Another Name?

Standard

Like a lion that has come up from its lair
the one who destroys nations has set out
from his home base.
He is coming out to lay your land waste.
Your cities will be left in ruins and
lie uninhabited.  Jeremiah 4:7

 

As we continue our journey through Jeremiah, I am inspired to continue writing about the dialogue from our Lord through Jeremiah.  What is captured in these words is both the love, and faithfulness of our Lord and the serious nature of our God when it comes to covenant.

What is concerning to me is the current views of our God.  Its the presentation that our God is so filled with Love, Mercy and Grace, that He would somehow be in capable of carrying out Vengeance and Wrath on those who reject Him or refuse to follow and obey.  While we do understand that each man will be held accountable for his own actions, we have a view of judgement day that is more like “Shark Tank”, “The Voice” or maybe “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?.”

tinder1The Word informs us that He will divide sheep from goat, almost like the lawless swipe their way through Tinder.  Yep, either covered or uncovered!  Our God swept through Egypt looking at the doorpost, laying to rest the first born of those who were not covered, swallowed up almost all of humanity in a flood, rained down fire on an unrighteous town, allowed famines to come, and allowed His people to be held in captivity (among many other events).  This God, my friends, has been labeled so loving and so forgiving, that He will not honor His Word.

Let me take the time today to point out a name that is not given to our Lord by His people, but a description of our Lord from His own lips to Jeremiahs ears and heart.  God says He is “the one who destroys nations.”  HelloDestorysWe forget that our God’s Word hold back the four corners of the earth, and that one Word from Him can flood the earth, can open up the ground and swallow up rebellious followers.  How quickly we forget that 40 years passed before entering the promised land, laying to rest generations of His chosen ones because the grumbled and complained, and that His chosen vessel died before entering the land promised to him because of disobedience.  This same God gave the man after His own heart the plans for the temple, allowed him to collect all the resources and then wouldn’t let him build!  This God people is the same God, now and forever more.  And despite our teaching and characterization of God, all the interpretive face lifts and implants will not change who He is, just who we believe Him to be.

God has suffered many advertising campaigns that have painted an vague picture of a God; who, has a high concern for righteousness, obedience and covenant.  God reminds His people through His servant, I am “the one who destroys nations.”  Many times the children prayed to God, were outnumbered, not as well equipped, not strategically placed, and the children advanced into foreign territory and dominated because God has either gone before them, or the opposing nations had headed about God to such the capacity that their heart were gone before the children lifted their swords.

throneThis same God allowed His children to lay waste to enemy territory, putting to death women, children and even the animals.  He reminds them that He is capable of not only parting seas, and providing clouds and fire to guide them, but is able to curse the very ground the labored on and remove the hedges that formerly protected them.

They have been fooled into believing that the worst is over.  They think that being in exile was the harshest punishment or that being under the ruler ship of a foreign leader who lacked morals and worshiped a foreign God was the worst that could happen to them, but Jeremiah brings to them a word of warning.

Listen to the Words of our Lord, who is describing Himself.  He says, “Like a lion that has come up from its lair…”  It’s as though He has been in His lair, ignoring the sounds from the entrance of His cave.  propheticroarThe people outside play, taunt and keep up drama and noise in His presence, ignoring the sheer danger of the lion, and playfully beacon from Him to emerge from His throne.  I can see people throwing rocks down the entrance, waving fresh flesh at the caves entrance, yelling into the caves empty threats, growing bolder and louder by the moment before He appears.

Then, like a thief in the night, God (much like He left from eternity) stands up from His throne and makes His entrance.  While God came in the form of man to free and not to judge, here we find God telling the people that He is going to “set out from his home base” and “lay your lands waste…in ruins and lie uninhabited.”  Just when they thought they had experienced the worst, God determines that their actions have called for judgement.  What they had experienced before is punishment, and now they would experience His judgement.

There is a difference between punishment and judgement. 

This bothered me.  I hear person after person talking about our earthly inhabitants being hell on earth.  This is particularly hard to hear us spoiled Americans recite.   Its as though we believe this earthly dwelling is the hardest life could ever be.  We say this knowing that a different level of struggle exist in other countries, and recall this knowing what has been revealed to God’s Prophets.  How foolish we are!  

