Friday, February 28, 2014

Jephthah's Daughter

" to me as you have said,"
Jephthath's daughter
Judges 11:36

In Judges 11 we read a story of Jephthath, the ninth judge of Israel. He made a vow to the Lord that if the Lord would make him victorious in the battle, he would sacrifice whatever first came out of his home to greet him when he returned from battle. To his horror, his one and only child--his daughter--was the first to come out of his house to greet him, she came with tambourines and dancing. He told her the problem, the vow, and how he could not go back on his word to the Lord. Can you imagine her reaction?

Surprisingly, her response was, "My father, you have given your word to the Lord; do to me as you have said, since the Lord has avenged you of your enemies, the sons of Ammon." No arguments, no running away, she simple accepted the fact that her father had given his word and this is what must be done. What kind of faith is this that a person might so willingly accept that whatever is due to the Lord must be given at all costs? This girl knew that she was not the center of the universe--the world didn't revolve around her. Her life, her plans, her future, her hopes and dreams were all subject to the Lord in a moment's notice. We don't even know her name.

She asked one thing of her father, ..."let me alone two months, that I may go to the mountains and weep because of my virginity, I and my companions." Not only did she accept herself as the sacrifice, but she wanted to mourn the fact that she wouldn't be giving her father any grandchildren, so she could be the sacrifice with a joyful heart free from regret. When her father first came home she met him with tambourines and dancing and I believe she wanted to return to that joy she had the moment before she found out what was required of her. If she was to be the sacrifice for the Lord, she would be the best--the lamb without spot or blemish.

She didn't run away, she returned after the two months, was still a virgin, and the vow was performed. It even became a custom in Israel that the daughters of Israel "went yearly to commemorate" her "four days in the year." This may have been four days of mourning and soul searching in the mountains. How could we benefit from four days of solitary soul-searching, making sure our hearts are full of joy and rejoicing concerning all things required of us from the Lord--even the tough things that we might naturally try to pray for escape from? Some alone-time with God might be just what we need to clear our heart from whatever we need to let go of, so we can joyfully do His will!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Plan For Your Purpose!

Remember the old saying, "If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it does it still make a sound?" I think the speculation was meant to be scientific, but the debate might lead us to ask ourselves, how important are the things we say? Or you could take that thought further and ask how important are the things we do? Better yet, how important is it for other people to hear what I say and see what I do? Is it enough for just God to witness what we do with our lives? 

I recently read a book where the author quoted an actress in a movie giving a response to someone who asked her what the point of marriage is. Her answer was, "We need a witness to our lives...what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage you're promising to care about everything. You're saying, "Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness.""* Of course not everyone is married, and that's fine, however, we still need other people. If everything we do and say is only for the Lord, then He wouldn't have put us here together on this planet. He wouldn't have made families, cities and countries. He wants us to develop relationships and learn to love and share with each other.

What is our purpose? In the beginning He said to be fruitful and multiply---to make more people. Jesus said to go and make disciples. Yes, our purpose is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, but also to love our neighbor as ourselves. There is a way for you to connect with other people. It might be through family, or church, or your job, ministry, neighborhood etc. Somehow, somewhere there is a group of people God wants you to connect with.

Your life matters. It means something. You matter. You mean something. What you say and do is important. Your relationships are important. Your life has purpose, not just to God, but to us here on earth. We need you to fulfill your purpose. We need you and your gift here in the earth. Seek the Lord for the next step in your destiny. Start planning for your purpose!

*The Insidious Dance by Jim Banks.  Copyright 2013 House of Healing Ministries. Quoting from the 2004 movie, Shall We Dance.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Snowy Grace!

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, 
and do not return there without watering the earth...
So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth..." 
Isaiah 55:10-1

We've had a lot of snow this year in Michigan. Everywhere you look there are piles of snow. We normally have a "January thaw" where the temperatures warm up enough so most of it melts, so in the Spring we don't end up with a flood. However this year we didn't get a January thaw either. I'm wondering what the Spring is going to look like!

Snow is water--frozen water--that is stored until the ground is ready to receive it. This water which we need to make the earth bring forth fruit, is just waiting for the ground to be ready. It's the cold which keeps it frozen and the cold which is keeping the ground hard. When there are tough, "cold," times in your life be sure to allow the Son to soften your heart so you remain open to the Word of God. Because when you do, the flood of God's provision will come and cause you to produce the fruit you are called to produce. 

Snow is like God's grace. He's waiting for us, waiting for our hearts to soften so we can receive His Words. Even if we're not ready yet, its waiting for us to get ready. The tough times are not bad, they are holding God's grace and provision for you until the proper season! Let the Son shine!

Thanks to my pastor, Richard Crisco, for inspiring this blog!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Year of Methuselah

I hesitated to put this post up, but with the passing of Bob Jones I felt that I needed to go ahead with it. I have had four people I personally know pass away since the first of this year. In addition to that, my church has had four funerals just this week. This includes my spiritual mother and other long-time saints--godly and righteous people in the faith. I questioned the Lord about so many deaths and I believe I heard Him say, "The year of Methuselah." 

Methuselah is the son of Enoch and grandfather of Noah. He is the one in the Bible that is recorded as living the longest--969 years. When the Lord said, "the year of Methuselah." I know from my studies years ago that Methuselah died the year of the flood. I never believed he died IN the flood and through my recent research it doesn't look like most Bible scholars believe that either. 

