Monthly Archives: June 2019

Be A Listener

As we walked through Nazareth Village, the had a shepherd there feeding his small flock. The sheep were just about ready to be trimmed so the village could make yarn. I walked around the side and took this photo of the sheep eating. While I was doing that, our guide said something I had never thought of. He said, “Did you know that goats have ears?” I thought, “Of course they do!” Then he said, “Both sheep and goats can hear, but only sheep listen for their master’s voice and obey it. The goats hear his voice and do their own thing.” That’s why sheep have shepherds and goats have herders.

I believe we all can hear God’s voice, but are we listening for it? Hearing is a passive thing that happens just by having ears. Listening is something that is done intentionally. We’ve all be in conversations where we are barely listening to the other person, then we realize we missed the important part. We have to either pretend that we listened to what they said or we have to ask them to repeat it. When the King of King speaks to us, we should be giving Him our undivided attention. If we are merely passively hearing His voice, it calls to question whether He is shepherding us or is herding us.

In John 10:27 Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (NLT). The only way to know Jesus and to follow Him is to listen to His voice. He is constantly speaking to us, so we need to be constantly listening to Him. Ive found that the best way to listen is to be quiet. It sounds so simple, yet many of us are afraid of the silence of sitting in His presence. Today practice being still in His presence and listening for His voice. Be obedient to whatever He tells you to do. Don’t just be someone who hears His voice, be a listener of it.

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Being Visible

One of the consistent things I’ve heard in recent years is how many Muslims are having dreams of Jesus. An Arab pastor in Israel was telling us that he went to a conference in the Middle East and people were given the opportunity to share their testimony. One after one stood up and shared the same thing. They were each visited in a dream by Jesus and gave their heart to Him. He said after several of the same testimonies, he prayed and said, “Why are you visiting them in their dreams?” He heard God say, “Because the Church has disappeared.” He knew then that he needed to do something to be visible in the Middle East.

One of the things I talk to leaders about is the importance of visibility. When leaders are not visible, people don’t know who to follow or start following someone who is. When the Church quits being visible in the market place, in the arts, in public, in communities or wherever, people lose the ability to follow Christ. The Early Church was great at being visible, and they knew the price of that visibility. It’s time now more than ever for us to be visible once again. Without our light, it’s the blind leading the blind. We are to be the light of the world so that the invisible God will be made visible for people to come to.

Colossians 1:15 says, “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God” (NLT). You and I bear His image and are even named for having that image as Christians. When we hide our relationship with Him from others or pull out of the market place, we hide Christ, the visible image of God, from them. It’s time for us to let our light shine so bright that others may see the visible image of Christ in us. We can no longer afford to be invisible in the world. We know the Way, it’s time for us to show the Way. Seek God today and ask Him to show you where and to whom you need to be more visible to. You may be the only Jesus someone sees. Make sure He’s visible in your life, in your actions and your words.

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An Elijah Moment

As I stood on top of Mount Carmel looking across the valley, I remembered the story of Elijah. The land hadn’t seen rain in three years. The now fertile valley was dry and bare. King Ahab was looking for grass to save his horses from dying of starvation. Elijah, whom the king wanted dead, told him to gather all the prophets of Baal and to meet him on top of Mount Carmel. The prophets of Baal made an altar and so did Elijah. They were to pray and ask for fire to ignite the altar. The god who answered would be the real god. After the prophets of Baal had prayed all day with no fire, Elijah poured water on his altar three times then called down fire from Heaven. It consumed the altar from top to bottom drying up all the water as well.

In 1 Kings 18:21 Elijah addressed them, “How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!” (NLT) When I read that, I can’t help but internalize it. Our lives are a constant battle between our flesh and our spirit. We waver between wanted to give into the desires of the flesh and doing what God requires. As long as we go between them, we are miserable as Paul described in Romans 7. According to James 1:8, it also makes us unstable in all our ways. That’s not the way that God wants us to live. In order to live that way, we need to have an Elijah moment in our lives where we force ourselves to choose the way God wants us to live.

Colossians 3:5 says, “So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.” We need to put to death the things that we have put before God. Verse 10 tells us, “Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.” We all have this choice to make. Either we will continue to live unstable, idolatrous lives or we will put on the new nature that’s been given to us. It starts with calling down fire from Heaven into our lives consuming the things that are not of God. It’s a continuous process, but it starts with an Elijah moment.

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A Special Offering

Every where you go in Israel, you find groves of Olive trees. They are part of the culture and history of this country. If you go all the way back to when Moses received the Law, you will find that olive oil was used in anointing, in offerings and in the lighting of the lamp stand that stood in the Temple. Leviticus 14:24 says, “The priest will take the lamb for the guilt offering, along with the olive oil, and lift them up as a special offering to the Lord” (NLT). Just like in the Old Testament, olive oil was a part of the offering Jesus made for our guilt.

