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

Take My Hand…

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But he hesitated, so the man seized his hand
and the hand of his wife and the hands of his
two daughters, for the compassion of the Lord
was upon him; and they brought him out, and
put him outside the city.
Genesis 19:16

Our friend Lot was living large. He walked into the city of Sodom and was elevated to the city gate. Bringing his riches and stature, he was welcomed as a citizen, while others suffered a more violent reception. As wisdom, he sat at the gate, involved in commerce and up to date on the happening and direction of the city.

Lot, encounter the two angels sent by the Lord to destroy the city at the city gate. Falling on his face, he worshiped and humbled himself in their presence, and protected them from the harmful ways of the unrighteous people in Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot took them to his home and covered them. His treatment of them validated what Abraham believed, and what God was looking for in the city. Though the vast majority of the people were wicked, Lot and his family, a minority, did their best to hang on to the values and faith given to them by Abraham.

The angels informs Lot that the city will be judged. Lot hears the Word and believed them. This is important! While others heard the word and were not receptive, Lot heard the word and aligned his life accordingly. He prepared himself and his family to escape the on coming judgement.

He reached out to his sons in laws. Made aware by the angels that he would be allowed to escape, and take some with him; he informs them of the plan of the Lord. Then he informs them of his plans in response to the Lords’ decision. They would arise early in the morning and escape the impending judgement; but they would not believe him.

This brings us up to speed. Verse 16 says, the day it was time to leave, Lot hesitated. I wondered, how does one go from telling someone to “let’s get out of here!” to thinking “I’ll stay here with you!” As crazy as this sounds, Lot does this, and so do we.

Lot knew destruction was headed to Sodom, but he had grown accustomed to Sodom. He was respected in the city; sitting at the gate. Though he was a stranger in the land, it had become his home. He was comfortable in the city. He had made some inroads. He had built a network. Formed some partnerships. Had earned the respect of those at the gate. Had started becoming a part of the fabric of the community. His grandchildren were to be born at citizens there.

He was connected! And honestly, unplugging from a connection can be almost as challenging as making the initial connection. Lot was eager to save his life, and the life of his family, but had a moment where the loss of Sodom seemed greater than the Salvation approaching. Can you identify? We too are guests in the “city”, and are being called to walk out of it! We have been warned of the incoming destruction, and advised that we should take the provision provided by the Lord. We too have been warned and are protected under the covenant, but are in a constant fight with our flesh, which makes us hesitate before using the window out God has provided, and this right after warning others!

We too stand boldly and declare the impending judgement, and stumble and struggle to walk away from the very things that bring judgement and destruction. Be it addiction, or just familiarity, many of us have formed relationships and dependencies on the places we have been placed to have dominion over. Lot seems to have decided to stay and die with the city that had just threatened to do harm to him.

So let’s thank God for the angels!!!! The angles come to get Lot. They knock on his door. Ring his doorbell. Send him text messages! “It’s time to go!” When Lot refuses, the scripture says something that blessed my soul. “The Man seized his hand…his wife…and two daughters…” I love this! The angels wouldn’t take no for an answer. Though Lot’s decision would have brought destruction on his family, the angles took their hands. The word used is seized. God wants us to know they didn’t surrender their hands. They didn’t volunteer to leave. The angelic men took their hands and led them to safety!

I can’t speak for you, but I can attest, “Sometimes I didn’t want to go!” Sometimes, I wanted to stay just a few more minutes. Sometimes I wanted to hang around and “get my monies worth”, but thank you God someone took my hand. God sent an angel to me to think for me. Sometimes it can be challenging to make up ones mind. You have what you are familiar with verses what you have yet to be exposed too. You have what you have already experience, based upon new expectations. When you find yourself in positions like this, you too might find yourself hesitating! Yet, God sent and angel to make me honor the decision that I made. God placed someone in my life to remind me of who I was, and the covenant that I was under. Thank God for angels.

I love that God continued in this statement about Lot “…because the compassion of the Lord was upon him…” It is so comforting to know that we have a God that is compassionate towards us. God has a chance to condemn Lot with the rest of the city. God could have listed him in that great number, but decided to demonstrate to the world how He honors covenant, and what He does for those who pursue righteousness.

God has used me as and example for many, as he has so used you! Many of you are on the outside of the city gates, because God choose to put you out of the city. As spoken earlier, many of us wanted to hang out, but God decided to put us out! While we could still taste the herbs on our lips, God took our tongue that was saturated with a variety of spirits, and made it testify under the unction of the Holy Spirit.

God gave us a new way of walking, and created for us a new way of talking. Gave us a testimony. One of His goodness and kindness. I thank God that my testimony belongs to Him. Oh that I could brag upon myself. Talk about my strength! Talk about my will. Brag upon my discipline. But this would be a lie and foolishness. But for the grace and mercy of God, most of you, like me would be inside the city today, and upon the return of the Lord, would be here through the destruction and time of tribulation.

We need Him to cover us! We need Him to call us up in the middle of the air, lest some of us hold on to yesterdays pleasures, and miss out on eternities paradise.

