Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Story of Redemption

This Video was posted on Facebook. It is not mine. It is however an awesome story of how God Redeems a persons life! Gods blessing to you Antonina L Griffin.

Jesus Draw Me

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Submit to God, return to the Almighty and you will be restored

Submit to God, and you will have peace; then things will go well for you!
If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored - so clean up your life.
Job 22:21, 23

You will be restored!

Who doesn't like something that has been messed up to be fixed? Do you not prefer something that has lost its ability to work to be restored to workable order? Is it not a good thing for your possession that is broken down to be restored to newness and lifted up? Of course these are all "yes" answers. We all enjoy seeing something restored. Did you know restored is a synonym for redemption? It is also in the definition.

My dad watches HGTV a lot. He likes a show called Flee Market Finds. The name reeled him in and then he found out it was a competition show. Allow me to explain. There are 2 teams of two people. Usually siblings  friends or spouses. The host of the show challenges them to go out and find old, unusable, trash and refurbish it. Give it a new purpose or restore it original purpose. That is only the beginning. The competition comes when the teams set up beside each other in the flea market. There they set out their items, price them and attempt to outsell the other team. They work hard to convince people coming by that 1. there restored item is needed and 2. it is worth the price it is marked. Some of the pieces remain useless even with help while others return to usefulness.

We can become useless to God.

When we slack off in our Bible reading and prayer time we grow cold and distant, and it would happen in any relationship. We create distance we begin to listen to our heart more than God. Our senses are dulled to the moving of the Holy Spirit and our witness is, if left to deteriorate, tainted. This is not something that happens over night, it is a slow process. Look at the analogy of the frog in a pot of water comfortable with the warming water until suddenly he finds himself in danger. Now in a pot of boiling water and unable to escape. The frog is doomed with no hope of escape.

I am glad to have the knowledge that God gives second chances and redeems us from our pots of boiling water! It takes some action on our part by going to God in prayer and repenting. We give control of our life back to Jesus and He works in us helping us clean up our life by living holy. Just as at first salvation you will now:

1. Take delight in God
2. Look to God
3. Pray and God will Answer
4. Commitment to God is strong
5. Succeed in whatever you do
6. Light will shine on your path
7. God will help you and those you pray for

Redeeming work is Gods awesome work in us. No matter what has happened He will receive you when you come to Him and redeem you. He is great at taking what others would call worthless and make them full of usefulness. He takes us broken, tainted, and damaged and makes us wonderful tools of His grace, mercy and love. Beaming with the reflection of Jesus we love like God and amaze, baffle and astound the world.

Return to God, Clean up Your life and Be Restored.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Can You Do Anything to help God

  Can a person do anything to help God?
Can even a wise person be helpful to Him?
Is it any advantage to the Almighty if you are righteous?
Would it be any gain to Him if you were perfect?
  How can a mortal be innocent before God?
Can anyone born of a woman be pure?                                  
Job 22:1-2, 25:4

Here we have Ellphaz and Bildad making a hard argument  Job has been complaining of the wicked avoiding judgement and trouble like he has. I have never suffered just like Job but I do live with constant pain. Daily there is some part of my body that hurts in varying degrees. It does keep me from holding down a full time job, but it also frees up time to pray and study Gods word. We all have things in our lives that are difficult to live with. They are different with all but just as real in every case. Job was suffering and it was wearing at him.We all need to be careful when friends begin to seemingly complain, they may just need an outlet. Pray as they speak for God to guide your words and actions back.

So Ellphaz and Bildad challenge Job (you and I) with 3 challenges:

1. Can you do anything to help God?
2. What advantage is it to God if you are righteous?
3. How can you even be pure before God?

God is powerful. He is the creator of all things out of the "formless and empty darkness" according to Genesis 1:2. Gods very breath, His words alone have power to speak into existence and give life to everything we can see, touch, smell, dream, experience and more. God has the world in His hand like a marble, and yet He is standing beside you as you read this. He is all knowing. His plans are laid out, working out and can not fail out. He was never created and will never cease to exist. God sets each star into place and knows when they will die, just as He knows the days of our lives. God can not be out done, He can not be undone and He can not be redone... He is one of a kind, the real thing and completed original 3 in 1 Father Spirit Son. God owns the cattle on a thousand hills, His armies are so vast they can not be numbered. His riches are beyond our wildest imagination and His power overcomes death and the grave, just ask Jesus. Gods words are life, they are able to convict, convince and create you as a new creature. He alone is God. There is no one like God. What does God need, He is complete. So it is correct, we can not do a single thing to improve, increase or enable God. He is self sustaining, self existent and self reliant. Can you and I do anything to help God be God?

No we can not.

Next Ellphaz backs that fact up with another statement asking what advantage, what gain are we to God even if we are righteous? Can you here the underlying hopelessness in Ellphaz words? He goes on to say in his speech that the only reason God noticed Job is because of his sin.

How Far Off Base!

