New Sheriff

Sheriff BadgeOne of the things Jesus was known to do from time to time was to cast demons out of people.  I imagine it was an amazing thing to watch.  Jesus spoke a word and the demonic being that was troubling some poor individual was gone.  A person’s life was dramatically changed.  A life that was once horrible, dark, and despondent came into light, mercy, and hope.  Once, after having cast out a demon, Jesus gave this instruction: “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.” (Luke 11:24–26)

There are plenty of things in this world that can cause a person despair, and there are many ways a person can find help.  There are many ways to clean a house.  The important thing in life is not to stop with a clean house.  The goal is to fill that house with a new occupant, someone who can handle the “bad guys”.  That’s a job for a sheriff. Jesus can be so much more than a “friend” of yours.  He wants to be the new sheriff in town.  When Jesus is the sheriff in your life, you aren’t afraid of bad days ahead.  Jesus will help you face the challenges because He’s on your side.

Still Guilty

Speed Limit 30“If someone sins and without knowing it violates any of the Lord’s commands concerning anything prohibited, he bears the consequences of his guilt. (Leviticus 5:17 HCSB)

In the Law of Moses, there was a type of offering called the “sin offering” or “trespass offering”.  This offering was to be performed if you had done something wrong, even though at the time you didn’t realize you had done something wrong. If you are going 50 mph in a 30-mph zone and get pulled over by an officer, you just might get a ticket whether or not you knew what the speed limit was.

I don’t know if you’re like me, but I often find that when I’m confronted with something I did that was wrong, one of my first responses is to make an excuse.  “I didn’t know you were there”, “I wasn’t feeling well”, or “I didn’t mean it” come spilling out of our mouths. When confronted with the world’s first sin, Adam responded to God with an excuse, blaming it on “that woman You gave me”.  The problem with the excuses I make is that whether I want to admit it or not, I still did a wrong thing and doing wrong things incurs guilt.

I am finding that I really don’t move forward in life until I learn to simply admit, “I was wrong”.  Admitting you were wrong is hard.  It’s humiliating.  It’s also freeing.  It allows for the possibility of forgiveness to be granted.  It allows relationships to mend.

The Blessing in Patience

calf or tabletsMoses and the Israelites had been in the very presence of God, and heard His voice proclaim the Ten Commandments. It was after this event that Moses went up to the mountain to receive more instructions from God.  A whole month passed and the people began to wonder what had happened to Moses.  They convinced Aaron to make a golden calf, and they celebrated with a big feast.  Aaron told Moses, “For they said to me, ‘Make us gods that shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’” (Exodus 32:23)

Just what was Moses doing for those missing forty days? He was in the presence of God receiving instructions.  Moses acquired plans for building a portable sanctuary.  He wrote down instructions for constructing the Ark of the Covenant, the table of showbread, the altar of incense.  He was given the formulas for making anointing oil and incense.  He was given two stone tablets with the Ten Commandments written by the very finger of God.

Sometimes, we make a mistake and sacrifice the bigger plans God has for our lives in exchange for a quick “fix” and a golden calf.  Instead of trusting in a God we can’t see, we opt for something flashy that entertains us, and life becomes much cheaper.  There is great blessing when we patiently wait on God and receive all He has for us.

Pesky Tusken Raiders

Tusken_RaidersThe Amalekites had attacked Israel. The Amalekites were the “Tusken Raiders” of the Old Testament (Tusken Raider:  Star Wars’ “sand people” who tortured Anakin Skywalker’s mom).  Moses would later record that the Amalekites had attacked the folks in the rear, the stragglers, the tired and weary (Deut. 25:18).  The Amalekites were not nice people.  Moses knew it was time to fight, so he asked Joshua to choose some warriors, and in the morning while Joshua was fighting, Moses would be on top of a nearby hill praying.  And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. (Exodus 17:11)

It’s a simple picture.  When Moses prays, Joshua does well.  The problem that day was that the battle wasn’t over in fifteen minutes.  The battle dragged on for the entire day.  At times Moses’ arms got tired, and as he dropped his arms, the enemy advanced.  Moses addressed his weary arms by asking two friends to prop up his arms until the battle was over.

You might be in a battle today.  It could be with your health, a relationship, finances, family, or things at work.  Do you realize what the key to victory is?  Victory is not about getting your way.  Victory is about what God does through prayer.  If you’ve grown weary in prayer, maybe it’s time to ask some friends to lift your hands.

Hosanna

jesus-cross-and-sunTalk about a change in the weather.  When Jesus came into the city of Jerusalem on Sunday, the crowds were excited, waving palm branches, cheering “Hosanna”, and calling Him their king. Yet by the following Friday, Jesus had been arrested, severely beaten, and was hanging on a cross taking His last gasps of air.  The crowd had changed their tune.  Leading the new chorus were the religious leaders who said, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. (Matthew 27:42)

That Sunday shout of “Hosanna” is often misunderstood.  It is not a cheer of praise, but a cry for help.  “Hosanna” means “save now”.  And though the mockers standing at the cross on Friday considered Jesus an utter failure, He was in fact answering the cries of the people on Sunday.  The cross wasn’t a failure.  It was salvation.  He died to save us from the worst part of the human condition…sin.

I wonder if sometimes I too don’t understand what it means when I ask God for help. Though He may at times deliver me from an immediate difficulty, there will be other times when He allows me to go through further difficulty to achieve a greater good. If you have cried “Hosanna” in your time of trouble, yet the trouble persists, don’t be discouraged.  Keep your eyes open.  There is a greater good.

