Posts Tagged Lord

Help Wanted … Under Qualified But Overwhelmed

by Rick Robinson

Did you ever feel like God has call waiting, kind of like your telephone, and He switches between the calls He wants to talk to—and you’re the one on hold? Here you are in the most difficult of situations, and God doesn’t seem to be concerned about it at all. If this description fits your life right now, you and God are in a great place to help each other. Yes—I said help each other. Let me explain. There are scores of stories in the Bible to illustrate this, but I have selected accounts of Moses as an example. 

God called upon Moses to help deliver the people out of Egypt. God did not need Moses, any more than He needs us, but He loves working together with us. He is not cold and impersonal, but a relationship oriented God. Trusting us with a task is one of the ways God draws us closer together. Even as God ask Moses to participate in the deliverance of His people, Moses feels under qualified.

Exodus 3:10-11

“Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?”

God has great patience with Moses, showing Him miracles and proving His power, yet Moses continues to express his own feelings of being under qualified and overwhelmed, even begging the Lord to enlist someone else. 

Exodus 4:10

Then Moses said to the Lord, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” 

Have you ever made excuses about why you can’t do something for God? I am a pro, but He is not impressed with that part of my resume. As Moses surrenders to “help” God with this task, we can see the relationship transformed as he transfers his trust from his own ability over to confidence in God. If you want your relationship with God to prosper, you too will have to look at the truth of His ability, not your own. 

While the people are in the desert for what should have been a short journey, disobedience sends things sideways. There is no meat and fresh produce in the desert and the people grumble wishing they had not left Egypt. Moses is found questioning his own relationship with God, because he is looking to himself for answers. Once again, Moses is feeling under qualified and overwhelmed and perhaps overlooked. Have you ever felt that way? You’re in good company and not alone like you thought. 

Numbers 11:11-15

So Moses said to the Lord, “Why have You been so hard on Your servant? And why have I not found favor in Your sight, that You have laid the burden of all this people on me? “Was it I who conceived all this people? Was it I who brought them forth, that You should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom as a nurse carries a nursing infant, to the land which You swore to their fathers’? “Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they weep before me, saying, ‘Give us meat that we may eat!’ “I alone am not able to carry all this people, because it is too burdensome for me. “So if You are going to deal thus with me, please kill me at once, if I have found favor in Your sight, and do not let me see my wretchedness.” 

Quail would migrate across the Sinai Peninsula in large numbers at certain times during the year, usually between March and April. God brought the birds over the camp of the Israelites with a great wind in the evening, and also wherever they camped for forty years, daily He dropped manna to the ground with the dew. Each family was to take what they needed with no leftovers. God made the manna unfit to eat overnight, so it was of no use trying to store up a supply. Daily trust in the Lord for provision was required. In case you wonder about it as you read, a measure of omer is about 2 liters. 

Exodus 16:16-24

This is what the Lord has commanded, ‘Gather of it every man as much as he should eat; you shall take an omer apiece according to the number of persons each of you has in his tent.’ The sons of Israel did so, and some gathered much and some little. When they measured it with an omer, he who had gathered much had no excess, and he who had gathered little had no lack; every man gathered as much as he should eat. Moses said to them, “Let no man leave any of it until morning.” But they did not listen to Moses, and some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul; and Moses was angry with them. They gathered it morning by morning, every man as much as he should eat; but when the sun grew hot, it would melt. Now on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one. When all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, then he said to them, “This is what the Lord meant: Tomorrow is a sabbath observance, a holy sabbath to the Lord. Bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over put aside to be kept until morning.” So they put it aside until morning, as Moses had ordered, and it did not become foul nor was there any worm in it. 

This was not the normal manna they were familiar with. It melted in the sun, it became foul overnight, and it could be worked into nutritional bread. This was not a normal substance that the people recognized, it was a miracle. 

Deuteronomy 8:3

He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord. 

If we want to live in the provision of God and share in deep fellowship with Him, we will need to take heed of these words the Prophet Isaiah wrote. 

Isaiah 55:8-9

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts. 

Isaiah used this timeless picture of the heavens, which is a great illustration of the wonder of our God. We cannot even imagine the things He has created. The speed of light is our basic measurement for distance in space (the heavens). Light travels at some 186,000 miles per second. That means a beam of light could travel around the earth several times in one second. We don’t all own rockets, but most of us own a man made car. If you could drive your car non-stop to the sun, it would take over 160 years to get there, yet the light from the sun (God’s creation) reaches us in seconds. How great is your God? Are you still looking for provision on your own standard? Are you looking for a place to serve in your own ability or still making excuses of why you will fail? God wants to provide for you, and wants your help in some capacity. Most of all, God desires an intimate relationship with you. Did you know God has given you manna (bread) from heaven? Will you scoff and complain, or expect daily supply?

