Saturday, October 14, 2017

THE 3:16 VERSES OF THE BIBLE, PART 11: "AN UNLIKELY FAMILY TREE"

The sons of Jehoiakim were Jeconiah his son, Zedekiah his son. (1 Chronicles 3:16)
There is a huge tendency for the vast majority of bible readers (including myself in the past) to just skim over names, places, genealogies and in the like, when reading the Old Testament.  Even the genealogy at the very beginning of the Gospel of Matthew is overlooked.  Paying short shrift to any of this is a mistake, as we have learned over the course of maturing in the Word of God.

The genealogies comprise a very important part of the confirmation of Accuracy, Sufficiency and Reliability of Scripture. For instance, Matthew Chapter 1 methodically leads us backward from the Birth of Jesus, using actual names – to the very first human being – Adam. Along the way, major Biblical figures stand out who were not Jews. Rahab is one. Another genealogy around the time of the Exodus lists Bithiah, whom we know as the Pharoah’s  Daughter who rescued Moses from the river, after his mother put him in a basket, in order to save his life.  Yes, genealogies are important.

On the surface, 1 Chronicles 3:16 seems very pedestrian. For instance, there was some ancient king named Jehoiakim who had  sons name Jehoiachin and his brother Zedekiah. This really changes nothing, as far as the casual eye can see. But looking closer, it is a significant statement from the writers of Chronicles, the official historians of God’s people at the time. 

These last two names are important as they are the very last kings of Judah before the First (and future) Coming of the King of the Jews – the Lord Jesus Christ! The last kings of Israel, from Jehoiakim to his sons, were basically heathens. Not just that, but they had ignored the multi-year and intense pleadings from the great prophet Jeremiah, chosen to listen to their own false prophets and then persecute the man of God constantly, i.e. – Jeremiah.  

God had decided to cleanse the cancer festering all through Jerusalem where even the priests were corrupted and idol worship was a prevalent throughout, like the use of social media is today.  God raised up the great Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar to come against Jerusalem and do His will. The fearsome Babylonians had surrounded the city, held it siege and basically had their way with the “leadership” of Jerusalem.                  
After he sacked the city of Jerusalem, King Nebuchanezzar carried off most of the Jews into a 70 year old pre-ordained (by God) exile into the great city of Babylon – a fortress so strong and rich, it was the greatest city in the world at that time.  The King also had Zedekiah’s eyes removed and imprisoned the blinded man after making him walk in chains from Jerusalem to Babylon - no walk in the park, at any time!  Jehoiachin was imprisoned for 37 years and archaeologists have find documented proof on tablets of his prison rations, which began under Nebuchadnezzar and continued after this Babylonian king was humbled and then became a believer in Yahweh. So both brothers - Jehoiachin (or Jeconiah) and Zedekiah (or Mattaniah) were Kings of Judah at one time each, but now both were unwilling imprisoned guests of the larger-than-life Babylonian ruler!

In light of this brief historical background, why should any of this concern us? Well, for apart from our own enhanced knowledge of confirmed biblical history, we see a few things which can instruct. The Book of Ecclesiastes tells us there is nothing new under the sun and there really isn’t. As we read and write this, the sun rises in the east and is setting on the other side of the planet in the west. Babies are being born and hundreds of thousands of humans leave this life for the next. Rivers flow to the sea and the sea does not fill up……and human beings are the same….to wit:

1.  Sometimes, people only care to listen to the advice they WANT to hear, and not the Truth. Rather heed the dire warnings from Holy God, as presented by Jeremiah. These last remaining kings of the failed state of Judah listened to the made up lies of the false prophet Hananiah, whom God immediately dealt with.  The lesson for us is to always listen to the Truth and walk accordingly. No matter how dark the circumstances,  heeding Godly warnings and counsel will benefit and save us in the long run, maybe not in this lifetime, but 100% most definitely, in the next. (Click the link provided for full account of this occurrence). 

2.  The cleansing fire of the Lord takes many forms. These men here refused to obey the Word of the Lord and at the appointed time, His Fury was unleased. The entire massive and beautiful city of Jerusalem was taken down to the ground and with it, the Temple of Solomon which had become completely dishonored by corrupt men. Just as these kings saw that destruction,  we too are witnessing similar cleansing and destruction as the Lord predicted, in these last days. What should personally concern God’s people is the personal Refining Fire of the Lord which cleanses us from within, in order to transform us into the image and likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ! This begins with personal acknowledgement and repentance of ALL our sins (even those we cannot remember) and a humbling of ourselves before the Lord our God. If we do this and seek His forgiveness and move in our lives, He is faithful and true to forgive, restore and transform us, into the Image of His Son.

3.  The Word of God is true and more and more History confirms this with each new archaeological find.  Tablets found in Iraq not just explains the food rations for Jehoiachin and other Jews imprisoned and in Exile. The grave of the prophet Daniel and others is still in the Persia (Iran). Other areas close to the ancient city of Babylon (which is not far from modern day Baghdad, Iraq) are full of all kinds of recently found archaeological finds keep validating Scripture!

As previously mentioned here, 1 Chronicles 3:16 tells us who these final three secular kings of either Israel or Judah are.  There is one final important point to make. Jehoachin was an ancestor of Joseph, the husband of Mary, the step-father of the true King of Israel – the King of Kings and the Eternal Ruler of All Heaven and Earth – the Lord Jesus Christ! 

How cool is the Bible?! 

Monday, October 9, 2017

THE 3:16 VERSES OF THE BIBLE, PART 10: "GENERAL GRACE, SAVING GRACE"

He said, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Make this valley full of trenches.’  For thus says the Lord, ‘You shall not see wind nor shall you see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, so that you shall drink, both you and your cattle and your beasts. (2 Kings 3:16-17a)
The incredible thing about our loving Heavenly Father is how long He will put up with rebellion and rejection and then turn around and help those who hate Him with a passion. The Bible tells us that God "causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous". (Matthew 5:45b. 

