Blessing Through Obedience

Scripture: Luke 17:

11Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy[a]met him. They stood at a distance 13and called out in a loud voice, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!"

14When he saw them, he said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were cleansed.

Genesis 42,43; Psalms 5; Luke 17 – Passage Lookup – New International Version – BibleGateway.com

Observation: We receive blessings while in the midst of obedience.

Application: These men were told by Jesus to Go and show themselves to the priests, but at the time that they were told this they were not healed.  They still had the dreaded leprosy all over their bodies. It was while they were going that they were healed.  Sometimes we must act as if the blessing has already happened before it can manifest itself in our lives. 

I remember praying for an elderly man one day at the alter so that he might be able to walk better and without pain.  A few weeks later I was visiting with him and he told me that he had not been healed as he hoped, but that he had learned an important lesson through the experience of the prayer.  He said “I came up there for healing prayer, and we prayed and believed in it, then I got back up and took my walker and went back to my seat.  I should have never picked up that walker again, I should have went back as if I had already been healed.”  At the time when we said the prayer I hadn’t thought about this as being a lack of faith on his part but God had been dealing with him about this very concept.  If you are praying for a healing, speak and act as if you are healed, and believe it is so.  Whatever we speak with our mouths and believe in our hearts will be manifested in our lives.

You faith need only be strong enough for you to walk in it, God will manifest the evidence of that hope which is not yet seen.  Even though everything around you tells you that it is one way, God can change things!

Today in church a dear lady of God testified of how her pain with lupus had been defeated even though all the tests which the doctors had run on her indicated she should have been suffering.  What is impossible for us – is possible for God.  He who is IN you is greater than the world outside of you.

Prayer: Father Almighty,

Thank you for the power of faith.  Grant me the anointing of Your Spirit and increase my faith through the signs and wonders that manifest through your power.  Be with us all and help us to walk not by the sight of our eyes, but by the faith of our hearts.

Love Michael

Special Announcement – – NOTICE NOTICE NOTICE

Yesterday’s Journal entry Teach Me Something New Lord was my 365th.  I have now completed reading the OT once and the NT twice, as well as Revelation, John, and Luke three times within the last year.  I’ve written a journal every day about my reflections on the scriptures and I have to tell you that it has been such a blessing for me.  I admit that some days it has been difficult to get the journal out.  Some of them have been good, and some of them not so good.  If you have followed me regularly I’m sure that you have agreed with me at times, and disagreed with me at other times.

My goal for this journal was to do it for a full year, and I have accomplished that.  I will be taking a break for a while from doing journals every day. I will not be completely letting go of this practice, but I will be more relaxed with it for a while now. 

I plan on picking up the practice again and going through another year soon, but I am going to look for another reading plan, perhaps I’ll find a good year long Bible that I like, or I may just run up on a different plan.  I really have enjoyed the Life Journal program but I’m ready for something new.

If you check my journal daily, or regularly let me first say Thank You SO Much for your Love and Support!  If you should check in and find that I have not posted anything new on any particular day, you can always go back through my archives and find that there is an entry for every day of the year. 

And finally, I really want to encourage you to try this for yourself.  Being in the scriptures every day and having to reflect on them and think about them has really made a positive difference for me and brought me into a closer relationship with God.  You have to try it to know what I mean!  You may not want to make a webpage as I have, but even doing the reflective writings in a personal journal has the same effect, and may be for you or your family a treasured keepsake for generations to come.

If you want to follow the Life Journal reading plan that I have, here is a handy link that you should bookmark.  Life Journal Daily Reading   You can also order paper journals from their website at www.lifejournal.cc 

I have also used Bible Gateway extensively this year and it is an incredibly valuable tool that I highly recommend.

I also encourage you to look at the links I’ve got posted here, they are all pointing to wonderful tools, and or great people!

Again I thank you for you being with me on this journey!  And even though I may be slowing down a bit, the journey that we share together is not over! 

Keep Checking Back!

