Sunday, November 30, 2008

Hidden Lessons-The Power of Prayer


I cannot describe to the importance of knowing the stories and the characters of the Bible. Like some of you, I too was raised with a Bible in the home and had a general knowledge of God. I went to Sunday school and Church some Sundays and learned many wonderful things. However, it was not until I dedicated my life to the Lord that I decided to get more serious about the Bible.

Soon after my rededication I became both committed and faithful to memorize scriptures and follow a daily devotional. Since then I have learned quite a number of scriptures which I still draw on today and I continue to truly benefit from that commitment. I am never without a Word to direct me, shine a light on my path or give me peace. Each scripture is like an arrow in my quiver, a smooth rock in my shepherd’s bag or a fresh cup of water to pour into a thirsty soul. I would not take anything for the Word of God at my command.

At one point however, I noticed that I knew so many scriptures and stories which were powerful in and of themselves, but were yet somehow disconnected from one another. I could heap scripture after scripture onto any problem and drop verse after verse into conversations on virtually any subject and rattle them off with speed and accuracy. It was truly amazing for those who heard me, amazing but not life changing, and I am in the life changing business.

Some of you will understand what I am going to say because you experience this phenomenon as well … I see truth like pictures in my mind. And, if I can find the words to describe that truth, it seems to bring clarity and understanding both to me and to others. Jesus also did this when He used parables to describe a principle of God … like the parable of the man who sowed seeds in different types of soil. These comparisons help us to grasp parallel truths.

Anyway, although I had command of hundreds of individual scripture verses and could build a solid wall for God or against the devil by using each scripture as a block laid securely, nonetheless something was missing. Like I said, my command of the scriptures was always amazing but not always life changing.

After seeking God as to what was missing, one day I saw, as it were, a slice of bread with globs of mayonnaise dropped onto the bread. These globs represented me dropping scriptures on lives and into situations. I guess I was building a sandwich and I guess maybe you are that sandwich. Globs of mayonnaise! What did this mean?

It was not difficult to realize what needed to be done … I needed to smooth out the globs and spread the mayonnaise to more gracefully cover these slices of life. How could I do this? It came to me in an instant. I had spent so much time seeking and searching for scriptures to support the revelation I had received concerning salvation, water baptism, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, healing, prosperity, deliverance, persecution, marriage, child raising, business, and most every other subject imaginable.

I had globs and globs of scriptures I could drop onto anyone’s life situation. However I often had too much in one place and either did not take the time or did not have the grace to spread these out with any greater affect. What did I need? I needed continuity and a broader approach to God’s Word.

More than just knowing what God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit said, I needed to know why They said it, what the surrounding conditions were and what came both before and afterwards. The only way I could get this frame of reference was to actually read the whole story, as it had been written, not as a quest to prove any one doctrinal theory, but as the story of God and man.

So, that’s just what I did. Without checking off my three or four chapters here and there, like the Bible reading plans I had done before: So many chapters from the Old Testament, Psalms and the New Testament. Rather I just sat and read the Bible like a novel.

What I found was the marvelous story of life in the books of Genesis, Exodus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Then there was Joshua, and Judges and Ruth and Samuel, Esther, Job, Jonah, Daniel and so on.

Then the New Testament! The life of Christ in the Gospels, the Church of Acts, the Epistles … Oh my, what stories!

With these things in mind, turn with me to:

Psalms 78 NLT
1 ¶ O my people, listen to my teaching. Open your ears to what I am saying,
2 for I will speak to you in a parable. I will teach you hidden lessons from our past—
3 stories we have heard and know, stories our ancestors handed down to us.
4 We will not hide these truths from our children but will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the LORD. We will tell of His power and the mighty miracles He did.
5 For He issued his decree to Jacob; He gave his law to Israel. He commanded our ancestors to teach them to their children,
6 so the next generation might know them—even the children not yet born—that they in turn might teach their children.
7 So each generation can set its hope anew on God, remembering His glorious miracles and obeying His commands.

We are directed by God to teach our children hidden lessons from the well known stories of the Bible. The only way we can accomplish this directive is to actually know these stories. More than just learning or memorizing scriptures which we can use on command, we need to know the story into which that scripture is set. In this way we pass on to the next generation not only the hidden lessons we can teach but we also introduce them to their opportunity to gain personal revelation from God for themselves.

So, without further ado, lets find our hidden lesson for this morning in the story of Jesus as told in the first chapter of the Gospel of Mark.

Based on Mark’s account of the Gospel, when it came time for Jesus to begin His public ministry He traveled from Galilee to the place where John was baptizing in the Jordan. We know this to be near the old city of Jericho. Jesus was baptized by John who witnessed the heavens opening and the Holy Spirit descending upon Jesus in the form of a dove. John heard a voice from heaven saying, “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Immediately the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness where for forty days He was tempted by satan and was with the wild beasts while angels ministered to Him. Afterwards Jesus returned to the Galilee preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God, encouraging all to repent and believe the Good News.

