Monday, October 29, 2018

Step Out

Step Out
October 29, 2018
Genesis 12:4  "So Abram went, as the Lord told him. . . "

If someone wins a race, it is because they worked hard to win. It is not just about working hard, though, they had to step out to begin with, and start somewhere. It sounds silly to say but everyone starts at the beginning. No one wins their first race; there are likely many races they have competed in. No one competes in a race without training, applying diligence in the practice beforehand. No one applies diligence in the training unless they have taken the first step in determining to begin. Winning a race always starts with the decision to take the first step, to make the the choice to move out from comfortable and start to compete. This is the same, not only with your decision to follow the Lord and compete in this Christian life, but also the same in stepping out in faith.

As I read through the Bible, there are several impressive individuals who followed the Lord when there was no precedent to do so, no reason for them to step out, no guarantee it would actually work out well. Abraham was told to step out and the Lord was going to make him the father of a huge nation. Abraham had to believe and had to determine to make the first step of faith. His son and his grandson had to do the same, stepping out even further to continue the journey, still not sure what it was they were working toward exactly. Moses had to step out in faith twice. The first time was to leave the sheep in the desert and step out in faith toward Pharaoh, asking him to let the slaves go free. The second time was when they were about to leave Egypt, slaves now free, heading out into the unknown. Then I read further and Elisha stepped out to follow Elijah has his prophet apprentice, not knowing what was in store. Nehemiah stepped out and asked the king if he could rebuild the wall; he stepped out to take on that hefty project. Then there is the calling of the first disciples. Jesus would walk up to these unsuspecting men and He asked them to follow Him. They did; they stepped out in faith and followed Him to the unknown future.

We have the luxury of reading all these men's stories and seeing that it worked out, that it was the right decision to step out in faith and follow the Lord down a bizarre and unknown path. But they did not have that same opportunity. They did not know how it was going to end, how it was going to work out, if the blessing was really going to be there or if the Lord could even be trusted if they embarked on the dangerous journey. These impressive men stepped out and the stories were unwritten. The Lord could not make their story amazing had they all not stepped out though. You cannot win a race without staring to run and you cannot reap the Lord's rewards if you stay sitting on the couch. Most of us are afraid to step out, the make the leap of faith. Sure, if we know for certain it is going to be profitable, then we'll step out, but the unknown is so......unknown. 

The Lord's path for your life is scary, don't be fooled. But some of you are so afraid of the future that you are paralyzed, unwilling to move forward at all. There are so many Christians who are afraid to step out and so they sit and do nothing, actually becoming lazy in their Christian walk. While I don't know what the path could be for your life, I do know there is no reward for sitting on the couch. There is no medal for those who refuse to compete. There is no reward for those who don't even start the race. There is no blessing unless there is first a leap of faith. The Lord cannot bless the couch sitter. While nothing will happen to you if you sit on the couch, nothing will reward you either. I cannot guarantee the future, but I can guarantee there is no potential outcome unless you step out in faith.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Is Gen 12:1-9, 1 Kings 19:19-21, Neh 2:4-11, Matt 4:18-20

Monday, October 22, 2018

Not Done Yet

Not Done Yet
October 22, 2018
Daniel 6:27 "He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions."

No doubt, one of the most famous stories in the Bible is the one of Daniel in the lion's den. To recap the story, Daniel found enemies despite not doing anything wrong. Daniel was upright and lived in exile under foreign rule. Daniel prayed to the Lord and served Him, first and foremost. His enemies plotted to get rid of him, as they were jealous of the favor Daniel had with the king. They set him up, to trap him, if Daniel prayed to the Lord in Heaven. Of course Daniel did the right thing, and prayed to the Lord in Heaven, but the law stated Daniel was now a criminal and had to suffer the fate of the lion's den. The king was furious at the trick from Daniel's enemies, but could not reverse the law. Thankfully Daniel was safe in that lion's den but it took the Lord's design to accomplish it.

