Who’s Plan?

allie-pictureHow often do you find yourself committed to an undetermined plan? When friends mention doing something over the weekend but never say what or when do you fully commit your entire weekend to your friends? Even if no plans happen? How about with God, how committed are you to His plans for you? Are you spending your time seeking what He has in store for you or are you making your plans because it is what you want to do, or it’s more convenient? I know for sure Christ was fully committed to us when He carried out the promises foretold about Him in the Old Testament. So again, how committed are you to Gods plan for you?

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Chisel Away

tailleur-de-pierreWe are all aware of how difficult life can be. We can all admit we’ve had some “not so pretty” moments (I know I’ve had my fair share), and in a world so very quick to judge – we often put labels on ourselves and others. We tear each other and ourselves down so often that we don’t realize that we have taken those labels and allow them to be who we are. We resign to being: messy, late, frustrated, cranky, a people pleaser or maybe even insecure. These are all things that break us down rather than build us up. However, these labels only stick if we allow them to. We need to let go and give these labels to God. He sees beyond what is, to all that we can be in Him if we only just surrender. What we see as broken, He sees as beautiful. Allow Him to chisel away at you, crafting you to be the beloved child of His that you are! It is beautiful when the Master chisels. So, in the next “not so pretty” moments, turn to Him and say “Chisel away O Lord, take me and make me into the beautiful masterpiece you intended for me to be.”

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By Appointment Only

sharing-the-gospelNow an angel of the Lord spoke to Phillip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is the desert. So, he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians who had charge of all her treasury and had come to Jerusalem to worship, was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit said to Phillip, “Go near and overtake the chariot.” (Acts 8:26-29)

In the 4th chapter of the Gospel of John, we are witness to Jesus’ meeting with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. What took place there was indeed a divine appointment. That encounter turned out to be enormously fruitful as the woman, and many in the city became believers in the Messiah.

We can also see in the scripture above that Phillip had a very specific spiritual direction about where to go and who to meet. This encounter brought salvation to Candace’s treasurer, and the Christian faith rode home to another land in that chariot.

The Apostle Peter had a vision of animals riding upon a heavenly blanket when staying at Simon the tanner’s house. “While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, ‘Behold, three men are seeking you. Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.’” (Acts 10:19-20) The result of Peter accompanying these men was the Gentiles believing and receiving the Holy Spirit and life.

The Pharisee, Saul of Tarsus, ran right smack dab into a divine appointment on the Damascus road. From that moment on, the Apostle Paul’s life became a succession of divine appointments. Scripture confirms this time and time again throughout Acts and Paul’s epistles. For example, Paul and Timothy “were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them.” (Acts 16:6-7) Then by a vision, Paul heard the call to Macedonia to preach the gospel to them.

How about you? Have you had any visions or angelic visits instructing you where and who to engage in the things of God? How about after Phillip preached Jesus to the Ethiopian and baptized him, and the Spirit of the Lord caught Phillip away and set him down in Azotus – ahh, you been caught away lately and found over yonder? Just think we could get a whole lot of evangelism done and solve the energy crisis at the same time.

Although we may not experience such dramatic and direct manifestations since the apostolic age ended, the Spirit-led walk continues to be by appointment only. We do not just happen to be in another person’s life. We do not just accidentally bump into that old acquaintance when they’re going through a tough time. God does not do “just happens” nor does He ever do “just accidents.”

The Spirit is still saying, “Go near…go with them…go to…do not go there.” Are we listening to His directions? Are we ready to “preach Jesus” to our Ethiopian, our Gentiles, our Macedonians? We must be perceptive, prepared and present for our daily appointments.

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Hidden Treasure

treasure“…My heart stands in awe of Your word. I rejoice at Your word as one who finds great treasure.” (Psalm 119:161-162)

Years ago the kids in our little community spent a lot of time at the creek, or crick, as we called it. The main branch ran east to west just below our neighborhood and in the younger years that was the hangout. We caught minnows, flipped rocks to find salamanders, and if feeling a bit brave looked for snakes. Eventually, we traveled farther from home to the crick on our neighbor’s farm. It ran between hills and fields north to south and joined up with the main body in the valley. We knew all the good “finding stuff” spots in the cricks including the twists and bends and depths. Or at least we thought we did. One day someone pointed to a little trickle stream that ran down a hill to our north to south crick on the farm. “Let’s go up there and check it out.” Why we hadn’t before, I don’t know, but off we went. Over hill and dale, through forest and glade traversed the lads.

“Whoa!!!” That came from the first kid upon the scene. He was soon joined by a chorus of “Whoa’s!!!” as we gathered. We had found the reason for the trickle of this tributary. There before us lay a small dam which formed a small pond and swimming to and fro were several beautiful goldfish. We just sat down and stared. We marveled at this hidden treasure. How long had this picture-perfect scene in the woods been there? Who made it? We were indeed awe-struck. In fact, when I went home I convinced my mom she needed to see the treasure we had discovered hidden on the back side of the farm. So my dear mom went over hill and dale, through forest and glade until we stood at the pond. She agreed it was a special place.

