Saturday, September 29, 2012

Now, But Not Yet!


Waiting is perhaps one of the most difficult demands we face in life. It seems that most people could use a bit more patience but the only problem is that they need it now.

Unfortunately, when people hear “not now” they imagine never. This however is not usually the case. There is a huge difference in a mother telling her children that they can’t have a cookie right now and the kids believing that mom means they can never have a cookie. However, for the child, and sad to say for many adults as well, “Not now”, means “never!”

While reading through the Bible this week I came across several “Not now” realities. Instead of saying “not now”, the New King James Version of the Bible says, “Not yet”. After hours of study I have come to realize that Jesus has a “not yet” answer for several concerns. Out of the 39 times that phrase is used in the Bible; 10 times it is used in just the Gospel of John and 4 of those times in only 1 Chapter. That’s right; more than 10% of the “Not Yet’s” in the whole Bible are said by Jesus in only 1 Chapter. Let’s look at that chapter now.

John 7
1  After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He did not want to walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him.
2  Now the Jews’ Feast of Tabernacles was at hand.

Note: Expound on the Feast of Tabernacles
·        Feast of Sukkoth
·        The last and greatest of 3 major feasts each year (Deuteronomy 16:16)
·        Feast of Ingathering – Celebrated after the harvest
·        Commemorates the protection and provision of God in the wilderness
·        To be celebrated with much joy and rejoicing, with family, friends and neighbors
·        Solomon dedicated the Temple in Jerusalem on this day (2Ch 7)
·        Ezra resumed sacrifice after the return from Babylonian captivity
·        The Ark of the Covenant was placed in the Temple and the glory of God was so powerful the priests could not stand to minister. (1Ki 8)
·        God commanded the Children of Israel to make booths, tabernacles, tents, temporary shelters outside their homes and celebrate the feasts in these booths, tabernacles, for 7 days of joy and rejoicing. The 8th day is the “Great Day” of the feast in which a special gift is to be presented to the Lord. (Exo 23; Deut 31)
·        The book of Leviticus 23:33-44, describes how and with what the celebration is to be observed.
·        Many believe, as do I also imagine, that Jesus was born at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles. (John 1:1&14 – dwelt = tabernacle)
·        The Feast is a forerunner of the great harvest of the earth unto Christ both the 7 years of joy, rejoicing and feasting in the heavens, as well as the 1000 year reign of Christ on the earth when according to Zechariah 14 and Revelation 20, all nations which survive the great tribulation will come and worship the Lamb in Jerusalem.
·        And even after the 1000 year reign, on the 8th day, a new heaven and a new earth wherein we will tabernacle with Him forever

Revelation 21:3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

·        On top of all of this … Today, September 30, 2012, coincides with the 15th Day of the Seventh Month and thus today begins the Feast of Tabernacles!
·        Happy Birthday Jesus and thanks for the protection and provision …

Well anyway, as John records in verse 2:

2  Now the Jews’ Feast of Tabernacles was at hand.
3  His brothers therefore said to Him, "Depart from here and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that You are doing.
4  "For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world."
5  For even His brothers did not believe in Him.
6  Then Jesus said to them, "My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready.
7  "The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil.
8  "You go up to this feast. I am not yet going up to this feast, for My time has not yet fully come."

Not yet! But, not yet does not mean never …

John 7: 14  Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught.

Now, there is a good argument for a mid-trib visitation and reason for a mid-week service as well … Jesus will use any excuse to teach the Word.

Remember I told you that the feast lasted 7 days and the 8th day was a “Great Day” in which a special gift was presented to the Lord? Well, let’s follow the story a little further -

John 7
37  On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.
38  "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water."
39  But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

I believe, just like it happened 2000 years ago, Jesus will come to you in the middle of this week teaching you from the Word and Will of God.

Also, let’s not forget that next Sunday marks the historic “Great Day” of the Feast in which we present our best gifts to the Lord. What would a special gift look like? What would God be really, really joyful about … what gift could you bring to the Jesus that would make all of heaven rejoice? A soul!

This week I am going to ask you to remember the goodness, the protection and the provision of the Lord on you and your family during the wilderness experiences of your life and next Sunday, the “Great Day” of the Feast of Tabernacles, invite a friend, an enemy, a family member, neighbor or co-worker, and bring them to the Tabernacle of the Lord as a present to Jesus. 

John 7:6  Then Jesus said to them, "My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready.