I want to offer to you that  we can be a great advantage and gain to God when we are righteous. Holy living is after all what God requires. Righteousness is simply "right standing with God". We were created for Gods benefit, not our own. God decided to make the world for us to live in but He did it all so humanity and He could be together. God wanted someone to love, He wants someone to choose to love Him back. Is God any less God when we choose not to love Him, no. God is the same from the beginning to eternity. However to think that we do not hurt His heart when we deny, betray and sin against Him is complete denial. God loves us and wants that to be mutual. His blessings and provision, gifts and surprises all rest on how each of us respond to Him. It gives God great great joy to hear our praise. It thrills Gods soul to see us walking in His statutes. He is flooded with laughter when He watches us overcome the world through Christ! Yes we are "gain" to God. As we submit and do His work, Jesus is lifted high and all people are drawn to Him. When we choose to Love God, He is in turn able to actively love us back. It is what He desires to do most.

God wants us redeemed!

The problem is in the comment Bildad the Shuhite adds, "How can a mortal be innocent (righteous) before God, can anyone born of a woman be pure?" The-answer is clearly laid in scripture time after time - No. We can not stand right before God, we can not be pure, we can not live holy and we can not do anything to please God or cause Him gain. We can not, but He can.

How can a mortal be innocent before God? Under the blood of Jesus Gods Son that's how, but friend it is so much more than just standing right before God! It is joy in the middle of sorrow. It is victory when everything pointed to failure. It is peace in the middle of the storm. It is health in the middle of the flu season. It is putting 1,000 to flight that intended to harm you. It is being completely and totally loved and accepted. It is trusting God when you haven't got a clue only to find out it was the best path!

How are we gain to God, we are His prized creation. When we choose to submit and obey, also called LOVE, His ways all things become new. God is thrilled and exalted with our choice. Yes we are the benefit of so much, and could never repay it but we are a joy to God. When we love Him He is able to actively  Love us right back.

Love God with all your mind, heart and soul.
Just Love Him.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

God Might Kill Me But He is My Hope

God might kill me but I have no other hope.
But this i what will save me, I am not Godless! If I were I could not stand before You.
Job 13:15-16

God Might Kill Me!

Job was sick and expected to die. He actually wanted to die just to escape the agony and pain. Job had asked God to spare him and take his life. The King James says it this way, Though He slay me. Job did realize that God Himself ordains our time on the earth. In the very next chapter he says in verse 5 God has "decided the length of our lives" and no one can add to it. So Job admits frankly "God might kill me!" and was saying it may be my time, it will come one day or another and this may be that day. Then he makes a statement right behind that, "but I have no other hope!" meaning I hope in Him, and rightly so. God is the hope giver, even before the cross He gave the hope of the promise of the cross.

That hope is alive in verse 16 when Job proclaims he knows what will save him. He is not Godless. In the King James, the word salvation is used and the Hebrew word is Yeshuah, salvation, welfare, deliverance, prosperity or victory. If anyone ever needed victory Job sure did.

Lets talk about trees for a moment, over in chapter 14 verse 7 Job says, a tree can be cut down, but it will sprout and grow new branches. That is its hope, the process repeated over and over. But when people die, he says in verse 10, their strength is gone and then where are they? I think Job had an idea of eternity with God. Not fulfilled then, but it is now. Job was telling these men around him that God may take his life, but he would be safe! How?

Redemption stands me up right before God!

Job said if he were Godless then he couldn't stand before God. For him that meant a lot of rules and sacrifices.

What about us? For us it means
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul.
Abide in Me and I will abide in you.
If you love Me then obey my commands

It means whosoever will receive and follow will stand right before God. Period. No long list of rules, no sacrifices just love and obey. Faithful servants always can be found in right standing with their master. I am glad that God can come and cause us to WANT to love and obey Him. You know that is not a natural or normal action for any of humanity. When we finally receive the One who loves us more than any other person on the planet, the One who can really complete us and the One who bring us true freedom and joy .... our lives are changed and peace rests with us. Redemption is powerful. Redemption is strong. Only one thing can stop its wonderful work and that is your will. Remember God does not go against our will.

Once we give ourselves to the redemptive work of Jesus, the sky is the limit. We must trust and continually move forward with God, never looking back. And who would look back when the sight of victory and heaven is always before us in the loving eyes of our Salvation, our Redeemer Jesus.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

If Only There Were One Mediating Redeemer

Though I am innocent my own mouth would pronounce me guilty. If only there were a mediator between us, God and I, someone who could bring us together.
Job 9:20a, 9:30

If only there were one.

What we  know about Job is that he feared God. He obeyed God and gave acceptable sacrifices for himself and for his children. We know that God trusted him and that God had blessed him. We can also perceive that Job was open about his devotion to the ways of God.

Here while afflicted Job bears his heart. He says he is innocent but guilty. Innocent guilt. Simply existing he is guilty by Gods standard, although by the worlds Job was perfect. I find it interesting that Jobs friends never once mention him sinning against people or himself. They accused Job plenty, but only of sinning against God. It was obvious in these three mens' eyes Job had done something to God. The stark truth is that just like us, Job had innocent guilt.

Innocent Guilt.

1. Innocence by definition is to be free from moral wrong, moral meaning the rules of right conduct and distinction between right and wrong.

2. Guilt by definition is the act of having committed a crime or moral wrong.

These definitions are our own. We can apply Jobs description of himself to ourselves... we too are innocently guilty. How is that possible you ask? Many, many people stand unaccused before the congregation of this world, their peers. The moral rules of society change rapidly, what was not morally right 10 years ago is not merely okay now, but in some cases embraced as freedom. Humanities moral law evolves to indulge the desires of selfish people in the name of tolerance. So a person can be living against Gods law, and still be found completely innocent by mans law. Innocent guilt.

