Sunday, November 28, 2010


Nov 29, 2010
Col 1:9 ". . . continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives. . ."'

Beating against the wind is a concept that emphasizes futility. It describes an action that expends a great deal of energy, only to result in fruitless effort. There is nothing productive about it, and the only thing gained is, well, nothing. Many, many people live their lives this way, spending their energies on activities that are completely unproductive, fruitless. You've probably experienced this once or twice, investing a great deal of effort into an activity only to have gained absolutely nothing. It is so frustrating, to employ yourself heartily only to realize a vast void where work once abounded. I've seen many people in the latter years of their lives, living with such regret, having spent most of their days on pointless, fruitless activities. They never planned on it, it just happened. You and I don't plan on pointless activities either, but it happens more than you want to admit.

Most of us don't mind a little hard work, but we usually like to see some result from all the effort, rather than see our time wasted. There is hope, though, to help us avoid pointless activity. God does not want you to engage in a life of pointless activities. God wants you to have clarity in what you are supposed to do. God has direction for you, and He would like you to be productive. What this looks like is different for everyone, and to tell you what you should spend your time on is not for me to say. But I can offer the same advice that Paul gave: we should continually ask God to fill us with the knowledge of His will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives.

Paul's advice, asking for spiritual direction and clarity, has a purpose; the same purpose you and I would expect. It is found in the verses following his advice. It is "so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God." This would give each of us the direction we need to have hope in the work that we are doing, hope that it will be productive. If our direction comes from the Lord, then it will surely be productive. The productivity might not be for the same results we would expect or hope for on earth, but since God is in charge of the fruit from our labor, we can trust Him to work it out. This trust is in knowing God intends our work to be for our own true benefit or for that of others, so they might come into a full relationship with the Lord. Both options result in an abundance of fruit.

God does not want you to wander through this life wondering what it is you are supposed to do. He wants you to know your purpose and offers wisdom to all those who ask for it. It is critical, then, that you lay down your own ideas of what it is you should do and truly be willing to listen to His recommendations. God's ways might seem different than what you might think, but His work is always for a purpose. It is also critical that you drown out your own voice and the tempting voice of Satan, defeating all that is against what God truly has for your life. God has a plan and a will, and God wants you to align your life with His own ideas for mankind. But finding out what God's will is requires clarity, the kind of clarity that only comes from listening to what it is He has to say. The Holy Spirit will provide you with that clarity, revealing the truth of God's will for your life. I pray that you find God's will for your efforts, that they would no longer be pointless, but filled with fruit, good fruit.

Don't live another moment without seeking God's will for today. Determine to know and do God's good and perfect will in everything.

1. What are you doing that is not bearing fruit?
2. How can you ask for God's will in EVERYTHING that you do?
3. How can you align God's will with yours, ensuring you are bearing fruit?

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Matt 6:33, John 8:44, John 16:13, Rom 8:28, Rom 12:2, Col 1:9-12, James 1:9, 1 John 4:6

Sunday, November 21, 2010

God and Polar Fleece

God and Polar Fleece
Nov 22, 2010
Judges 6:39 "Then Gideon said to God, 'Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece, but this time make the fleece dry and let the ground be covered with dew."'

God approached a man named Gideon with a task in mind, specifically for Gideon. God wanted Gideon to lead a small army against a large nation in order to defeat Israel's oppressors. Unfortunately, Gideon didn't believe God. Maybe Gideon thought the angel who appeared on God's behalf was feeding him a lie or maybe Gideon simply didn't have the courage to step out. So, Gideon decided to test the word of the Lord with a piece of fleece sitting on dry ground. After the test was passed, Gideon tested the word of the Lord again with the polar opposite, using the same fleece on wet ground. Gideon did this because he was insecure about what the Lord had to say. Gideon identified the angel as a messenger from the Lord, but wasn't willing to receive the message as from God.

If you read the verses preceding the story of the fleece, you will find that Gideon asked the angel for a sign, in an attempt to identify the angel as truly from God. The sign, a rather large sign, was given to Gideon when he made an offering of meat and bread in front of the angel: "Fire flared from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread. And the angel of the LORD disappeared." That was Gideon's first sign and he immediately declared, "Sovereign LORD! I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face!" Gideon knew it was God who sent the angel. He KNEW it was God talking and yet didn't believe in His words (or at least he didn't want to believe). Gideon was insecure with being obedient to the word of the Lord because it was a difficult task, one that took a tremendous amount of faith to believe could come true. He knew it was God talking but still had to test Him with the fleece. If you read Gideon's words, he even asked for forgiveness when he asked to use the fleece the second time. He knew he was testing the patience of God. Thankfully God was patient with Gideon, but testing God is not something we should do on a regular basis, if at all.

