EXCEPT THE LORD BUILD…….

Spiritual Blog - God's House

Psalms 127:1-2 – “Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain.  2 It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.”  NASU

I love mornings!  It is a time before all others arise that I can sit before the Lord with my cup of coffee, bible and have some pleasant conversation with the Lord without interruption.  Today, the Lord of Hosts reminded me of these passages and spoke to my heart.

Tragically, all of us and especially those in ministry sometimes forget WHO is doing the building of the house.  It really doesn’t matter if we are talking about the ‘house’ we call the church, the ‘house’ we call our life, the ‘house’ we call our family, etc.  The fact remains that the ultimate builder is THE LORD!  We are only laborers in the work of the Kingdom, not the architect, He is.  We only follow directions, we drive the nails, carry the lumber, paint the walls, lay the carpet, shingle the roof – – HE BUILDS!

I’ve heard the statement, through the years, “I’ve got to grow my church.”  First, it’s not your church.  Second, you are not the one growing it.  One sows, one waters, but its God who gives the INCREASE!  I’ve heard preachers at meetings discuss the size of the church they were leading and some of the numbers were quite liberal.  I know because I’d been in some of them just weeks or months earlier and there were no numbers even remotely resembling the numbers suggested.  It is like I heard a preacher say once when asked how many they were running in church.  He said, “We are running 500 but only catching about 125.”  It is the Lord who places stone upon stone and uniquely fits and frames us together to make that portion of His church that we are functioning in.  He chooses our place in the framework and who we are to labor alongside.  He chooses our gifts, talents and/or function within the body and when we submit to His choosing we find our labors productive.

Sadly, there are too many times when we do not want to be where He has placed us, doing what He has chosen and working with whom He has positioned us beside.  We want RECOGNITION!  Christ Body is ONE BODY and He is the HEAD of that body.  He is the builder, He is the ultimate guard of the work and all the labor we can do outside His guidance, gifting and direction are VAIN!  God will work even while we sleep if we rest in Him and allow Him to be the Head of HIS CHURCH.

Paul described it so beautifully in 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 – “For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 14 For the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not, for this reason, any the less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not, for this reason, any the less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. 19 If they were all one member, where would the body be? 20 But now there are many members, but one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; 23 and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, 24 whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, 25 so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. 27 Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues. 29 All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? 30 All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they? 31 But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way.”  NASU

We are His Body and He is the Master Builder of His Church of which we are a part!  Let’s set our hearts to blooming where He has planted us and allow Him to decide what position or placement in His Church we are to function in.  I only want to do Your will Oh Lord!  My prayer is, “Mold me and make me Lord.”  I sit here today with the song on my heart – “I Surrender All”.  That is the ONLY place to be, in TOTAL SURRENDER to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

Blessings as you begin your week.  Rest in the Lord, building His Church is His responsibility, yours is to do what He directs you to do!  In doing that, His Church will rise to the greatness that He has desired and designed and you will fulfill your purpose in the Kingdom!

HIS WORD – YOUR WORD – OUR WORDS…

Spiritual Blog - God Speaks

Isaiah 55:6-11 – “Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near.  7 Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. 8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.  9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts. 10 “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; 11 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.”  NASU

 

We often quote passages from the Bible and have our arsenal full of them to use at various times, but the question is; do we truly fully believe and live them?  I like the way this passage begins and it is somewhat problematic if you really read it.  It says; SEEK the Lord while He may be found… isn’t he findable all the time?  CALL upon Him while He is near… isn’t He near all the time?  Let me answer that this way:  God is Omnipresent but sometimes our hearts keep Him at a distance.  There are times when, for whatever reason, God is not near and our prayers ascend to a heaven covered with brass.  We should keep our hearts attuned to Him all the time and seek first Him and His Kingdom but sadly, most of the time we do not do that all the time.  Sometimes, we are like Samson and do not realize that the Lord has departed, and we try to keep doing the same things as before and it is nothing more than a tinkling cymbal and sounding brass, form, and symbolism but no substance.

