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Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

Somewhere in our past is a wound that our enemy picks at with recurring little digs. The intent is to keep it open – to keep it from healing. Mine occurred when I was 6. I was the new kid on the block. My new friends thought it would be funny, after luring me into a little backyard playhouse, to shut the door and then locked it.

My enemy was fast on the scene to suggest that they did not like me. It was my first memorable gash on my soul; and though I didn’t realize it at the time, it would be THE gash that he would pick at for the rest of my life.

I wonder if that is the same tactic he used when Ishmael and his mother were forced to leave Abraham, Sarah and their new son Isaac. Isaac was chosen over Ishmael. I can imagine a huge opportunity for a wound there. This wound would have a lot of potential; way beyond the life of Ishmael. This one has been picked at now for 4,000 years.

There is a purpose for these wounds. Mine was picked at so long that by the time I became a Christian, I questioned whether God liked me. With Ishmael’s offspring, Satan has convinced them that he is god – that the Jews stole what was rightfully theirs – and that he, as their god, Allah, is leading them to settle the score. They are not after peace.

 

 

 

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There is at least one similarity between Christianity and the religion of Islam. Both want people to believe their message. But where one is a gracious offer, the other is an ultimatum.

It all started with Abraham. God picked him to begin a nation. The problem is he had two sons. Both began a nation. The Bible contains the record of one nation while the Koran contains the record of the other. This all happened before the ‘everyone gets a trophy’ craze. Only one nation was declared the winner.

The resentment began immediately and for thousands of years, it has brewed into a deep hatred. The losing side intends to claim what they feel is rightfully theirs. It calls for the annihilation of the other team and anyone associated with them.

All God ever wanted was a people that he could care for and be loved by. But in spite of all he did they kept forgetting him. After a 2,000 year pattern, he extended the invitation to anyone in the world. Forever a loving God, when he could rightfully wash his hands of us all, he continues his gracious offer.

Islam’s offer comes with an ultimatum. Join them in their fight or die. Their ways remind me of a verse. ‘Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy; but God came that we might have life.’ I believe their god is Satan. They are not a peace loving people.

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I was reminded recently of a verse in Hosea: “My people are destroyed from a lack of knowledge.” It is true today in relation to the religion of Islam. We lack knowledge of the fact that their goal is to take over. We are being told Muslims are peace loving, but that could not be further from the truth.

Brutal killings are taking place right under our noses, not by radical extremists, but by devout followers of the religion of Islam. They are, quite simply, the committed ones. They are following what the Koran instructs them to do with infidels (those who will not accept their teachings).

“The governments of the world should know that Islam cannot be defeated. Islam will be victorious in all the countries of the world, and Islam and the teachings of the Koran will prevail all over the world.” Ayatollah Khomeini

These brutal killings seem to go beyond acceptable limits to the civilized world. In actuality, it is not that far out of line when compared to Old Testament times. I just read in Judges where a tent stake was driven through the head of one king and it says, “On that day, God subdued Jabin, the Canaanite king.”

God gave his chosen people a small portion of land that they were to subdue. “Do not leave anything that breathes. Completely destroy them.” Like it or not, it is there and it is not pretty. But the people of these other countries had other gods. Think about that. There is really only one other ‘god’; the god of this world, Satan. And God wanted his followers destroyed.

In my opinion, it is this same god of this world that is the Allah of Islam. He is leading his followers in an all out war against the followers of God. Just as God wanted to annihilate Satan’s followers, so now, Satan wants to annihilate God’s.

We are believing the lie that our government, the media and others are propagating. We are being destroyed by a lack of knowledge. Evil advances when good men do nothing. It is time to wise up – to learn what is right – to use what is right to resist what isn’t. “Who is wise? He will realize these things.” Hosea 14:9

 

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You expect to see results quickly when you bring a dozer in to move a pile of dirt. But what if you bring a shovel and wheelbarrow? The results will still come; they just come a little slower.

And so it is with our believing. If we’re not taking a dozer into a situation we are believing for – if we’re just taking a shovel and wheelbarrow – we can still have results . . . it will just take a little longer to see them and to get the job done.

In the story of the centurion servant who was suffering from seizures (the one that the disciples could not heal) Jesus said to His disciples, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

We expect the mountain to move all at once, like it did for Jesus. But Jesus had faith the size of a dozer. We on the other hand come with a shovel and wheelbarrow? Our faith is small in comparison to His; but . . . we can still move the mountain if we stay with it. The evidence may be a little slower to come and a little harder to see, but nevertheless there will be evidence if we stay with it.

We need to see evidence when we pray. Evidence says ‘You are on the right track. Just stay with it.’ We are bad to quit when the whole mountain does not move at once. That is what the disciples did. They couldn’t drive the seizures out with one try so they quit. But faith, even if it is small, it can be sure. Faith, because it knows something, refuses to quit until there is evidence; and then once there is evidence, faith continues to press until the mountain is moved.

Prayer is work. And like with any work, we need to see that the effort of our labor is accomplishing something. It is no different with prayer. We need to see that the effort of our praying is accomplishing something. We need to see evidence. Lately I have seen just enough to know that I am on the right track and that if I will just stay with it – wheelbarrow by wheelbarrow – I will see this mountain moved.

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You would think there would be more to the beginning of what we now know as one of Paul’s missionary journeys, but it really seems like Paul and Barnabas were sitting around one day and Paul said: “Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing”. And with that, a missionary journey was born.

