The Responsibility of Accountability

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11 Because the storm was growing worse
and worse, they said to him,
“What should we do to you so that
the sea might calm down for us?” 
12 He said to them,
“Pick me up and throw me
into the sea to make the sea quiet down,
because I know its;s my fault you
are in this severe storm.” Jonah 1:11-12

While the Captain and Sailors scampered about the ship, alarmed at the growing storm, my mind shifted to our homes and our churches.  I thought about the calamity I have witnessed in my own home, and the season in which it happened in.

The Sailors, though not right with God, were right with their false god, and not being punished for their non belief, but are facing death because of the disobedience of the Man of God.  They are innocent bystanders, doing their jobs, and carrying out their end of the agreement they made with Jonah.  Little did they know, they had come into agreement with someone who was not honoring his present agreement with God.

I wondered how many of us have faced storms because we have come into agreement with someone who is being punished for not honoring their agreement.  God is putting the pressure on Jonah to honor His agreement, and each hand he shakes while in disagreement has agreed to walk his path of disagreement.

Who’s hand have you shaken?

The reality is that Captain and Sailor suffered, because collecting the fare was their main priority.   What has the “fare” cost you?  They were so busy making money.  So busy trying to close deals.  So busy trying to build their business.  So busy trying to build and stock their barns, that they believed they were prospering because they had collected the proceeds from their business dealing.  How many of us have made this mistake?  They had full fare in their hands, and would see they didn’t get a “fair deal.”

We learn in the text that The Captain and the Sailors will suffer far more than the fare they gained from Jonah.  Because they took Jonah on Board, they lost the cargo from other agreements.  Prayerfully they had insurance on their cargo!  Because of this agreement, they will either owe a debt to those cargo they carry, or will suffer  the loss of future gain from merchandise they intended to sale and trade.

What have you lost coming into agreement with disagreement?

Their seaworthy ship is put to the test because of their agreement to transport Jonah.  They enable Jonah to be in rebellion, helping him flee from God, and because of that, they suffer.  Furthermore, the text lets us know they were in a sea that was growing.  The longer you stay in agreement with disagreement, the more stronger the storm will become.

The Captain and Sailor realize that dumping the cargo was a mistake.  It lightened the load, possibly extending the life of the ship, but it failed to deliver them from the storm,  and the storm progressed.  The now realize through the lot, that the thing they needed to separate themselves from was Jonah.  They had dumped the wrong cargo!

The question now is, what do we do with Jonah?

Since dumping the cargo didn’t stop the storm, they paused to inquire of Jonah.  See, Jonah’s God was foreign to them.  They knew how to appease their false gods, and had tried all they knew to appease Jonah’s God.

The storm was about to destroy the ship and they were at wits end,

…”What should we do to you so that
the sea might calm down for us?”…

They were desperate.  Their lives were at stake.  They were ready and willing to do what was necessary to Jonah to save their life and their ship.  Though they valued Jonahs life but in desperation were willing to do what was necessary to save their live and stabilize their ships. I believe we must take a similar stance!

At some point, we must be willing to take the action needed to save the ship. What are you holding onto that could destroy it all? What have you considered so important that you aren’t willing to part with or cast over for future sake? Some of us must begin to ask the question “what should we do…?This “we” tickles me, because I don’t always have the strength and or power to throw the off bring item out on its tail. Sometimes we need the we to work together to obtain healing and strength.

The last piece of this text was Jonahs response. Jonah arises from his sleep, identifies himself as well he problem, and says, “throw me overboard!” Jonah took responsibility for the storm and safety of the people. He saw the danger his disobedience caused, and gave his life so that the life of the innocent could be spared.

Will you take responsibility?

Jonah didn’t want to die, but he didn’t want others to have to suffer from his disobedience. Brothers and Sisters, we need to do the same! When our disobedience is at play, and others are starting to pay, we should be willing to be pay the consequence.

I wondered why he didn’t jump. Surely he could have climbed over the edge. But Jonah said, I don’t have the strength to jump, so I need your help to face the hand of God! Jonah allowed the men to hold him accountable! Honestly, in this life, we will all face things that we don’t have strength enough to face ourselves!

Who holds you accountable?