#PastorJDO3

Not My Fault! Not My Responsibility!

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Luke 10:34-35
34 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came
where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity
on him. 35 He went to him and bandaged his wounds,
pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his
own donkey, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.


As I read this text, I thought it food for thought. The point drawn from this passage was “It’s not about who made the wounds, its about who can heal the wounds!”

Too often in discussions, I hear the statements, “I didn’t do it!” “That was my forefather!” “I don’t think like them!” “It’s not my fault.” “Why do we have to talk about something that happened 100’s of years ago?” “Why should I restore what was stolen from prior generations?” “I’m not responsible for any of this!” And honestly, there is a lot of truth to these statements.

The question I believe God want’s us to ask is: “Can I heal these wounds?
and not
“Did I cause these wounds?”


Many of the issues we face are written in from the beginning of the country. They have been updated little by little and were not written or installed by those who enforce them today. Though the overwhelming majority don’t share the same mindset as our countries forefathers, the words and guarantees put in place by the forefathers are still protected by a powerful few who are determined no to see policy and law match the desires of the citizens it serves.

As one benefiting from a system, its kinda foolish to ask one to make changes that will take away an advantage, or even level a playing field in a country that is already divided between the top 1% and the bottom 99%.

But Jesus introduces us to the Good Samaritan. He encounters this man who has been beaten down, robbed, stripped, and left for dead. When he encounters him, he sees a human being that has been wounded, and though he didn’t inflict any wounds, he takes it upon himself to help this man heal.

He pours oil and wine on the man’s wounds. This is his attempt to not only heal the wounds but to prevent infection. See, the hateful act committed by the previous people on the road could cause a serious infection to set in the man. This infection could be so great, that the man could survive the attack, but die from the infection caused. The Good Samaritan decided he would do his best to prevent this. He knew this could preserve a limb, or even improve the quality of life.

After carrying this man on his beast, the Good Samaritan puts the man up in the inn and further took care of him. I believe in the inn, he not only cleaned and replaced his bandages, and made sure the man had a comfortable place to heal, I believe he both listened and spoke to this man in an attempt to help him heal emotionally.

See, after trauma, its not just the physical portion of us that must be attended too, but it the emotional and mental as well. There is nothing like having one’s humanity disregarded to make one feel less than to one that considered them greater than. When one is violated, their entire system of trust and community suffers. They carry the trauma from the attack into future relationships and endeavors, and they often suffer from fear, anguish, and turmoil from the past. But, the Good Samaritan attends to him in the inn.

Remember, this man’s condition and state are not his faults, but they are his responsibility. He did not injure this man. He did not rob this man. He did not strip this man. And thank God, He did not abandon this man! He didn’t value his possessions greater than he valued the man who was dying. He reached into hit riches and used his wealth and health to give the man all he could.

I know that sounds crazy. He sees someone suffering, and wants to see them healthy and whole. He can not give the man everything he lost, but he can give the man a chance to heal and a fair chance to rebuild what he lost. Jesus end’s the story, “Go and do likewise!”.

Let us not get caught up in who’s a fault it was, or who sinned, but let us acknowledge what we see and feel. If you see someone hurting, have compassion. If you see someone in need or being treated unfairly, request that they are treated justly. It’s the Christlike thing to do.

#PastorJDO3

The System or The Savior

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1 And Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death.
And on that day a great persecution arose against the
church in Jerusalem; and they were all scattered through
out the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.
2 And some devout men buried Stephen, and made loud
lamentations over him.
Acts 9:1-2

“And Saul was in hearty agreement…” Chapter 9 begins. It reveals not only the perspective of Saul, but the heart of Saul. In his blind state, he is in agreement with the deceptive manner and this grave use of power. The people celebrate with Saul, laying their robes at the feet of Saul as they rallied around what they believe to be truth.

They had the right God, but flawed interpretation and understanding. The Word that was to be freeing, had become constricting and cumbersome. The Spirit, which has been absent from their faith practice had now come. Signs and Wonders now appear. Priest in the temple as well as participants in the faith began to believe.

Conviction was falling on the land, and those in power, including Saul, new that they must get out ahead of the growing number of people that were being liberated by the Gospel. The church was being added too daily, which means the temple was loosing membership, which would diminish its power and influence.

Like with Jesus, the religious right used deception to single out one growing in power and influence, shedding the light on truth and giving people hope, killed their hope by killing the one pointing to it. Though Stephen was no criminal, his testimony was stealing people and resources from the powers that be. His power and light threatened them, so they snuffed it out, because it shined light on the fact that the light had left them some time ago. They were no longer surviving because they were the house of the Lord, or the dwelling place of the Spirit, but because the system and structure was strong enough to keep the Kingdom Economy going.

“Saul was in heavy agreement with putting him to death.” Chapter 9 begins. We know this was before Saul met Christ on the Road to Damascus, but its moments’ like this I believe Paul thought back too. The moments his zeal was guided and empowered by falsehood and in correct interpretations of the Scripture. He like many of us will have to revisit the sins we committed and sins we supported in our darkened state.