I guess I’ve always thought of these journeys as something bigger than life. But really it is just the record of what Paul did. He went about encouraging and strengthening the churches. He was an evangelist. It’s what he did. It’s what he was good at.

But right after Paul’s ‘good’ idea, comes a ‘bad’ one. He didn’t want to take Mark but Barnabas did; and from there things got really ‘ugly’ fast. In Acts, Luke tells us that “They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord.”

How often do our good ideas get sidetracked before they ever get off the ground? This exchange could have resulted in one less missionary journey; but in spite of how ugly it got, neither Paul nor Barnabas let it keep them from the good they had thought to do.

There will forever be an enemy to any good idea that God gives us. As much as God tries to initiate them for the purpose of encouraging and strengthening other believers, Satan does his best to stifle them.

Lord help me to see the ‘good’ ideas You give me, through to their end; to not let the ‘bad’ or even the ‘ugly’ keep me from what I think to do; to more and more use what I am good at for this purpose.

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I’m sure most women today would have griped just a little bit, but Mary found treasure.  She and Joseph had just traveled about 75 miles to Bethlehem; means of transportation . . . sandals.  Can you imagine doing that today—while pregnant and at full term?  Plus the fact, that not having made reservations, when they got there, there were no rooms available at any of the hotels. 

I can see it just as clearly as I am seeing these letters as I sit here typing.  Just about the time they find out there are no rooms available, when you think it can’t get any worse, it does.  Mary is ready to have her baby.  Because there is nothing else available, they clear out a place in a stall and make the best of it; her first born child, the Son of God of all things, born in a stall.  There was no epidural, no ice chips, no soft bed to lie in after it was over, no hot shower or bath; just family, a little straw and a few animals. 

You would think that God would have seen to it that she could have had an easier way of it all.  Instead it appears it pleased Him to let it be as difficult and as lowly as one could imagine.  But . . .  He knows how, in our difficulty, to make it all worth it.  He sent shepherds to confirm what she knew in her heart about the child she had just given birth to.  In her difficulty He was able to give her treasure.

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Be Still and Know

 

In Brennan Manning’s new book, The Furious Longing of God, he quotes part of Psalm 46:10; “Be still, and know that I am God”. 

 

Does that not speak volumes?  I’ll not mess it up by adding to it.

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In the Absence of Life

John 5

 

It was the only hope they had—waiting by the pool for the water to stir—waiting for the healing these stirrings could bring.  If the leaders of the day had been properly focused, there wouldn’t have been any waiting by the pool.  In fact, by the time John writes this, they had already quit waiting by it.  John says, “Here a great number of disabled people used to lie”. A new leader had come to town; the waiting was over.

 

It seems today, in many cases, we have gone back to waiting.  We wait in our churches for the water to stir—waiting for the healing these stirrings can bring.  The man in this story had waited for 38 years.  How many today have done the same thing? 

 

How many of today’s leaders are guilty of the same thing the leaders in this story were guilty of.  John writes in 5:39-40, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”

 

Is it possible, even today, to study and know the Scriptures and yet miss the life of which they speak?  Are we somehow coming to the Scriptures, yet not coming to Christ?  Do those who wait continue to do so because there is none to help them? 

 

In the absence of life, a great number of disabled people are waiting.

 

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A few days ago I was watching a documentary which included a clip about the early Americans who, against incredible odds, made their way out west.  Convinced that there was something better, they risked all to get there.

 

As I seem to be on a personal journey in my walk with God, where I am convinced that there is something better – convinced that we the church have settled for far too little – I wondered. . . are there any pioneers left that are willing to face this frontier?

 

In many cases, fields we see today were not always fields.  They were at one time cleared to become fields.  Over time, if the owner of the field does not stay on top of it, the edge of the woods can gradually creep in and eventually some of the cleared ground is lost. 

 

Has that not happened to the church?  Have we not given up ground to Satan’s lies and slight twists of the truth until the church no longer has the power that it should have?  Have we not allowed ourselves to be ‘dumbed down’ until our lives haven’t even the slightest hint of the abundance we claim we’re supposed to have?

 

There is a battle going on.  We’re not doing so good.  Are there any pioneers left who believe there is something better and are willing to risk all to obtain it?  The church needs you.

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1 John 3

 

1 John 3:6 “No one who lives in him keeps on sinning.  No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him”. 

1 John 3:9 “No one who is born of God will continue to sin”.

 

Those are pretty strong words.  I have struggled over their meanings many times.  But this time I noticed something I had never picked up on before.

 

John is writing to believers (5:13, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life”).  He is writing, partly, about deceivers (4:1, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God”). 

 

In light of that, it makes more sense that though he is writing 3:6 and 3:9 to those who believe, I think he is writing about those who are trying to deceive.

 

John addresses both ends.  He addresses the deceivers who have not seen God, known God, or been born of God, and as a result continue in sin.  He also addresses the believers who have seen God, known God, and been born of God, and as a result do not continue in sin. 

 

As he exposes the disqualified and encourages the qualified, he has an overall tone of warning – “Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray” (3:7). To both ends and to all in between; to believers who have to some degree been deceived, there is warning. 

 

Maybe it is just enough to keep them from knowing God to the extent that He is able to be known.  Maybe it is to the point that God is now seldom in their thoughts.  Maybe it is to the point of being dead in the middle where they have just the right amount of God and just the right amount of sin to satisfy both sides?

 

John’s letter provides an opportunity for all of us to evaluate where we are.  He gives us truth to counter all that is false.  What have we come to believe?  How does it measure up?  To what extent do we continue in sin?  To what extent have we seen God – known God?

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