God layed the smack down on Uzzah!

Scripture:  2 Sam 6:  6When they came to the threshing floor of Nakon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. 7The LORD’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God.

Observation: The Lord requires reverence and respect. 

Application: There are so many people today who have lost all reverence for God because they don’t believe they will ever have to answer to Him.  I’m appalled by the huge amount of people who will say or do anything to get people to look their way.  Many of our young people who are about to enter into the after high school world have no convictions, they are not passionate about anything,  and more and more I see them demonstrate no restraint when it comes to their language.  But it’s not just young people, its 30 somethings and 40 somethings and older even, although I do think the lack of respect and reverence for God begins to decrease as age increases. 

I’m not sure if its always been this way, or if I’m just really starting to see it for myself.  I am however almost certain that the intensity of disrespect, especially disrespect for God and God’s people, is much higher now than I’ve ever seen it in my life and this disrespect knows no age limit but it is across the board of age ranges. 

You can see a steady decline since we began turning the other cheek and  allowing  God to be taken out of the public eye.  When I was a young boy I remember scripture being read in the classroom every morning, but only for a few years, then that was taken away.  By the time I was in Jr. High there came the debates about Prayer in school, and before long that was gone.  In recent years we’ve lost the right to display the Ten Commandments in public places.  We have reduced God to the sanctuaries of our Churches, and kicked Him out of every other area of life.  It’s no wonder that people are losing respect for God.

Our scripture marks a point when God let it be known that He requires reverence and respect.  It was such a small thing, Uzzah slipped and let his hand touch the Ark, and God layed the smack down on him!  David saw it and said, if God is going to do this just for touching the Ark, how can I ever take this thing into my possession?  Can you imagine what some of the people of our time will face when they have to answer for the disrespectful actions they are guilty of?  

 You may say, “Well why isn’t God doing something about it?”  “Why are so many people allowed to go on, with their irreverent and abomnible ways without being struck down as Uzzah was?”  And the answer is, because we are living in the Age of Grace.  Right now God’s grace is freely given to all who will repent and believe in Jesus Christ, God’s Son.  Those who refuse God’s gift will someday stand before a God of Just Judgement and will indeed face the consequences of their lives and their irreverent ways. 

I think most of us have been irreverent, and disrespectful to God during our lives, I doubt there is a handful of Christians who wouldn’t admit a time when they took God’s name in vain.  I have been guilty of irreverence to God, I have let corrupt communication come out of my mouth on more than one occasion.  It’s not something I’m proud of, nor something I ever made a habit of, but I have made mistakes, just like most everyone.  Some of us slip up and stumble from time to time, but then we get back on the road and start trying, to the best of our ability to live our lives in a way that’s pleasing to God.  Far too many others never worry about their slips, and don’t even consider their actions a slip at all, but blindly continue down a path to destruction singing their own praises all the way.

Respect and Reverence for God may be old fashion and out dated, but its still the right thing.  Wisdom begins with the fear of God and we need to be teaching our young people that, and remembering it ourselves.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father,

Please forgive me when I fail to show you the reverence I should.  Help me to each day be respectful to my calling, and to the service I am to provide to Your Children.  Guide me and help me to show others by my own actions that reverence to you is a good and noble thing, and let me be a good example to our young people.

Love Michael

Yield: I give my respect and reverence to God!

The Mind of God

Scripture: Psalm 139:

1 O LORD, you have searched me
       and you know me.

 2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
       you perceive my thoughts from afar.

 3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
       you are familiar with all my ways.

 4 Before a word is on my tongue
       you know it completely, O LORD.

 5 You hem me in—behind and before;
       you have laid your hand upon me.

 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
       too lofty for me to attain.

 7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
       Where can I flee from your presence?

 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
       if I make my bed in the depths, [a] you are there.

Observation: We are within the Mind of God.

Application:  David said that the thoughts of God are too lofty for us to attain, we struggle to understand God and His will, but we will never in this life be able to comprehend just how big our God truly is. 