You know, God’s Word is a treasure. For many, it’s a treasure for which they have never looked. Others know the “cricks” and the right finding stuff spots, the twists, bends, and depths, but even for them, there is still unfound hidden treasure. Like us boys decades back, we knew about the trickling stream but left it unexplored. Hey, here is a challenge for us: Set off over hill and dale, forest and glade and maybe find treasure in Ecclesiastes or Habakkuk. How about Colossians or if you have been shy take the leap into the book of Revelation.

Think about where you haven’t done much exploring, head off, find His treasure and start digging. And guaranteed – your heart will stand in awe of His Word. And you will come “to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:2-3)

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Proverbs, Chapter 5 (Wisdom Speaks)

proverbs-series1
THE CALL:
My son, pay attention to my wisdom;
Lend your ear to my understanding,
That you may preserve discretion,
And your lips may keep knowledge.

THE CULPRIT: (HANDS OFF!)
For the lips of an immoral woman drip honey,
And her mouth is smoother than oil;
But in the end she is bitter as wormwood,
Sharp as a two-edged sword.
Her feet go down to death,
Her steps lay hold of hell.
Lest you ponder her path of life –
Her ways are unstable;
You do not know them.

THE COUNCIL:
Therefore hear me now, my children,
And do not depart from the words of my mouth.
Remove your way far from her,
And do not go near the door of her house,

THE CONSEQUENCES: (REGRET and RUIN!)
Lest you give your honor to others,
And your years to the cruel one;
Lest aliens be filled with your wealth,
And your labors go to the house of a foreigner;
And you mourn at last,
When your flesh and your body are consumed,

THE CONTEMPT:
And say:
“How I have hated instruction,
And my heart despised correction!
I have not obeyed the voice of my teachers,
Nor inclined my ear to those who instructed me!
I was on the verge of total ruin,
In the midst of the assembly and congregation.”

THE CONTRAST: (HANDS ON!)
Drink water from your own cistern,
And running water from your own well.
Should your fountains be dispersed abroad,
Streams of water in the streets?
Let them be only your own,
And not for strangers with you.
Let your fountain be blessed,
And rejoice with the wife of your youth.
As a loving deer and a graceful doe,
Let her breasts satisfy you at all times;
And always be enraptured with her love.
For why should you, my son, be enraptured by an immoral woman,
And be embraced in the arms of a seductress?

THE CONCLUSION:
For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord,
And He ponders all his paths.
His own iniquities entrap the wicked man,
And he is caught in the cords of his sin,
He shall die for lack of instruction,
And in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray.

THE CHOICE: GOD’S WAY or our way?

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When is the Rapture?

rapturebomb2There’s much disagreement over the timing of the rapture of the church. There are even many who do not believe in a rapture. The Bible clearly teaches two distinct movements of people in the end times. (Matt 24:36-43; Luke 17:34-37 & 1 Thess 4:15-18; John 14:1-3)

Unlike the Second Coming, at the rapture, the righteous will be removed from the earth to meet the Lord in the air. (1 Thess 4:17) The unbelieving will be left on the earth and will live into the seven years of tribulation.

We have discussed in the past that the Bible indicates that this is an imminent event. In other words, it can happen at any time. By placing it sometime during the tribulation, the concept of immanency is removed. It can’t happen today. It will only happen at some set time in the future according to that particular view. Such is contrary to what the Bible teaches. (Phil 3:20, 4:5; Titus 2:13; James 5:7-9; Rev 3:11)

Another factor in determining the timing of the rapture is the truth that Jesus has delivered us from the wrath to come. (1 Thess 1:10) According to this verse, the Thessalonians were awaiting Jesus who would deliver them from a specific wrath. The word, deliver, has the idea ‘to rescue from’. And in the same epistle Paul wrote, “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ…” (5:9)

The people experiencing the tribulation period recognize what is happening. They realize that it is wrath from God for they say, “…hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Rev 6:16, 17) If we have not been appointed to wrath and have been delivered from the wrath to come, then how can the true believer be present during this period of time?

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Jeremiah 9:23 or 9:24?

praise-1-672x372“Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; (Jeremiah 9:23)
But let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight.” says the Lord. (Jeremiah 9:24)

He would prattle on incessantly about all the stuff he had, the places he had been, the famous elbows he had rubbed, and how insightful and wise he was because of it all. I was not impressed; not at all. A story here or there would have a twist and turn of interest; some were even half believable. My polite but benign reactions led to an unstated rift between us. Every chance he got, he would belittle me because I did not have this, had not been there, did not know who and such. And my worst transgression of all – his “brilliance and wisdom” seemed to zoom right over the top of my head. I knew how he felt. When I would speak to him about faith and Jesus, he would instantly begin to pontificate on religious matters and the enlightened ideas of the world’s great sages – and remain purposely clueless about faith and the things of God.

In my dealings with that wise, mighty and rich man, the scripture above came to mind quite often. He was Jeremiah 9:23 with legs. He is not alone, though, is he? The world is full up to its neck with such people. It seems endless: the people who glory in things and the things in which people glory. Surrounded by such, the challenge becomes evident, will you, will I, be Jeremiah 9:24 with legs? Will we glory only in understanding and knowing the Lord God and all His attributes? That is, after all, our calling.

“For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God – and righteousness and sanctification and redemption – that, as is written, ‘He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.’” (1 Cor 1:26-31)

Which would best describe you, describe me? Are we Jeremiah 9:23 people or are we Jeremiah 9:24 people? It makes all the difference now and forever.

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