It’s All In Your Perspective

Leviticus 25:47-27:13; Mark 10:32-52; Psalm 44:9-26; Proverbs 10:20-21
The two sons of Zebedee, James and John, had just asked Jesus if they could sit at his right and left hand in glory. This was a huge request as these are seats of honor. It was kind of forward of them to break from the other disciples so they could try to maneuver into those spots. Of course it immediately set a wall between them and the other disciples who got down right indignant that they would even think to ask. However, it really just revealed their hearts. They wanted to be the big dogs sitting next to Jesus.
They had a skewed, base perception of leadership and power. Of course Jesus knowing where they were coming from handled business and told them it wasn’t in His power to offer those positions, neither was it a major concern. Then He launched into the scripture below concerning leadership and power in the kingdom. Jesus called them over and said to them, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles dominate them, and their men of high positions exercise power over them. But it must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be a slave to all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”  (Mark 10:42-45)
I’m curious, what’s your perspective? Do you see leadership as an opportunity to serve, or as a way to be served?
PRAYER:
Lord, help all of us in Your body to be servants. May we always race to the bottom of the totem pole. Father, forgive us of our sins of pride and prejudice. Teach us that promotion comes from You and there is no need to seek it or to be jealous of another person’s blessing. It is You who decides who gets the honored seats and it has everything to do with Your will and calling on our lives, nothing of self effort. Help us to be humble and to remember Your kingdom does not run by the same rules of this worldly system. Heal us from esteem issues Lord. Teach us that we are all loved and are equally important in Your sight. In the name of Jesus I pray, amen.

Reppin’ the Kingdom, Making Jesus Famous!

Exodus 39:1-40:38; Mark 1:1-28; Psalm 35:1-16; Proverbs 9:11-12
“The cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses was unable to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud rested on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. The Israelites set out whenever the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle throughout all the stages of their journey. If the cloud was not taken up, they did not set out until the day it was taken up. For the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and there was fire inside the cloud by night, visible to the entire house of Israel throughout all the stages of their journey.” (Exodus 40:36-38)
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe in the good news.” (Mark 1:15)
“Then they were all amazed, so they began to argue with one another, saying, ‘What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.’ His fame then spread throughout the entire vicinity of Galilee.” (Mark 1:27-28)
God has never left His people without a witness. In the Old Testament reading we see God’s presence and guidance through the cloud and fire. In Mark we see Him in a more personal way through the presence of Jesus. The people of God for years had sought signs concerning the physical coming of the kingdom of God. Jesus is telling the people that the manifestation of the kingdom of God has begun with His ministry. When Jesus died on the cross, so many of the people saw it as a sign of defeat and dashed hopes. They had longed for a king that would physically deliver them from the hardship of Roman rule and second class citizenry.
The culmination of all of Jesus’ teaching was this: “Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God will come, He answered them, ‘The kingdom of God is not coming with something observable; no one will say, ‘Look here!’ or ‘There!’ For you see, the kingdom of God is among (or within) you.'” (Luke 17:20)
The revelation for us is this, that we can’t look for a cloud or fire, or the physical appearance of the kingdom, we need to look within. When we receive Jesus as our Lord, the Holy Spirit takes up residence within us and therefore the kingdom is with us, developing us, strengthening us, teaching us, conforming us into the image of Jesus. Don’t look any further because the kingdom is with you, stop waiting for heaven to “happen” and start enjoying and flowing in His presence now! Sure, in the fulfillment of time, God will come back and set up His physical kingdom but in the meantime let’s make Jesus famous by knowing Him and operating in kingdom principles with such authority that people will know that the kingdom of God has come near them.
PRAYER:

 

Lord, thank you for simple words of truth that remind me I am Yours and You are with Your people in the most intimate way, not as an exterior presence but through Your precious Holy Spirit. I pray to be able to help people see You and understand Your kingdom. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

God’s Plan will Prevail

Genesis 37:1-38:30; Matthew 12:22-45; Psalm 16:1-11; Proverbs 3:27-32

“Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more. So he said to them, ‘Please hear this dream which I have dreamed: There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf. And his brothers said to him, ‘Shall you indeed reign over us? Or shall you indeed have dominion over us?’ So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.” (Genesis 37:5-8)

“So it came to pass, when Joseph had come to his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the tunic of many colors that was on him. Then they took him and cast him into a pit. And the pit was empty; there was no water in it…So Judah said to his brothers, ‘What profit is there if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother and our flesh.’ And his brothers listened.” (37:23-24, 26-27)

Let’s set the stage. Out of 12 boys born to Israel, Joseph is second to last. The Word says that Israel favored him because he was the first born to Rachel, his love, and because he was born during his old age. Israel had a special coat made for Joseph and that was kind of flaunted as well. Joseph used to tattle to their dad if his brothers weren’t doing right. I’m telling you between all of these things, there was genuine dislike for Joseph.