You know the routine - the majority of the richest, wealthiest and most powerful people in the world are atheist. The biggest persecutors, dictators and rulers of God's people all through Judeo-Christian history lived well and prospered. This continues, regardless of the lessons of history. Their children lived high on the hog and on and on. While they do not acknowledge the God Who gave them breadth, the ability to gain and hold on to their temporal wealth and property, He still grants them His general Grace. He did send God the Son - Jesus - to give His life for ALL (John 3:16), so He knows no one is beyond redemption. They just choose to reject God's gift.


This general Grace however, is only for this short lifespan on earth. This is because, while God is really so good to ALL people at ALL times, His Saving Grace is only for those whose sins are forgiven and put their complete Faith and Trust in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as Lord and Master. Those who are reap the rewards of the good life reap them now. Like the rich man in Hell, who Jesus talked about, he enjoyed the good things only in his life on earth. The Saved, Redeemed and the Elect of God's reward is laid up ahead as we persevere and keep Godly perspectives while the wicked reign on this earth.

In this passage of 2 Kings Chapter 3, we see the three regional kings - the king of Edom (descendants of Esau), the King of Israel (the pagan northern kingdom) and the King of Judah - Jehoshaphat coming together to fight against the King of Moab, a powerful and rich man. Of these three kings, only Jehoshaphat was a follower of Yahweh, everyone else in this picture is full of pagan idolatry. After a while, the army and supplies of this combined army ran out of water for all their horses and were suddenly in dire straits.


Jesoshaphat knew enough of the Ways of the Lord and sought a minister who could approach the Lord for His help. The spiritual son of the great Elijah, Elisha, was now the main prophet of Israel. So Elisha was sent for and he was not amused. This tells me that this joint venture was not the Will of the Lord. Elisha was hesitant about going to meet with the three kings until he heard that the well-regarded Jehoshaphat, who lived in Jerusalem, was one of them. 

It was at this point, as we come to this 3:16 verse, as Elisha approached the Lord God of Heaven Who responded mightily, because His prophet Elisha asked. What God did was miraculous. He did not send rain to fill up creeks and rivers with running water. He told Elisha to have the kings dig trenches and wide areas which were then miraculously filled with literal pools of water from the springs out of the direction of Edom! The water was so plentiful coming out of the East that it looked like a lake....and led eventually to the victory of three allied kings.

What we see here  the following in this wonderful passage from John's 19th.- the General Grace of God on display...for the Glory of God! The enemy who all three kings went up against - the King of Moab- misread the sun shining off the brand new "lake" and thought it looked like blood and rode straight to his and his army's defeat. The Lord made the victory again. The question of us, who are reading this - are we under this General Grace of God only or have we been saved by Grace alone, through Faith in Christ alone for the Glory of God enough? The choice is entirely up to each one of us!

Friday, September 22, 2017

THE 3:16 VERSES OF THE BIBLE, PART 9: "SPLITTING THE DIFFERENCE"

"....Then two women who were harlots came to the king and stood before him." (1 Kings 3:16)
Some of the most popular everyday sayings around the world came directly from the Bible - believe it or not! Here are just a very few examples out of many:
1. At my "wits end" (from Psalm 107:27)
2. "Drop in the bucket" (from Isaiah 40:15)
3. "Eat, drink and be merry" (from Ecclesiastes 8:15)
4. "Give up the ghost" (from Luke 23:46)
5. "Labor of Love" (from 1 Thessalonians 1:3)
6. "Out of the mouths of babes" (from Psalm 8:2)
7. "Salt of the earth" (from Matthew 5:13)

These are just a few of over thirty well known and universally used phrases and words. The one we are about to take a look at - 1 Kings 3:16 - gave us another popular phrase "split the baby" or if that truth is too stark, then how about "split the difference"?

Here is the story from 1 Kings 3:16-28: two prostitutes appeared before King Solomon, the wisest man in the world to have a matter judged. Both of them lived in the same house and both had a son within three days of each other. For some reason, the son of one of the women died unexpectedly.  Not wanting to accept the unfortunate, untimely death of the poor child, both women claimed the only living son now as their own. The argument went on and the matter ended up before the wise King of Israel to be resolved.

Using Godly wisdom, King Solomon came up with a plan to basically, smoke out the true mother of the only living son. He called for an attendant to get a sword and divide the baby in two and thus, "share the child"! From here, the Bible picks up the account: "26 Then the woman whose son was alive said to the king, because her heart yearned for her son, “Oh, my lord, give her the living child, and by no means put him to death.” But the other said, “He shall be neither mine nor yours; divide him.” 27 Then the king answered and said, “Give the living child to the first woman, and by no means put him to death; she is his mother.” 

Solomon discovered many powerful truths here which are still applicable to use today, almost 3000 years later: 
1. Wisdom to discern and make proper judgment can only come from God. (Read earlier in the chapter 3)
2. Always pray (as Solomon did earlier in the chapter) for Godly direction in our lives.
3. Even in a dark, corrupt and greedy world, natural law kicks which allow the instincts of a person seeking truth, to always do the right thing.
4. A parent would sacrifice anything to protect the life of his or her child...including give up the child. We see this in many who choose to carry a child through pregnancy and give that child up through adoption rather than commit abortion.

This is an amazing account and example for us to pick up on being able to make good and wise decisions in life. Let us always strive to attain such wisdom.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

THE 3:16 VERSES OF THE BIBLE, PART 8: "GET A GRIP, MAN!"

2 Samuel 3:6 "But her husband went with her, weeping after her all the way to Bahurim. Then Abner said to him, “Go, return.” And he returned."
The Bible is full of difficult verses to comprehend, even when taken in context. Sometimes we have to go back to another passage or number of chapters to find the true meaning and background behind a statement, which the Holy Spirit put in there for us to behold.