Who helps you go before the throne of grace? Who confronts you when you are captured by sin? Who helps you get in line with Gods will?

I thank God that my life has some people who are willing to confront me and cast me! People who, if not just for their own sake, will force me to get in line with the will of God for my life and the lives of others.

I wonder how our families and congregations would be different if we took responsibility for our error, and then took the necessary steps to realign with God? How many families would be saved? What message would be communicated to those watching? Would they be convicted? Would they be encouraged? Would they change? Would they have increased faith? Would our conviction and commitment build their faith?

Great things happen when the Man and Woman of God are in alignment with the will of God. My prayer is the this year will be a year where we take the responsibility to come into alignment with God, and the lives of Gods people will be stabilized and secure.

#PastorJDO3

 

Identify Yourself!

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8 Then they said to him, “Tell us, now! On whose
account has this calamity struck us?  What is your occupation?
And where do you come from?  What is your country? 
From what people are you?” 9  And he said to them,
“I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord God of heaven
who mad the sea and the dry land.”  Jonah 1:8-9

 

1993, I was on the campus of Virginia Union, experiencing freedom like never before.  Free to be myself, similar to James Bond, had a “license to sin”.   Grabbing some snacks from the 7 Eleven with my friends, my language filled with expletives, and I was loud enough for others to hear.  At the counter, the cashier said, “You’re Ogletree’s Boy!”

confidentThe statement was like sniffing an ammonia packet.  It jolted me back into reality.  I was forced in that moment to not only identify myself, but acknowledge my identity.  Like Jonah, I was away on a ship, resting in my disobedience.  Satisfied with God’s displeasure.  Not interested in being active in the Kingdom.  Informed as to who I was, but not ready to carry out the role and responsibility.

Maybe that’s you?
Sleeping despite receiving instructions?
Called, but not motivated?
Having received revelation,
but not ready to carry the message?
Watching the world burn,
and withholding the fire extinguisher?

“Tell us, now” they say, confronting Jonah.  They had dealt with their false God, but now faced the true and living God.  They were afraid, facing death, and wanting to know who and what they were dealing with!  They knew Jonah had the answer, and much like he treatment of the people of Nineveh, the people on boat were not privy to the revelation of who he was and the God he served.

Angry upset boy, little man

Closeup portrait Angry young Boy, Blowing Steam coming out of ears, about have Nervous atomic breakdown, isolated grey background. Negative human emotions, Facial Expression, feeling attitude reaction

Could it be that those around you are beckoning to you too? Their world coming apart at the seam, and we are standing with them with a word that could calm the storm and are quiet?  “Tell us, now!”  There’s a sense of urgency here.  We don’t have time for you to “get it together”, “find yourself”, “rediscover your purpose”, “get in touch with yourself”; “Tell us, now!”  Tomorrow might be too late.  You don’t have to be eloquent, or even exhaustive with your details, just open up your mouth and reveal the truth that you possess.

Who are you, and what have you done to make God send us a torrential wind and not a steady breeze?   They realize, by the response of God, that Jonah is not a general passenger.  He is either and enemy of the Most High or a servant of the Most High.  Thank God for them, Jonah is a servant who has ignored God, and God is trying to get His attention and not be disobedient in return.

Jonah boarded the ship like everyone else.  Decided to leave behind his purpose and start life new.  He was quickly reminded by God that He was not through with Him.  The questions from the Captain and Sailors caused Jonah to focus not on his dislike for Nineveh, but forced him to focus on his purpose and relationship with God.  They asked him what his occupation was? Who his people where?  Who this God was?

Nothing-is-Insurmountable

So to I ask you!  When you wake in the morning, sit on the edge of your bed looking towards heaven, or fall to your knees and bow your back, who are you?  Has it been revealed to you, or are you still walking with God and discovering it?

Jonah had to accept that he couldn’t out run
God with a ship or chariot.  He could find the
finest steed and gallop until hit the bottom of the
sunrise, and he would still be in the presence of God.

