Filled and Standing!

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Then He said to me, “Son of man, stand on your
feet that I may speak with you!” And as He
spoke to me the Spirit entered me and set
me on my feet; and I heard Him speaking
to me. Ezekiel 2:1-2

Ezekiel finds himself in the presence of the Lord, watching a vision unfold before his eyes. Instructed by the Lord to stand, while God speaks with him, but Ezekiel is unable to stand before the Lord. He is simply in awe of what he sees. Ezekiel falls on his face in the presence of the glorious splendor of the Lord.

And I asked myself about my experience in God’s presence? Am I still in awe, or am I a worker punching a clock and performing a task? Am I reading and applying or reading to teach, write and preach? Is the my time in God’s presence so powerful, that I am always in awe of what God says and how He chooses to reveal Himself.

God speaks to Him, “…stand on your feet…” but the weight of what God has revealed has been far to great already. Even before receiving his instructions, his time with God was so powerful that he couldn’t stand.

Of course, I looked at myself. What is my time like before I speak? Am I immersed in the Word, so active in worship and so caught up in the documenting the revelation that prostrate is as upright as I can get? Ezekiel was so caught up that he couldn’t get up. He wanted to make a statement. He wanted to give a reply. H wanted to share the experience. He wanted to proclaim God’s, but was so grateful for having been chosen as a vessel and as a witness. There were other Prophets, but God chose Him. He appreciate with the time they were spending together.

The moment was so powerful, that he needed that power came from the Holy Spirit. Verse 2 tells us that the Spirit entered him… What a moment for Ezekiel. Not only is he in God’s presence, but God’s presence is in him.

Of course I ask you, are you too experiencing God’s presence and God’s filling? I study, stand and speak not only in the presence of the Lord, but study, stand and speak filled with the Holy Spirit. What are you presenting to God’s people? Are you giving them an empty vessel or a full vessel? And how do you become full? How are you empty? Why are you empty? Shamefully, we have little desire to be full, present ourselves as full, but are honestly empty! Empty and full are both choices we make. They are conditions we foster, circumstances we maintain!

“As He spoke to me….” the scripture says. What a moment this is! When you spend time in God’s presence and feel the filling and leading of the Holy Spirit. God has a way of filing you to the capacity that you are able to both stand and walk in His strength!

I was encouraged in this season we are in. First, we need to enter into Gods’ presence. We need to see the monster we are facing. This monster is not a divine being with divine symbolism, but a monster that is man created and has sadly flowed from heart to heart and breast to breast. Like our faith and love for Jehovah has been passed down through generations, the hatred for people group has been taught/ingrained in a group of people. It’s presence has caused us to fall upon our face too. Not because of its beauty, but because of the powerful stain that has soaked through many layers.

Layer after layer have been removed, and each time we think we are far enough away from the original stain that it wont be present in the next layer. Yet in still, its present, because the stain we are looking at isn’t the original stain, its a duplicate of the original stain that has stained another 3 to 4 layers.

As Men and Women of God, we have been sent to stand before the people. God provides to us all that we need. The people we are to speak to, Ezekiel documents God as saying are stiff necked people, resistant to change, and we have been charged and given the power stand against wickedness and impart change into the life of the people that know God and the people who are not aware or informed about who He is.

God set’s Ezekiel on his feet, and I’m sensing a need for us all to stand on our feet. We starts prostrate on our faces, but end up standing up in the midst of adversity and pain. We must hear God and be committed to speaking the truth of God and correct those who have strayed.

#PastorJDO3

Room for us!

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Genesis 26:22 And he moved away from there and dug
another well, and they did not quarrel over it; so he
named it Rehoboth, for he said, At last the Lord has
made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.

……
25 So he build an altar there, and called upon the name
of the Lord, and pitched his tent there; and there Isaac’s
servants dug a well.

What a journey Isaac has been on! He inherits the wealth of his father, along with an unfailing covenant for the Lord that brought future guarantees to Him. Now, hes not just going by what his father said and or promised, but he is going by what God has spoken to him as a servant and the seed of the one He established covenant with.

