Enough? More? Ample Provision!


Last night Bev and I drove over to our local diner (you gotta love those NJ diners) to eat.  For a reasonable $10, they serve soup, salad, main meal, and dessert! Yes, that’s all in the price of the meal.  As always, I was tempted to eat it ALL, but my better sense said, “Jerry, if you do, you will have indigestion all evening.” So I gave the soup to Bev, ate only about half of my dinner, and had the dessert boxed to take home. American consumers demand these large meal portions because they perceive it as ‘getting their money’s worth.’  Eating establishments from McDonalds to fine restaurants are serving portions that are double the size of those served 30 years ago!  Our eyes have learned to want more food than we need or even more than most of us can consume in one meal. Our over-consumption has become America’s number one health risk.
It’s hard to know what is ‘enough’ isn’t it? How much food should we eat? How much money do we really need? How big does our house need to be? ‘More is good’ and ‘bigger is better’ are concepts woven into our American lifestyle, but are they really true? The Bible calls us to ‘contentment.’  We read that “godliness with contentment is great gain.” In The Message we read: A devout life does bring wealth, but it’s the rich simplicity of being yourself before God. Since we entered the world penniless and will leave it penniless, if we have bread on the table and shoes on our feet, that’s enough.” (1 Timothy 6:6-8) One of the most difficult disciplines of the Christian life is learning how to be content and when to set a limit on consumption. Most of us expand our need to fit our available resources. Instead of choosing a reasonable lifestyle and capping our spending, we just grow our appetite for more, better, bigger, newer, faster!
When God took the Israelites out of Egypt and was leading them to the Promised Land, He promised to be their complete resource. When they had a need, all they had to do was ask!  For their daily food He gave them “manna” – literally bread from His hand. Every morning He provided and they found white flakes on the ground, which they prepared as their food. There was a principle attached to His provision of manna – the principle of enough. They were told only to gather what they needed, not more. He told them  “No one is to keep any of it until morning.” However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them. Each morning everyone gathered as much as he needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away.” (Exodus 16:19-21, NIV)  Even with this miraculous provision of food, they were soon unhappy and complained that manna was boring.  “Give more and different food,” they whined.  “The Israelites began to crave the good things of Egypt, and the people of Israel also began to complain. “Oh, for some meat!” they exclaimed. “We remember all the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic that we wanted. But now our appetites are gone, and day after day we have nothing to eat but this manna!” (Numbers 11:4-6, NLT) It was never enough!
Disciple, the Lord has promised to meet all of our needs (and more) when serve Him faithfully.  He will even give us the desires of our heart, when our heart is full of the Spirit and aligned with His will. Are your appetites sanctified?  Are you contented with what He provides and where He leads?  We honor Him before our world when we readily and joyfully say: “Yes, Lord, I joyfully receive what You’ve  provided.”
Find the joy of contentment!  Put the American sin of over-consumption to death and choose thankfulness for each day.
Are you willing to let God satisfy your desires, to accept what He provides each day as ‘enough?’
Here’s a word from the Word for us today.
“At the moment I have all I need—more than I need! I am generously supplied ….
And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches,
which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.
Now glory be to God our Father forever and ever. Amen.”
(Philippians 4:18-20, NLT)
________________
You’re my supply, my breath of life,
Still more awesome than I know!
You’re my reward, worth living for,
Still more awesome than I know.
You’re my sacrifice of greatest price,
Still more awesome than I know.
You’re my coming King, You are ev’rything,
Still more awesome than I know.
All of You is more than enough for, all of me,
For ev’ry thirst and ev’ry need,
You satisfy me with Your love,
And all I have in You is more than enough.
More than all I want! More than all I need!
You are more than enough for me.
More than all I know! More than all I can say!
You are more than enough.
Enough © 2002 worshiptogether.com songs | sixsteps Music (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing) | (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing)
Chris Tomlin | Louie Giglio
CCLI License No. 810055

