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Sermon of the Week 
Saturday, December 29 2018

Well, we had some unrehearsed moments this morning and that’s what my message is about …..

The original Christmas story, that original pageant,was totally unrehearsed!  The rehearsal comes when we try to reenact or retell that wonderous story. And it may be an elaborate event with a cast of hundreds and hi-tech backdrops and lighting effects. Or it may be a simple manger scene with children dressed in home made outfits. 

But, when it comes to putting children in a Christmas program, even with all the rehearsing… How do you rehearse those unforgettable memories that are made, when two shepherds decide to joust and begin sparringwith each other using their shepherd staffs in the middle of the presentation? 

How could we possibly rehearse for the moment when Susie does not like her angel costume and starts shedding her wings or she wants the costume that Janey is wearing and tries to trade while you’re trying to keep everything moving? 

How do you rehearse for the moment when one of the wise men trip on the steps and spills frankincense all over the baby Jesus and Mary? 

How do you rehearse for a sweet little six year old who has on a sheep costume, but because they borrowed her doll to play the part of Jesus, she keeps taking her dollout of the manger and insists on holding it, while Mary tries to take it away and put it back and they get in a fight.

Or what about the boys who, decide that singing, “Silent Night, Holy Night, Shepherds quack, at the sight” is too funny to resist?

A man and his family went to visit his mom for Christmas. Everyone went to see Santa together as a family. The children one by one sat on Santa’s lap and told him what they wanted. When it came time for the little boy, he yelled out " I WANT AN ATARI ONE GAME STATION!" After a slight silence he repeated it," I SAID, I WANT AN ATARI ONE GAME STATION!"   The father intervened and said son, you don’t have toshout, Santa Claus is not deaf!"  His son replied "I know Santa is not deaf dad... but grandma is!" (those unrehearsed times of our lives!)

Life comes at us with no rehearsal!! For that matter, how could we possibly rehearse for what happens in real life, when an unexpected pregnancy occurs or when life begins and someone struggles with the pressure from family about whether or not to abort the baby? How does a homeless person, who finds themselves on the streets, rehearse for the night when they have no place to sleep in heavenly or earthly peace for that matter? How do we rehearse for the times in life when the inn which may represent our job, or a broken marriage, has no room for us? How do we rehearse for those ugly things that occur, such as the sex trade which victimizes the holy and innocent children of the land?

In most of life we actually do not get a rehearsal. When the first time comes to change a fresh filled diaper from our sweet baby, we don’t get a rehearsal. On the first day the child comes home crying from school, because they were bullied, we don’t get a rehearsal. When our teen-ager misses his, or her, first curfew and we don’t know where they are what they’re doing and if they are safe. Or when the new boss on our job is upset with us and we know others have been let go in the company and then it happens, he hands us our notice.

When we get a call that our child has been rushed to the hospital, we do not have the luxury of a rehearsal. When our mom or dad or spouse dies suddenly, we do not get to rehearse the event first. 

We do not get a rehearsal; and yet, every time we invoke the Holy Spirit, every time we cry out to Father God for help, every time we call on Jesus, we are rehearsing who to turn to when there’s no where to turn. Every time we trudge through the maze of disappointment, and keep going instead of quitting, we are rehearsing. Every time we suffer loss, and we refuse to let it identify us are rehearsing for the unrehearsable.

Jesus showed up one day, when we least expected, unannounced, in a remote region and a little knownplace where it was said that “Nothing good can come out of Nazareth”. But because Jesus showed up there –in the middle of an obscure, isolated nowhere place,Jesus can show up anywhere. And Jesus does show up  -- unannounced  and unrehearsed. Un-choreographed and un-vetted by the crowds. Jesus does not wait for things to be perfect before he arrives; he shows up in the imperfect things.

I love the word “Noel”…. In the latin it is “Natus” or to be born…. Or to put it simply it is God with a belly button. That describes the depth of his commitment to us, and the extent to which He went to relate to our human condition, that He might bring us out and bring us into a higher life!

In other words, Jesus shows up in that sickness of our child, in that broken commitment, in that lost opportunity, that failed deal… the emergencies, the disasters, the good, bad and ugly of our lives….

One of the more amazing things to me about the Christmas story is that it can’t happen without the people who are in the story.  God does not just swoop in and make this story happen all by God’s self.  Instead, for the story to happen, there needed to be willing people of faith and hope in the story. God doesn’t just want to do things to us, but He wants to work through us to do things! Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the wise men, and the angels all drawn together to make it all happen according to God’s plan. And so, it is still true today, in our time, we will have an opportunity to do the same thing:  By choosing to participate in the story, we will make the story of God’s redemptive plan happen.

So we find that the Christmas story, just like our lives, is a story of unrehearsed surprises …. Planned by God, but unrehearsed by the folks involved.

Elizabeth and Zechariah, Mary and Joseph, King Herod, the shepherds, the innkeeper, and the wise men, were all unprepared for the surprise that heaven was putting together… 

Like those life changing events that come unexpected for each of us…. Surprise!…. You fell in love…. Surprise!…. He asked you “Will you marry me”…Surprise!…. You’re pregnant…. Surprise!… The baby’s coming whether you are ready or not…. Surprise!…. Now, Your baby just told you they’re getting married…. Surprise!…. You’re going to have a grand baby…. Surprise! 

Faith and trust in God is one of the best rehearsals we have, before all the surprises that come our way, and the surprises just never end! It would be safe to say that most of life is uncharted territory !!! ….A great example is when the church was praying all night for Peter who was in prison, and as they were praying in faith, he suddenly knocked on the door, they were amazed and shocked that it happened so quick… They were standing in faith but they were surprised at how God did it!!!

 Could it be that as we move on from Christmas, we tooeasily throw the Spirit of Christmas under the bus…

 I’m talking about the spirit of giving without expecting anything in return but simply relishing the joy of bringing happiness and cheer into the lives of others. 

 I’m talking about Peace on earth, which doesn’t begin out there somewhere, but in us where all those opportunities to disagree and argue and offend one another are waiting. That’s   about being able to disagree without becoming disagreeable….

I’m talking about that unrehearsed thing we do called forgetting…. …. We don’t like forgetting so we make out lists for everything…(and then we forget where we put the list) Jesus came to this earth, so God could forget our past and no longer hold it against us…. But welabel people for the rest of their lives, because we don’t like what they did to us 10 years ago ….What if we made up a list of things we plan to forget each day,”…I will forget the offence, the hurt, the injustice, the rejection, the abandonment, and no longer let it identify me or that person…. One of the great gifts that we receive from the Lord is forgetfulness… it’s part of the salvation package… He forgets our past, our failures and our sins…  

Oh, yes, and as we move on from Christmas….whatabout “Good will to men”… to truly rejoice when others succeed and prosper. To be able to cheer for someone who gets the promotion that you didn’t get… to be able to congratulate the person who got the new car you wish you had, or the nice home that you would die for!!!  