John 6:30-33

So they said to Him, “What then do You do for a sign, so that we may see, and believe You? What work do You perform? “Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread out of heaven to eat.’ ” Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. “For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” 

You and I may be under qualified for certain things and we may be overwhelmed with others, but God is neither under qualified nor overwhelmed. His word will accomplish everything as He desires, and you are a part of that plan—we all are. 

Isaiah 55:10-11

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. 

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The Farm of Your Life

By Rick Robinson

There once was a farmer who had a son who watched him plow in the fields. Each day as the son grew; he would ask his father to allow him to take the reigns of the plow. As time passed, the father grew weary of his son begging him to learn the art of farming. So the farmer gave the reigns over to his son, and he explained to him the secret of plowing the field comes down to the art of focus. If you will simply pick something off in the distance, and focus on it, you will be able to master the art of plowing the field in perfectly straight rows. So he gave the reigns over to his son, and made his way to other chores waiting on the farm.  Later, when the farmer returned to inspect his son’s work, he was dismayed to find all the rows crooked and crossing over each other. The father asked his son, why have you not followed my instruction? I told you to simply focus on something in the distance and plow a straight line toward the target. His son answered back, I followed your instruction exactly as you explained father. I focused on the cow in the next field and followed it to plow my rows.

The farm of your life may look like a mess if you are focused on the wrong things.
God wants us to be productive and fruitful. Our Father in heaven has given us the reigns to the plow and instructed us to focus on Jesus Christ so that we may plow in straight rows. When you are trusting in your own strength to accomplish things, you have taken your focus off Christ.

Hosea 10:12-13
Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers righteousness on you. But you have planted wickedness, you have reaped evil, you have eaten the fruit of deception. Because you have depended on your own strength and on your many warriors,

There is also a warning about trying to reap a harvest on sun baked soil that allows growth of mostly weeds, or sin. It is essential not only that we do not rely on our own strength, but that we do not allow our heart to become hardened, and our actions to sow seeds of destruction. God calls this type of farming sin.

Jeremiah 4:3
This is what the LORD says to the men of Judah and to Jerusalem: “Break up our unplowed ground and do not sow among thorns.

Plowing only prepares the soil for sowing the seeds that bring forth the harvest. On the farm of your life, the soil is our heart, the plow is the word of God and the seeds we plant are our actions. Your actions will produce a harvest of peace or destruction according to what was sown.

Galatians 6:7
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

Is God calling you to have a radical change in your life? If you are focused on things other that Jesus Christ then you have plowed crooked rows in the farm of your life, even if they look straight to you.

Proverbs 14:12
There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

If you have not put application to the things God has shown you in His word, you are bound to reap a harvest full of weeds. If you have not plowed the soil of your heart at all, the sun baked hard soil will produce a harvest by chance instead of by God’s design and perfect plan. What kind of fruit are you harvesting with the farm of your life? No matter the mess you feel you or circumstances beyond your control may have made of your life, Jesus Christ has already provided solutions. Nothing is too difficult for God.

Copyright 2010 Church Growth Associates
http://mychurchgrowth.com

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Sanity Takes a Holiday

by Rev. Rick Robinson

So they don’t want us to call it Christmas anymore? The caravans did not travel following OnStar to their destination for a holiday. The angels did not announce glad tidings of vacation time and great shopping discounts. All right then, I want to wish you a very Merry Jesusmas! I know it has extra syllables, even for those of us who are from the south–but if you get a running start with it, you can make it fit in most of those songs that offend some people.

Well, if I can’t change the name legally, then why can someone else? At least I left the “mas” in my revision; they aren’t suggesting Happy Holidaymas. When is the last time you asked someone if they accepted a Holiday as their personal Lord and Savoir? If you don’t like Jesusmas, you are not alone. My spell checker wants me to change it. Add it to the dictionary…argument over. Maybe there should be a Sanity Clause in all of this legal mumbo-jumbo.

While we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on December 25th, and many are working to remove reference to Christ from the day of celebration, let’s look to the Bible to see what information we can get about the birth date of Jesus Christ.
Many Christians acknowledge that no one knows the exact day Jesus was born, but the Bible gives us some good information about the event. The exact date of Jesus’ birth is not as critical as not losing focus of the greatest gift given to mankind. Let’s look at the series of event recorded in the book of Luke, and break it down into a time frame.