It is “Not Yet” time for some things but it is full well time for others! People need the Lord … who do you know that needs Jesus?

Whomever you bring will drink of the water of life freely and can even take the well home so that they never thirst again …

Bring a friend and Jesus will go home to Tabernacle with them.

Today however, you may be in need of a refreshing drink yourself. Good news … you can come to Jesus and heal your thirsts today …

Life Shape Family Growth and Discipleship Week 4 – Forgiveness


A huge part of family is forgiveness … move the family past the problem.

Memory Verse: Philippians 3:13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal …

Forgiveness simply means that we are moving on. In human terms it means that we give up our personal rights to hate, harbor resentment, punish or defame others. We put them in God’s hands and leave them there – not in hopes He will punish them, but in hopes they will change.

Un-forgiveness relegates us to live in the past which cannot be changed.

Forgiveness simply means that we are moving on …

Forgiveness does not release us from the obligation of being responsible for others and responsibly honest with others. However, we must hold the right motivation of heart – which motivation only God can judge.

Jesus told us:
Luke 6:37  Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

Matthew 18
21  Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?"
22  Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

Anger, hurt, and distrust are not always signs of un-forgiveness. The question of forgiveness is not always: forgiveness verses un-forgiveness - Rather what we often struggle with is not forgiveness but restoration.

We can fully forgive a person and yet not be restored.

Forgiveness is a right, restoration is a responsibility. Forgiveness rests with the offended party – restoration is the responsibility of the offender. If one sins, trespasses against you or otherwise offends you, they have the God given right to be forgiven and, a God given responsibility to be restored.

Forgiveness is free … Restoration can cost you a lifetime!

Note: A proper response to sins/offenses which are past/present/future:
It is often best to forget it and act like it did not happen, even though we know it did. However, it is never good to deny it or ignore it and act like it is not happening when we know it is!

Forgiveness is not always easy; it is not a miracle; it is an act of the will; it often requires determination; at times it must be revisited until restored.

God’s Word on forgiveness does in no way indicate that we are to peacefully co-exist with sin or overlook the ongoing atrocities of life. Nor does forgiveness negate correction or punishment for infractions committed. However, forgiveness is essential for moving past the problem.

We must remember that God is going to forgive those who repent whether we do or not. Since God is the Author of forgiveness, often we must access this gift by grace through faith. This means that sometimes we must begin the act of forgiving by seeking God’s grace and ability to forgive. For some it can be a struggle, but if we hold true the following course we will find that God’s grace is sufficient to help forgive and move us past the problem.

Here are 4 Sure Steps which will “Move the Family Past the Problem”.

Determine that we will not bring the offensive situation or circumstance up again:
1.   To the person we are forgiving (condemning or criticizing)
2.   To ourselves (refueling the fire; reliving the pain; justifying sin)
3.   To others (uncovering nakedness; causing division; seeking support – definition of gossip … not a part of the curse or cure)
4.   To God (seeking vengeance, punishment or harm)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

One Man


Share the history leading up to the conversion of Saul of Tarsus …
·       AD35/36 – 5 or 6 years after Jesus was crucified & resurrected
·       Saul was most likely 30/31 years old
·       Saul is committed to the destruction of Christianity
o   He is not really a bad guy, in fact he is very committed … only
o   He just has some stinking thinking and a lot of support
·       All of that is about to change
o   On his way from Jerusalem to Damascus, 130 mile, 6 day trip
o   Jesus spoke to Saul out of a bright, blinding light
o   Jesus sent Saul into Damascus to await further instructions
·       Now Jesus needs some help … and when Jesus needs help, He chooses someone to help Him …
o   Someone prepared …
o   Often more prepared than even they know or appreciate!

Acts 9
10  Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, "Ananias." And he said, "Here I am, Lord."
11  So the Lord said to him, "Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying.
12  "And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight."
13  Then Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem.
14  "And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name."
15  But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.

Jesus chose one man, Ananias, even though Ananias did not want to be chosen. Jesus wanted Ananias to go and pray for Saul/Paul because Jesus had chosen Saul for a special mission which only he could do.

Jesus needed something done so He chose one man to do it … He is always choosing individuals.

Ezekiel 22:30  So I sought for a man among them who would make a hedge, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.

God has a “One Man” mentality. God is always looking for “one man”.

Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, John the Baptist, the Apostle Paul, Martin Luther, Billy Graham …Who will be the next one …

Who will be the one whom God chooses and uses to lead your family to Christ, save a soul from hell, restore a marriage, deliver from debt, build a model family, prepare young people for life, restructure a community, lead a nation or tell the world about Him?

