Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Friday, March 11, 2011

Bless Them

We know the scripture to bless those that despite fully use you (Matthew 5:44 KJV). Now do we know who those are or do we do a panacea and just bless everyone because its just something that Jesus would do? Sure, babies can get away with stuff like that but when you start really getting into the Word there are reasons why specifics are made. I believe one of those reasons is because people will take an interpretation of the bible to the extreme and no one will challenge it - which means error can be created. Another reason is doing away with tradition. When we get into a habit of doing what we believe is the right way and find that we could have done things differently, there are those that refuse to make the necessary changes because it is too difficult. But the Word sets the captives free and those who have been set free are free indeed.

There are  specifics in blessing people in the way God puts in our hearts because He knows what people need at that specific time. To wait and give when we think is best not only takes away the fullness of the blessing from the people but it also takes from the blessing we have in the giving. God says that He loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7 NIV). This verse is used over and over again when  the offering plate is going around the congregation but this verse wasn't just meant when giving our tithes and offering. It is also meant for our everyday lives. If we contemplate on the giving, it is not cheerful. When we find excuses for not giving right away, it is not being cheerful. I recall the testimony of a pastor who was sitting next to his friend, also a pastor. There was a hush over the congregation while the Lord spoke to the hearts of all attended about what they are to give as an offering. Both of the pastors had been blessed well in their lives and when it came time for them to give, the Lord spoke to each of them clearly as to how much. The Lord told the first pastor to give one million dollars. The Lord told the other pastor the same amount. Neither moved right away even when all of the other congregants were getting their envelopes ready. Then one looked at the other and asked, "how much did the Lord tell you to give?" He answered, "a million dollars. How much did He tell you to give?" He answered back, "the same thing." Then they both said at the same time reaching into their pockets, "I guess we both better give a million dollars then." When he told this testimony, he said it in a different matter and completely in a different context then this. When he told this testimony, everybody who heard laughed - including me. Yet, how quickly did their blessing return to them (Luke 6:38 NIV)? Was God pleased with their apprehension (James 1:6-7 AMP)?

As we grow up into the body of Christ and be where we can do the most good, our lives tend to have the peace and joy that Kingdom Living is destined to be for each and everyone that believes. It is easier for us to be more inclined to have it to bless others. Yet when we are in the process of getting to that place of opportunity, storms come, the pressure is on, and financial abundance is taking that faith ride, at the ready to release the mother lode. Its still not an excuse to with hold that which has been given to you (Luke 12:48 KJV). How else are you going to learn to trust in God? How else are you going to be blessed?

Now I think the biggest blessings come when you have to chomp down into that horrid dry tasting humble pie. Know that it only tastes like that because you aren't use to it. Yes, it is an acquired taste and is delicious along with all of the rest of the courses of the prepared table the Lord has set for us (Psalm 23:5 KJV). You know what pie I am referring to. The one where God tells you to bless the very person that talked behind  your back when in high school or that guy that flirted with your girlfriend, or the jerk that sold you that crap piece of a lemon and refuses to do anything about it. Those people really need a good swift kick in the butt, its just that you aren't the one to do it. You are the one whose heart is being tested (Proverbs 17:3 AMP) and the mere fact that the idea of anyone of those people getting in any hurt, harm, or danger causes you to have a smile on your face means the blessing you are about to give is going to hurt you more then any harm you could imagine for them. See how that pie tastes - ew, right?

You see as many reasons we have to do what we think is good to do, God shows us the best way. For whatever the reason as to why we might not initially agree to it, its still better because He sees all. If you find that being obedient to His will is a hardship to you, ask yourself this question, that which you are feeling that keeps you from giving cheerfully, is it love for the person or yourself? Jesus told  the Pharisees to love God with all of your heart, with all of your mind, and with all of your strength and love you neighbor as yourself is the greatest commandment of the law (Matthew 22:34-40 KJV). Everything else comes when we do these two things. So what's the problem? Is it you?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Not A Spot Or Wrinkle

I was thinking while looking at my arm and then the other, I saw the marks over the years from baking mishaps and grease popping from the pan and onto my wrist. Of course, I didn't expect these things to happen or why else would I cook? Yet the marks are there for what? As reminders to what not to do? Does it shape my personality or make me a better Christian?  Does it assist in me teaching other people what not to do or couldn't I have remembered these things without the marks reminding me? And how does God see these marks? Do they serve as signs of a good and faithful servant or someone who is diligent in their tasks? Or are they marks for a lack of faith because He expects a body thats without spot or wrinkle (Ephesians 5:25-29 KJV)?