Jonah stood, humble but proud, and declared, “I am a Hebrew,”  In this he was acknowledging more than a call to service and carrying out a purpose, he was declaring that he was chosen by the Most High.  Once he was lost just like the members of the boat, and while in bondage, worshiping false idols and God revealed Himself.

chess1Long before Jonah accepted His call, his people was chosen by God to be their own.  Had not Abraham chosen to be obedient, Jonah wouldn’t be favored and positioned.   He is a child of God, whether he liked it or not.  He was chosen by God to speak His truth, whether he agreed or not.  He, much like the others was not deserving of God’s selection, just a recipient of it. 

You do realize that you still aren’t deserving of God’s selection, right?
It doesn’t matter how many missions Jonah, you are I complete,
how “worthy” we walk of the call placed on our lives,
we will never be worthy of selection.

Lord forbid that 2020 is filled with messages that manipulate, suppress, and restrict the hands and feet of God’s people.  Lord forbid that disillusionment or blurred vision continues to be the norm.  Help us Lord to take off the Rose Colored Glasses, and again put on our Spiritual Sunglasses.  Help us see truth, speak truth, and live truth.  Let us not feel worthy or justified in restricting truth from those in need.  Let us share freely and proclaim the name of the Lord until you come again!

 

#PastorJDO3   #SpiritualSunglasses

Get Up Prophet!

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The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep?
Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice
of us so that we will not perish.” Jonah 1:6

 

As a child, the fear of the Lord was so great, that I was often afraid to close my eyes.  I knew my deeds and behavior has been so detestable in His sight, that I deserved death.  Some night, I would lay in bed, and use the assistance of the ceiling to keep me awake.  Focusing on a spot, seemed to work!  I knew God had to power to give and take life, and foolishly, I  believed I could thwart His plan by avoiding sleep.

childpouting

Not a picture of me!

Of course it was amazing to me that Jonah was sleeping so peacefully during a storm.  He is clearly not the Christ, in nature, or in action.  He is being disobedient, and running away from God’s presence; refusing to carry out his purpose, and is in a deep sleep.  Deep sleep is known as the best sleep.  It’s the most restorative and refreshing.  How can the man of God sleep so peacefully in the midst of disobedience?

While Jonah is resting and being refreshed, the sailors and the captain of the ship are experiencing turmoil.  As experienced sailors, they had already mapped our their journey, taking into consideration the latest studies and knowledge of the weather systems.  They set course for their destination, adding to their cargo what should be easy money; Jonah.

The ship upon departure is met with a storm.  The text says that God “hurled” a “great wind” on the sea.  And while this might be considered unfair, one must see the mercy and grace in that the sea was the target and not the ship.  God in essence decided to rock the boat!  Our friend being sleep, allowed the winds and waves to impact the boat in a more challenging and dangerous fashion.   The more he slept, the more the winds blew.  The more he slept, the higher the waves grew. 

How High are the Waves around You?

downloadCould it be that our sleep and indifference towards our God and our purpose is causing those around us and or attached to us to feel the trauma of our disobedience?  Here God is using every tool to get Jonah attention, and his deaf ears towards the Lord are causing his fellow shipmates to suffer.

How long will you wait?

The text says that the the ship was about to break up.  Their lives are flashing before their eyes.  The storm is going to swallow up the ship first, and the sailors next.  What once represented safety and security, now was vulnerable as it faced God’s storm.  The ship was also their livelihood; a resource/tools of captain and sailors used to garner provision.  The disobedience of Jonah not only allows the people of Nineveh to remain in sin, but now threatens to take the livelihood of those who are providing a service to the community and a life for their families.  And with all this going on, Jonah is Sleep!

Sleeping; Are We?

shame on you1Here we find our first question.  It is spoken to Jonah by the Captain of the ship; “How is it that you are sleeping?”  The Captain is watching the ship starting to break and knows that he and the others will soon follow.  He stands over Jonah, who is getting the best sleep of his life, and ask Him “How is it that you are sleeping?” 

Man/Woman of God, I think God is asking us the same question.  How is it that we are resting peacefully when we see the world around us in calamity.  We see the people in our church in direct rebellion to the Lord.  We see sin rampant among our leaders, and stagnation and strongholds evident in our pews.  How is it that we can sleep, knowing that God’s wrath is coming to those who stand against Him?  Worse, how can we withhold the Word from those who are getting ready to face God’s wrath?  How can we preach messes that stroke our egos, knowing that that ax is at the root of our constituents?