The other night at a Bible Study we were talking about when God called out to Adam in the garden of Eden and asked, “Where are you?”  And we were commenting on the fact that this was Almighty God  asking a question that He already knew.  He just wanted Adam to admit to Him that he was trying to hide.  God was never in doubt about what Adam had done, nor where he had hid himself.  It was always about Adam coming to terms with what he had done.  And it’s the same with us, nothing is ever hidden from God, and our confessions and repentance are not about appeasing God, nor informing Him of something He doesn’t know, it’s always about the condition of our own soul, and our surrender to Him.

 This psalm reminds me of a drama I studied in high school called Our Town by: Thornton Wilder.   The thing I remember the most is a short part about a letter with a very interesting  address.

Rebecca: I never told you about a letter Jane Crofut got from her minister when she was sick. He wrote Jane a letter, and on the envelope the address was like this: It said: Jane Crofut; The Crofut Farm; Grover’s Corners; Sutton County; New Hampshire; United States of America.

George: What’s funny about that?

Rebecca: But listen, it’s not finished: The United States of America; Continent of North America; Western Hemisphere; the Earth; the Solar System; the Universe; the Mind of God — that’s what it said on the envelope.

How profound is that?  I know that there is no accurate way that the human mind can ever conceive the mind of God, but I believe that its true, that we are all in the mind of God throughout the course of our lives.  God is in all places at all times, there is no where you can go that puts you out of the reach of God.  Yes we may live a life of rejection and refuse to accept the blessings of God, we may refuse to acknowledge God, but He will never reject us, and will always be there anxiously awaiting our hearts to turn to Him.

I know I have experienced times of reluctance in my life, when I felt that I was away from God, but I never was.  No matter where I went, or what I did, God was there, God knows, God sees, and even still – God loves, God forgives, God restores.  How great a God we serve!

Prayer: Great and Glorious God,

   Creator and Ruler of the Universe, I thank you that you are in all places, and in all times.  I thank you that you live in every molecule of air that I breath, and that you are with me every step that I take.  Help me to always remember and recognize your presence in my life wherever I may be or whatever I may be doing.

Love Michael

Yield: I give up the notion that I can get out of the view of God.

When you walk with God – it’s a Long Walk!

Scripture: 2 Sam. 3: 1 The war between the house of Saul and the house of David lasted a long time. David grew stronger and stronger, while the house of Saul grew weaker and weaker.

Observation: We live in a Microwave world, but many times, God’s recipies  require a slow cooker.

Application: There is no doubt that God works miraculously fast at times.  I have seen people cured instantly from various physical, spiritual, and emotional difficulties through faithful prayer and His divine intervention.  And there are numerous illustrations of God’s power to immediately change people, situations, and the physical environment, as we look at the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. 

   But there is also many illustrations of God changing a person, or having his purposes accomplished over vast amounts of time.  Millenia passed from the time of the fall in the garden, until the fulfillment of God’s plan to reconcile mankind through Jesus.  It took Noah a hundred years to build the ark.  Abraham was a hundred years old before Isacc was born.  And David had been anointed King long before Saul and his entourage were disempowered. 

Saul was dead, but some of his loyal followers and relatives were still in power in Israel.  David was growing in strength as a leader, and in influence even among the lands occupied by Sauls court. He was finally coming into season.  Still, it had been many years, and there were many struggles from the time when Samuel had annointed that little shephered boy until he became the King that God had promised he would be.

I believe that God had always seen me as a preacher, even from the time when I was a young boy.  It took a lot of years, and a lot of tears for me and God, before we reached the place where what He had always seen me as, became a reality.  It wasn’t that God couldn’t have just snapped his heavenly fingers and made it so immediately, I know He could have, but I think that there were things I had to go through, there were lessons I had to learn before I could assume the calling that had always been there.

What about you friend?  What is it that God has always seen you as?  Are you supposed to be a teacher, a preacher, an evangelist, a missionary, or maybe a choir leader?  There are more callings that God places on our hearts than I have time or the inclination to mention here, but I think we all have something God is molding us into, and preparing us to be.  I am willing to bet that YOU know deep down inside what God is dealing with you about.  You may not know how its going to happen, or what you’re supposed to do next, but I think that God deals with us all in due time, in the propper season.  Years may have passed from the first moment that you felt God urging you into a certain calling, whether it is a ministry you can do in your local Church or community, or even if its a full time vocational calling, I can tell you this – God hasn’t forgotten about it. 