Speaking of good will toward men…..and unrehearsed moments…. I heard a little story, that one day the Pope decided that he would help relocate all the Jews in Rome to the Holy land. Naturally there was a big uproar from the Jewish community because even though the Pope had made a decree, many wanted to stay. So the Pope made a deal. He would have a religious debate with a member of the Jewish community. If the Jew won, the Jews could stay. If the Pope won, the Jews would all be relocated. They met together for about 15 minutes and everyone was shocked when the Pope stood up and said, 'I give up. This man is too good. The Jews that want to can stay.' All the cardinals surrounded the Pope asking him what happened. The Pope said: 'First I held up three fingers to represent the Trinity. He responded by holding up one finger to remind me that there was one God and Father of all. Then I waved my finger around me to show him, that God was all around us. He responded by pointing to the ground, showing that God was also right here with us. I pulled out the wine and the wafer to show that God absolves us from our sins. He pulled out an apple to remind me of original sin. He had an answer for everything. What could I do?' Meanwhile, the Jewish community had surrounded their representive, amazed that this old, almost feeble-minded man had done what all their scholars had insisted was impossible! 'What happened?' they asked. (you have to remember what I said before, to get the punch line) 'Well,' he said, 'first the Pope held up 3 fingers indicating that the Jews had three days to get out of here. I held up one finger indicating that not one of us was leaving. Then the Pope waved his finger around, indicating that this whole city would be cleared of Jews. I pointed down at the ground, letting him know that we were staying right here.' Then he took out his lunch, and I took out mine….

The angels of Christmas are such an awesome and amazing part of the Christmas story….They come clothed in glory and splendor, they bring a touch of heaven in earth… but notice that it is to much less glamorous folks that they first appear…. Folks that aren’t anywhere nearly as impressive as the angels. They’re just a bunch of regular Joes who were out in the field, trying to work and sleep and keep the sheep from being eaten. They’re guardians of the night, when beast of prey are prowling and danger lurks in the darkness. We might liken them to our military forces, or the police force, the fire department personnel, and perhaps those spiritual guardians such as pastors, prayer warriors, and oh yes, parents and grandparents who are dedicated to our safety and security. The unsung heroes who stand vigil as we go about our lives. Perhaps we should be reminded at Christmas to be grateful for this group of modern day shepherds who stand watch throughout the year in our lives and not leave our appreciation at the Christmas story…. It was the shepherds that shared with Mary and Joseph everything that the angels had said. And everyone who heard them speak were amazed by it. And Mary heard their words, and Scripture tells us that she “treasured them in her heart”. I trust we will treasure the message so much that like the shepherds, they went out to tell whoever would listen. Friends, Christmas truly brings to the world a message that everyone should hold as a treasure, so valuable, we are compelled to share with all who are in our circle of influence. 

Christmas is a lot like life in another way…. There are so many things that always try to push it out…. The day after Christmas, they are already putting up Valentine’s displays…. (So much for the twelve days of Christmas). The retail world will go on no matter what, and it won’t be too long until Christmas is out of our minds for another ten months or so too.        And by the time we make it to next Christmas Eve, the whole cycle will begin all over again.

January 6th is the official day to take down your decorations… Disney takes theirs down on January 15th, However the Queen of England keeps theirs up till Feburary 6th…. 

It was no different 2000 years ago, in no time at all, the angel singing had come and gone, the shepherds went back to keeping their sheep, the wise men headed back to the East, and Mary and Joseph got word that Herod was killing babies throughout the land… (There’s always a Christmas party pooper) We now know that Jesus was probably 2 years old when the wise men from the east arrived….

Matthew 2:12 And being warned of God in a dream that they (the wise men) should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. v13  And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and remain there until I bring you word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. v15  And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son”.

  Our challenge goes beyond keeping Christ in Christmas…. It’s a challenge that lasts all year long, in all the surprises of life, in all the unrehearsed times we have and will live 

  through. (And come on folks, why do we allow the world to dictate to us where Jesus fits in our Yearanyway) I’m not talking about leaving all your decorations up…. Some folks do 

  that, and we wonder about them…..HMMMMMM… But get with me here….He’s not only the reason for the season but for every month of the year!

 The Christ of Christmas is the Great Shepherd of the New Year… He’s the true Victor of the Super Bowl of life…. He’s the great lover of Valentine's Day… He’s the King of Kings on     

 Presidents' Day… He’s the King of Saints on St. Patrick's Day… He’s the humble servant of Palm Sunday…. He’s the resurrected, risen Lord of Easter… He’s the Holy Spirit sender of   

 Pentecost…. His banner over me is love on Flag Day…. Independence Day He is my source of freedom…. Labor Day He is my rest…. Halloween He destroys the works of the evil one… 

Daylight Saving Time He is my Redeemer….. Election Day He is undefeated…. Veterans Day He is the lord of armies…. Thanksgiving He is my Praise…. And We’re back to Christmas! 

Let’s not keep Him in Christmas but let Him out to be the reason for our whole year of life….

Proverbs 3:22  “So shall it be life unto your soul, and grace unto your burdens. v23 Then shall you walk in your way safely, and your foot shall not stumble. v24 When you lie down, you shall not be afraid, you shall lie down, and your sleep shall be sweet. v25 Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it comes. v26  For the LORD shall be your confidence, and shall keep yourfoot from being taken”. And that means in all the times of life we didn’t rehearse for!

As we carry the Spirit of Christmas into the year ahead…. It becomes a year of favor and a year when the Christ of Christmas is the Lord of the whole yearthrough!!!…..

Posted by: AT 08:44 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, December 19 2018

Isaiah 14:24 The LORD of hosts has sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought it, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand:

If God created this puzzle, certainly, He already knows how it all should fit together, to achieve the best possible outcome…. When Adam and Eve blew it, God sent

Jesus reclaimed us and made us new creatures in Christ… and at that point, there were a lot of things that became predetermined in our life and journey…. 

He did all that he did so that we could become all that we could be….

I like the words of former President Ronald Reagan when asked who he thought Jesus was. He said “This uneducated young man with questionable origin, had no earthly property and who himself left no written word even though He said that He was the word, has for 2000 years, had a greater impact on the world than all the rulers, kings, emperors, conquerors, generals, admirals, scholars, scientists and philosophers who have ever lived -- all of them put together. How do we explain that - unless he really was who he said he was?" 