The captain was shocked!  It was as though this man didn’t fear the Lord or know that death was looming.  It was as though He was so satisfied with disobedience, that the lives of all those in question were of no concern.  It was as though he hated the people of Nineveh so greatly, that he would rather die with them than to see them live.  How could this man of God be so disconnected from what was transpiring around him?

Disobedience affects Everyone!

confused personSadly, Jonah isn’t even aware of how his disobedience affects those around him, and sadly neither do we. S Our punishment and affects or our disobedience are sometimes felt in next generation or manifest themselves (as seen) in the lives of those who need us to be properly aligned with God.  Are you to unaware?

Jonah doesn’t see the sailors and captain throwing over cargo, but they were forced to sacrifice their profit because of the disobedience of the Prophet.  The wind of God was set against the ship, not because they were non believers, but because the believer refused to carry our his purpose.

The text says they all cried out to their gods.  The emphasis is on “s” and in plural.  These men were all of different faiths, serving different gods, but working together for an economic cause.  And while they remained in favor with their non-living god, Jonah existed in rebellion with the true and living God.  The sailors begged their gods to no avail, and realized there was one more aboard the ship that had yet to speak or sacrifice cargo; Jonah.

Get Up Man of God!

Thankfully and shamefully, The Captain on the ship approaches Jonah and speaks the very words Jonah needs to here.  Mind you, as Prophet, Jonah is to deliver messages to the people that turn their hearts back to God, and also introduce their hearts to God, and here Jonah is receiving a word from a non believer.  The Captain says, “Get up…”  Rise from your sleep.  Shake off last nights or last years slumber and get up.  Stand erect.  Stop laying down on the job and sleep walking through your assignment!  Take Your Place.  Speak and Stand for Truth!  Change the lives of those around you by sharing the Word.  “Get up!”

loudvoiceBut don’t just “Get Up”, the captain says  “Call on your god”.  I love that the captain says “god” and his generic thought, caused the writer not to capitalize the the “G” in “God”.  He didn’t believe in Yahweh, but he was in need of a way!  He had tried what he knew, spoke to who he trusted, asked for help in whom he believed in, and now was open to receiving help and to changing his life.  There will be some people we encounter on our journey that are like this captain.  People that enjoy the feeling of being in control over their life and destination, until a storm brews and performs.  It’s then that we must be able to speak for the truth of God that lives will not only be spared, but saved.

How ironic it is that Jonah is fleeing from God’s presence, and an unbeliever begs him to “call on your god!”  Man/Woman of God, don’t just get up, but cry out!  Don’t just cry out, cry out to your God.  Enter back into His presence.  Resume your intimate relationship with Him.  Don’t remain in rebellion.  Cry out to Him!  Seek His face.  Don’t leave until He speaks, and then be obedient to what He says.  Stop running from your assignment.  it and those with you are waiting on your compliance, for it will bring peace to everyone you encounter.   Peace walks hand and hand with you, and destruction is sent to the places that don’t heed your warning.

I am praying that this year, the bottom of the boat is empty or if it is occupied, it is by the prostrate or bowed back of a Prophet on His/Her knees or face crying out to the living God to spare the life of His creation!  I am praying that those above the water line, experience the peace of having the Man/Woman of God in agreement and not disobedience, so that the seas may remain calm, and out travel and prosperity wont be affected.

#PastorJDO3

Where oh Where Has My Prophet Gone?

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1 The Word of the Lord came to Jonah,
the son of Amittai saying, 2 “Arise,
go to Nineveh the great city, and
cry against if, for their wickedness
has come up before Me.” 3 But Jonah
rose up to flee to Tarshish from the
presence of the Lord.  Jonah 1:1-3

As a Prophet, verse 1 of the book of Jonah was hunger filling.  The sole purpose of the Prophet is to spend time with God, listen for His Word, and Following His instructions, Deliver His Message to His intended hearer.  Simply, first you are God’s audience, next, the hearer is God’s audience.  While others are ignoring God’s Word and God’s signs, your job is to Hear, and then be obedient to insure that the Word/Message of God is delivered and God’s will achieved.