I wish I could say different, but Saul was no fool. Paul was a Pharisee. He was an expert in the law. He was one that was thought to have the most devote walk with God. This man, who was thought to be an expert along with others, encountered and denied the Messiah, Killed the Messiah, and then plotted against and killed Stephen.

How is it that one so versed in the scripture and the
law could be so blind? How is it that the scripture
could be fulfilled in their presence and they not receive it?

Saul and others were ingrained in a strong system that worked void of the presence of God and the leading of His Holy Spirit. They ceased wanting to people to be obedient to the laws of God, and wanted men to bow down in respect to them. They began to abuse their power, and saw those as disobedient and not worthy of life.

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“And Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death.” Acts 9:1. Yes, it was beneficial to the system, but let us not over look that Saul was a part of this system. Saul was rising in the ranks, gaining power with each stop. He would surely be at the top of the totem pole if he continued to play the game and support the system; right? Right!

See, it’s easy to find “…hearty agreement…” in taking the life of another when it benefits you. Saul was pleased because each death secured his finances, his career, his social status, and a great legacy. Yep, he like many today, will be asked to stand with truth, and not make the comfortable choice by securing their future.

My fear is that we will loose some Stephens in this present season. The system built will fight to maintain itself and is practices. Remember, most of the law they were enforcing stemmed from their studies and interpretation. Sadly what we see today is the same. Worse, we have many that have misused the scriptures, lying on God and the Holy Spirit to control and to be dictators in their own little kingdoms.

#PastorJDO3

Elijah: One Voice Against the System

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I Kings 19:9-11
9There he went into a cave and spent the night.
The Lord Appears to Elijah
And the word of the Lord came to him:
“What are you doing here, Elijah?”
10 He replied, “I have been very zealous
for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites
have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars,
and put your prophets to death with the sword.
I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
I Kings 19:9-10

I am praying right now for my anglo brothers and sisters. When I started writing this blog, I thought about the position and circumstances my anglo clergy brothers and sisters face.  Just like there is a cry to bring down systemic racism in the government, laws and the application of said laws, our churches/denominations have positioned us all, particularly our anglo brothers and sisters to lend a hand and their voice to removing racism, politics, classism, & sexism from the practice of our faith.  

friend_hugsncaring_mtl_01Much like Elijah, there is much at stake.  He has felt the pressure of speaking up, as well as seen the result of others that took a stance.  He saw the radicals and how they were dealt with by those in power.  He saw their lives taken, and understood the magnitude of the moment; taking stance for those who’s voices have been muted or taken away.

He won a major battle, liberating believers from persecution and fear, and began to tear down the structure one step at a time.  His rebellious stance was successful, and while progress was made, those in power maintained their position and further turned their attention to Elijah.  Fear overtook him, and he found himself shifting from having the power and confidence to stand for the Lord and chase down those who stood against God.

In this moment, Elijah cries out to the Lord in I Kings 19:10:

I Kings 19:10I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.

shockedElijah was enlightened!  He knew what was right and what was wrong, but understood the large battle and dangers of fighting against an entire system. He would speak out against a system, had people in powerful positions, on the payroll, and receiving benefits.   He wasn’t just trying to change a practice or an interpretations of a scripture, was asking God to work through him to restore the temple of God on person and evil practice at a time.

They know that on the other side of the sacrifice will be further sacrifice.  Some will suffer violence, persecution, and many will be blackballed.  Their reputations will be smeared, their income could stop, their entire lifestyle could change.  And thus, while the desire is there to continue fighting, the reality of the situation could cause anyone to fear speaking up.

confused personIn the end, right is right!  And for those that believe in God, we must continue finding the courage to stand in agreement with His Word.  We must believe that our protection and prosperity come from him, and thus we don’t speak truth in fear, we speak truth in faith!

God tells Elijah (eventually), I Kings 19:18, “Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”  The reality was there were others that were frightened and scared to stand, but would gain strength through Elijah standing.  They would stand with him, and ensure that the days of Baal came to an end, but it all hinged on Elijah continuing to stand.

 

#PastorJDO3

It’s the Party Guy!!!!!

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Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as
he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and
they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
Genesis 3:8

As I was reading this passage, I saw the world!  Each of us, taking turns eating from forbidden trees.  Eating until we are full, and then sharing the fruit with others.  Everyone smiling, full bellies and all, looking for the next tree to fulfill the unmet needs of the flesh.

writingThe serpent now, craftier than ever.  Pouring millions of dollars into advertisement, has generations of investors and consumers addicted to his delicacies.  In this season, he has increased his reach by making not only the sin satisfying and enticing, but he has made it convenient as well.  With one click or call, sin can be at your front door, on your computer screen.   And we are all fighting to reserve the next spot.  We sit frustrated when we have to wait on sin, complaining about the 90 minute wait times, 2 week back orders, out of stock notifications and the like, yet we wait, and yes, we consume.

We judge each other for our nakedness, covering up just enough to continue in sin.  While some sins are committed together, others are done in private, and spill over into public arguments and blame shifting from the shame of sins we’ve committed.  While other groups parade proudly in the streets, bragging about their sins, petitioning to the world for acceptance, and demanding that the house of God alter its world to reflect current cultural norms.