The evidence of Jesus’ deity demands a verdict…. A response is mandated from every person: a response of allegiance or a response of rejection.

To acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Son of God sent to us to be Savior and Lord requires a change in how we think andlive and what priorities we should have in our lives.

Here’s where people get lost. They cannot unconditionally submit themselves to Christ, because if they allow themselves to acknowledge Him as Lord of Lords, means they must deny their own right to run their lives. Thereforethey deny the Deity of Christ–to defend their own lifestyleand independence from God.

A wealthy lawyer was told he had only weeks to live, so he told his wife to stuff two pillow cases full of money so he could grab them on his way up and prove all the folks wrong who say you can’t take it with you….. weeks after the funeral, his wife was cleaning in the attic and found the two pillow cases in the attic. As she stood looking at them, she thought to herself… “I knew I should have told that old fool to put them in the basement if he wanted to grab them on his way out”……

Look at the credentials given to Jesus that show the placeHe should have in all of our lives…

John 5:19 Tells us that Jesus and the Father are one…. It also tells us that the Father God, gives Himself fully to Jesus without measure….

John 5:21 The Father has given Jesus the ability to impart life…

John 5:22 The Father has made Jesus to be the one who will judge all mankind in the final judgment.

John 5:26 Jesus had power over His own life… when He would be born, how He would be born, where He would be born, How He would live, and die, then rise from the grave. 

Matthew 17:5 When Jesus was baptized, they all heard the Father say “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”. 

Then again in, Luke 9:35 on the mountain of transfiguration, God spoke and they all heard Him say “This is my beloved Son, Listen to Him”…. 

It’s not the church, or a theological system, or a religious ritual or a spiritual tradition, that is worthy of our honor and devotion…..IT IS JESUS,  

And it is in our devotion to Him, that we will be drawn by the Holy Spirit, to be involved in all the other things as well….

This kind of evidence of Jesus’ divinity demands a response from every person: a response of allegiance or rejection and denial.

Romans 8:29  For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 

v30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. 

He foreknew all of us in the womb, but notice he predestined us (it is His will for us) to “be conformed to the image of His Son”…. (How many know lots of folks aren’t doing God’s will)

If you are a Romans 8:29 Christian, you need to know that before you got ill, you were already predetermined for healing… What if before you had that emergency situation or the time when everything went side ways, the outcome was predetermined…What if while you were trying to unwrap your stuff and make sense of it all, God already had His “All things work together for Good” process all planned out for you…. By the words of your mouth you are snared and by your confession, you overcome…..

Joseph was stabilized in the midst of all the betrayal and rejection which he went through by his understanding of the predetermined plan of God for His life….In spite of being thrown in the pit, being pulled out and sold as a slave, then having his reputation ruined by Potiphar’s wife, then thrown in prison….

Listen to what he said….Genesis 50:20 But as for you, you thought evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

It was the knowledge and confidence of God’s predetermination which gave boldness to the church when the apostles were beaten, arrested, threatened and then released because of the predeterminant purpose of God… 

Listen to their prayer in Acts 4:28 “All of this is so that You may do whatsoever Your hand and Your counsel which was determined before to be done. v29 And now, Lord, behold their threatenings, and grant unto Your servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, v30 By stretching forth Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of Your holy child Jesus. v31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, 

and they spoke the word of God with boldness”. 

The courage and boldness which was infused within the early church because of the predetermined counsel of God, should inspire us as well!

When it comes to predetermination, there are two extremes…Calvinism and Armenianism. Calvinism takes the concept of predetermination a bit too far and declares that it is already decided who will become Christian. The flip side of that is that on that basis, it has already been decidedwho will not become Christian and therefore they are doomed for Hell from the womb.…..Armenianism takes it too far in the other direction and takes the view that we live with one foot on a banana peal and the other foot dangling over the fires of Hell. God’s word takes neither of these extremes and we call it Grace!

2 Peter 3:9 Tells us…..”The Lord is not slack (confused, uncertain or fickled) concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance”. (so the immediate question would be if He has predetermined that all should repent, why don’t they) 

And the answer is “Free Will”.. Choice, options, and variables…. But all with a single purpose as Romans 8:29 proposes “That we all be conformed to the image of His Son”….

In light of this, we must accept that we all are born with incredible opportunities and gifts in common. The outcomes are then based on the choices we all make concerning those opportunities and gifts. To blame God, or say there is no God, is like the man who saw people with long hair and began to doubt the existence of barbers. Or who drove through an auto junk yard and doubted the existence of mechanics. 

There are many who see all the evil and wickedness in the world and doubt if things can ever change…. But even though evil and wickedness is predetermined to get worse, it shall not prevent God’s incredible and amazing outcomesand Hallmark endings that are sure to take place in spite of all of that!!! (Can I have a Hallelujah)

Abraham’s vision was the revelation of God’s predetermined outcome…..Isaiah 62:10 “Go through, go through the gates; prepare the way of the people; raise up, raise up a highway; gather out the stumbling stones (there are always stumbling stones to be taken out) lift up a standard for the people. v11 Behold, the LORD has proclaimed (predetermined) unto the end of the world, Say to the daughter of Zion, Behold, Your salvation comes; behold, His reward is with Him, and His work goes before Him. v12 Andthey shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed (reclaimed and repurposed) of the LORD: and You shall be called, Sought out, A people not forsaken”.  

Every Godly person in the bible had a choice, and every ungodly person in the bible had a choice….

If you have ever played the game of chess, you know that each move that a player makes leads to a set of possible responses by the opponent. Often several choices will lead to the same result no matter which choice you then make,because the options have been narrowed. Good chess players see the possible consequences to their moves in advance. A really good player will predetermine their moves to cause their opponent to do things the way they planned to achieve the desired outcome. Yet, throughout the game each player has free choice in the moves they decide to make.Someone has said that “we make our choices and then our choices begin to make us”….

Let me use a little story that I heard here…..An Indian Chief felt that it was going to be a bad winter so he sent all the tribe out to collect wood. As the pile grew, he felt that he ought to confirm his feelings with the local weather forecaster. "Tell me”, He said, “is it going to be a bad winter”?" "Yes it’s starting to look that way," said the forecaster.

So the Chief told the tribe that they didn't have enough wood and sent them back into the forest again. Once againthe Chief called the forecaster to confirm what he felt.

"Yes, It’s looking more and more like a really severe winter" replied the forecaster.

The Chief looked at the wood piles, and decided that more wood was needed and sent the tribe back to gather more. The Chief called the forecaster one last time.

