The Apostle John recorded the scene in Bethany about the death, burial and “resurrection” of the dear friend Lazarus. It was a gripping story which left us waiting with bated breath as to the outcome. But now here it is a few days later and we find this same Lazarus not in graveclothes but in his “tux and tails” hosting a dinner party. What a word picture of believers who will one day move from the earthly Adam suit into the heavenly Christ-like suit.

Zechariah records the amazing word picture of the transformation of the high priest Joshua: “Remove his filthy clothes.” Then he said to Joshua, “I have freely forgiven your iniquity and will dress you in fine clothing. “Let a clean turban be put on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him.”

As believers, the Holy Spirit has removed our grave clothes of sin and given us new robes of righteousness that we may stand before a Holy God and sit at His banquet table. Without this transformation, we are like the man caught by the king without his wedding clothes. [Matt 22] But when the Holy Spirit does His work we can say “he clothes me in garments of deliverance he puts on me a robe symbolizing vindication.

What clothes are you wearing today?

 

 

Jesus has been in Cana and has now traveled back to Jerusalem. He could have chosen any of the city gates to enter but he chose the sheep gate, the very gate that the lambs are ushered in for sacrifices. Grab that thought and ponder it: the Sacrifice enters the Sacrifice Gate. And why has He come? He has come to reveal the heart of the lame man and ours as well.

Jesus asks him a simple question; do you want to be made well? And yet the man’s answer reveals his true nature and heart. I have no one, I am friendless. I try but someone else gets ahead of me. But, Jesus ignores his lame excuses and tells him simply; stand up and walk. Some of us are like this man, full of excuses why we can’t change; we are just that way so accept me like I am. To change means responsibility and independence rather than our comfort zone of “I can’t because of…”  But, Jesus gave him no alternative.

Don’t you find it strange that the healed man didn’t toss his mat away but carried it with him? This is so like us. We are healed but we want to cling to our old problems, our old excuses. We say we want to change but when Christ offers us new life we have a myriad of excuses. Another time. Another place. I can’t because of this or that. Jesus says to you; come and see, come and taste, come and drink, stand up and walk and your life will be forever changed.

What’s your excuse?

The NT gospels share with us about the ruling religious leaders who walked about Jerusalem telling others what to do but never doing it themselves.  Yet there was one, a member of the ruling council and “the” teacher in Israel who came in humility wondering and walked away with more questions than answers. His answer was found at the foot of the cross. We all come “at night” for we are all in spiritual darkness and it is only when the Holy Spirit pricks our hearts that we move from being onlookers to seekers that we find the answers to our questions.  We, like Nicodemus, must take that first step.

So what did Jesus and Nicodemus talk about in that late night discussion? They talked about the wind and the new birth and in that discussion Jesus shared God’s plan for mankind. God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that men may not perish but have eternal life. For Nicodemus, it was a life-changing experience for, in the end, we find him helping bury the body of “his” Master after the crucifixion. Just as Nicodemus moved from spiritual darkness to light, it can be for you as well.

He had the scriptures and the visual evidence about him in creation, yet needed that personal encounter with the Master Rabbi. That is where we all must begin.

Are you where Nicodemus was? Come and see, come and taste and receive eternal life.

 

 

 

 

In chapter 1 the Apostle John asked us to “come and see.” In chapter 2 he asks us to “come and taste.” And what are we to taste but the goodness, lovingkindness, and compassion of our Lord Jesus Christ. And the way John shares that is through a wedding crisis when the mother of Jesus puts on her mom hat. A mom hat is when you as a Mother get vexed over a situation that is out of your control but you know or think you know that Son #1 can solve the problem. And so we can learn much about this interaction between our Lord and his mom and the observers to the miracle.

The crisis? Running out of wine in first century Palestine that is what we would call a “no-no.” But, why did this crisis happen?  Did more guests show up that were unanticipated—think the Lord and the 5 disciples in tow. Did the guests drink more than the wine steward had anticipated—recall the head steward’s comment about drunkenness.  Did the bridegroom not have enough money to purchase more? We could suggest even more but John wants us to see that it was a miracle to prove He was truly, as Nathanael had said, “the Son of God,” and that He cares even about the smallest or largest detail of our lives.

John also wants us to see and taste that the miracles Jesus performed were to reveal His glory so that those who see, those who taste are without excuse if they deny the evidence. The witness was clear but it is said only the disciples believed.

Come and see, come to taste. What will you do with the miracles when His glory is revealed?