Isaac follows the instructions of the Lord, which were to dwell in Gerrar, even in the midst of the famine. Though there might have been places with better provisions and new opportunities, God decides that Isaac should stay in a place of famine. Isaac would set up roots in a place where a covenant with his father was formed; albeit, one they would choose not to honor (of course we could park here and talk about the earthly King/President whom speak and do not honor words and the heavenly King who honors covenant).

Isaac finds himself leading his people from one place to another, giving full effort, displaying full ability, walking in favor, being blessed every place their foot tread, but have to endure the hardship and persecution of a people who hated them for not being able to survive, but to prosper in the time of famine they were all facing. The problem of course is that they are facing the famine, and Isaac is facing the God of the famine. One was looking at lack, and the other was looking at abundance (don’t have time to spend here).

Isaac and his crew dug a series of wells that were met with resistance from the people inhabiting the land that he was in; but they continue digging until they found the spot God had given them. This must be your story as well. You must be one that believes God has a place for you to such an extent that you won’t be distracted by the wells that were empty or made unavailable to you, but that you will keep scratching the surface until you reach the reservoir God had ear marked for you.

I love Isaacs perspective. Though he is the one carrying the covenant, he is not focused on himself. He says of the well, “the Lord has made room for us”. God isn’t just with me or for me, He is for all of us. He has provided for all of us. He is protecting all of us. He is elevating all of us. He is delivering all of us! If we could keep this “…all of us…” focus, it will help us to view our provisions in such a way that we will have more in common that we have uncommon.

Isaac continue, “…we shall be fruitful…”; again showing his perspective on the blessing. Isaac knows they are all experiencing the famine, all making a sacrifice, all working hard, all using their skills, all using their abilities. And while he is aware that the blessing has his name on it, he knows the blessing is not for him solely. He is a channel for others. He is the focal point of the covenant to keep everyone focused on the guarantor or the covenant and not the one whom the covenant was formed with. Isaac says, we are going to be fruitful together; not a part. We are going to prosper together, not divided. If only our the global church could figure this out!!!

This account is concluded about Isaac is summed up with what he does after God has made room for him. “So he built an altar…pitched his tent…dug a well”. My Lord!!! Isaac gave thanks to the Lord.

What if we were like Isaac? Most of us get what we prayed for, search for, worked for and then treat the acquisition as though God’s hand was not with us. God’s favor was with Isaac as he lead his family in faith. God’s favor was with Isaac as he dug the wells. Favor was with Isaac even as they filled the wells in spite.

Isaac was able to continue digging and searching because He found strength in the promise, and hope via God’s established Word. He knew that God would honor His Word, and that he would be provided for and not have to settle for less than what he promised. I too will not settle. You too must not settle. We dig because we know water will be found. We dig because we know water will quench our thirst. We dig because we have a family to hydrate. We dig because we have a flock to feed. Just keep digging!!!! You will find His promise. Just keep digging! Each time you break the surface, you get closer to the bringing forth God’s will for your life to this earth.

Isaac honored God because God had not abandoned him. Isaac knew God was leading him and guiding him, and that the place God prepared for him was not stumbled upon, or retrofitted. He knew God had prepared it to supply all his needs. So why wouldn’t he “set his tent” there? Why wouldn’t he “dig a well” there? He knew God was his source! So why wouldn’t he “build and altar” there? So too am I asking you! Why wouldn’t you? Don’t you know how good God has been? He has prospered you through the famine. Protected you from destruction. Delivered you from yourself. Shielded you from the enemy! Opened up more doors. Filled with water, just waiting to be found, and eager to fulfill all your needs.

#PastorJDO3

You must Forgive! Me Repent?

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Matthew 23:15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.


This morning my sister in Christ posted something that got me looking. I ran across this, as I thought about some of the Pharisee like behavior and culture we have adopted. I was baffled by the number of people that post things that equate to love, but then behave like ones consumed and controlled by hate.