God clearly identifies that His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are higher than our ways. He also clearly reveals that His words will not return empty but will ACCOMPLISH HIS PURPOSES.  His words will touch the heart and then the heart has to respond by accepting or rejecting those words.  God speaks to us through the Bible, other people, and things of nature, circumstances and in many other ways.  I’ve been watching a T.V. program before and heard the voice of God so clearly that it was almost startling.  The program had nothing to do with the spiritual but God used it, because it had my attention, to get my attention.  I’ve watched the interactions and actions of animals and heard the voice of the Spirit of God, as He would reveal something to me that had been missed in my thinking, evaluating and meditation.  I’ve had friends, neighbors, family members and strangers utter words that were straight from heaven and they never knew it, but God communicated to me so clearly that it was amazing.  He is a communicator and is constantly communicating with us but we are not always listening.

Once we have God’s words, no matter what the subject or situation, we can STAND FIRMLY on those words.  They are solid.  I don’t mean take what we wanted Him to say and stand on that, but what He actually says – His word for that moment, in that situation, and for His specific purpose.  When I’ve done that I have never seen His word fail.  When I’ve taken what I wanted Him to say and tried to stand on it, I’ve seen disappointment.  I’ve spent my entire adult life learning the difference and still am no expert at it.  Yet, this one thing I know – – If God speaks it, truly speaks it then IT WILL BE because HE IS and DOES NOT FAIL!

May the Lord bless you as you go through this beautiful day with and in Him!

WAITING – PERSEVERANCE – VICTORY!

Spiritual Blog - Waiting on God

Isaiah 40:31- “But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”  NKJV

What a wonderful morning.  The sun is not yet up, the rain has ceased and today is projected to be a day of warmth and sunshine.  A refreshing cup of coffee, the satisfying word of God and the enlightening conversation with the Lord are the foundation to beginning my day.

He talked to me about, Waiting, Perseverance and Victory!

In life, if we truly learn to WAIT on the Lord we will find the secret of renewing our strength, in Him.  It is then that we can mount up with wings like eagles and soar above our problems and see the situation for a much higher plane than horizontally.  It is then that we can RUN and not grow weary, no matter how long the race or how difficult the journey and in the end, we will WALK and not faint because we will walk out the other side in VICTORY!  The KEY – – WAITING ON THE LORD!  If there is one thing that is critical that we, as Christians learn, it is HOW TO WAIT ON THE LORD!  How to truly WAIT on Him.  Wait for His guidance.  Wait for His clear direction.  Wait for His renewal to come.  Wait for His timing.  WAIT – – “But those who wait on the Lord SHALL…”  Not maybe, SHALL RENEW THEIR STRENGTH!   This is not a race that you can run in your own strength, wisdom, power, understanding or might.  It is through Him, by Him, in Him and with Him that we will reach the goal.  If you learn nothing else in your walk, LEARN TO WAIT on the Lord!   WAIT ON and WAIT UNTIL, He speaks, renews, guides and empowers!  You live by a clock, He does not.  You have a deadline; He does not have the same deadline.  You think you know when something MUST happen; He knows when it must happen.  He will not be late, and He will not fail.  So, set your heart to WAIT ON THE LORD!

Blessings my Friends.  Blessings!

FATHERHOOD, ANGER, CHILD TRAINING, AND DISCIPLINE – Biblical Perspective…

Spiritual Blog - Fatherhood

Ephesians 6:4 – “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” NKJV

Colossians 3:21 – “Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.” NASU

Proverbs 22:6 – “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” NKJV

Since I was a child, much has changed regarding the accepted norm in child rearing and whose responsibility it is to train the child.  Scores of books have been written about discipline or the lack thereof, about spanking or the supposed damage that does, etc.  My dad was a disciplinarian. He could not quote a lot of Bible verses, but he did know a couple and practiced them.  He knew, Proverbs 13:24 –He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly.” NKJV.  He knew, Proverbs 23:13-14 – “Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. 14 Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.” KJV

He knew, believed, and practiced those while teaching me discipline, the value of giving my word and honoring it, respect for my elders, doing what is right even when no one is looking, treating women with respect and dignity and giving a full day’s work for a day’s wage. Those are things that are so a part of my makeup that they are part of who I am. He applied the “rod” more than once to my young anatomy and to this day I am grateful that he loved me enough to discipline me and keep me heading in the right direction.

