Sunday, January 29, 2017
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:”
A while back, I was asked if God would even save Hitler, and I was stumped at the time, The plain case of the theology is that he would, and that is disturbing to our hearts. But what I've learned out of listening to Spurgeon is the glory it would have brought to Jesus if Hitler had been saved.
To be disturbed by the idea of Hitler being saved is to fall back on the idea that we are saved by works, and because Hitler's works were so evil, he could not be saved as we can. The simple truth is, every sin is treason against a Holy God, and therefore, our sins are just as black as Hitler's in God's eyes. However, in our own eyes, Hitler was worse than we are, so what glory would it have brought to Jesus to see Hitler saved.
What if we had seen Hitler so changed that he spend the rest of his life trying to restore the Jews that he had so persecuted? Would that have brought Glory to Jesus to see him so changed? What if he had worked to restore Israel? What if he had worked as a missionary among the Gypsys, bringing them to Christ and seeing them whole and restored? What if he had worked to restore and rebuild Europe, and to see the people saved, happy, and free? Would that have brought glory to Jesus?
Would it bring him glory to say, "Look, I am so powerful that I restored even that one? I am so loving, that I loved even him? I am so righteous that my blood was poured out for even his crimes? My love is sufficient to provide love in even his heart? I can make even that one good?"
Friday, January 27, 2017
Check out Greater New Hope Family Services of Portland, Oregon by clicking HERE
Their Mission Statement is as follows:
Our mission is to be the premier faith based provider of family and support services for the metropolitan Portland Oregon community. By applying the principles of outreach, love, mercy and grace we will reach “at risk” youth and families with a message of redemption and recovery that will reunite and strengthen families in order to provide a sound spiritual basis for sustainable growth.
5 When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?
6 And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.
7 Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.
When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, "Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?" He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
Philip answered him, "Eight months' wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!" (John 6:5-7)
This passage is an amazing lesson on learning on Who to depend. Jesus is the source of our provision and on our healing and He wants us to know that. There is a natural element to the provision and though it is not an impossibility, Philip's response to Jesus' question shows how difficult the problem can be. It was certainly possible for the disciples to by natural methods - the purchase of sufficient food - feed the crowd. It would just be a mind boggling task and actually beyond their means.
When we question if God is willing to supply our needs, and yes, that means provide for our physical healing, He wants us to know beyond any doubt that not only is He able and willing, He is eager to answer our prayers.
Philip could have answered two ways. "Lord, it's beyond me to know how to feed them all. It is beyond our financial means so if they are going to be fed, it's going to be up to You to provide."
Instead, he said, in essence, "Lord, it's beyond anything we can afford to do. I fear they are just going to have to go hungry."
When the doctor tells you that the disease you have is not curable, God is waiting to see how you are going to respond to the news. "Lord, it is beyond our human hope so it is up to You to provide the healing." We might say, God is chomping at the bit just waiting for us to say "Father, do this for me."
If this has inspired you, please share it!
Tuesday, January 24, 2017
Let's talk a little about being specific in our requests to God and expecting specific answers. At first that idea might seem a little (or more than a little) presumptuous and perhaps even demanding or arrogant. After all, here we are asking the King of the Universe and asking for something very specific. We want this and we want nothing else. That rather reminds me of a new job I started quite a few years ago. They asked me what kind of company car I wanted. I want a Ford Taurus. A red one. Well I got the Taurus, but it was not red. It was a bland beige color. So much for my specific request.
Now I could approach God with a request but not wanting to offend Him or seem pushy and demanding, I could say, "Father I want......... well whatever You want for me." He might answer; "what do you want son?" (He calls me 'son') "Lord I want..... but, I don't want to be demanding, so I just want..... well, Father, just Your Will. You know what I have need of."