 

A Story of Joshua, Caleb and the Truth of Psalm 37

Waiting, waiting, waiting is the hardest test God has given to us in so many ways. We want the answer now but Isaiah tells us that God’s ways are higher than ours. His answers are, in fact, so precious that we can claim the principle that Jeremiah told the exiles in Babylon.  He said: Listen, God has a plan; will you trust Him? God has not just a plan but a plan to prosper you, to show you how to become His treasure once again. God has a plan for a future that will shine like the heavens because it will be filled with hope. (Jer 29:11)

This is where Joshua and Caleb were and where I was just three years ago. Like the exiles centuries later, Joshua and Caleb had waited patiently for 40+ years to see the Promised Land. Joshua and Caleb teach us important lessons in waiting on the promises of God. They were the only two of the Egyptian slaves to believe those promises. But the sin of unbelief of others caused them to wait alongside their leader Moses until God said: It is time! Go! The Promised Land is just over that river. That is so like us. God has us do laps around the wilderness until we are just the perfect spot for His plan, not ours, to come to fruition. It might be hard, uncomfortable—think camping night after night, eating manna day after day.

Perhaps that is where you are, waiting for the birth of a vision that you have held onto what seems forever. This is where I have been for over 3 yrs. No matter which door I opened it slammed shut. I was just waiting for a time to minister in His church yet the doors slammed shut no matter how hard I pushed and entered the key. I attended all of the support classes, wrote out and delivered lesson plans, participated in VBS but the doors remained closed. Words from one wiser than I said: “wait on God; His timing is perfect.”

But, let’s be frank; waiting is not a part of our agenda!

We want it now but God says later. We say but 40 yrs is a very long time! Yet, here we are with Joshua and Caleb and here I am now 3 yrs later. I am learning from a precious friend that waiting is the lesson God wants from all of us.

Beloved, take a lesson from Joshua and Caleb and yes from me. God’s timing is perfect, His plan is higher and grander than we could ever think or plan for.

Psalm 37 reminds us to trust in the Lord, don’t be angry and frustrated and don’t fret! Those who rely on the Lord will possess the land and that is just what happened to Joshua and Caleb.

Will you trust Him? Will you wait on Him? Join me in the wilderness foray into the land of Waiting. The door may be shut now but trust me it will open and His treasures are there for you.

 

Jesus gave this commandment:  “I give you a new commandment – to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples – if you have love for one another.”

But what if you don’t like the person you are to love? Then what? Do you feel uncomfortable admitting that fact? I do if I am honest and that is an “OUCH.”  Beloved this is not rocket science…we all seem to have fallen into this pit!   Remember James and John who audaciously went to Jesus and asked him: “Teacherwe want you to do for us whatever we ask.” [Mark 10:35] And how did the others respond to them when they heard this? Mark records that the other 10 became angry.

Can you relate? I can. 

But, Jesus used that as a teaching opportunity and we should learn from him. This was a time to teach them this principle: “whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of all.” [Mark 10:44] Our servanthood should be marked by being willing to serve others just as Jesus served us. To be a follower of Jesus means we are known by this very character quality: loving one another. 

The Apostle John got the message loud and clear. Nothing like the lesson learned at the feet of Jesus! It is as if he is joining us over coffee and as we bumble our way through our confession, John lovingly reminds us that we must, it is not a well maybe I will think about it but we MUST not only love one another but we MUST keep the commandments as well because when we do we are walking in the same manner as our Master did.

So as we draw near to the time of our “hanging out,” John says we should endeavor to do that so when He returns “we may have confidence and not shrink away from him in shame.” [ 1 Jn 2:28 ]

Did we get the OUCH? I hope we did. Application Time: What will we do now?

Psalm 117 is the shortest psalm in the psalter and it is filled with praise for the Father Almighty. In sharp contrast is the shortest verse recorded by the Apostle John:  “Jesus wept.” [John 11:35] Placed side by side we see the glory of the Lord with His depth of sadness because of sin’s work.

Addressed to all the peoples of the world, the psalmist reminds us that we are to Praise the Lord, Applaud the Lord, Extol the Lord. We praise the Lord both now and forever for His lovingkindness and truthfulness surround Him and are evidences of His grace being poured out upon us.

Isaiah wrote: “Truly I am God, I have no peer; I am God, and there is none like me, who announces the end from the beginning and reveals beforehand what has not yet occurred, who says, ‘My plan will be realized, I will accomplish what I desire,’ who summons an eagle from the east, from a distant land, one who carries out my plan. Yes, I have decreed, yes, I will bring it to pass; I have formulated a plan, yes, I will carry it out.” [Isaiah 46:9-11]

As you begin your time with your disciple teach them how to praise God by using this simple psalm of praise.