God wants fathers to both “train” and “admonish” their children.  Training has to do with actions.  It has to do with teaching them “how to” and in some cases “how not to” whereas; admonition has to do with “words”, what you say and how you say it. I’ve heard fathers constantly tell their children that they were stupid, worthless and would never amount to anything.  In fact, not to get too close to home but I witnessed a relative tell his son & daughter how worthless they were from the time they could walk.  He told his daughter she would be a “whore”, a “tramp”, a “slut” and his son that he would never amount to anything.  Both children, now grown, have major problems and both have looked to me through the years in times of trouble as a haven to which we can run, often too late.

My dad, though a disciplinarian always instilled in us that we could do anything that we set our hearts and heads to. He had very little education but knew how to do more things than most men I know, as could my grandfather. His administering of punishment or discipline was not out of anger or because he was the adult and we were the child and he could, but because he wanted to prevent us from taking the wrong course in life.  I know that every child is different and differing types of discipline works with different children but for me, he had the right course of action, I needed a firm hand.

I’ve been told that I have a “mother’s love” for my children because of the great love that I demonstrate toward them. Yet, I respond to that saying, “No, I think that you misunderstand the love that most men have for their children, I just express it a little differently than many.” A true father has no greater desire than to see his children grow up and become responsible, productive members of society.  If he is a Christian father, he can have no greater joy than to see them serve the Lord and then raise their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord.

One of my closest high school friends father drank heavily and would come in and beat his wife. My friend, by the time he was 15 could take it no longer and on numerous occasions would physically fight his drunk father to protect his mother. His father provoked him to anger and though he recognized him as his biological father he held no respect for him and later when he had turned to the Lord it was almost impossible for the son to accept the change, because of the history.  I raised my sons with a firm hand but always tried to communicate to them that what I was doing was out of my love for them and attempted to teach them not only what was going to happen but why and what the objective was for their lives.  Both, are great young men today, serving the Lord and loving their dad (me) as I love them.

God disciplines us because He loves us not because He doesn’t.  Sometimes, He just speaks, and a word is enough. Sometimes, He allows us to fall into our own pit for a time because a word was not enough. We are sometimes like the little lamb that will go running around everywhere without discipline and finally fall off the cliff onto a ledge. We cannot get off by ourselves and the wise shepherd will sometimes allow that little lamb to stay there for an extended period of time, while closely watching and carefully guarding the lamb and then will pick it up from the ledge and the shepherds have been known to break the little lamb’s leg and then carry it on his shoulders until it is healed before allowing it to run free again. This time, the lamb responds to the voice of the shepherd!  I’m not saying God is going to break our legs, but He will let is lay on the ledge for a time, so we can see the folly of our ways and then pick us up and nurture us back to health.

Fathers if you have a problem with anger, your children will too!  If you discipline in anger, they will not get the message you truly want to convey unless it is you want to hurt them. If you discipline, admonish, nurture and train them in the Love of the Lord, then when they are old they will not depart from it.  Your job is important but not more important than your family.  Your ministry is important but not more important than your family.  God has placed under your care and keeping, children (if you are a parent) and holds you accountable for their nurture, admonition, discipline, and training.

You may spank or not spank that’s between you and God, but you are responsible for helping to shape the will of that child at a very early age so that the child will grow up responsible and learn the love and discipline of the Lord from his or her father. Of course, mothers are vital to this but I’m speaking to the fathers.  Children need their fathers in the home not just on their birth certificate.  Men, be a father don’t just become someone who sires children.