As you can see without knowing what the Word says about the matter, error can have a field day in the mind, a religious attitude can take over, and passing judgement on others completely spoils the faith and now there is a huge problem with your relationship with God. I have this confession where I use righteousness scriptures because of what Jesus to His disciples in using the Lord's prayer. In those verses, the more I have said the them, the more I believe what it is written - well, because faith comes by hearing and hearing. My daughter works at a children's center and when she comes to visit with my grand daughter, they are comfortable in my home. I don't expect anything less then that; yet in so doing, they take off their outer garments and place them right where they sit, they continue to visit, take their belongings when they leave and we give each other hugs and kisses. Those out garments were more then likely at a myriad of places, especially when she is working at a children's center. The next after noon, I noticed a mark on my wrist that began to itch. It didn't catch my attention until I noticed it getting red and started to form a raised ring. Having been a director in a children's center and raising five children myself, I knew what it was. I began to pray and speak the Word over my body especially my skin. I started to get angry every time I looked at the mark left behind. The next time she visited and we went through the routine of hugs and kisses, hours later I saw the white in one eye have a slight different color. I really didn't think anything of it other then eye strain. The next morning when I could sense more then the usual eye matter we wipe from our eyes in the morning, I went to the mirror and saw a more clear distinction in color. I got angry again, knowing what the Word says and how dare there be any weapon formed against me. The thoughts of going to the convenient store to get some medication and talking to my daughter about disinfecting her home and their outer garments were coming like a flood. Odd that scripture wasn't coming to mind to detour the flood in a different direction. When does action of practicality take precedence over the Word of God? Never.

I recall in the Word after Jesus had been studying in the temple for so many years before He began His ministry. He was found talking to the elders of the church when His parents were looking for Him. His answer to them when He saw the concern was, "I am about My Father's business." All of that time from the age of 12 and so forth, He studied, He prayed, and then He was equipped to go and teach the gospel all over the land (Luke 2: 42-52 KJV). There was a time when He came to the temple and there was a man there with a table selling goods (Luke 19: 45-47 KJV). Business is seeing where the majority of people gravitate and that's where the selling begins. But the Word  tells us not to try to make an income from the righteous. When going to church the intention and mind set is one way. To make a profit from people that have their minds set on righteousness is wicked. Nonprofit organizations are created from this principle. Jesus showed this in getting angry and tipping the table with all of the wares being sold in the temple. Why wasn't Jesus charged for doing this? I believe because they knew it was wrong and if someone doesn't stand against it, then it is more readily accepted. Selah.

What I find the most fascinating about the Word is the levels of mystery that is in it and can only be found by search and research in Christ.With Jesus tipping over the table in anger, He showed us all three things:
1. We are the temple of God and greater is He than is in the believer then he that is in the world. When having that verse on the inside of you and believing that Jesus is Lord, anything foreign coming against the temple has no right or business being there. Sickness and disease is a foreign matter coming against the body. We have every right in getting angry and using what means we have to rid ourselves from it.

2. How can something come in the temple that was not invited to do so? Could it ever be a test and should we be accepting of it? We know when the usual season for the flu comes. Do we guard ourselves with the Word and whatever other means that is put on our hearts to use or are we casual about the matter because we know it is coming and inevitable to catch no matter what you do? How many people by passed that man selling goods in the temple before Jesus came?

3. When Jesus showed up to do what He did, there was never another passage about the matter ever returning. That man didn't come back to sell his wares ever again in the temple.

I have written about this before with my children. Whenever they got a cold, I knew what to do to guard against those common ailments. They dressed well in all seasons. They ate hot meals and had plenty of vitamins and minerals to keep their bodies strong. I spoke good things over them in their presence so they wouldn't have low self esteem and no one else could tell them different for them to think lower of themselves. I knew that once low self esteem tries to get a strong hold, health was the next factor. But above all else, I made it a regular practice to pray over them. They knew better not to pretend about being sick to miss out on school or for avoiding the foolishness of other children being intimidating. They knew they could come to me about what ever the matter was. When they did have the symptoms a cold coming about or some other ailment, I didn't coddle it with snuggling up to it and feeding it in bed. My children had those looks that would cause a mother to say, "oooh what's the matter with my baby?" But I had to put those feelings aside. Something had decided to come against my child and this is war. It only took a few hours for my children to be delivered and not the standard days  that some people think. Funny, that these pitiful attacks were usually towards the end of the week.