I speak from experience here, God doesn’t give up on us!  Sometimes we give up on ourselves, but He never gives up on us.  And Halleluah, and Praise God because I can shout today that  HE  NEVER  LET  GO  OF  ME!  And I hope that you know that He has never, and WILL NEVER  let go of you!

Prayer: Heavenly Father,

   I know that your idea of time and mine are very different.  I see things in the realm of the finite, but you God, are infinite and are from everlasting, to everlasting.  Help me to be patient with myself, and with the unfolding of your purpose in my life so that I may remain steadfast in my obedience and desires to know and to follow your divine will.

Love Michael

Yield: I turn over my timeline, and stand on the promises of God as they unfold in due season.

I was sinking deep in sin…

Scripture: Matt 14:

    25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

    27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

    28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

    29 “Come,” he said.

    Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

    31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

Observation: The Lord desires to bless us, but when our faith falters, our blessings sink beneath waves of worry.

Application:  A Baptist, a Methodist, and a Pentecostal preacher had gotten together one day to go fishing.  They had been out quite a while when the Baptist stood up and said, “Well, I need to go to the shore for a moment.”  He stepped out of the boat, walked across the water to the shore and in a few moments came back and got in the boat.  The Pentecostal preacher then said, “Yeah, I think I need to go ashore also.”  He stood up, walked across the water to the shore, and in a few moments came back and got in the boat.  So the Methodist preacher, being very impressed but unwilling to acknowledge it, decided that he to would show his faith.  He stood up and said “Ok fellows, my turn to go ashore.”  He stepped out of the boat and immediately sank.  He climbed back in, mustered up his faith, said a prayer, and tried again.  Stepping off the boat for the second time, he again immediately sank.  This upset him to no end.  And as he was splashing around in the water, crying out to God. The Baptist preacher leaned over to the Pentecostal preacher and asked, “Do you think we should show him where those stumps are that we’ve been stepping on?”

Faith – its the stuff every good Christian is made up of isn’t it.  We all have it,  but we all need more of it, and at times we struggle with it, we question it, we wrestle with it, we nurture it in ourselves and others and we pray and pray for God to respond to it.  It was not water that Peter and Jesus were walking on in our scripture – it was faith.  The scripture tells us that it is the SUBSTANCE of things hoped for and the EVIDENCE of things not seen.  Heb. 11:1  And we also know that without it, we can not please God. Heb. 11:6  I once had a discussion with an Atheist and he finally said to me “Here is my problem with religion, no matter how much you talk about it, eventually it’s going to boil down to faith, and to me faith is not proof.”

We are surrounded by people who have no faith in anything.  They have lost their faith in family, country, church, and God because they have seen no evidence, and no substance from their faith.  We as Christians need to be able to point out those times in our lives when we have seen that evidence and substance.  Mark those times down when God really moves for you, remember it as a testimony of praise and use it, for it is through our testimony that we break the bonds of sin, and convince those who’s hearts have been hardened by the world. Reb. 12:11

The world around us can cause even the strong in faith to stumble.  Peter believed, he had his eyes on Jesus, but when the waves and winds scared him, he doubted.  We can learn from this, in that while we are facing our struggles, if we don’t take our eyes off God, He will continue to support us.  Never doubt that God desires to bless you, never doubt that He is in control even in the hard times, even when the storms arise, God is there and He knows what to do.  Put your trust in him while you’re on the mountain top, and keep your trust in him while you’re in the valley of the shadow.  God is on your side all the time, don’t doubt it.

Prayer: Father God,

Help me to always keep my eyes and heart set toward you.  Let my faith be strengthened in times of trouble that I can focus on the goal and not the distractions of the world that the enemy throws in my way.  I thank you Father for your great love, and great wisdom that you give us through the Word and through Your spirit.