We spend our time in open rebellion, posting our sins before mankind, like a child who no longer fears chastisement and has determined to live outside of the will of God and their parents.  We stand on the bow of ships like Sargent Dan in Forrest Gump, challenging God as though we are invincible.

confidentHere we find Adam and Eve, after eating from the tree.  No time frame is given, but for fun, lets understand it our time frame.  There have been 2000+ years of grace given to us by the Lord (thus far), and Paul immediately has to address the Body of Christ because it is approaching the grace of God as though God has given us a Life Time Park Pass to Sin World.  Paul says, God’s grace is not a reason to sin, but a reason to turn from sin, yet, both he, and we find ourselves encountering those who are immersed in it as a way of life, without regret or a hint of remorse.

It’s as though we are on a cruise liner!  One big party with 24 hours access to feed our flesh.  It’s as though we have forgotten that the Lord has announced His return.  Though we have no day or time, we have his promise.  Much like our forefathers, they grew weary waiting for the promised messiah, and went about living and doing as though he was not going to honor His word.  They stopped looking for Him, and stopped listening to those who spoke about Him and for Him.  They walked away from God and adapted the practices and God of those who inhabited the land in which the dwelt.  They begin to customize the faith, keeping its basic tenets, and started customizing the faith according to best local practices, and to form fit a God towards their needs and personal desires.

shame2They stopped having a relationship with Him, and used Him as a resource to relieve themselves from the penalty of sin, while those who were chosen as servants figured out different ways to use their position with him to gain financial wealth and political prominence.  God ultimately decided to hold back his Word until the right moment.  He suspends His 3rd party service, and hand delivers His message!  Like a thief in the night, He appears with little fan fair, and few signs.  Only few were watching, so He came while all the ignorance and disobedience continued.  He walked among them and began to shine His light, revealing the darkness.

And yep, you guessed it!  He is coming again.  And much like His last entrance, He is going to crack the sky and we will all be caught red handed.   To retouch basis with our text, we will all run and hide.  Like Adam and Eve, when we hear the sound of the Lord in the cool of the garden, we will all realize that this Friend we have in Jesus is not just filled with grace and mercy, but he is filled with wrath!

Adam only knew God has a friend and a father.  He hadn’t sinned, and has not faced God’s discipline or correction.  In these moments, he became aware that he would have to stand face to face with the Lord and give a full account.  Yep, you guessed it!  So will we.

discouragedSo, I named this blog the Party Guy, because I used this character with my oldest two children.   I would send them to bed, and then they would party for the next 2 to 3 hours with the door closed, as though I was not aware they were in full disobedience.  I would yell upstairs a couple of time s to correct them, and they would be obedient for a few minutes, and then the party would resume.  Yep, you guessed it.  I would go upstairs to join the party.  Bursting through the door, I would says, “It’s the party guy!!!  Where’s the party?”  They would both dive into their beds, pulling the blanket over them as though it would protect them.

And yep, you guessed it we too are going to be leaping in our beds and grabbing our covers.  Sewing together leaves, and not this bold encounter with the Lord we boast about.  I’m going to ask him this!  I’m going to tell him that!  All lies!  We are going to look him in the eyes, and hopefully just say “Holy!” without any other word or words to follow!  To see the face of God, know who He is, know what He commands, know his power and to know yourself and your disobedience you experience both the fear and joy of meeting the savior!

#PastorJDO3

 

Nah; We Not Good!

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12 In that day I will carry out against Eli all that I have
spoken concerning his house, from beginning to
end. 13 For I have told him that I am about to
judge his house forever for the iniquity which
he knew, because his sons brought a curse on
themselves and he did not rebuke them.  14 And
therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the
iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned by
sacrifice or offering forever.”  1 Samuel 3:12-14

 

In life, offense is bound to happen.  As humans, we make bad decisions from time to time, and these mistakes cause hardship in the relationship.  For the most part, a simple conversation and apology will restore the relationship, but there are some offenses that end differently.  As a kid, one of the worst things that could happen after an encounter was to extend your hand as a peace offering and say, “We Good?”, and to have it rejected the gesture and say, “Nah! We Not Good!”

I know it’s not good English, but its an accurate translation.
“We Not Good” means all has not been forgiven.
Justice has not been served.  We will encounter each other again.
More suffering will follow.

God speaks to Samuel in regards to His new responsibility and about the action of the outgoing responsible party.  God speaks to Eli not to tell Eli’s business, but to make sure Eli and Samuel are sure about why his reign have come to an end.    Samuel answers God’s call receiving both instructions, correction and his first assignment.

Samuel’s First Challenge…

He would have to stand before the man he loved and respected and inform him of the Lord’s plans.  God comforts him, telling him that Eli is already aware of the coming judgement.  He understand the punishment coming, and is merely waiting for the details.  He is prayerful that God will deal mercifully with both he and his sons, but he is aware that God is: A.  Not talking to him  B. Speaking through him C. Displeased with him.

loudvoiceHe is merely waiting for sentencing, and sadly, his son (Samuel) has been charged with the duty to deliver them to him.  Now, this is not about Samuel, though he is surely learning from seeing how God is dealing with his father and mentor.  And on top of that, the word is not good.

