Embracing the Thorns

We all have read the scripture where Paul asks God three times to remove the thorn from his side. We all know the answer God gave him. That answer was that God’s grace was sufficient for him.

  We each have our own thorns in our side. The question is this do we embrace them and use them for God’s glory, or do we allow them to entangle us to the point that we give up or even worse become indifferent.? Or even better to we push them aside and run right through them?

  In order to answer that question we have to go back to the basics and that is, are we using our gifts to please and glorify God or are we either not using our gifts or using our gifts for our own glory? The test is this, if we are using our gifts with a pure heart for God, we will be criticized, we will be questioned and we will be put under a microscope. The reason is because we have chosen to be bold and allow God to have the glory. The thorn we sometimes suffer is we allow those action to make us question ourselves. If our heart is pure and our motive is God’s glory, we should never ever question ourselves.

  The devil is the reason for the self-doubt. He takes that thorn and pushed it inward, creating pain and agony. We must push past it. Remind ourselves that God is working in us. We are his vessel and if he did not think we were up to the job he would not have given us that gift, whatever that gift might be.

  With pain comes growth, with criticism comes enlightenment and strength. But most of all we know that God is working that he is being glorified and that someone’s heart has been pricked.

   Embrace those thorns, know that God’s grace is indeed sufficient and become even bolder, stronger and show God’s glory.           

God Controls the Spirits

  Growing up in the Church the one thing that was never discussed for whatever reason was the Holy Spirit and God’s control over all the spirits. It was as if it was a byproduct of God and not one to be discussed. The reason was simple, all the denominations around us expressed the use of the Spirit all the time. We as the Church of Christ dare not embrace that. We did not want to be like them.

  However, we as the Lord’s body have so missed the mark. We have left out a component that is so vital to our life it is like missing a limb. The Holy Spirit becomes part of who we are when we are born again through Baptism. When we deny that fact, we hinder our Spiritual growth on so many levels.

 In the old Testament we are told that God controls the Spirit world. I Kings 22:16-23. When the King Ahab wanted to attack the Israelites, he sent for Micaiah for solidification that he would win. When Micaiah spoke, he told the king the same thing his own prophets did to show the king that they only told him what he wanted to hear. As the argument went on earth, a Spirit stepped up to God and said, “I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all his prophets.” And God said, “You will succeed in enticing him. Go and do it.”

  What is interesting is Micaiah told the king what God and done and still he refused to listen. This also show us that God allows those who are committed to sin to sin even more in order to hurry their judgement. In the end Ahab died.

 We are told in I Sam. 16:14 that as Saul became more prideful and greater in power he turned from God and the Spirit left him.

  The question has been asked to people who are not, yet part of the Lord’s body have an indwelling of the Spirit or not. After careful study I would venture to say that as with Saul the Spirit is sent to prick the heart, but there is no indwelling until one is born again. Once we are born again that is when the fruits of the Spirit begin to grow. Gal. 5:16-22 Tells us that if we have the in dwelling of the Spirit, he will lead us. However, the Holy Spirit which is in us is always in conflict with the flesh, that is worldly things. The one that grows is the one we feed.

 Studying the Holy Spirit should become as important to us as studying about Jesus and God. The Holy Spirit is that gift we are given when we rise up out of the water as new life. That Holy Spirit becomes part of who we are and what we do. Embrace it, allow it to help you grow, to withstand the battle that goes on without and within. Remember the Devil doesn’t bother those he already owns. He only attacks those who have had their hearts pricked by the Spirit and then filled with the Spirit.   

Back to Basics

Back to Basics

By

Yvonne Sewell

 

 

Sometimes as Christians we tend to forget that there are folks out there who have not yet put on Christ. They have not yet been buried with him in baptism – raised to walk in newness of life to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Apparently somewhere down the road, we have forgotten to teach that basic part of our faith.

So, let me just take us a few steps back. On the day of Pentecost after Jesus had risen from the dead and the people heard Peter and the other apostles in their own languages, they asked what they needed to do in order to be saved (Acts 2:36-40) they were told “Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” The people immediately were buried (that is completely immersed under the water- like being buried in the ground)  with Christ in baptism. They didn’t wait a week, a month or even the next day. Even Jesus was baptized to show obedience (Luke 3:21-22) These were faithful Jews, who understood their faith, who practiced it faithfully. However, once they understood that the old law or testament had been nailed to the cross and that a new testament was in effect, they took the measures they needed to make their life take that path.

Romans 6:1-4 tells us this “What can we say then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”

I don’t know about anyone else, but that scripture alone made me want to be in Christ. To know that I had the opportunity to die to sin, be raised pure and sinless and to receive the Holy Spirit so that I might more fully understand the word is priceless. No, I did not understand everything I needed to know overnight. And every day I am still learning. But I am learning through a clear vision when I need those lessons. The understanding is there, the ability to absorb, to be able to explain it to others is there. Sin no longer has its power over us. We are covered in God’s grace and mercy. That is not to say that we do not fall from grace – it simply means that God is always there to receive us back with his hand out to help us up. But in order to be there we must first become his child; Jesus’s co-heir and we do that by dying to sin through burial in baptism and symbolically rising from that sinful death to a new life.