Love extravagantly, Prayer earnestly, Study diligently, and listen always for the voice of God which is all around you!

God Bless You!

Pastor Michael

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Teach Me Something New Lord!

Scripture: Luke 16:

16"The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. 17It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.

Genesis 39,40,41; Luke 16 – Passage Lookup – New International Version – BibleGateway.com

Observation: Changing a traditional teaching is practically impossible.

Application: I don’t know if its because I’ve been used to reading this scripture in the past in the King James Version or if I just haven’t reflected on it seriously enough in the past but this morning I get a new message from it, one that is different than I’ve ever understood before.  As I look at it in the KJV v 17 says “And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.” That always said to me when I read it in the past that God’s word would always prove true and could never be changed.

As I look at it in this version I see a little different meaning.  17”It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.”  This makes me think about how Jesus was changing some things about the traditional way in which people thought about and related to God.  Jesus taught that God was much more accessible, much more forgiving, more loving, more with us.  These were new concepts and it was hard for the religious people to lay aside their old ideas about God and accept the new things that Jesus taught.  It would be easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for them to look at their well established ideas in a different way.

Maybe you’re like me and have always thought about this scripture as backing up the Bible and its authority, and I’m not trying to change that for you.  But look at it in a different way and think that perhaps it might be teaching us something new.  Something about being open to new understanding could be our lesson that God wants to teach us.  One thing is sure, God is good, all the time, and he is trying to teach us good things all the time.  God doesn’t stop teaching us through inspiration of His Spirit, through inspiring words from others, through new ideas that we may never have thought of before.  We never get to a point where we know all the answers.  Let’s keep that in mind.  Don’t make God have to move heaven and earth just so you can learn something new.  Open your heart and mind and listen to what that still small voice of love is saying to you right now.

Prayer: Loving Father,

Thank you for your wisdom and your spirit that dwells within.  Grant me an open mind and heart and help me to be able to accept and learn new things as you bring them before me and reveal yourself to me in new ways. 

Love Michael

True Revelations And Hard Feelings

Scripture: Genesis 37:

5 Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. 6 He said to them, "Listen to this dream I had: 7 We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it."

8 His brothers said to him, "Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?" And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.

Genesis 37,38; Psalms 7; Luke 15 – Passage Lookup – New International Version – BibleGateway.com

Observation: You can’t always expect what God has revealed to you to be accepted by others.

Application: Joseph had been given a true revelation from God in the form of a dream which prophesied that he would one day rule over his brothers.  This was meant to be a comforting promise for Joseph, but the question that I can’t keep from wondering about is whether Joseph shouldn’t have just kept his dream to himself.  All it did was cause strife between his brothers and himself.  It landed him in a pit, and into slavery and caused a lot of hurt feelings and bad relationships with his siblings.

Yes God used those things to accomplish His will with Joseph, the situations that unfolded were the very things that caused Joseph to ultimately be in a position of power over his brothers, but couldn’t God have worked it out in a less confrontational way if Joseph had never told them about the dream?

Is it necessary for the true word of God to offend some people and cause turmoil and strife among us before we can experience the truth of it?  I’ve talked before about the butterfly in the cocoon and how it must struggle to get free of its bonds because if it doesn’t it won’t be able to fly.  Is that how things must be with us and the word of God?  Do we really need to have hardships and struggles and do we need to do as Joseph’s father had done at the brook when he wrestled with God?  Are we so hard headed that we can’t be told of God’s

Sadly – I would have to say yes, I think we often are so hard headed that we have to be shaken, pressed down, and go through some real stuff before we reluctantly accept what God is trying to tell us.  Especially when it doesn’t go along with how we want things to be, or how we had thought things were.  It’s not the best testimony to our open hearts, open minds, and open doors slogan but it’s a reality that I think we all deal with.  Those open hearts, minds and doors have not always been open, and they are not always left open.  Sometimes we close them to true revelation, wisdom and knowledge, but the nature of God gets the job done one way or another.