Decision-MakingThis brothers and sisters is not everyday.  Jonah could have waited days, months, even years for God’s to come.  And “The Word of the Lord came to Jonah…” and Jonah “Rose up to flee...”  The one who’s job it is to be in the presence of God, listens to the Word of God, and decides its better to flee His presence, than to fulfill His purpose.

Sadly, it seems that the actions of Jonah has become the response of some today.  Please say it’s not you!  Please say you aren’t hearing the Word of God and choosing not to respond to it.  Please say you aren’t hearing God’s Word and choosing to hide from His presence.

Sadly, the Prophet’s Notes have looked like an excerpt from “Green Eggs and Ham”

Would you?
Could you?
In a car?
Eat them! Eat them!
Here they are  (Green Eggs and Ham)

But many we keep responding:
“I would not, could not in a tree.
Not in a car!  You let me be.” (Green Eggs and Ham)

Sadly, many of us have lost the satisfaction of being fulfilled through obedience, and are playing hide and seek with the Lord.  Playing games with the divine, foolishly running from the place where they received the Word, and choosing a place where He has yet to speak, but forgetting that the Lord is Omnipresent.

Why Hide from Your Purpose?

shame on youGod spoke to Jonah, just like I hear Him crying out today, but many have “hidden themselves” stopping up their ears in rebellion, and choosing not to deliver His message to His people, and His church is suffering our rebellion!  Disobedience continues to reign, because correction has been with held, the rod has been burned, and worldly pleasure and pursuits have been elevated in the face of God’s people.

 

Your Disobedience Drives Disobedience

The longer Jonah pouted, the more the  people sinned.  The longer Jonah ran, the longer God was angered by their wickedness.  Our hatred, dislike and or disgust for a people group does not dictate and or reflect how God feels about them.

Many of us have a school girl approach to ministry and evangelism.  We want God to hate who we hate, and love who we love, and God is not moved by your hatred of His creation!  That is a personal problem, not a divine one.  And in your hatred of this group, should be a reminder that you are just as wicked as the ones you are sent too.  Now both Nineveh and Jonah are now walking in wickedness, and are in need of repentance and seeking righteousness.

Prophetic Quid Quo Pro

confused personWhile most are not reserving His Word for a people group, some are restricting it to social and economic leverage.  Foolishly, some of us believe this will work with God.  Refusing to deliver His Word if our personal demands aren’t met.  Much like Jonah, we will find that our disobedience puts everyone in our path in danger of being destroyed by our disobedience.  The remaining balance withholds God’s word for trinket of Gold and Silver, seeing the best part of being the Prophet is the profit that accompanies the position, and not the peace and repositioning the people gain from the Prophecy.

Prophet; your job is to stand and deliver not to decide who receives and benefits from hearing.  You can book some tickets to heaven, but can’t reserve anyone a spot in hell!  Your Spiritual Real Estate license is for heaven, not for hell!

Yet, we find Jonah and many today building Spiritual Planned Communities,
as though a select few are worthy of entry, and others are worthy of destruction! 

Lord forbid we fool ourselves as though we got one of a few golden tickets to the Willie Wankas Chocolate Factory!  And the truth be told, the recipients of the golden ticket worked harder than we did to gain entry into Heavens gates!  At-least they spent some money!  All we have is belief and a confession, and dare to stand in line and complain about our assignment.

PerspectiveYou were (correction; are) just like the bunch you were called out of.  The sole difference was your willingness to be obedient, and now that is in question?   Shame on you!  Shame on any of us that restrict and reserve truth from anyone.  We must be willing to go into any part we are directed into, insuring that all have a chance/an opportunity to get their relationship right with God.

Just Where are You Going?

Be it know that God is EVERYWHERE!!!!
The Boat
Not Fast Enough
The Sea
Not deep enough.
The Whale
Not Thick enough!
He is with you
and
Can speak to you..
In a car
or
on a train,
while in the clouds
flying on a plane,
while hiking
or riding
on
dangerous terrain
He can speak to you anywhere,
Cause He is simply Everywhere
There is no There
Where He is not There!

 

God Cries out Today?
Oh Where, oh Where, Has My Prophet Gone?
Oh Where, oh Where, Can He Be?