"Just how sure are you that it's going to be a really severe winter?"….. "Look" said the forecaster "its definitely going to be the worst winter on record - the Indians are gathering wood like crazy!"  (we make our choices and then our choices begin to make us!)

Winnie and I just recently celebrated 55 years of marriage. And that’s because about 56 years ago I invited her to be my date at the college valentine party… that choice is still deciding other choices I make….There were obstacles to overcome and a lot of interference and distractions that tried to keep that choice from taking place, all the way back to my  childhood in spray NC. and the twists and turns moved me in a lot of directions, till I came to that moment of the big Valentine date!

Think of all the things Satan has tried in his attempt toprevent God’s predetermined plan and provision for you in your life journey from taking place…..and here you are… There’s still a lot to do and further to go, but He who has brought you this far, will finish the work He has begun… (do you believe it?) 

Sin will always cause you to bite off more than you can swallow….Satan bringing sin into the garden through deception, lies and their disobedience, was meant to disqualify the human race and totally eliminate them from fellowship with God… What followed was a generational history of rebellion, compromise and godlessness to the point where it says the whole world except for just a handful of people had rejected God. At the flood, the future of the human race rested on the shoulders of only a handful of people. With each generation the entire plan could have failed but God predetermined that a remnant would remain…. 

Isaiah 53:1 Who has believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? v2 For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground”.

What a description….it got so bad that all that remained was a root…. No stalk, no plant but just a root is left! How many times did Satan think He had stopped the predetermined purpose of God… but there was a root… just a glimmer of hope against hope…. Isn’t that what the bible says…. We dare to hope against hope, and believe what we cannot see!God only needs a root…. It may be out of sight, but something is stirring where you cannot see it… God is working…. God is on the move!

Mike Robinson is a maintenance worker for United Airlines at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. He had just left work and was on his way home, at 4 am, in the morning of January 13, when a tire on his car blew out. He lost control of the car, jumped a median and slammed into a guard rail, where the car immediately burst into flames. Robinson remembers trying to get his door open, but it was jammed. Then, as flames and smoke began to rise around him, he lost consciousness.

Del Wolgramm is another airport worker who was working in a hangar within view of where the accident occurred. He just happened to step outside at the very moment the car jumped the median. Seeing the accident, he ran to the car. As the flames engulfed it, Wolgramm pried the passengerdoor open and pulled Mike from certain death. When he was later interviewed, Robinson called Wolgramm his hero and said, "He saved my life." 

When Mike was in that car, trying desperately to escape the flames that were encircling him, everything must have seemed lost, he thought. All hope must have been gone and death must have seemed certain. And then, out of nowhere, a hero arrived to save the day.

Romans 4:18  And when all hope was gone, Abrahambelieved in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, “So shall yourseed be”. (Would you tell someone…. “So shall your seed be”….

I’m here to tell you that your hero is on the way, when all seems lost and it all seems hopeless, and his name is Jesus!He’s been planning to show up at just the right time and place! He’s been arranging and coordinating and adjusting things before you ever get there, so that it can turn out right….

Paul wrote to the church of Corinth as they were going through persecution and trials…..

1Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my brethren, be steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

I love the scripture that is so descriptive as to how God sets the devil up for failure and sets His children up for success and prosperity, in spite of how it may appear at the time.         

2 Kings 19:28 “Because you rage against me and your tumult is come up into mine ears, therefore I will put my hook in your nose, and my bridle in your lips, and I will turn you back by the way by which you came. v29 And this shall be a sign unto you, you shall eat this year such things as grow of themselves, and in the second year that which springs  of the same; and in the third year you shall sow, and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat the fruits thereof”. (Man, I like that part about God’s hook in Satan’s jaw)

Satan tried to destroy Job, but he came back with twice as much…. He tried to destroy Paul, but only spread the fires of the gospel… He has tried to destroy the Jewish people but they only made the desert to blossom like a rose, against all odds…. What satan meant for evil, God has meant for good!!

Before sin entered into the world God predetermined that we would need a savior, so that we could receive grace and forgiveness….

Before there was any sickness or disease, God predetermined that Jesus would come as our cure and our balm… (by His stripes we were healed)

Before there was the bondage and deception of the fallen prince of darkness, the Father laid the plan for the “truth that would set us free”…

Before there was a world in decline and the process of corruption, the plan for a new heaven and new earth was set in motion….

We say that “200 years ago, we were healed” but I want to say that before the foundation of the earth were laid, God planned and put in place our healing!                                                    

Hebrews 4:3  “For we which have believed do enter into His rest, for He has sworn in earnest, that they may enter into His rest (His finished work), since the works were finished from the foundation of the world”. ……That’s predetermination!

As a result of the reality of predetermination, we extract a new perspective and fresh application from Hebrews 11:1 

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. v2 For by it the elders obtained a good report. v3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were made of things which do not appear”. 

That’s how faith people live, they believe by faith till faith becomes sight….. It’s as real as what you can see, hear, taste and touch….

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the lord has predetermined that they be delivered, that they come forth victorious, that they succeed and prosper through them all!!!!

I close with the words of Paul as the storm was tearing the ship apart which was taking him to Rome…. Folks were panicking and throwing themselves into the turbulent seas, others were hanging to planks and anything that would floatas a last chance of survival, so they could make it to land…. Hear Paul’s words…

Acts 27:22 And now I encourage you to be of good cheer: (wait a minute, we’re dying here) for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but only of the ship. 23 For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, 24 Saying, Fear not, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God has given you all thosethat sail with you. 25 Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.”

Paul knew that no matter what was thrown at him, he was supposed to arrive where he was going…. He knew the power of predetermination…And because he knew, those who were with him would have the same covering of protection and provision…. 

You’re here today and all you’ve got is a rainbow that says“IT SHALL BE”… Hold on to that, because that’s your life raft to keep you moving forward to the place where faith shall become sight….What He promised when the sun was shining will be true when the storm comes! That’s what the rainbow above the storm is all about…. It’s your promise that God’s “It shall be” will come to pass!    (Does anyone have a witness?) Give Him praise that He who has brought us this far, will finish what He has begun in and through us!!!!

Posted by: AT 09:30 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, December 10 2018

When we were younger and could only afford older model cars, I spent a lot of time in auto junk yards looking for parts to repurpose, reclaim and keep them running…. 

Winnie loves to watch the cooking program “Chopped”. So guess who else watches it whether he wants to or not…..? I said, it’s a cooking program, but it has a twist to it. Each contestant is giving bazaar ingredients from the mystery basket, to combine in order to make something tasty, appealing and judged worthy of winning. The central objective is how well they reconstitute these normally non-compatible ingredients…. And the one who does it best will come out the winner….

