Answers From Strange Places: A Vignette of Gideon

Behold, I dreamed a dream, and, lo, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the host of Midian, and came unto a tent, and smote it that it fell, and overturned it, that the tent lay along. Judges 7:13 

What significance can of a lump of barley bread have? Not much by itself. But, for Gideon and the armies of Israel, it won the victory. Sometimes answers to life’s dilemmas are found in the most unusual places. Let’s see.

Just Give Me A Sign Lord!

Gideon was a humble, unsuspecting fellow. Just the kind of person God looks to perform great exploits through.  But, Gideon had some problems. Gideon had an optics problem which translated into a warped faith life. Gideon doubted God’s power and ability to work in his life. How do we know this? Because he asked God to give him signs, (not once, but three times) to prove to him that the Lord was indeed going to use him to destroy the enemies of Israel.

And he said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, then shew me a sign that thou talkest with me.

And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said,

Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall ……

And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece….. Judges 6:17, 36-37, 39

Gideon was a sign-seeker. Why? Consider the man’s past for a moment. Gideon was carrying baggage, in fact a lot of baggage. And people who carry a lot of baggage have problems seeing things afar because to avoid stumbling they need to continually focus on what is beneath their feet.

Gideon’s Heavy Baggage

What baggage was Gideon carrying? Let’s start with his present state of oppression, and no doubt some depression in the mix. The Midianites had so weighted Israel down that Gideon was threshing wheat in fear that they would discover his protein stash and take away his family’s only food supply.

And Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites; and the children of Israel cried unto the LORD.

And there came an angel of the LORD, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abiezrite: and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites. Judges 6:6, 11

Strike one.

Secondly, the man had low self-esteem and was living in poverty.

And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house. Judges 6:15

Strike two.

Lastly, Gideon was not from “good Israeli stock”. Gideon suffered generational curses inherited from his father. His father was a heathen, an idol worshipper:

And it came to pass the same night, that the LORD said unto him, Take thy father’s young bullock, even the second bullock of seven years old, and throw down the altar of Baal that thy father hath, and cut down the grove that is by it: Judges 6:25

It’s not looking good Gideon. Strike three.

Eye Candy Syndrome

Gideon suffered from a malady known as ECS – Eye Candy Syndrome. He was attempting to serve with the “eye” a God who asks to be served with the “heart”. Thus the reason behind Gideon’s sign-seeking, a malady affecting hearts not valiant in faith.

“Show me God and I will believe”. How many of us have prayed that prayer? Or, “Lord, if you do thus-and-thus, I will live for you”. Or, “Lord, just let me off the hook this one time and I will get my act together and give my life to you”. This is basically asking God for a sign, something we can tangibly grasp onto to bring God into our life situation. God wants more. The Lord wants to bring us into His situation. And that is the only way Gideon could accomplish the calling God spoke into his life. It takes a God-walk to birth a God-work.

God knows and understands the uniqueness within each and every one of us. And only God knows all about the life lived in the pair of shoes named “Mine Own”.

My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. Psalms 73:26

And if we’ll be honest, we all bring baggage to the table (some more than others) and it really comes to the light when the Light of the World calls you out on the carpet. You cannot hide it then. So, you have two options. Allow God to help you unload it, or keep it and suffer, and suffer a lot.

Let’s face the facts folks, we will accomplish little in the Kingdom of God while carrying a load on our backs, the load of guilt from past mistakes and failures, or beating ourselves up because of the burden of carrying generational sins of our forefathers (oh yes, they do affect us) or the ravages experienced from childhood abuses.

Thankfully for Gideon, and reflecting back on his life, thankfully for us, the proverbial light bulb lit up his brain. How? From a dream about a barley roll.