His first assignment would not be to carry a word of blessing, but a word of judgement.  He would confirm the fate of his mentor, and experience for the first time the weight and challenge of carrying the Word of God to His people.

God recounts for Samuel the actions of Eli and the boys.  You can almost hear the frustration in his voice, as the long suffering love and grace of the Lord has been pushed to its max.  God has confronted Eli.  The people have cried out to God and to Eli about the atrocities, but Eli chose to take a soft line towards his children.  But God would model for Eli in this judgement.  God would not take a soft line, or give a lesser sentence.  Though filled with grace and mercy, the wrath of just part of God would be experienced.

Elis’ Perspective…

Eli has seen God forgive his people.  He knows that God can forgive.  He knows God will forgive.  The question that not looms is, Will God Forgive?  Eli and his boys are in need of God’s forgiveness!   Each day, he participated in the atonement of man through the sacrifice of man.  God dictated for His people what would make their relationship right, and in the incident that they would sin, they could come to God with a sacrifice, and this would please the Lord.

downloadSo you can imagine that Eli wondered what type of sacrifice would be demanded of him? What could he give up to restore God’s favor? What could he give up to return their relationship back to it original state.  What could he offer up to the Lord to honor and restore the luster of the covenant he was in with Him?

Samuel hears these words from the Lord, that is to be delivered to Eli,

And therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house
shall not be atoned for by sacrifices or offering forever.”  1 Samuel 3:14

Imagine being like Eli…

This bothered me.  God, so easy and eager to forgive.  The one who is filled with grace and mercy.   The one who is long suffering.  The one who honors covenant, doesn’t change, is faithful, has decided 1.  No sacrifice is good enough to make the relationship right 2.  No person in the family line can 3.  This punishment is forever.

How burdening a thought?  Imagine offering the Lord the sacrifice of all your assets, and the Lord not extending his hand in peace.  Imagine knowing there was nothing you could do to change the Lord’s mind.  What if your prayers were sent to voice mail, and God ignored all your calls.  What if He denied you Facetime?  Wouldn’t meet you on Zoom?  Blocked you from His Skype account.  What if He reported you as spam?

Eli and his sons would meet their fate, knowing that no sacrifice from present or even future members of their blood line could atone for their sin.  How depressing!  They understood even future generations would also live under the punishment from their hands.  Their family would face an eternal band from the Lord, and would forever be cast from service.

Waiting for punishment….

Angry upset boy, little man

All Eli could do was wait.  Much like a child, eager to get the punishment over, Eli laid in his room waiting for a word from the Lord.   How frustrating. God spoke to Him about his actions, and now he waits for confirmation about the judgement.

I know some of you find the actions of God hard to believe.  And believe me, He isn’t all talk.  Both of Eli’s sons die on the same day, and then Eli upon hearing it falls and breaks his neck!  Game set and Match!!!

Some of us foolishly believe that when Christ comes, the compassion in Him is going to make Him change His mind.  There is no way a loving God could send people to hell you say.  There is no way a forgiving God will punish people for their sins. He will just forgive them you are thinking.  Be it known, He spoke to Eli, and followed through with His plan. 

He gave Eli adequate time to correct his sons and to do right by the people.  Most importantly, Eli had time to teach and redirect his son’s as to their abuse and misuse of the offerings.  He didn’t require them to treat it with honor and holiness, and thus the one action God made that could restore their relationship with Him, he removed by putting an asterisk next to their family name.   They defamed the name of the Lord in the community, and He would in turn make a public statement in defense of His name by dealing in the open with the ones that brought shame to His temple and His name!

discouraged Pastors, Prophets, Leaders…and the like, we need to get it together!  The response by God is relative not to the sins or imperfections of Eli or his sons, but by the way they managed the house of the Lord.  I am concerned that God is not only watching, but has been displeased with our management and our actions among His people.  Some of the church hurt is from congregants, but there are tremors throughout the body of Christ of people grieving and suffering because of the un-Christlike behavior of those God has called and purposed.  

I wish that it could be said that these people hurting the body of Christ are all false prophets, but like Eli, I believe that many of them are called, and being reckless in the position God has placed them in.   The calling of God does not make us bullet or fire proof, and in the event that it does, it will not protect you from the hand of the Lord.  Judgement is coming for all people, and to those of us who have been called to a higher standard, we know that the “Servant well done!” could be more like “What have you done?”  or worse, “Nah, We not Good!”

It is my prayer that each of us will correct our ways and make sure that we align our lives both publicly and privately to be more reflective of God.  In this, I believe our return to church will be more than just entering a building, it will be a return to the presence of God.  A place where we can find peace and rest for our souls.

