Holy

June 30, 2010 at 11:04 am | Posted in The Leadership P.A.T.C.H. | 4 Comments
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P.erceived
A.dvancing
T.urning
C.onstant
H.oly

The H. in P.A.T.C.H. is for Holy.

And it fell on a day, that Elisha passed to Shunem, where was a great woman; and she constrained him to eat bread. And so it was, that as oft as he passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread. And she said unto her husband, Behold now, I perceive that this is an holy man of God, which passeth by us continually.

II Kings 4:8-9, emphasis added

“Holy” means separated: cut and culled; set apart from the world, and separated unto God. Christian servant leaders are to consider themselves specially designated to be used by God.

God uses clean vessels; consecrated vessels; set-aside vessels. Holiness is out of vogue in this world, in this 21st Century. But it is not out of style with God. We ought not to be average, 21st Century American, one-of-the-crowd Christians. We ought, with God’s help, to rise to a higher standard.

But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;

I Peter 1:15

Shove at First Sight

June 29, 2010 at 12:03 pm | Posted in Genesis | 3 Comments
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And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it.

Genesis 28:18

Jacob’s pillow became a pillar. When you find yourself unable to sleep at night, when your pillow feels like a rock… then get up and kneel on it instead of lying on it – trade your bed for an altar. Trade your rock for The Rock.

In Genesis 29 Jacob continues on his journey.

And he looked, and behold a well in the field, and, lo, there were three flocks of sheep lying by it; for out of that well they watered the flocks: and a great stone was upon the well’s mouth.

Genesis 29:2

This may have been the same well where Abraham’s servant met Rebekah while searching out a bride for Isaac.

And he said unto them, Is he well? And they said, He is well: and, behold, Rachel his daughter cometh with the sheep.

Genesis 29:6

In a dramatic reading of this portion of Scripture this is probably the place where you would hear the romantic music strike up. Jacob would appear to forget his own name for a few moments – and then snap out of it.

And he said, Lo, it is yet high day, neither is it time that the cattle should be gathered together: water ye the sheep, and go and feed them.

Genesis 29:7

Jacob is obviously anxious to have a chance to interact with Rachel. “Whoo, boy! You fellas are burnin’ daylight out here! You had better get these sheep watered and rounded up!”

And they said, We cannot, until all the flocks be gathered together, and till they roll the stone from the well’s mouth; then we water the sheep.

Genesis 29:8

The stone would have been huge and heavy.

And while he yet spake with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep: for she kept them. And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, that Jacob went near, and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother.

Genesis 29:9-10

Jacob: “Here, let me get this huge stone off the well. I’ll help you out here…” It’s fun to imagine Jacob heaving and shoving with all his might to improve his chances at impressing Rachel.

Then we meet Rachel’s father. To get an idea of Rachel’s father, here is typical Laban:

And it came to pass, when Laban heard the tidings of Jacob his sister’s son, that he ran to meet him, and embraced him, and kissed him, and brought him to his house. And he told Laban all these things. And Laban said to him, Surely thou art my bone and my flesh. And he abode with him the space of a month. And Laban said unto Jacob, Because thou art my brother, shouldest thou therefore serve me for nought? tell me, what shall thy wages be?

Genesis 29:13-15

Tune in next time to see what happens when Jacob the trickster meets his match in Laban the trickster.

The Lamb Cows the Lion

June 28, 2010 at 11:21 am | Posted in Daniel | 3 Comments
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The Medes and the Persians diverted the stream of the Euphrates River, and went underneath the supposedly impenetrable walls of Babylon.

Daniel, who had been brought to Babylon as a teenaged boy, and had served under Nebuchadnezzar, now – in his 80s – found himself serving under a pagan king: Darius. How did Daniel do so well and gain the trust of all these pagan kings and rulers?

Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm.

Daniel 6:3

He had more than just exceptional qualities – he had an excellent spirit – like Elijah with Elisha in II Kings 2:9. Like Elijah, Daniel had a spirit that was pleasing to God. Therefore, Daniel was trusted for his honesty. Those who wanted to keep stealing schemed against him.

Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him.

Daniel 6:4

They used flattery and appealed to the king’s pride to get him to sign a decree without thinking about it. The decree said that anyone who prayed to anyone other than the king would be thrown into the lions’ den.

Daniel and his friends had faith in times of great crisis because they practiced their faith in the ordinary, everyday things. Reading my Bible, praying, going to church – these things build strength into my faith.

To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.