Today’s miracle

Today’s miracle
Everyday needs a miracle. Surprised?  Isn’t knowing the Lord, being kept in His mercies, and having the assurance of eternal life a miracle?  If we define miracle as ‘a divine intervention’ then our salvation is a daily miracle! Yesterday’s grace is not enough for today. Our encounter with God last year cannot sustain us now. We need a daily miracle, an ongoing outpouring of the Holy Spirit to keep us faithfully fervent. I awakened this morning with a groan and my wife inquired, “What’s the matter?” My answer? “The mountain is high!” Like everyone, there are deadlines and demands that drain my strength. I need my daily miracle of mercy. I live by this promise that “The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” (Lamentations 3:22-23, NLT)
After all the amazing experiences of God’s miraculous power in their deliverance from Egypt, we might think that the Israelites would have never felt the slightest twinge of fear again. Who can stand against us? We are the people of God led out by His Mighty Hand they sang for about a day! “The Egyptians chased after them with all the forces in Pharaoh’s army—all his horses and chariots, his charioteers, and his troops. The Egyptians caught up with the people of Israel as they were camped beside the shore near Pi-hahiroth, across from Baal-zephon. As Pharaoh approached, the people of Israel looked up and panicked when they saw the Egyptians overtaking them. They cried out to the Lord.” (Exodus 14:9-10, NLT)  “But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” (Exodus 14:13-14, NLT)
The sight of Pharaoh’s armies and chariots erased the memories of all the wonders of the Lord God’s power. They needed a miracle. How would they receive it? “Just stand still… stay calm!” That’s another way to say trust and obey. We know their story. They moved ahead towards the impossible, facing the sea, hemmed in by soldiers ready to herd them back to slavery. Then, Moses held up his staff, the wind of the Spirit blew, and a highway appeared in the Red Sea!  And, why did God do this for them? “All Egypt will see my glory and know that I am the Lord!” (Exodus 14:18, NLT)
Disciple, the genuine daily walk with the Lord demands a daily miracle! IF we have no need to come to Him with our empty cup and ask Him to fill it up, I believe we are choosing to live too safely, too much at home in this world, too accommodating of our sins. Those who desire to overcome the world, the flesh, and the Devil quickly come to know the limits of their intellect and determination. They soon realize that ‘unless the Lord builds the house, those that labor, labor in vain!”  So, we must wait on Him and then move ahead, trusting for our miracle in the moment.
Here’s a word from the Word. Tuck it into your memory and live by His strength.
“God’s Message: “Cursed is the strong one who depends on mere humans, Who thinks he can make it on muscle alone and sets God aside as dead weight.
He’s like a tumbleweed on the prairie, out of touch with the good earth. He lives rootless and aimless in a land where nothing grows.
“But blessed is the man who trusts me, God, the woman who sticks with God.
They’re like trees replanted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers—
Never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf, Serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season.” (Jeremiah 17:5-8, The Message)
_____________________
We are called
To be prophets to this nation
To be the Word of God
In every situation
Change my heart
Change my heart today
Who’ll be the salt
If the salt should lose its flavor
Who’ll be the salt
If the salt should lose its flavor
Change my heart
Change my heart today
Lord take all my lies
And all of my greed
Let me be a sacrifice
For those who are in need
Change my heart
Change my heart today
Lord without Your power
It’s all just good intentions
Lord without Your grace
Who could find redemption
Change my heart
Change my heart today
Lord loose the chains of oppression
Lord set the captives free
Lord fill my heart with compassion
Shine Your light shine Your light
Shine Your light through me
Work a miracle in my heart
Work a miracle in my heart
Work a miracle in my heart
Oh Lord today
Miracle In My Heart
© 1998, 1999 Thankyou Music (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing)
Brian Houston

