Showing posts from 2019
When God provides, He also protects

There's a story of Peter and some of his friends doing some night fishing on the Sea of Galilee. It was a long night, desperate for a miracle, for they had caught nothing. But they were fishermen and so that is what they did. They fished. After all, Jesus had been crucified, Peter had denied Him, and they probably felt pretty directionless - even though Jesus had made an appearance at one point to them.

 Sometimes our miracles come after our night.

After their night, their fish-less, fruitless night, a familiar voice called from the shore out to the empty boat they were in. "Friends, haven't you any fish?" No sir, we don't. We've got nothing to show for a long night of laboring. And again, the voice sounded from the shore, "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some." And so they did, and so they pulled a net full of large fish that could hardly be contained. What a miracle. The man behind…
We all wear name tags.

You may not be wearing one of those sticky paper, red bordered, name tags on the top left corner your shirt right now, but I know there are names that have been assigned to you. Good or bad. Maybe both.

Before I was born, while my mother was pregnant, she was told, "Don't tell anyone you're pregnant, you haven't been married long enough and people might get ideas." Shame was the name assigned to me before I was even born. What was supposed to be an occasion for joy, was covered in shame and fear. What names have you been tagged with?

In Babylon (modern day Iraq), thousands of years ago, a group of young Israelite captives were undergoing cultural indoctrination, and as part of that inclusion into Babylonian society and service, they were assigned alternate names. They already had names given to them by their Hebrew parents; names that reflected who they were and who the God they trusted in was. But that didn't stop the king of Babylon (Neb…
I'm excited to share these words from my guest blogger, Hannah Grace Furcinitti - 
Honestly, these past two years have been filled with the most intense suffering I have ever endured. Living away from home, coming down with random illness after illness, learning how to disagree with fellow believers whom I love deeply. It has been plain hard, and I am eternally grateful to my gracious God who works this suffering for the good of His saints and the glory of His name. 
I often tell my family that Dengue was the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I mean that. It opened my eyes in a new way. God grabbed my attention and turned me to Himself. I lay on a hospital bed, doubting whether I’d survive this, doubting that I’d see my family again in this life, feeling afraid and alone. And how kind God was to put me exactly there! Where else did I have to go but to Him? The best place to be is where you recognize God as your only hope and treasure. How kind that, as our loving Father, He car…
Hidden Promises

Sometimes the promises of God are hidden away, out of view until the time is right.

Jeremiah saw this principle at work when the Lord told him to purchase (redeem) some land in the Promised Land. It was a risky venture; nonsensical. The nation was under attack, the land would likely be overtaken and possessed by the enemy. But Jeremiah made the purchase anyways, according to the word of the Lord.

He took the deed for the land and hid it away; sealed it up in a clay jar. Dark, sealed, hidden. And that is where the deed remained until the opportune time. Talk about casting your bread on the water and waiting for its return!

But Jeremiah was OK with that, for God had made a promise. “For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land.'”
(‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭32:15‬)

And the Lord would bring His people out of captivity. He would give them a heart to serve Him and He would be their God and they would be His peo…
God, misrepresented

God gets very serious about what people say about Him. Sentences that start with, "God thinks," or "God says," or "God is," carry a lot of weight behind them; especially when spoken by those considered to be representatives of the faith. But why is God so serious about being accurately represented? Why is an authentic and pure portrayal of who He is so important?

Because God misrepresented is simply an idol. 

When God is said to be "like this" and He really isn't "like that", we form an idol in our thoughts through our words and into our doctrines and either drive people away from Him or draw people into idol worship. And this isn't a rare happening. God is misrepresented far too often. In one way or another, at one time or another, we've all fallen short and offered to those around us a poor reflection of who He truly is. I know I have. I confess that I have. And in one way or another, and at one time or a…
When God goes shopping

For Father's Day, my wife got me a shirt that has the words, "bought with a price" written in Biblical Greek on it. I've been attempting to learn Greek, so it was an appropriate gift. My neighbor, who is Greek read the shirt. I asked her if she knew what it meant. She was having a difficult time trying to put into English what the words meant in Greek. She finally made an attempt, "something like shopping." Funny, we were heading into the grocery store as we were having this discussion.

What a way to look at this act of God, I thought to myself. God went shopping and He bought us. The scripture says that He chose us, sought us out, not the other way around. You could say, the patron bought the bagel of his choice, the bagel didn't choose the patron. So God, in a sense, went shopping and He purchased us - at the very high cost of His Son's blood. 