It was Ester whom God chose in her day… Daniel in his, Deborah for her generation, Elijah in his and then Mary was the “One”  chosen to bear the Son of God, Messiah to the Jews and Savior of the World.

Some chosen people God places in our lives teach us what to do and some teach us what not to do … both are valuable lessons. Eve, and even Judas Iscariot, teach us that not all of the chosen are perfect.

Bathsheba and Peter teach us that we can recover from our last bad decision or our most critical mistake … and, that sinners can still be used by God.

“The devil has desired to sift you like wheat but I have prayed for you that your faith fail not. When you return to Me, strengthen the brethren.” (Luke 22:31&32)

When the devil gets wind that God is about to choose someone, he gets mighty scared and begins trying to disqualify them or get them on his side. But don’t worry, like Jesus told Peter:

God chooses and uses whomever He wills … has He chosen you?

1 Peter 2:9  But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

5 Marks of a Chosen Vessel
1.   They are nobody special (except they are special to God)
a.   No form or comeliness … (Isaiah 53:2)
b.   God calls greatness out of obscurity (Moses; David; Esther)
2.   The  Chosen don’t know their chosen until they are chosen
a.   They are often not the only people to be surprised
b.   Sometimes they don’t want to be chosen, special, called …
c.   Not often believed or embraced by friends/family
3.   God chooses people who are great in their ordinary (Jael)
a.   Accomplishing the ordinary extraordinarily well qualifies …
b.   If we are faithful over the little, we become lord over much
4.   People are chosen by God to do, not just chosen by God to be
a.   The chosen are workers not watchers
b.   The chosen are not all leaders but they all lead by example
c.   Paul said, “follow me as I follow Christ” – do what I do …
d.   Jesus said, “If I do not the works of My Father, believe Me not”
5.   God has never chosen anyone to save, deliver or bless themselves.
a.   It’s never about the chosen
b.   It’s always about others

You never know, you may be the next one to be chosen by God …

And … it’s God’s choice!

Our part is to be a willing participant …

Are you willing today?

(Numbers 17:5  "And it shall be that the rod of the man whom I choose will blossom; thus I will rid Myself of the complaints of the children of Israel, which they make against you.")

God has a “One Man” mentality … be the one!

Family Growth & Discipleship Week 3 – Communication

Memory Verse: Jeremiah 33:3 ’Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’

God says, “you talk to Me and I’ll talk back …”

Communication is a necessity in every relationship.

Communication is a necessity, not a luxury

Communication means that the message that was sent is the same message which is received.

Meanings are not in words, meanings are in people … words are very imprecise vehicles of communication.

To know the meaning of the word used, you need to know the person who used it.

We are all from different worlds, speaking different languages.

If a spouse or family member says to you, “That’s not what I meant!” – Just believe them … why? Because, that’s not what they meant!

Ecclesiastes 7
21  Also do not take to heart everything people say, Lest you hear your servant cursing you.
22  For many times, also, your own heart has known That even you have cursed others.

There is a difference between Conflict avoidance & Conflict management

Proverbs 15:1  A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.
You are communicating even when you are not speaking and often, your silence is screaming louder than you think … and it might not always be saying what you are thinking … but you are responsible for it anyway!

Here are 7 Tips to Facilitate Healthy Communication
1.   Seek to understand before you seek to be understood
a.   Hear before being heard
b.   Ask for clarification
c.   Swift to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger
James 1:19 Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger

2.   Don’t interrupt
a.   Rude roadblocks to communication
b.   Causes diversions
c.   Adds additional problems

Note on Problem Solving: Solve one problem at a time!

3.   Agree with the truth
a.   Disagreement makes you look like you are not listening
b.   Or don’t care or just being obstinate or mean
c.   Parrot the truth – it will evoke clarification/redirection
4.   Role Play
a.   Switch roles – argue the other side
b.   Give one good point for every one bad point
5.   Sit down and take time to communicate
a.   Set up a non distracting environment
b.   Choose a non-threatening time – not immediately after a problem … that’s often read as fussing
c.   2 minute intervals – take turns
                                       i.    1 speaks
                                     ii.    1 listens and does not interrupt or make gestures
6.   Establish principles before problems
a.   Issue oriented communication can evoke emotional barriers
b.   You cannot win an emotional argument
7.   Get on it, get off it and get over it
a.   While you are getting, get help if you need it!