Understanding that in order to receive the blessings and the Holy Spirit and the newness of life, to be raised from the Spiritual dead, we must teach baptism, we must go back to the basics. WE must understand that we are obligated to teach this as well as live it.

Weighed- Mesasured and Found Wanting

For those of you who have been following my daily lessons today I give you Daniel 5 :1-30. Those of you who have followed remember that Daniel was in the King Nebuchadnezzar’s court. He had inturrpeted several dreams for the king and they had come to fruition. After the last one came to pass, the king turned to God until he died. His son, King Belshazzar not so much. “5 King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles and drank wine with them. 2 While Belshazzar was drinking his wine, he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver goblets that Nebuchadnezzar his father[a] had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them. 3 So they brought in the gold goblets that had been taken from the temple of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines drank from them. 4 As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone.5 Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. 6 His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his legs became weak and his knees were knocking.The king summoned the enchanters, astrologers[b] and diviners. Then he said to these wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing and tells me what it means will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around his neck, and he will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom.”
8 Then all the king’s wise men came in, but they could not read the writing or tell the king what it meant. 9 So King Belshazzar became even more terrified and his face grew more pale. His nobles were baffled.10 The queen,[c] hearing the voices of the king and his nobles, came into the banquet hall. “May the king live forever!” she said. “Don’t be alarmed! Don’t look so pale! 11 There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him. In the time of your father he was found to have insight and intelligence and wisdom like that of the gods. Your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, appointed him chief of the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners. 12 He did this because Daniel, whom the king called Belteshazzar, was found to have a keen mind and knowledge and understanding, and also the ability to interpret dreams, explain riddles and solve difficult problems. Call for Daniel, and he will tell you what the writing means.”
13 So Daniel was brought before the king, and the king said to him, “Are you Daniel, one of the exiles my father the king brought from Judah? 14 I have heard that the spirit of the gods is in you and that you have insight, intelligence and outstanding wisdom. 15 The wise men and enchanters were brought before me to read this writing and tell me what it means, but they could not explain it. 16 Now I have heard that you are able to give interpretations and to solve difficult problems. If you can read this writing and tell me what it means, you will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around your neck, and you will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom.”17 Then Daniel answered the king, “You may keep your gifts for yourself and give your rewards to someone else. Nevertheless, I will read the writing for the king and tell him what it means.18 “Your Majesty, the Most High God gave your father Nebuchadnezzar sovereignty and greatness and glory and splendor. 19 Because of the high position he gave him, all the nations and peoples of every language dreaded and feared him. Those the king wanted to put to death, he put to death; those he wanted to spare, he spared; those he wanted to promote, he promoted; and those he wanted to humble, he humbled. 20 But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory. 21 He was driven away from people and given the mind of an animal; he lived with the wild donkeys and ate grass like the ox; and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven, until he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and sets over them anyone he wishes.22 “But you, Belshazzar, his son,[d] have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this. 23 Instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven. You had the goblets from his temple brought to you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines drank wine from them. You praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand. But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways. 24 Therefore he sent the hand that wrote the inscription.25 “This is the inscription that was written:
mene, mene, tekel, parsin

26 “Here is what these words mean:

Mene[e]: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.
27 Tekel[f]: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.

28 Peres[g]: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”

29 Then at Belshazzar’s command, Daniel was clothed in purple, a gold chain was placed around his neck, and he was proclaimed the third highest ruler in the kingdom.
30 That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians,[h] was slain, and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom, at age sixty-two.”
Now let’s look at the lesson or lessons here. First Belshazzar would have known what happened to his father when he was not in line with God. It was not a state secret. Second, He knew who Daniel was and that everything Daniel had told the prior King had come to fruition. He also knew that Daniel was a man of God. But as humans who depend on their own salvation are prone to do, this king believed he was invinsible. He had to show how powerful he was by throwing a banquet for those in power around him. As we see from the scripture God was no happy with King Belshazzar. God had used the words before. Powerful words that packed a punch. And to show that God is who he says he is, he wrote them on the wall for all to see. Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin. The King totally befuddled when his wise men could not translate on the advise of the Queen sent for Daniel. Daniel held nothing back. He told the king that he had not humbled himself to the Lord, but instead had set himself above God ,even though he knew about God and his mighty power. That he stole the goblets from the Temple and used them for his guests to drink from. He told him that he did not honor God and now it was time to face a reckoning. The tanslation was, “God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end. You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting. Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and the Persians.”
It was that very night that Belshazzar was slain.
There are a couple of lessons in this short chapter. 1.The things we learn in the enviorment we are raised in is not always the way we behave when we are older. Instead of learning from what happened to his father and staying close to God, Belshazzar did the complete opposite. In fact he did what his father had done prior to his encounter with God. 2. that for every action there is always an opposite and equal or greater reaction and consequence. 3. Like Belshazzar we are free to make our own decisions, but we are not free from the consequences of those decisions. 4. When one sees the writing on the wall, it would behoove one to stop and pay attention. 5. There will be a reckoning and all of our actions will be put in front of us. 6. Daniel never wavered in his convictions to God. He never apologized, he never excused and he never backed down. 6. God is in control. God sees all, knows all and has a plan. God’s message never changes, the messenger does, but not the message. 7. Those who refuse to pay attention to the message well, let me just say they did not understand the writing on the wall. Our days are numbered. Only God knows how many they are, have we been weighed on the scales and found wanting? Are we going to be given over to the conquerers and held in bondage because we have lost our way? Because we think we are mightier than God? Because we refuse to listen to the message and the messenger? Only you can answer those questions. Only you can decide if you have been put on the scales and found wanting. But would logic not tell you it is time – no way past time to put God back in your life? After all he holds your life in his hands. #God,#weighedandmesauredandfoundwanting,#daniel