It was in the Galilee by the Sea where Jesus called His first disciples to follow Him declaring to Peter and his brother, Andrew, that He would make them to become fishers of men.

One Sabbath day Jesus went to the synagogue in Capernaum and began to teach. Everyone there was amazed to hear the Word taught with such authority. Suddenly a man possessed with an unclean spirit interrupted the synagogue and demanded that Jesus stop teaching and leave them alone. Jesus forcefully commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man and the man was violently delivered. The news spread quickly throughout the region.

When Jesus left the synagogue that Sabbath day He went to Peter’s house where Peter’s mother-in-law was sick with a fever. Jesus took her hand and lifted her up … immediately she was healed and began to serve the guests. That evening, when the sun had set, after Sabbath had ended, the whole city gathered at the door of Peter’s house and watched Jesus as He healed and delivered many who were sick or possessed with demon spirits.

How was Jesus always able to heal and deliver so many? He had a renewable source of power --- Our Hidden Lesson For Today --- The Power of Prayer! When Jesus finished ministering to all of those that evening no doubt He was tired and well spent. So …

Mark 1:35 The next morning Jesus awoke long before daybreak and went out alone into the wilderness to pray. (NLT)

You see, Jesus had just come from forty days of prayer in the wilderness of Judea by which He was strengthened to minister to so many and meet their desperate needs. Now, before continuing His mission to the other cities and towns throughout the region of Galilee, He finds it necessary to renew His strength once again.

His strength came from prayer. We find this hidden lesson confirmed in a later story of the Bible from the 9th Chapter of Mark.

Mark 9 NLT
28 Afterward, when Jesus was alone in the house with his disciples, they asked him, "Why couldn’t we cast out that evil spirit?"
29 Jesus replied, "This kind can be cast out only by prayer."

Perhaps these disciples were powerless because they were prayer-less. It could be that they believed they had received some semi-magical power apart from a dependency upon God. Evil spirits are quick to discern spiritual complacency and a lack of moral power which is its natural result. Your problems know you and how you really are just as they knew Jesus in Mark 1:34 or Paul in Acts 19:15.

Later in ministry Jesus stands ready to raise Lazarus from the dead and shows that He is prepared for this miracle when in John 11 He says: "Father, I thank You that You have heard Me, and I know that You always hear Me …”

Jesus simply went from the place of prayer to the place of prayer and in between He worked miracles.

Isaiah 40:31 But those who wait on the LORD will find new strength.

Find your new strength and renew your power in Prayer. And, discover more Hidden Lessons for yourself as you read the Stories of the Bible. Commit today and change your life forever!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Study of the Miraculous Part Five-Thanksgiving


Sometimes people receive a miracle and never realize the real potential of the miracle. Only God knows the true potential and far reaching affects of the miracle He is willing to give you.

The story of my grandmother’s birth and my mother’s troubled pregnancies.

A miracle is nothing less than a Divine intervention by God. Every gift and each blessing from God is a miracle. However, God most often blesses us for reasons beyond our current circumstances.

The prime example of this truth is seen through the life and continuing impact of our father of faith, Abraham.

The story beginning in Genesis 11 and continuing, tells how Abraham and his wife Sarah passed the childbearing years of life together without having children. Both Abraham and Sarah so deeply desired a child and made it their constant prayer. However, as time went on and Abraham neared 100 years old and with Sarah almost 90, it seemed their dreams and prayers would go unanswered in their favor. This despite the fact that God had promised them a child.

Twenty-five years after they received God’s promise of a son, long after Sarah was thought able to conceive by any natural means, she became pregnant and miraculously gave birth to her firstborn son, Isaac. God told them that He was going to bless them, and He did, but that is not all God said about their miracle. God also told them what He wanted to see after He had blessed them. We read this about this in:

Genesis 12:2 I will cause you to become the father of a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and I will make you a blessing to others. (NLT)

Simply put, God intended to bless Abraham so that He could bless so many others through Abraham. It is the same with almost every other miracle recorded in the Bible. Every blessing God sends our way is meant to overflow our lives in such a way that we become a blessing to others. It’s the ‘cup running over’ principle from Psalms 23.

This is the best way to show true thanksgiving to God for His abundant blessings on our life.

Luke 12:48b Much is required from those to whom much is given, and much more is required from those to whom much more is given.