As I was considering these words “Repurposed and Reclaimed” which the Holy Spirit dropped into my spirit applied, I came across the following scripture…. 

Jeremiah 18: 1 “The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, v2  “Come, go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.”  v3 so I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. v4 The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good unto him. v5 Then the word of the Lord came to me, v7 Can I not do with you, O house of Israel, just as this potter has done? says the Lord. Just like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand….”

Entire depressed areas of cities are revitalized to become bustling market places….  An empty warehouse was repurposed to be an artsy restaurant… We have repurposed this School auditorium as a sanctuary…..An unused loft becomes and extra bedroom…. The entire land area of Key West was a tangled jungle off the beaten path used only for a water stop, until John W. Simonton, saw it’s potential as a deep water port and bought it for $2,000.00 in January of 1822. He lobbied Washington to establish a Naval base here to bring law and order to the island and succeeded in 1832, and the rest is history!

Creative minds not only see what a plot of land, a piece of furniture, or a building used to be, but also what it can become. They can take something that is broken, discarded, and forgotten and adapt it for a different purpose in order to show its hidden, unrealized value and usefulness.

When you hear the parables of Jesus, He takes the ordinary, everyday elements of our world and re-purposes them to tell us something about the extraordinary Kingdom of God and He opens a spiritual truth in all this…. It might be sowing seed, keeping sheep, baking bread, drawing water from the well, vine grafting, harvesting wheat and grapes, and different types of soil…..

Certainly our God, the creator Himself, can see not only what He created, but is able to bring forth it’s unrealized value and potential, when it becomes broken, worn out, overlooked or discarded….. He gives ordinary things a new reality…. He is showing some of us a new reality for our lives in this place we are at in our lives….

One night in 1935, Mayor LaGuardia of New York, showed up at a night court in the poorest ward of the city.  The judge of that district had a reputation for being insensitive and harsh in his sentences.  If you went before him you know you would get the maximum sentence the law allowed. 

On this particular occasion, Mayor La Guardia dismissed the judge for the evening and took over the bench himself.  In his first case, the officer brought before him a very poor and needy older woman who was caught stealing bread and milk to feed her grandchildren. After she pleaded guilty to the crime, The Mayor said “I have to punish you, so it’s 25 dollars or ten days in jail.”  It was obvious she couldn’t pay the fine and that she would go to jail. 

So the judge out of his own pocket paid the fine for her.  He then fined everyone in the courtroom 5 dollars for living in a city “where no one cares enough that a person has to steal bread and milk so that her grandchildren can eat.”  The hat was passed around, and the woman left the courtroom with her fine paid and an additional $100.00 in her purse.

The truth is that we’ve all come up short at some points in our life….How many of us have thought about things in our past that we wished we had another chance to do it over again much differently….

This woman came to the point of brokenness before she could get help….

The power of brokenness is often the pathway to change…..There are miracles in the breaking andthere is power in the broken pieces…..The storm that was sent to break you will be used by God to make you…..We may not like to hear it but we can’t be used for God’s greater purposes until we are broken. We don’t like to hear it, because in our brokenness some of us think we are ruined, unworthy, and no longer desirable or useful.Certainly we all need to feel viable, contributing, valued members of the family, our jobs, our community and society…..

Yet, what if the breaking process is part of God’s plan to repurpose you, reclaim you and bless youabundantly? And then through you to bless othersbecause of the brokenness, not merely in spite of it. Listen to what David says to us about this….

Psalms 51:17 “The sacrifices which God requires are a broken spirit. A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will never despise”. 

If you were to give a child a glow stick, they are very disappointed with the plain, drab stick until it is broken. Then they become very excited and take great pleasure in the glow which lights up the object that they did not appreciate before. How much like the glow stick are we. As we begin to glow through the process of our brokenness, there comes a greater appreciation and deeper insight concerning what has value and worth in our lives. Our joy begins to spring from a deeper source….

We need to Re-Focus…..Soon after the dawn of creation, humankind made a colossal, costly, and fatal shift. We disregarded God’s purposes back in that ancient garden. Adam and Eve and those after them, lost their purpose because they lost their focus… Someone has said that sometimes I have to let go of what we are in order to become what we can be…..

The apostle John puts it this way…. 1 John3:2 “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall  be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. v3 And every man that has this hope in him examines himself”……. 

Yogi Berra, the well-known catcher for the New York Yankees, was known for his banter that was about distracting the hitter. Hank Aaron, was the chief power hitter for the Milwaukee Braves.Aaron was at bat and Yogi was trying to distract him by saying stuff like, "Henry, your shoes are untied…. Henry, you’re on the plate….Henry, you're holding the bat wrong. You're supposed to hold it so you can read the trademark." Aaron didn't say anything, but when the next pitch camehe hit it into the left-field bleachers. After rounding the bases and tagging up at home plate, Aaron looked at Yogi Berra and said, "I’ll let you read the bats, while I hit the balls”… (You’ve got to know your purpose and not get distracted)

In the garden of Gethsemane we are told that when Jesus needed his disciples most – and he is in agony and struggling so intensely that his sweat became drops of blood… at that most critical hour of history, instead of watching and praying, they fell asleep: “Could you have not have stayed awake and prayed just one hour?” He asked them….. they got distracted….

Such is the Kingdom of God. The kingdom of the one, whom we learn in scripture, neither slumbers nor sleeps–a God who is awake to you and to me in all of our grief and brokenness.

Our chief Purpose is to get folks to look to Godand give Him the rightful place in their lives.

Matthew 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth: but if the salt has lost it’s saltiness (purpose), how shall it be salted? it is therefore good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. v14 You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. v15 Men do not light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick, and it gives light unto all that are in the house. v16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven”. 

I think of the man who went to the doctor and said, "Doc, you gotta check my leg. Something's really wrong. Just listen to my thigh, you'll hear it! "The doctor placed his stethoscope on the man's thigh, and he hears, "Gimme 50 bucks. I need 50 bucks." "I've never seen or heard anything like this before. How long has this been going on?" The doctor asked. "That's nothing Doc. Listen to my knee." The doctor listens the man's knee and heard it say, "Man, I really need 40 bucks. Please give me 40 bucks!!" "Sir, I really don't know what to tell you. I've never seen anything like this." "Wait Doc, that's not all. There's more, just listen to my ankle," The doctor listens to hear the ankle pleading, "Please, I just need 20 dollars. Lend me 20 bucks, please." "I have no idea what to tell you. There's like this in my medical books," and he frantically searched all his medical books. Finally he tells the patient… "Based on my life’s work and all my previous experience, I can tell you that your leg seems to be broke in three places." (Well, if you have God as your partner in life, you’re never really broke)

God only knows what could happen when the world really sees the dramatic difference that Hemakes in all human relationships, as a father, mother, daughter, son, worker and neighbor when we really discover our purpose….God’s people should be the holiest, happiest, healthiest, most peaceful, and most helpful people on the planet! It doesn’t mean we don’t have it hard, with challenges and difficulties like everyone else… but the difference is that we see the greater purpose in it all!