In order to understand what a great Hebrew general named  Abner meant, when he told a man named Palti to “go back home”, it is necessary to read the entire chapter of 2 Samuel 3. It is a stark reminder of the width and depth of the depravity of human sinfulness.

There are some incredible charges, counter-charges, sinful talk, double-crossing and more….in just twenty verses (2 Samuel 3:6-26 and beyond).  God had already taken away the kingdom from the disobedient King Saul and handed it to David.  In the process, Saul had promised his daughter Michal to David if he killed and did some despicable things to Philistine men, which David did. Then jealousy got the best of Saul and he tried for 13 years to kill the Lord’s next appointed King – David, who was now on the run all across the land of Israel.

In the meantime, Saul’s daughter becomes a bigamist and marries another man named Palti. This was too much for Abner a great warrior general, who, while loyal to Saul as King, was also tuned in to the fact that the real Commander in Chief – God – had deposed Saul and replaced him with David. Except Saul would not cooperate.  To get back at Abner, one of Saul’s wicked sons Ishbosheth accused Abner of sleeping with one of Saul’s many women (outside of his marriage) also known as his concubines. 

The honorable general Abner was rightly outraged and vowed then and there to help David ascend to his rightful place on the Throne of Israel, as ordained by God. His loyalty to Saul was betrayed by Saul’s son so Abner reached out to David, who then said he will deal with Abner only if Abner brings Michal, his (David’s) wife to him. This was agreed to and Abner was on the way to David with the latter’s wife, while her current husband Palti, followed crying over the loss of Michal!

The bigamist story, involving Michal, had a sad end for this unfortunate young man – Palti, as General Abner instructed him, to go back to his house. In a no win situation, we read in 2 Samuel 3:16, that Palti complied.

What is the message here for us in the 21st century? This ancient tale has a horrible ending with Abner who just executed the Will of the Lord, being killed by Joab, who had a personal grudge extending far beyond official duties. A few things are obvious: 
-      You can’t make some of this up, even in on Hollywood screenwriter’s desk! All this intrigue stemmed from one man’s disobey and sinning constantly against the Lord.  Because of Saul’s sin, his daughter committed bigamy. His son accused a loyal general of sexual misconduct. Bickering and slander ensured and hearts were broken (Palti).

-     Sin will find you out and there will be a price to pay. Saul was told by the great prophet Samuel that God had taken away his kingdom and given it to the shepherd boy/harpist and poet David. Yet he refused to step down, allowing his pride and arrogance to eventually cost him his life.  The  price sin exacts is not worth the temporary rush of self-satisfaction.

-     Partnering with sin will bring humiliation. While Palti is to be pitied here in 2 Samuel 3:16 for having to following a mighty general in Abner, who was simply following God’s will in getting David to the Throne of Israel which was rightfully his, he (Palti) knew what he got into! Here, as we learn in this verse, was Abner returning David’s rightful wife to him and here was this woman’s second husband hanging on like a puppy dog after something he had no chance of winning. When he “married” Michal, he was completely aware that she was married to David. There was no divorce according to the Law of Moses, in force then nor was there a death of a spouse, which would have enabled Michal to remarry. These were the only two grounds for Palti to legally claim Michal as his wife.  The lesson here is this – we lose EVERYTHING when we put our heads in the sand and pretend God sees nothing, knows nothing and will say nothing.  He – God – always has the final word, and if we line up on the wrong side of Him, we too will pay a heavy price.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

THE 3:16 VERSES OF THE BIBLE, PART 7: "FLIRTIN' WITH DISASTER"

3:16 BIBLE VERSE:
Then Eli called Samuel and said, "Samuel, my son." And he said, "Here I am." (1 Samuel 3:16)

OPENING LYRICS TO "FLIRTING WITH DISASTER":

I'm travelin' down the road
I'm flirtin' with disaster
I've got the pedal to the floor,
My life is running faster
I'm out of money, I'm out of hope,
It looks like self destruction
Well how much more can we take,
With all of this corruption


We're flirtin' with disaster,
Ya'll know what I mean
And the way we run our lives,
It makes no sense to me
I don't know about yourself or what you want to be, yeah
When we gamble with our time,
We choose our destiny
 (Molly Hatchet 1979 Writers: Brown, Hlubek)
It is a terrible thing to try the patience of the Lord. We humans do it all the time, including those of us who not only know better, but serve Him in a mighty way.  This propensity to sin, with which we were born, will always with us until we pass on to Glory at the end of our natural life on earth.

That being said, there comes a point in our spiritual maturity when we do not do the things we used to do….just because. How many times have we made a deal with God that “if You get me out of this one, I will never…..(fill in the blanks)”.  Those kinds of promises are extremely impossible to keep. That is why the bible tells us to NOT make oaths like these.

For the normal person, God’s grace is sufficient. He forgives our sins and removes them from us, as far as the east is from the west. For a church leader, pastor or priest, the standard is ten times higher!!  There is not just a higher level of conduct expected but a ministry leader’s respect and reverence for God has to be as close to perfect as humanly possible.


There is something in the background story behind 1 Samuel 3:16 which should give us pause, especially with anyone who thinks “flirtin with disaster “makes life more interesting.  Eli was the priest of the nation Israel and had a tremendous spiritual mantle/burden/responsibility to carry.  Samuel was still a boy, yet because the Lord had pre-ordained him, he became Eli’s understudy.

Eli had two sons – Hophni and Phinehas, who were also priests in the Lord’s Tabernacle and were supposed to conduct themselves, according to the requirements of their office. But they were both evil and corrupt men who not just violated God’s laws openly but flaunted their corruption.