Luke 1:5-17 (NASB)
In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years. Now it happened that while he was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division, according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside at the hour of the incense offering. And aan angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. Zacharias was troubled when he saw the angel, and fear gripped him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John. “You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. “For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb. “And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. “It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

We see from this passage, Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, was serving in the course of Abijah in the temple. The “course of Abijah” was a specific time when priests served in the temple. King David had divided the sons of Aaron into 24 groups (1 Chr 24:1-4). This would set up a schedule by which the Temple could be staffed with priests all year round in an orderly manner. Lots were then drawn to determine the sequence in which each group would serve in the Temple (1 Chr 24: 7-19). Zechariah served in the course of Abijah, the eighth course, which started in early June.

Luke 1:24-37 (NASB)
After these days Elizabeth his wife became pregnant, and she kept herself in seclusion for five months, saying, “This is the way the Lord has dealt with me in the days when He looked with favor upon me, to take away my disgrace among men.” Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. “He will be great and will be called the Son of  the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, ‍The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. “And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. “For nothing will be impossible with God.”

As we continue exploring the timeline in Luke, we see the angel announcing the birth of Jesus, to Mary six months later. The Jewish calendar was different than the one we use today, but this would have been sometime around our December, when Mary conceived. If I was teaching this in a classroom environment we would dig deeper into this, but this is not a course on calendar conversion. We know this was six months after the conception of John, because the angel told Mary that fact. Assuming that both Mary and Elizabeth were normal in terms of length pregnancy, John the Baptist would have been born in March, and Jesus probably sometime in the month of September.

The Bible also gives more evidence that Jesus was not likely born in December.

Luke 2:8-12 (NIV)
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Shepherds were not in the fields in the winter, they were in the fields early in March until early October. This would place Jesus’ birth in the spring or early fall. It is also known that Jesus lived for 33.5 years and died at the feast of the Passover, which is at Easter time. He must therefore have been born six months the other side of Easter – making the date around the September/October time frames.

Luke 2:1-7 (NIV)
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Palestine is very cold in December and much too cold to ask everyone to travel to the city of their fathers to register for taxes. This would also support the evidence of the shepherds being out in the fields.

If Jesus started His ministry at the age of thirty, as was customary for the Jews (Numbers 4:3) and was crucified at the feast of the Passover, which is Easter time, then He was about thirty-three and one-half years old. Six months the other side of Easter would make His date of birth around the September time frame.

Regardless of when Jesus was born, our hearts should be filled with thanksgiving that God chose to send his Son into the world for our redemption and salvation. I hope this information does not ruin your Christmas, but makes it more special. If you have not received this gift of Christmas (eternal life) you can do it now and make This Christmas the best ever.

The gospel does not require the celebration of Christmas, but there is no time that is “off limits” for us to meet together to celebrate the good things God has done for us through Jesus Christ. We celebrate Christmas in our home every year, but we are aware that the thing that is sacred, is the birth of Jesus Christ, not December 25th.

Copyright 2010 Church Growth Associates, Inc.
http://MyChurchGrowth.com

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Living in the Shadow of Knowledge

In the 1947 movie, “It Happened On Fifth Avenue”, Victor Moore stars as Aloyisius T. McKeever, (sounds like a name from the book of Acts, doesn’t it?) a hobo, who finds winter lodging by waiting for millionaire families to lock up mansions and migrate south for the winter.

The hobo moves into a mansion and soon begins taking in homeless WWII veterans, the first played by Alan Hale Jr., you may remember as “The Skipper” on Gilligan’s Island. Eventually the millionaire’s daughter comes home, and the hobo mistakes her for an impoverished runaway from an abusive father, so he offers to take her in. She goes along with the masquerade and falls in love with one of the displaced war vets living in her father’s home. There are now nine people living in the shelter of the Fifth Avenue mansion, and the daughter gets her father to meet the “squatters” incognito, in hope that he’ll take to the man she likes. Things get pretty funny when the hobo agrees to be generous enough to take in the real owner of the mansion as a benevolent tenant.

In 1947, Americans for the first time since the Great Depression had an optimistic approach to life. This movie is a funny look at the people and the feeling of renewal and hope that was in the air in the immediate post-World War II era. I think this movie also parallels the story in the book of Acts, as an example of someone trying to do the right thing, living as though he knows someone he does not.