This speaks to His great commitment and to His unfathomable wisdom and ways. It spea…
That annoying person you're going to spend the rest of eternity with
I can remember a preacher (or two) saying in church something to the effect of, "you'd better love the person sitting next to you because you're going to spend the rest of eternity with them." In one sense, I agree - we will spend eternity with our fellow believers. But in another sense, (I'd say the truly important sense), I strongly disagree with the implication of that statement. 

John, the apostle of Jesus, the one close to His heart, wrote, "But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." The believer you are sitting next to in church is nothing like the person you will spend eternity next to worshiping God with. We shall be like Him; all of us. Think about it. 

All of the things in us and about us, broken by sin - our annoying idiosyncrasies, our nasty habits, our rotten attitudes will be blown off of us as we are transformed into His …
It's OK to be honest.

In fact, honest words spoken with an attitude of trust show real faith. Confessing the truth does not make one without faith - 

I believed, even when I spoke: "I am greatly afflicted" 

or as the Amplified version puts it, 

I believed [and clung to my God] when I said, “I am greatly afflicted.”

Paul echoed these words in regards to his own sufferings - 

Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak ...

We despair, we are perplexed. Paul confessed these things in the spirit of faith. I have a cold, I'm feeling depressed, I'm afraid. Those who are honest among us will admit to these things, not because we lack faith, but because our faith rests not in our words or declarations, but in the God who raised Jesus from the dead. That is where our faith must rest.

I was visiting with a sweet, elderly believer recently. She's often said to me, "I just don…

M. Night Shyamalan wrote and directed a film called, "Signs" which was released in 2002. The backstory of the movie was around a priest who had lost his wife and his faith. As the story progresses we see events come together that would eventually restore this priest's faith and seem to indicate that the miraculous can happen in life. In the movie, evidence after evidence pointed to (I'll say) God working things together to guide and prove himself to this priest. Thus the title, "Signs". That's my synopsis of the movie anyways - if you've seen it, you may have gotten something totally different out of it!

Signs can be used to indicate the presence of something existing. They can also be used to point to or explain something. Signs are an important part of the Christian life - please let me explain.

We do not follow signs - that can lead to disappointment and deception. Our faith is not in the miraculous, or in the wonders, or in the signs. Our fai…
Unlocking the Heart of God

As the tribe of Israel was preparing to enter the promised land, a census was taken at the command of the Lord to count those who would be eligible for war; every male twenty years and older. An army was being built, and the land was being divided and given to the tribes of Israel - the more warriors, the more land; the fewer warriors, the smaller the portion. You could say, the inheritance was divided according to the strength of each tribe. 

Zelophehad, from the tribe of Manasseh, had five daughters - not eligible for inheritance, not eligible for war. I wonder how Zelophehad felt having only girls during a time and in a culture where sons were the desired gender. I wonder if his feelings had anything to do with the fact that he named one of his daughters Noah. Maybe not. But maybe. 

When Zelophehad died, his daughters were left with nothing; they were not qualified for an inheritance because they were not sons. So what did Noah and her sisters do? They sough…
What if I told you that all of your debts had been cancelled? That speeding ticket, the monthly car loan that never seems to go away, the seemingly insurmountable thirty year mortgage; erased, forgotten, taken off the books. No more debt. What would that feel like? What would you do? Buy another house, borrow more money - or treasure the freedom freshly bestowed upon you?

Many of us dream of having more money. Increase supply, decrease debt. But what if the possibility of debt was no more? Try to envision a place, a world, or let's call it a dynamic, where debt and abundance swap. Debt becomes little and provision goes through the roof.

Placed upon us are legal demands, law and consequence. We incur debt because of legal demand. The law demands that if you speed, you pay a fine. If you charge an item at the store, you pay for it, sometimes with interest. Steal, murder, commit adultery; some debts are heavier than others and some of the fines we pay are not just monetary.

But what if…
We could solve a whole world of problems if we knew who we were; if we were confident in what God says about us. But for many of us, there is brokenness, disappointments, wounds, failed dreams, and let-downs from the people of God. So many things that tell us who we aren't and shake our confidence.

Like arrows, we've felt the wounding words, lies from the enemy of our soul, lies that have kept us bound to this earth. These words have brought us to a place of complacency instead of to a place of vigor and victory. Oppression hangs over us like the feeling we have after overeating at Thanksgiving. It weighs us down and keeps us out of full commission. And that's what the enemy wants.

