The Man Who Became God’s Friend

The Man Who Became God’s Friend
“And the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,’ and he was called God’s friend.” (Jas_2:23, NIV)
His story began with a whisper, some say. One night while he was standing near a grove a mulberry trees with a group of friends, a strange breeze rushed in from nowhere and rustled the leaves a bit. Some say that’s all it was – just a strange wind. But he heard the Voice. The look on his face didn’t go unnoticed by the others, for it seemed as though he had seen a ghost. No, he didn’t see one – he only heard one. And it was a Holy Ghost.
The Voice, tender and befriending, called him by name – “Abram.” We know him today as Abraham. And the Voice that spoke to him that night we now know as the God of Abraham.
They were friends, you see.
Their friendship began when Abraham believed. And what was it exactly that Abraham believed? Simply put, he believed God. Whatever God said to him, no matter how impossible or unlikely it seemed or sounded – Abraham believed that the One who spoke was true, and able to do what He had said.
Listen to how Paul puts it in his letter to the Romans:
“When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do. And so he was made father of a multitude of peoples. God himself said to him, ‘You’re going to have a big family, Abraham!’ Abraham didn’t focus on his own impotence and say, ‘It’s hopeless. This hundred-year-old body could never father a child.’ Nor did he survey Sarah’s decades of infertility and give up. He didn’t tiptoe around God’s promise asking cautiously skeptical questions. He plunged into the promise and came up strong, ready for God, sure that God would make good on what he had said.” (Rom_4:18-21, The Message).
What crazy, insane, impossible, and most unlikely thing has God promised you? And now does it all seem hopeless; certain never to happen?
Well, you are on the brink of becoming friends with God! Just believe!!

Smudges and Grudges, and Immature Judges

Smudges and Grudges, and Immature Judges
“Overlook an offense and bond a friendship; fasten on to a slight and — good-bye, friend!” (Pro_17:9, The Message)
It takes humility to overlook an offense; and maturity to let go of a slight. A proud man will take offense quickly, especially if he perceives that someone has deliberately crossed him.
The Bible says, “Only by pride cometh contention”(Pro_13:10). When a man’s pride is insulted, hurt, or in any way belittled — he will blow his lid; especially if he esteems himself more highly than he ought.
There are some people who hold onto a grudge for years, and severe their friendships over things that have largely been blown way out of proportion. The Bible calls it a “slight.” The word means something trivial. Yet to the offended party — it is no small thing at all. They feel neglected, regarded with indifference, and treated with humiliating discourtesy.
Now, if someone has in fact treated another with humiliating discourtesy, then they should certainly make amends. But if it is only perceived in the mind of the offended party, that’s another matter. It is at this point that the friendship now stands in jeopardy. For the person who holds onto the slight does so at the cost of impugning the other with undeserved guilt and shame — pushing them farther and farther away with each passing day of brooding silence.
The results are devastating; for only God truly knows the great value of relationships within the Kingdom, and the tremendous advances they offer to the cause of Christ. Could this be one of the reasons the devil is ever on the prowl, seeking to use the covert work of whispering to separate the chiefest of friends?
“Can you believe he treated you that way?” the serpent hisses into the wounded heart. “Why, you deserve much better than that. If I were you, I would have nothing to do with that person ever again. That’ll teach him!”
My advice? Take the high road when you are offended; let you love for your friend cover the error. Hold onto your friend — they are worth far more to you that the grudge the devil is trying to bury into your heart.

The Unshakable Man

The Unshakable Man
“Whoever does these things will never be shaken.” (Psa_15:5, God’s Word Translation)
As we saw in yesterday’s post, when your life is marked by personal integrity, relational faithfulness, moral strength, sacrificial dedication, and financial honesty – you may live in the Lord’s Presence forever. And furthermore, as we will see today, you have a rock solid promise that you can stand upon in the face of anything that comes your way. The Bible says, “Whoever does these things will never be shaken” (Psa_15:5).
In the Presence of the Lord you become the Unshakable Man; the Unshakable Woman.
In a day of flim-flam personalities, posturing politicians, fame-chasing ding-bats, pontificating preachers, and waffling masses caught in the whirl of a world turned upside down by policies and procedures dictated by idiots who are clueless of God – YOU can take a stand on the Solid Rock and be unshakable.
’t for a moment underestimate the value of your decision to do so.
Now more than ever before in our history, men and women of unshakable fiber are needed. Men and women whose word is true, whose lives are solid, whose character is commendable, and whose presence make a difference that matters…and that lasts.
I pray that you may be such a person. And that I may, by the grace of God, be one with you.
The Bible says that a time is coming – indeed it may already be upon us – when all things that can be shaken will be shaken….so that only the unshakable things will remain (See Heb_12:27).
May God grant you grace to stand unshaken, and give you the profound honor of being a source of hope to all around you who see their world falling apart at the seams.