I Thessalonians 3:13

He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.

Luke 16:10

The king was mad at himself when he realized how he had been tricked.

Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he laboured till the going down of the sun to deliver him.

Daniel 6:14

How could this pagan king have such fond feelings for Daniel? Daniel had shown charity to him.

And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.

I Peter 4:8

Daniel was delivered and he gave God the glory.

My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.

Daniel 6:22

The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD.

Isaiah 65:25

Satan, who is compared to a lion, can be controlled and made meek by the Lamb of God.

Daniel’s faith even caused the king to honor Daniel’s God and proclaim His power.

I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end. He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.

Daniel 6:26-27

Is it Wrong to Ask for an Overt Response? (Part 1)

June 23, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Posted in Bible Studies | 6 Comments
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The Apostles not only asked for a response – they demanded one. “Be converted” appears to be in the imperative:

Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;

Acts 3:19

There is a backlash these days against what is perceived as trying to coax people into getting saved. “Use the Old Testament law,” say the critics. “Preach the Gospel, not ‘decisionism,'” they say.

God is sovereign. Salvation is all of Him. No one repents without God empowering them to repent. No one has faith unto salvation without God empowering that faith. God gets all the glory for regeneration, justification, adoption, redemption, sanctification, and everything else that goes along with salvation. But I am not aware of any Bible verses that limit Gospel preaching to nothing more than conviction of the lost sinner under God’s law. We don’t have Bible verses that prohibit leading lost sinners in prayer. We don’t have Bible verses that prohibit us from imploring, exhorting, commanding, and demanding lost sinners to call upon the Lord.

I haven’t seen much of it myself, but there may be false teachers out there going nuts, telling people that if they check off a blank on a form, then they are saved, and then baptizing them in a fire truck or something. I have seen people who are evangelizing with passion the Bible way, and we do them a disservice when we discourage Gospel preachers from asking for an overt response to their preaching.

“Be converted” is indeed a command. It is a command to do something. It is a command to respond. Our response to the hearing of the Word of God or to the conviction of the Holy Ghost does not diminish God’s grace, or make the Cross of none effect, or make that response a “work.” Nor does it detract from God’s sovereignty or His predestination or His election. All sinners who see their need for a Savior and call upon the Lord are praying when they do so. Praying is calling upon the Lord.

The fact that people do not respond to the Gospel call in their own power does not negate the fact that people do respond – actively and overtly – to the Gospel. God is powerful enough, mysterious enough, and gracious enough that people respond to the preaching of His Own Word in His power. Do they respond? Oh yes they do. Do they get the praise for responding? Oh no they don’t. It is a small view of God that says God’s gracious empowering of people to respond to the Gospel contradicts the truth that salvation is all of God. Someone will say I can’t have it both ways, and I can’t. But God can have it all the ways He has set forth in His eternal Word. Jesus Christ is the Way, but God draws people to His Son in all sorts of earthly situations and circumstances.

And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.

Acts 2:40

Warning Sign #5: Naming Pet Demons

June 18, 2010 at 10:24 am | Posted in When Good Preachers Go Bad | 6 Comments
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The idea that our loving Lord could allow something “bad” like poverty or sickness or persecution into the life a Christian is especially abhorrent to a prosperity preacher. But railing against politicians, doctors, and “dead religious Pharisees” can only get you so far. When you really want to drive your congregation into a frenzy and get them hyped up into a display of emotionalism, you’ve got to portray yourself as a big bad demon-fighter. And what “spiritual warrior” worth his salt isn’t even on a first name basis with his enemies?

Therefore, beware of this kind of blustering and showmanship:

I call you out, Spirit of Jezebel! I’m gonna send you back to the pit, Spirit of Leviathan! We hate you, Spirit of Wormwood!

Good Preacher Going Bad

Now, I know what you’re thinking: These names – Jezebel, Leviathan, and Wormwood – are in the Bible (Revelation 2:20; Isaiah 27:1; Deuteronomy 29:18, Revelation 8:11). However, nowhere does Scripture explicitly state that these are the names of specific demons that today attack our finances, our relationships, our physical bodies, or our desire for exuberant worship. That type of preaching is fanciful at best and misleading at worst.

