Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Merry Christmas

Proverbs 18:16 A man's gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men.

        Immanuel, God with us. That is the gift of Christmas. God is with us, and as we go forth as His hand extended - we become the instrument of His gift to all man. We, who belong to Christ, are Christmas in the flesh. We bless and we hug our family and friends with a wish of Immanuel for all the lives we come across, even the rude ticket handler at the airport or cab driver who cut you off. We can be Christmas, or we can sell Christmas as a trinket. Christ is the gift that keeps on giving eternally. Wow! What did you get for Christmas? I got eternal life, and that will never fade away or grow old. Merry Christmas, everyone, and God bless us all. Isa. 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Too Simple

Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.
 

      I was listening to an interview with Carlos Cash Luna, pastor of Iglesia Casa de Dios in Guatemala. He and his wife, Sonia Luna, founded Casa de Dios, a Christian church in Guatemala City, Guatemala, on September 11, 1994. It is the largest and fastest growing church in Guatemala, with over 25,000 attendees.
      The interview was going well until the north American minister leading the interview wanted to know the reason for the tremendous success of church growth and numerous amount of miracles reported coming out of this incredible work of God. Of course, there had to be a formula that anyone could follow and get the same results. This was the way the questioning was headed. What are the five steps to building a colossal monument of Christian representation that we and God could be proud of?
      I could see the discomfort pastor Luna was having with the way the interview was headed. He responded as the Proverb says, with a soft answer, and with grace. "When I am asked these questions, no one ever likes the answer because the answer is too simple." Pastor Luna stated. He began to minister from Ex.
14:21 And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.
      The pastor said, and I am paraphrasing because my spirit caught what he was saying, "When we are in the same situation as the children of Israel, a place of no return. The sea blocking our way forward and the enemy's army chasing us into the sea to destroy us, there is nothing that can be done but do what Moses did and that was to raise his hands to God and wait for the miracle to take place. 
      In our church, when we find ourselves in that place of an impossible situation, that is what we do. We stand there and raise our hands and wait for the miracle needed to take place - and it does. That is the secret to our church growth and all the miracles taking place." Psalm 46:10a Be still, and know that I am God.
    The interviewer seemed suspicious with the answer and said to the effect, "Come on, that's it, there must be more?" Pastor Luna simply said, "As I said, most people do not like my answer for the reason for our growth because the answer is too simple." Acts 3:12 And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? 
      Too simple, raise your hands. Pastor Cash Luna says that miracles could happen more often but people complicate blessings. I had caught what the pastor was saying and realised that we have been complicating a lot of what we do for God in the name of Christianity. 
     Paul was sitting blind and shaken up after his encounter on the road to Damascus, waiting for his prayers to be answered and maybe wondering if his prayers would be answered. He had no choice but to sit there and raise his hands to God and hopefully get delivered. Acts 9:17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou came, hath sent me, that thou might receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost
      Paul was at the end of himself for those three days. He had followed the law of God religiously. Now, during his quiet and desperate time of blindness, he found out that he had been blind to the word that spoke of Christ. He realised he had been persecuting the Church that was preaching Christ crucified and salvation through the cross. 
      What an awakening to find out that he was wrong in his belief, but it came to him when he needed a miracle. He had the sea before him and the army coming after him, and all he could do was raise his hands in an act of faith that said, "I cannot do anything of myself, help Lord." John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
      How many of us are at the edge of the sea and the army's of the enemy is crashing down on us, brandishing weapons, ready to destroy our trust, faith, and love of God? Do you need a miracle in your life right now? Perhaps the simple act of faith that pastor Cash Luna has expressed would be a balm to our lives and souls right now. 
      Right now, let us just take a moment and raise our hand to the only true and holy God who loves us and gave Himself for us. Where we are sitting or standing right now can be our sanctuary. We can lift up our hands to God and be at peace as we wait for our deliverance and miracle. Psalm 134:2 Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the LORD.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Make it Matter

Proverbs12:25 Heaviness in the heart of man makes it stoop: but a good word makes it glad.
     