Gethsemane means, “Oil pressing”. When Jesus prayed in the garden, we know that He was being pressed by the weight of the situation. He knew that He was about to be betrayed and handed over to be killed. He knew He would feel the stinging of the whip, the piercing of the nails and the crushing of the weight of our sin on Him. The Bible says He sweat drops of blood that night as He prayed because He was being pressed so hard. The oil from the pressing that night was the special offering because it was the first pressing that would have been used to light the lamp in the Temple.

Today, you and I are the light of the world. We must keep ourselves filled with the oil of being in His presence so our lives can burn bright until He comes. When we spend time in prayer and in His Word, we keep oil in our lamps. If your lamp is running low on oil, then take time to get a refill from God by spending time in His presence. We can’t afford to run out of oil that was paid for with such a high price. Our lives are to be living sacrifices that are pleasing to God. Your guilt is gone through Jesus’ sacrifice, so lift up your life now as a special offering and keep it lit with His oil.

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Blessed

Many of us grow up thinking of God as a righteous judge who is out to get them the moment they mess up. Knowing we are human is to know that we can’t be perfect. That means that it’s only a matter of time before God gets mad at us and condemns us. It creates stress on those who think they can overcome temptation with will power alone, and apathy on those who know they can never measure up. Legalism chokes the life out of Christians and creates fear. That fear is used to persuade people into putting on a facade that everything is ok and that they aren’t struggling with anything. It creates a Church who can no longer find healing because they can’t confess their sins one to another.

When Jesus walked this earth, He challenged the legalistic Pharisees constantly. He pointed out their hypocrisy and shed light on how they used legalistic teaching to stay in power. They hated Him for it, but the people loved it. His teachings were authoritative and directed at helping people to know God. He had compassion on the masses, spoke in language they could understand and crowds followed Him wherever He went. While He is a righteous judge, He is also compassionate and loving. He blessed people wherever He went, not based on their status or financial value, but based on their humanity. The Beatitudes in Matthew 5 marked a shift in how we view God. His blessings are available to everyone, no just a select few. Read this excerpt from the Sermon on the Mount and think about how God has and is blessed you because you’re you.

God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.

God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.

God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.

God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.

God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers.

Matthew 5:3-11 NLT

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Sent

After visiting the Pool of Siloam, I knew I had to read John 9 again. Jesus was walking down the street and saw a blind man. The disciples wanted to know who’s fault it was that he was blind. They believed that it was a punishment from God for a specific sin committed by the man or his parent. Jesus replied, “Jesus answered, “Neither. It happened to him so that you could watch him experience God’s miracle” (TPT). Jesus then spit on the ground, mixed it in some dirt and put it on the guy’s eyes. He then said, “Now go and wash the clay from your eyes in the ritual pool of Siloam.” For the first time in His life he could see.

We live in a cause and effect world. We like to find the reason behind things so that we can make sense of it. If we can’t make sense of something, we don’t know how to deal with it. I’ve learned that the things of God don’t always make sense. Why did Jesus have to spit on the ground? Why send him to the pool that means “Sent”? I don’t know, but I do know that we, along with the disciples, get to witness this man experience a miracle that was impossible for a man to accomplish. Even though he faced excommunication from the community, he put his faith in Jesus as the Messiah.

Just as Jesus was sent into this world, you and I are too. Our mission is to help others believe in Jesus. We are to help restore the spiritual sight of everyone we come in contact with. We are to bring light into this world so that others may see and give praise to God. Look around you today. You have been sent to the people you will come in contact with. Will your life bring light or leave them in darkness? Just as the man was sent to the Pool of Siloam, we should send people to the foot of the Cross for their spiritual, emotional and physical healing. When you do, you will watch them experience God’s miracle.

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The Promise Of Humility

Unless you’ve been to Israel, you may not know that Bethlehem is only about 6 miles south of the Old City in Jerusalem. It’s currently situated in the West Bank of Palestine and has been in existence for about 3,400 years. We know it mainly as the place of Jesus’ birth, but so much more in the Bible happened here. It is where Naomi returned with Ruth. It’s where Ruth worked in Boaz’ field until they were married. The had a son named Obed. He had a son named Jesse. Jesse’s youngest son David became the most famous king of Israel. The name of the city translates, “House of Bread”.

I find it amazing that God did so many things in this town generations beforehand to ensure that this would be the place Jesus would be born. If you think about it, Bethlehem is a story of how God exalts the humble. David wasn’t even considered by his dad as a possible candidate to be king. He was an humble shepherd. It was also the humble shepherds who were first given the news that the Messiah had been born. Even the manger was an humble place to house the King of Kings. There’s a pattern there that you and I can’t afford to miss. Humility preceded the favor of God.

In Luke 14:11 Jesus was teaching about humility when He said, “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (NLT). Humility is a mindset of understanding our position as the created being who is nothing without the Creator. That knowledge should keep us hungry to have a deeper relationship with Him. It should cause us to obey whatever God asks of us knowing He will equip us and partner us with those who will help us fulfill His will for our lives and further His kingdom. Great men and women don’t just have humble beginnings, they find a way to stay humble even in success.

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