The bible tells us that on one occasion folks tore the roof off to get in the house where a Jesus gathering was taking place!!!

Titus 2:9-10 “The world cannot possibly begin to believe in the reality of an unseen God, extravagant in mercy, lavish in goodness, bent on redeeming and reconciling and restoring creation, until we ourselves are living object lessons of this very thing.”

Our heavenly Father is the greatest repurpose expert of all… (HE IS ABLE TO REPURPOSE NOTHING AND PRODUCE SOMETHING) So if you have nothing to work with, He has no problem starting with that!....He took nothing(because there was no material to start with) andmade the planets, the moons, and stars throughout the universe came from nothing. Out of dirt and clay He fashioned the first man’s body and then breathed life into him. He took a rib out of the first man and refashioned, or repurposed it, and brought forth the first woman.

He took all of us who were spiritually dead and doomed because of the fall, who were on our way to God’s spiritual garbage pit know as Hell, and He cleaned us up spiritually with the blood of Jesus, and He repurposed us and changed our eternal destination….

I mentioned earlier about having the right focus, and we read in …Colossians 3:1 where Paul wrote, “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Give priority to things above, not to the things that are on the earth.”

President Kennedy gave a speech in 1961, declaring that by the end of the decade, the United States would land a man on the moon and bring him home safely, though he did not live to see ithappen in 1969. He wanted support from every American. He said in a speech, “In a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the moon— it will be an entire nation. As he was touring the space center, he passed a man, and he asked him what he did at the center. The man said, Mr.President, I mop the floors around here, and I’m putting a man on the moon! He not only saw his role but he saw the greater purpose of the role he was fulfilling!

When we see the bigger picture connected to what we are doing as we serve Christ, it’s another way of repurposing our efforts and being part of something bigger than ourselves….. In all the things we do, in all the ways we do it, we’re ushering in the Kingdom of Heaven….

As we sing and worship, we’re ushering in the kingdom. As we give and serve, we’re ushering in the kingdom. As we simply love and care, we’re ushering in the kingdom!

King David had lost his purpose when he wrote Psalms 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God,and renew a right spirit within me. v11 Cast me not away from Thy presence; and take not Thy holy spirit from me. v12 Restore (repurpose) unto me the joy of Thy salvation; and uphold me with Thy free (Nawdeeb… willing, liberal, generous) spirit”. 

There are individuals who create sculptures from junk metal…. Now If a metal sculpture made of old discarded, junk metal could take a look at itself, it might continue to see itself as just a pile of old scrap metal that has just been rearranged in a different form and shape. The sculpture may not see what the artist or others see and know how beautiful it now is because it still thinks of it’selfas junk.

Likewise, even now as Christians, we may look in the mirror and just see the same old person, not really seeing how we have been remade and repurposed by the Master redeemer Himself. We don’t usually see the work that God has done on the inside because we are distracted by the outside stuff…. On a spiritual level Father God has totally reworked us. So much so that Paul said that He has raised and elevated us and set us right up there with Jesus. We are now different than who we were before because we are already citizens of Heaven just waiting for Jesus to use us as He desires and for the purpose He has in His own plan. 

The greatest re-purposing that history will ever record, is when God the creator, became a man who suffered as we do, was tempted in all manner as we are, then was subject to one of the cruelest forms of death by crucifixion that is possible, and rose to present the victory to the Father in our behalf…. Because of this He was able to send the Holy Spirit unto us to minister in His place, and a group of ordinary, unlikely fishermen, a tax collector, guerilla fighter (Judas), a physician and a tax collector became extra ordinary, as they were re-purposed by the power of the Holy Spirit! Fishermen became fishers of men, a tax collector began to see people’s true value, a physician was used to bring healing to the soul and spirit!!…..

He is still re-purposing ordinary folks today…. The College professor or Missionary is not above the taxi driver, the housewife, or the parking lotattendant in God’s sight. He sees us all according to our faithfulness and obedience to His word. God invites all of His Children to join Him in the great and noble vision that He has for the earth.​

Romans 8:11 “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken (re-purpose) your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you”. 

God paid the ultimate price to fix what was broken in us. Christ took our place so we no longer had to be diminished or displaced, and we could be repurposed as a new creation. The old has gone and the new has come with its re-affirmation of value, usefulness, inclusion, and beauty upon and within us. It is this good news that God sees what a Peter, a John, a Mark, a Matthew, a Paul, a Timothy, and what we ourselves can be and do as we allow the master potter to take the clay and put it back on the wheel from time to time, and release it’s full purpose and usefulness…..

Galatians 3:13 “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, cursed is every one that hangs on a tree: v4 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith”. 

The next time you’re out and about Key West, I trust you’ll think how it was until someone saw it’s potential and dedicated themselves to bringing forth it’s value and usefulness, and really, God has done the same thing with each of us. He has bought us with the ultimate price that He might bring forth our full potential….He has always planned an amazing future and a successful out come for us, and put an undying hope within us that is eternal…. 

I close today with 1Corinthians 6:19 “What? Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which you have fromGod, and you are not your own? v20 For you are bought (reclaimed, redeemed, repurposed) with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's”.

If we are bought with such a price as God has paid, then we are His, and not our own. We now live for His glory and His pleasure…. For it is by grace and not of ourselves, that all the credit and the honor, and the glory might be His…. 

Let’s declare the Closing Prayer together……

In the name of Jesus, we take possession and claim ownership to every God given promise. We declare breakthrough concerning freedom from regret, poor self-worth, and hopelessness. We declare that we shall be equipped, enabled, and prepared, in Jesus name. We dismiss and cancel out every thought, image, and toxic pattern of defeat and failure which we have allowed, that is anything less than total healing, restoration and what God has planned for us. We declare that there shall be no place in our lives and that we are not productive, valued and increased, in Jesus name. 