 

#PastorJDO3

 

 

The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh…

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1 Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD before Eli. 
And word from the LORD was rare in those days, vision
were infrequent.  2 And it happened at that time as Eli was
lying down in his place (now his eyes sight had begun to grow
dim and he could not see well), 3 and the lamp of God had
not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple
of the LORD where the ark of God was,  1 Samuel 3:1-3

 

Sadly, as I read this passage, I saw a report that has replicated itself in many generations.  While it is not popular preaching, this passage introduces the journey of transition from One Prophet to another.

surprised--120

I know; this is Eli!  He is the man of God.  The one God promised that his family would “…walk before the LORD forever…”  God, despite the behavior of previous generations, had honored His promise, though the ones serving Him had not been honorable in theirs.  God decides no longer to work through Eli’s lineage and anoints Samuel.

Before you start screaming this in unfair?  And how dare God!  Let’s look closely at why God chose to move in a different direction.

He chose Eli as a High Priest to serve God and the people.  He was responsible for leading the people in all righteousness, and helping the people walk rightly before the LORD.  He helped them atone for their sins, making sure their sacrifice was acceptable to the LORD, and that they understood the perspective of God and His desire for His people.

Eli served the LORD for over 40 years, and from what we know, faithfully and dutifully, but something changed.  It wasn’t that Eli had begun committing wrongs, but God was displeased with Eli for how he was managing His house.  It wasn’t Eli’s hands, but it was the hands of his sons that were steadily committing atrocities before and to God’s people.  They were bullying the people, taking offerings and sacrifices to feed themselves, and sleeping with the women who served in the temple.

discouragedEli confronted his sons about their ways, but did not punish them, stop them or remove them from their position.  Maybe he thought his talk was enough?  Maybe he was too weak to stop them?  Maybe he didn’t have the strength to remove them?  Maybe they were too far gone?  We don’t know, but what we do know is that the word about their actions spread through the camp like a wild fire.

Whatever the case, we find that God was displeased with his service.  I wonder what God thinks about the service of Priest and Prophet today.  While it is clearly not every Priest or Prophet, we find that God is very attentive to how the house of God is treated, and how the relationship between God and His people are managed.  Despite God’s love and His promise to Eli, we find that protecting His name and correcting the errors and harm to the people who came to His house as a place of refuge, solace and restoration was so important to God that He had to do what was best for all.

See, Eli was putting the comfort and needs of His sons above the name of God and the laws of God.  This angered God.  It’s not just that Eli heard the complaints of the people, but God heard the complaints of the people.  He saw with His own eyes the actions of the sons.  He saw how they treated the temple.  He understood their hearts, and knew that they saw it not as a place of repentance but as a resource for their pleasure and delight.  As Prophets and Priests, we are responsible for the way the name of the LORD is spoken.  We are responsible for the reports about the way the house of the LORD is given to the community.  The reputation of the Lord and His house are tied to our deeds and actions, and Eli had addressed, but not taken the proper action towards restoring the peace to the people.   The people wondered how could God allow His servants to take advantage of His people?  So, to protect His name, He suspended service.

confused personGod was so angry about the disrespect, that He tells Eli that his time is up, but that He is going to cut off his entire line for service and kill both of his sons on the same day.  He speaks, “Those who honor me, I will honor, those who despise me, will be disdained.”
1 Samuel 2:31

God will not allow the man of God, no matter how great his service in years past, to allow His house to be disgraced and His people abused.   God asked Eli, “‘Why do you honor your sons more than me by fattening yourselves on the choice parts of every offering made by my people Israel?’”  1 Samuel 2:29  Eli chose to confront his sons, but allowed them to continue doing wrong by God and people.  He returned to his seat, as though his job was done, allowing the people to continue being offended by his seed.  God watched Eli turn a blind eye to his sons, and decided that he had become a co-conspirator with the boys.  Though Eli had done nothing wrong, his silence toward the verbal outcry against his children was enough for God to consider him part of the problem and not the solution.

Eli, by not correcting his sons had chosen to treat them with more honor than he treated the LORD!  And for this, He moved in an entirely new direction.  Though Eli kept his title, His days of serving were over.

God had changed His Course!

God needed someone that would love Him and serve Him.  He needed someone that He could trust, and that would restore the faith of the people in the Temple and in their God to protect them from all forms of harm and danger.  He chose Samuel!  This could also be stated, He Chose to Move On From Eli!

loudvoiceThe Chapter begins acknowledging that Samuel was a boy.  He was young and inexperienced, while Eli had grown old in age.  Samuel had entered ministry, learning under the reign of Eli, and under the watchful eye of the LORD!  Samuel, the text says was ministering before the LORD.  Samuel’s service was not only noticed by the LORD, but by Israel.  Loyal, Faithful and Respectful of Eli, Samuel carried out his duties as assigned, and his work pleased God.

God needed someone that would not only carry out the rituals, but that would listen and be obedient when He was speaking.  We find that the people were being served, but that there was a lack of vision and revelation in that time.  God, still a presence for His people, was either not speaking to His Prophets and Priests, or was speaking but were not saying what thus said the LORD.   