God presents to Him a plans to take action on  and from the thing that was a blessing to them, but became a stumbling block to them.  JehovahNissiThe place where He purposed to meet them was eventually shared by false Gods, and became a place of manipulation and disobedience.  The law He created for mankind to abide by, because a tool to chastise and prosper those in power with positions.  And it is this bold, public rejection of God that causes God to put into works a public judgement.

In conclusions, He is El Shaddai, Jehovah Jireh, Jehova Rapha & Jehovah Nissi, but He is also “The one who Destroys Nations!”

 

#PastorJDO3

Advertisements

Playing Chicken with the Divine

Standard

…If you do not, my anger will leap out
like a flaming fire against you
that no one will be able to put out.
That will happen because of the evil
you have done. Jeremiah 4:4

God speaks powerfully through His Prophet, Jeremiah, to His people who are once again under the rule of another.  In His effort to restore the relationship between He and His people, He must go over the offenses, and remind them of the boundaries and ramifications that come along with breaking the covenant agreement.images

I found verse 4 an issue because God is speaking, and my fear is that the people both now and then were not listening.  As we soak in God’s love, perfume ourselves with His grace, and cloth ourselves with His mercy, we are blind to His wrath, and destined to experience more of it.  God warns the people, it can be the best of times, or the worst of times.  They can align with His Word, or stand in disobedience to it.

We memorize all the scriptures with blessings and promises, and ignore the warning and instruction.  God says, “Dedicate yourselves fully to the Lord…”  God desires for us to be fully dedicated, not partially dedicated.   The people ended up in their current circumstances because they had spiritual affairs on God.  They worshiped false idols and desecrated His temple by giving the living God a non-living roommate.    They sacrificed on His altar, offering that which was intended for the Lord to a false god.  They could not advance or prosper because they were not fully committed to the Lord.

lockeddoorOf course I gasped.   As I look at our current state, I see us suffering and blaming the adversary, binding the work of the devil while the Lord holds back the angels and the hedge placed around us, exposing us and leaving us vulnerable to the enemy.    God was using them to chastise His people in an effort to direct them back into a right relationship with Him, and they adjusted to their new normal, remained in error, and abandoned their pursuit for righteousness.  We don’t have to remain in our current state!  We can restore to us what has been taken by dedicating ourselves fully to the Lord.

God says this, “…get rid of everything that hinders you from being committed to me.”  So I ask you:

What is hindering you?

What bothered me about this statement is that often the things we see as aids are hindrances.  There are things we consider blessings that are weights in the pool of faith.  As we swim from shore to shore, the cares of this world weight us down in such a manner that we find ourselves struggling to get closer to Him.

Which bring us to the end of the verse, “If you do not…”  God warns them there will be a price for not removing the hindrances and fully dedicating themselves to the Lord, that price will be God’s anger.

God warns, “…my anger will leap out like a flaming fire against you…”  God gives us the visual of his anger being like a flaming fire.  It’s the language of leap out that grabs the immediate attention.  bonfire

Much like 3 Hebrew boys, God’s anger can rage so hot that it leaps out and consumes all in it path.  God says a refusal to honor our covenant will place the people whom God has placed His name on in the position of enemy.  Worse, the fire of God is not an out of control and random fire, its a hot and focused fire which has a focal point.  Lord forbid we be the point of His Anger.

It seems today we like to play chicken with the Lord!  The game chicken we played as children seems to be the lifestyle of many believers. 

In this game, two people take a challenge that has the potential to harm both participants, and measures how far each will go before either harming each other or yields.  The aim is to get the other to flinch first. thus showing fearlessness and moxie.

We hear the word, read the word, know the word, but refuse to acknowledge a portion of its promises.  Just as much as the Bible gives promises of blessings, it gives promises of action towards those who refuse to be obedient.  God sends Prophets to us to correct us, but we stop up our ears, and dare the Divine to visit us.  Its as though we believe we can wave His Word in His Face, and use His promise of blessing to nullify the warning through the same Word!

Stop Playing Chicken with God!

faceoffIn the past, the Israelites benefited from the help from others, but God warns them.  No matter the marriages and or the connections they have made with those who are not in relationship with the Lord, “…that no one will be able to put out.”  Everyone can grab a bucket and a hose, and focus all their resources on putting out the inferno God has sent your way.  We can collectively sacrifice all our resources and find ourselves bearing witness as you are reduced to ash and dust.   Why play chicken with the Lord.