Pillow Power

Dreams and their interpretations from God are mind altering and heart transforming. Dreams can change one’s life:

And Joseph said unto them, Do not interpretations belong to God? tell me them, I pray you. Genesis 40:8

But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets ….. KJV
But there is a God in heaven who solves mysteries … The Message Bible Daniel 2:27

How many people in the Bible were given dreams from God that changed their lives, and even the course of history? Let’s name a few: Abraham, Jacob, Laban, Job, a butler and a baker in an Egyptian prison house, Pharaoh himself, Solomon, Joseph, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, King Nebuchadnezzar, Habakkuk, Jesus’ step-father Joseph, and Pilate’s wife. And Gideon:

And it was so, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream, and the interpretation thereof, that he worshipped, and returned into the host of Israel, and said, Arise; for the LORD hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian. Judges 7:15

Gideon got a lot of mileage from his fleece test, yet he still doubted in the mission God called him to. Signs did not help Gideon’s faith, he was still unconvinced. How do we know that? There was one more turning point he needed to move him into God’s will. Then there would be no turning back. What was the turning point? Of all things, a dream about a piece of barley bread.

And it goes deeper than just the dream. The one thing Gideon feared (loosing his family’s food supply), God now turned around and used it against the Midianites. When God takes away your fear and uses it to defeat your enemy, you must know you cannot fail.

It can be said that signs whether from earth or from heaven do not always change our thinking, especially when faced with major transitions or juncture points in life (like the one Gideon faced). Jesus gave warning about this:

A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed. Matthew 16:4

In Conclusion

What about some other unlikely places that ushered in the miraculous of God: a mother’s packed lunch of merger fare for her little boy, empty water pots, a lady of questionable reputation standing alone at the town’s waterhole, lastly a talked about illegitimate son of a carpenter and his gruesome hanging in shame on a cruel wooden cross? Unusual places.

God will take what man’s disregards, turn it around, and use it for His glory:

Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 1 Corinthians 1:25

There comes a time when the miracle you desperately need can only be hand-delivered by a man walking on the water. A most unusual place and in a most unusual way.

A.W. Tozer penned the words, “God is looking for those through who He can do the impossible. What a pity that we settle for only those things we can do ourselves.”

Gideon could not do by himself the feat he was called to accomplish for God. But, the Lord is merciful and longsuffering. And the Lord knew exactly how to posture him for the promotion awaiting him. Have you had or heard of any strange dreams lately?  Maybe God is about to do something miraculous in your life.

 

As Thyself

And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Matthew 22:39

The phrase “as thyself” occurs exactly seven times in the KJV New Testament Bible. Interesting. The context is the same in all seven instances; embedded in the commandment to love God and our neighbor.

The phrase’s positioning at the end of the commandment appears almost as a footnote or afterthought. It is as if Jesus assumed we would have no difficulty in loving ourselves. Love God? Most assuredly. Love our neighbor? Well, we try. Most of the time at least we take a stab at it. Love self? A given.

But, do we? Do we “love thyself” as the commandment demands? Jesus sets the stage once again for a master production. How can one genuinely love themselves when the child of God is called to: deny themselves (Mat. 16:24), esteem other better than themselves (Phil 2:3), die daily (I Cor 15:31), walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8), crucify their flesh (Gal 5:24), present their bodies a “living sacrifice” (Rom 12:1), and to be non-retalitory when faced with reproach and offense? (Mat 5:39) It is paradoxical.

There has to be something else going on here. This business of loving self must be something different from what we are accustomed to. We can only reason that we must love ourselves in a manner pleasing to God and in a way that transcends human understanding:

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9 

I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city. Hosea 11:9

We can only love ourselves to the extent and degree that the presence of Jesus Christ actively lives within us (Rom 8:11). It cannot work any other way. Why? Because flesh is at best weak (Mk 14:38), and at worst not good (Gal 5:19-21).

In You or Through You?

It has been said that Jesus is more interested in what he can do “in you” than what he can do “through you“. With that thought in mind, one of the hardest things the Lord faces in dealing with people is getting them on location, positioning them at the place where He wants to do a work.

Reflect a moment on Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Jonah, Ester, Naomi, and John Mark. All of these examples are people God wanted to use, but their GPS systems were not in synch with God’s. Abraham lingered in Haran. Jacob was stuck in a holding pattern outside of Egypt. Joseph spent years in and out of prison. And consider Moses. It took the Lord 40 years to get Moses out of Egypt and another 40 years for Egypt to get out of Moses.  Jonah took a cruise away from God’s call to Nineveh.