For too long, we have fought the confusion left from those who have spoken the Word of God, but have not lived the Word of God. Picking and choosing pieces of God’s law to uphold as a standard of righteousness, and allowing the flesh free reign. We have heard of this God that gives two main laws, 1. Love God and 2. Love your Neighbor, and then listened to “spiritual leadership” align a political definition to the word neighbor, thus editing and redefining the message of Christ.


I have enjoyed great conversations with my friends,
but many of them highlight the need for one group to
“Forgive”, and ignore the requirement to “Repent”.


My wife spoke about the challenge she has being a bridge builder. And this is why? The one that should be asking for forgiveness is asking the one who has been offended to forgive, where forgiveness has not been sought, and thus, repentance is not there, because the offender sees no need to be forgiven. And yes, this is madness.


Even still, I believe Jesus made the move to restore our broken relationship. He extended forgiveness even before it was requested. But breath!

He said confess. This is the understanding that all men are sinners and need of saving. It is admittance that you have wronged the Lord, and are in need of restoration. You acceptance of His provision is an agreement that you were once an enemy, and now are a partner in both life and death. You agree to do away with the old man, and walk in the new man. This friends, completes the act of repentance.

Jesus highlights the foolishness of the Pharisees. He highlights the trouble they go through to introduce someone to Christ, only to lead them to hell by having them immolate the example of righteousness they see before them. See, the Pharisees studied the law as though it were a manuscript, as opposed to responding to it as though it were the Lord speaking.

What we have seen in Western Christianity is the same. We have seen millions of dollars invested in reaching souls, but have watched those souls become infected by the culture of a state and by political parties who are hungry for power and influence.

The devil knows that people are influenced by “spiritual leadership” so the fruit is constantly being offered from the many tree’s that lead us far away from God. We must be careful which trees we eat off, and wise about which fruit we share to our people. Though somethings are pleasing to the eye, and good for food, they lead to death and destruction.

#PastorJDO3

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

 

King Josiah: Jehovah’s King

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2 Kings 23:12-18
17 The King asked, “What is the tombstone I see?”
The men of the city said, “It marks the tomb
of the man of God who came from Judah and
pronounced against the altar of Bethel the
very things you have done to it.” 18 “Leave it
along,” he said.  Don’t let anyone disturb
his bones.” So they spared his bones
and those of the prophet who come from Samaria. 

Josiah, fresh of hearing a word from the Lord, organizes his people and resources.  He moves from site to site, tearing a part, burning up, and making waste of everything and those who lead people to offend and stands against the Lord.

I first wondered how many of us have that type of fire?

Angry upset boy, little man

Photo from Google Search

King Josiah was so convicted about the distress caused to the Lord by the sins of the people that He purposely went through and took down everything that was against the Lord.  He wouldn’t allow anything to stand that would dishonor God, and sought to please the Lord by restoring His house of worship to Him and Him alone.  Part of the problem with the church is a lack of Josiahs.  We lack men and women who are so in love with God that they seek to honor God in word and deed.

We must be committed to restoring any error of prior generations
that do not line up with God’s Word.

King Josiah was sincere also about restoring and correcting the error of generations before him.  He could no longer sit on his throne knowing that there was a Word and a way to heal the land.  He couldn’t sleep knowing that God was not only angry, but was set against His own people.  How many of us are like King Josiah?  He shows his true kingship in the way he acts to protect and direct his kingdom in a way that placed them in favor with the Lord!  If only we had more Josiahs!

We show true Kingship when our actions protect and direct the
kingdom in a way that pleases the Lord!

integrityWhile on his quest, they come across a sealed tomb.  He inquired of his men, and they remarked, “It marks the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and pronounced against the altar of Bethel the very things you have done to it.”

Let us not gloss over the statement, and the power of what is taking place here.  Before King Josiah, there had been men of God who had spoken for the Lord.  They confronted the people and the priest about their actions, warning and condemning them about the error and danger of worshiping and serving false God’s.  Not only was their life in danger from citizens and leadership, but they were to be committed and wholly committed to the Lord, or they would meet the grave. 

These men in the grave, met their maker much earlier than any of them planned to do.  They spoke truthfully and boldly, but a lack of obedience along with their words and delivery of the truth resulted in an unmarked grave marker, for their existence.