You see, there are two sure pathways to prosperity. The first truth from God’s Word involves us becoming a blessing to others even when we are in need. This is the biblical principle of sowing and reaping. We all understand that seed must first be planted before one can expect a crop. This truth is stated in many forms throughout both the Old and the New Testaments. Simply put, sometimes helping others get what they need opens up a heavenly door for our needs to be met. Job found this to be true when at last he prayed for his enemies, God turned his situation around and blessed Job with twice as much as he lost in return.

Proverbs 19:17 ¶ If you help the poor, you are lending to the LORD—and he will repay you!

The second principle which points us to a sure pathway to prosperity is giving to others because we have been given to first. To bless others with the blessing we were blessed with. With each and every blessing we receive, we are admonished to take a portion of that blessing and cheerfully offer it to God as a means of giving thanks. In fact, when God wants to bless the work of the Kingdom by funding some church or ministry, He most often sends it through some person. How does God normally accomplish this?

God knows what each one of us will do with what he gives us. He bases this on what He has observed us doing with what He has already given us thus far. The only way to change His opinion of us, if we need to, is to begin a new history with what we have right now and continue impressing Him with the very next blessing we receive.

Luke 6:38 If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving—large or small—it will be used to measure what is given back to you. (NLT)

Miracle blessings are designed to reach farther than their initial and immediate impact. From the miracle of creation in the Garden of Eden to the miracle of the Children of Israel being delivered from Egypt, from the miracle blessings God gave Rahab and Ruth to the miracle given a young girl named Mary from the town of Nazareth. Miracles and blessings are designed to have far reaching impact, often much farther than the initial or immediate need.

This is what God intended when He decided to bless the widow of 2 Kings 4 with her miracle. We have read this story together over and again during these past few weeks. It has become a very familiar passage for many of us. Tonight I want to bring a conclusion to this series and tie it to our responsibility to show Thanksgiving for each and every blessing we receive from God.

Luke 17 NLT
16 He fell face down on the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan.
17 Jesus asked, "Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine?

It is noted in the Gospel of Luke that Jesus provided a miracle pathway to healing for ten lepers. These lepers were healed after they had left Jesus’ presence. Upon realizing that they had received the miracle they had requested only one returned to give proper thanksgiving.

This account points to the facts that few make the effort to show true heart felt thanksgiving for their miracles and how important it is to Jesus that God get the glory for each and every blessing.

How does give glory to God … by first recognizing Him as our Source and then by using our miracle results as He first intended when He granted our miracle. Getting a blessing from God is only half of the story, what we do with our miracle is the rest.

When Jesus rescued the woman who had been caught in adultery from being stoned to death, he simply asked her to let that moment affect the rest of her life, to ‘go her way and sin no more’ lest a greater trouble come upon her. What could be a greater trouble than certain death by stoning? To fall into the hands of a Living God Whom you never thanked for all of the blessings He sacrificed His Son for you to receive.

In conclusion let me say that:

* God is willing to grant you a miracle if you will participate.
* The miracle will meet your need and more.
* God wants you to thank Him, and give Him all the credit.
* He wants to direct the more.

Remember, thanksgiving is simply: Thanks & Giving … Thank God and Give.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Biblically Correct


John 3 NKJV
16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
17 "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

The church does not offer condemnation for the world but rather salvation.

Believers in Jesus as Messiah, Savior and Lord cannot however, sit idly by and allow the truth of God’s Word to fade from the scenes of life in some misguided attempt to remain socially acceptable or politically correct.

God’s Word is applicable, relevant and meaningful for today. The world, societal tolerance, culture and even laws have changed over the past 2000 years however, God’s love has not.

What was considered unacceptable behavior when the New Testament was penned is still unacceptable behavior today and despite debate, sin is still sin, truth is still truth and the church is still the church.

The church can ill afford to dim the light of the glorious gospel of Christ Jesus to appease a changing world.

Winston Churchill said, “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last.”

The sinful nature of man can never be satisfied. Sin knows no boundaries and if tolerated, will continue to grow like an unchallenged cancer and will ultimately consume its victim.

Our challenge as a Believer in Jesus is simple: We can choose to be right with God or be right with the world. What will you do? Will you be ‘politically correct’, or ‘biblically correct’? It’s a fundamental choice and … don’t think you can escape facing this choice.

Just two short Sundays ago while we were here in church worshipping God, just before our children were released to their Sunday classes, a church in Lansing, Michigan was being attacked. Perhaps you read about it in the papers or heard it on the news … but maybe not … you see it was not widely reported.

In case you missed it, allow me to read an excerpt from a church member’s eyewitness account that Sunday morning, November 9th.

