Monday, April 30, 2012

Blessings and Curses

But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. Genesis 19:26 (NKJV)

Looking back is all it took to change Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt. This does seem to be a harsh penalty, but looking back will prevent looking forward. If we do not see a future in our mind, we will never move forward.

The Bible was originally in two languages, Greek, and Hebrew. It has since, been translated into several languages so we can read it in our native tongue. The Old Testament, written before the time of Jesus, was in Hebrew. The New Testament was originally in Greek. The verse at the top comes from Hebrew.

In the Scripture above, the English word, “looked”, comes from the Hebrew word, “naw-bat’”.  According to the Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew words *, this word means, “to look intently at---by implication to regard with favor or care”. It seems that Lot’s wife did not want to leave her past behind.

While I studied the verse above, I pictured in my mind, Lot’s wife looking back towards the city. As I pondered this, another Hebrew word came to mind; the word, “kaw-lal’”. This word means the exact opposite of what Lot’s wife did. Kaw-lal’* means, “to make light---to give no attention”.  In Scripture, this word is often translated to the English word, “curse”.

Coming from a past of horrible mistakes, this message is powerful to me. I have had to curse my old life. I give no attention to the old me before Christ---what I was has now become meaningless. I give attention to my new life in Christ. The Bible says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)

That is not all. When Jesus made us a new creation, he imparted us with wisdom (1 Cor. 1:30). Maybe God has given you a dream. As you meditate on God’s promises, and the dream God has given you, the wisdom of God will flow into your ideas. What you give attention to will be your blessing.

Forget your past---your future is wonderful. God wants to use you for something. If you do not have a dream yet, focus on your future with God---He will give you a dream!

Be Blessed!
* Strong’s Greek and Hebrew Dictionary, copyright 1890 by JAMES STRONG, MADISON, NJ. Strong’s numbers, naw-bat’-H5027, kaw-lal’-H7043

Monday, April 23, 2012

Three Cords

Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NKJV)

If you are anything like me, you have, at one time or another allowed your busy life to keep you from connecting with God. I would attend church on Sunday and re-charge like a battery. As I left the service, I would simply leave my faith at church and struggle through another week of existence.

The challenges of life would seem to get more and more overwhelming and then one day, I had this brilliant idea---I should try praying. The more time I spent praying, the more real the presence of God became. I did a lot of driving in the work that I did, I just imagined Jesus beside me as I drove. I talked and talked and talked. It became very clear that Jesus listened, as He would respond to my petitions. Life’s challenges were still difficult at times, but not usually overwhelming---I began to feel life might be worth living after all.

By taking advantage of prayer, His presence became more evident all of the time. However, something was still missing. I knew He would put thoughts in my mind occasionally, but I wanted to listen to Him talk. I wanted to hear Him, as I would a best friend. After all, is it not a relationship?

I soon discovered that many ministries offer daily devotions that they will send to your email. Thank God for smart phones. I wake up a little earlier and before my feet hit the floor, I grab my phone and read my devotions. From time to time, I end up making chicken tracks through Scripture. Something in a devotional triggers a thought. WOW---the Bible really is alive. Life becomes worth living.

If you call on the name of Jesus, you become a child of God. That is all it takes---receive Jesus, and you are born-again. However, if you are born-again, you may not be taking advantage of everything salvation has to offer.

The moment you receive Christ, you obtain everlasting life (John 3:16). Maybe you attend church once a week and appreciate this gift. Even so, you may not enjoy your life. You may just want to get on with life in heaven.

If you add prayer to your life, you will gain strength to stand through life’s battles. You will know that God is real, and he will protect you from total defeat. Life improves but you may still desire more.

What you really need is power. Power is something you acquire through continual two-way communication with Jesus. Power is the explosives you pack into a bomb. Power is when you turn the table completely around in a battle. You gain territory. You not only win the battle---you come home with the plunder. You begin to enjoy life, even this one here on earth.

Attend a good Church, pray continually, and make time to study your Bible. Church---prayer---Bible study, twine them together and you have a rope that is not easily broken. Salvation is more than just life---it is life more abundantly (John 10:10).

Be Blessed!

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Disciple Jesus Loved

1 John 4:19 (NKJV) We love Him because He first loved us.

The apostle John, one of the New Testament authors, had an amazing love for God. In the Gospel of John, this disciple calls himself, “the disciple whom Jesus loved”. He repeated this five times.

The first mention, John 13:23 says, “Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.” The second mention, John 19:26, John was at the base of the cross while Jesus was crucified. The next time John identifies himself this way, he was racing towards the empty tomb after Mary told them Jesus was missing (John 20:2).