CCLI License No. 810055

With His Mighty Hand


The American Revolution is celebrated in the United States as a victory.  The crown of England notes it as a defeat. George Washington is our hero, England’s traitor. The same incident in history looks very different to various people. The same is true in our personal history. We tend to celebrate some events and try to forget others. In my own life, I thought that 1987 was a disastrous year when it was happening, but 23 years later, I see it as a pivotal year when God used choices, my own and those of others, to radically change my heart! God sees His work, our choices, and works towards purposes that we cannot see as it’s happening. How differently our history reads in Heaven! I am quite certain that my life will make much more sense to me when I read God’s account of it.
In Exodus, there is a year that was tragic for the Egyptians, transformative for the Israelites, and tumultuous overall! Moses, under the commission of the LORD, returns to the land and challenges the status quo by telling Pharaoh that God said, “Let my people go!”  For Egypt the loss of their work force would be an economic disaster, so the answer was a resounding, “No!”  Then we read of an escalating battle that appears to be a match of wills between Moses and Pharaoh.  Plague after plague befalls Egypt, bringing suffering and destruction to the country and her people. What is happening from God’s point of view is the birth of a distinct people that would be His own.  The LORD confronts, in the plagues, the various deities of the Egyptians, proving them impotent by His Mighty Hand.
At the moment of the final plague, God not only challenges the Egyptians. He also asks the Israelites to act in faith.  The firstborn of every household is under the curse, doomed to death. Only a sacrifice of a lamb, done by faith, will protect the accursed. “Drain the blood into a basin. Then take a bundle of hyssop branches and dip it into the blood. Brush the hyssop across the top and sides of the doorframes of your houses. And no one may go out through the door until morning. For the Lord will pass through the land to strike down the Egyptians. But when he sees the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe, the Lord will pass over your home. He will not permit his death angel to enter your house and strike you down.” (Exodus 12:22-23, NLT)  It is time for the Israelites to choose, to respond with faith and become participants in the plan of God!  Those who did as He told them to do, found safety and preservation. The Passover became the signature celebration, a moment of identity for covenant people of the LORD.
Disciple, what is the Lord asking of you today? Does it seem senseless or difficult? He is writing history and the Scripture says that it is written for His glory and ultimately for our good. In a passage full of promise, we are told that “He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” (Romans 8:27-29, NIV)  How will you view history – as a disastrous experience of God’s judgment or as a delightful journey from slavery to freedom? Obedience is paramount! Receiving His grace, walking in faith, and letting His purpose emerge- that is the call He places on our lives.
Years after the events of Exodus what happened made sense and the summary of it all is written thus: “So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with miraculous signs and wonders. He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.” (Deuteronomy 26:8-9, NIV)  My prayer is that God will find each of us faithful so that we, too, will be able to celebrate history as the unfolding of His gracious purposes. Will you trust and obey?
Here’s a word from the Word. May the truth of it fill your mind and heart with peace today.
“The Lord Almighty has sworn, “Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will stand.” (Isaiah 14:24, NIV)
______________
O Lord our Lord
How majestic is Your name
Your words are true
Your mercy does not change
All Your promises are precious
Reviving our faith
Every one of them
Will be fulfilled one day
We will run
We’ll run and not grow weary
We will rise upon the eagle’s wings
In the presence of the Lord
Our spirits will soar
Till we one day gaze upon our King
But my foot had almost slipped
O Lord I’d almost lost my way
‘Til I entered the house of the Lord
And heard Your sweet Spirit say

Oh all Your promises
Are yes and amen Jesus
Your promises are true
All Your promises
Are yes and amen Lord Jesus
We’ll keep running after You
All Your Promises © 1995 Mercy / Vineyard Publishing | Vineyard Songs Canada | ION Publishing (Admin. by Music Services) | (Admin. by Music Services) | (Admin. by Vineyard Music USA) Andrew Smith