The book of Acts is a record of the early church and it is filled with some of my favorite stories. There are several lessons the church today can learn from this story in Acts. I want to focus on the one lesson in my mind that is the most important. Living a life in the light of a real relationship with Jesus Christ, not in the shadow of the knowledge of Christ.

Ephesus was a city filled with people practicing magic and witchcraft. It was a city full of wayward, well meaning priest, living in the shadow of a knowledge of Christ, but not in the light of a relationship with Christ. Traveling Jewish exorcists were common in the ancient world, and many would invoke the names of a false god or an accepted god of the region when they performed magic or cast spells. Here we see a family of vagabond Jews composed of Sceva, a priest, and his seven sons, who had been watching Paul, do miracles. Listening to the name of Jesus, which Paul used to command evil spirits to come out of people, they attempted to use the same name as a sort of magical charm. The knowledge of Jesus did not help them because the evil spirit knew there was no relationship to stand on.

The contrast of ministry through the light of a real relationship with Christ, and the shadow of the knowledge of Christ, is seen here. Paul was in that region for two years serving God while he was tent making. The tent maker would wear a handkerchief around his head for a sweatband and an apron, which also would get very sweat soaked. God was working through Paul in such a way that his sweat soaked handkerchiefs and aprons would bring healing and drive out demons when they touched people. God wanted to make it clear to this deceived region; they needed to have a relationship with Christ, not just knowledge.

Acts 19:11-12
God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.

The city was in an uproar over the power of God as opposed to the power of sorcery and many people were being saved. They brought stacks of very expensive scrolls they owned that taught them how to cast spells and perform magic and they burned them publicly. If you have ungodly literature of any kind in your home, you should destroy it also. (Don’t start a fire downtown, you will be arrested.) Regardless of what you paid for it, it may be costing you more than you think. After I came into a real relationship with Christ, I destroyed my Mormon literature and the freedom I experienced took my spiritual walk to the next level. (That’s another lesson for latter.)

Many of the people in that day were well meaning people who thought they were doing things for God. Others were in it for the money, yet still many had two reasons for being upset with the light of a relationship with Christ. In any case, they were each and all, well deceived.

Acts 19:23-27
About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way. A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in no little business for the craftsmen. He called them together, along with the workmen in related trades, and said: “Men, you know we receive a good income from this business. And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that man-made gods are no gods at all. There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited, and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty.”

Most of the psychics and witches I have talked to, believe the power they get is a gift from God. It is not. The power comes from elsewhere. God’s word is very clear about such things.

Acts 16:16-18
Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her

Acts 8:9-13
Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is the divine power known as the Great Power.” They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his magic. But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.

Movies like “The Wizard of Oz” show the power of a good witch and the power of a bad witch, but there is no such contrast in scripture. The deception of good without God will take people where they do not want to go. It is because the knowledge of Christ is not enough, there needs to be a true relationship with Christ. Most people I share Christ with think as I used to. They think to get into heaven, you have to be a good and decent person. Compared to what? Are you good and decent because of the knowledge of Christ, or are you trying to be good and decent because you want to have a true relationship with Christ?

Matthew 7:21-23
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

Living in the shadow of the knowledge of Jesus Christ does not pertain only to salvation. Many Christian people live in that shadow in certain parts of life. Deception does not reserve itself for those without a relationship to Jesus. Don’t just take time to read Gods word and pray. Do you believe what you read, or is it just knowledge? If you believe it, then you should try living in the light of your relationship with Jesus and not be satisfied with the comfort and deception of the shadow of knowledge. If you are not consistently in the word of truth, you should know, ignorance is not a safe alternative either.

James 1:22
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

Knowledge without a relationship will disappoint you in the end. It is empty and unfulfilling because something is missing. How about you? Are you living like the hobo in that movie, pretending everything is fine because you have some knowledge? At the end of the movie as the hobo walks down the sidewalk away from the mansion, the millionaire says to his wife, “Next year when he comes back, he will come in through the front door.” Have you been living as an unauthorized party in Gods house? Use the front door that is provided for those with a relationship. You are the one who opens that door, not Jesus.

Revelation 3:19-22
Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

Which one of the characters in the Bible verses above are you most like? All the characters living strictly in the knowledge of Christ, are not reaping the benefits of those living in the light of a true relationship with Christ. Do you live like God is able to change your life, or have you deceived yourself through religion? That can all change right now, it is up to you. Open the door of your heart, Jesus is always there.

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