You know, there are times when that's the best thing we can ask of Him. Sometimes it's good to just approach Him with the request, "just whatever You have for me today. I know it will be great." Jesus taught us to be specific and He taught us emphatically to be specific in our requests. With His emphasis on being specific, it's only right to expect that to mean, if I ask God for something specific, that's what I am expecting to receive. Nothing else. Nothing less. Nothing different. I know it is sometimes said from a well meaning heart, but personally, I am having more and more difficulty being receptive to the common response "well you know God sometimes answers in ways different from what we pray for." Or "God may not always give us just what we pray for or in the way we pray for them."
Of course I know the thought behind the sayings but as I wrote in a different post, I think we can use that as sort of a "Plan B." If we pray for something and we do not receive it, then "God does not always answer in the way we want." Before anyone charges me with teaching bad theology, hear me out. Let's look at some Scripture.
"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" (Matt 7:9-12)
Well God may give us "good gifts". Great. What are "good gifts"? If we read the WHOLE passage, what did the son ask for? Bread. What's a good gift? An apple? A carrot stick? A cracker? There is nothing wrong with any of those but they are not what the son asked for. Jesus is in no way implying that a father who's son has asked for bread will receive anything other than bread.
As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. 30 Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!"
31 The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!"
32 Jesus stopped and called them. "What do you want me to do for you?" he asked.
33 "Lord," they answered, "we want our sight."
34 Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him. (Matt 20:29-34)
Jesus asked the blind men, "what do you want?" They answered "we want to receive our sight." They had a specific need and a specific request. By our modern reasoning, we might say, "Jesus knows what is best for them and maybe receiving their sight is not what He has chosen for them for maybe He has something better which will come from their blindness." Would we say that? Sometimes we hear it said.
Once when I was unemployed I asked God for a job. Actually that has happened more than once but that's another testimony. During that time period I prayed for a Job in general, meaning I wanted employment, but specifically I wanted a job in my career field. Actually I don't recall using the specific words in my prayers that I wanted a job in my career field but that was my heart's desire.
Receiving a job could have consisted of a number of different types of jobs, including flipping burgers and offering frys, or working on a road crew sweeping roads or something of the sort. Well, those would have been jobs and if God sometimes answers our prayers in ways which are different from what we have prayed for, those would certainly be different for me. Of course, I did not want anything like that for a job. I wanted a job in my career field. Doing something I had been trained for, had a natural talent for and a lot of experience at and felt the most home in.
Now as to the part of God not always answering in quite the way we expect or pray for, yes. That happens. During that period of job seeking, I came across four (you've heard this story from me already. I know. I'm sorry to repeat myself but I am not sorry to repeat the lesson.) For each of those particular job leads, as the interviewing process went on and the positions (one at a time, not all at the same time) looked more and more like they were perfect fits for me, I prayed specifically for each one that I would get the job. I was very specific in my petitions to God even naming the companies as I worked to exercise my faith and claim His promises that the jobs would be mine. I did not get any of those jobs.
So you are correct, God sometimes answers in ways which are different from what we pray for. But, there is a bigger point. That is, God does answer our specific prayers. What was my specific prayer? That I would get a job. And more importantly that the job (though as I said, I don't recall if I actually included in the conscious prayer that it be in my career field) that it was indeed in my career field. The job I did receive was in my career field. And, it was a great company to work for. I prayed for a job. That was my requesting my Heavenly Father for bread, and He did not give me a stone. Nor a snake. He gave me the bread I had asked for.
If I am praying for the healing of someone else, I can pray, "Lord heal them but have Your Way". Or "Lord heal them" and think, well maybe He has other plans for the situation. Perhaps He will use their not receiving a physical healing for His Glory. Or, maybe this is His Will that they receive "the ultimate healing", you know what that means.
That's not what I prayed for. I prayed for their healing. Is it God's Will to heal them? What was God's Will when the two blind men approached Jesus and asked Him to restore their sight? He healed them and restored their sight.
God will always have His will and His way in all situations regarding us and our lives. We too easily think that when we ask for healing, for ourselves or someone else that it's probably not God's will to heal them. Or ourselves. Why do we think that way? Honestly, I believe it is an out for our unbelief. We're just not sure God will heal and thus we want some answer to fall back on if the healing does not occur. And, with that sort of disbelief, we probably will not be disappointed.