“Prayer had just finished when men and women stood up in pockets across the congregation, on the main floor and in the balcony. “Jesus was gay,” they shouted among other profanities and blasphemies as they rushed the stage. Some forced their way through rows of women and kids to try to hang a profane banner from the balcony while others began tossing fliers into the air. Two women made their way to the pulpit and began to kiss.” (Source: American Family Association of Michigan -

I purposefully chose the least offensive quote I found to share with you this morning in order to preserve the dignity of our service and not unduly offend you or your family. Other reports tell of a much more violent and profane disruption from this organized group who brought a reporter from a local newspaper in tow hoping to catch church members physically resisting these attacks. (Which by the way, did not happen)

It seems that a gay rights group based in Chicago had organized this raid and staged a rather loud and vulgar protest just outside the church building. Once they had successfully drawn the church’s security personnel outside, those who had been sitting strategically throughout the congregation were instructed by their leader to begin their coordinated disruption of the Sunday service inside. This violent raid was staged in attempts to intimidate the Church membership.

Now lest you think this can only happen way up North or is only a threat if you live on the ‘Left’ or ‘Right’ coasts of the US, think again.

On that same Sunday morning, just two weeks ago, right in the heart of the Bible-Belt, smack dab in the middle of Texas, at a relatively conservative, ‘not bothering nobody’ kind of church, the First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, guess what happened?

An organized group of gay activist from the greater Dallas-Ft Worth area coordinated a protest, lining both sides of the street in front of the downtown church singing “Jesus Loves Me” while carrying signs promoting a gay and lesbian agenda and shouting “I’m Gay and It’s OK” to families coming for worship and others who passed by.

Why did they choose to demonstrate at this particular church? It seems the Pastor intended to preach a series on family values which focused on some ‘politically in-correct’ topics of the day. Topics which this group and groups like this believe should be outside the parameters of Church teachings. Topics which some believe should be taken out from under the 1st Amendment Freedom of Speech protections and placed under the Hate Crimes Act.

The organizer of that protest said she was there because she wanted to protect the children sitting in the pews who are struggling with their sexual identity from hearing only one side of the truth. (My synopsis) “I was like those kids,” she said. “The hardest part of coming out as a lesbian is aligning your faith with who your are.”

It is certain that God loves every person without regard as to how they feel, what they do or what led them to feel and do what they feel and do. However, there are some things which God’s word calls sin and disorder no matter why we feel or do them. And He says to entertain, foster or feed a desire within yourself or others towards homosexuality is sin, no more so than any other sexual sin, but sin nonetheless. You see, our feelings are not a license to sin.

Contrary to what some think, we can ill afford to teach our children or allow ourselves to align our faith with who - we - are … rather we must align who we are with our faith … the faith which is in Christ our Lord and His Word.

To bring these issues even closer to home …

Last week our church received an email protesting our assumed anti-gay position because our news department had chosen to see the events I have mentioned this morning as news worthy and dared to include them in our weekly broadcasts of ChurchOnline News. We were encouraged to not continue pursuing these types of stories in the future. Some believe the church should have no voice in social affairs and no opinion concerning such controversial matters.

It’s amazing to realize that people and groups are watching to make sure churches do not get out of line or become a threat to their own political agendas … right here in Southeast Texas, right here in your church … a church which has a long standing reputation of preaching an uplifting, non-condemning, not critical, non-judgmental word straight from the Bible.

We simply believe and teach that truth is truth and that truth is never determined by a show of hands or guided by emerging trends. Truth transcends time and culture. We follow neither the traditions nor the changing morals of society but rather stand firmly and lovingly upon the infallible, undeniable, living Word of our benevolent Creator.

Without apology the Church is a shining light designed to illuminate God’s pathway for salvation. We cannot allow that Light to dim or be hidden from view. It is the Light of Truth which draws men to Christ. If that Light shines on any darkness it is because darkness exists in the lives of all who approach the light.

Jesus is the Light of the world and there is no darkness at all in Him … no desire to judge, criticize or condemn, but to save. We condemn ourselves when we refuse to embrace the Truth.

Earlier I read from John 3:16 & 17. Allow me to re-read those scriptures and continue a bit further in that passage to help us remain biblically correct.

John 3 NKJV
16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
17 "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
18 "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
19 "And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
20 "For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.
21 "But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God."

No man can condemn you. However, people are condemned when they stand before the truth and refuse to embrace it. This is the condemnation that the light has come into the world and men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. (v.19)

The remedy for darkness, the cure for sin, the help every person needs, is Jesus. Come to the light and open your heart and mind to God’s Word without pre-condition … listen to what He says, don’t be condemned, let the Word save you!