     Coach Gary Kubiak said. "Tough times do not last but tough people do."
     How do I get a good word into my heart when I am heavy of heart and the heaviness is making me stoop? How do I turn it around so that I am looking upward toward God and not focused on all the disappointments that have piled up in the last few weeks, months, or years? 
      First of all, thank God, His mercies are new every morning, and yes, we can start over from a position of faith, even little faith. Lam. 3:22 It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. 23  They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. Again, thank God, that it is the LORD who will lift up my head during times of difficulty. Psalm 3:3 But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. 
      We are not alone in our walk with Christ. The Holy Spirit is in us confirming Jesus Christ is Lord and that He has overcome the world. John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. 
      We do not have to live a life stooped in defeat. You can't decide the length of your life, but you can control how you want to live it. Well, I want to live in Christ from a position of victory. Now, how do I do that?
      God's promised manifestation of a prayer of faith will change prayer to substance and matter. Heb. 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 
Why do some find it hard to believe that prayer can change anything? Some find it especially hard to believe when we are in a long season of hard times. 
      As my friend Scott puts it, "The act of prayer brings a result similar to the laws in nature. Sublimation: the substance changes directly from a solid to a gas without going through the liquid phase. Condensation is gas changing to a liquid." Scott says, "If these basic laws surround us, then why can't God who created these laws of nature change the situation we are praying about? Why then do we think it difficult for God to change what we are asking for, in the spirit, to then manifest in the natural and become matter or substance in the now?"
      Can Scott get a bit technical? Yes, he can, but he is right. Matt. 18:19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
     Prayer changes everything. Jesus believed this because He prayed all the time. When Jesus chose His apostles, out of His disciples, He did it after prayer. The Lord got the instructions from His Father as to who should be chosen. Luke 6:12 And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.13 And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles. 
      This works the same way today, as in praying, so you can choose your partners in business, or friends in life, or (touchy ground here) your spouse.
     When Jesus wanted direction He prayed. Mark 1:35 And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. Right after this time of prayer, Jesus says to his disciples. Mark 1:38 And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth. 

      The Lord knew what to do because He had received instructions in prayer to go to the next town and preach there. We can do this today when looking for a job or starting a business. When buying a house or wanting direction where to move to. Take it to the Lord in prayer.
    There was certainly something powerful about the Lord's prayer life, because His disciples wanted what Jesus had through prayer. Luke 11:1 And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. Is this what we are lacking, a desire to learn how to pray?
     In the Lord's darkest hour He prayed for us. Luke 23:34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.46 And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. The Lord's last human action is prayer. In the insanity and nerve splitting pain of the torturous cross, Jesus is praying for us. This tells me that no matter how hard life gets, keep praying. 

      I have been preaching to myself in this blog. I needed to hear this word in my spirit so that my heart would not stoop. A good word makes the heart glad, and Jesus is the Word that makes a heart glad. Thank you, Lord, for your forgiveness and for ministering to me. I will again bring my life to you in prayer and make it matter. Amen.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

What do I do?

Proverbs 24:14 So shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul: when thou hast found it, then there shall be a reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off.