Under Jewish law, all priests serving  in the temple were provided for by God. They were fed, clothed and supplied by the tithes and offerings of Almighty God. The Lord was their Provider. But Hophni and Phinehas, instead of allowing the sacrifice to be offered to the Lord first – as any sane person knows, had their henchmen accost those approaching the altar with their sacrifice. The priestly hoodlums, I mean helpers, would then grab more than their share of the choicest portion of the Sacrificial Animals BEFORE it was offered to God! They cut off the prime cuts first and gave the meat to Eli’s sons.


These men not only stole the prime cuts of meat for their own families but these two “priests” had illicit and immoral relations with young women in the temple, in broad daylight, right in the open…. IN THE TEMPLE OF GOD! God Himself warned His high priest Eli about his sons’ conduct, but Eli refused to do anything about it.  Not just that but it appears that Eli himself was eating ill-gotten meat because the bible says when he fell over and died in his 90’s he was a very fat man! In those days, not many people were fat, far less a minister of God. Potlucks were not invented in church  yet. 

The Lord finally had enough and determined to not only take Hophni and Phinehas out of the picture, but not just these two evil men who called were literal Levite priests. God also decided to remove their father Eli from the land of the living. 

Here is where we come to 1 Samuel 3:16 where the message for the young boy, who would become the greatest prophet/Judge of Israel – came loud and clear from God.  The Lord had given Eli endless warnings and upbraiding about his wicked sons, but he ignored God on purpose and never listened to the Lord. 

This is the direct message from God Himself for the young Samuel from 1 Samuel 3: "11 Then the LORD said to Samuel, “Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which the two ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. 12 On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. 13 And I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. 14 Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.”

There are several things God’s people should learn from this and it is IMPERATIVE you and I take this to heart:
-  When God speaks, we had better listen. He still speaks audibly to the hearts and souls of His people through His Spirit. For the most part, He speaks through His Word.

-  When God speaks and warns us of sin of both omission and commission, we will be wise to address that sin as soon as possible. Many maturing Christians know it is better to keep short accounts both with God and man. This means we do not let the sun go down on our sin or the devil will magnify it until we are sunk in the mire and wallowing in dirt and despair. Do not be like the rest of the world and modern western “Christianity”.

-  God will not put up with continuing blatant sin from those who claim to work for Him. This sin which flaunts its perversion and causes others to disparage God will be judged and judged harshly. His Holy Name is more than important to Him because He is the Holy One of Israel. The task for us today is to be constantly aware we carry His Cross on more than our sleeves. He bear His Mark to a lost and dying world. If we are the only Bible that people read, we had better make sure our character is not related to the official misconduct of some of our great Bible heroes. There are enough fallen preachers in the world today, who have caused the name and ministry of Christ to be scoffed at by the world. Let us not be the ones, who are indulge in – Flirtin’ with Disaster

Monday, September 4, 2017

THE 3:16 VERSES OF THE BIBLE, PART 6: "THE GREATEST 'BUYBACK' OF ALL TIME".

14 So she lay at his feet until morning and rose before one could recognize another; and he said, “Let it not be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.” 15 Again he said, “Give me the cloak that is on you and hold it.” So she held it, and he measured six measures of barley and laid it on her. Then she went into the city. 

16 When she came to her mother-in-law, she said, "How did it go, my daughter?” And she told her all that the man had done for her. 17 She said, “These six measures of barley he gave to me, for he said, ‘Do not go to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’” 18 Then she said, “Wait, my daughter, until you know how the matter turns out; for the man will not rest until he has settled it today.” (Ruth 3:14-17).

The 3:16 verse here is almost like an illustrated precursor of what Jesus the God-Man ended up doing for all mankind! The man spoken of here in Ruth 3:16 is Boaz, the great son of an even more amazing woman - Rahab! Rahab is known throughout all history as the former prostitute of Jericho who rescued the Hebrew spies sent by Joshua and was given a large measure of Faith in the one True God - Yahweh. Rahab went on into the Promised Land with the conquering Jews and eventually married a man named Salmon, the Father of Boaz. Boaz was the grandfather of King David...of whose lineage we have the Lord Jesus Christ (via Mary).

So Boaz was no ordinary man. He was also Ruth's Kinsman Redeemer. Under this strictest reading of God-given Torah, a kinsman redeemer was a rich benefactor, or person who frees the debt holder by paying the debt or "redeemed" cost owed. The book of Leviticus 25:25 says "If a fellow countryman of yours becomes so poor he has to sell part of his property, then his nearest kinsman is to come and buy back what his relative has sold" . Boaz was Ruth's closest male relative and was financially sound to accomplish this task. Boaz was related to Ruth's mother-in-law, Naomi.

Now, let us get this again, more clearly. Leviticus 25:25 says the following in essence: 
- A poor person has nothing because he/she has to sell everything for whatever reason.
- The closest family member comes and buys back, or retrieves and restores, that which was taken.

Is this any different from what Jesus, the Son of God and the God of Heaven Who became Man, did? Of course not! He is Our Redeemer! And I know MY REDEEMER LIVES! Again going off Leviticus 25:25 and now looking at our own poor situation through God's Eyes:
- We are poor and worthless and destined for destruction because of our sin!
- We have nothing with which to redeem ourselves and in any case, a finite person literally cannot make ourselves right before an Infinite God.
- Our closest Family member is again, literally, God our Father.
- He used His own given Law to set the redemption process (the Great Buy-Back) in process and then God the Son stepped off the Throne to give His Life as a Ransom for many!
- Wow! Jesus did not consider equality with GOD a thing to be grasped and paid the Highest Price on the Cross for the Salvation of all the world for all time. He redeemed the Lost and called us His Kin- His Children - if we repent and put our faith fully in Him as Lord and Savior!
- Jesus is our Kinsman Redeemer - the Ultimate Kinsman Redeemer!