CCLI License No. 810055

On a first name basis


Once upon a time being on a first-name basis really meant something. When Mr. Schaller, the banker, said, “Just call me George” it implied that the relationship had become personal, crossing over from a formal business connection. In days past, when another person indicated you could use their first name in conversation, it spoke of trust.  Today, everybody presumes the right to address us with our first name almost from the moment of introduction. But, even with our abandonment of formality, we still know when we have really reached a ‘first name basis’ with another. Instinctively we know the difference between the assumed intimacy of first name address and the genuine heart to heart warmth and caring that really provides a first-name basis relationship.
Do you really know God on a first-name basis? You can, but do you? When you turn to Him in prayer, does a formal attitude keep you from spilling your heart, or does your love for Him and His Presence near you invite you to pour out your longings, confess your failures, and share your joys?
Moses was called by the LORD to go back to Egypt to free Israel from slavery. When he obeyed, things got much worse for the people. Pharaoh heard Moses’ request and laughed at him. Then, he doubled the workload on the Israelities, leading them to turn on Moses with fury! “The foremen said …  “May the Lord judge and punish you for making us stink before Pharaoh and his officials. You have put a sword into their hands, an excuse to kill us!” (Exodus 5:21, NLT)  Where did Moses go with this? He turned to the One who had sent him and the passage reveals a deep intimacy. Take a look. “Then the Lord told Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh. When he feels the force of my strong hand, he will let the people go. In fact, he will force them to leave his land!” And God said to Moses, “I am Yahweh—‘the Lord.’ I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty’—but I did not reveal my name, Yahweh, to them. And I reaffirmed my covenant with them. Under its terms, I promised to give them the land of Canaan, where they were living as foreigners. You can be sure that I have heard the groans of the people of Israel, who are now slaves to the Egyptians. And I am well aware of my covenant with them. “Therefore, say to the people of Israel: ‘I am the Lord. I will free you from your oppression and will rescue you from your slavery in Egypt. I will redeem you with a powerful arm and great acts of judgment.” (Exodus 6:1-6, NLT)  This man enjoyed an amazing privilege: “Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.” (Deuteronomy 34:10, NIV)
I am Yahweh”!  Moses knew the Name of God, the Name that means “I am the Present One.”  Unlike the patriarchs who only knew Him as God Almighty, a descriptive but impersonal name, Moses enjoyed a first-name basis.  In short, when Moses was going through a tough time, God assured him with His Name and the personal relationship they enjoyed. When troubles come, when confusion overtakes us, when life doesn’t make sense; what a difference it makes when we feel the Presence of Yahweh, the LORD, embracing us. If He is more than God Almighty to us, more than the fearful One in heaven; when He is our Father, our Friend, our Comforter, but most of all the Present One – we can go through, stand firm, and know peace.
Such intimacy cannot be forced or assumed. It grows from genuine worship, from waiting on Him, from a heart committed to holiness.  He grants us the privilege of knowing His Name, we cannot demand it. Disciple, Jesus promises us true intimacy. In John 15, 16, and 17 He spoke at length about the relationship that the Spirit’s coming creates, that He would not simply be with us, but actually live in us. This is what it means to be filled with the Spirit!  It creates a first-name basis relationship with the LORD of glory, the King of Heaven. What could be more wonderful than that?
Do you know Him that way? Is He more than “God” to you? Does the Almighty have a Name to you?
Love Him and let Him love you. Then, you will live in times of trouble with steady faith, with holiness and hope, drawn from the One who is Yahweh – “The Present One.”
________________________
With all of my heart,
I hunger for You,
All I want and all I seek
Is true intimacy.
With all of my heart,
I hunger for You,
All I want and all I seek
Is true intimacy with You!
Here I stand, waiting Lord,
Touch me now like never before!
Let me change and be transformed,
True intimacy is what I’m longing for.
Intimacy is the longing
Of my heart Lord,
Of this heart.
True Intimacy
© 1999 Song Solutions Daybreak (Admin. in the US & Canada by Integrity Music, Inc.)
Eoghan Heaslip

CCLI License No. 810055

What was, what is, what will be!

Nostalgia tempts me. During my 54 years on this earth I have enjoyed many blessings of the Lord. Bev and I visited Lancaster, PA over the weekend, staying at a resort we visited a few times when our kids were little. Walking through the area with the swimming pool that they loved to play in, I could almost hear echoes of their voices: “Daddy, look at me.” It was bittersweet to walk through a place that held so many good memories, but they are just that, memories; life has moved on. I am not suggesting that we should forget the past all together. It is the fertile soil from which the present grows, after all! However, the people who live most productive and emotionally healthy lives do not spend a lot of time looking back!