Even though the word says that vision was diminished and the Word of God was rare, verse 2 informs us that Eli was found “…lying down in his place.”   This doesn’t mean that He was always laying down, but in this instance, God took the time to document that Eli was lying down on the job.  How could Eli be lying down?  God had expressed his displeasure, there was no word from the LORD, no visions among his servants, his son’s were disrespecting God and His Temple, Samuel was young and serving and Eli was not even in the temple.  The scripture says he was “…in his place.”

One would think that Eli would be in the house of the LORD!  Eli should be laying in the same room as the Ark of the Covenant.  He should be sitting in the presence of God, hoping to hear a Word, eager to see a vision, but Eli is at home leaving things to deteriorate while Samuel the body serves the LORD!

Maybe we are being to hard on Eli?  The Word informs us that “…his eye sight had begun to grow dim and he could not see well.”  Eli had some legitimate health concerns, and because of this, we should have compassion for him due to his circumstances, but the Word informs us that he was still able to make it to the temple to sit at the gate.  He was present for the peoples sacrifice, but like his sons, it would seem that his presence was no longer to serve the LORD, but rather to get his portion of the sacrifices to God.

integrityWhile Eli was leading and absent in a time that needed him, the text lets us know that God’s favor was leaving.   Much like Saul, God’s favor now resided with someone else.  David had been anointed in private, and would one day be acknowledged as King in public.   Samuel too had been chosen by the LORD, and had to wait for God to fulfill His Word and Promise to Him.  Samuel would be aware from this point on, that the anointing and favor can be granted and can be moved if and when ones season was up.

Though anointed by God’s vessel, the text says “…the lamp of God had not yet gone out…”   The imagery painted here was that the anointing was fading from Eli.  Eli had accepted his fate and wasn’t interested in doing what it would take to change his fate and the performance and actions in the temple.  It would seem that he would head to the temple once he realized that God was speaking.  But he knows in his heart that God has moved on, so he simply instructs Samuel to answer the LORD, and then to bring back the revelation of the LORD to him.

Furthermore, God is careful to point out that Samuel was not just serving the LORD, but he was “…lying down in the temple or the LORD where the ark of God was.”  While Eli was enjoying the comforts of his home, Samuel was laying down in the presence of the LORD!  He rested in the place where God’s power was, and for that, God spoke to him.  He cried out from the silence, choosing to speak to a boy whom was in service, but had yet to really know God.  Until this point, his connection to the LORD was Eli, who was able to teach him rituals and deeds, but could no longer give him a Word and Vision.  Samuel would have to learn directly from the source, because his guardian lacked a strong connection.

Samuel would hear a strange voice 3 times, answering on the forth time, to find out that God has a plan for him.  And while Eli has 40 years of experience, he is able to give the young boy basic advise.  I suppose this should count as mentorship.  Eli’s sons have gone astray, and the son given to him by Hannah.  He has been entrusted with raising and mentoring this young man in the service of the LORD, and one could argue that Eli is even failing at this.

And with all this, God steps in!  God’s assessment of the situation is bleak.  He sees not only the sons of Eli are wayward, His man of God is diminished, but sees a young boy with gifts who is not being mentored.  God’s voice was quiet, but still.  His Word didn’t return void.  It hit the ears intended.   And brought a fire to a lamp that was slowly being filled with oil.

This is a Word to the Eli’s of today.
It is likewise a Word to the Samuels of the today.

God will honor those who honor Him.  Those that despise Him will be disgraced. 
God is serious about His house, and protective of His name.

 

God is eager to be intimate with His people, and will remove all that make peace and restoration difficult.  God will punish.  God will chastise.  God will appoint.  God will remove.  God will honor His Word, but He will defend the integrity of His name above all, and will but down all those who bring it shame.

#PastorJDO3

 

Welcome to Abomination Church!

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Welcome to Abomination Church!  Here, We are a MESS!

In this day, we have churches popping up on every street corner.  We have some of the most creative and attractive names, captivating slogans, missions statements, logos and the like.  It’s marketing at its best.  Communicating righteousness, holiness, godliness, community, evangelism and service under one lord, one faith and one baptism.

Though pleasing to the eye of man, we find in chapter 7, a thriving church that is too boastful about its claims.  The church bears the most marketable name ever; the name of The LORD!   It advertised, but advertised falsely.   The advertisement was enough to draw people into the fold, but once in, the people saw that it was all marketing, and gravitated to the pocket of people that were committing the same sin they were committing.   They were a church of small groups, but none of them were seeking righteousness, they were only speaking on righteousness.

 1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,
2 Stand in the gate of the LORD’s house
 and proclaim
there this word, and say, “Hear the word of the LORD,
all you of Judah, who enter by these gates to worship!”
 Jeremiah 7:1

God tells Jeremiah to stand at the gate and speak to all who traveled.   He stood shockedthere like an usher, handing out the worship bulletin.    The order of the day, “Change!  Jeremiah would speak loudly, decreeing the Word of our Lord.   This Word was a verbal reminder, much like you cross the state line when traveling.  See, each state has laws that pertain to itself, and has the ability to arrest you and hold you accountable for its laws despite what you know.  It’s your responsibility to learn about the lay and laws of the land so that you can act accordingly

Sadly, the people had read the laws, and had decided that change was not possible or more like desirable.  Turns out that they loved the Temple because of the fellowship of the people, but didn’t love the Temple because of the worship of the LORD!  They gathered in groups and celebrated their lifestyles, not correcting one another.  They were a fully accepting church, approving the lifestyle of those who went against the Word of  God.