So now, can you and I testify about all THIS MAN - God Who became Man - Jesus, has done for us? Let's pray the answer is YES! As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. As for all Scripture - well, it's all about Jesus- from cover to cover!

Friday, August 25, 2017

MY NEW BOOK: ACTIVATE - "UNLEASH THE PRAYER WARRIOR WITHIN"


The concept of Prayer has been studied so many ways, in so many forms that I think the original intent of the Founding Father – Almighty God, sometimes gets lost in the drive to create a movement, a mania or a “new way of praying”. This is not the thinking behind ACTIVATE.

Our view of God and His thinking determines our worldview as well as the quality of our relationship with Him. A small view of Abba leaves us in the dust with the majority of mankind and the vast majority of Christians. The latter group may be saved, but not much else. A big view of God leads opens up the eyes of our hearts to the untold riches of Kingdom which we could never imagine possible.

This is why I decided to take some very important chapters of the entire Bible, go through them page by page and discover the prayers of God’s people. We know that ALL Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).  The Book of Genesis is obviously the very first place to begin to understand what Prayer really is. It is a conversation between God our Creator and His redeemed – us.  The very first prayer is so interesting and from there, we proceed all the way through to this mighty Book of Beginnings.

Chapter 2 of ACTIVATE will surprise a lot of people. As aforementioned, just like the Constitution of the United States, the key is Original Intent. In other words, how does God really want us to pray. I do not follow the book layout of the Bible, but God’s thinking after He gave us the Genesis or Beginnings of Prayer.

Therefore, the very next chapter of Activate is a full deep sea dive into the Book of James! There is a reason this little book of five short chapters, almost at the end of every bible, is so critical. We first have to understand just who the Apostle James really is! He was the unsaved half-brother of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself until after the Resurrection where the Bible makes a point of saying that Jesus showed Himself to 500 AND JAMES!  James was once one of His siblings who thought their older brother was a little of our His Mind. The Resurrection changed all that as two of the Lord’s brothers, who were direct sons of Joseph, wrote books in the Bible. They are James and Jude.

While the Sermon on the Mount is the definitive standard for Christian living, the Book of James is the standard for Christian conduct in everyday life situations. It is also the standard for prayer. There are no prayers in the Book of James. However, the great leader of the Church in Jerusalem – James, gives the most in-depth and beautiful teaching on HOW to pray, than any other book of the Bible.  This amazing instructional is called “The Mechanics of Prayer”.

James was called “Camel Knees”. It is no wonder that God revealed these teachings to His servant James to pass on to us, because only a fervent man of effective prayer could have written what we examined in Chapter 2 of this new book.

Some of the most critical issues of life, from matters of the soul to personal matters are not just addressed by the Lord in His Word here, but He explicitly demonstrates how His free people can approach Him, in prayer. This is more than a “How-to” manual straight from the Source. But it is a hands on, and pro-active examination which, if done as the men and women of the Bible shows us how, will put our spiritual maturity growth spurt on steroids.

God made us for relationship, first with Him and then others. In fact, Jesus said these are the two greatest commandments for anyone who ever lived. We nurture and grow that relationship with Abba Father ONLY through prayer. Proper application of the lessons learned from the Bible in this book – Activate – will unleash AND power the inner prayer warrior in us.
ACTIVATE (eBOOK AND/OR PAPERBACK IS AVAILABLE HERE ON AMAZON.COM)

Saturday, August 19, 2017

THE 3:16 VERSES OF THE BIBLE: PART 5: "...AND ON THE OTHER HAND....."

15 But when the sons of Israel cried to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer for them, Ehud the son of Gera, the Benjamite, a left-handed man. And the sons of Israel sent tribute by him to Eglon the king of Moab. 16 Ehud made himself a sword which had two edges, a cubit in length, and he bound it on his right thigh under his cloak. (Joshua 3:15-16)
Life is not a pleasant experience sometimes, to which we can personally testify. All that is needed is for us to turn on the TV News or visit our favorite news website for ever-increasing, disturbing evidence. The thing is – there is nothing new under the sun.  People have always been the same. They had the same proclivities, sin nature and every human trait currently noticeable 3500 years ago, as we have now. The main difference is the fact that we live in the information age, and everything is immediately available at a moment’s notice.

So when we read in Judges 3:16 (above) about this leader of the people of God named Ehud, it is easy to just run past the account there of an armed leader of a nation. There is nothing, heretofore, unusual. That is, until we read just a few verses before that Ehud was the God-appointed rescuer of Israel which committed pagan idolatry against the Lord. God had Eglon, the King of Moab take Israel captive. For 18 years, Israel’s worse enemies oppressed them and they cried out to Him, in distress. 

The left-handed Ehud was well, left-handed for a reason.  God created him left-handed.  There is some thinking where being a “south-paw” is not a good thing or even a curse. This comes from the highly exalted position associated with “The Right Hand”.

For instance, being on the right hand of God denotes power. This pertains to only One Person – the Lord Jesus Christ. Since bible days, the right hand denotes influence and more!  We have all heard the term “right-hand man (or woman)” being used to describe someone who has the error of a president, CEO or even a pastor. 

Being left-handed is nothing to sneeze at either. God made both. In baseball, southpaw pitchers are some of the hardest to hit, which is a good thing for their teams. In bible terms, apart from Ehud, this particular, some heroic warriors were all left-handers. Judges 20:15-16 tell us: “15 From the cities on that day the sons of Benjamin were numbered, 26,000 men who draw the sword, besides the inhabitants of Gibeah who were numbered, 700 choice men. 16 Out of all these people 700 choice men were left-handed; each one could sling a stone at a hair and not miss.

So this is all normal, as the Lord made both the left and right hands. However, in pagan “religions” and cults, all kinds of made up nefarious things are concocted by these people. A certain eastern religion says “left handed witchcraft” is dark and evil, while “right handed” is “good”! Eglun, the king of Moab lived in a region which was steeped in all kinds of such evil and human sacrifice.