Blessings as you go through your day!

 

CAMPAIGN MODE CHRISTIANITY…….

Spiritual Blog - Commitment

Matthew 21:28-32 – “But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’  29 He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went.  30 Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, ‘I go, sir,’ but he did not go.  31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said to Him, “The first.”  Jesus said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you.  32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him.”  NKJV

 

What a spectacular beginning to the day!  Gentle rain falling and a cool breeze, hot coffee, God’s Holy Word, creatures stirring and coming out of their slumber and hearing the voice of the Lord in my heart.  The thought of “Campaign Mode Christianity” or “Verbal Christianity” came to life in my heart this morning and I pondered the problems and potential of that reality. 

The Holy Spirit spoke to my heart regarding the political scene and reminded me of how the politicians say one thing on the campaign trail and often fail to keep their promises once they are elected.  They say what they believe people want to hear at the moment seeking to secure votes but are not really committed to doing that which they have promised.  It is “verbal” not “heart”.  He reminded me that what we must have is “commitment from the heart” in all that we do, politically, socially, vocationally, financially, and spiritually.  Without that, we have nothing more than “Campaign Christianity.”  Our families suffer, our relationships suffer, our jobs suffer, our finances suffer, and our souls suffer.  He has placed before us “life and death” and it’s up to us to choose “life”.

In this parable there are two sons, one makes a commitment and the other is in campaign mode or just gives verbal assent to what he believes his father wants to hear.  One repents and acts upon the desires of his father, the other drifts into his own self-centeredness and does what he wants disregarding, the wishes of the father.  Too often, we do that in this present world.  In politics, this could be equated to a politician making a commitment (true commitment), to the Constitution, the people, the rule of law and what is ethically and morally right or just being in Campaign Mode and saying what they think we want to hear then following their own greed, graft and corruption to get what benefits them and their special interest groups or party.  In Christianity, it is a contrast of making a heart commitment, forming a conviction and following the desires of the Father with a whole heart or moving God aside and installing self as the center of our universe and following “self”.  I do not want to be a “Campaign Christian” nor a “Verbal Christian”; I want to be a True Follower of Christ! 

Today we have before us two choices regarding our lives, the sum-total of our lives; we can be in a “campaign mode” or we can be in a “committed mode”.  The choice is ours!  As for me and my house, we choose the Lord!

May the Lord Bless you as you begin your day in Him!  May He give you the grace and strength to follow His voice, rely on His grace and strength and enjoy His presence in all that you do!  Have a great day!

 

YOU CAN’T STAND STILL AND BE STILL AND GO NINETY TO NOTHING AT THE SAME TIME……

Spiritual Blog - Stand Still

2 Chronicles 20:14-17 – “Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly. 15 And he said, “Listen, all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus, says the LORD to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16 Tomorrow go down against them. They will surely come up by the Ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the brook before the Wilderness of Jeruel. 17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the LORD, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the LORD is with you.” NKJV

As the darkness still hovers over my backyard there are the ever so faint signs of things beginning to spring to life for a new day. The stillness has a peace about it that is pleasant.   There is ice on the trees and the temperature is hovering just above freezing.  It is in this solitude I read God’s Word and am rejuvenated by the energy source that is God’s Word which inspires and empowers me.  As I sit meditating and musing on the things of God the thought of Standing Still and Going Ninety Miles an hour floods my spirit…

I believe that we are at a cross-road in our nation and in many of our lives today.  We are witnessing upheaval and trouble on every hand.  There is much debate, argument, and disagreement about what we need to and should do on many fronts.  We elect officials to govern and often they lose sight of what the real objective and purpose of the Republic are.  We do that in our personal lives as well as we try to “Stand Still and go, Ninety Miles, an Hour.”