Time to Turn Back To God

Today for my lesson, I am moving away from Judges and heading into the book of Daniel. Most of you may have been introduced to Daniel when he was thrown into the lion’s den and God closed their mouths. As most of us understand God is in control of eveything man is in control of nothing. God’s message and God’s plan never changes, even though it may take a detour. The children of Israel once again had been sent into bondage, this time by the empire of Babylon. This empire was remarkable. King Nebichadnezzar was powerful and fearless. But he kept having God moments in his dreams. On this occasion he has a dream that really sets him back on his heels. Daniel 4:1-36 “King Nebuchadnezzar,To the nations and peoples of every language, who live in all the earth:May you prosper greatly! 2 It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me.
3 How great are his signs,
how mighty his wonders!
His kingdom is an eternal kingdom;
his dominion endures from generation to generation.
4 I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home in my palace, contented and prosperous. 5 I had a dream that made me afraid. As I was lying in bed, the images and visions that passed through my mind terrified me. 6 So I commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be brought before me to interpret the dream for me. 7 When the magicians, enchanters, astrologers[b] and diviners came, I told them the dream, but they could not interpret it for me. 8 Finally, Daniel came into my presence and I told him the dream. (He is called Belteshazzar, after the name of my god, and the spirit of the holy gods is in him.)
9 I said, “Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you, and no mystery is too difficult for you. Here is my dream; interpret it for me. 10 These are the visions I saw while lying in bed: I looked, and there before me stood a tree in the middle of the land. Its height was enormous. 11 The tree grew large and strong and its top touched the sky; it was visible to the ends of the earth. 12 Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit abundant, and on it was food for all. Under it the wild animals found shelter, and the birds lived in its branches; from it every creature was fed.
13 “In the visions I saw while lying in bed, I looked, and there before me was a holy one, a messenger,[c] coming down from heaven. 14 He called in a loud voice: ‘Cut down the tree and trim off its branches; strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the animals flee from under it and the birds from its branches. 15 But let the stump and its roots, bound with iron and bronze, remain in the ground, in the grass of the field.
“‘Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him live with the animals among the plants of the earth. 16 Let his mind be changed from that of a man and let him be given the mind of an animal, till seven times[d] pass by for him.
17 “‘The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of people.’
18 “This is the dream that I, King Nebuchadnezzar, had. Now, Belteshazzar, tell me what it means, for none of the wise men in my kingdom can interpret it for me. But you can, because the spirit of the holy gods is in you.”
19 Then Daniel (also called Belteshazzar) was greatly perplexed for a time, and his thoughts terrified him. So the king said, “Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its meaning alarm you.”
Belteshazzar answered, “My lord, if only the dream applied to your enemies and its meaning to your adversaries! 20 The tree you saw, which grew large and strong, with its top touching the sky, visible to the whole earth, 21 with beautiful leaves and abundant fruit, providing food for all, giving shelter to the wild animals, and having nesting places in its branches for the birds— 22 Your Majesty, you are that tree! You have become great and strong; your greatness has grown until it reaches the sky, and your dominion extends to distant parts of the earth.
23 “Your Majesty saw a holy one, a messenger, coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Cut down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump, bound with iron and bronze, in the grass of the field, while its roots remain in the ground. Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven; let him live with the wild animals, until seven times pass by for him.’
24 “This is the interpretation, Your Majesty, and this is the decree the Most High has issued against my lord the king: 25 You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox and be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes. 26 The command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that Heaven rules. 27 Therefore, Your Majesty, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue.”
28 All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. 29 Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 30 he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?”
31 Even as the words were on his lips, a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. 32 You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.”
33 Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.
34 At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.
His dominion is an eternal dominion;
his kingdom endures from generation to generation.
35 All the peoples of the earth
are regarded as nothing.
He does as he pleases
with the powers of heaven
and the peoples of the earth.
No one can hold back his hand
or say to him: “What have you done?”
36 At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before.”
As with all history, which can never be rewritten or hidden because it all comes to the light, the lesson here is this, God is not slack concerning his promise, and he is all powerful, he is all knowing. God allows things to happen to us to get our attention we are too stubborn or filled with our own self- importance to understand we are in charge of nothing. We are mere humans. God not only sees today, he sees tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that. He knows that if we do not come to him, put him first and change our ways, then we could very well end up in bondage, or worse like the king. When David interrupted the dream he begged the king to change his ways. To destroy his idols, to lean on the one true God. But, the king thought he was in control- he believed he was invincible and could not be touched. He believed that he had no flaws and that he was in charge. Oh how the mighty do fall. Pride will provide a stumbling block every time. Like the King there are those who are so blind by their own ambitions, self-importance, self -pride, that they cannot, do not and will not see that they are in control of Nothing. They are alive simply because God wills it. We as a nation, as a world have become like King Nebuchadnezzar, we have become blinded with our own self-importance, self-pride, our own ambitions and self-centeredness, that we have forgotten we are only here because God wills it. At any given time we can no longer be here. We are in control of NOTHING!!!! Isn’t it time to turn back to God? #God,#turningback,#godsmessage,#godsplan