God sent Ehud into his (Eglun’s) chamber to begin the rescue of Israel and the king’s guards searched only his right side as no one suspected the Judge of Israel would be a southpaw. The results are found in the following verses of Judges Chapter 3:26-28a "26 Now Ehud escaped while they were delaying, and he passed by the idols and escaped to Seirah. 27 It came about when he had arrived, that he blew the trumpet in the hill country of Ephraim; and the sons of Israel went down with him from the hill country, and he was in front of them. 28 He said to them, “Pursue them, for the Lord has given your enemies the Moabites into your hands.” 

God’s plans for deliverance are set up, even before the day of our birth. They will always be accomplished.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

THE 3:16 VERSES OF THE BIBLE, PART 4: "....ON DRY LAND"

14 So when the people set out from their tents to cross the Jordan with the priests carrying the ark of the covenant before the people, 15 and when those who carried the ark came into the Jordan, and the feet of the priests carrying the ark were dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks all the days of harvest), 16 the waters which were flowing down from above stood and rose up in one heap, a great distance away at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan; and those which were flowing down toward the sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. So the people crossed opposite Jericho. 17 And the priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan while all Israel crossed on dry ground, until all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan. (Joshua 3:16)
Forty years after God parted the Red Sea so that two million former Israealite slaves could walk away from Egypt, He did it again. In His Sovereign Power, He backed up the swollen, flooded Jordan River almost twelve miles (in ONE HEAP) so that His people could enter the Promised Land of Canaan! This was on downstream side, then He cut off the River - which He created - from the exit into the Dead (or Salt) Sea. As an aside, the minerals and salt products from this Sea are premium cosmetic items used far and wide!

On both Partings of Major Bodies of Water (Red Sea and the Jordan), the complete Sovereignty of God were on full display for not just Israel, but those they were about to conquer and replace, in the Promised Land.

The Crossing at this point on the River Jordan was strategic. Led by God's General Joshua, the Exodus was complete right outside the City of Jericho where the conquest began almost immediately. The Mighty Power of God's Hand was again immediately obvious here. Jericho was almost like a sanctuary city for those who had heard what the God of the Israelites was doing to clear the path for His plans and purposes. The King of Jericho, a city of around 40,000, had to have seen the multitudes across the flooding River from his city one day.  Then the very next day - the River bed is clear and all the water backed up as high as small mountain upstream. We all know what happened when Joshua led a crack military unit around the double walled city with shofars and rams horns - the secure, tough city of Jericho fell. The Lord can break down the ramparts of despair around us, when trouble comes, when we too release the sound of worship from our hearts.

TRUTH: All of this history, now confirmed by archaelogists,  is contained in the accounts surrounding Joshua 3:16. This verse, like ALL the other 3:16 verses we are looking at, is pivotal. It is here where God made a way, where there was no other way. It is another example of the Mighty One showing His Power and Majesty as King of all things.

LESSONS: Like the River Jordan, overflowing during the flood season here in Joshua 3:16,  sometimes we get run over by life. When the semi truck of sadness and sorrow beset us and more troubles pile on than we could ever imagine, this is the perfect opportunity for the Sovereign Hand of God to make a way, where there is no way. Here is where God rolls back the stone.....or sends the water that's drowning us so far back upstream that we cannot see it.  It is here we see God do His best work. 
There is a caveat - we must believe three things - that He alone is God; that He is Sovereign and thirdly, that He loves YOU.  Yes YOU and I. He loves us so much He gave His Life for us. That is already done. The rest is easy for Him. The rest is resting in Him. For the rest of it, He is full of mercy, grace and long suffering and will bring it to fruition. Breakthrough can be had, until it is our time to go, if we give EVERYTHING to Him, holding nothing back...no hidden sin, no disbelief....holding nothing back from Him. Trusting Christ in the Flood, with Godly perseverance and Faith, can lead to crossing over....on dry land.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

THE "3:16" VERSES OF THE BIBLE. PART 3: "DO AS HE SAYS"

So Moses numbered them according to the word of the LORD, just as he had been commanded  (Numbers 3:16)
Has God ever said “go” and you said “no”? Has He said “slow” and you say “how fast”? Then the Lord said “come” and you run.  The Lord Himself did that several times in Scripture and continues to do so now in, via the promptings of the Holy Spirit. 


The Lesson here is this – when you’re a Christian worker, church leader, volunteer or even a mature Christian who should know better and  God asks you to do something, it is a wise to listen. It is not only smart to do so, but also to act on what He says. Failure to even obey reluctantly could endanger others and then cost you a huge blessing.

King David was told by God to NOT take a census at a certain time during His reign. (CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL ACCOUNT). David was a man who should have known better at this stage in his life, but he went ahead and ignored God. He took the census anyway.  The Bible literally says that “Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census” (1 Chronicles 21:1).   

What does this mean? Well, it means that Satan, the world and the flesh knows our weaknesses and always goes for the reaction which is predicated on Pride. David’s huge pride led him to disobey God, take the census and people died. Our pride does the same thing when we think we know better than God since we are the ones who know this or that process for victory. The system also says it will work this way, if we do it and do it now. So we not just disobey but get ahead of the Lord and often fall flat on our faces. 

Moses did as he was commanded here. It is simple and plain as day. Later on, NOT doing as commanded would cost him his natural life. This time, Moses’ taking of the census would serve the plans of the Lord well, for organizing the new nation of Israel by tribe and function. Moses did as God said. We should too, when He reveals His Will, through His Word, no matter what the task or how BIG the job. Think of Moses - one man - attempting and completing, the job of doing a Census of up to two million people. He had no computers, calculators or clipboards. All He had was the Lord and that is more than enough.