I hope I don’t have to get thrown into a pit and sold into slavery to hear Him speaking to me today.

Prayer: God who speaks,

Help me to hear your voice in my heart and be open enough to accept it and learn from you.  Let me not struggle within myself when I am exposed to a true teaching but keep my heart and mind open to your wisdom.

Love Michael

Repaid At The Resurrection

Scripture: Luke 14:

12Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

Genesis 34,35,36; Luke 14 – Passage Lookup – New International Version – BibleGateway.com

Observation: The best reward for doing good is not that which we find in this life, but the rewards which we will find in the life to come.

Application: I have seen folks do some wonderful things anonymously and I used to wonder why they wouldn’t want to be known for their good deeds.  I think this is the answer.  Jesus says, don’t seek a reward from those who you do good for, or even from this life, but do good for those who can’t repay you in this life and you will receive the greatest reward of all at the resurrection of the righteous.

This is the model of true love.  True acts of love are not done so that you can benefit from them, they are done because the benefit is in being able to do them.  Look at how mothers work for their children, they don’t do it because they want their children to someday repay them, they do it because they love the children. 

Yes, you are repaid and rewarded for doing good for those who can’t repay you because in doing so you are laying up for yourself treasure in heaven, but as you do those acts of love and kindness you will be rewarded in the here and now as well in ways that you will not understand until you look into the eyes of those you are blessing.

Prayer:  God who loves us,

Thank you for presenting us with opportunities to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven by doing good for those who can never repay in this life.  Help me to take every opportunity to show love compassion and kindness to someone who needs it.

Love Michael

What Did I Do To Deserve This?

Scripture: Luke 13:

1Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2Jesus answered, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish."

Genesis 31,32,33; Luke 13 – Passage Lookup – New International Version – BibleGateway.com

Observation: When bad things happen to us we sometimes ask God, “What did I do to deserve this?” but those things that we are facing are not punishments from God, it is just part of life.

Application: Some of the first century religious folks had the idea that all things happened as a result of either blessings or curses.  If you were pious and holy, if you were fair and honest then God will bless you and protect you and never let anything bad happen to you.  If however you were negligent in your religious duties, if you failed to make proper sacrifice for your household then bad things would come as a result. 

In this scripture Jesus is trying to teach that bad things happen to people regardless of what kind of lives they live.  You may be the most moral and upright person in your town and still face terrible hardships.  This is just a result of the chaotic world that we live in. 

This is a reality that we must face.  While in this world bad things are sure to happen and we will not be able to avoid going through some of them.  But if we don’t repent and come to God then the things that we see shadowed in physical reality are sure to come upon us in the spiritual.  “But unless you repent, you too will all perish.

Prayer: Father God,

Please help me to understand that the difficult things which I must face in this world are not punishment from you but rather are symptoms of living.  Help me to cling to you for protection and forgiveness.  Walk with me through the hard times and carry me when I am at my weakest moments. Keep me firmly planted in your grace and help me to understand your love.

Love Michael

Israel’s Soap Opera Life

Scripture:  Genesis 29:

After Jacob had stayed with him for a whole month, 15 Laban said to him, "Just because you are a relative of mine, should you work for me for nothing? Tell me what your wages should be."

16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah had weak [a] eyes, but Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful. 18 Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, "I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel."

19 Laban said, "It’s better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me." 20 So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.

Genesis 29,30;Luke 12 – Passage Lookup – New International Version – BibleGateway.com

Observation: It’s really amazing how God can orchestrate our lives to make things all work together to accomplish His good will and purposes.

Application:   What an odd turn of events happen in chapters 29,30 of Genesis, it is really very much like a soap opera or a movie drama that you might see on TV.  Jacob falls in love with beautiful Rachel and works seven years for her father so that he might have her as his wife.  But Laban, Rachel’s father,  tricks Jacob after the seven years are up and secretly gives him his older daughter Leah.  Jacob must not have taken the time to remove the veil from her face for the first few hours, because he consummates the marriage before he discovers that she isn’t Rachel!