When we go to a dry cleaner, we have our laundry bundle up and ready to dump it on the counter to have those garments services. Sometimes there are stains that we give particular attention to tell the person for him/her to be aware in cleaning the garment. There is a specific time and date whether it is being told to the customer or the customer is telling the counter person. When picking up the garment, most of us will take special care in looking for those particular stains that was made mention of. If the stain is still there or even a small residual of it, there is a complaint made and an explanation is given as to why the stain couldn't be taken out or the garment is taken back for more treatment. Would God then do less then that? He is looking for a particular church for His Son. It is to be without spot or wrinkle. There are no excuses for doing this or that. It is why we are scrutinized with tests and trials while here on earth. With Jesus being the judge and defense, does that mean we can sit there and do nothing? Of course not. How do we live? Do we put all of our trust in Him so He can guide our path (Proverbs 3:6 KJV)? How do we do this without studying the manual of life that He has given (Joshua 1:8 NIV)? How do we do this without accepting the Holy Spirit that He has given (John 14:25-27 KJV)? How do we do this without living the abundant life that He has given (John 10:9-11 KJV)? What can one say when standing before Him in that day expecting to be accepted presenting a body in the state that it is in (Romans 12:1-3 KJV)?

A special note: What if all that you have to work with is a good looking face and body? Should you do with all you can to make your face and body marketable to make an income? Would you believe that as being superficial? Would you believe someone else telling you that? Would you then not do anything when it is all you have an interest in? What if you had other gifts and including looks. Would you then enhance all of the other gifts and let your looks go by the way side? There is a scripture that can be used for people like you. It isn't at all what you might think, but it is much to think about (Matthew 25:29 KJV).

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Flesh Has Its Own Affections (Part 1)

Just when you think that you have arrived in the faith and call yourself mature, the Holy Spirit enlightens you with some stuff that has kept you still lingering in the wilderness. The mere idea that the wilderness isn't at all a pleasant place tells you of how much flesh you still have to conquer or crucify depending upon how mature you truly are. Let's deal with the wilderness concept first before tackling the main focus- the flesh.

There are plenty accounts to choose from in the Word to understand the concept and to pin point where our maturity level is. If for whatever reason you read this and cannot see where you are in this whole scheme of getting you where God intended, then your time in His presence is lacking. To put in perspective, I use to think that there is no one on the face of this earth knowing who God is would ever act like the children of Israel when coming into the Promise Land. I mean, He was so active in their lives to the undeniable point. No one could ever convince them that it couldn't be any other and still all of the complaints (Exodus 16 & 17 KJV). It was as if there wasn't ever a time they could be satisfied. Yeesh! Shut up already and just be content... oh wait, we never did anything remotely close to that - right?

Back to the scriptures, David ran to the wilderness to get away from Saul who was trying to murder him and the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. In both cases, if given the opportunity to choose either sets of shoes (sandals) to be in, which would it be? Yet, in reaching a certain level of maturity, the wilderness is inevitable. In the wilderness, things don't happen the way they use to. The trying of your faith, testing, patience, and contending with the feelings of having a temper tantrum await you. Friends start acting different, it seems like everything is against you and your prayers are like mere words that you can understand rather then your Spiritual language you were practicing before the change of your immediate environment (the wilderness). Because the circumstances didn't change, you, of course, start to believe that what you have been doing must change as well. Why? It is what men have preached as of late: "You cannot believe for better if you keep doing the same thing." My answer to that is, heaven and earth will pass away but the Word shall remain (Matthew 24:35 KJV). God tells us to state our case and remind Him of His Word. His Word cannot return to Him void. So when you have done all you can - stand therefore. It is that standing allowing patience to have her perfect work that is contending with what you truly believe. How long have you been in that place waiting for answers?

How long did David run asking Saul why? David could have sliced Saul in two instead he showed him a piece of his garment that he cut while Saul slept. David was trying to convince Saul that he was not the problem (1 Samuel 24:9-11 KJV). The woman had a 12 year issue of blood and spent all she had to physicians, yet when the opportunity to touch the hem of Whom, she believed has the answer, she went for it (Luke 8:43-47 KJV). 12 years she waited to get her issue resolved, yet she had to be at the right place and at the right time to get what she was looking for. Jesus was led into the wilderness where the enemy made his attempts to take Jesus in the realm of fear. Yet Jesus maintained using the Word and resisting any urge to do anything other then being the task of Lord and Savior for us all. That's three examples of wilderness living that could have gone so wrong but because of commitment and submitting to what God has called of them, they were able to come out from the the trouble, issue, and temptation.

