, “I call those who I know can do it.” When we affirm God’s call on someone, we’re reminding them that God called you because He knows you can do it. The Bible says we should encourage one another every day. No matter how dark and overwhelming the taunts may seem, let’s not forget to encourage those who are courageously trying to serve the Lord.

By This Time Tomorrow I

By This Time Tomorrow Running Scared

As disciples of Jesus, we’re called to participate in the great spiritual battle of soul reconciliation, called “The Great Commission.” The Bible reminds us our battle is not against a flesh and blood opponent, but against the spiritual forces of evil (Galatians 6:12).

Elijah, in I Kings 18, had been diligent to engage in a spiritual battle. He was outnumbered 450 to 1. God sent fire on a water-soaked altar, and Elijah slaughtered all the prophets of Baal by his own hand! Elijah experienced a tremendous victory won by God, right in front of his own eyes.

Then came the taunt, “BY THIS TIME TOMORROW… (1 Kings 19:2).” Like Goliath in the Valley of Elah (1 Samuel 17) who came out every day to shout and defy the armies of the Living God, Jezebel unloaded on Elijah.  She said, “I’ll make sure you’re dead by this time tomorrow.”

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. He cries out, “Enough already! It’s too much, Lord! I would be better off dead. I am insignificant, no better than my ancestors (1 Kings 19:4).” In the same way, in the battle with Goliath, the Israelites had been shaken, and paralyzed with fear, and they had run away (1 Samuel 17:24).   And so it continues, one generation after another, century after century, Satan and his mouthpieces do their best to intimidate God’s children.

I’m noticing a pattern in my own life. I’m watching God win big victories: I see a man repenting of pornography addiction. I watch a couple take steps to reconcile after adultery. I sit with another leader who shares a struggle and invites God to help him overcome. These are significant spiritual victories that hit the enemy where it hurts.

And then I hear it… the intimidation, the taunt.  “BY THIS TIME TOMORROW….” I experience a dark cloud of emotions following God’s biggest wins. I used to think it was physical fatigue, and I’m sure that’s part of it. But I have become more systematic to journal this experience, and this darkness seems to come about exactly 24 hours after a spiritual victory, or after a discipleship battle, like seeing someone delivered from sexual sin, or overcoming a stronghold of resentment in leadership.

When this happens I feel all alone, exhausted, overwhelmed with fear, battling despair, like I’m trapped and there’s no way out. It feels like this must be the end. When I try to sleep I am restless. It’s a feeling of being vexed.   Sometimes it’s not until I find myself praying like Elijah, “It’s impossible Lord. It’s too much… I can’t do this anymore. I want to run away…” that I realize this is more than fatigue.

“BY THIS TIME TOMORROW…” is a spiritual taunt whispered by the enemy of souls. He is communicating in every way he can, “Back off the intentional relational transformational discipleship, OR ELSE.”

When young David heard the taunting, he said in 1 Samuel 17, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight.” He recalled victories God had previously won and declared, “This uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God…This day the Lord will deliver (him) into my hand…that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, For the battle is the Lord’s.”

My fellow disciples of Jesus, we have to wise up and remember this message is a spiritual trick. The Blood of Jesus is greater! We will see the enemy run in Jesus’ name. The Bible says, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” So I’m not running, I’m standing right here (Ephesians 6:13). And I’m not backing off the intentional relational transformational discipleship, either. By God’s grace, I intend to see the captives set free in Jesus name (Isaiah 61:1). Who’s with me?!

 

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.