Sadly, the name of the Prophet was not listed or documented,  but what was remembered was the truth he spoke, and the commitment to the Lord displayed by him loosing His life for his God. 

Though their names were not documented, the name of the Lord was
proclaimed from that day forward by everyone that passed his tomb.

worship-fastHere King Josiah, 26 years into life, 18 years into Kingship, is confronted again with the gravity of the circumstances.  The men of the city say, “It marks the tomb of the man of God who…. (did) the very things you have done to it.”  I’m sure King Josiah had to realize that everyone wasn’t pleased with his actions.  And though King, there would be those who could and would oppose him because of his stance and actions.  Josiah realized that standing for God, and going against the traditions and norms of the people could make him unpopular and a target of wickedness.

How many of us are willing to stand for God if He is against
cultural norms and or tradition?

Never the less, King Josiah was not wavered.   He was so committed, that he continued on his tour to rid the city despite looking not just at the grave of the Prophet from Judah, but the text informs us that there was another unnamed Prophet with a tomb from Samaria.  The text says, “…so they spared his bones and those of the Prophet who had come from Samaria”  Yes, he wasn’t looking at one grave, but two graves.  Both of men of God who took a stand for the Lord!  He continued on.  He completed the work of the Prophet from Judah, fulfilling His Words by destroying the altar of Bethel.

I.  Honor those that served and sacrificed before you!

King Josiah responds to these facts, “Don’t let anyone disturb his bones.”  King Josiah demands that the grave of God’s servant remained untouched.  In this, he further honors those who have taken a bold stand before him.  We too must be committed to honor those who  have stood before us and with us. 

2.  The Forgiveness of God applies not only to Sheep but to Shepherd.

Though it might be challenging, we must understand that honoring them, further honors the Lord.  It also brings glory and honor to the mission we all share the load in carrying out.  We must carry this out, even when one of us falters, knowing that forgiving message God has us carry, applies not only to Sheep but to Shepherd.

3.  I’ve Counted the Cost; Now I’ll Complete the Conquest

What I love most in this moment in history is found in verse 19.  The text says, “Just as he had done at Bethel, Josiah removed and defiled all the shrines at the high places…..”  In other words, Josiah continued his conquest.  He didn’t allow the fact that he had stood over two graves of Prophets stop him.  He didn’t let the fact that his own death had been Prophesied by Prophetess Huldah stop him.  He gathered his men and continued to lay to rest everything that stood against the Lord.

Decision-MakingToo many of us are stopped and or slowed down by our fears.  We count the past as the present, and are frozen by its results.  King Josiah continued forward, eager and determined to fulfill the work of the Lord, and to restore the people; even if it cost him is life.  Actually, because he knew who was in control of his life, he pressed on with more confidence, knowing that he would meet the maker and find peace.

4.  He Sacrificed to Save Others

He did this despite having God’s promise “…you will be buried in peace….your eyes will not see the disaster…” the Lord spoke to King Josiah in Chapter 22.  He knew that his future was not to suffer, but he continued the journey because he hoped to change the Lords mind about the fate of his people.

How many of us care about the people so much that we look past self?

We are quick to ask other to sacrifice for us as Kings; oxen that should not be muzzled and worthy of a double portion, but how many of us are making sacrifices beyond prayer, preaching and teaching for those whom God has entrusted to us?  We are quick to label ourselves as Shepherds after God’s own heart, but how many of us are troubled by the sin we see in our congregations and in our own lives?  King Josiah had little to gain from this conquest, but continued it because He wanted to restore a relationship with God and His people!

As Shepherds, wemust do likewise.  The Pleasure of the Lord is our desire, and the People of the Lord are our responsibility.  We must make every effort to direct the people into a right relationship with the Lord.