Jephthah the Gileadite

Today’s lesson is brought to you from Judges 11″ Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty warrior. His father was Gilead; his mother was a prostitute. 2 Gilead’s wife also bore him sons, and when they were grown up, they drove Jephthah away. “You are not going to get any inheritance in our family,” they said, “because you are the son of another woman.” 3 So Jephthah fled from his brothers and settled in the land of Tob, where a gang of scoundrels gathered around him and followed him.
4 Some time later, when the Ammonites were fighting against Israel, 5 the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah from the land of Tob. 6 “Come,” they said, “be our commander, so we can fight the Ammonites.”
7 Jephthah said to them, “Didn’t you hate me and drive me from my father’s house? Why do you come to me now, when you’re in trouble?”
8 The elders of Gilead said to him, “Nevertheless, we are turning to you now; come with us to fight the Ammonites, and you will be head over all of us who live in Gilead.”
9 Jephthah answered, “Suppose you take me back to fight the Ammonites and the Lord gives them to me—will I really be your head?”
10 The elders of Gilead replied, “The Lord is our witness; we will certainly do as you say.” 11 So Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and commander over them. And he repeated all his words before the Lord in Mizpah.
12 Then Jephthah sent messengers to the Ammonite king with the question: “What do you have against me that you have attacked my country?”
13 The king of the Ammonites answered Jephthah’s messengers, “When Israel came up out of Egypt, they took away my land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, all the way to the Jordan. Now give it back peaceably.”
14 Jephthah sent back messengers to the Ammonite king, 15 saying:“This is what Jephthah says: Israel did not take the land of Moab or the land of the Ammonites. 16 But when they came up out of Egypt, Israel went through the wilderness to the Red Sea[a] and on to Kadesh. 17 Then Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, ‘Give us permission to go through your country,’ but the king of Edom would not listen. They sent also to the king of Moab, and he refused. So Israel stayed at Kadesh.
18 “Next they traveled through the wilderness, skirted the lands of Edom and Moab, passed along the eastern side of the country of Moab, and camped on the other side of the Arnon. They did not enter the territory of Moab, for the Arnon was its border.19 “Then Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, who ruled in Heshbon, and said to him, ‘Let us pass through your country to our own place.’ 20 Sihon, however, did not trust Israel[b] to pass through his territory. He mustered all his troops and encamped at Jahaz and fought with Israel.
21 “Then the Lord, the God of Israel, gave Sihon and his whole army into Israel’s hands, and they defeated them. Israel took over all the land of the Amorites who lived in that country, 22 capturing all of it from the Arnon to the Jabbok and from the desert to the Jordan.23 “Now since the Lord, the God of Israel, has driven the Amorites out before his people Israel, what right have you to take it over? 24 Will you not take what your god Chemosh gives you? Likewise, whatever the Lord our God has given us, we will possess. 25 Are you any better than Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever quarrel with Israel or fight with them? 26 For three hundred years Israel occupied Heshbon, Aroer, the surrounding settlements and all the towns along the Arnon. Why didn’t you retake them during that time? 27 I have not wronged you, but you are doing me wrong by waging war against me. Let the Lord, the Judge, decide the dispute this day between the Israelites and the Ammonites.”
28 The king of Ammon, however, paid no attention to the message Jephthah sent him.29 Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jephthah. He crossed Gilead and Manasseh, passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from there he advanced against the Ammonites. 30 And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord: “If you give the Ammonites into my hands, 31 whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the Lord’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.”32 Then Jephthah went over to fight the Ammonites, and the Lord gave them into his hands. 33 He devastated twenty towns from Aroer to the vicinity of Minnith, as far as Abel Keramim. Thus Israel subdued Ammon.34 When Jephthah returned to his home in Mizpah, who should come out to meet him but his daughter, dancing to the sound of timbrels! She was an only child. Except for her he had neither son nor daughter. 