Most depictions of that story, regarding Daniel, suggest he was of young age. Daniel was anything but young at the time. Daniel was pushing 80 years old at the time of this debacle. So what? What is the significance? Technically, Daniel had lived a full life and the Lord could have simply allowed Daniel to fall asleep and avoid the trial like He did for Stephen five hundred years later. Regardless of how it played out for Daniel, the Lord's design never intended it to end there and the reason was because of Daniels future, still. It is unknown the age at which Daniel actually died, but theologians suggest he was over 100, possibly pushing 120 years old. At 80, Daniel still had worked to do for the Lord.

If you read the book of Daniel, the story of the lion's den is the turning point in the writing and subject matter. The first portions of the book only comment on a few instances of Daniels walk with the Lord, but it encompassed more than 60 years of his life. Then the lion's den happens, and instantly the book of Daniel turns into prophecy and eschatology. For the later portions of the book, riddles and mysteries and prophecies are recorded that baffle theologians still today. The Lord will reveal the meaning of those prophecies in due time but the Lord needed them to be written down. The most crucial parts of Daniel's life were not before the lion's den, but after. The Lord rescued Daniel because Daniel still had work to do. Satan tried to thwart Daniel's life but his life wasn't over yet. The best of Daniel's life, the most important years of serving the Lord were not done yet. He did more in the twilight years of his life than most of us will accomplish from beginning to end.

The point is, Daniel wasn't done yet and the Lord still had so much for Him to do. The Lord rescued Daniel for a reason; Daniel was still willing to serve the Lord. His life wasn't over and there was plenty of work to be done. You may think you missed out on it years ago, that thing you could have done for the Lord, but your life is just beginning, even if you are in your 60's. You never get to retire from serving the Lord and your efforts are needed in your 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's, and even 60's and 70's. There is a new work, not necessarily the old one, and the exciting part is you get to figure it out with the Lord. He has a plan and desires to use you because you are not done yet. Think you accomplished something big for Him already? Just you wait, the best is yet to come, if you let it. The story of Daniel speaks not just to the age of which the Lord can use you, but to the fact that no matter how much opposition from the enemy there is, nothing can stop the Lord's plans. 

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Is 54:17, Daniel 6, Acts 7:54-60, Rom 8:31

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Lord's Specialty

The Lord's Specialty
October 15, 2018
Isaiah 43:13 "Yes, and from ancient days, I am He. No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it?"

In Isaiah, the Lord speaks to the Israelites, but does so in slightly confusing verbiage. He says He is doing a new thing, making a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. In hindsight we know He was specifically talking about making a new way for redemption through the coming Jesus Christ. And while it is important to keep the  Bible in context, there are some amazing attributes about the  Lord we can glean from this text. If you read the verses surrounding these words, you'll see the Lord reference the exodus from Egypt as slaves. He recounts parting the waters and taking care of them against Pharaoh's army. Recall that was a massive miracle, letting the Israelites walk on dry ground and then pulling the waters back over over the army and wiping them out. The Lord says to remember that amazing event and then says what He is about to do makes the prior miracle look like child's play. 

The Lord wanted to make a point, that He is in the business of doing amazing things, not just in the past, but an ongoing basis. This means new miracles, new and unexpected ways that He can show up. His words are specifically a path in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Both of those carry a degree of impossibility. In the wilderness, a jungle scenario, there are no pathways. It takes a trailblazer to have gone ahead, to make a path that is not there. And rivers in a desert are impossible. Water does not travel through sand to make a river. The two do not exist well together, as a desert absorbs all water because it is so dry. The Lord says He is able to sustain a river in the impossibility of the desert. The Lord is establishing He is not limited to the imagination of the past nor the impossibility of the future. It can be done, with ease. And in the same verses, He says that when we creates, when He acts, no man or force can reverse it. No one can combat the miracle of the Lord; He is unstoppable.