Like every living person I have my share of regrets that reside in yesterday. There are more than a few choices I made then with all sincerity that are now clearly wrong. But like Paul, my focus is not what was, but what is and what will be! My prayer is that God will show me how to live today as I advance toward tomorrow- be it here on earth or in His heaven! Remember Saul who became Paul?

In his early years as a Pharisee, he hated Believers in Christ and worked to destroy the Gospel message and those who followed Jesus. But God, in amazing grace, met him on the road to Damascus. Saul believed that day and was changed. The transformation was so profound, he even took a new name! Had he lived in perpetual regret, he might have faded into obscurity, making tents in some Roman town, sorrowful ’til death for his persecution of those who loved the Lord. Or, he might have settled down to pastor the church in Ephesus, where his message met with great success and tried to hold onto a moment of triumph. But, he didn’t do either of those things. Why? He tells us. “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14, NIV) He knew what he was called to do and kept at it – faithfully. He left the sins in the grace of God, celebrated the triumphs, and anticipated the glorious future.

That’s the road God wants us to travel! We cannot, we must not, try to erase the past or to rewrite history. We cannot let nostalgia take us hostage. When we awaken each morning, our declaration is This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24, NIV) We grow deeper in the things of the Lord as He shows us new challenges, new places for service, and presents us with new opportunities.

Disciple, in our youth we tend to live too much in the future. As we age, we are tempted more and more to live in the past. God works in the present! He is the Lord of this day. I leave you with this word from the Word, Jesus’ appeal to his friends to see what God was doing right now. “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” (John 4:34-35, NIV)

What is ripe for harvest right now in your life? Are your eyes open to what the Spirit is doing today?

________________

Father, I confess that change is difficult.
In the familiar there is a certain comfort.
I slide easily back into the habits and patterns of my past.
Don’t let me spend too much time gazing back
with fondness or regret!

Make me aware of this day,
the day You have made just for me.
Keep my vision clear and help me to
engage myself in the process of ‘becoming…’ –
to invite an ongoing transformation
into the likeness of Jesus Christ.
I pray this in His holy Name. Amen.