Praise the Lord, all you nations! —have your disciple include himself/herself as part of the nations of the world, thanking God for  calling them to worship and praise Jehovah, the Lord God Almighty 

Applaud him, all you foreigners!–we once were foreigners but now we are a child of God. “But to all who have received him – those who believe in his name. [John 1:11] 

For his loyal love towers over us,–it extends beyond the highest heaven! Take time to observe the heavens and marvel at His power and majesty. 

and the Lord’s faithfulness endures.–ponder that word “endures.” It means it will never ever end, therefore Jehovah can be trusted to always provide what we need just when we need it. 

Praise the Lord!–finish your time of praise in this way; praising God for He is creator, sustainer, faithful friend and more. 

Do you ponder and wonder and ask how to share God’s omnipotent power with others? The psalmist used word pictures:  “the mountains skipped like rams, the sea fled, the Jordan turned back and the earth trembled.”

God used “radical” means to remove the barriers that kept the Israelites in bondage. When He delivered them from the Egyptian slavery the earth rejoiced!

As the psalmist pondered these “radical” events he began to ask: “why” does the sea flee, “why” did the Jordan turn back, “why” did the mountains skip like rams? Perhaps it was much like the stilling of the storm on the Sea of Galilee. When the disciples saw the “radical” power of Jesus, they asked: “who is this that “even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Know for certain that whether a storm, a sea before us, a river to be crossed, mountains too large to be climbed God can and will use His “radical” power to accomplish His will. God’s creation moves according to His commands…just as we should.

God is sovereign 

therefore stop and glorify Him for what He hath done and is able to do.

Are you skipping like rams or asking “who is this that even the wind and waves obey him?”  Stop wondering but rejoice for all that He has done and will do for you.

Beloved, our “Radical God” began a good work in you and He will complete it just as He did with the removal of the barriers of slavery for the Israelites.

Skip like the rams but tremble when you consider His awesome deeds.

Nothing is impossible for OUR RADICAL GOD

 

 

TONIGHT IS THE NIGHT!  

https://goo.gl/KGKunS 

Are you ready to learn all God has for us in the book of Joshua?

We start tonight…it will be 8 pm CST, 9 pm EST; check your time zone. Watch for the zoom introduction we will head out into Joshua…

Remember to Click on this link to join: https://zoom.us/j/775194997 on date and time of the study. Bookmark this link as it will be the same each week.

NOTE: the zoom link will be active at the appointed time in your time zone.

They say there are morning people and night people. Morning people begin work long before the sun comes up. Joshua must have been a morning person because Joshua 3:1 begins “Bright and early the next morning Joshua and the contingent of Israelites left Shittim, the place or valley in the land of Moab, and came to the Jordan”

Joshua is a man who doesn’t waste daylight! Joshua is a man after my own heart!

Early morning is my time to sit with God and read, meditate and enjoy my first cup of coffee. It is quiet, the neighborhood is without traffic and emails are few and far between.

Joshua must have been much like me! 

After Joshua led them for three days there probably there were many wondering what next but Joshua is also a man with a God-directed agenda. First, his commanders gave the people their walking orders. Follow the Ark but stay behind because you don’t know what is ahead. How often are we prone to step out ahead and then lose sight of the real prize God has for us!  Forty years ago the Israelites also had their walking orders but when they reached the Red Sea they balked, cried, whined and begged Moses. Joshua now has a contingent of descendants who obeyed faithfully! Leaving Egypt the cloud and pillar of fire protected them from the enemy who were behind them. Now the Ark, the very presence of the Shekinah glory, would be their guide and protector and their enemies were before them unseen and unknown!  This is a step of faith for them and God will bless their steps.

Once again, God, the Ruler of the earth, would reveal His power and majesty through the movement of the waters. At creation, God divided the water from the land and so it would be now again through a miracle. Job noted: “he made the force of the wind and measured the waters with a gauge.” 

As in Egypt, now the Israelites consecrated or sanctified themselves. Joshua gave them the reason: Tomorrow the Lord will perform miraculous deeds among you. Consecration means setting self aside for God’s work. It is vital for victory to occur. As we consecrate ourselves we are saying we are ready to be used for God’s purposes. It prepares us to be a fit vessel for His use and prepares us to defeat the enemy.

If you knew that God would do something miraculous tomorrow would you consecrate yourself?

What are you waiting for?

Expect God to act and He will!