Can He? Will He?

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2 The officer assisting the king said to the man of God, “That couldn’t happen even if the Lord opened the windows of heaven!”  But Elisha replied, “You will see it happen with your own eyes, but you won’t be able to eat any of it!” — 2 Kings 7:2 NLT

 
 
King Ben-Hadad of Aram had laid siege to the city of Samaria. When armies laid seige to a city, they completely closed off all entrances to the city.  No one was allowed to leave or enter.  In those times, the fields and pastures were outside the walled cities, so once the siege was laid, the people were isolated form their food supply.  This siege had continued for so long that people were eating donkeys’ heads and dove dung.  The famine was so bad that two women had even made a pact to eat their sons.  After one son had been eaten, the second Mother refused to fulfill her part of the contract.  The king of Israel blamed all of this misery on Elisha and God.  Of course, the real problem was the sins of the king and the people of Israel.  They refused to repent so God allowed exactly what He said would happen to happen. The refusal of the king’s assistant to believe Elisha’s statement is just more proof of their refusal to repent and accept God’s message and deliverance. 
How many times do we refuse to believe the word of the Lord and fail to see the fulfillment of His promises in our lives?  When God has revealed Himself as Jehoavah-Shammah, why do we feel abandoned?  When God says He is Jehovah-Jireh, our provider, do we still worry and fret over whether we will have enough of everything we need to sustain us?  When God says His name is Jehovah-Rapha, do we doubt that He can heal us? When we know HIs name is Jehovah-Shalom, do we refuse to access His peace?  Is God not able to deliver on His promises?  
 
Can and does God deliver on His promise of abundance of food and the fate of the king’s assistant?  Check back tomorrow for the rest of the story.
Post 05-12-2016

A Better Plan

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22 “How great you are, O Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you. We have never even heard of another God like you! — 2 Samuel 7:22 NLT
Nathan, the prophet has told David that God will not allow David to build a permanent temple for God.  Nathan also tells David that God will establish David’s house as a dynasty.  There would never be a time when someone from David’s lineage would not rule in Israel.  Instead of being upset that his idea was rejected, David rejoices in the better plan that God has for he and his family. David then prays this prayer of thanksgiving to God.  Then David goes on to be obedient to God and God gives him victory after victory on the battlefield.  David collects all the materials necessary for Solomon to build the temple.   Though God rejected David’s request, He gave David something better.  God always hears and answers our prayers.  When God says no to our request, it is usually for our benefit, so that He can give us something better.  Either the plan is wrong or the timing is wrong.  But, like David, we should accept God’s answer and praise Him for all the things He has brought us through.  We should realize, as David did, that there is no God like our God.  David had never even heard of a God that could do what our God does and neither have we.  Our God fulfills every promise He has ever made.  He does this in His timing, not in ours.  Too often, we are willing to settle for good things and not wait on God to give us the better things He wants for us.  This is true, spiritually, physically and financially.  Don’t rebel against God when He doesn’t answer yes to every request exactly when we want him to do so.  Wait on the Lord, He has a better plan.  Praise Him for Who He is, not what He does for us. He has already given us His Son, why would He withhold any good thing from us?
Post 04-19-2016

Welcome Home

even-smaller-bug-light11 My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? — James 2:1-4 NIV

​If you google “​verses concerning first impressions in the Bible”, you will only find verses that warn against using first impressions as a guide for measuring a person’s worth.  Yet, society teaches us that first impressions are all important and determine whether we will be accepted or rejected.  And certainly, that is the worldly view. How many of us use the way another person dresses, our opinion of whether they are beautiful or handsome, their popularity, talent or success as our criteria for selecting friends?  If this is really our criteria, then perhaps we should change the name of our church to “The Church of The Beautiful, Handsome,Talented, Successful and Well-Dressed”.  But, wait a minute, if we did that, we would have to be very egotistical and self-centered to think that we are qualified to attend and we all know that Christians are not egotistical and/or self-centered.  I, for one, am ecstatic that Jesus doesn’t use that criteria to determine who can be saved.  If you spend any time talking to those outside the church about why they don’t go to church, one of the reasons you will hear quite often is that “church people” make me feel uncomfortable or unwelcome. We can change our dress codes for churches (most churches have) but that will not solve the problem. Hurting people come to church to find relief and in most cases, they have come to the point in their life, that how we dress is not what attracts or deters them.  It is how we make them feel that is important.  Most people come to church for one of two reasons;  we were either raised to go to church or we came to the end of our rope and we haven’t found satisfactory answers to our problems anywhere else. We need to welcome guests and strangers in our church with the love, warmth and enthusiasm we would show a long lost brother or sister who has decided to come home.  Why? Because that is exactly how Jesus sees them and what they could become to us if we greet them and accept them as we should.
Post 11-15-2015