The Noonday Devil

There are days when mid-day comes and with a sense of futility. Heaving a deep sigh, I say, “What’s the use of it all?” In the middle of opportunities, the devil comes whispering that life is meaningless, my efforts useless, that pleasure waits somewhere other than where I am. The wrong response is to agree and to sink into apathy that says, “Who cares? Let’s just float along in the stream of life.” A couple of days ago when I was feeling that way, I got up and went for a drive in my car.  I told the Lord how I was feeling at that moment and He ministered to me. (I think my car is a rolling sanctuary sometimes!)  One by one, He brought faces of people to my mind – people who had made new choices for life, people who had found hope and purpose in the Lord, people whose marriages were saved, etc.  Did I do those things? Of course not! But, He used me as His messenger.
Disciple, apathy is just as much a sin as outright disobedience! Our God calls us to active pursuit of the good He has purposed to do through us.  Time and again, the Word reminds of the vital importance of living patiently and persistently. James uses the work of a farmer to illustrate how we must meet the lie that life is without meaning. “Wait patiently for the Master’s Arrival. You see farmers do this all the time, waiting for their valuable crops to mature, patiently letting the rain do its slow but sure work. Be patient like that. Stay steady and strong. The Master could arrive at any time.” (James 5:7-8, The Message) So true, right?
Andy Stanley writes, “The daily grind of life is hard on visions. Life is now. Bills are now. Crisis is now. Vision is later. It is easy, therefore, to lose sight of the main thing, to sacrifice the best for the good. All of us run the risk of allowing secondary issues to rob us of the joy of seeing our visions come to completion. Distractions slowly kill the vision.”
(Visioneering, Multnomah, 1999)
If we are living with our time and efforts focused only in secondary issues without a real vision that gives ‘big picture context’ to the work of the day we will feel the frustration. If we make like only about making money, we’ll feel the treadmill effect. If we make ministry just about checking off the ‘completed’ box each week, we will lose enthusiasm.  Every Friday my primary task is to complete the message that I will deliver to my congregation on Sunday. I can choose to view that task in two very different lights. I can see it as ‘just getting something to say on Sunday ’cause that’s what is expected of me.’  If that’s how I come to my desk at 8 in the morning on Friday, I know that about Noon, I’ll feel that what I’m doing is ‘vanity of vanities!’  If I see my work as a God-given opportunity to bring His Word, to help somebody whose lost, confused, or without hope to stay the course, I have a vision that makes the effort required much less onerous.
Never lose sight of the ‘why’ behind the ‘what.’
Don’t sink into the deception of the day today. Take a few moments right now to re-focus and to set the tasks that await you into a larger context of vision.
“So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord.
Remember the great reward it brings you!
Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will.
Then you will receive all that he has promised.
“For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay.
And my righteous ones will live by faith.
But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.””
(Hebrews 10:35-38, NLT)
____________________
I know there’s hope in anger
And some tenderness in shame
Sometimes I find You
On the other side of pain
But sometimes in the heat of day
When I close my eyes to pray
It seems like You are far from me
My prayers are all in vain
In my hour of hopelessness
In my deep despair
The noonday devil whispers in my ear
I know that You are with me
But I can’t feel a thing
The noonday devil
Has come around again
Oh Lord make me angry
Oh Lord make me cry
Oh Lord please don’t leave me here
To fall into the devil’s lies
Father You have called me
To live a life that’s true
That all my labors and my words
Would speak my love for You
But walking through this desert
Life is empty and mundane
The noonday devil
Has come around again
Oh Lord make me angry
Oh Lord make me cry
Oh Lord please don’t leave me here
To fall into the devil’s lies
Oh Lord make me angry
Oh Lord make me cry
Oh Lord break my cold cold heart
So I can know Your love inside
Your love inside
Noonday Devil
© 2004 Curb Songs | Cerdo Verde Music | John Andrew Schreiner Music (Admin. by Curb Records) | (Admin. by Curb Records) | (Admin. by Lori Kelly Rights & Licenses)
Fernando Ortega | John Andrew Schreiner

CCLI License No. 810055

Management, motives, modifications

“Why do some go to church all the time and show no change of heart or behavior?” was the question raised at our Bible class last night. It’s a fair one, for sure, and has many possible answers. The primary one is that we (Christians) allow our majestic message of total conversion, of new birth, to be reduced to what Willard calls, ‘the gospel of sin management.’ (The Divine Conspiracy) Instead of boldly proclaiming that the Spirit will make a man new, using techniques of behavior modification we try to make him marginally better. Then, too, we are guilty of implying that the Gospel exists to make us happier, more well-adjusted people rather than godly servant of the Most High! Jesus Christ did not come to live among us, to die for us, and to rise again to make us nice people and good citizens. He came to buy us back from the Devil, to give us eternal life, and to call us into the service of the King!

The Lord has promised those who serve Him amazing, transformative power through the Spirit! He tells us to ‘go and make disciples, teaching them to obey everything I command.’ His commission is an impossible challenge to those who attempt to fulfill it with gimmicks, church growth techniques, or clever oratory. It is spiritual work which can only be done by the Spirit working deeply in and through us.

Moses met the Lord at the burning bush and was told to go back to Egypt and lead the people of Israel out to freedom and the Promised Land. He knew immediately what he was up against and protested by pointing to his inability. “Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.” (Exodus 3:11-12, NIV)  “Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” (Exodus 4:12, NIV) The whole account is a fascinating and revealing interaction that is a primer of how not to respond to God’s call! Moses looks at his own weakness, God refocuses him, time and again, on His power!