However, don’t try to tell this to the demon-fighting prosperity preacher! He’s already on to your type. You are one of those who has a “spirit of fear” or a “spirit of intimidation.” After all, God hasn’t given us the “spirit of fear,” according to II Timothy 1:7. This is the “you-are-just-scared-of-a-move-of-the-Holy-Ghost” card that the prosperity preacher loves to play when questioned about Biblical accuracy. Please note however that the rest of II Timothy 1:7 reads, “but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind,” so the “spirit of fear” is not the name of some devilish imp lurking around underneath the discarded hymn books. It is simply the carnal default position of our flesh nature when we are not being led by – and bearing the fruit of – the Holy Spirit.

Furthermore, when Michal got huffy about David’s public display of dancing (II Samuel 6), there is no Bible verse that says she was possessed by the “Spirit of Intimidation.”

Beware of the preacher who is more comfortable railing against principalities and powers than he is dealing with sin in the camp and in his own life.

He’s More than “All I Need.” He’s “All I Have.”

June 17, 2010 at 11:07 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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It can be heartbreaking to see people bowing down to the cult of celebrity in our times. Men and women, boys and girls, all of whom God so gloriously created for His Own glory, seem to persistently ignore Him, and to make idols out of silly individuals famous for even sillier accomplishments. Most people know more about Paris Hilton than they do about Priscilla and Aquila. We know more about Britney Spears than about the spear Saul threw at David. We know more about Heath Ledger than about the heath in the desert. How many of our children and young adults obsess over clothing, beauty products, hair styles, and weight loss, but could not begin to point to a Scripture that describes the true Biblical definition of “beauty?” We know more about what happened on the red carpet than about what happened on the Cross of Christ.

Even spiritually-minded people seem to feel as if God alone is not enough. All types of Heavenly beings are worshipped in place of Christ. The saints are adored and offered prayers. Christ’s mother is deified. Angels are worshipped as if they were creators instead of creatures.

This type of vanity must stop. What joy there is in realizing that God alone is worthy of worship and praise! What peace and power there is in knowing that there is only one Mediator between God and man – the man Christ Jesus! In God’s creation, man can find anything he wants. But only in God Himself can man find what he truly needs.

Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.

Psalm 73:25

Constant

June 16, 2010 at 11:19 am | Posted in The Leadership P.A.T.C.H. | 3 Comments
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P.erceived
A.dvancing
T.urning
C.onstant
H.

The C. in P.A.T.C.H. is for Constant or Consistent.

And it fell on a day, that Elisha passed to Shunem, where was a great woman; and she constrained him to eat bread. And so it was, that as oft as he passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread. And she said unto her husband, Behold now, I perceive that this is an holy man of God, which passeth by us continually.

II Kings 4:8-9, emphasis added

A servant leader who is inconsistent is a poor servant, and is unqualified for being a “leader.” The Shunammite woman was impressed with this in Elisha: He passed by “continually.”

There is a sense in which Christian leaders ought to meet the true Biblical definition of being “charismatic.” “Charisma” is from the Greek word for the grace-gifts given to born-again believers by the Holy Spirit. This has nothing to do with the current meaning of “Charismatic” Christianity which has more to do with emotions, wild behavior, and counterfeit signs and wonders. We must remember, not just the idea of being “charismatic,” but the importance of being “automatic.” Do not be a “mood-swing” Christian – up one day and down the next; hot one minute and cold the next. Be consistent for Christ.

Peter learned this lesson when Jesus wanted to wash his feet. Peter went from being unworthy of Jesus washing his feet one minute, to wanting Jesus to wash his whole body the next. However, Peter overcame this as he grew in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. You will be consistent if you do the same.

Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;

Colossians 4:2, emphasis added

Next time: the “H” in P.A.T.C.H.

Lord, Leader, and Ladder

June 15, 2010 at 9:53 am | Posted in A Little Alliteration, Genesis | 7 Comments
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In Genesis Chapter 28 we see the account of “Jacob’s Ladder.”

And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.

Genesis 28:12

This was Jacob’s exclamation when he awoke from that dream:

And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not.

Genesis 28:16

Why was Jacob so surprised at the presence of God? I suspect, like most of us, Jacob had an intellectual understanding of God’s omnipresence. However, also like most of us, he tended to get distracted by circumstances and forget about God’s presence.

For one thing, Jacob had left his family for the first time. He was on a long trip to the home of his father’s people. He probably did not expect to encounter another Jehovah-worshipper during the whole trip. Christians who do not attend church regularly, and who work with nonbelievers during the week, may tend to miss out on the reminder of God’s presence that comes with being around God’s people.

For another thing, Jacob had left behind his earthly father, and his earthly father’s altars and tents. As Christians we must not forget that the house of the Lord is not the only place we can meet with the Lord. We can make an altar and experience God’s presence anytime, anywhere.

