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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Shut Up!
Reading:  Jeremiah 47:6-7

"Ah, sword in the hand of the Lord, how long will it be before you rest?  Sheathe yourself, cease and be quiet. 

How can it rest when the LORD has given it work to do against Askelon and the sea coasts?  There He has assigned the sword its task."

There is a consistent cry from this world and those who subscribe to its values to God, Christianity, and Christians... "Shut up!".  It comes in the form of "don't bring your message into our schools, into the public forum, anywhere we might be confronted with it".  It is the same message as recorded in Jeremiah.

Throughout scripture, the sword represents God's Word, Jesus.  In this passage, the people of Askelon, we part of the Phillistine emprie.  The Phillistines were enemies of Israel.  When this passage says there is work to do against Askelon, I interpret that to mean that God's Word, the sword, will oppose the enemies of God's People.  Also throughout the New Testament, Jesus ministry is found occuring at the water's edge.  The place where God calls His followers to engage in the lives of people in this world.  At that point, God's Word has work to do.  So...

When we encounter God's enemies, when we are engaged in ministry we will hear our adversaries and The Adversary cry "Shut up!".   The people of this world will oppose God's Word and our ministry of it and tell us to "shut up".  Our response should be the sames as recorded in Jeremiah...

"How can (WE) when the Lord has given (US) work to do...?" 

Be strong, be suited up (Ephesians 6:10-20), and stand firm.  Just because the people of this world tell us to "shut up" doesn't mean we have to.  Especially if God has given us, given you, work to be done.
2:44 pm est 

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Follow the Leader
Romans 12:2 says to "Conform no longer to the pattern of this present world but be transformed by the renewing of your minds."  I am filing this week's blog under that heading.  I read in my devotions this week Jeremiah 45:5... "You seek great things for yourself; leave off seeking them."

God seems to have the right truth, instruction, or corrrection just when I need it.

From my childhood I was told I was destined for great things.  I was a "child of promise", a child of destiny.  I don't think there was anything malicious or evil in that.  My guess is there are a lot of parents, family members, well wishers who attempt to encourage and motivate the "children of promise" in their lives with this line of thinking.

Through my teen years, my ego took over in reinforcing that message.  Even today, sitting hear, I fight the feeling that there must be more for me to do - something of significance - some "stage" for me to be on.  Like Barach (Jeremiah 45), I seek great things for myself.  Maybe you do too.  It could be a job, a career, education, a particular size or style of house, the right car, fame, influence, power, wealth, "the good of mankind".  None of these are necessarily wrong or evil.  In fact, they are all benign.   They are simply tools or artifacts with no intentions of their own.

Like Barach (Jeremiah 45), I need to heed God's instruction and "leave off seeking them".  Why?

I am what I am.  I practice and use the gifts God has given to me and strive to get better at them.  I try to make myself available for God to use each day.  I also have had an agenda that is all mine.  It is what I want God to do for me.  It is that point at which I need to learn to "leave off seeking" it.  Give up my agenda.  Give up being "god" in my life.

Proverbs 3:6 says that at every step you take, keep the Lord in mind and HE WILL DIRECT YOUR PATH. 

I beleive God wants to know the desires of my heart.  I believe God wants to give me what is good, acceptable, and perfect.  But more that either of these, God wants me to want Him first, before and exclusive of anything and anyone else.

Whatever my "destiny" is, it isn't mine.  It is God's.  It may not even be for me.  He could be using me for someone else's benefit.  I need to keep Him in mind.  With every step, He needs to be the one to decide on my "foot placement".  If there is a path, it is His.  If there is a map, it is God's.

Father, help me to learn it is about You, not me.  I choose (and help to continue to choose) Your plan, Your Way.  I abandon my small and self centered plans.  I will be content with each day with what You intent for it.  Give me eyes to see, ears to hear, and the strength to follow and obey.  Amen.
9:24 am est 

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A Chance to Respond

This is the last in this series on Luke 8:26-39.  There were three responses to make a note of in this story.  The first is the response of the Town’s people.


The Town’s people had seen sights that defied reason.  They saw the results of and heard accounts of a miracle.  They had come face to face with forces outside of the material world.  They were in the presence of God in human form.  How did they respond?...   Fear and rejection! 

They told Jesus to leave.  They couldn’t understand.  They wouldn’t (as an act of their will) try to understand.  They saw and heard things that they couldn’t explain and they allowed ignorance to drive their fear.  They couldn’t control it so they sent it packing. 

We can be this way.  Something doesn’t make sense to us.  It may be different than it has ever been done before.  There may be something that challenges our understanding of perceived realities and perceived truths.  We get scared.  We cant’ control it and it makes us uncomfortable so we send it packing.

This is a form of hiding.  It can come from the unchurched, non religious, atheistic, agnostic, or uninitiated when they encounter God, the Bible, and God's people.  It can also come from the religious and the church when we are confronted with scientific claims that appear to contradict what we've been taught or as a result of those with strong opinions contrary to our own.


The second response was that of the “Right Minded Mad Man”.  He wanted to follow Jesus and flee the faithless controlling environment he lived in.  Remember the Town’s peoples resolution to the “Mad Man’s” dilemma was to chain him up.  Getting out was what he wanted to do.  Maybe he didn’t want to be reminded of his past.  Maybe he just wanted to be close to Jesus.  After all, Jesus had changed his world for the better.  When we experience restoration, when we are forgiven, when our demons are purged, when our fetters are thrown off, not only are we grateful, we want to stay in the presence of the life changing force that benefited us and we want to avoid anything that reminds us of the horrors and pains of our past.

This can also be a form of hiding.  We need to be close to Jesus; however, we may not need to remove ourselves from the relationships we have been given.  Some relationship may need to end (adulterous, addictive, those that influence us negatively), but some (maybe most) need to remain in tact.  It is this group that will see most clearly the change brought about by Jesus Christ.  This is part of the response of being a witness.


The last response is the instruction given by Jesus to the Right Minded Mad Man… Go back and proclaim.  Fear and rejection is about self preservation.  Following and fleeing is about self indulgence.  Returning and proclaiming is about God, Jesus’ mission, and serving our fellow man.  It is the “Go and make disciples” of the Great Commission.


If you have experienced restoration, forgiveness, transformation, spiritual freedom at the hands of Jesus Christ, go to the people you live with and proclaim what you know about Jesus.  Be a witness.  Live out in the open for all to see. Yes, you will meet with the same response Jesus did.  Some will fear you and want you to leave their presence.  Some will flock to you and want to make you their God.  Your instruction and direction should be the same as Jesus’… return and proclaim what God has done in your life.


If you haven’t experienced Jesus (in first person), if you encountered Him but failed to accept what you can’t explain, don’t run and hide, don’t dismiss Him, embrace Him.  Allow God’s Spirit to be your teacher.  Find a group of people who will share this journey with you, who will partner with you in understanding God, His love for you, and the forgiveness and restoration available through Jesus Christ.  Write me and I’ll be happy to help.

8:23 am est 

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