Friday, February 24, 2017

Meeting With God

We don't just wait... we agree to meet with God.

"Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet? Does a lion roar in the forest, when he has no prey? Does a young lion cry out from his den, if he has taken nothing? Does a bird fall in a snare on the earth, when there is no trap for it? Does a snare spring up from the ground, when it has taken nothing?" - Amos 3:3-5 ESV

Where will we meet Him? The throne of Grace is always just past the edge of our self-life.

"There is one body and one Spirit--just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call-- one Lord, one faith, one baptism," - Ephesians 4:4-5 ESV

One calling. One faith. One prayer life. One message. One body of believers that we have been baptized into that is manifested all over the world in different groups that believe in One Savior... One book.

"Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool." - Isaiah 1:18 ESV

Yes. We agree to meet and He will wrestle with us if that is what is needed. He will minister to us. He will wash our feet. He will love us.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Judge Righteous Judgement

An expert can spot things a novice doesn't think to look for.

"Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things." - Romans 2:1 ESV

"Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment." - John 7:24 KJV

"I tell you, her sins -and they are many - have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love."" - Luke 7:47 NLT

Our past can make our eyes keen. What will we do with what we see?

The cross can be our frame of reference. Perception can pass through the cross. If it does we will be tender, discerning and loving.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Atmospheric Rivers

Here is an interesting term I have been hearing lately... 'atmospheric river'... Our atmosphere can apparently contain huge amounts of water under certain conditions. Which brings me to this passage in scripture.

"In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights." - Genesis 7:11-12 ESV

Before the great flood there was no rain. Mist formed to water the garden. What a different world it must have been. Our first ancestors lived hundreds of years at a time when the world was young. The atmosphere must have been like an ocean not just an occasional river.

But when Noah was 600 years old the bubble burst.

It is always amazing to me how scientific discovery keeps reinforcing the reliability of the scriptures.


Monday, February 20, 2017

The Rewards Of Honor

Pondering the 'unique rewards' of honor.

"Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard. He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside. Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father's nakedness. When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, he said, 'Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.' He also said, 'Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem, and let Canaan be his servant.' After the flood Noah lived 350 years. All the days of Noah were 950 years, and he died." - Genesis 9:20-29 ESV

How Noah's sons dealt with Noah's lapse became a reason for blessing and cursing. It wasn't years of faithful service. It was how they reacted or responded on one day of their life.

Also, The two brothers were blessed differently even though they honored their father in the same way. That is interesting to me. A blessing is a personal thing.

If our hearts are established in grace than we will walk in backwards on people's weakness. Such an opportunity may arise today. Such events 'make' or 'break' relationships and then honor comes in a unique form to those who will function in this manner.

As a very flawed human being I am very thankful for those who have 'walked in backwards' on my life and then continued to stay around.

God, cause us to be this way with people. This kind of honor is so rare in this world.


Friday, February 17, 2017

Hannah's Problem - God's Provision

Thinking. Reading. Praying. Planning. Looking at biblical examples. Asking God how and if they fit into the circumstances I am facing now as a person. Looking at my theological framework. Reading. Praying. Wondering what I can do for people. Wondering what to even to say to some people. Time. Money. Support. Miraculous intervention. All of the above.

My mind keeps returning to Hannah (an old testament Israelite)...

"There was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim of the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephrathite. He had two wives. The name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other, Peninnah. And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. Now this man used to go up year by year from his city to worship and to sacrifice to the LORD of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the LORD. On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the LORD had closed her womb. And her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the LORD had closed her womb. So it went on year by year. As often as she went up to the house of the LORD, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat." - 1 Samuel 1:1-7 ESV

This issue went on for years... years!

Her husband loved her and did what he could to help. I look at the account and see his portion in her life. It was needed. It was real. He couldn't solve her problems but he did what he could to bring her to God's provision.

"And Elkanah, her husband, said to her, "Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?" After they had eaten and drunk in Shiloh, Hannah rose. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the LORD. She was deeply distressed and prayed to the LORD and wept bitterly. And she vowed a vow and said, "O LORD of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head." As she continued praying before the LORD, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman. And Eli said to her, "How long will you go on being drunk? Put your wine away from you." But Hannah answered, "No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the LORD. Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation." Then Eli answered, "Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him." And she said, "Let your servant find favor in your eyes." Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad." - 1 Samuel 1:8-18 ESV

There is so much here.