A second deal for another seven years of labor is made for Rachel and so Jacob continues working for Laban so that he might have better luck the next time getting the girl of his choice.  Finally all that hard work pays off and after fourteen years of working for Laban Jacob has married both daughters and then come the children. 

Twelve brothers come from Jacobs loins.  From four different women, because the two sisters start competing with each other as to which one can bear the most children for Jacob, and when they realize that they can’t they toss their maidservants into bed with him so that they can bear children for Jacob in their place. 

It makes me think of the old saying “Oh what a tangled web we weave.”  it has all the elements of a good soap opera.  There is love, deceit, secrets, envy all rolled up together in this story which is the history of a nation.  For Jacob is later called Israel and his twelve sons become the Twelve Tribes of Israel.  And all of this – ALL OF IT – is Gods doings.  God is fulfilling a promise that he made to Abraham by establishing him as the father of a great nation.

Let me restate my earlier observation. It’s really amazing how God can orchestrate our lives to make things all work together to accomplish His good will and purposes.  And you know what?  As I look at my life and all the drama, all the good times, and the hard times and the boring times and the exciting times and all the weird things that have happened, and even all the mistakes I’ve made have all played a part in bringing me to this place in time right now.  As I write these words I am in awe of all the things that have happened to bring me to this point in my life, and even more so when I realize that God has been there with me through every step of the way.  Not one thing has gone un-noticed by God and not one thing has been unexpected nor has God ever been unprepared for the ways that my free will choices have caused things to unfold.

As I think about the Soap Opera way that Israel came into existence I can’t help but to wonder what God has in store for my children and those who come after me.  And I have to laugh at the apparent haphazard but ultimately well orchestrated way that it all comes together through our Great and Glorious Father.

Prayer: God Almighty,

Thank you for being there through all the crazy curves and turns that my life has taken.  Thank you for guiding me even when I didn’t understand that you were doing so.  Thank you for protecting me even when I didn’t know that you were.  And Thank you for loving me even before I loved you.

Love Michael

Knowledge Beyond The Law

Scripture: Luke 11:

52"Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering."

Genesis 27,28; Psalms 4; Luke 11 – Passage Lookup – New International Version – BibleGateway.com

Observation: There is a deep river of knowledge and wisdom to be found through our Master.

Application: Jesus was speaking to religious people here.  These were those who were very well versed in the scripture and knew the law of Moses so well that others would come and ask them questions concerning it.  They were religious experts and scriptural experts.  Yet here Jesus says “Woe to you experts,” they had not found the truest and deeper knowledge of God which can only be obtained by experiencing His Spirit and being led and taught by Him.

Imagine walking through a library and in the back of that library there is a very special room, a room in which although there are no books, there is great knowledge and wisdom.  You have to walk through the library to get to the special room, in fact, you won’t even know where to look for the room and could never find it unless you spent some time studying the information that can only be found within the library.  But the goal of the information in the library is to point you toward the special room.  You must enter the special room alone.  Once you have found the special room, you will gain a much greater knowledge than you ever could have from all the books in the library.  Others who wish to enter the room must do so in the same manner as you have, they must go through the library and find the room on their own by understanding the directions to it.

Those who work in the library have grown comfortable, the library feels to them like a fortress.  It empowers them and they use their power over those who are studying within it.  They know where all the books are, they have read them all, and they are experts.  They know of the special room, but they dare not go inside because they would have to leave the comforts that the library provides for them. As years went by, the workers of the library hid the key so that those who would enter into the room would not be able, and after time access to the key was forgotten even by  most of those who work in the library.  But the key is still available for those who ask, seek and knock. 

Luke 11: 9And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. 10For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Prayer: Alpha and Omega,

Grant me knowledge that goes beyond doctrines, dogmas and philosophies.  Grant me wisdom so that I may share with others.  Help me to continue to always ask, seek and knock.

Love Michael