We can not reach right standing before God. We just can't. It is an impossible feat. On our own we may live a right life but when we die it is an eternity in hell, the just payment for sin. Gods moral compass has not changed and it never will. Job saw that. "though I am innocent (no man can accuse me of wrong) my own words (my existence) pronounces my guilt." Ten verses later He says, if only there were help!

Mediating Redeemer

Job cries out "If only there were a mediator between God and I, someone who could bring us together!". I believe Job desired this. He surely understood the gulf between he and God. He offered regular sacrifice for sin so we know Job understood that sin separated them from each other. I have to wonder here, how much God yearned to have that final sacrifice for sins and be reunited with His creation! Job saw the need for a mediator, a restorer to do a work he could not do. We can not do. Nobody can do.

Job, as we should, looked for Jesus Gods Son. He is after all the only path to God. job did not know Jesus name but he new His description: Meditating Redeemer. We have this Mediating Redeemer in the person of Jesus the Christ! He is all we need to not be found innocently guilty. His blood covers our sin and presents us righteous before God! No more sacrifice, and whats more we are free to boldly enter Gods presence with praise, petition and prayer! Hallelujah  We live now what Job desired and could not acquire  We are blessed beyond measure. Our relationship with the Father, who loves us deeply can be redeemed!

Do you sit in Gods presence? Do you enter His presence boldly and talk with Him? Does Jesus blood cover your life, your sin? It is the most important and wonderful decision you can make.

Pray with me If you desire forgiveness of sin and a relationship with God:

God I admit that I am a sinner and can not help myself. I know Jesus died on the cross to pay for my sin and then He rose again as my Savior. I need Jesus to save me from the penalty of sin that is death. Forgive me of my sin and create in my a new heart to follow You and obey Your commands. Amen

If you prayed that prayer CONGRATULATIONS!
 please do at least one of the following:

Contact me with your good news by email or comment here.
Contact the Pastor of your local Assembly of God Church and tell them your decision
Contact Angelia Carpenter at the Arkansas Assembly of God office 1-501-455-5444 and share your choice.

Monday, January 21, 2013

You Set Your Heart Upon Us

What is man that You should magnify him? That Thou should set Thy heart upon him?
Job 7:17

Hello Job. Most have heard the story of Job, today I am not looking at the testing as much as the fact God was even mindful of Job, and you & I. The first chapter lays out the stage for Job, If you would like to refresh you memory there.

So we find Job at this point surrounded by "friends" who are more than willing to offer their opinions and deductions as to why Job has fell to such calamity. They talk back and forth between one another 3 of the 4 sitting with Job accuse him, Job responds how he not sinned and dishonored God and a younger fella sits with them but is only listening. Our verse today is in the middle of Jobs complaint directed at God. I want to look at three parts of this awesome verse.

1. Gods Regard of us
2. Gods Resolve toward us
3. Gods Redeeming of us

What is man that You should magnify him?

Magnify is also stated as "mindful" and "make much of" in other translations. In the Hebrew we can find the meaning of Magnify is to cause to grow, make great or regard better than another, more important. We tend to reject God and other authority from the moment we realize we can choose to be the center of our universe. Watch a baby, they recognize manipulation fast. They learn to use it to get what they want in the coming years in a struggle to be in control instead of their parents. The parents, hopefully, teach the child through instruction and discipline how to do right.

God from the moment we are born begins His regard of us as the best of all creation. He regards us a treasure and of great worth, even before we give Him the time of day. Nature gives God praise automatically. Nature, including animals do just what God has created them to do. No questions asked. All creation bears witness to Gods greatness and praises Him. But humans, we tend to regard ourselves higher than we should. We need to understand that Gods regard for us is a reflection of His great love for us. Therein lay the basis for Jobs inquiry: what are we that You, God should make a big thing of us. Job knew his own weak estate, but Gods has a reason.

That You should set Your heart upon him?

We all have at some point determined to do something or another. We get focused on the task and set our minds, wills and efforts towards completion of the task. Nothing stands in our way. In this verse the word "set" is the same as our determination. God does regard us above all creation and has set His heart on making something of us. God has resolved to draw us to Himself, in spite of ourselves. Then through second, third, forth and on chances God draws us back to Him.

The second part of this phrase is "Your heart upon him" and we can understand it as saying resolve to refurbish. Watch this, Refurbish means to restore to freshness of appearance or original condition, to clean, to renew. Friend God has set His heart on redeeming you to your original created purpose: fellowship with the Father! He wants to clean you up, shine you, establish you and sustain you! He wants to adorn you with all His promises and surround you with all the richness of Heaven!

No matter what you have said, done or not done that redemption is fully available to you. God neer goes against our will and we must make the choice to submit to Him. Obedience is required and often we will use excuses to deceive ourselves to justify our actions and choices, but remember God requires we faithfully obey and do right.

Hard stuff, sure is. Worth it, the Bible is chuck full of YES stories.

Who am I Lord that You magnify me above creation, that You set your heart on fellowship with me?