On the spiritual front, in our individual lives and as a nation, there comes a time when we need to realize that we face battles that are far greater than we in our natural state.  We are surrounded by enemies on every hand who want to destroy us, physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, politically and spiritually.  The enemy of our souls has and will show no mercy, he is the devil.  Yet, if we seek the face of the Lord in true repentant prayer and intercession there will come a time when the Lord says to us as he did to Jehoshaphat and Judah, “You do not need to fight this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem! Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the LORD is with you.”

I am taking that as a directive for life on every front.  I am hearing the Lord whisper in my spirit to STAND STILL and LISTEN rather than run ninety miles an hour doing, scurrying about and planning. Just STAND STILL and LISTEN to the voice of the Lord. Once you hear His voice THEN it is time to act!  That is in every arena of life!   WAIT on the LORD; HEAR His Voice, ACT upon His Word!

Blessings as you go through your day!

YOUR BURNING BUSH EXPERIENCE……

Spiritual Blog - Burning Bush

Exodus 3:1-6 – “Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So, he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. 3 Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.” 4 So when the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5 Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” 6 Moreover He said, “I am the God of your father — the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.” NKJV

  

Most will never see what Moses saw but will have a “Burning Bush” experience where God clearly reveals His plan either for a particular moment or their life’s purpose.  Some will have more than one and there will be a few that never equate any experience to a “burning bush” event.  Many have and will use “fleeces” to try to determine the will of God, and that can be a very dangerous trend as would be flipping a coin or rolling the dice.

I have a friend, who several times tried to use the outcome of a Dallas Cowboys came as his fleece. He would say to the Lord, “If Dallas wins then I’ll know you want me to do this or that and if they lose I’ll know you don’t.”  I pointed out that his “fleece” was completely selfishly motivated, and He was asking God to become involved in producing a win for his favorite team rather than seeking God’s will.

Another told me that, she told God if He wanted her to give a certain amount to missions she would know it was His will if she was asked out by a certain co-worker before the week was out. Again, selfish motivation and even making God a ……, well I won’t use the term, but something other than God.

However, a “Burning Bush” experience would be, as with Moses something so out of the ordinary that it is impossible to miss.  You weren’t looking for it, but God set it before you and got your attention. Once He had your attention, He conveyed a message to your heart and you knew that you knew that you knew that God had said it.  I was at a crossroads in ministry several years ago and could not seem to settle in my spirit which direction to go. The power had gone out at our house as well as the phone service, nothing worked. This had been going on for hours and I was working to secure a generator to hook up to the refrigerator and freezer to keep food from spoiling when the phone rang.  I answered the phone, thinking that it had been repaired, to find that the person on the line was calling me from an area that I had thought about several times and carried a burden for but had never gone.  It was almost like the Macedonian Call of Paul, they were asking that I come and minister in their area and suddenly the phone went dead again.  I talked to the repairman and he assured me that it had not been working and would not be for several more hours. About, ten minutes later the same call came with the same results. That set me to praying and hearing God’s plan about that area and within two weeks I received a call from a church, in that area, asking me to come and consider being pastor of their church.  As I hung up the phone I knew in my spirit that God had given me advance notice that that was where I was going. I went, and it was one of the most rewarding times of my life.

God does not always move in such unusual ways, sometimes He just nudges the heart. If we are people who seek His face and keep our hearts open to His voice and Spirit, we will know His voice. If we “seek first, His kingdom and His will”, we will recognize His direction.  It may be something that was in our hearts or might be something new, but He will bear witness to it and give us PERFECT PEACE. Moses had a literal “burning bush”.   We may have them in our hearts, but we can be assured that God is directing our steps and our lives if we will allow Him to do so.

What is the burning desire in your heart today? Have you considered that it just might be what God is wanting to talk to you about doing?  The vision of my heart will not go away, it has not been fulfilled, but I believe that it will be before I depart this world.  I continue to see bits and pieces of it come together year after year and, at times, I grow impatient but stop and realize that God doesn’t wear a watch or watch a calendar, He is Eternal and Infinite, we operate differently.

May God reveal to you His desire for your life and give you the Grace and Strength to carry out that plan. Blessings!