In closing I asked you to accept these biblically correct Facts
1. Jesus loves us the way we are but He will not agree with nor will He bless our sin.
2. We don’t have to be afraid of the Bible, it is our salvation.
3. If we will seek and embrace the truth, it will set us free.
4. We must teach our children the Biblically correct truth.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Study of the Miraculous: Part Four-Keep Your Hand on Your Miracle


Part One – ‘Participation’

Part Two – ‘Don’t Limit God’

Part Three – ‘Time, Place & People’

2 Kings 4 KJV
1 ¶ Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha, saying, Thy servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest that thy servant did fear the LORD: and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen.
2 And Elisha said unto her, What shall I do for thee? tell me, what hast thou in the house? And she said, Thine handmaid hath not any thing in the house, save a pot of oil.
3 Then he said, Go, borrow thee vessels abroad of all thy neighbours, even empty vessels; borrow not a few.
4 And when thou art come in, thou shalt shut the door upon thee and upon thy sons, and shalt pour out into all those vessels, and thou shalt set aside that which is full.

Notice the specifics of this command in verse 4:

4 And when thou art come in, thou shalt shut the door upon thee and upon thy sons, and shalt pour out into all those vessels, and thou shalt set aside that which is full.

* It is understood that this woman was the one who was designated by God to do the pouring. This is confirmed later in verse 5 as we see that she indeed did the pouring herself. This gives support to the idea that who has their hand on the miracle can be important.

* I have seen time and again both natural and spiritual doors which would not open for one person open wide for another. I have watched adventures which for the most part were solid and were wisely approached but yet failed under the direction of one person and later flourished in the hands of another.

* Considering this phenomenon along with confirmations throughout the scriptures, I have concluded that at times it is critical that the person chosen and inspired by God with a vision be the person who handles the direction of that vision. It’s hard to hand off a pregnancy to someone else and many visions die for lack of that type of care. The hands of a nurse can never replace the womb of a mother. And the minds of followers cannot replace the hearts of a leader.

* There is a time to include others in the vision, for counsel and for care … but do it too early and the vision will be weakened and may die.

* We have a saying here at GTCOTR that “If it’s your baby, you raise it.” Why? Because no one naturally cares for a baby like its mother.

* There are usually ten good ways to do any one thing. However, the person who is going to be doing it is often the best person to get it up and running and also the best person to fix it if it begins to fail.

* Keep in mind that there is a difference between doing good stuff for God and then being directed by God to do God stuff. There is a difference between Good Stuff for God and God’s Stuff. Miracles fall into the category of God Stuff. Without the person God chooses doing it just like God said, miracles will not work. God gives miracle visions and miracle instructions to those whom He chooses.

* When someone comes to me with a great idea which I believe deserves to be implemented, I often enlist that person to manage the formation of that service or ministry. If they are unwilling to be that involved, the idea, even though good and profitable, may not get implemented. Why? Because it is not always easy to find someone one else impregnated with another person’s vision who will naturally care for its birth and development.

Philippians 2:20 For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state.

* There is a natural care which a mother has for a baby and a natural care in those to whom God gives His vision for churches, ministries and miracles. No one will care for a vision or ministry like the creator of it. Just like God Who made it His responsibility to take care of mankind, give His time and energy, come up with a plan to meet their need, pay for it and stick with it through good times and bad times to get the job done.

* God chooses birth mothers and handmaidens for His projects. He impregnates them with His Word, faith, wisdom, love, care and concern for the life and well being of those projects.

* Many have the gift of pointing out the blatantly obvious and cataloging all of the things that need to be done. However, there are fewer who are willing to give of their time, talent or treasury to make those same things happen. Believe me, there is no shortage of vision but rather there is more often a shortage of readily available resources such as time or money which others are willing to commit to a project to see it through … especially if it is not their own project.

* Almost any person who has gone through puberty can create a child, but that doesn’t mean that they have the wherewithal to parent and properly raise the child to stand on its own, care for itself and reproduce responsibly. Still, the person who envisions and gives birth is often still the best person to see the matter through and to create structure and enlist others to help. This is why that if it is your baby, most likely you would be the best person to raise it.

* So, what am I saying? You may need to: Keep your hand on your miracle! Especially for things which you believe in which are struggling or failing in the hands of those you have given them to.

* When continuing to do your best does not accomplish the job and the job still has to be done, you may not be the one to do it.

* When others continue to do their best to accomplish a task but continue to fail, they may need to be replaced.

* Sometimes they may need to be better trained or supervised more closely. However at times … it’s just the wrong person on the project. This takes nothing away from that person but may only mean that God wants you more closely involved in your vision.

2 Kings 4:29 Then he said to Gehazi, Gird up thy loins, and take my staff in thine hand, and go thy way: if thou meet any man, salute him not; and if any salute thee, answer him not again: and lay my staff upon the face of the child.

* You may have a great staff, good friends and family, loyal servants and employees who will do it exactly like you say but nonetheless fail. If this is so it may be that you are the only one anointed to make some things work. Why? I don’t know why … but I do know it’s true and the Bible confirms it.