 

#PastorJDO3

 

It’s Grace Not Guilt

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Long Intro.  Skip to paragraph 7 to get to the Blog Title

 

Today I had a great conversation with a brother in the field.  He was on fire about sharing his testimony and about chopping (sorry for the slang) it up about the gospel.  After sharing, he asked a question about “once saved always saved.”  Though we found commonality in thought on the scriptures, we found ourselves on a journey in theology, which lead back to a concluding thought that I want to share with you.Man In Prayer Christian Stock Photo

He said to me, “I work hard to earn salvation!  But no matter how much I do, I still don’t feel I have done enough!  Do you feel the same?”  Of course I answered Yes (And so should all of you).  Here’s a revelation to some, and a reminder to the rest of you!

No matter how “good I am”, I am not “I am!” 

I shared with him!  I know that feeling, and feel is often because of the conviction that sets each time I sin.  I know I am not worthy of the sacrifice Jesus made, nor am I worthy of Him being mindful of me in general.  In His selection process, I am aware that I shouldn’t receive an invitation or be listed as a reserve.  And in this, I am often challenge with that feeling of being unworthy and worse, GUILT!!!!!

Yep, there you have it.  Guilty as charged.  That guilt is often crippling, and leads down an alley of shame, and often back into the very sin that lead to that feeling of guilt.  Guilt can consume, and can keep us from walking in victory.  It makes those free live in bondage and distance ourselves from He who is Holy.

downloadOn the other hand, if you are able to live without breaking the law, this path leads to pride.  In the event that you reach a level of righteousness, one is fooled into believing that they have earned a spot based upon their earthly work, and not the work on the cross.  Just in case you too feel this way, please be informed that you will never be good enough on your own to have your name listed in the “haves!”  You will, in your own efforts, always be the “have nots”.  And one day, you will stand before the King and as a “have nots” you will have knots in your stomach as  you are judged without the covering blood of Jesus which maketh one able to stand before the Lord as righteous.

God is holy!  God is perfection!  We would have to be blameless to stand before His presence according to our own works!  And just so you are aware, you would fail; as would I.  There would be one thought that would catch all of us.  One selfish moment.  One refusal to help.  One denial of forgiveness.  One jealous thought.  One covetous moment.  One embellishment of a story.  People, something would prevent you from getting in!

Ok, now the reason I started this blog (sorry about the long introduction).  

shockedI thought to myself, as he drove off, “It’s Grace not Guilt!”  When Jesus was on the cross, he was dying for the sins of the world.  He allowed Himself to be the perfect sacrifice that paid the uncountable debt of the world.  He did this, not in capitalistic fashion.  His desire was not to make us indebted to Him, but rather to show us the depth of His love for us.  He released us from debt!  He didn’t pay off our debt to another, He paid off a debt owed to Him.  He also paid of the debts that would be created by us, for us.  He didn’t give us a new interest rate, nor did He issue to us new payment options.  He freed us!

He knew as He died that we would never be able to repay Him for the sacrifice He made.  He did not put us on a payment plan, and to send His Pastors and Prophets to collect payments.  His death was done of His own free will, not out of compulsion, but from a cheerful heart.  One that desired to be in relationship with mankind despite Our constant buffoonery.  He could have come to judge us, but He placed down His gavel, and extended an olive branch, choosing to amend His covenant, as opposed to destroying each covenant breaker.

This is what Paul continued to highlight in His presentation of God’s activity in His life and in the life of all those He taught.  Grace is undefinable, in that the type of Grace shown to us by God is undefinable and limitless.  It is by grace that we have been saved, not works, he reminds us.  Knowing that some of us would grow in Christ, defeat and overcome, get closer to the mark, and foolishly believe we are the mark itself.  We are pressing towards the mark, meaning we are moving towards it and facing resistance from the devil, and self sabotage from our weak flesh and wavering minds.  We are towards as to obtain, with the understanding that the mark is unattainable, but worth fighting to get.  We press towards it, knowing that we will near, with the realization that we will never stand on the “X”, we can only stand on the Cross! 

confused person

As the vehicle drove off, I sat and thought about how Christ wants us to live after His sacrifice.

Though not equal, I thought of the guilt I have heard expressed from those who have been saved by others.

 

The child who is guilty about life because their mother
died in child birth, choosing to die in birth, rather than
live without bringing forth life.  The case of a child
whose mother died in child birth, choosing to allow
her child to live, instead of choosing her own life.