35 When he saw her, he tore his clothes and cried, “Oh no, my daughter! You have brought me down and I am devastated. I have made a vow to the Lord that I cannot break.”36 “My father,” she replied, “you have given your word to the Lord. Do to me just as you promised, now that the Lord has avenged you of your enemies, the Ammonites. 37 But grant me this one request,” she said. “Give me two months to roam the hills and weep with my friends, because I will never marry.”38 “You may go,” he said. And he let her go for two months. She and her friends went into the hills and wept because she would never marry. 39 After the two months, she returned to her father, and he did to her as he had vowed. And she was a virgin.From this comes the Israelite tradition 40 that each year the young women of Israel go out for four days to commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite.”
I found this piece of history interesting on so many levels. There are a couple of lessons to be learned. First of all, the main character in this story is Jephthah, his father was a warrior and his mother a prostitute. Even though he had other brothers, Jephthah was driven away by the people and his half brothers because of his mother’s history. He suffered because of the injustice of his half brothers not because of anything he had done but because of what his mother had done. And yet, God used Jephthah in spite of the history of his mother. The next lesson here is when the going got tough- the same people that rejected Jephthah and ran him out of the camp, found him and begged him to return to save them. Figure that one out – they said, “Come, and be our commandder, so we can fight the Ammonites.” Now I don’t know about any of you, but if some one has kicked me out, tossed me to the curb and then comes back and says, “Oh, wait, we need you for this or that, I would not be inclined to help out. And this was Jephthah’s response, “Didn’t you hate me and drive me from my father’s house? Why do you come to me now, when you’re in trouble?”
The people responded with basicly, well, that is in the past, let’s not talk about that. What is important is that we are getting ready to get our hats handed to us and you are the warrior who knows how to fix this.And if you do come back we will make you the head over all of us.
Jephthah, was skeptical as I would be- you know if it sounds to good to be true, that sort of thing. His response to exact a promise from them so as to ensure he would not be run out on a rail after they were finished using him. Once that vow was in place Jephthah, sent a message to the king of the Ammonites to try and resolve things without bloodshed. And as most people who have their knickers in a twist are prone to do, he refused to listen. The second lesson is sometimes cooler heads do prevail and sometimes, they don’t – When he refused Jephthah said, okay. So, he made a vow with God that if he would be with him as he fought this battle, he would sacrifice to God the very first thing that met him as he returned home. Well, in theory, that might not have been a bad vow. However, the decision he made and the vow he made, created consequences he could not change. A vow was unbreakable especially to God. Jephthah won the battle, and returned home with victory in his eyes. The very first thing that ran to meet him with a smile on her face and joy in her heart was his only child. His daughter who had never been married. Unintended consequences of a not well thought out vow made in haste. When he realized what he had done, it broke his heart. He had sacrificed his only child, a daughter who would never marry – never bless him with children and his line would die out because he made a vow in haste. This is the third lesson in this passage. When we do things without thinking them through the consequences can be dire. How does this translate into today you might ask. Well, let me explain it to you. 1. We must never use another’s past for an injustice we feel might be right or wrong. The past is the past. It can never be undone. 2. When we make a decision right or wrong we will always suffer the consequences which can be greater than the decision – 3. If we have faith that God is with us we do not have to bargain with him. He already knows the outcome,and if we do bargain with him we must be prepared to hold up our end of the bargain and 4. Logical reasoning is always the first line of defense, violence only creates more violence. #godsplan,#vows,#injsutice