A Place Where Travelers May Live…Forever

A Place Where Travelers May Live…Forever
“O LORD, who may stay in your tent? Who may live on your holy mountain?” (Psa_15:1)
Surely by now you know that you are a Traveler in this Life? And, you must also know that travelling takes it toll. Whether it be by planes, trains, or automobiles – travelling exacts its hefty fare from those who spend their time going to and fro for this or that.
All along the roadway there are opportunities aplenty for us to make the right or wrong choice; there are potholes and pitfalls, inclines and rock slides, tight turns and narrow margins – each demanding something of us at every step along the way.
the Psalmist asked, “O LORD, who may stay in your tent?” The image here is describing a traveler who turns aside from the road to seek hospitality; like at a roadside rest stop. “Lord, who may rest in Your presence?”
And then he asks further, “Who may live on Your holy mountain?” (Psa_15:1). This word has a sense of more permanence with it. Rather than just stopping for a short visit in the Presence of the Lord, we now have the invitation to live in His Presence all the time.
In the remaining verses of this Psalm, the Lord answers the Psalmist’s question, and He shows what He is looking for in the lives of those He welcomes into His Presence.
There are Five Qualities listed:
Personal Integrity – “The one who walks with integrity, does what is righteous, and speaks the truth within his heart.”
Relational Faithfulness – “The one who does not slander with his tongue, do evil to a friend, or bring disgrace on his neighbor.”
Moral Strength – “The one who despises those rejected by God but honors those who fear the LORD.”
Sacrificial Dedication – “The one who makes a promise and does not break it, even though he is hurt by it.”
Financial Honesty – “The one who does not collect interest on a loan or take a bribe against an innocent person.”
some honest and reflective time today and assess where you measure up in these five areas. It may mean the difference between faking it – or making it in your journey through this world.
Travel well my fellow pilgrim! And may you find that Place where Travelers may live forever — in the Presence of the Lord!

The Trouble with a Warped Head

The Trouble with a Warped Head

“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (Jas 1:19-20, NIV)

Sometimes our relationship with the Lord is like Candid Camera — when you least expect it, and always at a time when you would not want it to happen — He walks right up to you, dressed is some clever disguise like a grease-stained mechanic at a car dealership, and says, “Mr. Freak, you have a warped head.”

As the guy went on to explain the problem I was having with my car the Lord started talking to me about deeper issues in my own heart. Specifically –the issue of anger.

The mechanic told me that because the engine head was warped, it caused a break in the gasket seal, which in turn resulted in an oil leak and loss of power. The smoke was the result of oil burning on a hot head.

you get all that? Yeah, me too. At that moment I realized that while the mechanic was talking about my car — the Lord was talking about me.

When we are warped in our thinking – nothing good can happen. And to make matter worse, we get all hot and bothered when something good doesn’t happen. And when things go bad or wrong – we blow our lids. That’s the trouble with a warped head.

The Lord wants to set our minds right. And as He does so, the seal will hold and there will be no blown gaskets, nor any loss of power.

 

My Times are in your hands

“My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me.” (Psa 31:15).

Several years ago I was at the Grand Junction Airport early for my 1pm flight to Denver. I had preached a most glorious and robust sermon to the great delight of multitudes…. (I think there was a total of 130 people in church that morning, but according to the pastor, many suffered with multiple personality disorders — so I concluded that I was actually preaching to hundreds upon hundreds. It’s vain, I know, but such thinking sometimes helps young preachers wax eloquent — at least in their own imaginations.)

Anyway, I was at the airport well in advance of my flight, only to learn that it had been cancelled for some reason or another which never could be fully explained. Well, says I to myself, I could have tarried another hour or so in the affirmations of the Sunday crowd, basking in their appreciation of my words of wisdom — instead of smoldering here in this delayed circumstance.

OK, so they rescheduled a new flight for Denver. It was United flight 3115, and was now scheduled to depart Grand Junction at 3:15 pm. It didn’t strike me until I was on the plane — it was Sunday, March 15 (as in 3/15); I was on flight 3115, departing from Gate 3 at 3:15pm. And I was seated in row 15.