These situations exist today.  We hear accounts from surviving veterans who witnessed one giving their life to save theirs.  We hear the guilt in their voice, as they continue with life, challenged with being happy, because they can not forget the sacrifice.

This was not God’s plan, nor His intent.  Again, It was Grace, not Guilt!  His love was on display on the cross.  It is this love that should compel us to accept the sacrifice.  It’s His love that should lead to obedience.  It’s His love that should lead to conviction.    This is why our discussion about John 3:16 was so key, and why so many of us rest upon this verse.  It’s not that its our guarantee that we can sin in volume, but its our understanding that He loved us before we followed Him, was patient with us while we accepted Him, and is long suffering with us while we submit to Him.

 

#PastorJDO3

 

Church..No Hazing Policy

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For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body-whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free-and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” I Corinthians 12:13

Over two decades ago, I was tormented by the words to a chant. If I close my eyes, I can still hear it…

“I’ve got a feeling, that somebodies trying to sneak in my frat…….”

I cringed each time I heard it, first because it wasn’t true and second because it came from the vocal chords of those who had achieved entry and couldn’t keep the organization on the yard because of foolishness. They got in, and then made it increasingly difficult for others to follow, some of which would have been great lights for the group. Sadly, some took pride in this foolishness and felt making the organization more challenging to enter made it more exclusive and somehow made them look more accomplished.worship-fast

It is interesting that some organizations allow people to rule today and destroy tomorrow. Ok, why this intro? Why this text? include those with this perspective.

As I spend time in the confines of the church walls, there are times when I hear similar chants. They come from the same type of people, and cause the same amount of damage. Practices of “blackballing” and “hazing” from the pulpit and from the pew work against the Gospel Message, often excluding and causing many to drop out of the process leaving with #churchhurt , accepting the head and rejecting the body. This often leads to new movements; feeding sheep directly into the hands of the wolves. It has increased Spiritual Streaming and lead to a Broken Body that’s forced to operate with missing members (gifts, talents, labor, resources).

This is why the intake is so key, and why the process has to be uniform. And from time to time, members must hear the Gospel to be reminded that we are all beneficiaries of the same corporate buyout and experiencing the same painful merger!

Paul, Christian Royalty, states “For we…” Let’s take a second to acknowledge the Paul includes himself in this “we”. Though he was a “Jew” and a “Pharisee” he relabeled himself “slave”, “bond servant”, “chief sinner” and “we” keeping his perspective on who he was, who he is, the purpose of the Gospel and the work of those who follow Christ. Though a focal point of many, Paul chose not to elevate himself, and chose to step down, like Christ from any throne, and dwell among and serve God’s people.

Are you a part of the “we” or do you see it as “I” and “they”?

Most of us are preaching and teaching to the they. This is obvious in some cases because our presentation of the Gospel includes judgement not just love and compassion. The humility Paul had is one we must also carry. Though He has obtained, he was eager to add to the flock daily. And though ministering across the country side, Paul thought of himself as one who was no better than those He was speaking too.  And so must we!

IMG_1065Paul didn’t measure his experience to others. Though he was knocked down, heard God’s voice, blinded, and confirmed by the Apostles, Paul acknowledges that his entrance was the same as others. “We were all baptized by one spirit…”. Regardless of who preached, who taught, and who baptized us, Paul writes, it was “…one spirit…” that was present and received by us all.

Sadly, some have stumbled upon pride, not in themselves, it in their church and even their Pastor.  Though an honor, there is no significance in the one who baptized, rather the significance is in the Spirit that is received.  Paul took the time to squelch foolish arguments, as such, choosing to find common ground in One Lord, One Spirit and One Baptism.

So too should we! Let’s put aside foolish discussions and traps for pride.  Let’s be humble and honest about who we are and what we have been called to do.   Our hope lay in Christ.  Save His sacrifice, we would be uncovered by His blood and exposed as who we truly are, unrighteous.

Because of this, churches should have a no hazing policy.  There is no reason, brother should persecute brother and. sister sister.  Our judge is God, and none of us are deserving, God shed His blood foe us all.