      I have been in quite a few conversations lately with people who have been struggling with their faith and have said things like, "I just don't know what to do. I'm not sure what God wants of me. I can't seem to get what God is trying to say to me. I'm suppose to know the Lord's voice but I can't hear Him for the noise in my life. What do I do? 
      I think God has disowned me. I think I have lost my salvation I cannot feel God's love. I feel like heaven is laughing at me and I'm just a punchline to some holy joke." That last one got to me personally because I was lost for words for this very hurt and bruised person.      
      I reckon I could have stated some of the standard platitudes, but I felt I would have been disingenuous because I have had some of the same questions in my own heart. I realised that these thoughts and feelings are a battle for our faith.1 Tim. 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. 
      We will come through these doubts, frustrations, and tribulations. John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. 
      During these dry times the last thing anyone wants to hear is "Let go and let God," or, this one always gets me, "God is trying to teach you something, brother." Am I that pathetic of a person that I just never get what God is trying to teach me? 
      King David is going through a rough time of doubting and says in Psalm 73:16 When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me. Thank God for His written word we can lean into during these times of shaky faith. 
      During difficult times I think of what Peter said when I am going through my spiritual uncertainty. John 21:3 Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. Here are some well-seasoned disciples who were asking the same questions after Jesus was absent from their presence. 
      Peter had a family to take care of and all he could think of doing was what he knew. When you don't know what to do, do what you know, and since Christ is the great Shepherd, He will come and find you.       
      The next day Jesus is on the seashore with a fire of coals, with fish cooking, and He says, John 21:12 Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus came looking for His Disciples and that is the peace we can have in Christ. Knowing that the Lord will find us and bring us back on the path of righteousness. This is a great comfort during times of battle and doubt.
     Judges 6:13 And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites. Gideon gets to the point of what is on his heart. If the LORD is with us, then why is all this rubbish happening in our lives? Why have I not had a prayer answered in ages? 
      If God is with me, then why does everything I touch turn to garbage? I've named it and claimed it. I read five steps to receiving, ten steps to getting, and taken another twelve steps just to make sure - and nothing works. What's with that? If God is for me, then why are things the way they are? Gideon had a good question. If we are honest we have been asking the same thing in our own lives.
      The LORD says to Gideon. Judges 6:16 And the LORD said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man. My faith is built up with this story in that God came looking for Gideon. There was nothing special about Gideon's family. Judges 6:14 And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house. 

      Gideon says, "I'm the least in this family." Yet God found him working in fear and doubting his salvation and purpose. However, God found Gideon doing what he knew, to get by with what he had, and God met his needs and turned him into a leader. 
      My admonishment to the readers of this blog is that you do what you know and that is to trust God will come and find you right where you are. He will love you fully right there, warts and all. 2 Cor. 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
    Judy Garland said, "Always be a first rate version of yourself, instead of a second rate version of someone else." God has made you who you are. There is no one else like you. God knows our address and what our needs are right now. Let Him find us trusting in Him. In Jesus name, I pray this verse over everyone who reads this. Eph. 3:20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Amen!

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

You Saw God Where?

Proverbs 15:3 The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.

       Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows his handy-work
      What a picture we must have made when our friend Glennis walked into our first home in Redcliffe, Queensland. We had just bought our first home and my wife was sitting in a rocking chair, pregnant and ready to deliver soon. My four-year-old son was sitting on his small plastic red chair. I was sitting on the floor with a guitar case between us all using it as our table. A pizza box was open on the guitar case for our first meal, in our first home we had just moved into that day. 
      "Come on in and join us," I said, when Glennis peeked into the open front door. We all began to laugh as she came and sat beside us on the floor and we feasted as only first time home buyers can do while thinking, "It isn't much, but it's ours." Eph. 5:20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
      Early the next morning there was a knock at the door and Glennis is saying, "Come and help me with this." There she was with her small car and trailer, bringing us a 1950's Formica table with chrome legs and border, plus three mismatched chairs. She said that she had brought them from her parents' place, with their blessing, where the table and chairs were in storage. 
      We brought this incredible gift into the kitchen and we rejoiced at the wonder of it all. That morning I saw God in Glennis and in the shiny chrome jewel of provision. I knew in my heart that I had just seen God and everything was going to be well with us. Thank you, Glennis, you're a real "sista" and mate. Psalm 8:4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visits him.
     I was walking through The Honolulu Museum of Art, and I was attracted to a Pierre-Auguste Renoir pencil drawing called Dance In The Country. I do not know why I was struck with such awe, but I was. From one foot away I stood very still for the longest time and beheld a simple pencil sketch that had captivated and moved my very soul. I did not notice the time go by until the lights started to dim, as the lights were on a motion sensor monitor. I realised I had not moved from that position and I was the only person in that display room. What a God moment that was for me. This print was absolutely filled with life; it had a force of creation activated within me. 
      I was enjoying the very presences of God. God and I were both admiring this small pencil drawing and I could not separate God from the awe I was feeling. Gen. 1:4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. Just before I left the museum that day I went back to see the Renoir one more time, and again it held me and filled me with clean and pure joy. I saw God that day and knew He was for me. Merci Monsieur Renoir. Jer. 29:13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
     I do not think we have to relegate God's anointed presence to the sanctuary of our choice on Sunday mornings. He is in the heartwarming kindness that leads others to give to us when we were in need. He inspired the art and creativity that moves us to say, "Wow, God, is that ever amazing." Eze. 48:35 And the name of the city from that day shall be, The LORD is there. The meaning of the name Jehovah-Shammah is Jehovah is there. We lose sight of God being there because of the mundane routines that captivate our lives and sometimes make us feel like we are missing a bigger picture. I believe God is there in the everyday events of our lives. 
      I sometimes see God in the way a mother carries her child on her hip and they are giggling at each other, or a dad softly consoling his son as they walk off the field after a hard loss. When I am holding hands with my wife, or listening to the waves crash on the rocks. God is in that song that brought you to a place where you sang along in joy no matter what it sounded like to others. 
      God is in the first words your children ever spoke, or in the tug on your heart when you wiped away your child's tears. God is there, saying, "I am for you." The Lord is not some kill-joy trying to mess up every idea you get. On the contrary, most likely it is the Lord who gave you the blessed idea in order to help you become the person He created you to be. Yes, God is there and He will never leave you nor forsake you. Haggai 1:13 Then spake Haggai the LORD'S messenger in the LORD'S message unto the people, saying, I am with you, saith the LORD. I saw God on many occasions and in different events this week. Thank you, Lord, for being there.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Anger Management

Proverbs 22:24 Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go.

      How is it that we will learn an angry man's ways if we hang out with the angry? It seems that we need some kind of immunisation shot against anger in our world today. Things and events easily anger us. Everything from road-rage to all the other rages going on is sapping our kindness and mercy, plus confusing our understanding of righteous anger. 
      We tend to forget that we live in a fallen world, and even though we are not part of it we do live in it. Gen. 4:6 So the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 If thou does well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou does not well, sin lies at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. We have forgotten that we need a Savior to give us life and get us victoriously through this present life in order to live with Christ for eternity.
     Heb. 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Is there a sin that we keep falling for or into every time it comes along? Is there a sin in our lives which doth so easily besets us? We might say, "why, Lord, do I fall here every time, and why is this sin so hard for me to overcome?" 
      Why do some Christians crave drugs, alcohol, gambling, stealing, lying and risky behavior, while others hang on to an unforgiving heart, compulsive disorders, and a dozen other shortcomings? Yet others seem to have no problem with anything listed here? Why am I so weak in one or more of these areas?
     In the book of John, we read of the woman of Samaria. John 4:7a There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. This woman might have been questioning the same things we have been asking ourselves. Why can't I keep a real relationship with anyone? Why do I have so many insecurities with commitment? Why do I keep falling for the same old lines of promised love? Why do I keep leading all these sappy men on? My friends don't seem to have these problems. 
      I do not know what was on her mind that day, but her encounter with Jesus had a fulfilling result from these words that Christ is offering us today. John 4:14 But whosoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. If we think about it, all the desires that are contrary to what God wants for our lives is a thirst that cannot be quenched with anything offered from the world system. 
      Addictions or obsessions are thirsts within our lives that cause us to go looking for answers and fulfillment in all the wrong places. This cycle of behaviour only deepens the problem and we feel like we are dying of thirst. Meanwhile, the very source of life, Jesus, our Lord, is offering us a full cup of life-giving fulfillment. Psalm 23:5 Thou prepares a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.
     We read in the Psalms that King David is going through a similar situation. Psalm 73:14  For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning. David is convinced that the suffering of the righteous and the success of sinners have become a reality in his life. However, he comes to a place in his heart where he finds the truth of the matter. Psalm 73:17 Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. It is only in the presence of our God that the thirst for all these sins that so easily besets us can be destroyed, washed away, overcome, and forgiven.  
      Prov. 2:24 Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: 25 Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul. So, am I just a product of my environment or do I have choices? Where I go to fulfill my thirst is my choice. We do not have to learn an angry man's way and allow it to become a snare to our soul. 
      We do have a way out of the sin which so easily beset us and, thank God, for the love and grace He gives us every day to help us overcome. The Lord admonishes us to drink from His waters of life and our soul will live free. Eccl.12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. In Jesus name, Father, help us always to choose you. Amen.