Love Michael

Yield: I surrender my fears, and put my trust in God.

How much is that field worth to you?

Scripture: Matt. 13:  44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

Observation: When we truly discover the kingdom of heaven, it is worth more than anything else in the world.

Application: Jesus used a lot of parables to describe what the Kingdom of Heaven is like, but I like what He says here in this little one verse parable.  Once we really discover the Kingdom of Heaven, we realize that it is more important than anything else in the world.  Just imagine if you were looking at  a field that was for sale, and you discovered that there was oil, or gold, or buried treasure hidden there that would be worth more than you could ever have dreamed of gaining on your own.  You would do anything to obtain the field.  Your material possessions wouldn’t be important to you, you would sell them off to get enough money to buy the field.  Why?  Because you know that once you buy the field you’ll have more than you’ll ever need.

Jesus never promised that living the life of a disciple of His would be easy.  In fact several times he warns that people will turn on us, people will revile us, perhaps even family and friends will be against us.  Life as a Christian although abundant, and often blessed, is also difficult and full of trials and tribulations.  But when we consider that our reward is eternity with God and the Kingdom of Heaven, we can see that the blessings of God far outweigh the cost of whatever difficulties we may face during our short lives in this physical realm. 

You may be wondering how I can say life is both abundant and blessed, but also difficult and full of troubles.  I can say that because as a Christian I know that I have the Kingdom of Heaven within me now.  I don’t have to wait until some glad morning when this life is over, or until I reach the beautiful shore.  As I said, Jesus used a lot of parables to describe what the Kingdom of Heaven IS  like, not what it WILL BE  like.  Do you get it?  It’s not all about some future hope, it’s about this life as well.  The Kingdom of Heaven IS truly AT  HAND  my friends.  We don’t have to wait.  You can be blessed by it right now today if you have God’s Spirit in your heart.  That’s why Christians should be the happiest people on the planet.  We should be able to accept that peace that Christ left for His disciples.  Not the worldly kind of peace, but HIS peace, the Peace of the Father, The Peace of The Spirit of God.

Our true home is The Kingdom, and our true position is to be along side our King.  So whatever cost you think you may be paying, whatever sacrifice you have made for God, whatever you’ve given up in order to live your life for Him.  Know that it is worth all you have and more, and it’s going to be the best deal you’ve ever made.

Prayer:  Father help me each day to see the value of the relationship I have with you.  Help me to understand that it is worth more than anything this world could ever contain.  Help me to cultivate the love and truth of your Spirit and Word into my heart daily, and let me reveal to others what they have not seen on their own.

Love Michael

Yield: I give up the thoughts of holding anything back from my service to God.

My Way, or the Highway.

Scripture: Matt 12:

22 Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. 23 All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?”

24But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”

Observation:  We should be careful that we don’t get so wrapped up in our own understandings of the faith that we are not open to how God is moving and speaking to us today.

Application:  I often wonder if today’s Church is open minded enough to hear the voice of God as He continues to communicate with us through His Spirit, and through His Children.  If Jesus were to appear again in our midst would we recognize Him, or would we, like the Pharisees, accuse Him of being of the devil? 

I know many would answer that by saying, “When Jesus comes again there will be no mistaking who He is.”  And I would tend to agree that the scripture portrays Christ return in a triumphant and miraculous way.  However, I believe that when we start thinking we have it all figured out, we better be careful.  Remember that God has often manifested His plans in ways that were unexpected. 

The problem with the Pharisees was that they thought they had it all figured out, they thought that if it wasn’t according to their plans and understanding, it could not possibly be from God.  Since Jesus was a very different version of the Messiah than they had expected, He must be in league with demons.  They couldn’t accept the fact that God had come in such a meek and peaceful way.  They expected the Messiah to ride in on a white horse, sword blazing, and defeat the enemies of Israel.  Jesus didn’t do that though and they couldn’t handle it.