Scripture says, "It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'" This was said by Jesus when satan was tempting Him in the wilderness. Jesus said it directly and He was quoting scripture found in Deuteronomy 6:16. In its original meaning in Deuteronomy, this "test" was in reference both to the patience of God and God being true to His word. God has always been true to His word and Gideon didn't believe Him. That is why Gideon asked for forgiveness, he knew he was testing God's patience and God's word. Gideon was wrong to use the fleece the first time and was wrong to use the fleece the second time. Yes, God was patient, but if Gideon recognized it was the Lord, then he should have received what the Lord had to say, regardless of how crazy it sounded.

You and I do this sometimes, hear God and doubt it is Him talking. We hear this voice, knowing it is from the Lord, knowing what we are supposed to do, and yet we are afraid to step out in faith and obey Him. Sometimes we try to test Him to see if it is really from Him and other times we simply squelch the word of the Lord; we drown it out with the realities and business of life. This frustrates the Lord. He desires that we believe Him and trust what He says, no matter how strange or preposterous it sounds. Gideon was insecure about what God had to say, but it did not change God's words. You might be insecure about what you should do, what He has asked of you, but it will not change His desires for you and your life. If you decide not to listen to the word of the Lord, then you miss out on being considered a hero of faith. That's right, even though Gideon didn't believe God at first, he eventually had the faith to believe in what God said would happen. And it did. Because Gideon believed and trusted, Gideon ended up in the Faith Hall of Fame (found in Hebrews 11).

Hear the word of the Lord and believe it the first time. Don't use polar fleece to test the word of God. God desires faith and obedience right away.

1. Have you heard from the Lord but are still waiting for an additional sign?
2. What word of God have you been ignoring, refusing to believe it's God?
3. Is it time to step out in faith, acting on what God has asked of you?

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Deut 6:16, Judges 6, Ps 78:41 & 56, Matt 4:7, Luke 4:12, Heb 11:32

Monday, November 15, 2010

Good Things to Come

Good Things to Come
Nov 15, 2010
Isaiah 64:4 ". . . no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him."

There is an old saying that suggests good things come to those who wait. I have difficulty with this, because the statement doesn't really mean good things will naturally come when and if you simply wait. The statement means you should be patient for what you are expecting. No one likes to wait, especially if it is something we are expecting or anticipating. However, when it comes to spiritual things, waiting and expecting go hand in hand, especially when we are on God's time, schedule, and plan. God wants us to be in a state of expectation, anticipation of future things, but He wants us to wait for them, realizing they might not happen in this lifetime. Let me explain.

Isaiah 64:4-5 declares, "Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways." This is a picture of God coming to the rescue of His own children, a picture of Him making everything right. It is telling us that God will act on our behalf, but we have to wait for Him. This waiting, though, is not necessarily what we think, especially if we are waiting for God to bring us a new house or a better job. The apostle Paul makes the passage slightly clearer for us by his interpretation of the same passage in the New Testament. He writes his own version of this verse, "However as it is written: 'What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived'---the things God has prepared for those who love him." Notice Paul never mentions that we have to wait. Thankfully Paul leaves this word out. The word "wait" is misleading because we now must understand the scripture in light of seeing Jesus already live and die on this earth. Remember the original verse was written before Jesus came to die on the cross; we are no longer waiting for that.

If we are waiting for something, we are hoping it will come sooner than later, maybe even today so we can live tomorrow having already received it. Paul knew that the "things" we are waiting for are no longer for this earth. He knew they would not happen for us in our own lifetime, while we are all still alive in the current order of life. Paul knew these "things" would only happen when the Bridegroom comes to the earth again. Paul used the word "prepared" because he wanted us to understand it was a heavenly thing, not a worldly thing. The prophet in the Old Testament used the word "wait" because the Israelites were waiting for the Christ to come to the earth the first time around; they had not seen Jesus yet. They were waiting for Jesus to be born on the earth. Now, we are expecting Jesus and eternity in Heaven with Him; we are not waiting for his life and death on the cross, we are waiting to have what God has prepared for our future--IN HEAVEN.

The scripture is one and the same (both the Old Testament and the New Testament version), but the interpretation is different. The interpretation is in what we are expecting, in what we are waiting for. The scripture was partly fulfilled when Paul was quoting it, but both instances require us to wait in expectation of what God is going to do in the future.