Time for Another Deborah

In the book of Judges, there was a Judge who happened to be a woman. She was before Gideon and she was given her position by God. Her name was Deborah. The story starts in Judges 4. God’s people the Israelites are once again looking inward instead of instead of upward. They did not obey God’s laws, they in fact, did evil in the sight of the same God that delivered them from Egypt where they had been in bondage for many years. They decided they knew more than God and refused to turn from their wicked ways. So, God did what God does when his people refuse to obey him, he sold them into the hands of Jabin, King of Canaan. They were oppressed for twenty years. They finally woke up and one more time cried out to God asking for his help. Beginning in Verse 4 through the end of the chapter
” 4 Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading[a] Israel at that time. 5 She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went up to her to have their disputes decided. 6 She sent for Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, “The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: ‘Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead them up to Mount Tabor. 7 I will lead Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.’”
8 Barak said to her, “If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.”
9 “Certainly I will go with you,” said Deborah. “But because of the course you are taking, the honor will not be yours, for the Lord will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman.” So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh. 10 There Barak summoned Zebulun and Naphtali, and ten thousand men went up under his command. Deborah also went up with him.
11 Now Heber the Kenite had left the other Kenites, the descendants of Hobab, Moses’ brother-in-law,[b] and pitched his tent by the great tree in Zaanannim near Kedesh.
12 When they told Sisera that Barak son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor, 13 Sisera summoned from Harosheth Haggoyim to the Kishon River all his men and his nine hundred chariots fitted with iron.
14 Then Deborah said to Barak, “Go! This is the day the Lord has given Sisera into your hands. Has not the Lord gone ahead of you?” So Barak went down Mount Tabor, with ten thousand men following him. 15 At Barak’s advance, the Lord routed Sisera and all his chariots and army by the sword, and Sisera got down from his chariot and fled on foot.
16 Barak pursued the chariots and army as far as Harosheth Haggoyim, and all Sisera’s troops fell by the sword; not a man was left. 17 Sisera, meanwhile, fled on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, because there was an alliance between Jabin king of Hazor and the family of Heber the Kenite.
18 Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Come, my lord, come right in. Don’t be afraid.” So he entered her tent, and she covered him with a blanket.
19 “I’m thirsty,” he said. “Please give me some water.” She opened a skin of milk, gave him a drink, and covered him up.
20 “Stand in the doorway of the tent,” he told her. “If someone comes by and asks you, ‘Is anyone in there?’ say ‘No.’”
21 But Jael, Heber’s wife, picked up a tent peg and a hammer and went quietly to him while he lay fast asleep, exhausted. She drove the peg through his temple into the ground, and he died.
22 Just then Barak came by in pursuit of Sisera, and Jael went out to meet him. “Come,” she said, “I will show you the man you’re looking for.” So he went in with her, and there lay Sisera with the tent peg through his temple—dead.
23 On that day God subdued Jabin king of Canaan before the Israelites. 24 And the hand of the Israelites pressed harder and harder against Jabin king of Canaan until they destroyed him.”
The back story is this, Deborah was the only woman Judge. She was part of God’s plan. Deborah, sent for Barak and told him what to do in order to save God’s people. But, he did not want to listen. He did not believe that God would be with him and win the battle for him. So, he told Deborah he would only go, if she went with him. Deborah, having more character and courage than this mighty warrior with an army behind him went. However, before she went she told him that he would never be given credit for the victory. That a woman would be given the credit. This in itself was an insult as women in general were not considered any better than livestock. They had no say in matters of goverment, or business. They pitched tents and raised kids. Off to the battle they go. Barak with his ten thousand men headed into a battle against Sisera with his men and nine hundred chariots of iron. The battle raged with God at the helm and Sisera fled. He found himself exhausted at the tent of Heber who had remained neutral during this entire exchange. Heber’s wife Jael, however had not remained neutral. She invited Sisera inside. He thought she was hiding him because women did not invite a man who was not their husband into their tents.Jael offered the exhausted Sisera a drink of milk after which he lay down and fell asleep. She covered him up. As soon as he was in a deep sleep. Jael took a tent peg and a mallet in her hands. When it was all over, Jael had driven the tent peg through the temple of her enemy. When Barak arrived she showed him the now deceased Sisera. There as once again several lessons in the this story. The first lesson is when God chooses to use someone for his endevours, it matters not what sex they are. What matters is the character of the person. Deborah was made a judge by God because of her character. She led the army into battle because of her courage and her faith in God. The second lesson is She believed God would do what he said he would do. Barak on the other hand was weak and refused to believe that God would do what he said he would do. As a leader of a vast army- the ultimate insult was Jael getting the credit for killing the enemy. This mighty warrior got nothing. Again, God did what he said he would do.- Ladies and gentlemen, we are living in troubled times. The enemy that is the Devil, is walking to and fro seeking whom he may devour. We are in his bondage. We are walking in the ways that are evil. Are we ready to be sold into even more bondage? It is not too late to cry out to God to deliver this country from destruction. When we do cry out, God will provide a strong leader who has faith and courage. The question is do each of you have the faith,courage and the character it takes to stand up and be counted. To go into the spiritual war we are facing. Are you strong enough to sustain your faith with God at the helm? If not, then there is a storm coming. I think it is time for another Deborah, and Jael. #judges,#jael,#deborah#bible,#godsplan

Are You An Abimelek?