Worthy? Yes, We Are

even-smaller-bug-light19 Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position.10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business. 12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. — James 1:9-12 NIV

God has people in all levels of society, from the homeless to those living in huge homes and castles.  Whether we are rich or poor, from the human viewpoint, has no effect on how God sees us and whether or not, He can use us. We are all special in His eyes and worthy of His death on the cross. Not all us are capable of playing musical instruments but, in a band or an orchestra, every player must play the right notes for the music to be appreciated,  Even fewer of us will be band directors or orchestra leaders.  And that is a very good thing.  Because we need farmers, doctors, business men and women, educators, engineers, scientists, as well as someone to fill all the other positions that are needed for our survival. God has given each of us a talent that He can use for His glory if we will allow Him to do so.  While we are all very special in God’s eyes and have special talents, we are all alike in that we will all have temptations to avoid and trials to go through. For us to persevere, we will need to keep our eyes and our hearts focused on Jesus and not on the world around us. Regardless of our social position or our economic value, Jesus expects us to allow Him to use us to further His Kingdom here on earth.  When we learn total dependence on Jesus, the worldly things will become of much less importance to us and we can be joyful in the fact that Jesus considered us worthy.  Worthy enough that He would choose to die for us, worthy enough to allow us to be a part of His team and worthy enough to spend an eternity with Him in glory.  We should never belittle His gift and His opinion of us by not using our talents to glorify Him.
Post 11-09-2015

God Always Answers Our Faithful Prayers

even-smaller-bug-light15 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. — James 1:5-8 NIV

God has promised to provide our every need and He is always faithful to fulfill His promise. He provides for us spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally. When we pray as Jesus taught us to pray; “Nevertheless, not my will but Thine be done” and truly believe that He will answer us, He always does. He responds to our faith in Him.  
28 When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them,“Do you believe that I am able to do this?” “Yes, Lord,” they replied. 29 Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you”; 30 and their sight was restored. — Matt. 9:28-30
​We need to pray for wisdom, especially for wisdom in how to pray and for what things and people we should pray about. Praying is one of the simplest and yet, one of the hardest things, a Christian does.  It can be as simple as Peter’s prayer, “Lord, save me” or it can be as long as is necessary, such as the prayer that Jesus prayed for us in John 17.  Regardless of length or what words are used, the important thing is that we be serious and believe that God will do what we are asking. We cannot waver in our faith that He will do what we ask.
 

13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. — John 13, 14

​Prayer requires a lot of patience​ since we can pray for the right things and we don’t immediately see answers.  God has a plan and a purpose and a time for each phase of His plan to be implemented. We must trust that He knows best and continue to believe. We must be careful to watch for the answer because it may come in a totally different way than we were expecting. Just remember, God is always faithful and He always answers our prayers.  It may take years, just as it did for Abraham and Joseph, but He always does what He said He would do, He is “I AM”, past, present and future.
Post 11-08-2015 

Guilty But Forgiven

even-smaller-bug-light119 Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? We have been speaking in the sight of God as those in Christ; and everything we do, dear friends, is for your strengthening. 20 For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. 21 I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged. — 2 Cor. 12:19-21

​Paul’s words here are a strong indictment of the church at Corinth. Their lifestyles reflect little or nothing of the example Jesus and Paul had set for them and for us. It sounds as though Paul is describing the worldly lifestyle and not the lifestyle that would lead us to believe that anyone there was a true follower of Christ. These are Paul’s spiritual children. So, if Paul finds these charges to be true when he arrives, he will be grieved and humbled. Humbled because his children have become an embarrassment to the family of God, Grieved because they have not repented and changed their lifestyles. Instead of repenting, they are rebelling against Paul’s teaching. When the guilty are confronted, it is a normal human reaction to try to place the blame back on the person bringing the accusation. Paul has been speaking the truth so he has no reason to defend himself. Do Paul’s words to the Corinthians describe the church of today?  More importantly, which of the sins listed are we committing in our daily lifestyle? If I am truly honest with my evaluation (and I might as well be honest, since God already knows), maybe just a little of each. Thank you, Lord, for your mercy and your forgiveness.