Then the last two times, John 21:7 and 20, John was the first to recognize the Lord, and then, John was following Jesus as He talked with Peter, for no apparent reason other than to be close to Him. On each of these five occasions, John demonstrated a love for Jesus. Why did this disciple call himself the disciple whom Jesus loved?

It seems to me, if my grandson leans on my bosom, it expresses his love for me---not necessarily the other way around. God’s love is different from the worlds love. As you experience the love of God in your life, you will experience the power of God flowing through you. These five situations demonstrate the results of knowing God’s love for us. John later revealed this in 1John 4:19. He said, “We love Him because He first loved us.”

Get to know God’s love for you; it will transform you into an expression of His love.

Be Blessed!

Monday, April 09, 2012

The face of God

1 Peter 3:12 (NKJV) For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." 

At first notice, the passage above has a great message. When you connect this verse with another Scripture, the message is even better.

In the Old Testament, there is a book called Ezekiel. This book has some very unusual visions that can only be understood by connecting them to other Scripture. A prophet describes a vision of four creatures in Ezekiel, chapters 1 and 10. The four creatures are born again believers; I can explain that in another post. For now, I want to bring some light to the Scripture at the top.

The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:21, born again believers are the righteousness of God. The passage at the top says, "the Eyes of the Lord are on the righteous"---Ezekiel 10:12 says, "And their whole body, with their back, their hands, their wings, and the wheels that the four had, were full of eyes all around." I like how the NLT version of the Bible puts it, "The cherubim [creatures] had eyes all over their bodies, including their hands, their backs, and their wings." The prophet Ezekiel was saying, the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous.

The verse at the top goes on to say, "His [God's] ears are open to their prayers"---Ezekiel 10:5 says, "And the sound of the wings of the cherubim was heard even in the outer court, like the voice of Almighty God when He speaks." Ezekiel was saying, our prayers are likened to the voice of God. This is because we are children of God. When we pray, our Father hears us as His own kindred.

The passage at the top then says, "the face of the Lord is against those who do evil"---Ezekiel 1:6 tells us, "Each one had four faces." Ezekiel 1:10says "As for the likeness of their faces, each had the face of a man; each of the four had the face of a lion on the right side, each of the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and each of the four had the face of an eagle."

The four faces were the faces of Jesus. The face of man is Jesus as a man (Mat. 9:6), the face of a lion is Jesus as King (Mat. 27:11), the face of an ox is Jesus as a sacrifice (Eph. 5:2), and the face of the Eagle is Jesus as the Spirit of God (Joh. 14:26). This means, when those that do evil look at us, they see Jesus.

Now let's see the deeper meaning of the Scripture at the top. First, the eyes of God are literally upon you, part of you, and will always be watching you. Second, when God hears you, he hears His child, and He hears you loud and clear. Third, when the enemy looks at you, he sees Jesus. He is reminded how much your heavenly Father loves you.

Be Blessed!

Monday, April 02, 2012

A cigarette break.

Romans 8:38-39 (NKJV), "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

A few years back when I smoked cigarettes, I would smoke about twenty to twenty-five a day. If you calculate at eight to ten minutes for each cigarette, that translates to about two or three hours a day smoking cigarettes. At the time, I did not understand grace so every time that I lit up, I separated myself from God. If I only had ten minutes and had to make a choice to pray or smoke, I would have a smoke. I did not think it was right to do both. I felt it would be disrespectful to God.

I know now, no bad habit should separate us from God. In fact, I think if I had talked with Him, as I would with a friend over a coffee and cigarette, He would have been unhindered to work on me. He would have broken that bondage. I even believe, from my experience of other broken bondages, I would have found myself just forgetting to light up!

We seem to get this idea that we can make ourselves holy enough---by not sinning---to enter the presence of God in prayer. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In the Old Testament, a priest would have to go through a week-long process, and numerous animal sacrifices, just to enter the presence of God on behalf of all the people. (Ex. 29:35--37).

The Bible says in Hebrews 4:16, "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Notice that it says, "in time of need". If you are having a cigarette, and you would like to quit, is that not the time of need?

We have a miss-conception that we have to prepare ourselves to enter into the presence of God. We could never do it. God has clothed us in the righteousness of Jesus so that we can come boldly to the throne of grace. Any other righteousness would fall short. He did this so we can fellowship with Him continually. I talk to God continually, through-out my day now. whether I feel righteous or not.

Maybe you have some other habit that separates you from God. It could be a bad temper, foul language or even a drug, alcohol, or food addiction. Whatever the case, do not let it separate you from God. He wants to free you, He can only help if you are connected to Him.

Jesus came to set the captives free (Lu. 4:18). Let Him set you free. If you are like me, you can't do it on your own. Put your feet up and relax. If you want to respect God, talk to Him like He is your closest friend that you can share anything with at anytime.

Be Blessed!