Let every good thing devoured by the enemy be returned 40, 60 and 100 fold, now, in the name of Jesus. Let that which hinders us from the greatness You have planned for us, begin to be broken and gone, now, In the mighty name of Jesus. Let all imprisoned, misguided and misused potential begin to blossom, and come forth now, in the name of Jesus. We dismantle every assignment against our homes, our career, and our personal lives, and we  rip out and destroy everything that Satan has tried to insert, that our children and their children to ten generations shall be free from the lies and deception concerning God’s purpose in and through them.  We declare that the garments of reproach are removed, so that favor and honor may come. 

We receive grace in place of judgment, mercy in place of penalties, generosity in place of greed and covetousness,  and love and forgiveness in place of anger and blame. I ask that all You want to say to me, and be to me and do for me, will come to me without hindrance or distraction. Come into my heart with your kindness, goodness and righteousness that I might be the new creation You want me to be. Transform my thinking, my praying and my very being before You. Where there is pain, let me show mercy and compassion. Where there is self-doubting, let me bring a renewed confidence in Your grace and acceptance. Where there is error or misunderstanding, let me bring understanding, patience, and forgiveness. I ask for greater vision, and discernment to recognize the power and resources I have in You. Lord, May You be glorified in every situation and circumstance in my life, in Jesus' mighty and wonder working name. AMEN.

Posted by: AT 12:39 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, December 04 2018

(those are a couple of funny sounding words because we don’t communicate in Hebrew) but it’s about knowing the will of God in the major and not so major decisions of life…..Those times when you need guidance from beyond yourself…

I want to talk about God’s Method of Speaking to His People both under the Covenant of Abraham and the Covenant of Grace.                                         

You cannot put God in a box, because apart from his written word, God is not going to put everything in black and white before we need to know it. The moment we think we have figured out how God moves and works in a given situation, He does things that are totally outside the box and that’s when we get a glimpse of how supernaturally amazing He really is! God loves us, but sometimes in His leading, He comes to teach us and as uncomfortable as that is at times, the lessons are all well worth it! He tells us to call, and I will show you!!!

A man was totally impressed with a pastor’s sermon, which was very convincing and emotionally moving,about preparing for death. He approached him after the service, complimented him and said that he would like the pastor to do his funeral when he died. “Of course”,the pastor said, and he pulled out his calendar and asked when he would like to schedule it. Well, we want to know God’s will but not that precisely!

Let’s start with some quick background concerning the Urim and Thummim….

In the Old Testament God spoke to his people, by various means to communicate with them at important times in the life of the nation. Some of the most amazing means of communicating with His people was during the time of the Tabernacle in the wilderness and the first Temple during the reign of King Solomon. God gave very detailed and specific instructions concerning how the tabernacle was to be built, along with all of the furnishings that were to be inside, and the manner in which all sacrifices and worship was to be done. 

He also gave very detailed instructions on how the garments of the High Priest were to be made. 

Every part of the garment of the high priest carried a type and shadow of Christ within it, and every part of it still has an impact upon worship today, even in the modern church. The outer garment, called “The ephod”, was constructed very specifically as God had commanded. There were stones on the shoulders, on the breastplate, and there were two stones inside a pocket behind the breastplate that was covered with 12 precious stones; each with the name of one of the tribes of Israel etched in its surface.

Exodus 28:30 And you shall put within the breastplate, the Urim and the Thummim; and they shall be upon Aaron's heart, when he goes in before the LORD: and Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart before the LORD continually.

In the Hebrew language, the word "Urim" means ‘lights, or enlightenment", and can also mean, “to set on fire.’…."Thummim" means ‘perfection or integrity" and also speaks of ‘completeness and innocence” In the Greek language, they are translated to mean, ‘manifestation and truth". These were clear indicators of God’s desire and intention in important decisions effecting the nation. Jewish scholars indicate that one stone was black or “no” and the other was white or “yes”….It could also indicate guilt or innocence and even mean favor or disfavor….Which stone means no or yes, has been lost to antiquity….

As a side note, the words Urim and Thummim, are never in the singular, because they are integrated with the 12 stones in the Ephod, so they are plural nouns, since they interact together to indicate the will of God. Hebrew tradition says that the Urim and Thummim caused letters in the 12 stones in the breastplate that were engraved with the names of the tribes, to glow so that it spelled out a message. Other traditions state that when the stones glowed, a message from God came to the priest, to explain what the glowing stone meant….

We are given a very good example of how God used the Urim and Thummim (the yes and no stones). Abiatharthe priest, had gone to David bringing with him the ephod or breast plate… Scripture tells us that it was a time, when all of the families of David’s army had been captured by the enemy, and the army had begun to turn against him. David was in a real funk….

1 Samuel 30:6 And David was greatly distressed; for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God. v7 And David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech's son, I pray you, bring me the ephod. And Abiathar brought the ephod to David. v8 And David enquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I pursue after this troop? shall I overtake them? And he answered him, Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them, and without fail recover all”.

On three separate occasions, David used the ephod to inquire of the Lord what he should do in the face of the enemies of Israel. Hebrew writings indicate that all the stones in the breastplate would glow when Israel went to war to indicate that God was with them and the large stones on the priest’s shoulders would flash with bright light, declaring that the battle was the Lords…Hallelujah!

The last account in history, of these stones being used for guidance is the record of Ezra using them to determine the ancestry of the priests who returned from the Babylonian exile, so he could reinstitute the priesthood in Ezra 2:63. They were rebuilding a nation after very devastating times when their very existence had been threatened….

Sometimes you feel like the Los Angeles weatherman Fritz Coleman, who had relocated to California and his Mom and Dad called to ask how he liked it after a year of reporting the weather. That year, included severalearthquakes, several wildfires, extreme winds, record flooding, and even some tornadoes. So he wrote home to his mom and dad and said.. "Dear Mom and Dad, California—is far more than just a state, it's an Act of God Theme Park." (We will see more and more of that before He returns…. Oh, how we need His guidance)

Well God chooses to get our attention in many ways. The Urim and the Thummim were used in the Old Testament, but now we have a better way. We have the leading of the Holy Spirit, the Word of God and the very presence of God's shekinah living within us if we are Born Again.

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.      

Just as the priest had the witness of God’s spirit throughthe stones that were in the Ephod… We today have the witness of God’s spirit within the Ephod of our spirits! 1 Peter 2:4 refers to believers as living stones which has some reference to the manner in which God revealed His will through the Urim and Thummim and used them to show others the way.  Without direction from God, we can easily fall into the trap of our enemy who seeks to steal kill and destroy. As long as we follow God and seek his will, we will escape the traps of the devil.