TRUTH: A follower of the Lord,  a Christian will be called on by God to do certain things which accomplish three purposes: Advance the Kingdom, Mature the Believer and Glorify God. This is what we committed to when we were first saved and surrendered our lives to Christ.

LESSON: When Abba, our Father Who IS in Heaven calls, it is more than advisable to say yes the first time….or even reluctantly, while still doing it. Disobedience has dire consequences for not just the disobedient but quite possibly, for generations to come. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

THE "3:16" VERSES OF THE BIBLE, PART 2: DOMINION, OBEDIENCE, LEGACY

16 The priest shall offer them up in smoke on the altar as food, an offering by fire for a soothing aroma; all fat is the Lord’s. 17 It is a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwellings: you shall not eat any fat or any blood.’" Leviticus 3:16

Any human being alive, including every billionaire around today, are kidding themselves if they think they actually own anything. In temporal terms, they do. Their wealth can buy homes, boats, airplanes and the rich lifestyle which comes with material possessions. But the land which all houses are built. The waters which nations claim dominion over. The airspace which governments control. Everything - they all belong to the Lord.

"For every beast of the forest is Mine, The cattle on a thousand hills". Psalm 50:10

Man has given temporary dominion over all the earth and so far, his stewardship has been found wanting, in general. But many have found obedience in the service of the Lord. The first one who realized the teaching from this verse (Leviticus 3:16) that "all fat is the Lord's" was Abel. Genesis 4:4 tells us that "Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering".

For his obedience, love and reverence for Holy God, the second son of Adam, the first man, was murdered by his jealous brother Cain. But recognizing the Right Kind of Offering to the Lord which Yahweh later would codify the The Law given to Moses, brought until rewards. 

Abel's obedience to the Word and Promise of God landed him in the Hall of Fame of all believers. Hebrews 11:4 says "By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks". The fat belongs to the Lord and even without a commandment from God, Abel listened to, loved and obeyed His Creator - by Faith. 

TRUTH: Everything - all the fat....that is, even the smallest thing on earth, belongs to God. The sooner we recognize we are nothing and own nothing, in light of the Eternal God, the quicker the Scripture references here will come alive to us.

LESSON: Obedience to God leads to Kingdom Blessings, as we see in Hebrews 11:4 where our testimony, like Abel's, leaves a Legacy of Faith.  We do not sacrifice animals and offer the fat or bulls and goats on a burning altar, to the Lord as our offerings. However, He expect those who say they are committed to Him to offering a Sacrifice of Person (ourselves in complete loyalty); Praise (worship to the Triune God) and Perseverance (steadfastness in the face of Evil).
Glory to His Name.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

THE "3:16" VERSES OF THE BIBLE. PART 1: GOD SEES AND DELIVERS


GENESIS 3:16 AND EXODUS 3:16

From super fans holding up signs at football games to Vacation Bible School bible verse drills, the entire planet knows John 3:16 (….for God so loved the world…). So, what about the other 65 books of the Bible? Most of them do have “3:16” verses which while not as packed with Eternal Impact for the believer, carry equally significant weight for the Christian! 

It is absolutely beneficial to our spiritual growth to do a study of these verses for many reasons. I discovered the reasons myself while doing precisely this same exercise. While not every book of the sixty six (66) Books of Canon (The Bible) has three chapters or even a 16th verse, the majority of those I found all have a theme relevant to the Christian life!


In some cases, the "3:16" verse is self-explanatory. In many cases, we have to read the previous or the "17" verse in context to get the full meaning. Where the verse is plain, we will no try to over-explain. But they will be kept as focused as possible in this new series, so as to get the full measure of what God is saying, in these passages of Scripture.

To be clear, the original manuscripts were NOT written in Chapter and Verse! The original Old Testament was written in Hebrew and only put in verses in the 15th century by a Jewish Rabbi. The English Bible was divided into chapters by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the 13th century and less than 160 years, the great and first Wycliffe English Bible made it permanent. The division into chapter and verse occurred to make the great Words of God more understandable to the world.

This has occurred and the Lord has used The Greatest Book Ever Written to change, transform and rescue lives ever since. Here we go:
ORIGINAL SIN BRINGS THE FIRST CONCEPT OF JUDGMENT
Genesis 3:16:
To the woman He said,
“I will greatly multiply
Your pain in childbirth,
In pain you will bring forth children;
Yet your desire will be for your husband,
And he will rule over you.”

While feminists may not find this particularly appealing, in fact it was Eve - the first woman - who negotiated with a serpent, believed him over God and fell for the lie. Adam was ultimately held responsible by God for this sin, but look at the hammer coming down on all women for all time due to Eve listening to Lucifer and eating forbidden fruit! 

Here we have the first introduction of PAIN into the human equation. Pain was not meant for to happen. We brought it on ourselves. This was just the beginning of all kinds of trauma and pain because Eve's first offspring and son - CAIN, an angry and jealous man increased this Pain by killing his own brother Abel.

LESSON: DISOBEDIENCE HAS CONSEQUENCE WAY BEYOND THE IMMEDIATE AND CAN AFFECT GENERATIONS YET TO BE BORN.

GOD CARES ABOUT THOSE IN DESPAIR
EXODUS 3:16 "Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, “I am indeed concerned about you and what has been done to you in Egypt".

Sure, Eve brought pain and suffering into the World, but our God is the God of Mercy, Grace and Compassion and His love endureth for a life time. The Jews were an oppressed and mistreated people for 400 years as slaves in Egypt after the death of the great Joseph and his benefactor Pharaoh. The time of their pending departure and entry to the Promised Land. In Exodus 3:16, God Himself said He was "INDEED concerned and knew of their hurt and persecution". He was about to send the Great Deliverer - Moses.

