Sunday, August 31, 2014

You Be The One

"You give them something to eat!"
Mark 6:37

In Mark 6 we read an interesting story which I think carries a significant message for the body of Christ. Mark tells of a time when Jesus was trying to give His disciples an opportunity to get away to a quiet place and rest. They had been so busy with people coming and going that they hadn't even had a chance to eat. So they got in a boat and were heading off to a secluded place by themselves. However, the crowd saw them going and got there ahead of them. When Jesus saw the crowd, He had compassion on them and began to teach them many things. Now here is where Jesus tries to get His disciples to learn an important message about how they see themselves.

It was getting late and the disciples wanted Jesus to send the crowd away so the people could go buy themselves something to eat. However, Jesus said, "You give them something to eat!" Of course we know the rest of the story, He multiplied the loaves and fishes from a little boy's lunch and fed the crowd of five thousand. The point is, Jesus knew His disciples needed to begin to see themselves as ones who could access heaven for others, and not just watch Jesus meet everyone's needs all the time. He told them 'you meet the need!'

There are times we need the comfort and ministering from others in the body of Christ, but there are also times that we need to get past what we are going through and see ourselves as the ones with the answers for others. If you know how to pray for yourself, then you know how to pray for others. If you know what it's like to feel hungry, as the disciples were at that moment, then you can have compassion on others going through the same thing. This compassion leads the way to the miraculous. Sometimes we just need to stop focusing on our own stuff, and ask the Lord what He would have us do to help other people.

The Lord doesn't want you to fall into the trap of seeing yourself as a powerless Christian who has too many faults, shortcomings, or problems to be able to help anyone else. You have the Greater One living in you and He has the answers to everything! Don't think that you have to be perfect before God can use you to minister to others. Nothing would ever get done if that were the case! You can do, as David did, and strengthen yourself in the Lord. (1 Samuel 30:6). Let's not be like those who leech off our pastors, friends and others we esteem in the Lord, by looking for them to counsel us, pray with us, or encourage us all the time. Instead let's be like Jesus and minister life wherever we go. Let's free up our pastor's time so he can minister to those who are in a more desperate situation than we are at the moment. In fact, maybe we can pray for our pastor, send him an encouraging note, say something that brings a breath of fresh air to him, rather than another complaint or problem. You know when you do, the Lord will take care of your needs very well. If you need help, by all means ask for it, but just get ready for the times when the Lord smiles at you and says, "you be the one."

Friday, August 29, 2014

Border Patrol

Like a city that is broken into and without walls
is a man who has no control over his spirit.
Proverbs 25:28

We're living in a moment where borders are becoming blurred. Currently, there is an invasion going in in Iraq causing the disintegration of some of their geographic border. Of course this is what wars are usually fought over--land, and as in this case, religion. This war brings out a point of what happens in a spiritual war. All Christians are involved in a war against the enemy of our souls. He would try and infiltrate 'lands' that are not geographic. The most basic of these being the human spirit. He will attempt to gain control by trying to penetrate the borders of our thoughts and minds.

If a person does not guard the border of his mind and thoughts, every deceptive thought that comes along will affect his spirit. He is not protected and eventually loses ground. The Scripture above says if you have no control over your own spirit then you are like a city that is broken into and without walls. Losing control of your own spirit can be prevented by guarding your thoughts. By not guarding your thoughts and protecting what you allow into your mind, you end up suffering invasion and all that invasion brings, such as loss and violence. We suffer loss when our hopes, dreams and provision are lost. We suffer violence when we're invaded with sickness and other calamities. And on and on it goes because the enemy will take as much ground as he is allowed to. So how do we stop this invasion?

Borders are defined lines--points which are not to be moved. These borders are established already for us. They were set by the Creator. They are natural standards of truth set by God. The Word of God defines these borders for us. We're not to move them. Proverbs 22:28 says not to move the ancient boundary which your fathers have set. These are truths that are meant to be passed down from generation to generation. We're to live our lives according to these truths. We're to guard our borders, our thoughts, by keeping them in line with this truth, and as a result we retain control of our spirit, our lives. Once we regain control over our own spirit, we can willingly yield to God and His commands. 