I know what you are thinking; how cruel!  Nah, God concludes “That will happen because of the evil you have done.”  Having a merciful God does not mean He is not just and that we do not pay for our actions.  God says it is  imperative that we assess our relationship with Him and look to restore and repair it before He is forced to take action.  He will do this to protect His name, and to display His conviction about righteousness for His creation.

#PastorJDO3

The Impedance to the Gospel

Standard

You must be truthful, honest and upright
when you take an oath saying,
‘As surely as the Lord lives!’ 
If you do, the nations will pray to be
as blessed by him as you are
and will make him the object of their boasting.
Jeremiah 4:2

As I read this text, (yes, I’m still trucking through Jeremiah), I once more saw our communities and a parallel to a current predicament.  God addressing His people confronts them with a truth about the bi-product of their lives in Him and a part from the community of believers.    He beacons to them about their commitment to the Lord, and their dedication to living for Him.  It seems that a bi-product of their disrespect and discipline is that is spilling over as an example and sample to those who are watching.

a-covenant-with-godThe people of Israel have walked away from their God, and chosen to worship the false idols of the communities in which they existed.  Their willingness to walk away from God, as well as the lack of reverence and fear for the Lord, was speaking loudly to the people who had front row seats.  Those who feared and revered the Lord, though not God’s chosen people or ones who worshiped the Lord, had fear and respect for God, and lost it as His people walked away from Him. 

cooperation SSTheir abandoning of God and choice to worship idols, validated the idols to those who worshiped them, leading to an even deeper worship and placed further distance between them and the Lord.  I thought of us!  I considered how our behavior has either given glory to God, or served as hindrance to them worshiping and acknowledging God.

 

Who have you hindered?

What have you validated?

God says,
‘You must get those disgusting idols
out of my sight and must no longer go astray.  
You must be truthful, honest, and upright
when you take an oath saying, 
As surely as the Lord lives!’
Jeremiah 4:2

Barrier

What we have done with our personal lives and lack of discipline and dedication to the Lord, that we are Impedance’s to the Gospel.  Our love affair with the world has further confused those who seek truth and freedom.  

God says, “Get those disgusting idols out of my sight….”  Yes, the God that is everywhere and sees all things says get them “out of my sight”.  The only option is to destroy them.  Putting a blanket over them is not an option.  We must destroy all idols!  They are not God!  They are not deserving of our worship!  They are not worthy of our time!  They can not help us, direct us, deliver us, cleanse us; they are useless!   Much like we are useless when we are a part from the true vine.

God speaks loudly about the character of those who are to represent Him.   God says, be 1. Truthful.  We must be truthful.  On display for people not only the sincerity of the word we speak, but the reliability of the words we speak.  When our mouths are associated with lies, the words the proceed from it are not trust worthy.  The truth of the words we communicate, give power and validity to the testimony we share.

love-wallpaper-21-1080x675We must also be honest.  Honesty is a dying value our capitalistic mindsets.  The mindset that is ingrained in us is to do what ever is necessary to prosper.  Our behavior is justified by the productivity of our hands and plans.  This my friends is wrong.  There is a right and a wrong, and bearing fruit from evil is not a part of God’s plan.  We take God’s word to be shrewd and or skew the concept of the wicked wealth being stored up for us.

Lastly, He says we must be upright.  Upright means that our daily walk should be reflective of the righteousness we have obtained.  Though not perfect, our goal should be the perfection of the image of Christ that was modeled for us.  Our goal should be to align myself with the Word of God that displays the character of our God.  We should be people that have ethics and whom abide by a moral standard in our dealings with others.  And we do all of this because we are under a covenant and have taken an oath.

God says the oath that we take, “As surely as the Lord lives…” before people is only as strong as the decisions you make after these words are spoken.  Yes, we are impedance to the Gospel.  It is our walk that has been the loudest testimony, while our voices have missed the hearing to be character witnesses.  It is impossible for us to claim this intense love for God while we court and date other Gods, and adopt the values and traditions of a powerless god.  We must sure up our relationship with God, living up to the oath/covenant we took, and honor properly the covenant He keeps with us.

ragstorichesKeep the covenant with God will keep us from being in exile.  God shares that His plan was to lavish His people with blessing in the land He delivered them too.  And as He blessed them, the testimony as to His goodness would be upon their lips. His children would be elevated in the midst of surrounding kingdoms, blessed beyond belief, leaving no doubt that this was truly the one true and living God.  Because they worshiped the things and opened up to other gods, God has to punish them, thus resulting in people doubting God and not desiring to be in relationship with Him.  God wanted to restore the people and make them the envy of all.  He said the people would look at them and “pray to be as blessed by Him (God) as you are, and will make Him the object of their boasting.