Disciple, our work is not to help people live more successful lives, while adapting to the slavery of Egypt! We are deliverers who are called to lead them out. It’s a simpler task to explain how to be a better slave in Egypt than it is to tell people that there a Promised Land waiting, which they can possess. Seems to me that the Church has developed great skill at explaining sinful urges and helping us to co-exist with the Devil, in the best possible way. All this is not to imply that we should discard education, understanding of leadership, or psychology. These things are tools that can help us to accomplish our task, but the true Power for deliverance is not our cleverness, but His Power which is found only when we come, like Moses to the end of Self and get desperate for intimacy with Him.

Ponder this word from the Word, dear friend. Don’t turn them into a simplistic jingle, another religious cliché. Instead, make them your challenge. Let them drive you to quiet, contemplation of the Lord’s power. May they create faith in you to expect great things as He works deeply in you, making you a true deliverer of those He loves from slavery to sin to glorious freedom in Christ!

“This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: If you follow my ways and carefully serve me, then you will be given authority over my Temple and its courtyards. I will let you walk among these others standing here.” (Zechariah 3:7, NLT) “This is what the Lord says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” (Zechariah 4:6, NLT)

____________________

Quiet my mind
And draw me near You.
Silence my thoughts
I just want to be with You!
Open my heart,
To hear and listen!
Not my way God,
But your Vision!

And all my fears fall away
In Your presence,
Waiting on You;
Waiting on You.

(BRIDGE)
And as you come to me,
Send your Spirit to minister
Because I am truly desperate
For the promises that you keep.

Waiting On You
-Terry Keenan

Hubris (hyoo-bris)


Hubris is the soft spot, the point of vulnerability in us all! Last night a man we never heard of before won a Senate seat in Massachusetts. Scott Brown capitalized on the hubris of his opponent and her party. Coakley and company were so sure that they had the election won that she went on a week’s vacation just three weeks before the election! While she rested, he ran hard. He won the election pulling away. Hubris caused the American people to turn against the Republicans a little over a year ago. Hubris lost a major election for the Democrats last night.  What’s hubris?  “Excessive pride or self-confidence, arrogance,” is the definition!
I’ve seen marriages crumble because partners’ hubris cause them to take advantage of their spouses for too long. I’ve seen ministers fail morally because hubris blinded them to their own weakness. Hubris that develops in leaders when they find success is the reason behind the destruction of governments, corporations, and even churches.  Here’s God’s warning: “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:12, NIV)
Humility is a character trait that must be cultivated. Disciple we must remember that pride makes us an enemy of God, who will not share His glory or authority! “Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5, NIV)  The Lord Himself, though full of magnificence, is also humble. God, humble? Yes! “The high and lofty one who lives in eternity, the Holy One, says this: “I live in the high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts.” (Isaiah 57:15, NLT) A prideful person will not voluntarily associate with those who are weak, failing, or rejected. A humble man lifts them up.
Accomplishment or recognition will not bring on hubris in anyone who realizes that he is who he is only because of the grace of God.  When we feel ourselves becoming impressed with by ourselves, this question needs to come to the forefront of our minds: “Who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?(1 Corinthians 4:7). “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit,” Paul wrote, “but in humility consider others better than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3)

Hubris or humility? What will it be?  Take the wisdom of Jesus with you today as you meditate on this word from the Word. 
“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3-4, NIV) 

Into the Misery

While I was leading prayer in our Sunday AM worship, I broke into a strange lament; “Lord, how long? How long until Your kingdom comes?” The images from the broken nation of Haiti, my counseling with people wrestling with sin and temptation, and the unexplained physical suffering of acquaintances converged to press heavily on me. My prayer in that moment was less a formation of my intellect and more a groan from my soul!

My life would be simpler were I to assume that all things are a matter of the “good being blessed and the bad being cursed.” I could distance myself from the pain of those in misery if I allowed myself to see them as getting what they deserved; but He does not offer that option. He sends us into the misery!