How do we react when we are presented with an idea about God that we haven’t previously understood.  Do we approach it with prayer, in The Way of love and peace, or do we immediately condemn?  I’m not trying to push denomination out here but I have to say that one of the things I like most about the United Methodist Church is our motto.  Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors.  But are we really living up to that motto?  Sometimes we are, but I think we need to always be aware of our own intolerance.  We should endeavor through grace, mercy, and prayeful consideration to be Open to the movements of the Holy Spirit, and to be listening for the Still Small Voice of our God – who I KNOW is still whispering his message in our ears.

Prayer: Dear Lord,

Please help me to always be open to Your Spirit, and ready to hear your voice as you speak to my heart, and my ears through Your Serverants and Children.  Help me to really Open my heart and my Mind so that the guidance which you desire to give me may impact me and those around me and cause us to go where You lead.

Love Michael

Yield: I give up my attitude of “If it’s not my way, its wrong.”

Where are you headed? And why?

Scripture: Matt. 11:

2 When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent his disciples 3 to ask him, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”

4 Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”

Observation: The people in the New Testament came to see what Jesus was doing, and the reality of His identity was shown through His works, and it still is today.

Application: One of the things that we are instructed by the scripture to do is to be ready at all times to give an account of our faith. “be ready always to givean answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:”   1 Peter 3:15   When someone asks you why you have faith in Jesus, why you are a Christian, why you think going to Church is important, and other questions like that, what is your answer?  Have you thought about it?  If a poor blind and wandering soul were to ask you today, or tomorrow why you believe what you do, would you be able to give them an answer that is more than, a quote of scripture, or a quick reference to your own inner faith?  I.E. “Its just my belief that I’ve been raised in.” 

I believe in the power of God’s word to touch a persons heart, and I’m not downing the use of scripture when talking with wanderers, but God has to prepare a person for that step.  Many of those who would question your faith in such a manner may not place much authority in the Bible as the indisputable word of God like you do.  Quoting scripture to one of these people may not be a satisfactory answer to them.  Saying that it’s just a matter of faith, may not be enough.  You may say, “Well I planted a seed, that’s all I can do.”  But if you toss the seeds on stony ground, they will never sprout, the soil must first be tilled.

When the disciples asked Jesus to identify himself he told them to go back and tell John what they had seen and heard.  It was the real work of Jesus, it was the difference that He was making in peoples lives that confirmed who He was.  And it’s the same thing that we need to be using to confirm who He is to those who we know, that are not part of the faith.  Rather than hurrying ourselves through the normal evangelical speeches that we learn, when witnessing I think we need to relax and learn to share what Jesus has done for us in our lives.  The real differences that we can point to and share are the things that are really going to speak to people. 

I’m not trying to tell you what to say, but we need to think about what we have Seen, and Heard Jesus doing in our own lives that we can share with those who are asking about Christ.  Have the blind been healed?  Have the lame been made to walk?  Has your life been saved?  I don’t know what Christ has done for you personally, but if you’ve never thought about it – especially if you’ve never thought about it as something you can share with those who don’t know Jesus.  I hope that today you will take some time and just try to  nail down a few things that you can point to in your life.  Maybe it’s a peace that you have that you never had before, maybe it’s been a real physical healing, maybe you’ve been delivered from an addiction, or you’ve seen God moving through the scriptures (if you can point to a specific example of how the scripture had an impact in your life, its ok to use that even very early in a conversation with someone who doesn’t believe). 

So, what is it about this Jesus of yours that your friends, neighbors and relatives can’t live without?

By The Way – I think I better advertise this book a little bit – I just finished it today and I realize that several of these ideas are flowing from it.  Hitchhikers Guide to Evangelism by: William Tenny Brittian 

Prayer: Heavenly Father,

  Help me to be thoughtful and prayerful about those things in my life where you have made such a difference, that I couldn’t have gone on without you.  Help me to cultivate the account of my faith so that anytime and anywhere I am able to give an account for the reason I believe in you.  You are My God!  Lead me into the opportunities to share the faith with those whose hearts you are preparing and who’s paths I cross.

Love Michael

Yield: I yield the experiences of my life, to be the witness of Your actions God.