This morning I want to tell you the parable that Jotham the only surviving son of Gideion told to Abimelek after all of his other brothers were murdered. This parable came to fruition even though it took three years, Starting in Judges 9: 7-21 “7 When Jotham was told about this, he climbed up on the top of Mount Gerizim and shouted to them, “Listen to me, citizens of Shechem, so that God may listen to you. 8 One day the trees went out to anoint a king for themselves. They said to the olive tree, ‘Be our king.’9 “But the olive tree answered, ‘Should I give up my oil, by which both gods and humans are honored, to hold sway over the trees?’10 “Next, the trees said to the fig tree, ‘Come and be our king.’11 “But the fig tree replied, ‘Should I give up my fruit, so good and sweet, to hold sway over the trees?’
12 “Then the trees said to the vine, ‘Come and be our king.’
13 “But the vine answered, ‘Should I give up my wine, which cheers both gods and humans, to hold sway over the trees?’
14 “Finally all the trees said to the thornbush, ‘Come and be our king.’15 “The thornbush said to the trees, ‘If you really want to anoint me king over you, come and take refuge in my shade; but if not, then let fire come out of the thornbush and consume the cedars of Lebanon!’16 “Have you acted honorably and in good faith by making Abimelek king? Have you been fair to Jerub-Baal and his family? Have you treated him as he deserves? 17 Remember that my father fought for you and risked his life to rescue you from the hand of Midian. 18 But today you have revolted against my father’s family. You have murdered his seventy sons on a single stone and have made Abimelek, the son of his female slave, king over the citizens of Shechem because he is related to you. 19 So have you acted honorably and in good faith toward Jerub-Baal and his family today? If you have, may Abimelek be your joy, and may you be his, too! 20 But if you have not, let fire come out from Abimelek and consume you, the citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo, and let fire come out from you, the citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo, and consume Abimelek!”21 Then Jotham fled, escaping to Beer, and he lived there because he was afraid of his brother Abimelek.
If you notice in this parable Each tree is asked if it wants to be king and each tree declines. Finally a thorn bush is asked if it wants to be king and the thorn bush accepts. When Jotham finished the parable he asks a very pertintant question- he asks if the people had acted honorable by making Abimelek king? He reminded the people that his father Gideon fought for them and risked his life for them and they repaid him in kind by revolting against his father’s family, killing his brothers on a single stone. He stated that if indeed they acted honorably then may they all find joy in each other – but if not, then may fire come out of Abimelek and consume all of them. Now, three years later, the parable begins to come true, In Verse 26-29 Gaal son of Ebed moved with his clan to Shechem and all the people put their confidence in him. They went out into a field gathered the grapes pressed them into wine and held a festival in his honor in the temple of his god. While they were in the thros of eating and drinking they began to curse Abimelek. Gaal became very interested and wanted to know who this Abimelek was. Then he wanted to know why they should bend a knee to him. Then he makes this statement. Verse 29 “If only his peple were under my command. Then I would get rid of him. I would say to Abimelek , “Call our your whole Army.”
When the Governor of the city heard this news he went stright to Abimelek and told him. There ensued a battle where Gaal and many of the people died. Then when the people fled to a stronghold of the temple Abimelek set it on fire with the people in it. Now, you may think that the parable is not coming true, however, there is more. Abimelek became even more revengeful. He left that smoking mess and moved on to Thebez and captured it. However, the tower there was stronger and the people were able to lock themselves in and race to the roof. And this ladies and gentlemen is where God’s power and the parable come together. Verse 52-53 “Abimelek went to the tower and attacked it. .But as he approached the entrance to the tower to set it on fire, a woman dropped an upper millstone on his head and cracked his skull.
Not wanting to be killed by a woman in Verse 54 he does this. “Hurriedly he called to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and kill me, so they can’t say, “A woman killed him.” So his servant ran him through and he died.”
There are two lessons here. One, even though it took three years for the parable to come true, it did. Jotham stated that if Abimelek was not honorable, that fire would consume those who not only followed him, but was complicent in the murder of his brothers. Also that fire would consume Abimelek. Which it did. Because Abimelek was the one who attempted to tourch the entrance to the tower, he was struck down by a millstone. A millstone is not just some little rock ( Millstones come in pairs. The base or bedstone is stationary. Above the bedstone is the turning runner stone which actually does the grinding. The runner stone spins above the stationary bedstone creating the “scissoring” or grinding action of the stones. A runner stone is generally slightly concave, while the bedstone is slightly convex. This helps to channel the ground flour to the outer edges of the stones where it can be gathered up.) A millstone is heavy enough to kill someone.
Now, the second lesson is this, a woman, yes a woman, picked up that heavy millstone, and tossed it over the tower on to the head of Abimelek. Where were the men? Why didn’t they have the forthought to do that? Who knows, maybe that was God’s plan as well. When Abimelek saw it was a woman who did that, he was embarrassed. Here was this mighty warrior and “king” with an army behind him, reeking havoc throughout the land and he is taken out by a woman. And then this foolish man thought he could re-write history by having his armour-bearer run him through with a sword. The lesson here is this, one cannot re-write history- no matter how one tries. It always comes to the surface – The mighty who matter who big they think they are- how strong they believe they are and now matter what size army they have behind them, will fall in God’s time. And in God’s way. God uses people that are unassuming, defective, and flawed to bring his plan to fruition. He does not use the mighty, the strong or the invincible. God is not slack concerning his promise. He will fulfill it and in ways we never see coming. God’s history does not change and cannot be rewritten. God’s message never changes. So, I ask each of you this are you willing to be an Abimelek? Are you willing to tempt God? #God,#Godsmessage,#awoman