When the brothers saw Joseph in his fine coat coming out to check on them for their dad, they just went off on him. They debated on killing him but ultimately decided to sell him to some passing merchants. The brothers went back to their dad and told him they found Joseph’s coat and he must of been killed by wild animals. Israel is distraught.

The point we’re looking at in today’s scripture is how God can give us a word, a vision or a dream that is actually set for an appointed time. In between the revelation of the vision and the manifestation there will usually be a period of time pass. We must hold fast to what He has spoken to our hearts.

Joseph had two dreams from God about going to the top, however, he went through many years of hell before those dreams came about. If God has spoken something to you, keep that close to your heart and be convinced that one way or another, in God’s time, it will happen. Like I said, Joseph went through some unbelievable hardships yet he grew and kept a great attitude of faith.

PRAYER:
Lord, help me to be faithful to You and the vision You have for my life no matter what I have to walk through to get there. I love You and totally trust You. Keep the dream burning within me. In the name of Jesus I pray, amen.

I’ll be Alright because God is Already There

Genesis 30:1-31:16; Matthew 10:1-23; Psalm 12:1-8; Proverbs 3:13-15

“Now Jacob heard the words of Laban’s sons, saying, ‘Jacob has taken away all that was our father’s, and from what was our father’s he has acquired all this wealth.’ And Jacob saw the countenance of Laban, and indeed it was not favorable toward him as before. Then the Lord said to Jacob, ‘Return to the land of your fathers and to your family, and I will be with you.’

So Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah to the field, to his flock, and said to them, ‘I see your father’s countenance, that it is not favorable toward me as before; but the God of my father has been with me. And you know that with all my might I have served your father. Yet your father has deceived me and changed my wages ten times, but God did not allow him to hurt me. If he said thus: ‘The speckled shall be your wages,’ then all the flocks bore speckled. And if he said thus: ‘The streaked shall be your wages,’ then all the flocks bore streaked. So God has taken away the livestock of your father and given them to me.'” (Genesis 31:1-9)

When Jacob wanted to leave, Laban asked Jacob to continue on with him. Laban knew the Lord was blessing him because of the favor on Jacob’s life. Jacob was paid with goats and over a period of time God began building up Jacob’s flock. Laban noticed, so he would switch up which goats Jacob could have, but despite that, whatever kind Laban said could be Jacob’s those were the ones that multiplied. Jacob increased and Laban did not. He and his sons started to take note of the difference and began accusing Jacob of getting rich off of them. Sometimes people can’t understand the favor of God on you and will accuse you of doing something underhanded. They’ll never get it unless God reveals it so don’t waste your breathe trying to defend yourself.

Jacob discerned from their attitudes that things were not right. Sometimes when it’s time to move to the next phase of life, God will put a burr in your saddle, so to speak. Things will really start to get uncomfortable and God will give you some definite signs or a word that it’s time to go. I like how Jacob brought his family together to discuss the situation and to share with them what the Lord said. Instead of making demands, he gave them an opportunity to get on board.

“Then Rachel and Leah answered and said to him, ‘Is there still any portion or inheritance for us in our father’s house? Are we not considered strangers by him? For he has sold us, and also completely consumed our money. For all these riches which God has taken from our father are really ours and our children’s, now then, whatever God has said to you, do it.” (Genesis 31:14-16)

Rachel and Leah saw what their brothers could not, that their father had taken advantage of them and was literally trying to steal from them. God kept them, provided for them and they acknowledged it. They had done the right thing by their dad and now it was time to go. And so they bravely struck out as a family to follow the will of God, unsure of the future but knowing that it would be alright because God was already there.

PRAYER:
Lord, help me to trust You, especially when things are scary. Jacob didn’t know what he was going to run into by returning home or what he would soon face by sneaking away from Laban, yet he bravely obeyed Your Word. I want to have that kind of obedience and faith. Teach me to recognize Your voice and to follow. Lord, sometimes it hurts my feelings and scares me when people talk about me. I pray You will help me to stay on track no matter what is being said. I love You, I am Yours, keep me. In the name of Jesus I pray, amen.

Never Sell Your Spiritual Birthright

Genesis 24:52-26:16; Matthew 8:18-34; Psalm 10:1-15; Proverbs 3:7-8

Abraham is getting old so he sends his servant, Eliezer, to his homeland to find a wife for Isaac. Amazingly, Abraham trusted God so much that he sent Eliezer knowing that God would send His angel before him to pick the perfect person to carry out the seed line and covenant of God. Great news, this plan includes us. God says, “I will make your seed to multiply as the stars of heaven and will give unto your seed all these countries and in your seed shall all nations of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 26:4) Now that seed line leads to Jesus Christ. Jesus is the promise and when I accept Him as Lord and Savior I have access to all of God’s promises and more.

I’d like for you to imagine your dad sending his servant to scoop up your wife. Imagine Rebecca, a woman saying, “I will go with this stranger to marry a man I have never seen.” It had to be a move of God.