Your life undoubtedly has road blocks and deserts and wildernesses, and paths that seem impossible to traverse. I get it. No Christian will tell you their life was easy or perfect or without obstacle. But if you were to survey any Christian who has been a Christian for a duration of time, you'll find each one has a miracle story of what was seemingly impossible. I have a daughter who is unable to walk, paralyzed since birth. Her spinal cord is severed and no doctor can reverse it. There are days when I pray with her and I completely avoid praying for the healing of her legs; I don't want to get her hopes up of ever running or dancing or even feeling the sand between her toes on the ocean's edge. It's not that I doubt the Lord's ability, but sure, I doubt. I know He can do it. He has done it before. He specializes in making a path where none has ever been made. He can make a path to  channel her nerve endings and grow a new spinal cord for her. He can do the impossible. And so I pray for the impossible anyway. It may never come and she may never be able to feel the fresh summer grass under her feet, but still I pray. I pray to the God who is the way-maker, the doer of the impossible. The impossibility is His specialty.

I encourage you to stop limiting your imagination of what the Lord can and will do in your life. If you don't hope and pray for the big things then you've limited what God might do in your life. He can make a way in the wilderness and a river to exist in a desert. He can do the impossible in your life and no one can stop Him.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Gen 18:14, Is 43, Jer 32:17 & 27, Matt 17:20 & 19:23-30, Luke 1:37, Phil 4:13

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Faith is Power

Faith is Power
October 8, 2018
Mark 5:34 "He said to her, 'Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.'"

There is no doubt that Jesus has the power to perform miracles. A miracle can be defined as something that happens defying the laws of nature or science. You and I have no power to make miracles happen, that alone is held by the Lord. But despite our powerlessness, our faith has the ability to put us in a position to affect a miracle. There was a woman who was suffering; she needed healing. She had never physically met Jesus be she knew who He was. She also knew what He could do. The Bible says everywhere Jesus went, He healed anyone who requested it. The sick came to him and He healed them. This woman knew the power of the Lord, the legends about Him were real. She knew He was so powerful that all she had to do was touch the hem of this clothes and His power would heal her. She determined in her heart she would attempt the touch.

Jesus was in a crowd of people, a tight crowd of people huddled around Him, bumping up against Him. This woman, however, pushed close and reached her hand through the hoard. Jesus never saw her hand reach through the crowd, but she was able to extend her arm just long enough to brush up against His clothes. The Bible says instantly she was healed. Jesus felt the power leave Him to heal her and questioned who touched Him. This was a funny statement to the disciples, because so many people had been touching Him the prior few moments. But despite the several people huddled around Him closely, none of them received any disbursement of power. Only the woman who had faith in His power to heal her had any transfer of miracles happen to her.

She confessed it was her touch on His clothes and the Lord's response was interesting. He said that her faith is what healed her. Jesus did not directly exercise His free will to heal her. It was His power and her faith in His power that healed her. She did not have to ask Him to heal her, she had faith in His power and that was it. His power was and is there, and she had faith to receive that power for the healing. And immediately she was healed. Oh to have the faith of that woman. She is the only one recorded in the Bible to have received something by faith without asking for it. This speaks to several things. First and foremost, our faith has more power than we will ever realize. Second, there are many things out there from the Lord, extended to those who simply have faith to receive them. This also means we leave many things on the table with the Lord, as it takes faith to receive them.

It is impossible to know what all the Lord has for us if we just have the faith to believe in receiving it. But the point is not in what we could receive, the point is our faith and how firmly planted in our belief system. The woman who was healed, her faith was not a belief, it was a known fact, almost as if it was a known fact of science. Miracles are defined by human standards, but to the Lord, His power is scientific fact but it takes our faith to reveal it as such. The woman who was healed is not known by her name, she is known by her faith. Your faith has the power to affect miracles in your life, but it takes the kind of faith the woman had, the kind that understood it more like a fact than a belief. What is it you believe and what is it you know as fact? Should you 

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Mark 5:21-43, James 1:6