The World will make their boast in the Lord
when we make our boast in the Lord!

 

 

#PastorJDO3

“Catfished” Believers

Standard

Has a nation ever changed its gods,
even thought they are not really gods at all?
But my people have exchanged me, their
glorious God, for a god that
cannot help them at all. Jeremiah 2:11

The Prophet Jeremiah has been instructed to address God’s people where they are about the sins they have committed.  God gives him a list of concerns and issues that have emerged while they have been in covenant with God.  Mind you, these issues were not addressed or even prevalent before they entered into covenant.  The people of God accepted the covenant formed by God and held by God, and gently broke His laws, and turned their backs on Him once they encountered new cultures with different gods.worship

Isn’t this 2018?

While reading this, it was as if God was writing to Western Christianity.  Here we are, in relationship with the one true and living God, and we find many blood bought believers compromising their faith, and turning their backs on their God just like our ancestors.  As of late, it seems the body of Christ has again approached the Word of God with a license to edit.  Our forefathers used white out to look over God’s truth, their sons used faulty interpretations, the next generation used a plethora of translations, and today the desire is to edit the Word, at best update it to match American trends and values.   As the country adopts new habits and cultural norms, it desires to model the Bible after its adaptations, as opposed to governing its character and laws by Gods Word.

BookEditingThis mirrors our personal perspective on faith.  Many of us edit God’s Word, and omit God’s truths, justifying our lifestyle and choices by overlooking what He has commanded.  This is harmful and foolish!  The devil has deceived us into becoming out own gods, offering us the same fruit he submitted to Adam, and have bitten once again.

Our faith has become synonymous with the nation in which it exist, confusing followers, and serving as a distraction and detraction to non-believers.  And Jeremiah first, and now I present to you God’s Word!  It must stop!!!!

Lord forbid that our greatest example would come from those who don’t believe, but God instructs us to look to the East and the West to learn a valuable lesson.  He said look at the surrounding nations.  Look at the surrounding faiths.  Look at the neighboring cultures.  Non of them are willing to change their gods.  Non of them are interested in altering their gods word.  Non of them are willing to bow to any other god.  Yet, the people of God find themselves willing to compromise for politicians, power and perverted living.

Why are you willing to compromise?

And how is it that you believe God should change?

What is it you believe about God’s Word?

Is it God breathed?

confused personGod says the dedication of these unbelievers is admirable.  Their loyalty worthy of mention.  Their faithfulness worthy of imitation.  God says to look at them.  They worship statues and animals, pictures and drawing, items and possessions, and they are faithful to these items though they are powerless.  And we; are called by the name of the one true and living God, who has displayed His power, revealed truth, delivered his people, gave them land and riches, defeated false Gods, empowered His prophet to defeat the magicians of Israel and they still abandoned their God.  Sadly, so have we.

He has protected, provided, and proven himself to generation after generation, and we are sadly confused about our covenant relationship.   It seems that the notion or understanding that He is our God has given people the false understanding that we control Him.  For some reason, the understanding that God honors His Word has mislead people into thinking that God is property or a tool by which they can advance themselves on earth.  People have studied God’s Word not to get closer to Him, but to learn how to manipulate Him into doing their bidding. my-jeans-dont-fit

Jeremiah stood flat footed and spoke boldly to the people about how they had “exchanged” God.  It is as though they have returned God like a pair of jeans that didn’t fit.  They took God for granted.  After being delivered and elevated from their position as slaves, they neglected the God that had formed covenant with them and became concerned with the cares of the world.  God was left watching His bride spread her love amidst false God to whom had no love for him.

catfishedHow tough it must be for God to watch us be “catfished” by a statue posing as a God.  God watches us carry on two and 10 years love affairs with a false god, using up our resources and time, humiliating us before the world as we are dragged along by our nostrils.  How painful it must be for God to be so close to His people, only to have them falling in love with images on a screen.  How painful it must be for Him to continue providing and being faithful, while we explore our options and share our most intimate moments and thoughts with someone who can not, see, hear or speak, and for that matter, act!  How frustrating it must be for God to bring us through and have us attribute His handy work to and after marked god.