One night a house caught fire and the young son was forced to flee to the roof. The father stood on the ground below with outstretched arms, calling to his son, "Don’t be afraid, Jump! I'll catch you." But the boy cried out in terror, “Where are you Daddy, I’m afraid, where are you?” The dad knew the boy had to jump if he was to save his life. But all the boy could see, was flames, and smoke, and the blackness of the night. He was afraid to leave the roof as his father kept yelling: "Don’t be afraidson, Jump, I will catch you!" But the boy protested, "Daddy, I can't see you, I’m afraid." His father calmed his fears by replying, "It’s Ok son, just trust me now, you can’t see me, but I can see you and that's all that matters."

The Book of Hebrews has this to say about how God speaks to his people beginning at Hebrews 1

Hebrews 1:1 “God, who at sundry times (pol-oo-mer…. In just the right time) and in many and various ways spoke in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, v2 He has in these last days spoken (in just the right time) unto us by his Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds. v3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. v4 Being so much better than the angels, as he has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than them all”.

He’s telling you now, “trust me, even though you can’t see me, I can see you”…..

God is not limited in his means of communicating withus and he can choose any method he wants at whatever time he wants. Sometimes his method of speaking is through dreams and visions; sometimes through audible voices; sometimes through signs and wonders, and even miracles; and sometimes he uses ways that are only meant for a time and a season, and then those methods may never be seen again. The apostles cast lots to see who the Holy Spirit would have to replace Judas…

But I like what one church sign said… “To get in touch with God try knee mail”…..

In our day, the most reliable and easily understood method of communication that God has with his people is through the written word of God, and through the gifts of the Spirit, which we call, “The Speaking Gifts” as well as dreams, visions, and circumstances. There are closed visions and open visions. There are angel visitations and theosophies (which are appearances of Christ himself) I have had several of these, I don’t have time here to speak of those….

He will also give us Wisdom (called a discernment gift) from the Mind of Christ to help us to understand more fully and act more wisely on the revelation, on the teaching, and the Knowledge, or exhortation that we have already received. It will come as a new way of seeing something we already knew, so we can apply it correctly to a current situation or it may be an understanding of something that is confusing to us andwill help us to be better and more productive in the kingdom of God.

2 Timothy 1:6 “Wherefore I put you in remembrance that you stir up the gift of God, which is in you by the laying on of hands. v7 For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind”. 

Paul is exhorting his spiritual son Timothy, who is pastoring the church of Ephesus, as he waits in a Roman prison to see what the future holds for him….

Paul is clear that the church leaders are to lay hands on the believers and stir up the gifts that are within them by the Holy Spirit. It is important that we also understand the importance of laying hands on ourselves, if no one is around to agree with us and stir up the “Speaking, discerning and knowing” gifts….

Jesus himself spoke of this, in John 7:38  He that believeth (continually believes) on me, as the scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. v39  (And this he spoke concerning the Spirit”)

Discernment and soundness of mind are pretty important…. Speaking of discernment…..

A church organist was asked to play for a big convention at her church, with the theme posted on the church sign… “Wisdom and discernment in the body of Christ”…. She couldn’t find a baby sitter for her 6 year old son, so she decided to just put him on the floor in the organ loft and give him some toys to play with. As the service progressed, an usher rushed into the loft and informed her to take her son off of the small keyboard to the side of the organ. Her son had been playing “Three blind mice” on the church  steeple bells! ( not the song you want for a wisdom and discernment conference) discernment can make a big difference just when you need it most…

Ephesians 3:16 “That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man, v17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, v18 May be able to comprehend (the gift of wisdom) with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height. v19 And to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that you might be filled with all the fulness of God”. 

Praise the Lord, the veil of the temple has been torn in half… no longer is the fullness of the glory of God confined behind the curtain of the Holy of Holies. It has now been opened wide to reveal the glory of God through the light of Christ. 

He is our Urim ( our “light of enlightenment", and the one who “ sets us on holy fire.”)

He is our Thummim, (our “perfection, our integrity, our “completeness” and our “holiness”… Our “manifestation of God’s truth”)                                    

The word Urim, begins with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and the word Thummim, ends with the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet… and it tells us that He is the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end…the first and last… the answer to your question… Your go forth, and He is also your be still and know that I am God”!!!

Matthew Henry is the well known bible commentator,and his father was a Presbyterian minister named PhilipHenry. The woman who won Philip Henry’s heart was an only daughter named Katharine, who was the heiress of a considerable fortune. Her father objected to the union of his daughter with a member of the clergy. "You see," he said to his daughter, "he may be a perfect gentleman, a brilliant scholar, a Godly man and an excellent preacher; but he is a commoner, and we do not even know where he comes from!" "True," repliedKatharine, "but we know where he is going, and I would like to go wherever he’s going with him." As believers, we would do well to have this same persuasion….

We may not always know the way and the destination, our heavenly Father leads, but we would always be wise to go with him!

He is the stone that the builders rejected, who is now become the head cornerstone….

Jesus, as the great High Priest, makes manifest the counsel and purposes of God and looking to Him, we find all the answers to our every question and problem, even before we knew we had them.

Jesus is walking in our midst…He is enlightening our hearts and minds through the inbreathed Word of God…..He is working by the Holy Spirit to bring us all to a place of perfection through both His justice and his grace as we exercise our faith in Him and yield ourselves to His will.

We are entering into the darkest hours of world history that will ever be, and yet we are also going into the most glorious and victorious hour that the church will ever experience on this earth! Glorious light in the midst of darkness… Supernatural help in the time of great need!

Oh, friend today, how amazing is it to know that the Living Word, the very presence of Christ within you, is enlightening your heart and soul to see and know the very will of God and voice of the Lord, no matter what the situation or the circumstance!

He is a very present help in time of need!

I can call on him and he is near, and He answers me in His own way and time if I will steady myself before Him, quite my spirit and listen!

I can seek him and find him when I seek him with all of my heart!

I know that like ourselves, you face situations every day, where you need the modern day Urim and Thummin in the decisions and choices you must make in your home, your job, and your relationships….

Lamentations 3:22  It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions they fail not. v23 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. v24 For the LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him”.

We saw today that Paul instructed the churches to stir up the gift of God by the laying on of hands in 2 Timothy 1:6…. 

I want our staff to come and let’s stir up these God given gifts and abilities in your situations…..whatever they may be….

releasing and receiving that which God by the Holy Spirit has made available to each of us….We don’t know what the week holds but He does…

Out of your inner most being allow the rivers of the Spirit to flow…. Come, let us believe together for God to open and release His supernatural Urim and Thummim that is located in our Spirits, that we may more clearly receive His guidance and Direction….

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