Ester balked in standing up for her heritage and the Jewish people. Naomi reluctantly heeded the call to return to Bethlehem. And lastly, John Mark got cold feet during a missionary journey with Paul and Barnabas. What was the problem with all of them? Their problem was internal in nature. God could not work “through them” because of the internal conflict “in them”. Each of them had an imperfect love, the love “as thyself”.

In Conclusion

When we live for God God’s way we enter a zone unbeknownst to ourselves where we can fulfill the commandment to “love thyself” and be on a trajectory to fulfill all three conditions of the greatest commandment of all. Sometimes the bigger mountains are the Mt. Everest’s lying within in contrast to the one located in the Himalayan’s.

We simply cannot love God and our neighbor if we are out of sorts with our own self and our own life.

The Lord desires to do a work “in” His people:

At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. John 14:20

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. John 15:4, 7

May our prayer be that we will yield to Jesus’ work upon our earthen vessels until we have the peace within that removes all internal conflict and be able to say the words: “I love you Lord with my all and I love my neighbor as I love myself”.

Be Blessed

Psalm 23 – A Lifecycle for Abundant Living

Psalm 23

Vs. 1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
Vs. 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
Vs. 3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Vs. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Vs. 5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Vs. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

There is something special about this well-known Psalm. Most people can quote it or are at least familiar with its verses. Why is it when compared to the other 149 Psalms this one in particular stands out?

Is it the brevity of its six verses? That cannot be the case as there are nine other Psalms that are shorter (Psalms 131, 133 & 134 with only three verses and Psalms 43, 70, 93, 100, 125 & 127 with 5 verses each).

Or could it be that this Psalm “resonates” with something hidden within the human spirit? Could it be that the words of Psalm 23 come alive when read and draw its reader into its message?

One thing is for certain the 23rd Psalm touches on six themes or six threads instrumental to living life. They are: Purpose, Posture, Purification, Protection, Providence and Pursuit.

Purpose: The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. (Vs. 1)

At the onset, the psalmist makes a statement of faith and an expression of confidence in God. The Psalmist is sure of who he is and the God in whom he serves. He has purpose. Life is difficult without embracing a purpose for living it. And the proclamation of purpose in verse one sets the stage for the rest of the Psalm. He settles the issue of who is in control – the Lord is my shepherd. The Lord is all he needs.

Posture: He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. (Vs. 2)

Submission to being shepherded by the Lord leads the psalmist to good places – green pastures and still waters. The opening six words are the translation of a single Hebrew word that means to crouch or to lie resplendent as an animal would in a relaxed position. The word “leadeth” refers to being guided, lead or carried.

The full meaning of this verse in essence is the Lord’s posturing of His people in places of contentment and peace. And only the Lord brings peace:

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

There is no peace, saith the LORD, unto the wicked. Isaiah 48:22

Purification: He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. (Vs. 3)

The Lord always has our best interests at heart. A restoration that includes the total person – our soul.

The word “righteousness” is the Hebrew root word צָדַק [tsâdaq] to be (make) right, cleanse, clear one’s self, be righteous, turn to righteousness. The paths of righteousness are the places where character, integrity and temperance are forged. To be righteous is to be like Him – upright, uncondemned and above reproach.

Living on a path that leads to the good things of God. What are they? Let’s start with having a “good conscience”. Who does not want a clear conscience? A mind unclouded by guilt, shame, remorse or regret. Don’t we all want that? The great Apostle Paul thought so:

And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men. Acts 24:16

The path of righteousness purifies and emboldens one for the challenges awaiting in the next verse – the upcoming valley of death. The Lord never releases one into battle unprepared. Walking the paths of righteousness is needed for preparation for the valleys encountered in life. And they will come. And the worst one of all – the valley of death.

Protection: Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (Vs. 4)

The full canvas of life is not complete without including the greatest fear and mystery of all – death. But, there is hope in God even when confronting this last conquered enemy. The soul’s cleansing along the paths of righteousness in the previous verse brings a peace that even death’s shadow in verse four cannot rattle.

The rod symbolizes God’s Word. The Word corrects, rebuffs and oftentimes hurts. One purpose of pain is that it gets one’s attention like nothing else will. Dark valleys demand careful footing and focus to avoid the dangers of snakes scorpions, jagged rocks, steep crevices, robbers, fear, uncertainty and the like.