Lord help us.  We have been fooled again!  Let us return to our God, confessing our sin, and communing again with our God lest we continue in this exile like state.  May God convict our hearts, and may our first love be our remaining true love.

 

#PastorJDO3

The Truth about Covenant

Standard

“In those days, your population
will greatly increase in the land.
‘At that time’, says the Lord,
‘people will no longer talk about having the ark
that contains the LORD’s agreement with us.
They will not call it to min,
or remember it, or miss it.
No, that will not be done any more!”
Jeremiah 3:16

 

Here we find God speaking through the Prophet Jeremiah.  Addressing the condition of his people.  Not just their physical condition, but the spiritual condition of their hearts.  They were in exile, because they, like Adam, had chosen to live outside of the will and instruction of the Lord.

Lion sitting in tall grass

Photo taken from Web

Jeremiah spoke God’s Word, which parallels our here and now.  The Lord says, in the midst of their pain and suffering, that He would return to them, despite their hardened hearts and disobedient nature.   Here the people are not thinking of the Lord about the Lord, but He was thinking about them.

 

Who is God, that He honors His covenant?

God’s people had walked away from Him, and even while in “timeout”, they remained unrepentant.  They stayed in their sin, and God, who initiated a covenant with their forefather, chose to honor the covenant with his seed.

God is truly committed!

bibleblurr
He is committed beyond what we can understand, comprehend and rationalize.  It would seem that past breaking the covenant, God, like man, would cease to honor the agreement that He made with man.  With any agreement, it must be honored by both parties, and this commitment to the covenant serves to govern the on going commitment to the agreement formed.  This both solidifies and build trust in the agreement established.  And despite the breaking of covenant, God honors the agreement!

I am covenant breaker!

I thought to myself, not about the condition of the world, but about my own state.  Truly I am a covenant breaker.  I have not honored the covenant that God established with me, and yet, He is still mindful of me, listens to me, and even blesses me along the way.  Even when I walked far away, God continued to reach out, speaking, and sending word to me that He desired to spend time with me.

God continues to send a search party!

Scales_of_justiceHas God sent word to you?  Of course, this is a rhetorical   question!  You too, like me, and like the children of Israel have been both an enemy of the cross, and or AWOL!  Maybe you you deserve to be dishonorably discharged!  Despite our behavior, God sends prophets and angels, discharged with instructions and directions, to real us back into relationship with Him.  He sends flowers and blessings, and allows us to experience life without Him, and still reaches out to us.  He watches us walk hand in hand with sin, bathing in iniquity, and soaking in indiscretions, and drafts beautiful love discourses to express His unfailing love for us.  Who does this but God?

Life with you is better than life without you!

I wish our actions were reflective of the above statement!  Often times, they say the opposite.   Sadly enough, when I wrote this, I was thinking of God.  His actions from the start have declared, life with you is better than life without you.  Though he has it all, he chose to share, deciding not to exist in a vacuum, called into existence a paradise, and placed into it a people.  Shared His love, as well as His wisdom and provision, and despite His giving of all He possessed, man still wanted more and sought to obtain outside of Him, risking the covenant relationship with God for someone newly introduced and that had nothing to offer.

He is still consistent and we are still inconsistent!

Maybe you have been saved now so long, that the portion of your life in Christ is now more than your life without Him.  In this, it could be possible that some of us have experienced more forgiveness, mercy and grace than you did before you met Him.  Imagine that!  God has forgiven and looked beyond our past, but loves us in the present, and is committed so that He will love us in the future.  All while knowing what lay ahead!  Its amazing that He would hold our hand and allow us to bare and justice1speak His name in the midst of our sin and struggle.   Why the aisle doesn’t open up to swallow us, one can not justify, but God justifies us!  Through our covenant agreement, we are heirs to a Kingdom via a promise that is undeserved.

We deserve to be disowned.  We deserved to be abandoned.  We deserve to be cast aside.  But His mercy are new every morning!  His grace covers our stumbles.  And His blood covers our unrighteousness.

Why?  It makes no sense.  We do not deserve to be restored, but God restores and renovates, even upgrades us to new levels as we walk with Him.  Praise God!  He is truly better to us than we are to ourselves.  He loves us despite our inconsistencies, and loves us until we are made consistent through His love for us!