But God speaks something different. He forms our trials to shape us and grow us, to build compassion and integrity into the core of our being. Instead of saying, "This thing is killing you", He says, "Endurance develops maturity of character [approved faith and tried integrity] and…

True and lasting breakthrough doesn't originate with us. It is not us pushing through something to get to something. True, powerful, and lasting breakthrough originates with God and ends up in us; it is when God lights our darkness, opens our eyes, and breaks through to our heart. Paul's breakthrough came when Jesus revealed the great truth to Paul, "My grace is sufficient for you." Gideon's breakthrough happened when the Lord assigned Gideon's identity and then showed himself great. Personally, my breakthroughs have come when the Lord walked into my dark closet and turned the light on; and that light slowly filled the room, bringing truth that set me free - free indeed.

Freedom can be viewed from at least two perspectives. One is freedom of justification, when one is declared free from the consequences of their crime. This is when we, as believers, are declared not guilty - blessed is the man whose sins have been forgiven. Secondly we find freedo…
Do not touch.
Do not come near.
Do not even look.

These were the commands given to those who were to carry the furnishings and articles for the tent of meeting, the tabernacle in the wilderness, God's desert dwelling. The children of Israel had been rescued from Egypt, and now they had become sojourners, wilderness travelers led by the smoke and fire of God. Their place of worship was a mobile temple and it was holy - dedicated to the LORD.

When it was time to move locations, strict instructions were given for the process of how that was to be done. Only Aaron and his sons were allowed to pack the furnishings, utensils, dishes, lamps, and so forth. And once they were packed up and ready, they were covered. No one else was allowed to touch, approach, or look on these holy things. And if someone did, the result was death. The message was clear, God is a holy God and the result for breaking His commands was severe.

And today, God is still holy. There is none like Him. He is beyond our com…
I don't know how to pray for those who are suffering.

I would pray, "Lord, be with them." But He is with them.
I would pray, "Lord, let your purpose come about through their suffering." But His purpose will come about in their suffering. I find myself short of words to bring to Jesus for my suffering brother and sister.

Jesus healed, but He was sent to preach the good news. His primary purpose on this earth was not to perform miracles, though He did many, but to bring good news, to teach, to open eyes and set people free, to proclaim. In a world, (and a church at times infected with worldliness), that avoids offense, inconvenience, and pain as an enemy of joy, I find myself approaching Jesus like the leper whom He healed, "Lord, if you are willing, you are able to heal my brother, to lift my sister's suffering." If He is willing, He is able.

And I find words rising in my prayer as I think of Jesus coming to preach, coming to teach, coming to bring…
We were created for His pleasure. He redeemed us to spend eternity with Him. Does that mean we will have no pleasure in heaven, that it’s all about “making God happy”?
Absolutely not.

In His presence is fullness of joy. At His right hand pleasures forevermore. Jesus is at the right hand of the father. In Him alone we find all joy and pleasure. We will share in the joy of God- as He will say to us, “enter in to the joy of your master.”
God will not have pleasure at our expense. He will not be pleased while we are bored, unfulfilled, or unsatisfied. We will share in His joy. We were created for His pleasure- for all eternity we will be satisfied in Him! 
God lacks nothing. He does not need us to be fulfilled or to make up for something that is missing in Him. We are created for His pleasure, for Him, not to fill a void that God has; no, but it is to His glory that we are satisfied in Him, that we come into His eternal purpose for us. We serve at the pleasure of the King. He created us to fi…
Decisions can be difficult, especially the "big" decisions. Do I take this job? Do I marry this girl? Should I go to another church? 

Should I write this blog? Well, maybe that one seems like a small decision.

Sitting here at my desk, in my office, I'm asking myself that question, among others. Should I write this blog? Who will miss an encouraging word If I don't take the time to write something? Will the kingdom of God lack a sliver of light because I didn't put my mind to the task of writing? Granted, this blog is read by few, not many, and the impact of what I do is small. Or is it? Can you really weigh the impact that you have on someone's life?

The scripture encourages us to not grow weary of doing good, for in due time we will reap a harvest. Will one blog, one word, one kind act cause us to reap a harvest? That's hard to judge; but one thing I do know, a life lived for Christ over the years, in service to others will reap a harvest. We may not see it…