Some time later Rebecca gets pregnant with twin boys, Jacob and Esau. They are fighting in the womb. Sounds like family to me, brothers if I may say. One day Esau was hunting and spent a lot of time in the woods and because he was very hungry, Jacob was able to take advantage of him. Jacob had cooked some food and, seizing the moment, told Esau he would give him the food in exchange for His birthright. Esau swore to give his birthright but later despised his brother.

This is a great lesson for us today. We must never sell out our God-given birthright to the world for a bowl of soup. You may be tempted to give into the flesh, to sell out to something in the world but Esau teaches us that we will despise that decision for the rest of our lives. We will never sell ourselves short to the world in exchange for some temporary fix that it offers. What shall it profit us if we gain the whole world and yet lose our souls? No, there is nothing in the world worth losing our birthright in Christ Jesus.

PRAYER:
God, I reaffirm my faith and commitment in You. I will not give into the animal appetite that is in my flesh. Help me God to serve You all the days of my life. I choose to walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lust of the flesh. Holy Spirit, teach and lead me in the mighty name of Jesus. Amen.

All About the Heart

Genesis 13:5-15:21; Matthew 5:27-48; Psalm 6:1-10; Proverbs 1:29-33

“You have heard it said by them of old: Thou shall not commit adultery,’ but I (Jesus) say unto you that whosoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27)

Jesus is teaching us that life is so much more than just a physical lifestyle. He is teaching us that we commit acts even in our heart. In fact, my life on the outside consist of what I am in my heart. Whatever is in my heart will eventually manifest on the outside. Our goal must always be to guard our hearts, to keep a pure heart because a pure heart will see God. (Matthew 5:8) Proverbs 4:23 says to keep your heart with all diligence for out of it are the issues of life.

Here is the warning of Jesus, if you allow a continual longing with your mind made up to commit the act then it will become a state of the heart and is as deadly as the act itself. (James 1:13-16)

PRAYER:
God, I submit my heart and life to You. Holy Spirit, You are my teacher and leader. Search my heart if there is anything in me that displeases You, please convict me and clean me. Change my heart and my life for Your glory. I love You with all my heart. To God be all the glory, honor and praise, forever and ever. Amen.

Shoot, I Feel Like I’ve Been Here Before

Genesis 11:1-13:4; Matthew 5:1-26; Psalm 5:1-12; Proverbs 1:24-28

“Now the Lord had said to Abram: ‘Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him, and Lot went with him…

Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your descendants I will give this land.’ And there he built an altar to the Lord who had appeared to him. And he moved from there to the mountain east of Bethel and he pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; there he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord. So Abram journeyed, going on still toward the South.” (Genesis 12:1-4, 7-9)

God calls all of us out of our comfort zone. He requires us to leave behind our family heritage and our nationality in order to make us one in Him. When we become part of God’s family it is so that we will not only be blessed ourselves but like it says above so that we can be a blessing.

Abram journeyed on away from his homeland seeking his God. On his path he had an encounter with God and built an altar. Abram moved on from there a little closer to a place called Bethel, (meaning in the Hebrew ‘house of God’) and there he pitched his tent and erected another altar and called on the name of the Lord. When we become born again we are ever moving closer to the presence of God, erecting altars of worship and remembrance for all He has done and for all He means to us.

Because of a famine, Abram found himself in Egypt. Fear gripped him (the father of faith) and he asked his wife Sarai to lie and say that she was his sister. Pharaoh thought she was gorgeous, and available, so he brought her into his house and treated Abram well.

“But the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. And Pharaoh called Abram and said, ‘What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? Why did you say, ‘She is my sister’? I might have taken her as my wife. Now therefore, here is your wife; take her and go your way.’ So Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him; and they sent him away, with his wife and all that he had.” (12:17-20)

“Then Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, to the South. Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold. And he went on his journey from the South as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place of the altar which he had made there at first. And there Abram called on the name of the Lord.” (13:1-4)

Sometimes circumstances will arise in our lives that we are unsure of how to handle. Sometimes we may revert to our pre-Christian way of dealing with issues which may not be how God would have us to handle it. But God is faithful. He never left Abram or Sarai and even made a way of escape for them. Abram, knowing God’s hand when He sees it, returned back to where He was in the beginning. You may find yourself off track in life from time to time and maybe you haven’t conducted yourself in the most Christianly fashion, but know this, you are called and God is with you and wants to help you find your way. Go back to your tent near the house of God, Bethel, back to that altar of worship and call on the name of your God. He is there waiting for you…

PRAYER:
Lord, forgive me if ever I get off track. Help me to be faithful to You. I pray You would even protect others from my bad decisions. I’m mentally, physically and spiritually returning to Bethel so that I can seek Your face. You’ve been nothing but good to me and I owe you everything. In the name of Jesus I pray, amen.