 I am, you are, the beloved. His prize, His jewel of great worth.

How will you respond to such intention to redeem through Love?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Great Lengths to Keep a Promise

You intended to harm me but God intended it all for good! He (God) brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.
Genesis 50:20

Joseph, second only to Pharaoh himself.
The great famine has arrived.
His family comes to buy grain.
Lets watch the promise of God continue and unfold shall we?

The brothers being accused of being spies had to leave Simeon in prison and return home. Instructed not to return without Josephs younger brother Benjamin. They are afraid of Joseph and did not return until absolutely necessary. Rightly so they feared Joseph as he could speak life or death over them. Fear also gripped Jacob with the thought of losing Benjamin as well. Being well into the 7 years of famine, they could not continue without returning to Egypt and buy more grain ... with Benjamin.

They arrive and are brought into Joseph home to eat a feast. Now here I want to point a few verses out that describe how the Egyptians really felt about Hebrews. Despise is the word the living Bible uses. In the King James we read the word abomination. An abomination, the Hebrew word TOEBAH and is defined as "a disgusting thing, unclean, wicked both morally and ethnically. The use of the word despise is a good description of this word as it is "to regard with contempt, distaste and disgust, to loathe."

1. They despised the Hebrew people specifically. Genesis 43:32 tells us this plainly. A possible cause for this was the near ruin of Egypt by hordes of lawless wandering Banditti under the name King-shepherds. They reigned for a time, committing the terrible cruelties to people. The Hebrews were not these shepherds but were in fact shepherds by occupation. Fear may have played a fueling role in the Egyptians despising the Hebrews.

2. They despised Shepherds, the main skill of the Hebrews. Genesis 46:34 tells us this. So not only did the Egyptians despise who the Hebrews were, they also despised their occupation. Egyptians held the sheep as sacred and worshiped the Ox - both of which was sacrificed regularly to God. Clearly an Egyptian would never mean good toward or associate with a Hebrew of their own choice in regular circumstance.

But God had plans.

God had promised Abraham his descendants would grow more than the sands and more than the stars, they had to survive the 7 years of famine and prosper as well. So we return to the text of this post:

You intended to harm me but God intended it all for good!

God went to great lengths to keep His part of the covenant  His promise. Getting Joseph safely through all those years to the position of Governor and in high favor in the sight of Pharaoh. Such a high level of favor that Pharaoh and the officials "were delighted to hear" the Hebrews had arrive, Josephs family. Not only did Pharaoh allow them to come live in Egypt but he also gave them the best of the land and all the best Egypt had to offer. As a direct result, the Hebrews grew in great number, live stock and wealth.

God did this.
Not Josephs brothers, Not his first master, Not the Jail keeper, Not the cup bearer and Not even Pharaoh himself. God had a promise to keep and moved in ways no man could to see to it. Even to the point of that a loathed, rejected and unclean people group would be blessed by the ones who despised them.

God never changes.

We too can say, with confidence in every situation "You meant it for bad, but God meant it for good!" and be assured that He is working things towards the promises He has given us. Lots of promises. We must remember that our part of this covenant, although small, is important: to faithfully serve and obey God. It is difficult to see this in life often. It is hard to remember that God is moving mountains and creating doors and making paths for those who love Him to prosper and walk in His promises... but it is just as true today as it was for Joseph and his family. I challenge you to allow God to redeem your thoughts, your outlook on your life and open your eyes to see His hand in everyday life working for your good things meant for bad.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Everything was a Success

The Lord was with him and caused everything he did to succeed.
Genesis 39:23

First here is a thought to set the stage for today's entry:

Sometimes the seemingly lack of success is in Gods reality the biggest success of all.
Keep this in mind as you read.

Lets talk about Joseph. Favorite of his father, kept at home and educated in math and speech. He had a big family and comfortable existence  Not really much to worry about, until the dreams started. Dreams of being in charge and his brothers, mom and dad bowing to him. Some dream. His dad rebuked him, his brothers continued to hate him in jealousy but more now.

Jump forward a little and now we have Joseph after going to take a message to his brothers in an empty cistern. At this God has spared his life through the words of the oldest brother Rueben. Then while Rueben is gone the other brothers sell Joseph to slave traders, sparing his life a second time from he hands of his brothers.

Now we see Joseph prospering in Potiphars house. Not only Joseph but his master as well for Josephs sake.  All is well with one exception, Potiphars wife and her intense lust for Joseph. Looking we see Josephs faithful service, not only to Potiphar as his master but to God as his heavenly master. Josephs success is in his service to God. Still yet he has trials to resist and overcome. We all know what happens, she gets angry because Joseph refuses to sleep with her. It was more than just the refusal, he called it what is was: sin. She cries attack and Joseph is thrown in prison.

2 years later.