Forgotten

In PrisonI would imagine that Joseph had plenty of reasons to think that life was unfair.  Joseph may have had dreams of great things ahead, but instead his brothers kidnapped him, threw him into a pit, and sold him to be a slave in Egypt.  While Joseph eventually prospered as the chief slave in Potiphar’s house, there came that day of temptation when Joseph said “no”, Potiphar’s wife said “go”, and Joseph wound up in prison accused of something he didn’t do.

While in prison, Joseph managed a level of prosperity as God was “with” him.  When the Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker ended up in prison with Joseph, Joseph interpreted their dreams for them.  Things turned out exactly as Joseph predicted.  Things were looking up.  The cupbearer would be close to Pharaoh himself and could put in a good word for him.  Yet the chief butler did not remember Joseph, but forgot him. (Genesis 40:23)

It’s not hard to relate to Joseph’s life.  Things don’t always turn out the way we expect them to, or as soon as we hoped for.  Does God even care?  Does God even know?

Beloved, God does care, and when the time is right, it will happen.  Sometimes the other people involved in your future aren’t yet ready.  Sometimes you haven’t matured and learned what you need to learn.  The cupbearer may forget, but God does not.

On the Bus

BusLet me just get it out there.  I hate dieting.  I do not enjoy doing the kinds of things I need to do when my weight has gotten out of hand.  Some people seem to be able to eat whatever they want and they continue to look fit and trim.  Not me.  I only have to look at a finely crafted Christmas cookie and I will gain five pounds.  And believe me, there were a few cookies laying around my house recently (notice the “past” tense).  As much as I hate dieting, I have to reluctantly admit that there are advantages to being at a healthy weight.  There are a lot of ways to lose weight, but the way you do it isn’t as important as getting it done. It’s like getting on a bus to get to your destination. It doesn’t matter which bus you get on, as long as it gets where you’re going. The most important thing is picking a bus and staying on it.  By the way, I’m back on the bus.

One of the hidden treasures to dieting is learning that you can actually be successful at self-control. Esau was a guy lacking self-control.  When faced with choosing spiritual blessings or a tasty stew, he chose the stew.  And Esau said, “Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?” (Genesis 25:32)

Are there areas in your spiritual life where you’re struggling?  Are there areas of sin you think you can’t change?  Get on the bus beloved.  You can do this.

One Language

tower_of_babelThe Lord said, “If they have begun to do this as one people all having the same language, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. (Genesis 11:6)

After Noah’s flood, as humans began to repopulate the planet, a group of people began to build a tower reaching to heaven to keep God from ruling over them. When God saw their rebellious determination, God confused their language, and their building stopped.

We often think the “Tower of Babel” story is about the evils of one language, but it’s more about the power of understanding.  It’s not wrong that men learn to understand and speak each other’s language.  It’s only wrong when man’s goal is rebellion against God.

It’s a good thing to understand each other.  In fact, the concept of healthy communication is a powerful thing. When businessmen understand what their clients are asking for, business goes better.  When a husband and wife learn to understand what the other one is trying to say, things are much happier.  There is a kind of power that comes from understanding, but that power is only bad if it is aimed at rebelling against God. When your life is aimed at pleasing God, and you work hard to listen and understand those around you, you will go far.  Does that make sense?  Understand?

Coming Back

mount-of-olives-12-30On that day His feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley… (Zechariah 14:4)

That’s the day that He comes back.  And you know He will indeed one day come back.  If you’ve been reading through the prophet Zechariah, you’ve probably noticed how many times the prophet “nails” events in the future.  Zechariah is the one that prophesied that the Temple would be rebuilt in the days of Zerubbabel.  He’s the one that prophesied that the Messiah would ride into town on a donkey.  He’s the one that prophesied that the Messiah would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver.  And that’s just some of the prophecies.  If he was right about those things, how accurate do you think he’ll be when he says that the Messiah will one day return, stand on the Mount of Olives, and the mountain will split in two?  He splits the mountain so the Jews who are trapped in Jerusalem will be able to escape those that are trying to wipe them out.  It is almost like the dividing of the Red Sea.

God knows how to deliver His people from their times of difficulty.  It’s what He does.  Are you going through a rough patch?  God knows how to shake things up in such a way that you are able to endure it (1Cor. 10:13).  Hang on beloved, He’s coming back!

Names

names-of-jesus-12-23For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

Names don’t seem to mean as much today as they used to.  These days, parents seem more focused on coming up with “interesting” spellings or unheard of syllables.  In ancient days, names encapsulated the character of the person being named.  Even though you and I call Him Jesus, Isaiah gives us a few more names as well, names that describe our Wonderful Savior.

You may be facing difficult decisions.  You may be struggling with pain or tragedy in your life.  Be sure to make an appointment with our Wonderful Counselor.

Maybe you are feeling small and weak. Maybe you are in need of a miracle.  Jesus isn’t powerless, He’s the Mighty God.

I miss my dad.  He was the rock in our family.  I wish at times I could talk some things over with him.  Though my earthly dad is gone, I have an Everlasting Father.  And He’s a good, good Father.

Do the difficulties in life have you in turmoil?  Are you a nervous wreck? Are you struggling with tension and strife with others? Jesus is the Prince of Peace.  You know His name.  Call on Him.