Do you think that God doesn't know that leaders make stupid judgemental assumptions sometimes? God uses the partial blindness of people. Notice how Hannah found peace somehow. She prayed. That was part of it but she also interacted with Eli. God used both. God used all of it.

I sometimes look at situations and begin to judge. I see impractical decisions and even what looks to me at first glance like hyper-spiritual logic and start to judge but then I have to check myself. The situation is what it is. What are we going to do now? Prevention is great but any thoughts, or comments, of that nature are not going to be helpful.

It is a long story and I'll just say for those of you who don't know how it ends... God opens Hannah's womb and Samuel is born. He is the one these books are the Bible are named after. He becomes an important figure in Israel.

God comes through for Hannah.

My mind races and I think of a dozen people in need right now. Tears fill my eyes. If each of them cries out to God He Is going to help them. He Is going to come through for them. I don't know how He will. I don't even know my place in it.

I wonder what Eli thought when he saw little Samuel in the temple. Was he reminded of his idiotic behavior towards Hannah and think, 'I am such an idiot.'... maybe... but then standing next to her is that little miracle boy.

That idiot served a great God. God Is great in spite of his mistakes. Eli did it imperfectly and so do I. So I weep. I read. I pray. I ponder. I ask. I help where I can. Money. Time. Support. Prayer. I even rarely tell people what I think... very rarely... because this life has baffling problems that only God can solve.

This morning, as I look at my theological framework and compare it to scripture it has soundness. It is based on grace. Jesus is central. The work of salvation is finished. God loves us. In areas I have slipped I get realigned.

God will give us words when we need them. We pray looking like drunken fools and God answers in miraculous ways.


Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Mindset Of Investment

Reading Galatians chapter 6 and asking myself, 'What is sowing to the flesh and what is sowing to the Spirit? The answers are right in the passage...

"Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God." - Galatians 6:7-16 ESV

What is the mindset of a sower? I'm not talking about a child following instructions or a hired hand working for their hourly wage. I'm thinking of the farmer who has a vision for profit down the road.

I want to speak like my words are seeds.

If we tell people they need to change in order for God (or us) to accept them then we are sowing to the flesh. If we love people and tell them that what God has done transforms then we are going to have to wait a season for those seeds to turn into crops but we are sowing to the Spirit and the harvest will come in bountiful unexpected ways down the road.

Today's muddy ground can be something beautiful in a few months. Sowing is going to take energy. Let's not let weariness distract us from the good results coming in a little while.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Access Is Limited

Just sitting here thinking about Valentine's day and access to people. People want to be wanted... but access is limited. It should be limited but it gets limited in funny sometimes unhealthy ways.

Under the law God commanded Israel to keep personal access limited in certain ways. There were laws about sex. There were laws about nudity. There were laws about strangers to the land. Access was controlled.

"Jesus said to him, 'Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.' Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." - John 20:29-31 ESV

I think of the access that I have been given to God and I am truly humbled. I know more about Jesus than I do about most people even though I haven't seen Him face-to-face.

"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." - Hebrews 4:15-16 ESV

By becoming a man he gained access to our perspective and He wants us to have access to His life. Amazing.

This morning I'm praying for the people in my circle who are looking for love in the wrong places and giving people access to their lives in hurtful ways. They have real needs and limited options. God help them. Then there are others that are so closed off that no one can get in... not even God.

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." - Matthew 11:28 ESV

Jesus is the One who straightens all of this out. The whore finds love and stops giving themselves away and the prude finds love and opens up in healthy ways. Jesus gives rest. Jesus restores purity. Jesus fixes the access issue.

"A garden locked is my sister, my bride, a spring locked, a fountain sealed." - Song of Songs 4:12 ESV

May we live life with healthy boundaries. Locked off is some ways but open and accessible in others. Let our private and public lives glorify God.

Thank You God. You have sent Your Son to open doors to us that never would have been opened otherwise. It is a great privilege to have access to Your throne. Help us to live with great respect for people's privacy while at the same time inviting them to be involved in the spaces where we meet You. Open doors. Open hearts. Open places so that souls will be saved. Make us creative and sensitive people.

Thank You God.