* The other extreme can also be a problem. If a quarter back is afraid to hand the ball off to others on the team and always has to run it himself, you have a problem that needs to be fixed. However, at some critical and strategic moments when yardage is a must, he is the best one to run the ball. Some miracle moments are keepers. We have to realize that this is God’s call, not ours.

* Notice again in verse 4 that this woman was told to pour out into ‘all’ those vessels. Don’t get tempted by tiredness or ‘just get enough’ thinking and quit in the middle of your miracle. Each miracle is designed by God to furnish what He has determined we need and not what we may think we need. The widow only saw herself needing to satisfy the creditors. God wanted to bless her much more than just her need. He supplied her need according to His riches and He desired to do exceeding abundantly above what she thought or asked for. Let the miracle run its full course and you may be blessed beyond your wildest imaginations. Don’t quench the Holy Spirit of God. The miraculous can be hard work. Don’t get tired and quit.

* ‘Those vessels’ referred to in verse 4 are empty vessels. One reason for pouring into empty vessels is that God did not want to have a mixed batch miracle. There is a difference between anointed oil and oil that is not anointed. Sometimes people try to pour the anointing of God into containers to top them off and give them an appearance of Godliness … this is not God’s plan.

* Man as a vessel cannot be two thirds filled with the world’s goods and then just add a little of God on the top to smooth things over and make them appear filled with God. Jesus sees right through that and says that the whole container is corrupt. He said to the religious of His time that they should not cleanse the outside and leave the inside unclean or allow sweet and bitter to come forth from the same well.

* Present yourself to God s clean vessels, empty of the world’s wisdom and the world’s answers. Ask God to fill you up with His anointed life. And, when God gives you something to do, treat the task as though it was your baby, a vision from God over which He has given you the care. Keep your hand on your miracle and let no one take your crown.

* Sometimes things don’t work because they just won’t work for anyone else but you.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

What if...


What if there was really a God in heaven?
* What if He was Creator of the Universe, Sovereign Lord of everything and the Eternal Judge of all the souls of mankind?
* What if He was separated from His creation by a dark veil of sin?
* What if God so loved the world that He substituted His Only Begotten Son, Jesus, as a sacrifice for the sins of all mankind?
* What if God established a law that whosoever embraced His Son, Jesus, as Lord would be saved from the powers of sin and eternal damnation?
* What if God decreed that any one who did not accept Jesus would be cast into outer darkness and live eternally in torment of the soul?
* What if this Sovereign God of the Universe set a time, a certain number of years, days and minutes in which He would give each individual their opportunity to take advantage of this salvation, after which time they could no longer access this grace?
* What if God gave every person who received salvation the responsibility to tell others about the opportunity to be born again into God’s family?
* What if God also set a time, a certain number of centuries, decades, years, months, days and hours, before He brought final judgment to the world and every soul who had ever lived?
* What if God wrote a book and gave it to mankind confirming what I’ve just said and describing how we would know the end was near?
* What if God chose a generation … to witness the return of Jesus to the earth and see Him rapture the saved to heaven before God unleashed His wrath upon all who choose to reject Him and live without Him in the ungodly corruption of this world?

The title of today’s message is:
* What if …
The question of the day is:
* What if we are that generation?

Key Scripture:
Esther 4:14 "For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"

We live in exciting times. Imagine the days of the first church and the early disciples … the persecutions, the imprisonments, the martyrdoms … what exciting times to serve and to see the Kingdom of God advance against such odds and individuals.

There are two great days in every adventure: The day it begins and the day it ends – often with many adventurous days along the way.

Ecclesiastes 7:8 Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof … (KJV)

Ecclesiastes says that the end of a thing is better than the beginning thereof.

The New Living Translation says it this way:

Ecclesiastes 7:8 Finishing is better than starting …

Like a race in the Olympics, the excitement at the start when the gun sounds and the runners first get their footing. Along the way the pace changes while runners move within the pack. Then, near the end the excitement builds once again as the leaders push themselves to see who has the stamina, the heart, the power to win the race.

You’ve got to admit, we do get excited about the start of a race … but we stand with greater excitement to see who wins!

Every dedicated football player would love to get the chance to play in the Super Bowl … to perhaps make the winning play.

Every committed baseball player dreams of playing in the World Series and hitting a grand slam to clench the title.

Stand by any basketball court where young men are practicing, listen and you will eventually hear one of them saying something like this: “The score is 100 to 99 with just 3 seconds on the clock, he has the ball, can he score … he dribbles, he shoots, there’s the buzzer, will he make it? He makes it! Final score 101 to 100 … What a game!”

They are dreaming about themselves, encouraging themselves, speaking to themselves, preparing themselves … what you hear is from their heart … a desire to be in the heat of moment and win the game against the odds. God has put that desire in each one of us!