Joseph has prospered to the point of being in charge of other prisoners and is fully trusted by the prison keepers. Even as a prisoner he has been elevated above others. during this imprisonment he interprets two dreams, one of coming death and one of coming restoration. The cup bearer is asked by Joseph to remember him as he serves the Pharaoh. Two years after this dream, after the cup bearer has been restored to his position Pharaoh is distressed by dreams. The cup bearer remembers Joseph and speaks up. Joseph is cleaned up and brought to Pharaoh. Once again as many times before, Joseph does two things:

1. Acknowledges God interprets the dream
2. Gives the entire interpretation as God gave.

Immediately Pharaoh sees Joseph is gifted, favored and wise all from the God he serves. In a few minutes Joseph is promoted from trusted prisoner to second in charge to the Pharaoh only.
picture taken at Newark City Lake Park in Newark, Ar

look at it:

1. death by brothers hand - saved to cistern
2. death by beast or starvation by brothers - saved into slavery
3. Prosperous life ends with accusation - thrown in jail instead of death
4. favor in jail and meets the cup bearer - interprets pharaohs dream and promoted

Do you see how God used all these events, not just the good ones to redeem the intentions of Josephs enemies to propel him towards Gods purpose and destiny. Joseph would save his own family and many more. Tomorrow we will look at that. Today remember that God is with you as He was Joseph and causes all you do to succeed  even if that means avoiding the worse plans of our enemy by enduring a lesser situation.

 Sometimes the seemingly lack of success is, in Gods reality, the biggest success of all.

To our own thinking, success would be to not be sold into slavery to start with. In Gods eyes and plans it was the catalyst to get Joseph where he needed to be in order to become what God had planned. Friend there are times in our lives that we think are bad and Gods hand is not helping, but He is. He always is. He has promised to. I have asked God to show me His view of some of my own past situations and He revealed to me how by His hand alone the outcome was much better than the enemy had planned for me. Ask Him to do the same for you.

Trust is hard when hurt and accusation is involved, it really is. Choose as Joseph did to praise God anyway, to bear witness to the goodness of God right smack dab in the middle of your trial. Then watch God redeem your life, work it all to your good because you love Him and obey His commands.Pray in the Holy Spirit often, encouraging yourself and press forward to victory.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Redeemed Relations

As Jacob approached Esau he bowed to the ground 7 times before him, then Esau ran to meet Jacob embraced him, threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. Then they both wept.
Genesis 33:3-4

Siblings have competed and fought since the beginning. Esau and Jacob were no different. They wrestled inside Rebekahs womb and at birth Jacob had a hold of his first born brothers heel. As young lads they grew and took on their own identities. Esau, Isaacs favorite loved the outdoors and was a skilled hunter. Jacob who was Rebekahs favorite preferred the slow pace and quiet of begin at home. The Bible does not say but I am sure the conversation of birth rights came up from time to time. It does paint a picture of a smart and cunning Jacob obtaining the birth right in his brothers time of weakness. A picture is also painted of Esau taking the birth right lightly in his hunger and need.

Soon Isaac becomes very old and wants to give Esau his rightful blessings. He simply tells Esau to go hunt some game and make him his favorite stew then he will bless him. Esau leaves and Rebekah is fast to help Jacob deceive Isaac and obtain the full blessing for himself. When Esau returns all his father can give is a less than desirable blessing of serving his brother and living by the sword. Esau vows to kill Jacob. Jacob was deceitful and Esau blamed all his trouble on Jacob. We know how he goes and finds Laban and works so many years for him. To refresh your memory you may read yesterdays post. None the less it is safe to say the relationship between these twin brothers was one broken by hate and fear.

Now we see a nervous Jacob obeying God and going back to his home, trusting Gods words "I will go with you.". As he approaches Esau, Jacob bows to the ground 7 times before his brother in humility. Esau runs to Jacob, embraces him, throws his arms around his neck and kisses him.

They both weep.

Redeemed Relations.

Can you relate?
Many can.

Harsh words, bad situations, beliefs, children fights, misunderstandings and the list goes on. We do not see how God worked redemption of the relationship in Esau's life, but we do see that He did in Jacobs life. The outcome is beautiful, yet it is only possible when we are willing. Jacob had to both obey God and return home and trust God to know what He was doing. In the reward of obedience and trust Jacob saw his broken relationship with his brother redeemed.

Who is it in your life that you need God to redeem the relationship of?
Is it a co-worker, a sibling, a pastor or his wife, a youth or an elder, or even your sibling, child or spouse. The power to redeem that relationship is alive, active and full of power today. Just like with Esau and Jacob God can redeem any broken relationship as we are willing to allow it.

Ask God today to help you travel the road to redeeming broken relations in your life. You may ask, what if they are not willing to let God heal them? I would offer to you this: you allow God to redeem your side of that relationship even if they do not. Let Him heal you and remove any hate, anger, jealousy or guilt so you can be free to love. Then pray as God helps you love that person that He will be allowed to do the same redeeming work in them.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

God Sees, God Redeems

You would have sent me away empty handed, but God has seen your abuse and my hard work.
Genesis 31:42


Jacob has buried his mother and father. He has gone to find a bride and stays at his uncle Labans. Jacob soon falls in love with Rachael. Jacob agrees to work 7 years for Rachaels hand in marriage. Finally they wed, but Laban deceives Jacob and gives him Leah his older daughter. Jacob goes and asks why he has been deceived  Laban uses their custom of the older daughter marring first. Laban offers Jacob to receive Rachael in a week (out of respect to Leah) and to work another 7 years after. Jacob agrees.

God sees.