 

#PastorJDO3

 

Where are You? Genesis 3:9

Standard

Yesterday, we found ourselves searching Gods Word and then our hearts, asking ourselves questions In an effort to get closer in our relationship with God.

Our focus,
But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”
He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” Genesis 3:9-11

Here we find Adam literally waiting for judgment and punishment. Though instructed and warned, Adam allowed himself to be influenced by someone other than the one who created him and was shaping Him.  Sound familiar?garden

Adam, fresh from his mistake, attempted to hide from God. I can imagine him kneeling in the bushes, shielded by shrubs, leaning on the backside of a tree hid in an attempt to avoid or delay facing God. Gods voice calls out, “Adam, where are you?”

 

Thus we began our discussion with the question “Where are you?”

Where are you intellectually, emotionally, spiritually? Where are you on your journey towards being in the image of Christ? Is righteousness within your view? Are you eating from the right tree? Or gathering fruit from each available branch?worship-fast

Much like Adam, many of us have taken bites of fruit only to face the regrets of opening doors that should’ve remained shut. Though warned of the death it would bring, he chose to consume what seemed to be both edible and nutritious. Shamefully, so do we!

How many closed doors have you opened that should have remained closed? Now you sit as Adam, filled with regret, knowing that the day of reckoning will come. We looked at our worship time. A time to be set aside for God, and how many times we find ourselves in Gods presence, while He calls out to us. “Where are you?” God is saying. Your worship used to be so pure, so sincere! You used to hear my voice so clear! Now distortion! Static is in the line. We now exists on different frequencies, interrupted by other voices and conversations.

“Where are You?” God calls out.

Adam opened the door to the adversaries will for his life, and now His encounter with God has changed. Once knowing Him as creator and teacher, he experiences now fear, waiting to experience Him as Judge.lockeddoor

You do know He’s going to return, don’t you?

He’s approaching! And while we walk through the garden, aware of His return, distracted with items, we bare the knowledge that He will return.  He returned to the garden and upon hearing Him, Adam hid and was afraid. Adam braced himself for the reward of his disobedience. Not having the covenant of the blood of Christ, Adam would have to stand without a covenant, solely dependent on God’s love and mercy.

What is challenging about the question God asked was that he was required to do a personal assessment as to his standing. He was asked to look in the mirror and to be truthful with himself about his present state. No progress can be made in our relationship with God without

So, “Where are you?” Are you growing in intellectually, emotionally and spiritually?

Adam didn’t fair so well.  When confronted, he blamed it quickly on the woman God gave to him, and so do we.

 

#PastorJDO3

The Lion, The Prophet & Zion

Standard

Joel 3:16

While reading this text, I was overcome with the words or our Lord speaking through His Prophet Joel.    He writes to Him concerning His people, and I saw us, paralleling the text.  Their actions had placed them into a weakened position.  

Lion sitting in tall grass

Though designed to be lenders, they weren’t even borrowers; they were the tail and not the head, not above, but positioned as beneath.  Though bearing the name of Yahweh, the living God, they benefited not from His presence, power and provision.  Though in covenant with the Lord, their unwillingness to keep His commandments, left them out of favor with the Lord, placing them in exile from God’s gift to them, and under the authority of a Kingdom not verbally submitted to the authority of the Lord.

Waiting to hear from the Lord, Joel cries out a Word from heavens gate, the Word they had been waiting for came.  A Word of restoration.  A Word of reconciliation.  A Word of recovery.  A word of renewal.  A Word burst forth from the Man of God, notifying the Elders, and all inhabitants of the land, God is moving.  The suffering that had been experienced in the past and presence, would be a history referred to by generations to come as a reminder not just to fear the Lord, but to be obedient to His Word.  The time would be a reminder to follow His commandments, and to love and serve Him alone, while not seeking the deeds of the flesh and putting idols before him.  Though Yahweh is the one, true and living God, He is jealous of the man made gods that had captured his people, and because these gods were not living, the life of these gods were in the hearts of the people who foolishly worship that which was powerless, though in covenant with God.

God speaks to his people in the third chapter.