3 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel,
“Amend your
ways and your deeds, and I will
let you
dwell in this place.  4 Do not trust in
deceptive words, saying, “This is the temple
of the LORD, the temple of the LORD:”

Jeremiah 7:7-4

God instructs Jeremiah to tell the people “Amend your ways and your deeds, and i will let you dwell in this place.”  This statement was tough to read.  In this time, we sit in our homes eager to return to the house of the LORD, but have been quarantined into our homes.  It has me wondering if this bears some semblance to what God was addressing through Jeremiah?  Could it be that God had to use this virus because His Men and Women of God would not confront the people?  Maybe we were so busy with business, that forgot to present to people God’s standard to His people.  We immerse ourselves in being social, and not in being spiritual, and God had and has had enough!  

He closes the doors of the church, forcing the people to stay at home demands that they consider their ways, and the way they are presenting themselves to Him.  God says, “Do not trust in deceptive words,…”  These deceptive words are not just the potential deceptive words from a false prophet, but the words of those misguiding you with their proclamations.   The words he addressed was “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the LORD”

downloadThese words are dangerous to the hearer, because they make a statement about who dwells and who directs the place they are in.  Saying this is The Temple of the Lord says that His presence is here.  It says that His word reigns supreme.  It says everyone is submitted to Him.  It says that everyone is following His rules and law.

I wonder if God thinks this about many of our houses of worship?  Or maybe they shouldn’t be called houses of worship, but houses of fellowship.  Maybe God has grown tired of our false advertisement?  Maybe the old bait and switch has caught the eye of our LORD, who has grown tired of us presenting God like a snake oil and tonic salesman?  Who knows?  What we do know is that God protects His name and cares about the acts performed in his temple and in the community.

5 For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds,
if you truly practice justice between a man and his
neighbor, 
6 if you do not oppress the alien, the
orphan, or the widow, and do not shed innocent
blood in this place, nor walk after other gods to
your own ruin, 7
then I will let you dwell in this
place, in the land that I gave your fathers
forever and ever. 
Jeremiah 7:5-7

God tells the people they need to amend their ways!  He is disgusted because their deeds don’t match their statement.  It’s much like we say Jesus is Lord over our lives, and then we hear and disobey His Word.  God says, this is not acceptable!  God accepts us for who we are, but doesn’t want us to remain where we are.   God wants people to know that their love for Him, and representing Him properly in the community is key to teaching others about Him.

Imagine what it was like for those who had been mistreated by God’s people to be seen dressed, up and traveling to the Temple.  They would watch God’s people walking piously into God’s house, as though God approves of them neglecting the needs of His creation.  They would watch them leave from other gods temples, and making sacrifices to statues, and then claim to serve the one true and living God.

discouragedGod informs them that they will not only be restricted from the temple, but they will be held out of the land that was promised.   I wonder how much of the promise we have missed out on playing Religious Charades with God?  Their behavior is not just keeping them from growing spiritually and intimately with God, but financially or productively.

8Behold, you are trusting in deceptive words to
no avail. 9
Will you steal, murder, and commit
adultery, and swear
falsely, and offer sacrifices to
Baal, and walk after other gods that you have 
not
known,
10 then come and stand before Me in this
house, which is called by My name, and say,
‘We are delivered!’
– that you may do all these
abominations?
11 Has this house, which is called
by My name, become a den of robbers in your sight?
Behold, I, even I, have seen it, “declares the LORD
Jeremiah 7:8-11

 His first statement to them in verse 8 is, claiming a place to be the house of God, does not mean a place is the house of God.  Many of us have fooled ourselves with similar statements, and God set’s the record straight.  Jeremiah was not speaking to them quietly or in isolation, he stood at the gate and started calling a spade a spade.  God refused to cover their sin, not because He was not forgiving or not able to, but because He knew their sacrifice was more of a payment to sin, and not repentance for sin.

God says, will you continue to come into my house and lie to my face?  “We are delivered…” people were professing, and all the while God knew they were divulging.  Not only did God know, but the community both inside and outside knew of the countless sins of the people, because they sinned both against God and mankind.  And because they were the people of God, they were misrepresenting the Name of the LORD!  God is not seen, but He is present.  He hears all and sees all.  He knows all.  He can not be fooled.  We can not use our words like a app filter.

loudvoiceGod makes it clear!  This house is an abomination.  The people that dwell in it are not righteous, but they are a mess.  They are committed to their sin lifestyles, and only seek the Lord to restore their relationship with God so that they can sin more without fear of consequence.  Are you looking for a place to continue in sin, or to resign from sin?

Why do you come?  Rather, why did you go?  Why are you streaming the service?  Why are you watching the Bible Study?

 

#PastorJDO3