8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. — 1 John 1:8-10

Post 10-06-2015

Wandering Stars

even-smaller-bug-light12 I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. 3 But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.4 For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. — 2 Cor. 11:2-4 NIV

​Paul continues to warn the Corinthians about impurities in the church.  These warnings apply to us in today’s society as well.  In the first century, the people had gods of every description.  They built temples in honor of them and offered sacrifices to them. Everyone did what was right in their own minds. We have the same thing happening In our society. We are conditioned to be tolerant of the beliefs of others. While this is good from a worldly viewpoint, it leaves us open to hearing false teachings and to being bullied by those who don’t believe this.  But the down side of tolerance is that we get used to whatever we are being tolerant toward. Once we do that, we lose the ability to see it as the enemy of Jesus. Then we are open to accepting a “new” revelation, a “new: gospel and yes, a “new” Jesus. The deceptions blind us to the truth. There is only one way to heaven. That has always been true, is true today and will be true forever.

6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. — John 14:6

We must be alert and diligent to keep those teachers and teachings from being taught in our congregations. These people who sneak in and try to pervert the pure Gospel have a place reserved for them in eternity.
12 These people are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead. 13 They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever. — Jude 12, 13
Post 10-04-2015

True Love Requires Giving

even-smaller-bug-light18 I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor,so that you through his poverty might become rich. 10 And here is my judgment about what is best for you in this matter. Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. 11 Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means.  — 2 Cor. 8:8-11 NIV

​God is not impressed by the amount of money that we give.  He is impressed by the attitude that we have toward giving into His work.  We see this from the story of the widow who gave her mite. A mite is thought to be equal to about one half of one of our pennies.  Regardless of what the world thought about it’s worth, because of the attitude and the sacrifice the woman made, Jesus thought it was much more valuable than the gifts of those who gave out of their abundance.  God doesn’t need us to return a portion of the money He has allowed us to be stewards over.  He wants us to give out of love and a grateful heart.   He wants us to give with joy and hilarity because of our relationship with Him. Just as we give gifts of time and money to those around us that we love, we should offer up the best of both to Him. Would we invite a special guest to dinner and give him/her leftovers? We have the most special guest that lives with us all the time. Why do think that He is happy with our leftovers? He gave His life, we must make every effort to give Him the best of what we have simply because we love Him.
12 For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have. — 2 Cor. 8:12
Post 09/29/-2015

Born Free – Live Free

even-smaller-bug-light18 Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while— 9 yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. 10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 11 See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern,what readiness to see justice done.At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter. — 2 Cor. 7:8-11 NIV

​In his​ letters to the church at Corinth, Paul had admonished them to take corrective action against those members that were not living a Christian lifestyle  They were participating in sexual sins and not showing proper respect when taking communion. He wanted the church to be a shining light in a dark city.  Although, he spoke to them firmly, it was because he loved them as his own children and wanted to see them maturing in the faith. When we have erred, we need to accept correction from those who love us and want us to be stronger Christians. If we feel guilty and condemned, we should remember that condemnation comes from satan, not from the Lord. Condemnation is “worldy” sorrow that leads to death.  Conviction is “godly” sorrow that leads to repentance and life. When we feel convicted of an error, we ask God for His forgiveness.  We all fall down at times, but God is waiting to pick us up and restore us to Himself. It just requires us being honest with ourselves and with Him..
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. — 1 John 1:8-10 NIV
Once we have accepted God’s forgiveness for our sins, we need to forgive ourselves and move on.  We must never allow satan to use past sins to condemn us. This only leads to pain and confusion. Rejoice in the freedom that comes with confession and forgiveness and live in the truth of God’s Word.
Post 09-28-2015