There is one caveat, though, to both versions of the original verse. In both the Old Testament and the New Testament, the future arrival of "things" depends upon being a child of God. Read the words and verses right after each individual verse (look it up yourself), they denote a sense of obedience to God's words and teaching. In the Old Testament version, it clearly talked about doing right and following God's ways, but in the New Testament version, Paul leaves out obedience and instead brings in the word "love." Paul was aware that a new order of things began when Jesus walked the earth. In fact, Jesus gave the disciples the interpretation for the very verse in question, directly out of His own mouth. "Jesus replied, 'Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.'" And these are the "things" referenced in both versions of the verse. This is what God prepared, fellowship and a home for us with Him. Paul knew this and wanted us to understand what we are waiting for, what we are expecting for the future; it is no longer that Christ would come to live among us and die on the cross. It is now waiting expectantly for the time when God meets with us and we arrive into a heavenly home with Him.

Your eye has not seen and you cannot even begin to fathom the future God has for you, but you must wait for it; it won't happen on this earth. It will happen when Jesus comes for us again.

1. How can you read these scriptures and understand they speak of heavenly things?
2. How can you live expectantly of future heavenly things?
3. How can you ensure you are a child of God, thereby receiving those future things from Him?

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Is 64, 1 Cor 2:8-9, John 14:23-25

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Jealous Lover

Jealous Lover
Nov 8, 2010
James 4:5 ". . . he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us . . ."

The full Scripture for James 4:5 reads, "Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us?" The interpretation of James 4:5 is said to be one of the most difficult verses in the Bible to make clear. It is difficult for two reasons: 1. No one can confirm which other Scripture to which James is making a reference. 2. No one knows for certain what the reference to "spirit" means (it could possibly mean Holy Spirit). In light of not claiming to have the most definitive answer, I will interpret this Scripture in light of the entire Bible. It will paint a picture for you to consider God in a possible different color, Dark Green.

James is a very distinct writer, and he kept a very consistent theme throughout his words. Since James never mentions the Holy Spirit in his letter but only refers to what is inside a man, "spirit" probably does not actually mean Holy Spirit. "Spirit" in this verse represents the human spirit, or more accurately, what God put in us when He created us--a spirit of free will. That is what differentiates us from the angels; we have a free will. We can choose to love God or not. We can choose to serve God or not. This is what God wants, what God longs for, for us to choose Him. God put in us a free will, so when we do worship Him, it is voluntary, of our own accord. We are not forced to do it but we worship Him because we want to, because we choose to. Our worship, then, to God is far sweeter than when a perfect angel worships Him. God wants this; God desires this.

In fact, God wants this so badly, our free will worship, that Scripture uses words like envious, longing, jealousy, and even....adulterous. That's right, God wants our love and affection so badly that He is likened to a jealous lover. And when we choose not to love Him, or worship Him, we are committing adultery. WOW. What a picture so opposite of Jonathan Edwards' "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." God isn't mad at you, He is jealous for your affection. God doesn't want to destroy you, He wants to woo you. But the Bible states very clearly that you must decide. You must make a choice. If your actions don't choose God, you are in adultery and His jealousy turns Him into something similar to resembling a green eyed monster. Read the Scripture preceding James 4:5. It says directly that our actions are adulterous if we like anything about this world. And it further says that we become enemies of God if we love anything other than Him.

While God created everything, if we love something more than Him, it is wrong. It is adultery. If we love our career more than Him, we are in adultery. If we love our children more than we love Him, we are in adultery. If we are even friends with this world, we are in adultery. At least that's how God sees it. If it sounds harsh, I'm sorry, but that is the depth of how God feels. God is in love with you and every time you choose something else over Him He gets jealous. He longs for you so deeply and so passionately that when you don't choose Him, His deep feelings are wounded so badly, as when a spouse strays with another sexual partner. It is that intense for God. Almost the entire book of Hosea is dedicated to this analogy.

You know this feeling, too, of jealousy. You've been jealous a time or two and remember how intensely it can burn inside of you. So, while sometimes my actions are not perfect, I would rather offend this world greatly than make my True Lover jealous.

Since James didn't specifically say which Scripture he was referencing, I've included some options for your consideration. Read them for yourself and learn of God's jealously for your affection.

1. What have you chosen lately over God?
2. Does the world consider you its friend or is your Christianity slightly offensive to it?
3. How can you be in this world, but not of it, thereby keeping your lover from becoming jealous?

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Ex 20:5, Ex 34:14, Deut 4:24, Deut 6:15, Deut 30:15-19, Josh 24:15, 1 Kings 14:22, Zeph 3:8, Zech 8:2, Lk 6:46, Jn 15:19, Jn 17:16, 1 Cor 10:22, 1 Tim 6:12-14, Rev 22:12-17