Monday, 2 December 2013

KISS-Keep It Simple Saint

Proverbs 14:25 A true witness delivers souls: but a deceitful witness speaks lies.

     I had the opportunity to lead a work friend to the Lord during a long six hour drive. At the time I did not know I had led him to Christ until a few days later. He phoned me to thank me for my time and words of wisdom that helped him make this miraculous decision in his life. 
      During the six hour drive, I had been able to expound the Scriptures and answer almost all of his questions concerning Christ being Lord, eternity with God versus eternity in hell, and a personal relationship with Jesus versus being religious. With joy in his heart, he said that it was something I had said during our drive that caused him to ask Jesus into his heart to be his Lord. 
      My mind was racing over that long car ride. I was trying to remember the apologetics that brought such a transformation. What was the great spiritual nugget that had been spoken that had resulted in such a miracle that even the angels rejoice in heaven? Luke 15:10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repents
      Well, I was surprised at what he said. He said. "It's when you said 'It was dumb to go to hell if you do not have to." There it is, saints, wisdom personified. How simple a word God used to change a heart for eternity.
      I was reading in the book of Acts the simple declaration given to the people of the day for a reason to believe in Christ as Savior. Acts 10:38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. 
      How simple and uncomplicated the argument for receiving Jesus as Lord. Jesus went about doing good and healing all. This was a foundation of belief that could be trusted and that Jesus was a true witness who delivered souls. Jesus Himself makes a similar statement when confronting the hypocrisy of the leaders of the day. John 10:37 If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. 38 But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him
      The religious leaders that Jesus was trying to wake-up in their spirits had complicated the way to God to the point of ridiculousness and difficulty. They had created laws for the laws that no longer worked because as Thomas Erskine of Linlathen says, "Those who make religion their god will not have God for their religion." Jesus did the will of the Father and the result was Mark 7:37 And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he makes both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.
      For all of the Christians who have been praying and believing for their lost loved-ones, I say keep praying, and keep your answers simple when they ask you questions about Christianity and the Lord. 
I was once approached by a man and he said, "I heard you were once an alcoholic and that Jesus set you free." 
I said, "This is true." 
He said, "Can I have this in my life?" 
I said, "Yes."
He said, "Now?"
I said, "Yes, we can pray and you can ask Jesus to come into your life right now to help you with your addiction."
      We did pray and he did receive Jesus as his Lord. Now, I am convinced that it was the prayers of everyone else who had been praying for this man to be saved. I happened to be there to help bring him home to Christ. John 4:38 I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours
      There are times of difficulty and apparent hopelessness during our desire to see our family and friends saved, but as found in Prov. 14:25 A true witness delivers souls: but a deceitful witness speaks lies. Our lives will not lie if we stay true to our Lord. 
      We have the Holy Spirit guiding us toward our expected end and the glorification of Jesus our Lord. Keep it simple saints and we will be blessed. Father, in Jesus name, help us to be your hand extended and represent you with the heart of Jesus and may it be said of us, "That we did all things well." Amen.