Moses saw the suffering of the Israelites in Egypt, responded in self-directed rage and killed a man, then ran off into the desert where he lived in isolation, away from the daily sufferings of his people for many years. He would have died out there tending some sheep except that God showed up and reminded him of his true calling. One day he saw a bush burst into flame, without being consumed. “When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.” “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God. The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.” (Exodus 3:4-8, NIV) And the LORD sent Moses back to Egypt, to live with the suffering slaves and to lead them out of their misery. It was no easy calling!

Some would say that if we come before the Lord and stand in His holy Presence, the things of earth will recede and we will be caught up into the heavenlies, living in holy bliss. The Scripture argues a different point. Those who enjoy the deepest intimacy with the Father, feel the beat of His heart for the world He created and the people He loves. We are, like Moses and even Jesus Christ, sent to the misery!

The Light in which we live cannot be held only for ourselves, it must be shared. “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16, The Message)

As inviting as the cloister of the holy huddle might be, we must not stay there! A retreat, from time to time, to regroup and renew may be in order. But we cannot choose to live in a place of isolation where the leper, the sinner, the broken are not invited because they are judged to be enduring the fruit of their own choices. We are sent into the misery! We share the call of the first Twelve, so let’s go!
“When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” (Luke 9:1-2, NIV)

_______________

I’m calling out to You,
There must be something more,
Some deeper place to find,
Some secret place to hide,
Where I’ve not gone before.

Where my soul is satisfied,
And my sin is put to death.
And I can hear Your voice,
Your purpose is my choice,
As natural as a breath.

Oh place in my heart
A passion for Jesus!
A hunger that seizes
My passion for You!
My one desire,
My greatest possession,
My only confession,
My passion for You!

The love I knew before,
When You first touched my life;
I need You to restore,
I want You to revive!

Passion For Jesus
© 1999 Thankyou Music (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing)
Brian Houston
CCLI License No. 810055

An Acceptable Sin


The sign stood along the highway, proudly embellished with an American flag, declaring – “Bill’s American. English spoken here.”  The owner of the service station was playing off of the fact that most of the gas stations in NJ are staffed by men from India who speak very little English. (Jerseyans can’t pump their own gas, by law!)  I don’t know Bill and have no idea if he thought his sign was funny or if he hoped it would attract more customers, but I always read it as an expression of bigotry, a way to say, “They are not us.”  Now that same station is owned and staffed by Asian immigrants who, ironically, speak very poor English! I think it is a kind of poetic justice.
Segregation, supported by institutional racism, was an acceptable sin for many Americans. I say ‘was’ hopefully, knowing that racism is very much alive and well. The difference now is that there are many voices that challenge it! Today we celebrate the life of a man who used his God-given gifts to reshape America’s attitudes towards race. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a pastor in Birmingham, Alabama who saw the evil of segregation and named it for what it was – sin. His vision of non-violent resistance spared many lives as the civil rights movement gained momentum. Ever the preacher, Dr. King drew inspiration from the Scripture, using the picture words of the Old Testament prophets to great effect.  He loved to quote Amos, “let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.” (Amos 5:24, KJV)  Perhaps his greatest gift to us was the formation of a new vision for America, best summed up in what are his most memorable speech which we now call, “I have a dream.” Few, if any, knew the strength of his words when they were spoken that day from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 23, 1963, but his vision reshaped these United States.

(read or watch it at
Where we see divisions by class, or religion, or race, or sex we must challenge it. We cannot allow this sin to become acceptable. It is a subtle one that hides itself behind all kinds of words. Being ‘different’ becomes being of lesser value. Judgment of behavior becomes a reason to reject persons. Give such thoughts no standing. Disciple, in Christ there is no ‘us’ and ‘them.’  In Him we ALL stand on equal ground. “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26-28, NIV)  The Scripture insists that how we love God and how we love other people are inseparable. We cannot claim to love God and hate others!
I leave this word from the Word with you today. As you ponder it, let God use it to shape your heart and mind.
“With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:6-8, NIV)
__________________
Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world.
Red and yellow, black and white,
All are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world.

      George Frederick Root