During the time of work Leah has 6 boys and a girl, Rachael gives birth to Joseph. God gives Jacob increase in family, livestock and wealth even though Laban deals wrong with him, changing his wage several times. Jacob continues to work honestly and faithfully.  Laban is also increased because of Gods blessing on Jacob. He goes to Laban and says please release me to return to my home, Laban agrees to give Jacob the wages of all striped and dotted sheep while Jacob tends them awhile longer. Laban again decieves Jacob by removing all the striped and dotted females. Jacob increases anyway. The sons of Laban soon see Jacob as getting rich off their dad. Laban gets worse in his treatment of Jacob and Jacob realizes how bad.

God sees.

It is time to leave and go. God tells Jacob leave and go to the land I will show you. While Laban and his boys are away Jacob gathers all that is his and leaves. Unknown to all, Rachael steals her dads idols. (I find this a bit ironic he is the victim of deceit like his own.) When Laban finds out he goes after Jacob, accuses him in front of everyone. After Laban goes through all of his possessions and found nothing, Jacob calls him out "You would have sent me away empty handed, but God has seen your abuse and my hard work!" Finally they come to a covenant to basically leave the other alone.

I noticed a few things, Jacob was respectful in spite of Labans abuse and God blessed Jacob. God too this bad situation and greatly increased Jacob in all ways. It reminds me of the 23rd Psalm, "You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemy".

God sees.

How common it has become to find ourselves in similar situations. Seemingly at the mercy of someones hand of abuse. To often we find ourselves cheated, mistreated, misrepresented and the victim of false witness. Many times it is by those who claim to call on the same God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Difficult to be sure, but we must remember that God sees and then do right and restrain our desire to retaliate and justify ourselves. Tough stuff.

Just as God saw all the wrong done to Jacob, He also sees when wrong is done to each of us. During these times God will bless us also, often in the spiritual. Perhaps patience  endurance, grace, love or self control is being refined in us. Maybe the trial is working to strengthen your relationship with Jesus, making stronger roots and faith. Then also as we are faithful to serve and not lash out, others are encouraged in their faith by watching us. I know, that is a lot and it is hard. It is worth it. No matter what the tough people or situation, God always finds a way to redeem it into a blessing for those who love Him.

Just as God sees, God Redeems.

Monday, January 14, 2013

What is too Hard for God.

Is there anything too hard for God? The Lord kept His word and did for her exactly what He had promised.
Genesis 18:14, 21:1


Promises Broken.

Here we see Sarah laugh. She laughed at Gods promise. She laughed at Gods ability to keep His promise. She laughed at her own ability to achieve Gods promise. She laughed.

God had promise Abraham and Sarah a child long before this day. This particular day three men from God, Angels, had come to visit. As they had finished a meal and one of the visitors said to Abraham I will return about this time next year and she will have a child. Sarah was near by and overheard the conversation. She laughed to herself, but God heard. The promised was indeed revealed the next year about the same time.

What is it that causes us like Sarah to laugh at Gods promises?

Limited vision?
Lack of Spiritual understanding?
Fear of failure?

For Sarah, her laughter was doubt of her ability to be used. Do you understand that statement? She did not think God could fulfill His promise because she was old and worn out. She was looking at her ability instead of Gods ability.She was seeing her impossibility instead of Gods possibility. That is not the end of the story. Abraham was 100 years old when Sarah gave birth to their first son, Gods promise fulfilled. Genesis 21:6 is her response of praise and total acknowledgement of it being all the hand of God! She may have doubted, but she remained obedient and faithful then God redeemed her old age!

What has God said He is going to do in your life? Are you doubting you ability to do what God has called you to do? Well I have some exciting news for you: God is really good at using people who are simply willing to do what He asks. That is all He required of Abraham and Sarah. Genesis 17:1 reveals that all God required of them was to serve Him faithfully and live blameless.


The rest of the good news is that God gives us the Holy Spirit to help us carry these two things out. What we can not do alone He gives us the comforter to guide and empower us. He redeems our doubts and increases our faith with His fulfilled promises. God takes our weaknesses and pours on us His strength. He takes our "stuff" and makes it treasure.

Is there anything too hard for God?
-- I think not.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Redemptions Journeys

I want to take this Saturday morning and talk about Redemption.

Redemption is a reality in every Christians life. True you can see examples more obvious when one has been freed from addictions and abuse but that is not the only place Redemption goes. As a matter of fact it is not the most important place.

Redemptions first work is to reconcile us to relationship with God. Surprised? I hope not, lets continue. You see the thing is we can not experience any chains being broken, no addictions broken and no lifestyles broken until we ourselves are broken. Now when I say broken I mean two things:

1. broken in heart
2. broken in mind

Since Redemption's first work is reconciliation, we must be broken in heart to realize we need God. We must understand that Jesus really did suffer, die and come back from the dead. The fact that He paid the required payment for our sins, OUR SINS must be understood. When we come to this understanding that we are going to live, die and go to eternal torture in Hell if we do not accept the payment Jesus paid then we are broken in heart and ripe to receive the gift of salvation. Broken in heart is understanding our own demise and realizing the way out.