#PastotJDO3

Don’t Provoke the Bear!

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He stretched out what looked like a hand and took me by the hair of my head. The Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and in visions of God he took me to Jerusalem, to the entrance of the north gate of the inner court, where the idol that provokes to jealousy stood. Ezekiel 8:3

Don’t poke the bear” a common saying used to warn those being careless, fearless, ignorant or foolish,about the dangers of making a bear angry. While the bear slumbers or is in hibernation, a state of peace and happiness, can be projected an image that mask a harsh reality. Though they might be cute, and seem harmless, even the youngest bear has enough powers to alter ones course of existence.

Time and time again, people took for granted the bears power, even thinking that it could beaten by those of us who were strong or either studied and knowledgable about his habits and behavior that they overlooked two important factors:

  • 1. Not knowing his mind
  • 2. Not understanding the his complete nature.

In this passage we encounter Gods’ prophet hosting the elders in His home. Without a word, God shows Ezekiel the conditions of those in his midst without a confession. He allows Ezekiel in these visions to see through His eyes. He peers down and immediately encounters an idol.

Fake Gods where in the house of God!!!

The idol was in the inner court, where the priest were to reside and offer up sacrifices to atone for the sins of the people. They had taken some of the gods from other cultures, and had included them in worship along with the true and living God.

God had a roommate!!!!

After all God had done for Israel and Judah, He was given a roommate, and forced to share a space with one who hadn’t any power, or the capability to love, protect and provide. They worshiped and attributed to these idols things that were given by Him. They sought them for life, protection and provision and in doing so, they provoked the bear!

I wondered to myself, “

How many temples, homes and hearts are God forced to be a roommate in?”

How often do we move God into a living condition, where he is treated like a renter, and given a lease on that which He owns? How often is God asked to entertain new tenants, leasing out space to those who don’t belong?

He shares His temple with paintings and statues, when His temple was designed to paint His image upon the people and to teach them his statutes. Sadly, I believe He sees more of the same today. While our God has upheld His covenant and remained consistent, our behavior all along has caused us to experience earthly judgement and or punishment, which to many was unbearable. Sadly, this did not lead to a correction of their actions and has not lead to the correction of ours either.

They continued down the path, in some cases unaware that the bear had been provoked. They continued in the error of their ways, and the prophets, priest and elders had not corrected it, partly because they were living in error too.

We find out via the visions of God, that the elders who sat in Ezekiel’s home has lives they lived in the dark. They committed atrocities against God in the dark in hopelessness, not believing that correcting the error of their ways would lead to God changing their circumstances.

Each Elder, God revealed to Ezekiel, had their own personal shrine in their room (Yes, the room that God provided.). After service, they went to their rooms and worshipped a god that didn’t provide. Sadly, we do the same. They served in the temple, advised the people and then gave their most intimate self to inanimate object.

Much like then, God watched the sin through eyes of love through shades of jealousy. Though He loved His people, He was and is still jealous of where we place our love and adoration.

So what is your practice?

I imagine that God knows the difficulty many of us face watching second to second updates of those He loved and lost and is envious of us living out life with an insufficient replacement. How sad it must be for Him to see us chasing temporary fulfillment, while complete provision is just a prayer away.

What’s in your gateway?

Is there something preventing God from seeing and receiving your sacrifice?

What in your life is provoking Gods wrath?

#PastorJDO3

I Keep My Word!

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And they will know that I am the Lord;
I did not threaten in vain
to bring calamity on them.
Ezekiel 6:10

As of late, we have listened to prognosticators justify their position to remain defiant to the Lord.  Many have, in their own foolishness, rationalized that our God, the creator, who is filled with love, willing to forgive, willing to apply grace, and eager to administer justice1mercy, will not punish those who have not accepted His sacrificial offering.  Before, we listened to those who would argue that there is no God, and while there are still those who ignore the obvious, we are seeing more and more who acknowledge His existence, but are not willing to accept His provision.  We find ourselves reaching out to a spiritual generation, who have found peace with a variety of practices, all of which bare teachings that they omit from study and application.