This writer of this Psalm referenced in another one of his writings the corrective mechanism that is the Word of God:

Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word. Psalm 119:67

The staff symbolizes God’s comforting Spirit. The staff’s hook is used to bring the sheep back into fellowship with the remaining flock. It is the father’s staff that brought his lost son, the prodigal, back home.

Providence: Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. (Vs. 5)

Other than sleeping, you are never more vulnerable than when sitting down during a meal. This verse is an assurance only God can supply; to fearlessly sit down to a meal in the middle of a battlefield symbolizes extreme safety and courage.

The Lord’s rod of correction of the previous verse is followed with application of the salve of healing and rest. It is said that shepherd’s during this time would rub a sheep’s face with oil to ward off insects, bugs and parasites. The oily sheen could also prevent lice from burrowing into the sheep’s ears, which could be fatal.

God’s anointing gives His people protection over demonic activity, over the oppressive and tormenting spirits of this age whose purpose is to sidetrack one off the path of righteousness to one defined by fear (the opposite of peace). The anointing privileges God’s people with authority over their enemies. The Lord is a superabundant supplier of our needs. His providence is sure even in the most extreme conditions.

Pursuit: Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. (Vs. 6)

Imagine this scene, a leopard crouching on a tree limb high off the ground, his tail and whiskers twitching at the ready to spontaneously pounce on an approaching prey.

This is what is meant by the word in Hebrew translated as ‘Shall follow’: Heb. רָדַף (râdaph) – to run after, chase, follow after, pursue. This is the Lord’s desire towards those who follow through on the commitments they make in verse one – to hunt them down with His goodness and mercy, awaiting an opportunity to shower His love upon those who call upon His name.

And that is not the end of the story. This pursuit is not a one way street, it is two-fold. This overwhelming sense of well-being has built-in staying power. The recipient of God’s goodness and mercy experiences an appetite and desire to come back for more. Thus, the heart declares the words “I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever”. Yes, upon tasting and seeing the goodness of the Lord one becomes “hooked” and wants to come back for more – for ever.

To be pursued also means being valued and having value. And living is easier when it is valued and brings value. Such is the Kingdom of God. For the kingdom to have value is to know of its value, both here and in eternity.

Jesus compared the Kingdom of God as a field of hidden treasure and as a merchant seeking valuable jewels. Things of great value. Exciting things. Things that make grist for big dreams. Pursuit involves risk and adventure. And who does not like a little spark of adventure in their life? The Lord knows what He is doing.

The Cycle Is Unbroken

It is God’s nature to approach creation in cyclic patterns (e.g., the sun’s rising and setting, ebbing of the tides, flowing of the rivers, circuitous wind patterns, etc.). He often finishes up at the same place where He started out.

The tree of life in Genesis appears again in the last book of the Bible, The Book of Revelation (Rev. 22:14). Rivers flowing out of Eden appear again in Heaven (Rev. 22:1). The first Adam is superseded by the last Adam, Jesus Christ, the one sitting on the throne in Heaven (Rev. 4:2).

The Lord is at the center of the Psalmist’s view in verse one and appropriately completes the cycle with the Lord back at the center in its concluding verse. The Psalm speaks of a continuum of life ebbing and flowing from verse one through verse six and back again to verse one. Is this why Psalm 23 is so memorable and life changing?

A similar pattern is seen in the “Lord’s Prayer” of Matthew 6:9-13:

Vs. 9 Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Vs. 13 For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

The prayer is bookended with the Father, Heaven and eternity in view. At the onset, the majestic kingdom of God and the holiness of His name is to be at the forefront of our prayers. The prayer concludes and cycles back to Jesus’ opening words: God’s kingdom, His power and glory. The cycle is completed.

In conclusion, these six short verses contain all the ingredients needed for a balanced, fulfilling, meaningful, prosperous and contented life.

The most famous Psalm establishes a pattern God designed for one to follow – that the Lord be in the midst and center of our life. Psalm 23 pulsates with heart rhythm, God’s nearness in each verse energizes its cadence and is cyclic in nature as are life’s most dynamic and majestic forces.

Psalm 23 – Purpose, Posture, Purification, Protection, Providence & Pursuit. Be Blessed in Jesus.