Let me summarize it this way. If I am praying for something for myself, for a loved one or anyone, I want to have one and only one expectation. If you ask me to pray for healing I will expect only one answer from God. I really want to make sure that I do not fall into the all too common practice of saying or even thinking "of course you know sometimes God answers in ways which are different from what we pray." If that is my expectation before I begin praying, why should I even bother? What happens will happen so why bother praying? "If a man's son asks for bread will his father give him a stone?"
If this has inspired you, please share it!
Sunday, January 22, 2017
“And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”
When we think about having just a little faith, which is enough faith to move those mountains, the mustard seed comes to mind. I like to think of a different faith picture. Faith which is the size of a man's hand. "What's that all about, Dan?"
If we have faith, and that is faith to any degree, even as Jesus used the figure of speech to say "as little as the size of a mustard seed" and as faith is the opposite of doubt, then if we have faith, we do not have doubt. That's enough faith to accomplish what we are believing for. Well, I didn't say it. Jesus did. I'll take His word for it and that's good enough for me.
Interestingly though, sometimes faith can be something seen. "That does go against the definition of faith, Dan. The Bible says that 'faith is the evidence of things not seen'." That is true, but when we see God's hand at work in a situation, our initial sight shows something very small. Something of minuscule importance and effect on the scale of the magnitude of the need. Consider Elijah's opinion on the smallest of the sign and what that tiny sign really meant to the whole of the miracle.
"Go and look toward the sea," he told his servant. And he went up and looked.
"There is nothing there," he said.
Seven times Elijah said, "Go back."
The seventh time the servant reported, "A cloud as small as a man's hand is rising from the sea."
So Elijah said, "Go and tell Ahab, 'Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.'"
Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain came on and Ahab rode off to Jezreel. (1 Kings 18:43-46)
Elijah prayed. He saw nothing of an answer to his prayer. He prayed again. Still, he saw nothing. Again and again. Seven times in all. Finally, did he see rain? No. All that was seen was a tiny cloud. Now think about that the next dry spell of the summer and when you are really hoping for rain. Go look at the tiny clouds in the sky? Do they shout "rain" to you? Hardly.
That was not what Elijah saw. When we pray for a miracle in our lives we may not always immediately see the answer. In fact, we may have to pray again. And again. And again. Remember, Jesus told us to do that anyhow. What do we have to see to know that the answer is on the way? The deluge of rainfall? That's what we are praying for, after all. No. We just need to see the tiny cloud. Once the tiny cloud is seen, the rain is on the way.
If this has inspired you, please share it!
Saturday, January 21, 2017
'In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, "This is what the Lord says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover."' (2 Kings 20:1)
Hezekiah had been given a death sentence. He had just been given what is the equivalent of the message from the doctor who says, "I am sorry. This particular type of cancer you have cannot be cured. The expected life expectancy of your stage is six to nine months." Those are the words he had heard from the prophet Isaiah. "The sickness you have has no cure. You will not recover." We heard the same message from my bride's oncologist. According to him we could expect another six to nine months for her to live. According to the prophet, Hezekiah may have had only a few more days. The Scripture does not tell us how soon Hezekiah would die.
Hezekiah was faced with two paths he could follow. Since God said "you are going to die and not live" Hezekiah could have taken the path which is so easy for any of us to take. Regret, disappointment, sorrow over his life to be now cut short.
My bride and I were faced with two paths we could follow. Since the doctor had told us that there was no cure for her disease, we could feel the same emotions. She would not see the grandkids grown and married and starting families of their own. She would never see her great grandkids. We would not enjoy our Christmases and other family holidays together. We would not be able to do any of the things we had long enjoyed doing together. Instead, we would care for her as her health slowly failed and finally, I would have to think about making funeral plans.