LESSON: WHAT YOU OR I MAY BE GOING THROUGH IS NOT NEWS TO GOD. HE SEES THE PAIN, DEPRESSION AND LOST NATURE OF HIS PEOPLE NOW, AS HE DID 1000, 2000 0R 4000 YEARS AGO. HE IS INDEED CONCERNED, CARING, COMPASSIONATE AND LOVING AND WILL RESPOND WITH DELIVERANCE - ONE WAY OR ANOTHER. 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

PURSUIT WORTHY OF CONSIDERATION

""Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you...Matthew 7:7"
We all love watching a good fast chase, whether it is a car chase in the movies or on TV, or a boat race on the lake.  We even think It’s cute when one of our pet dogs playfully chases the other one around the back yard. We involve ourselves in our own chases at various times in our lives. In our teens and early twenties, the more educationally ambitious of us may chase down multiple college degrees (not me – one is enough). Those who are more bent towards business take risks and joyfully suffer the birth pangs of launching, maintaining and growing their own small business, as they chase their dream of the freedom of self-employment and probable riches. in general, though, it does seem as if sometimes, everything else is a chase, race or making haste.

The common goal of these various chases, from the self-motivated  young entrepreneur to the person who obtains the right educational background for a better job and benefits in order to raise a family or accumulate enough of a nest egg for later on, is success. There is absolutely nothing wrong with success and the process it takes to get there. As long as everything is legally,  ethically and morally done – the sky is the limit. Millions are willing to go into major debt to, excuse me, kiss the sky, in this pursuit.

Most times oft, than not, though, matters of the soul are completely ignored in this paper chase. (The paper chase mentioned in this article is all about the financial documents which represent wealth held by those who primarily seek only worldly success). Increasingly, with very few exceptions (less than 10%) the vast majority of people under the age of 40 have little or no faith in the God of Heaven. Men and women instinctively know that we were ALL created with the Law of God (His commands) written on our hearts. Even those who have not heard the Gospel possess this.  It is called the conscience where we learn right from wrong. Even those who hate God have a conscience. They just block it out. They just don’t pursue Him.

In the greatest sermon ever preached – the Sermon on the Mount, God Himself – through His Son the Creator, teaches many Eternal Truths about Life on earth. Almost all of the Teachings of Jesus are counter-cultural and against any of the worldly thinking of man. There is so much in this Greatest Message of All Times, but what is relevant here is the statement of Matthew 7:7 "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you"

In short, the Lord recommended the following three specific actions – all in the present tense:
-          Ask
-          Seek
-          Knock on the door

Those in pursuit of success in the Natural (through Education, Business etc.) have no problem at all with any of those three. Whether we work for a company or run the company or teach a junior college class for a living, around age 30-40 we have done more than our fair share of asking, seeking and knocking on doors.  A 75% or more failure rate never stops us in our pursuit of excellence in our chosen career paths. The majority of us would just take deep breaths and move on to the next thing. However, for some reason, on the supremely important matter of eternity, the hard work of research into the Truth – the True Truth – is left on the cutting floor!

It is very telling that the very same committed and purpose-driven people who would work 70-90 hours per week to study part time while working would not take an hour of their entire week, on one day, to see if the claims and promises of God are true. A small business owner would be the last person to get paid at his business, while getting no sleep or vacation, but he or she would press so hard in one direction, that the real direction that matters will also be neglected.

Even so, Jesus has a proposition for those who are worn down, beaten up, tired out, flamed out and just plain over their heads in the hot pursuit of success, the World’s Way. He has three simple words: Ask, Seek, Knock. What’s behind these three doors is nothing magical, but it IS something Eternal. It is Rest. It is Peace. It is Joy. It is Contentment. It is Heaven.

Success the world’s way could and should get you that – a comfortable successful life….in THIS Life ONLY!  But the Pursuit of Heavenly Treasure lasts forever. For those are interested in what comes next after this swift fleeting life.  Again – it’s free ….and so simple. In fact it is so simple, most do not believe it cost them nothing, thereby missing the boat.

ASK:
Like everything else in matters of eternity, it comes down to the Heart – the Spiritual Heart. To even get to the point of asking, we need to be able see and then know, that for which we are asking or requesting. Scripture, in Ephesians 1:18, cries out to us “open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord”.  There is nothing in the make-up of a human being which is worthy of us being even qualified to "ASK" the Great God of Heaven for anything. It is by sheer mercy and grace we are alive and then have the means to live comfortably, and function at any capacity. The sooner we realize this, the quicker we will make haste to the Throne Room of God to ask Him to be the Guiding Light of Our Lives.

SEEK:
Anyone who is born again, instinctively knows we were near seeking and finding a relationship with the True God of Heaven and our Creator. At some point in life, we may have been seeking for the great answers of life - (who am I, why am I here etc...). However, if you look at some of the "-sims*" that led countless millions astray, none of them sought after the real God of Heaven as found in the Bible. (Think of "isms" like extentialism, atheism, communism etc...etc...). All of these "systems" were thought up by mortal men. All of these men had disturbing final words and horrible fruit of their labors and teachings. Jesus is inviting us to search Him out AND He gave us the most powerful flashlight and road map ever- The Bible. To those who have been redeemed, He sends the Holy Spirit to continue the life long pursuit of seeking out eternal truths in through Prayer and the Full Counsel of God. These are the only riches which are worth nailing down first, before all else. Seek and look for Him, He and all Heaven are within reach!

KNOCK:
The portals of Heaven still remain open to all who ask, seek and then knock. The original meaning of the word "knock" is to literally "beat the door down with a stick"....or perseverance, persistence and never giving up in your pursuit of this amazing God. How do we knock on Heaven's door? We do so by daily, consistent pressing into the very Throne of Heaven, where we camp and not leave until God provides the guidance, direction and answers we are seeking and asking. 

All there active processes imply and ongoing and well, active response on our part. They proceed out of a heart set on God. In all the great chases and pursuits we can have in this life, at any age, this is the only one built to last.