 

 

The God With Dirty Hands – Part I

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the
ground, and hands3breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Genesis 2:7

But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand. Isaiah 64:8

For someone to have “dirty hands” is to infer that that person has done a less than honorable deed, guilty of a crime or immoral act.

However, someone having so-called “dirty hands” can mean the opposite – someone who is deeply involved and intimately connected to a good thing.

It is this later definition of the metaphor that we wish to explore about this great, holy God we know as our Creator.

The author A.W. Tozer wrote a remarkable statement about God when he penned the following words in his book, The Pursuit of God:

“The Bible will never be a living Book to us until we are convinced that God is articulate in His universe.”

God IS very much articulate in his universe. God is not detached, distant, aloof, disengaged, untouchable or any other adjective one can describe about God’s so-called remoteness towards His creative world.

In fact, the Bible paints a very different portrait of the author and artist of Creation. God has always desired to be involved with His most prized creation – Us.

It All Began With Dirty Hands

First, we observe how God uniquely created us – with His hands. When the rest of the creative world was formed into existence by His spoken word, God decided to get His hands dirty with us.

He reached into earthen dust and mixed, mingled and molded the first man with soiled and dirty hands.

God got involved. And He still does get involved. And His hands still get soiled every time he reaches into our dirty and oftentimes sin-stained lives to fashion us into something desirable and attractive.

The Potter & The Clay

Most readers of the Bible are familiar to the passages in Jeremiah chapter 18 concerning a particular potter and a vessel he wishes to form with clay. Let’s refresh our memory:

Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.
And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.
Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.
Jeremiah 18:3-6

A potter must get his or her hands dirty to form an object from clay. It takes  involvement. It requires one to get “dirty hands”.

And God is not afraid of getting His hands dirty to create a work of art and beauty out of our lives:

And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. John 8:3-8, 10-11

No matter how dirty we are or how stained we become, God is willing to risk getting His hands dirty if it means forming something beautiful through His grace and mercy for His glory.

Part II – From Dirt to Diamonds

A Song In The Night

I call to remembrance my song in the night: Ibird1
commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search. Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favourable no more? Psalm 77:6-7

Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life. Psalm 42:8

We don’t grow in God when the sun is shining, a gentle breeze is blowing and the birds are chirping a melodic song.

No. It is in the darkness where we  grow in God. For it is in the darkness where God creates His most majestic and wonderful works:

As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all. Ecclesiastes 11:5

My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139:15-16

From most observations, the womb is a pretty dark place. Yet, it is in this darkness where the God of creation fashions and stitches together the wondrous fabric of human life.

The Apostle John wrote one of the most powerful, majestic and prophetic books of the  Bible, The Book of Revelation, while living in a very dark place. The book was written while  exiled by his countrymen and left to rot away on the forsaken island – the Isle of Patmos.

The real test  of our faith through time is to keep singing a song of hope and love to God regardless of our circumstances. It all comes down to the condition of the heart:

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. Luke 6:45

One real challenge to a believer in Jesus Christ is to keep a song alive in our hearts – even when it means singing it in the darkest hour of life’s night.

And it is one thing to write a song in the night and quite another thing to sing one  there.

The Master’s Master Sound Track

How many people have started out with a ‘Top-10’ hit single-like experience in God, only to find their song hit the proverbial cutting room floor through the corrosive effects of trials, tests and temptations?

And how many have started out with the potential to produce a spiritual symphonic masterpiece, only to be prematurely cut short in their walk in God and left with the copyright to a B-grade jangle fit for an alcohol-fumed honky tonk?

What does it take to produce a master recording for the Master? – everything we’ve got. Every note played on the vinyl of our life gets recorded in heaven’s master sound room:

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
Revelation 20:12

Every attitude, decision and action we make is mixed on God’s master sound board  and burned onto our very song, with our name as the recording artist.

However, the Lord’s grace gives us a chance to re-record the imperfect takes and get the music  right:

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
I John 2:1-2

What Will Jesus Say About Our Song?

Will Jesus say to one of His angels?:

“Let’s hear the recording that Rachel (or John, or Cheryl or Chris) produced. I want to hear the sweet, harmonizing, perfectly mixed sound tracks that they produced while living for me in a dark and corrupt world.”