There are many thoughts that come to you that sound so good. However the Bible tells us to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. This is a weapon of ours! Thoughts contrary to the knowledge of God and Christ are invasive weeds that want to gain ground in your life. How much clutter is in your time, your home, and your finances? What has invaded your life and robbed you of your land, keeping you from fulfilling your dreams and your call? What has stolen your provision, your time, your space and your peace? Identity the invaders! Weed out those things that are trying to steal from you. This is an ongoing thing we always need to be aware of. It's not a one-time weeding. Make room for the seed of God's Word instead of invasive, cluttering thoughts so your destiny can spring up in the fullness of God!

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

Let the I AM replace your AM I!

God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM"; 
and He said, "Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, 
"I AM has sent me to you."
Exodus 3:14

Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was born, "I am."
John 8:58

When trying to live a "good christian life" people often fall into the am I crisis. Not I Am, but Am I. This is the conflict that occurs when we try to live how we think we should, but don't feel like we are doing very well. We're not exactly sure how to judge how we're doing. We ask ourselves, am I doing this right? Am I doing enough for the kingdom? Am I loving like I should? Am I fulfilling the purpose the Lord has for me? Am I, am I, am I! 

We might ask ourselves, "Who am I?" What is my title in God's kingdom? What job do I have? What is my place and position? We might even compare ourselves with those that seem to be doing so much for the Lord and feel that we don't measure up, and can't see how we ever could. This is the am I crisis and God has a solution for it!

When God spoke to Moses to go tell His people that God was sending him to deliver them from their slavery, Moses asked God who should he say is sending him? God said to tell them I AM has sent you. So God called Himself, I AM. God is. He doesn't struggle to be God, He is God. Jesus also said, "before Abraham was born, I am." 

The Bible tells us in Colossians 3:3, "For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God." As a believer in Jesus Christ, you are dead to your own life and hidden with Christ in God. This is your identity--dead to self, hidden in Christ. Your identity is found in the I AM. It's not found in the 'I should be, or I want to be."' The 'shoulds' and want-to's' are not who you are! You are hidden in the I AM. So what does this mean?

It means first of all, not to judge yourself according to what you think you should be doing in order to be a "good" Christian. You are in Christ and you are where you are in your life today for a reason. Don't struggle to be something you are not, but rather live out your identity in Christ right where you are. Start today. Look at your job, your family, your position in life as the high calling that it is. Hide yourself in the I AM today as you go through your day.

Next, trust Him to guide your path. As it says in Proverbs 3:5-6, trust in the Lord with all your heart, don't try to figure things out, acknowledge Him in all your ways and He will make your paths straight. When you quit feeling guilty for not doing what you think you should be doing, but let the I AM live through you, acknowledging Him in everything, then your path will lead to where you need to go. 

Today, look at your day with joy, not drudgery, and keep your thoughts on the I AM, shining Him into every place you go and everything you do!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Cobblestone Roads

"If you want to do something for your country then rebuild the cobblestone roads."

I had a dream the other night that someone said those words to me. If you want to do something for your country then rebuild the cobblestone roads. I know. I thought the same thing--what does that mean? So, of course, I did a little research on cobblestone roads. This is what I found.

Cobblestones are smooth round stones that have been rounded by the flow of water. They are typically set in sand to make roads and sometimes bound together with mortar. Cobblestone roads are durable enough that they allow a road to be used for heavy traffic all year round. The design helps prevent the ruts so typically found in dirt roads, yet doesn't get muddy in wet weather or dusty in dry weather. They move with the ground and therefore don't crack when the ground moves due to weather changes.

The first thing that stood out to me are the smooth, round stones. The Bible talks about five smooth stones in the story of David and Goliath. David had gathered five smooth stones from the brook to use against the enemy of God's people. He refused to wear the armor that was offered to him, but chose instead that which he was familiar with--faith in God. God had delivered him before from both the lion and the bear and David knew God would deliver him this time as well. He said, "For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?" David wasn't trusting in himself, his skill, or his stones, but in God.

Another thing about cobblestone roads is that they move and therefore do not crack when the ground shifts. When we try and build a road that is too rigid, too strict, or too defined it will crack under the pressure. As we allow room for the stones to move and breathe it will hold up under much stress. We must remain flexible enough to sense the shifting of the seasons and move with the Lord as He does.

What does this have to do with our country? When a country is built with faith in God as a foundation and is flexible enough to allow people to worship the Lord and follow Him as they sense His leading, it will hold up under much stress and pressure for many years to come., retrieved 8/9/2014; 1 Samuel 17:26