Though the wilderness may not be literally a dessert land, it may very well feel as if it is depending on your  social, financial, and spiritual status. Someone who use to reside in a 5 bedroom, 2 1/2 bathroom house that has to downsize to a 2 bedroom apartment could be the upgrade someone else is hoping for. God looks to see if you can still be joy filled in a place of abase or abound. Can you still speak of His praise when matters don't seem praise worthy. God told the children of Israel when they come into that place of plenty for them not to forget Him. When they have wells that they did not dig and those houses that they did not build to remember Who it was that made those provisions (Deuteronomy 6:10-12 KJV). To come out of the Valley of the Shadow of Death is being satisfied knowing that God is the Author and Finisher of your faith (Hebrews 12:2 KJV).

The Flesh Has Its Own Affections (Part 2)

Now for the topic at hand. To be affectionate is showing another how much you care. The flesh warps those cares into something that can move you into lack. The flesh stirs up emotion, worry, and fear (Galatians 5:16-25 KJV). Fear brings torment. Torment could be in one's own mind, on the job, or day to day activities when nothing seems to go the way you planned. Jesse Duplantis, a well known traveling evangelist stated it best, "the principality is in the personality." With a discerning ear, listen before reacting to all of what is said to you. As mentioning in Part 1, the wilderness could be a number of things and coming out of it sooner then later would depend on your reaction to it.

Personally, I had a tantrum. I hollered, cried, pounded my fists and made demands all while in prayer! It took years before  realizing where I was (wilderness) and why. In those spiritual baby years, I professed being a son of God rather then enjoying that spiritual childhood. I was using my faith but also rushing God for me to get to where I would like to be. I prayed for wants and when to get them. I was already getting what I asked for right up until I changed my confession. But the only reason I changed the confession was because of the message I heard, "babies don't get the keys to drive, sons do." So I rushed growing to get the training on "driving." Doesn't that sound like a teenager? God answered me. I had all of these plans, inventions, and witty ideas. I wrote them down in detail, making them plain, and then the waiting began. It was a suffering I couldn't describe. From always having cash to do as I please to feeling like my purchases were all on impulse rather than fulfilling any one of those plans given. It was aggravating, frustrating, and tormenting me.

The plans were huge. Much too much for me to do. So I waited until Wisdom helped me to break it down to smaller portions. When I could envision doing those things, I was ready; but the cash flow was no longer as accessible as it had been. I had to wait. Wait when thoughts were like, "well, who needed that service will have to go without because you mismanaged funds" or "if you don't hurry up and do it someone else will and make millions off of your ideas" or "you are wasting your time and after awhile you will be too old for anyone to ever want to listen to you."

What do you say to that? Should you care? Who's idea was this in the first place? Wouldn't He have provision for it? What do you have to be afraid of? Weren't you created for such a time as this? Think of it in this manner while in hiatus (wilderness acceptance), God is all knowing. He sees what you don't. When in a traffic jam, you are sitting behind dozens of cars waiting to move. Honking you horn doesn't cause the jam to dissipate but its only noise that irritates others. Having an SUV allows you to see past a few of those cars more than someone without an SUV, but if farther from the reason for the jam, you can't really see it. A Winnebago could really have a better view, but again, if the traffic jam is a long one, all of the Winnebago driver sees is more cars unless he is behind another Winnebago. If that is the case, all he can see is the back of the driver. God sees all. He knew about the traffic jam and if you would be focused on Him, He would have directed you away from it. The same would be true for any plans or vision you have.

While some may have the desire for it now, others aren't in place to make that vision truly a blessing for all. That table the Lord prepared for us, some of us need the food cut in smaller portions. For all you know the wait could be that very process for someone else. In that traffic jam, there are those that refuse to wait it out so they turn on the shoulder to get ahead of everyone else only coming face to face with construction, debris, and the state patrol. With all of those obstacles the impatient driver finds himself waiting anyway and more then likely with an expensive ticket he wouldn't have had if he just waited.

Oddly enough the wilderness can be quite pleasant. Just look around and see what can be done while you are there. Recall when Jesus took the people out to the dessert to be fed. Once he got there they sat in the grass. What dessert do you know of that has grass in it? Where ever Jesus went there was food, water - in actuality, provision. Grass had to grow even in the dessert. If we follow Him we become more like Him. We can not only have all we need but be a blessing for someone else. No one needs to know what troubles you are having. No one is interested in hearing all of that grumbling and complaining. Rest assured they more then likely have problems of their own. God knows and sees how you are handling it. FYI - Jesus spoke the Word. Take the page out of His book.