Not one of us has the lifelong dream of losing, failing, quitting …

Every diehard soldier longs to be on the front lines, fighting the war on the battlefield of determination.

And …

Every true Believer wants to live in the end times standing as a testimony of truth, facing down the enemies of the cross, holding back the forces of evil, serving in the last day Church filled with Power, caught up in the rapture of the saints just before the Anti-Christ reveals himself and takes over all world powers … beamed up just in the nick of time, just before the guillotine hits it mark.

Well, this just might be our chance!

Some generation will have the privilege and honor of facing the end times. Many prophets of old longed to be in that group but were not chosen for such a time as this. This is our day! Once again, Jesus has saved the best wine for last.

It’s like being asked to compete in the Olympics!

I believe that we are either that generation, or we are training that generation, who will see the return of Jesus and the end of this age.

We live in a day when the world only wants peace, prosperity and pleasure. Any person who can promise these will have the following of the whole world. Whoever can bring these will be their king.

The Church however knows that worldly peace, prosperity and pleasures are but fleeting illusions that can never fully satisfy. Don’t be fooled into thinking that any government of man has the answer.

You see, Jesus is the answer and He is coming back in your lifetime for you, whether He comes for everyone or not, He is coming for you. You will not live forever here in this life and we are told to prepare ourselves by living every day as if Jesus were coming back that day!

We should always be looking for the coming of the Lord …

Dear friends, if you are not already a believer in Jesus as the Messiah, Savior and Lord, then give Him your heart today. God is preparing your heart and mind to accept His Truth. All you have to do is trust Him, try Him and He will prove Himself real to you.

There is a peace which passes all understanding and this true peace will come to you from within, when you have Jesus, The Prince of Peace living on the inside of you.

There is prosperity, more than the gold and silver of this world can afford … prosperity which results from being an heir of God and a joint heir with Jesus Christ.

There are pleasures beyond your imagination awaiting you in the Kingdom of God. The Bible calls them ‘pleasures forevermore’.

Psalms 16:11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

If you will only make public what you already know in private to be true. There is a God and He is drawing you to become a Believer in Jesus as Messiah, Savior and Lord. Invite Him into your life today.

And Dear Saint,
I believe these are the last days, they are your last days for sure, in fact they are not only your last days … These days are your only days! You have but one life and one chance to make a difference throughout eternity. Your chance begins today …

This is the time to get serious about your salvation, your conviction and your commitment to Jesus as Lord. What are you doing with your everyday life? What are you pursuing? Is it God’s will for your life and are you making a difference? What can you do to better prepare yourself, your family and others for the coming of the Lord?
1. Increase your prayer commitment
2. Stop your pursuits of sin and selfish ambition
3. Return the Church to its original vision of winning the lost and equipping the saints for the work of the ministry.

Become a part of what God is doing in the earth. Surely He will do it even without you but what an opportunity we have to participate in the most exciting times this world has ever seen.

I feel just like I have been asked to participate in the Olympics, play in the Super Bowl, fight for the heavy weight championship of the world, or sling a rock at Goliath … the two minute warning has just been sounded and our game is at its most critical moment.

I leave you with four scriptures … testimonies of truth:
Luke 10:24 "I tell you that many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, and have not seen it, and to hear what you hear, and have not heard it."
1 Thessalonians 2:19 For what is my hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?
James 5:8 Be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
1 Corinthians 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

Sunday, November 2, 2008



Key Scripture: 2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Imagine … not too long ago I was on a return flight from China and was upgraded to first class. As it happened I was seated by a well dressed woman in her early 40’s who was already busy looking at the flight menu getting ready to make her meal selections for the trip. I sat down in my isle seat with her on my left by the window. The seats were large and comfortable and I was ready to relax.

This was the last leg on my trip. I left Houston two weeks earlier headed east. Since leaving I had been to Europe, Africa, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Nepal, and two cities in China. To say the least, I was a bit tired having preached a dozen times and driven hundreds of miles. I even took a day out of the normal schedule to take two young men on a safari where we hiked out of Kenya and into Tanzania to see a special place in the river where crocodiles catch and eat wild animals from the herds which cross there during the running of the wildebeests each year. Now leaving Beijing I was still headed East on my way to complete one more around the world trip.

As I sat there in that big comfortable seat I thought of just drifting off to sleep when the lady sitting beside me interrupted me by asking me if I could read the menu. I looked at it and realized that she was on the wrong page attempting to read Chinese. When I turned the page and showed her the selections in English she thanked me and then I noticed her ring. It must have been the biggest diamond I had ever seen someone wear on their finger.

Nice ring, I said. Thanks, she replied, it’s the ‘Gladstone Diamond’, it’s on the international registry as one of the largest diamonds set in a non displayed piece. It’s nice, she continued, but unfortunately it has a long history and comes with a horrible curse attached to it.