Finally, Jacob may have been too focused on his own fears to focus on God’s presence. Jacob’s mother had told him, before he left,

Until thy brother’s anger turn away from thee, and he forget that which thou hast done to him: then I will send, and fetch thee from thence: why should I be deprived also of you both in one day?

Genesis 27:45

For all he knew, his brother, Esau, might have been hot on his heels, ready to take his life. This would have been quite a reversal of roles, because Jacob is known for sneaking up on his brother throughout their lives up until this point. (Genesis 25:26-34) Christians today must remember that fears, dire circumstances, and the possibility of our past catching up to us, should not cause us to forget the Lord’s presence. Our Savior, Christ Jesus, compared Himself to the ladder that Jacob saw in his dream. (John 1:51) Jesus, fully man and fully God, is our Gateway into God’s presence. He is the only One who can put one hand on us and one hand on God the Father, and bring us into mediated fellowship.

https://i0.wp.com/c0573862.cdn.cloudfiles.rackspacecloud.com/1/1/46086/751943/pr_01.jpg

Oswald Chambers Says You Can S.W.I.M. with Joy

June 12, 2010 at 9:45 am | Posted in Quotes | 1 Comment
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The surf that distresses the ordinary swimmer produces in the surf-rider the super-joy of going clean through it. Apply that to your own circumstances – these very things – tribulation, distress, persecution, produce in us the super-joy; they are not things to fight. We are more than conquerors through Him in all these things, not in spite of them, but in the midst of them. The saint never knows the joy of the Lord in spite of tribulation, but because of it…

Osawald Chambers, “March 7, Undaunted Radiance,” My Utmost for His Highest

Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

Romans 8:37

Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my glorying of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation.

II Corinthians 7:4, emphasis added

The Handwriting on the Wall

June 11, 2010 at 9:59 am | Posted in Common Expressions, Daniel | 7 Comments
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Belshazzar was Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson. He was the son of Nabonidus. He decided to have a feast and to use the cups and vessels from the temple in Jerusalem. Even wicked King Nebuchadnezzar had not dared to use these sacred objects. Those who are completely corrupted by sin, and who have been given over to a reprobate mind, and who have run out of ways to create a new sensation, take pleasure in desecrating the holy.

The king and his court and guests not only defiled these objects by partying with them, but they compounded their sin and their insults by worshipping idols with them.

Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them. They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.

Daniel 5:3-4

In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.

Daniel 5:5

Belshazzar’s knees were knocking together and he looked pale and shocked.

Then the king’s countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.

Daniel 5:6

The queen heard what was happening.

Now the queen, by reason of the words of the king and his lords, came into the banquet house: and the queen spake and said, O king, live for ever: let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed:

Daniel 5:10

She had a wrong motive: she wanted the party to continue. But at least she knew the right person to call for the interpretation.

Daniel was probably between 81 and 85 years old when this happened, so we can see him – the impervious elderly prophet and man of God, shaking his finger at Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson.

Belshzzar offered Daniel gifts, but Daniel wasn’t interested in rewards on earth.

Then Daniel answered and said before the king, Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation.

Daniel 5:17

Daniel preached to him:

O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour: And for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down.

5:18-19

These verses remind me of the famous quote that Lloyd Bentsen used on Dan Quayle years ago in a Vice-Presidential debate, concerning JFK. It’s almost as if Daniel is telling Belshazzar, “I knew Nebuchadnezzar. I worked with Nebuchadnezzar. I watched Nebuchadnezzar eat grass, son, and you, sir, are no Nebuchadnezzar.”

And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this; But hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified:

Daniel 5:22-23

The written message on the wall – Mene, Mene, Tekel, Peres – meant “Numbered, Numbered, Weighed, Divided.” Belshazzar had been “numbered” by God – God knew all about him. He “had his number.” Also, Belshazzar’s “days were numbered.” He had been “weighed in in the balance,” and found wanting. The mightiest nations are to God as a drop in the bucket (Isaiah 40:15). Peres or Upharsin meant “divided.” That very night the Medes and the Persians were waiting outside the city gate – they conquered the kingdom and divided it.

I like to look out for instances in the Bible which remind me of everyday sayings that we use today. Daniel Chapter 5 is a veritable cornucopia of common expressions:
Knees knocking together
The handwriting was on the wall
Weighed in the balance
Your days are numbered
I’ve got your number

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