Nothing-is-InsurmountableProphet; you can not flee from His presence!  There is no Hide and Seek!  He knows where you are, be it “near” or “far”. These terms apply to us, but to one who is omnipresent, they aren’t limiting or descriptive at all.  God is everywhere at the same time, but is not acknowledged everywhere and at all times.  He see’s all, hears all, knows all, and we must trust that He knows exactly what is best, despite our advice and counsel. 

It is my prayer that the body of Christ will receive the message from God, unfiltered, unaltered, and timely.  I pray that we will all have the courage to be obedient, even when its complicated or even inconvenient.  May we all accept each assignment with the desire to see God’s will done, and not our own!   Go to Nineveh!  Never let it be said that the blood of the people is on your hands.  Arise, open your mouth and declare God’s truth!

 

#PastorJDO3

That Was so 5 minutes ago!

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36 “And behold, even your relative Elizabeth
has also conceived a son in her old age;
and she who was called barren is now
in her sixth month. 37 For nothing will
be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said,
“Behold the bondslave of the Lord; be it done
to me according to me your word.”  And the
angel departed from her.  Luke 1:36-38

 

This story is so powerful.  We looked first at how God restored the public reputation/perception of Elizabeth.  Her barren state was well documented in the community.  It started as a diagnosis, became a association, and then became a label.

writingAs she ages, the community learns more about her.  God  reveals His power through her barrenness, and shows His compassion in her conception with Zechariah.  We all learn as a community and as readers of her story, that God had saved her womb to deliver to the world a gift named John.

Your Label is given by from Man;
Your Purpose is revealed by God.

Like his mother, he would be known to the community, labeled and suffer from association, while finding power and freedom in serving God and living in his reality.  The word assigned to Elizabeth is barren, which is defined by Google as: “too poor to produce much or any vegetation”.  Her label of not able to produce, is changed in an instance, when she emerges from her home 5 month pregnant, baby bump emerging.

This bump hit the reset button in the minds of the community members, but would also serve a larger purpose than displaying that she was pregnant.  The age of both she and her husband, would confirm to those who labeled her, that a miracle was taken place.  Furthermore, the pregnancy would serve as confirmation to her relative Mary that God was getting ready to do something great in the earth.  It shows us that God has a purpose for every situation.

confused person

That was Yesterday!

Her barrenness was now 6 months in her past, her fertile state was her present, and her fruitfulness was only 4 months away.  I celebrate, much like Mary and Elizabeth did.  Your past is simply moments way, and your future is a breath away.  Your present is only a moment, and as walk with God, we learn that the present is the now that connect yesterday and tomorrow.   I hope you will stand up with me and say, that was yesterday.  May kids used to say, “That was so 5 minutes ago!” And what happened 5 minutes ago, does not dictate what will happen 5 minutes from now.

God Can Peel Off Labels!

I’m not fighting yesterdays label, I’m just walking forward to tomorrows purpose.  The label of man is temporary.  It is based on what they see, and believe.  Remember, man sees in part.  They see a moment, and make judgements on the past, but only God sees past, present and future at once.  It is God’s thoughts and words over your live that matter, not the word understanding and thoughts about you!   Go ahead with your label, God can peel it off with ONE Word!

I love that both Mary and Elizabeth were enjoying today.  Though giving thought about tomorrow, they walked with God daily, cherishing each moment of the journey.  They waited for His direction, lived on every word, and protected the gift He had given them, ensuring that both they and their gifts would bring honor to God.

Don’t let your Past Experience with God,
Discourage your Future Experiences with God.

wisdomThough they had lived for God, they hadn’t experienced the powerful move of God in their lives.  God, though for them, had previously not revealed His purpose for their lives, and they now walked in the moment of His revelation.  They served him publicly by carrying his revelation, but worshiped Him privately for allowing them to carry and bring forth his creation.  Others only saw part of what God was doing through them.  They saw they were blessed with child, but didn’t know the true gift they carried, and the true significance of them being chosen to birth forth Prophet and Messiah that would be for them and all mankind.