“I intentionally sent them musical rests (divine delays?) at several appointed times in their life. Did they interpret them as acts of unkindness from Me or did they keep a good attitude and allow those spaces of silence and rest get recorded on the master track? Let’s hear it.”

“And here, right there, I sent some harsh winds of adversity to get them to stay longer in the practice (prayer) room to hone their musical technique and gain mastery over their instrument. Let’s hear it and see.”

“And here, I decided to change the key right there to add dimension and rapturous breath to the musical arrangement. Did they perceive those abrupt and shattering changes as signals of my displeasure or frustration with their life? Or did they “roll with the punches” and allow faith to create the swelling and overpowering musical dynamics I was looking for? Let’s listen and see”.

“And lastly, I pulled out all the stops and really wanted MY glory to shine through their life. Yes. That time when it looked like things all around started to unravel and implode and only a MIRACLE from ME would bring them through.

It was that time I demanded an unparalleled display of faith and trust. It was their Paganini Caprice No. 24 moment, a “pull out all the stops” encounter with their angel of contention. Flesh against Spirit. Human will against Heaven’s will. The earth’s beggarly elements against Heaven’s storehouses of blessedness. Worldly ladders of cut-throat success against Heaven’s ladders of angelic succession.

It was all designed for a witness of My glory and presence in their life where no one could deny that God was doing it all. Come now, let’s hear it in all its splendor and musical genius”.

The Final Cut

How will our final life recording sound? Will it be something God would want to listen to? Will the recording of our life become one of His favorite soundtracks? Will we persevere until the end and finish the symphony that God desires to produce with our lives?

Only time will tell. We must not quit. We must not compromise. We cannot afford to stop short of applying track after track to the final, superbly mixed recording of our life symphony.

“Jesus, please help me to keep recording your symphony of love, hope and faith with my life . And Lord, help me to keep singing my song in the night!”

Dust Or Destiny

There is a book in the Bible written about a man. This was not your  ordinary man. But, this man had a problem. In fact, this man had a dust and dirt problem.

And his dust problem influenced his perspective. And perspective always suffers as long as we have dust problems; our minds are dusty because  all we think about is dust and dirt.

The man we are discussing is Job. And Job’s major problem was one of perspective.

The Book of Job has more references to dirt and dust than any other book in the Bible. The word “dust” occurs 101 times in the O.T. and of the 39 books in the O.T., the word “dust” occurs twenty times in the Book of Job. This one book contains just about twenty percent of the occurrences of the word “dust”.

Job had a problem with dust because that is all he could see during the onslaught of satanic afflictions coming his way:

Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast made me as the clay; and wilt thou bring me into dust again? Job 10:9

And where is now my hope? as for my hope, who shall see it? They shall go down to the bars of the pit, when our rest together is in the dust. Job 17:15-16

And another dieth in the bitterness of his soul, and never eateth with pleasure. They shall lie down alike in the dust, and the worms shall cover them. Job 21:25-26

He hath cast me into the mire, and I am become like dust and ashes. Job 30:19

I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes. Job 42:5-6

A Different Perspective – Destiny

God needed to correct Job’s perspective problem by getting him to look at things from His perspective (Destiny) and not from Job’s perspective (Dust) – by getting him to look up and not down.

He did and it worked. Let’s see how He did it.

The Depths of Creation

God interrupts the scene of Job’s misery beginning in chapter thirty-eight with a series of questions. These questions are meant to realign Job’s perspective from looking down at dust and to start looking up to destiny.

In the first series of questions God asks Job to consider the depths of Creation:

Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;  Job 38:4-6 (38:17)

The Breadth Of Creation

The next series of questions God asks Job to consider the breadth of Creation:

Hast thou perceived the breadth of the earth? declare if thou knowest it all. Where is the way where light dwelleth? and as for darkness, where is the place thereof, That thou shouldest take it to the bound thereof, and that thou shouldest know the paths to the house thereof? Knowest thou it, because thou wast then born? or because the number of thy days is great? Job 38:18-21

The Mystery Of Creation

After Job is asked to consider the breadth of creation, God asks him to consider the mysteries of creation:

Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail, Which I have reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war? By what way is the light parted, which scattereth the east wind upon the earth?