Our Congregations are being Contaminated by Confused Congregants

Worse, these teachings are creeping into the pews, creating those who worship the Priest and Pastor with a portion of their hearts, making Sunday for many simply idol worship.  As your prophets speak forth truth, the devil works through the congregation, removing that which has not and will not take root, because something has already been planted and is in need of being uprooted.

The Promised Land came with Deed Restrictions

God freed the Israelite; and planted them in a place of wealth.  Broke the walls down via a uniformed shout, and placed into the hands of those who were experienced with wealth, resources beyond their wildest dreams in the first wealth deed-restrictions-273x300transfer.  God enabled them to own and possess, that which was formerly inhabited by others, and issued a Divine Deed, which came with Divine Deed Restrictions.  Yes, this concept of Deed Restrictions can be traced back to our Lord :).  He allowed each to take residence, and to build and have dominion, but required them to remain pure, and no matter what, to have No other God! Worship no other God!  Don’t take on the practices of those God has placed under your feet!

Despite the Deed Restriction…

And yep, you guessed it; before their bags were good an unpacked, they began to accept and adopt the practices of the former inhabitants, building idols, and placing them in the house of the Lord to be worshiped.  They admired their cultural practices, merging them with their culture and making them into a defiled nation in the land which God provided for them!  And yep, after many chances to change, God found himself at this point.  Much like He stood before bringing the Flood, and again with Sodom, He watched His creation sin before Him as though He wouldn’t take action.

How many Restricted Deeds have you performed?

confused personAnd for those keeping track, He once again decides to punish the ones He loves.  His punishment would not just keep them from prosperity, but would allow them to suffer physically, mentally and spiritually.  This is important because this age has convinced not just non-believers, but believers that God will withhold punishment just because He loves us!  This is a lie!  Even under the new covenant, the God that never changes stands firmly with the Word He has spoken, and upholds His promise by allowing the children of Israel to reap the fruits of their covenant with false gods!

God’s Word is Sustained by Him

You think I’m playing, God is probably thinking!  God promises that His Word would not return void.  He speaks through Ezekiel and says,”It’s also not spoken “in vain.”   See, with God, there is no “idle threat”.  God’s Word is life people, thus much like speaking the heavens, the earth, every plant, and life form into existence, God’s covenant is a product of His Word, which means it is alive, and His promise of punishment and calamity are factual not possible or even probably!

We read God’s word as though is has not been through final edits.  The reality is that God’s Word has already been proofed, and its verbalization is publication.  His Word to us seems possible and probably, but its actual.  God’s Word give new meaning to the coined phrase “taking a life of its own.”  Because God can not lie, His Words are life and truth, and can be counted as dependable.  And not just dependable when it benefits your situation, but when it works against your own circumstances.  propheticroar

When you need God, He is there, standing by His Word, honoring His covenant, protecting truth, upholding the standard of righteousness, carrying out justice, while balanced with love, mercy and grace.  It is amazing to me to me that as earthly parents, we chastise and punish our children, and administer judgement with those we are in relationship with, with a measure of mercy and grace, but somehow can not fathom that God can carry out the same.  God is more balanced than we are.  He is truly fair and just, and carries out judgement not as a respecter of persons, but as one who hold the standard across the ages.    Moses looked but didn’t enter, David collected but didn’t build, Saul met the end of a sword, Solomon had the Kingdoms ripped from his hands…..Etc. 

What more do you need to hear?  God honors His Word.  He stands bye His covenant.  He sends Angles and Prophets in addition to providing us His Word to show us how to warn us, and remind us how to honor and live within the covenant with us, and yes, when we fail to live up to His standard, punishment is given to those loves.

throneHe will Keep His Word!  He promised them that calamity is coming.  It is coming to those who refuse to Keep His Word and or accepts His covenant.  The great news is that God gives us a choice.  You can choose Him, or you can reject Him.  It’s your choice.  And though you are not forced to accept Him as Savior and Lord, you can not reject Him as judge!  One day He will divide the sheep from the goats, and He will Keep His Word!

 

#PastorJDO3

 

 

“Catfished” Believers

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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