I deemed all this to be oddly coincidental, and out of curiosity turned in my Bible to Psalm 31:15 — and there read these words: “My times are in Thy hands.”

That was indeed a Grand Junction in my life. A defining moment that occurred several years ago, and yet still resonates in my soul with ever-present effects today. There is no need to hurry or worry, for “my times are in Thy hands.” And there is no need to fear, for “what time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.” (Psa 56:3).

My times are in Thy handsGod, I wish them there.life, my friends, my soul I leaveto Thy care.

My times are in Thy handsthey may be., painful, dark or bright,best as seems to Thee.

My times are in Thy handsshould I doubt or fear?Father’s hand will never causechild a needless tear.

My times are in Thy hands’ll always trust in Thee., after death, at Thy right handtime shall ever be!

through other translations of the Bible yielded the following treasures:

From the Contemporary English Version, “My life is in your hands.” The Good News Bibles reads, “I am always in your care.” The Message says, “Hour by hour I place my days in your hand.” And God’s Word Translations affirms, “My future is in your hands.”

Here are a few choice comments from others down through the Centuries. Adam Clarke comments, “The events of my life are under thy control.” Jamison, Fausset, Brown calls it, “the course of my life.” John Wesley puts it this way, “All the affairs and events of my life, are wholly in thy power.” The Geneva Commentary says, “Whatever changes come, you govern them by your providence.” The Targum, a Rabbinical Comentary of Scripture, says, “the times of my redemption are in Thy Hands.”

Albert Barnes writes, “All that pertained to us is under the control and at the disposal of God. We shall live as long as God has appointed; we shall pass through such changes as he directs; we shall die when and where and how he chooses.”

Charles Spurgeon puts his touch to it thus, “The sovereign arbiter of destiny holds in his own power all the issues of our life; we are not waifs and strays upon the ocean of fate, but are steered by infinite wisdom towards our desired haven.”

When situations change and present us with a challenge — this reveals and strengthens our character, and leads us to admire an unchanging God – who supports and comforts us during seasons of change, and profits us greatly thereby. What unshakable faith we possess when once we affirm that God Himself fully possesses our times in His faithful hands!My

Sleeping Through a Revolution

Sleeping Through a Revolution (1 of 3)

“Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” (Eph 5:14).

Epic change is in the air while many have dozed off, seemingly oblivious to God . Perhaps we may be like Peter, James and John when the Lord invited them to a private prayer meeting on top of a mountain.

By the time Peter, James and John made the climb, they were so tired that they fell asleep while Jesus was praying. And as they were sleeping, two other invited guests arrived – Moses, and the Prophet Elijah! Jesus was delighted to see them, and they began talking together about the Kingdom of God and the coming Age of Glory.

At that moment, Jesus began to shine brighter than the noon day sun – so bright, in fact, that it woke Peter up. The Bible then tells us, “Peter and the other two disciples had been sound asleep. All at once they woke up and saw how glorious Jesus was” (Luk 9:32, Contemporary English Version).

Hmmm. “They woke up and saw how glorious Jesus was” — Don’t you think it’s time for that to happen again?

you remember reading the story of Rip Van Winkle when you were a kid? I do, but the funny thing is I can’t remember what was the point of the story. I mean, I know it’s about a guy who fell asleep for a really long time – but beyond that I couldn’t recall anything else. So I decided to read it again, and here’s what I discovered.

When Rip Van Winkle went to sleep, King George of England was the recognized monarch who ruled over the American colonies. Twenty years later when Rip woke up, George Washington was the President of the United States.

Rip Van Winkle had slept through a Revolution!

Peter, James and John were essentially doing the same thing on top that sacred mountain of transfiguration. And, as the evidence seems to suggest, much of the church today is in the exact same condition – sleeping through a revolution.

(to be continued tomorrow….)

Seeking Greatness

Seeking Greatness?

“Now there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest.” (Luk 22:24)

The disciples of old were not at all unlike the disciples of today. There yet continues to be disputes among us over who is the greatest. Fallen souls that we are, something deep within us is forever aspiring to rise to greater and greater heights. Yet, the Lord loves us too much to leave us unguarded in this matter.

When Charles Spurgeon was eighteen years old and seeking God’s will for his life, he felt the need for theological training. Both his friends and his father advised him to attend college. So he made application to Regent’s Park College, and an interview was set between the head of the college and young Spurgeon at the Cambridge home of a publisher.

At the appointed time, Spurgeon arrived and a servant showed him into the parlor. There he sat for two hours until at last his patience could stand it no longer. He called for the servant and was horrified to discover that she had failed to announce his arrival, and had forgotten all about him!