Who hath divided a watercourse for the overflowing of waters, or a way for the lightning of thunder; To cause it to rain on the earth, where no man is; on the wilderness, wherein there is no man; To satisfy the desolate and waste ground; and to cause the bud of the tender herb to spring forth?

Hath the rain a father? or who hath begotten the drops of dew? Out of whose womb came the ice? and the hoary frost of heaven, who hath gendered it? The waters are hid as with a stone, and the face of the deep is frozen. Job 38:22-30

The Height Of Creation

The next series of questions God asks Job to consider the height of Creation

Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion? Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons? Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth? Canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds, that abundance of waters may cover thee? Canst thou send lightnings, that they may go, and say unto thee, Here we are?  Job 38:31-35

The Inside Of Creation (Job 38:36 – 39:1-30)

After asking him to consider the depth, the breadth, the mysteries and the height of Creation, God asked Job one last series of questions. To look into His creation:

Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? or who hath given understanding to the heart? Who can number the clouds in wisdom? or who can stay the bottles of heaven, When the dust groweth into hardness, and the clods cleave fast together?
Job 38:36-38

Hast thou given the horse strength? hast thou clothed his neck with thunder? Canst thou make him afraid as a grasshopper? the glory of his nostrils is terrible. He paweth in the valley, and rejoiceth in his strength: he goeth on to meet the armed men. He mocketh at fear, and is not affrighted; neither turneth he back from the sword. The quiver rattleth against him, the glittering spear and the shield. He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage: neither believeth he that it is the sound of the trumpet. He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha; and he smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains, and the shouting. Job 39:19-25

Why didn’t God ask Job to consider the length of His creation? Because there is no end, it is endless.

Dust or Destiny? The Choice Is Ours

God never told Job To Look DOWN at His Creation. Dust and dirt is the only thing to behold when looking down. We look down to see the Dust we are made from, but we have to look up to see the Destiny we are made for.

Job was delivered when he got his sight off of the dust of his dilemma and saw the destinies designed for him by God:

And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before. Job 42:10

When our minds are regenerated our perspective is healed and we can now see life as God designed it. It is a supernatural work of the power of God’s Holy Spirit to get our focus off of the dust of this life and see the possibilities available through an Everlasting God.

But when the kindness and fondness of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by deeds of uprightness which we performed, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit whom He bestowed upon us abundantly through our Saviour, Jesus Christ, in order that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs according to the expectation of life eternal. Titus 3:4-7 (Wuest)

Expectation of life eternal? That is Destiny talking.

When we see life from God’s perspective the impossibilities become possibilities and the mundane becomes the miraculous.

Dust or Destiny – it’s all a matter of perspective. What are you looking at today?

The God Of Miracles

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall callChristmas_star1 his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Matthew 1:23

Christians all over the world today celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ – the Savior of the world. The world would never be the same when God slipped into the finite realm we know as time and became human.

When Jesus was born in that humble manger over 2,000 years ago God in that instance of time experienced firsthand creation as we know it.

On that first Christmas morning God became one of us. That is right, God became human in the form of a child named Jesus Christ. He would breathe the air and drink the water He created. He would feel the earth’s crust crunch beneath his feet. His hands would touch and be touched by life.

God experienced His own creation. God himself became a living soul.

Why would God do such a thing? Very simple. To save us.

Save us from what? Another simple answer – to save us from sin.

And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Matthew 1:21

It was not an ordinary birth. It was a supernatural and miraculous birth. God is a God of the miraculous.

According to Wikipedia, the word “miracle” is defined as: “an event not explicable by natural or scientific laws”.

He was then and so He is today – a God that performs the supernatural.

So, at this time of year as we celebrate the birth of Jesus we remember that this child was like no other child before him.

What started out in a cradle ended on a cross thirty-three years later. Heading to the cross was the focus of that little baby born in the backwater and nondescript town of Bethlehem.

So, let’s not leave Jesus lying in the manager after today. Let’s allow Jesus to guide us along the path that he has laid out for us. It is a destination that heads towards eternity.

And his cross is the needle of the compass that points us true north on our journey.

God is in the miracle-working business. Jesus still turns water into wine. Jesus can take ordinary lives and turn them into something exquisite and wonderful for His glory!

Merry Christmas 2014

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