I am excited meditating on this text, because I know that both my and your futures are just a breath away.  Some of us have had to live down the shame of our past, while others have lived for God, but have yet to feel the joy of walking in purpose.  May of us have worked our best to find favor with God, eager to receive our unique calling, and passionate about building for Him.

Imagine, how quickly life changed for Mary and Elizabeth.  One word from the angle, and what was once prophecy became reality.  I am excited because God has spoken a word over each of us.  We wake each day with expectation, and sometimes sleep in disappointment or frustration; but God.  You can not outrun His Word.  Can not overlook His promise.  God will bring it to past!

chesskingMary and Elizabeth, found as we will, that walking with God is its own reward.  Reserving your self and preparing yourself  will result in the freedom to walk in favor, and to bring forth the miraculous!  The less we have to shed, the quicker we can align our will with His will and flourish in purpose.  I love that Mary was able to say, “…be it done to me…”  She didn’t ask for time, she asked for his will to be done.  She had lived for him before, and would continue to live for Him.   So too was Elizabeth.  Learning from Sarah, she didn’t seek to make provision for herself, she waited on God, and walked with God.

We can learn a lot from them both.  It is my prayer that we will continue living each day for the Lord, anticipating what He will say and do tomorrow.  Not living in the past, but hungry and thirsty for the outpouring of tomorrow.  This moment for some of us has been uneventful, while others are coasting from the success of the past, but we should all be aware that God is constantly doing new and greater things.  And it is our dedication and discipline to day that allow us to find favor and and deliver to the World the gift that will change the face of  our community and the world.

 #PastorJDO3

You like me, You REALLY like me!

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24 After some time his wife Elizabeth
became pregnant, and for five months she kept
herself in seclusion.  She said, 25 “This is what the
Lord has done for me at the time when he has been
gracious to me, to take away my disgrace among
people.  Luke 1:24-25

 

Imagine living a righteous life, but being considered unrighteous by all your peers.  Now, this is not considered unrighteous by God, but unrighteous by some flawed people who are unrighteous themselves.  Some of them are even more reckless and lawless then you are, but have been deemed blessed because they were able to birth a child who is just like their mom and dad!

innerbeautyHaving a community of people looking down upon you, and speaking about you as one who lacks discipline and commitment to the Lord.  People questioning your every move, thinking your public and private lives to be two islands without a bridge.  This is Elizabeth!

The Father Who See’s Privately, will Reward Publicly

Elizabeth, whom was barren, was aging in years and having to bare the disgrace of not being able to conceive a child in front of her family and peers.  At that time, a woman that could not conceive was considered to be punished by God because of her sin, or the sin of her ancestors.  Thus, each time people saw her without child, they would associate her with sin, considering themselves blessed and favored, while thinking her cursed and  punished.

She had most likely accepted that she would live and die with the shame of not having an offspring, when her husband went into worship and received a Word from God!  That Word was different than any thing ever spoken, more joyous than any promise every given, more rewarding than any gift ever received; God’s promise!

justiceThe reality was, Zechariah’s seed had the power to impregnate her the entire time, but didn’t have permission from God to unite with her seed.  Elizabeth was capable of conceiving and carrying, but God had yet to speak to her eggs; releasing them to be fertilized.   He then orchestrated a harmony with one seed to break through and produce the one that would make the path straight.

John the Baptist would just make crooked path straight, but would also straighten out  the misconception about his mother.  His birth would be proof to all those that she was not being punished, but was purposed to bring forth a special child who would more than a gift to her, but a gift to the kingdom of God.  Which is why the next verse to me was so powerful.

…and for five months she kept
herself in seclusion…. Luke 1:24

After living all these years barren, she finds herself now with child, and chooses to live the first five months in seclusion.  Yep, you guessed it!  I would have been most social in this time, eager to erase the stain and stigma she had publicly, but she found pleasure in watching John grow and worshiping God for allowing her to conceive.

While the rest of us would have been eager to show ourselves to the crowd, she reserved the joy of the gift of John as a moment between her and God.  I imagine she has a moment like Sally Fields, who uttered the words “…you like me!  You REALLY Like me!”  Elizabeth gave the first moments of praise and adoration to God.  She was not controlled or influenced by the the crowd, nor was she eager to impress them with her new found status.  She secluded herself, reserving the first moments of joy to spend with the Lord, who is the only one that matters.