Hezekiah did not accept that prognosis. Yes, it was from God that he had heard that he was going to die, but he did not accept that statement. The Bible says, 'Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord,'
My bride and I likewise refused to accept the prognosis the doctor had given her. We "turned our faces to the wall" so to speak, and we prayed to the Lord.
God turned the prophet around and told him to go back to Hezekiah and tell him "I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you." Hezekiah was healed and God added fifteen more years to his life.
God spoke to us through His Word and the Holy Spirit speaking to us when we prayed and we praised Him and told us, "Sandy will be healed. She will not die." Now we are beyond the time frame the doctor had given us and she is doing well. Well on the path to full restoration of her health. She's not finished with her treatments now but her health is good and she is feeling no effects of the cancer.
What makes the difference? Hezekiah decided that he did not want to accept that his life was over. We decided that we did not want to accept that her life was over. We know God's Word. Hezekiah knew God's Word. We knew that we do not have to accept that what the enemy puts on us is the end of the story. Hezekiah could have remained in his sickness. He could have claimed it as his own. "This is my sickness and through this sickness I am going to die. God told me I am going to die." We could have made the same admission regarding my wife's sickness. Just as Hezekiah refused to accept that as the state of his life, we refused to accept what the doctor had said was the state of my bride's life.
This applies to any sickness, any disease, any bondage you have in your life. You can accept it and claim it for your own. You can keep it and "live with it" and even celebrate it. Talking about it and dwelling on it and accepting that it is something you have and you will live with. Or die with. We did not. We did not claim this cancer as being a possession of hers. We did not say "she has cancer". Yes, there was a cancer in her body working against her best interest, but in no way were we going to claim it as her possession. It was an alien condition. One not natural to her body and one certainly not welcome. If it is unwelcome, it is not free to remain where it is. It had to go.
Again, this attitude applies to anything which is going wrong in your life. Don't accept it. Don't consider it the normal for you. It is not. It is contrary to God's will for you and you can get it out of your life. Pray to God for deliverance and for healing. Read the Scriptures on faith, prayer and believing. Read the testimonies of those healed and delivered by Jesus during His earthly ministry. Decide that it is going to be gone out of your life.
Now acknowledge that God is the healer and God is the deliverer. You cannot do it on your own. Don't even try. Let Him do it but trust that He is going to do it. Not just a trust which is a "I hope He will heal me" or "I hope that He will deliver me." Trust Him because His Word is true and fully faithful. What He said He will do, He will do.
Then reject its hold on your life. I am not talking about "just make positive thoughts." Positive thoughts do nothing. Trust in God does everything. We are not "wishing away" a disease or a bondage. We are knowing that God will act on behalf of those who trust Him.
Now start thanking Him. What? Thank Him before I have had my healing? No. Thank Him because you have your healing. Maybe you have not seeing it yet. Just because you have not see it yet, does not mean you have not received it yet. It will manifest itself. It may be instantly or it may come in steps. After all, remember what the definition of faith is? "The evidence of things not seen." Not YET seen. That means they are fact even until we see them. But, on the matter and subject of faith? That's a whole study of its own.
If this has inspired you, please share it!
Saturday, January 7, 2017
I am a supervisor at my job, so I don't have to tell you that being liked is a challenge when dealing with co-workers who want a paycheck but want to do the least amount of work possible to get it. I have learned, however, to lead with a smile. And, because we expect everyone to keep a work log to list their activities for every minute of the day, I, too, keep a work log whenever possible so my co-workers know that I don't just sit in an office chair and answer phones. I am actually working as hard as I expect them to work.
When we are short handed, I have to do my regular supervisor duties as well as cover the area of the employee that didn't show that day. When I am off work, I have to keep my phone on in case someone calls in and the manager on duty doesn't have enough coverage. Over time, all of this can become stressful and sometimes, as supervisor, I get the feeling that I have no life except my job.
I wonder if I am making a difference as a Christian.
22 Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God:
23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.