Meanwhile the head of the college had sat waiting in an adjoining room until his patience, too, had been exhausted, and he had left Cambridge for London by train without the interview ever having taken place.

Spurgeon was deeply disturbed, and his first impulse was to run after the man, to chase him to London, to explain what had happened. But he took a long walk out in the country to calm down, and by-and-by a verse of Scripture came to his mind so forcibly that he almost seemed to hear it audibly — “Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not!” (Jer 45:5).

The Lord seemed to be telling him not to worry about the misunderstanding, not to make extraordinary efforts to clear it up, but to take it as the Lord’s will and serve the Lord humbly where he was. As a result, Spurgeon never did make it to college, but it didn’t matter. He became the most successful and influential minister in the history of Victorian England, and he later said that he “a thousand times thanked the Lord very heartily for the strange providence which forced his steps into another and far better path.”

Spurgeon once said in a sermon, “Many, through wishing to be great, fail to be good.” Hmmm, maybe instead of seeking to always be great, perhaps we simply ought to seek to be good.

Sparkles on the Water

Sparkles on the Water
“All who look to him will be radiant. Their faces will never be covered with shame.” (Psa_34:5)
The moon is radiant only as it is in the right position to receive the light of the sun. That’s the way it is with us as well. Our lives are filled with light only as we are in right relationship with the Lord. When we look to Him, trusting Him to meet our needs, then our faces will be radiant.
There are some people who turn away from the Lord, and put their trust in man, or in money, or in methods — only to be disappointed. They become like the moon in a lunar eclipse, caught in the shadow of the world with their faces covered in darkness. For them their is no radiance.
Still, there are others who look to themselves instead of the Lord, putting their trust in their own ability; self-righteousness they are, but still falling far short of the glory of God. These are like the moon during a solar eclipse, blocking the light of the sun as they usurp its orbit with their own. These are the type of people who brighten up a room by leaving.
Then there are those who do look to the Lord, trusting Him in all things at all times. These are like the full moon in its midnight brilliance. The light of the Lord shines upon them, making their faces radiant. The Hebrew word means, “sparkles on the water.” It is a rich metaphor depicting a person who is overjoyed, and glowing with happiness.
The next time you see sparkles on the water, or a full moon in the night sky, let it remind you that the Lord wants your life to be like that for others. He wants to make your face radiant, so as to fill them with wonder – and thereby give you an opportunity to tell them the story of Jesus.

The Ambiguious Man

The Ambiguious Man
“Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.” Jas_1:7-8 (The Message)
Some people trust in the Lord to help them save themselves. ”Lord, help me out here,” such a person prays. “I can do it, but I need a little push.” They trust the Lord, but not completely. They still keep other options open.
We’ve all heard the old saying, “God helps those who help themselves.” While the sentiments behind this whimsical adage are admirable, the saying itself is quite untrue.
Yes, it is true that a person shouldn’t sit around aimlessly all day just expecting God to do this or that for them, while they themselves do nothing. But the adage errs significantly by failing to realize that God in fact does not help those who help themselves; rather, He helps the helpless.
He is the Defender of the defenseless; He rescues the perishing, saves those who are falling, and lifts ups those who have been struck down. He is a Father to the orphan, a Friend to sinners, and the Champion of those who are weak. Indeed, Paul summed it up — “when we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom_5:6).
The problem with “helping yourself” and asking God for a little assistance is that you’re the one still calling the shots — keeping all your options open. Few things are more insulting to God than for a man to come before Him while holding onto other options…just in case the “God thing” doesn’t work out.
Remember when Peter walked on the water? The moment fear overcame him and he began sinking, he cried, “Lord save me!” To help you feel the force of his prayer, think of it this way — He did not say, “Lord, help me.” He was not at all ambiguious in that moment.
Or, how about Lazarus, the dead man? He had no options whatsoever. Jesus stood before the cold stone which sealed his tomb and ordered it removed, and then called out, “Lazarus, come forth!” And the dead man did so, now fully alive. A significant part of this event is contained in the name Lazarus — it means “without help.” You see? God helps the helpless.
Like Peter sinking in the sea, or Lazarus of old lying cold in his tomb, you and I will never be called into a new and deeper, more vibrant and wondrous walk with Jesus until we realize we truly have no other options but God.
The ambiguious man will always sink or swim; and eventually his strength will fail and he will go under. But the man and woman of faith will walk on the water in fellowship with the Lord.

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