While others teased her and judged her, she continued to find satisfaction and peace from the one that had always given it to her.  While others showered her with condemnation, God had always showered her with love, and instilled in her a sense of self worth that allowed her to survive the judgement and ridicule of those watching and enjoying her shame.

sallylfieldsIf only we were the same!  “You Like me!  You really like me,” Sally exclaimed, excited to received her second award.  It was received as validation.  It took what she suspected and made it something she knew.  I suspect these early moments were the same for Elizabeth.  Once the Words of the Lord comforted her, but her growing belly now erased any doubt she had lingering. 

I am encouraged that the death on a cross was the confirmation of God’s love for us.  It’s not just that He allowed us to be created, but that He made an allowance for us to reconnect with Him beyond the barrier sin creates.  He then places His Holy Spirit in us, and allows us to walk before man as someone chosen, beyond the shame of our prior actions and reputation.

#PastorJDO3

 

If you don’t Have Anything Faith to Say…

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 20 And now, because you did not believe my words,
which will be fulfilled in their time,
you will be silent, unable to speak,
until the day these things take place…
23 When his time of service was ended, he went to
his home. Luke
1:20, 23

 

The story of the birth of Christ is amazing.  He was born of the Holy Spirit through Mary, His mother, and Joseph his father.  In the midst of moving with Mary, God had already begun working with her cousin Elizabeth.

The Long Quiet Walk Home!

doubt-confidenceHe left the house of God!  We are unaware of the thoughts of Zechariah and or the distance he had to his home.  What we do know is that he had just encountered an angel from the Lord, and heard a promise from the Lord that answered his life long prayer.  I would like to argue that his faith was increased because God took his voice away, but as one who has left the altar in unbelief, I will argue that he went home anticipating that things would be the same, and would not change.

Going through the Motions!

I am sure he lay with his wife for recreation and not with expectation, and was forced to watch God work and not express thanksgiving and or gratitude to His maker.  Zechariah like many of us have simply gone through the motions. 

Some of us know this very well.  Outwardly, his performance/actions seemed as though he believed, but he was merely enjoying a moments of pleasure, and while harboring the disbelief that God would produce anything from his loins and her womb.  We are not sure if it was the first time, or the fifth time, but I will assume it was the first time he touched her.  Despite his disbelief, God worked through her belief to fulfill His promise to bring about His prophet.  The scripture says, “after some time” (without a word), she conceived a son named John.

downloadBecause Zechariah’s silent was the result of his doubt, I wondered if God was not just silencing Zechariah for expressing doubt to God, but so he wouldn’t speak forth doubt to Elizabeth.  This was my consideration because of his destination.  After completing his assignment, he left the house of God and returned to his home, where he was also priest.  We know he did his job, because “after some time” she conceived.

It was like God said,
“Do your job and keep your mouth shut!” (He did not say this!!!!)

Just Keep Swimming! 

I wonder how many of us hear the Word of God, have doubts about it, and take our doubt home like a virus to our family?  Ask yourself, how many times have you infected your family with doubt?  Husband, Wife and Children walking in faith, excited about God’s promises, and our voice overshadows and smothers the fire that burns within them, so just in case, he is silenced.

If you don’t Have Anything Faith to Say,
Don’t Say Anything at All!

I wonder:  What have you destroyed with your tongue?

confused personGod is busy building things, and our perspective, attitude and lack of belief are determining factors as to what God can manifest through us.  Much like the children of God, we spend our time analyzing and demanding of God, frustrated because we know he is often capable, but not willing.  Having said this, often is is God being willing to do what He is capable of, but us not being able to believe He will do what He says.

Momma used to say, when we questioned or expressed doubt, “Are you calling me a liar?”  Not that God speaks like our mothers, but I am sure He is challenged the same way by our doubt.  As One who has complete love and compassion for us, providing and protecting, restoring and reconciling, the small trivial things of life should be believed even more than the more challenging truths.

Maybe we just need to listen and believe?  We need to stop talking against what God has promised and accept them as truths that will happen not in our time, but in his time!  And in the mean time:

If you don’t have anything faith to say, don’t say anything at all! 

 

#PastorJDO3