Now there is a continuing work of Redemption in us, Praise God! I am sure some of the stories of Redemption in my own life will be in this blog through the coming year, but today let me just say Redemption is awesome. After you choose to make Jesus your Redeemer, head over all your life He will begin to take situations, past experiences and even failures and create newness. Redemption's work, like at salvation, takes broken and damaged lives and turns them to inspiring, amazing and fruitful vessels of Gods love, grace and mercy. Amazing I know. We must be broken in mind to realize our willingness to let God work from the inside out is needed for this Redemption to take place.

Broken is a good thing when it is before God, it makes us open to His potters hands, Molding us and making us into the ultimate you and me. Did you know that? He takes the messes we have made and turns them into victories! How exciting! How can we, how can I say no? Redemptions Journeys in our lives requires willingness. Are you willing?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Serve, Live & Receive

God appeared to Abraham and said, "I am El-Shaddai, God Almighty. Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life. I will make covenant with you."   Genesis 17:1&2

A lot had been going on with Abram, now renamed Abraham. He had found favor with God and now He was making covenant with Abraham. God lined it out very easy:

1. Serve
2. Live
3. Receive

El-Shaddai told Abraham to serve Him faithfully. Serve in sincerity and truth of heart and intention. Some versions of the Bible say "walk" instead of "serve". Clarkes commentary describes this walk: Persevering obedience. Firmly purposed and determined to obey. To serve,God is to walk before Him in sincerity and keep Him always in the forefront of your mind. To consider Gods will for us instead of our own, to inquire His direction above our own and indulge His desires in place of our own - with joy and faithfulness. This service, this walk is a full commitment, not a part time.

Then El-Shaddai said to live. Not just live, but to live blameless. Philippians 2:12-15 tells about blameless living. Paul tells us to obey God, working out your salvation knowing God works in you to both will and do for his good pleasure. It is only through Jesus that we live a blameless life. However, we must strive to do right and keep ourselves from sin.

Lastly El-Shaddai makes a promise. A covenant. In covenant both parties have to do their part. In covenant with God Almighty, He has the joy of pouring His blessings out on those who love Him and Serve Him. It brings Him much happiness to guide, protect and provide for us.


All Sufficient One. After the fall in Eden every human to come would be broken, incomplete and dead. But Praise God we have the All Sufficient One to enable us to every good work! In and of ourselves we could never serve, live and receive. Our ability to ever seek God was lost in that garden... until Redemption. Redemption at the Cross takes our brokenness and makes us useful and gives us a purpose. Redemption changes us from being incomplete to being over filled with love and acceptance. Redemption takes death and gives back life. Life!

Receive .... Life.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Don't Stop Building Altars

So Abram moved his camp to Hebron and settled near the oak grove belonging to Mamre. There he built another altar unto the Lord.
Genesis 13:18

Since beginning this journey of reading through the Bible I have noticed that a lot of altar building had been taking place. I began to think, how can that apply to me Lord. Do I still need to build altars or just stay on the altar of You will? If it was so important then, should we continue to build altars now? This was not just a altar to forgive sin, it was an altar of praise.

Notice a few things in Abrams life here. In Genesis 12 we read of a trial and failure, he lied and told Pharaoh Sarai was his wife. Although God sent plagues on Pharaoh he did not kill Abram but returned Sarai and sent him away unharmed. Next we see in Genesis 13 a time of change and trust. The was no issue between Lot and Abram, but their herdsman were fighting and arguing. So Abram told Lot lets separate and let him choose which land to take. Abram got the worst land but did not complain. Last in Genesis 13 also we see victory. Lot went to his good , fertile land and Abram went to his in Canaan. There God told Abram he would possess all the land of Canaan and his descendants would outnumber the sand.

Then Abram built an Altar.

In our lives we need to build altars.

1. Build altars of Repentance.
2. Build altars of Trust and Acceptance
3. Build altars of Victory.

In times of trial and difficulty we must praise God, praise is a strong weapon and goes well with prayer. Job 33:26 tells us we can "pray to God, be accepted and God will not only receive us with joy but also redeem us to good standing". That my friend is worth building an altar. Whether you have traveled a trial like Abram in deceit or some other failure go to God and build an Altar of repentance that will user in joy and restoration.

In that situation we all face over and over of change. It is not secret that change comes difficult for many, after all it is against our natural tendency for the easy and comfortable, the least threatening. We can Trust God in every change. Psalm 16:11 says of God, "You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever." Direction, Joy (strength) and a Constant promise of heaven should propel us to build an altar of trust and acceptance of Gods plan in our lives. Even in the middle of change we can accept Gods plan and trust He is going to redeem our situations.

In those times of victory it is easy to forget to build and altar. We get so excited and sometimes forget to thank God. Psalm 71:23 is a great guide for the building of this altar, "I will shout for joy and sing your praise for you have redeemed me!" We need to remind God of how grateful we are for all the victories in our lives, including the greatest of salvation.

So why build these altar? For reminders to ourselves. I challenge you to do something to keep track of these altars in your life. You can then go back and read them. It is also a heritage for your entire family to read how God restores, redeems and rescues all of us.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

An Altar With a Sweet Aroma

Then Noah built an altar to God and sacrificed as burnt offerings animals and birds that had been approved for that purpose. The Lord was pleased with the aroma of the sacrifice.
Genesis 8:20-21

All throughout the Old Testament we read of people building altars in places and sacrificing to God what was approved. You could not present just anything to God, it had to be among what He had pre-approved. It was very important that the priests at later times did the sacrifices how God had instructed with the items He had approved. When all was done correct as God required the sacrifice was receive by God, pleasing to God and aromatic to God .