Now I was awake, alert and interested. A curse, I responded, what curse? With that she leaned forward and looked to the other side of the plane and said, “Mr Gladstone”, referring to the gentleman sitting smiling in the opposite window seat across the plane, “my husband”.

I didn’t really know what to say as I smiled back and lifted my hand with a little ‘hi’ kind of wave. I don’t know their story but I do know this, these people needed help and my observation was that it was probably going to require either one or both of them to change.

I know about change. I too was locked into a marriage that needed help. My wife, Brenda, and I both needed change, we both wanted change and we both had decided to change more times than we could count, but none of that changed us.

Then one day something different happened and to this day, more than thirty years later, I can tell you for sure, change can happen.

It won’t happen just because you want it; it won’t happen just because you need it; it won’t happen just because you decide to change ---

Change happens when you get a partner, get a plan, and work for it!

The partner I am talking about is Jesus, the plan I refer to is the Word of God.

2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (NKJV)

People are in need of change every day, from weight loss and health issues to attitude adjustments and spiritual rebirths. However:

1. Change does not come because you want it.
2. Change does not come because you need it.
3. Change does not come because you decide you going to change.
4. Change only comes when you do something about it.

Seldom if ever do we see the change we want unless and until we:
1. Get a partner
2. Get a plan
3. Work for it

What change do you want? What change do you need? What change have you decided to make in the past but never made it?

1. Was it to:
a. stop cussing
b. stop lying
c. stop being critical, judgmental or unkind
d. not get drunk
e. not commit adultery
f. quit being anxious, insecure and afraid
h. quit tearing up your marriage

2. Was it to:
a. forgive someone who did you wrong
b. give more time to your family
c. be a better witness in your workplace
d. become more diligent in your finances
e. grow in your spiritual walk with the Lord
f. experience more joy, peace or patience in your life

Our text for today comes from the book of Esther and includes a story of a young woman who needed to change. Let’s read from the scriptures together and see how they worked with God to get their miracle.

The story of this young Jewish girl who became Queen to King Xerxes of the Persian Empire in about the year 480BC is a true account which is still celebrated each year in February or March by the Jewish nation as the festival of Purim. The Bible account tells us King Xerxes had earlier banished his former queen and had subsequently married Esther without knowing she was a Jew.

In the course of daily affairs a high officer in King Xerxes government who hated the Jews, accused them and gained the King’s support to have the empire cleansed of them by means of legally sanctioned genocide. Esther’s family and friends heard of this plan and asked Esther to intervene with the King on their behalf. Esther refused!

You see, there was a law which said that if anyone, even the Queen, dared to come before the King of Persia without first being summoned, that person would immediately be put to death. The only escape was to have the King hold out his scepter and pardon the offender. Esther was afraid of being executed and that was why she refused to help.

Esther’s cousin, Mordecai, who had been like a father to Esther having raised her since she lost her parents as a child, was the spokesperson for God and the Jewish people. We pick up in the story with Mordecai receiving Esther’s refusal and sending one last message back to her in attempt to get her to change the course of this death sentence the King had placed on the Jews.

Mordecai understood that Esther was afraid but he knew she could change if she only would get a partner, get a plan and go for it. He also believed that if Esther would change first, then she could get her husband to change too. And, a changed King meant a changed destiny for the Jewish people.

Esther 4 NLT
13 Mordecai sent back this reply to Esther: "Don’t think for a moment that you will escape there in the palace when all other Jews are killed.
14 If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. What’s more, who can say but that you have been elevated to the palace for just such a time as this?"
15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai:
16 "Go and gather together all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I am willing to die."
17 So Mordecai went away and did as Esther told him.

Esther 5 NLT
1 ¶ Three days later, Esther put on her royal robes and entered the inner court of the palace, just across from the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne, facing the entrance.
2 When he saw Queen Esther standing there in the inner court, he welcomed her, holding out the gold scepter to her. So Esther approached and touched its tip.
3 Then the king asked her, "What do you want, Queen Esther? What is your request? I will give it to you, even if it is half the kingdom!"

Well, you can read the rest of the story and see how that God caused a great deliverance to come to the Jews so that they not only escaped the slaughter but also got to see their enemies destroyed instead. All of this was accomplished by a young woman who, although afraid, and rightly so:

Got a partner, got a plan and …
1. Changed her mind
2. Changed her life and
3. Changed her world
… as she worked her plan.
What do you need to change?
* It may take courage
* It may take prayer and fasting
* It may take some risks
* But if you will partner with Jesus and obey God’s Word … you will be changed into the image God … little by little, transformed!

You will find Jesus in prayer, your plan in the Bible, and your courage in a commitment to do whatever it takes to change.