The Lord roars from Zion;
from Jerusalem He sounds forth His voice.
The heavens and the earth shake. 
But the Lord is a refuge for His people;
He is a stronghold for the citizens of Israel.
Joel 3:16

The Lion

I was shaken by our God, who Joel records will “roar”.  The Prophet says “The Lord roars”! propheticroar

I recalled the day, as I am sure many of you will, when you first heard the voice of the Lord.  It’s that moment when you are walking across the earth, as a wild animal through the jungle.  You wander through consuming all you can, taking advantage of every opportunity, as though every experience was designed for you.  You waddled in the lows of sin, laying flat faced in the same pit the prodigal son worked in, riding the joys of sin as one hopped up on caffeine and sugar, and slowly loosing grip as you attempt to hold on to last nights high, eventually bottoming out into a pit of remorse and regret.  Then in the quiet, as you navigated life either unaware of the presence of the Lion, or had yet to have a personal experience with the Lion, you hear the power of His roar bellowing throughout the land.

He walked into your life boldly, causing you to reshape your life, considering your ways, and not aligning them with His Kingdom rule.  Understanding that law breakers of the circle, will be exposed to suffering as well as the shame that accompanies living outside of the law.  His “roar” stems from the same place that spoke the world into existence.  He recalls in the first chapter of Genesis that he  simple spokes words, and there was, and now Joel says that this same God, filled with power, opens His mouth and “roars”.  This Lion that sat in quiet, watching the destruction of His people and His creation, reaches a breaking point and cries out from the silence! 

mangerI sense that the Lord is growing tired of watching his people broken and suffering.  He is tired of seeing us wasteful and neglectful.  He cries tears seeing His Kingdom in ruins, and His people running about without concern for righteousness.  He has been silent while people walk though His Kingdom leaning on a covenant, in which they are law breakers, depending on it to be their protection, while they experience the fruit of the evil one.   He is tired of seeing us recite the lines of the adversary; loyal to his precepts, while the Word given to grow and prosper us sits idle bye, pregnant with potential, absent of a suitor.  God is “roaring!”

The Prophet

How is He roaring?  I know many of you are listening for His audible voice.  Listen closely!  God returns to His people via a Word from His Prophet.  Joel stood flat footed in front of the people and recalled the Word of God to His people, not just reminding them of the covenant and what they could get from the covenant, but confronting them with how they ended up in their current predicament, and via the power of God’s Word which can’t return void unto Him.   Oh that God’s Prophet would continue to stand firmly for and on the Lord’s Word.  If only we could walk as a generation of servants, committed to pursue God and not worldly gains.  If only our warriors would fight the fight of faith, not shortchanging God people for coins and bills.  What type of roar would we hear?  What type of roar is coming from our pulpits?  Are they Words that make people cry out for God, or cry our to us?  Are they Words that direct people to pursue Him, or chase possessions? 

The Word shows us a pattern in the Spirit, that I want to highlight.  He says “The Lord roars from Zion”.  Who and what is Zion?  Zion is His people.  Zion are those that are submitted to His Word.  Zion are those who are committed to live out His truth and carry forth His truth into the next Generation.   God speaks His Word through His Prophet into His People, and the Word spoken will take root, and be returned unto God via His people; Zion.  

Zion

Are you ready to roar?  

Each week, hundreds and thousands of people fill the temple of God to worship God through psalm, petition Him through prayer, and be empowered through hearing His Word.  The problem is not God, or His Word!  The problem is Zion.  We have apparently stumbled upon fallow ground, allowing the bird to eat up the seeds before they take root.  The people of God lost all they had because they stopped living according to His Word, stopped confessing His truth, ceased to allow Him to order their steps, and thus found themselves in bondage.  Sound familiar?  We are favored, and suffering because we are not putting God in His rightful place.  

Tug of War

God is ready to advance His Kingdom.  He is ready to restore order to our families.  He is ready to rebuild our communities.  He is ready to prosper our businesses, but He must come first!  Zion must not only have God in their hearts through a verbal confession, but must show forth fruit from a Word that has taken route in the heart of all who have heard.  

In this, Joel continues, “from Jerusalem, he sounds fourth his voice.”  This continues the above revelation, in that God is calling for Zion to sound out.  Jerusalem is the city in which His people dwell.  It is the central place where God’s house lay.  