Now we do not need to kill rams, bulls and birds. There is no more grain offerings, no more scap goats to carry away our sin. Jesus has become the final sacrifice needed for the cost of sin. We are, however still required to offer sacrifice to our God. But under Redemption  what can we put on the altar for a sweet aroma. Three words can be used to tell us what kind of sacrifice smells good to God.

1. Pre-Approved
2. Instructed
3. Required

There are two sacrifices that God will always receive: a broken spirit and a broken & contrite heart. Psalm 51:17 tells us God will not despise these two sacrifices.

Our instructed sacrifice is of ourselves. Romans 12:1 tells us it is our reasonable service to offer our bodies as living sacrifices. This is also called our rational worship in heart, mind and soul.

Finally we have required sacrifice found in Gods word. Matthew 5:23-24 instructs us to be reconciled with others before we come to the altar before God.

These are burnt offerings pleasing to God. Each of us needs to strive toward these three sacrifices. How encouraging, to know exactly what to do! As we actively choose to put our will on the altar the redemptive power of God burns it and makes it a sweet smelling aroma. That burning is daily changing us into the image of Jesus the Christ. Praise God! What we could not offer of our own power God steps in with redemption and says "your sacrifice is received and I am pleased."

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Sin is Crouching at Your Door

But if you refuse to do what is right then watch out! Sin is crouching at your door, eager to control you. So you must subdue it and be its master. Genesis 4:7

Our natural tendency is to reject God, to refuse to do what is right not by our standards but by Gods. The day I understood that my heart broke. The fallen state of humans is all about self.

Self Preservation.
Self Indulgence.
Self Advancement.

Sin crouched at Eves door. Desire for the fruit of the forbidden tree was entwined in these self desires. Deception through half truth drew her and Adam to reject Gods one command. Since then we have been first to please self and to reject God. He lovingly draws us to Himself. He seeks to redeem us to Him. From the moment this fruit was taken God made a plan for Jesus to be our Redeemer. Receiving each one who comes to Him with open arms.

 Cain choose to offer God the sacrifice he preferred, the offering that best suited him instead of what God required. Cains offering was not received by God. Like Cain, when we choose to please ourselves we reject God. Sin crouches at the door of our "heart" waiting. Heart being our choices, our intentions and our desires. James 4:17 tells us it is a sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it. God tells us here in Genesis 4:7b sin is eager to control us so we must subdue it and be its master. How do we do this, since there is no good in us?

Through redemption!

Jesus work at the cross breaks the control of sin and frees us to choose to do good instead. When we make Jesus master of our lives we suddenly find ourselves desiring to please God. Our life takes on new goals.

Preserving Gods name.
Indulging Gods desires.
Advancing Gods plans.

With Jesus as our Master we are able to subdue our sin and master them. Our fallen state is redeemed and we are remade to serve and worship God who loves us beyond our comprehension.

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Spirit of God Hovers

The Earth was formless and empty and darkness covered the deep waters. The Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the water. - Gen 1:2 

Formless and void.

Useless and unprofitable.

Empty and dark.

These adjectives describe the Earth just before God created a stunning world and filled it with all that we know, and do not know. Isaiah describes it as "confusion and emptiness, broken". There are still things that science can not explain. We have life on this planet and no other, with no logical explanation. In space we can find over and over the majesty of Gods hand of creation. Our very bodies still hold secrets of life the best studies have yet to understand. 

We are the favorite of all creation. The beloved. Yet often we can find ourselves still in the words of these adjectives. Our life at times void, unprofitable, Empty, dark, formless - confused and empty. 

"The Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the water."

James, Fausset and Brown says:
 "literally, continued brooding over it,as a fowl does,when hatching eggs."  

Brood: to warm, protect, incubate, cover with wings. An eagle broods over her eggs until the are hatched into young fowl. Next she continues to nurture and raise them, finally she teaches them to fly and go out on their own. The Spirit of God brings life. He brings Redemption. Just as the Spirit of God hovered over the useless, formless and dark world and created the Earth and all of creation, He takes our voids, confusion, emptiness, broken and damaged lives and redeems them in our lives.

Every deep water of brokenness and damage is redeemed to great and marvelous usefulness  Things and events in our lives that we hide away in the closets of our heart, they can be redeemed. They can be healed and turned into the beauty of Gods handiwork. In everyday situations Gods Redemption is at work in our lives, if we invite it. There are so many "unknowns" and "dark places" ahead of us. The Spirit of God hovers over these unknowns before we get to them, planting strength, ways of escape and provision for us. Preparing for us good out of bad.

Romans 8:28
We know that all things work together for the good to those who love God, to those called according to His purpose.

In the beginning as the Spirit hovered over this once useless, formless and dark mass He was preparing for the awe inspiring creation of God. In our lives if we allow Him, He will come and redeem every part of ourselves. There is absolutely no place redemption can not travel, no situation redemption can not enter and no event redemption can not remold.  Every aspect of our life is prime with potential in the Spirit of Gods hands to be redeemed by the Creator of the universe!