If We Don’t Learn From History We Repeat It

If we pay attention to history we learn many things. If we pay attention to the history of the Bible, we not only learn many things we understand why God does what he does. I have been writing about the Judges in the Old Testament. The past two days have been about Gideon. A humble man of God who did as he was asked after testing God. We are told in Judges that with God leading Gideon he struck down and killed the Midianites. And then when he died, the Israelites again turned from God and once again prostituted themselves to the idols (Judges 8:33) And God knowing they would do this allowed it to happen. Because he does give free will. However, there were consequences to those decisions. Gideon’s son Abimelek rose up and against all that he had been taught. Judges 9:1-26
” Abimelek son of Jerub-Baal went to his mother’s brothers in Shechem and said to them and to all his mother’s clan, 2 “Ask all the citizens of Shechem, ‘Which is better for you: to have all seventy of Jerub-Baal’s sons rule over you, or just one man?’ Remember, I am your flesh and blood.”
3 When the brothers repeated all this to the citizens of Shechem, they were inclined to follow Abimelek, for they said, “He is related to us.” 4 They gave him seventy shekels[a] of silver from the temple of Baal-Berith, and Abimelek used it to hire reckless scoundrels, who became his followers. 5 He went to his father’s home in Ophrah and on one stone murdered his seventy brothers, the sons of Jerub-Baal. But Jotham, the youngest son of Jerub-Baal, escaped by hiding. 6 Then all the citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo gathered beside the great tree at the pillar in Shechem to crown Abimelek king.
7 When Jotham was told about this, he climbed up on the top of Mount Gerizim and shouted to them, “Listen to me, citizens of Shechem, so that God may listen to you. 8 One day the trees went out to anoint a king for themselves. They said to the olive tree, ‘Be our king.’9 “But the olive tree answered, ‘Should I give up my oil, by which both gods and humans are honored, to hold sway over the trees?’10 “Next, the trees said to the fig tree, ‘Come and be our king.11 “But the fig tree replied, ‘Should I give up my fruit, so good and sweet, to hold sway over the trees?’
12 “Then the trees said to the vine, ‘Come and be our king.’
13 “But the vine answered, ‘Should I give up my wine, which cheers both gods and humans, to hold sway over the trees?’
14 “Finally all the trees said to the thornbush, ‘Come and be our king.’15 “The thornbush said to the trees, ‘If you really want to anoint me king over you, come and take refuge in my shade; but if not, then let fire come out of the thornbush and consume the cedars of Lebanon!’16 “Have you acted honorably and in good faith by making Abimelek king? Have you been fair to Jerub-Baal and his family? Have you treated him as he deserves? 17 Remember that my father fought for you and risked his life to rescue you from the hand of Midian. 18 But today you have revolted against my father’s family. You have murdered his seventy sons on a single stone and have made Abimelek, the son of his female slave, king over the citizens of Shechem because he is related to you. 19 So have you acted honorably and in good faith toward Jerub-Baal and his family today? If you have, may Abimelek be your joy, and may you be his, too! 20 But if you have not, let fire come out from Abimelek and consume you, the citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo, and let fire come out from you, the citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo, and consume Abimelek!”
21 Then Jotham fled, escaping to Beer, and he lived there because he was afraid of his brother Abimelek.
22 After Abimelek had governed Israel three years, 23 God stirred up animosity between Abimelek and the citizens of Shechem so that they acted treacherously against Abimelek. 24 God did this in order that the crime against Jerub-Baal’s seventy sons, the shedding of their blood, might be avenged on their brother Abimelek and on the citizens of Shechem, who had helped him murder his brothers. 25 In opposition to him these citizens of Shechem set men on the hilltops to ambush and rob everyone who passed by, and this was reported to Abimelek.
26 Now Gaal son of Ebed moved with his clan into Shechem, and its citizens put their confidence in him. 27 After they had gone out into the fields and gathered the grapes and trodden them, they held a festival in the temple of their god. While they were eating and drinking, they cursed Abimelek. 28 Then Gaal son of Ebed said, “Who is Abimelek, and why should we Shechemites be subject to him? Isn’t he Jerub-Baal’s son, and isn’t Zebul his deputy? Serve the family of Hamor, Shechem’s father! Why should we serve Abimelek? 29 If only this people were under my command! Then I would get rid of him. I would say to Abimelek, ‘Call out your whole army!”
Abemelek’s hunger for power caused him to committ even more sin, he murdered all but one of his seventy brothers. Once he stole the power, it was not enough, he had to have more and more. He became consumed by the mistress of power. When a person is so consumed by power he no longer controls it – the power controls him. When the lust for power became so strong he could not longer control it- he wiped out his brothers and any cities that did not bend the knee.
Abimelek was not the standard of man that God wanted for a judge. But God is patient. He allowed Abimelek to judge for three years using his terroristic ways before he stopped him.
While we think that God does not see all – know all or hear all- we are fools – God does. He may not act on things immediatly but he will act. He fulfill his plan. Evil will never win. For ever move the Devil plays, God has a counter move that he puts into play. While we may try to change the message, it never changes, we do.
It is way past time to stop being an Abimelek and to turn back to God. It is way past time to try to make it work our way and turn back to God. His plan will be fulfilled, his message will be received. #God,#message,#plans