Monday, January 26, 2009

JOEL 2...
A Call to Repentance
 12 That is why the Lord says,
      “Turn to me now, while there is time.
   Give me your hearts.
      Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning.
 13 Don’t tear your clothing in your grief,
      but tear your hearts instead.”
   Return to the Lord your God,
      for he is merciful and compassionate,
   slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
      He is eager to relent and not punish.
 14 Who knows? Perhaps he will give you a reprieve,
      sending you a blessing instead of this curse.
   Perhaps you will be able to offer grain and wine
      to the Lord your God as before.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Isaiah 58...A Calling Out to Those Who Say They Believe...

Isaiah 58

" ' Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the house of Jacob their sins. For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them. " Why have we fasted, they say, and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?" ' Yet on the day of your fasting you do as you please and exploit all your workers. Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You can not fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high. Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself? Is it only for bowing one's head like a reed and for lying on sack cloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?"[58:1-5]

God is addressing the essence of his people's heart and actions apart from mere appearances...

He begins by declaring that His people are in rebellion even though they appear, to the natural eye, to be living rightly... seeking him...eager to know his ways...humbling themselves... 

In reality, they may give the public appearance of righteousness, but behind closed doors and in their hearts they dishonor Him and chose their own way...

" A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing" kind of thing... 

" A form of godliness but denying its power [2 Timothy 3]" reality...

Putting on an air of being one thing while truly operating and thinking as another...

What we are on the inside is the reality- no matter what we portray on the outside....

This is God's desire for His people...that we live " righteous, inside -out" lives...

Lives that display His splendor and His glory from the inside-out. 

This is not religion but, relationship!

The way we do life...

When we align ourselves with God and righteous living, here's the picture and the promise...

" Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the chords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter- when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. 
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and He will say: Here I am. 
If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise up in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. 
The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings. 
If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord's holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will finds your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob. The mouth of the Lord has spoken."[Isaiah 58: 6-14]

Seeking after God -a pure desire; evidenced in our heart motives and actions, to know the more of Him...

A steady diet of denying our own flesh and esteeming and serving others...

The essence of following "The Way"...and as we do;  

Our sphere of influence will grow, we will have favor with God and man, health, protection and provision...He will perfect everything that concerns us [Psalm 138:8] and establish us in every way[Psalm 90 & 91]!

Rise up, Beloved...follow "The Way"!

Taste and see that the Lord is good! 

He longs to sing over us...the question is -will we allow Him to?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Complete Provision...Blessing in the Hard Place...

The "Valley of Achor"...a place of hope, blessing and complete provision?

The "Valley of Achor"; according to definition, represented trouble. It is believed to be the place where the "sin of Achan" occurred and brought calamity upon the Israelites(Joshua 7). The expression "Valley of Achor" became proverbial for hardship in jewish tradition for this reason.

But, here in the following scripture we find something very different being associated with the Valley... it speaks of hope, refreshing; even blessing...

Hosea 2 :14-15

"Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt."

This was a word from the Lord brought forth through the prophet Hosea of the Old Testament. In it, He [the Lord] makes it known that HE leads and allows the "deserts" in our lives. Not only does he lead us there; HE is present with us in that place - speaking life into and through the circumstance... 

The idea is that Father God is at work to will and to act according to his good pleasure and can bring joy and hope in the midst of a trial. The place of calamity has the potential to become a source of blessing! When he leads -he intends it for a life-giving purpose. 

He brings us into the hard place - the place we would not bring ourselves - to take us to the next level with Him - to get glory for Himself and position us for what it is He wants to accomplish next.  The only requirement on our part is an obedient and surrendered heart willing to hear and receive.

 In that posture, the hard places in our lives become places of growth and renewal- places of fresh perspective, reignited passion and "face-like-flint" purpose.

I like to call it the "lemonade from lemons" moment. The sweet spot in what should be a very sour place. All of God's goodness, grace, love, compassion and mercy come pouring out on you and you experience what it is to rise up and call this place blessed because you have "seen the Lord", sensed His touch and maybe even been given a glimpse of His divine purpose for allowing you to be found in the hard place...WOW!

This, my friend, is the ebb and flow of a vibrant love relationship with the Creator of the universe. It is the place of purest praise and adoration- born out of deep gratitude and absolute trust!

Out of what should be death comes a wellspring of life and sweet relationship...

Next time you find yourself in a "Valley of Achor" - look for the "lemonade stand" and drink deep! 

Your Father's love for you is an amazing thing... he is intent on transforming you into the image of His son and knows exactly what it will take to bring you there... press into Him and push through the valley together! He WILL open up the portals of heaven and blessing WILL rain down upon you! 

BE ENCOURAGED, my friend - your God is near!