I saw people returning back to the house of God.  Filling the seats, not to be entertained, but to be instructed.  I see and army of thirsty people, eager to get beyond the milk and entertainment and tradition, but hungry for a relationship with the God that loved them so much, that He sacrificed for them, and kept them even while they were in bondage.  I see Him wrapping His arms around those who have offended Him, and speaking words of life into their gate.  I see His Words literally planted on the brains like seeds on rows in a field, taking root into the lives of all those who hear.   I see Zion advancing as a unit, and not many parts, as His Word not just restores mankind’s relationship with God, but with each other.  I know hear the voice of “the Lord roar from Zion,” and “from Jerusalem He sounds forth His voice.”

embersGod reaches down with His hand into the smoldering ashes of our past fire for Him, searching for an ember.  Just one ember from our past, in which He can renew and rekindle a fire.  I see Him taking His Word, verse by verse, and laying it across our heart.  With both hands, he shields the wind of the adversary attempting to blow out the growing flame.  He leans over and breaths into our lives, slowly fanning, and adding on strip after strip, until the once smoldering fire, burst forth from our mouth as a raging fire from our tongues. 

bonfire

His voice cries out from Zion, moving from His temple, flows into the streets and begins consuming all in its path.  Joel says, “The heavens and the earth shake.”    Our God and His heavenly host are stirred up, preparing themselves to enter the land, breaking forth into the earthly realm, shaking the very ground on which the people of God advance.  Our champion descend on His white horse, bearing a sword, bringing unity to between heaven and earth, laying to eternity all those who refuse to submit to the true and living God.  Everything in caught with fear and trembling, even Zion.

But Joel gives us great news, and so too do I pass it to you.  “But the Lord is a refuge for His people”  As the Lord wages war with those who have not followed Him, consuming the land and all that dwell in it, Joel reminds us that “the Lord is refuge for His people”.  His people will be saved.  Those that bare His name are spared under the covenant set with Him.  God will protect His children.

39034898 - a lightning strike on the cloudy skyI love this because there are times when we are exposed to the same conditions as the world.  It rains on the just and on the unjust.  Famine comes through the city and all its inhabitants are affected.  Floods run down the street, and house after house is consumed, “But the Lord”!   We are often consumed with the sight or fear of immanent and perceived danger, “But the Lord”!  I want to acknowledge that God is a refuge.  In my own life, I have come through many circumstances, not equal to Paul, but a personal suffering of my very own, “But the Lord”, as I am sure you have.

We have all sat on the rocking boat, afraid of today’s wind, and tomorrows looming storm.  We have all seen the clouds gathering and felt the moisture and coolness of the air as the seasons change and the storm draws near.  We have heard the whistle of the tornado and fell the pull and push against our homes and vehicles as it destroys things miles away, and gives evidence of its ability cause lay to ruin all things in its path.  And though facing destruction, we but our trust in the Lord to be our stronghold.  He tells His people not to fear because its all a part of His plan.  And while He tears down, He is also restoring and building up.  He is placing His people back into their rightful state, calling them unto Him, as they advance through the streets.

FireBlazingI look around and see the infrastructure of all built being taken apart beam by beam, brick by brick.  It seems the underground aqueducts are being exposed, and the citizens are reaching for buckets to retrieve their own resources.  The roads that give us safe travel are now being held hostage, and the benefits of being a citizen of earthly kingdoms once again parallels Rome; pay tax and live.  As we render unto Caeser, Jesus descended from His seat and said, render unto God that which is belongs to God.  While man collects money to further feeding His flesh, God demands of man that which belongs to Him.  You know, we were bought with a price.  Our lives are not our own.  And while man is satisfied with coins, God wont be satisfied until we surrender to Him our life!

He is ready to walk with us! I wondered to myself, What would happen is The Lord, The Prophet and Zion worked together.  A strand of 3 is not easily broken I hear.  The strength and harmony of each chord strummed at the same time, all fully working

3strand

together to bring about Kingdom and God’s will upon the earth.  All levels and layers, working to full capacity to bring heaven to earth.  All working to shake the very foundation of heaven and earth, making sure the truth of God was spread to the outermost parts of the earth.  What if we all had a sense of urgency, and allowed the voice of God to boom from Jerusalem?  What would happen if Zion once again walked boldly, not concerned about the response of a defeated foe?

Verse 17 says,
You will be convinced that I the Lord and your God,
dwelling on Zion, my holy mountain. 
Jerusalem will be holy-
conquering armies will no longer pass through it.

Could it be that some of us are still not convinced?  Hmp!  “I the Lord am your God”!  I hear Him say.  All He has spoken will surely come to pass.

 

#PastorJDO3