25 But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.
I try to follow the Golden rule at work (Matthew 7:12 All things therefore whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, even so do ye also unto them: for this is the law and the prophets). I follow the ten commandments. I do everything I do that I might be an example to my co-workers how to live, and what being a Christian really is.
There are moments that make it all worth it.
Last night, a co-worker approached me. She said, "May I speak with you?" Of course, I said, "Sure!"
She said, "I just want to apologize to you. I have been really rude to you and sometimes downright mean, and you have been nothing but nice to me. I want to let you know that I am going to try to do better. I sometimes feel overwhelmed and frustrated and I think that is why I take it out on you, but that is wrong and I want to change. Will you forgive me?"
I was taken aback. Truthfully, I was so used to being treated that way I don't even notice it anymore. I just work around it. I told her, "For someone who is that overwhelmed and frustrated, I think you do an awesome job and I look forward to seeing you grow, no apology necessary."
She said, "I just know that as a Christian, I am supposed to do that when I know I am wrong." I smiled and said, "I forgive you, now go, and keep up the great work!" She laughed.
It made me think of how often we, as humans are overwhelmed by our lives, frustrated, discontent, and any other negative description of our day to day experiences. When we get on our knees, we sometimes whine, shake our fists, and question His authority over our lives. We may even decide to stay in bed rather than go out and do what He has called us to do. Then, just like those employees who want a paycheck but don't want to do the work to get it, we wonder where our reward is.
And, yet, God reaches down and consoles us, sends us peace, let's us behold the beauty of the morning sunrise, taste the delicious meals we are provided with, and warms us with the clothes we have been given to cover our nakedness and hide our brokenness. Over time, He blesses us with healing and sustenance. How often we are ungrateful and unable to see all the ways our Father provides for us that we don't even have to ask for.
Don't you think it is time to ask God to forgive you?
If this has inspired you, please share it!
Sunday, January 1, 2017
I am reading Nehemiah in the Bible. As I read, I am ever expecting God to speak to me through His Word in the Bible, as He so often does. Today, the verse that jumped out at me was this one:
“Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven.”
How many times in our lives have we had to make hard decisions and not known which way to turn? Or, how many times have we had to petition our employers, our parents, or our leaders for something that would help us and the people around us, yet we find ourselves afraid of speaking up?
For one, fear is not of God. Fear is of Satan. However, a lot of other things are of Satan too: Pride, error in our ways, being mislead by a charismatic personality, among other things. No one wants to make wrong decisions, but no one should be afraid of making a decision.
In Nehemiah chapter 2, verse 4, the King is asking Nehemiah to tell him what he needs, because he has seen that Nehemiah is sad and low in spirit and he understood that this was not the Nehemiah he was used to. However, if Nehemiah were to say something that angered the king, he could very well find himself thrown in the dungeon, or headless. He did the only thing he could do in order to be as honest as he could with the king: He prayed.
When you find yourself in a position to make a difference with what comes out of your mouth next, always pray before speaking. In this way, God will send His angels before you to clear the path from obstacles that endanger you.
If this has inspired you, please share it!
With the new year comes a desire to make changes that will ultimately better our lives. The changes I wish to make in my life are dietary. I have decided to go on a "God Diet" in hopes of losing some weight (Like, about 100 lbs).
Another New Year's Resolution I made was to study God's Word more. That is easy. I just pick up where I left off while reading the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. I am in Nehemiah right now.
While reading the first chapter of Nehemiah, this verse jumped out at me:
“And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,”
This prompted me to do a search on fasting and study it more.
What the Bible Says about Fasting
I had been wondering about fasting as a part of my diet. What did this verse and my study tell me about Fasting?
1. Fasting is a way of clearing up the channel of communication between us and the Father.
2. Fasting should be used in times of distress or mourning or memorializing.
3. Fasting should only be done on a certain number of days. It is not a hunger strike. It is a cleansing technique.
4. Fasting should always be accompanied by prayer.
I hope this is useful to you as you study the Word of God and attempt to incorporate it into your life!