What I believe the Lord is saying, is that there are many godly, righteous people He is taking home to be with Him prior to a major "flood" He is about to bring. I don't know why He prefers these people to be with Him, but looking at the caliber of people who are dying I don't think it speaks negatively on their part. I think God is getting ready to do something big and He is positioning His people to prepare for that.

We don't read much in the Bible about Methuselah. His name means "man of a dart." It comes from a word meaning a missile of attack--like a spear, or a shoot of growth--like a branch. Some say his name means "his death will bring judgement." That's a little scary and I'm not sure how reliable that is, however God's judgments are the best of all and we can rest assured that God loves and protects His people and we have nothing to fear when we abide in Him.

I would encourage you to ask the Lord yourself what this means, as I shared it with a friend of mine she gave me the Scripture, Isaiah 57:1-2, about the righteous who perish and no one takes it to heart. It's time to press in and seek Him in a way like never before and find out our positioning in the body of Christ.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Life in the Garden

"...when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, 
so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches."
Matthew 13:32

A beautiful and well-functioning garden will have a variety of plants.

It will have the aged plants, such as trees that have been around a long time. These plants bring stability, shelter, protection. They give insight because their vision is greater because of their stature. They are a landmark, providing guidance and boundaries.

A garden will also have new growth. The fresh and new tastes and smells bring new hope and joy. However, these new and tender plants need the protection of the old. If the old is critical of the new, the garden will eventually die. The new plants need to be nourished properly or there may be defects in them when they become aged plants. However, God's grace is so great that He can turn the faults into unique identities.

A garden will also have the middle growth plants that are in between the old and the new. This is where a lot of the provision will come from. The day in and day out function of the garden will be here. When immature they may not understand that the fruit they produce will provide for the old and the new, however as their fruit matures they will see it. 

Not only is the garden full of living plants, but creatures such as birds. For the new growth, the birds are a threat. Birds will devour the new seed that is not protected, thinking its food for them. But when the seed is cultivated--nourished and protected--it will grow and the birds are no longer a threat. As the seed turns into a plant that bears fruit, it feeds the very birds that tried to devour it. Now, because of its maturity, the birds can eat the fruit from the plant without killing it. The plant needs to give, and the birds provide that opportunity. Then, as a full grown tree, it provides a nesting place--a home--for the birds. The seed which was once threatened becomes a home to the very thing that threatened it simply because it was nourished, protected and grew into maturity where it could fulfill it's purpose. 

What an awesome example the garden is of God's Kingdom.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Way

"...And you know the way where I am going."
Jesus, John 14:4

Jesus told His disciples that He was leaving them and going to prepare a place for them. He told them that they know the way there. Thomas said they didn't know where He was going so how could they know the way! To that Jesus answered that He is the way, the truth and the life. 

The disciples were thinking they had to know where He was going before they could know the way to get there. What they didn't consider, is that not only is Jesus the way, but He is the destination. He is our living destination! Jesus went on to tell them to abide in Him. We must remain in Him. Jesus is not a vehicle we use to arrive at a certain place. He is the place we are seeking. When we find Him, we must stay there--in Him. When we do, we will be with Him wherever He is. What a joy!

Friday, February 7, 2014

God's Happy Meals

"Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple,
and breaking bread from house to house,
they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, "
Acts 2:46

This is just me, but I think our food becomes healthier to us when we receive it with thankfulness, joy and fellowship with others. Having a grateful heart towards the Lord for providing for us, sharing His goodness with others, and the joy that both of those things bring, I believe, makes the food we eat more nourishing. Maybe our bodies absorb the nutrients better, I don't know, but the Bible does say that a joyful heart is good medicine! (Proverbs 17:22).

Another thing happens when we share meals together, it unites us. When you share a meal with others, there's a connecting or a bonding going on. The food we eat makes up who we are, so maybe by eating the same food together it contributes to us becoming one. The Bible does say not to eat with a person who says they are a Christian yet they are still practicing sinful behavior, so something significant happens when we share meals with other believers, (1 Corinthians 5:11). 

Not only does it matter who we eat with, but what we eat is important too. The culinary artist is often pressured to conform to unhealthy appetites. A true culinary artist cares for the body, physically as well as spiritually, and creates a healthy atmosphere beginning with healthy food. However, it's a struggle to prepare meals for those who don't appreciate the taste of wholesome, healthy, food. I say we explore all of the good food God has put on the planet, sharing what we find with others, and nurture a healthy appetite so we can truly be thankful for all the Lord has provided for us. Let's develop our taste discernment so we recognize, and appreciate, what's truly good.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Bigger Dreams!

Are you worried that the task set before you to do is too much? Are you looking for ways to downsize your dreams? Rather than cutting back and scaling down your dreams, dream bigger! Set your sights higher, because you must realize that you need the Lord to make it happen. As long as you think your dreams and purpose in life are something that you are going to make happen then it won't work right. If you think that what He has purposed for you to do in life must not be that big because you're "just you," then you're still thinking that you are going to have to "control" it. No! The sooner you realize you need Him and you can never fulfill your purpose without Him, the sooner your dreams will begin to germinate and grow into something amazing. He wants it to be beyond what you can handle yourself because He is going to get glorified by it, and you need to be the first one to worship and glorify Him while your dreams are growing and coming to fruition.

"Let your light shine before men
in such a way that they may see your good works,
 and glorify your Father who is in heaven." 
Jesus, Matthew 5:16.