Monday, January 28, 2008

Relationship Restored

Genesis 45 14 Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. 15 And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him.
There is nothing sweeter than a restored relationship. Joseph has been fighting his emotions while dealing with his brothers...and finally he shares with them, and blesses them for being his brothers.....he blesses them not because they deserved to be blessed, but because they were his brothers, related by blood, and he deeply loved them. His love transcended whatever they could personally dish out, and he trusted in God's provision.

SOme of the saddest stories when we meet with our homeless the lives shattered and relationships severed...torn apart by drugs, alcohol, crime....or just lousy circumstances. We know from the story of Joseph, that God would love to restore those relationships..... for his glory. God I pray for Clarence who has just been reuinited with his wife....on the street... and their plans to get back to New Orleans and see his wife's mom, and ailing step father. God I pray that you'll continue to work in the life of Anthony and allow him to realize his dream of getting a vehicle and trailer to start a mobile car washing business. And for the couple with the little girl, that the wife can do well in her job interview this week, so that with the income they can get off the streets.

Mark 8:29"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"

Peter answered, "You are the Christ.

In Mark Jesus replied not to tell anyone....yet in Matthew (you'll remember) that Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.

Now the thing that strike me odd about that is that is the very next that Jesus predicts his death....and Peter once again is compelled to speak, yet this time.....Jesus tells Peter, who it was just revealed by God that jesus was the "Christ"..... to "get behind me Satan!"It seems like in a matter of a few minutes....Peter is being directed by God to being prompted by the Devil.....because scripture said....then Jesus was teaching not much time had passed. I dont really have anything to say other than.....we must continue to fill ourselves with God, his Word and his Spirit.

Friday, January 25, 2008

WASH your Hands!

Genesis 44...Joseph's dream is coming to pass. The brothers are bowing at his feet, and Joseph has complete authority over them....the story of Joseph's love for his brothers and his bringing them back into relationship, at this point seems like sweet justice, but you can tell from his emotion.... Joseph is torn up about it.
Being in right relationship with those around us is critical, being in right relationship with family members ordained of God. Families that harbor hatred, or dissent, or just animosity cannot be pleasing to God. God used a series of events to restore a relationship, or a few family relationships prior to coming to Austin. There had been a rift for years causing my mom and her barely speak. Through the death of an aunt this year....and subsequently our asking them (my uncle and aunt) for help for us and Austin New Church.... God really put his hand of healing on the relationship there....with our cousins and although we have "said" we have loved them through the whole turmoil.... we felt that both ways at Christmas.

Mark 7: Wash your hands! Jesus wasnt saying this was a bad wash them, not because it makes you unclean.....but because it makes you NASTY if you dont.

Mark 7: 11-13
But you say that if a man says to his father or mother: 'Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is Corban' (that is, a gift devoted to God), 12then you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother. 13Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that."

Corban is a word that literally translates 'sacrifice' and the word was used to describe a sacrifice (blood sacrifice or other) made to God. The Talmud ( record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, customs, ethics and history) states that Jews made practice of 'calling' Corban on stuff they never intended to give to God...and when faced with honoring their parents some Jews would call Corban as if to say....Mom, Dad, you know I want to honor you....but I am sacrificing this stuff I would have given to honor God, but then never really give it to God either (keeping it in their own possession)

Jesus is hitting these guys right in the gut, calling them out on stuff they know they have done... the sad thing about it.... we withhold from God all the time. No wonder Jesus wasn't a popular guy with the Pharisees. Jesus called them out in public.

God I know you desire mercy, not I pray for extra measures of that...because I lack mercy. Father I thank you for restored relationships, and I thank you for wanting to, and continuing to lavish your children with blessings. We are so undeserving, yet so thankful. Please God, continue to be with us at Austin New Church as we try to be your hands and feet. Go before us this weekend and make yourself known.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Soften us God

Genesis 43:16 When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the steward of his house, "Take these men to my house, slaughter an animal and prepare dinner; they are to eat with me at noon."

This just kind of reminded me of the story of the prodigal son. I know it was custom to share a meal like this, yet I find it odd that they still dont recognize their brother. They were frightened at the prospect of going to eat with Joseph. Joseph was an emotional mess. News of his father still being alive and well, seeing his baby brother (of his own mother). The love Joseph has for his family in light of they did to an awesome picture of Christ's forgiveness, and love that separates us from our sin and is a great example for us as we deal with sinners.

MArk 6:52for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened. (Speaking of the disciples)

I was a little confused by this figure of speech.....and hardened in this instance refers to their thinking being dominated by the natural ways of the culture, rather than being opened to the supernatural way that Christ fed 5000 (men). The disciples were confused and frightened by Jesus because they were SO concerned with themselves and their possible peril, and trying to think about the natural ways of being saved.....rather than Jesus supernaturally saving them, much like he had just supernaturally fed all those men, that they didnt understand what they had just experienced AND they were confused and scare of Jesus outside the boat.

Are our hearts hardened toward miracles? DO we not see miracles because we are so focussed on the 'natural (man's) way' things take place? You get sick, you go to a doctor, he gives medicine, you are cured or die.... yet in places where the Gospel is new and fresh, God manifest himself in miracles, healings, in supernatural ways. DO we simply write off miracles, the manifestations of the Holy Spirit, because they aren't natural in todays society. I believe that if we truly asked God to soften us to the point of being open to miracles...... we would see more of the supernatural things God is doing.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Different forms of Faith

Gen 41

25 Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain, to put each man's silver back in his sack, and to give them provisions for their journey. After this was done for them, 26 they loaded their grain on their donkeys and left.

Joseph had every right to hate his brothers yet he loved them, he had every right to discipline his brothers yet he provided for them, he showed mercy and kindness toward them, even weeping.

I just think this story today is a reminder for us to love others. Even those who have wronged us. Pray for them and you will care for them.

Mark 5 is a great chapter on faith. It faith is active.... what faith isnt is passive. The woman with the bleeding....pressed through the crowd, came up behind Jesus and touched his cloak, and Jairus was directed after his daughter was dead to "just believe", by Jesus. The amazing part of this story to me is that faith saves....yet it takes different forms. To one is was a physical touch, a healing and to another it was believing in the person of Jesus and who you believe him to be, or at least believing in what he could do.

I dont know if either one of the people Jesus healed in this story actually believed he was the Son of God before he healed them....but they both believed he could heal them.

And then last, Jesus is a healer.....but didnt forget the practical needs either. You know it may have been quite the commotion after Jesus healed the girl...and everyone would have been hugging on her, and asking her questions, and showing her off to people, and Jesus remembered.... practically.... this girl is hungry....give her some food.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Spirit Compells

Gen 38

Reading about Er and Onan, you find out how important Judah knew linage and birthrights were. The whole be 'fruitful and multiply' thing was taken very seriously and custom was for the brother to step in and continue the family name, secure the birthright, keep the family land, and give security to the woman, who in those days would have been nothing, on her own.

Mark 1

12(K)Immediately the Spirit impelled Him to go out into the wilderness.

The spirit of God works quickly, immediately. I think sometimes, we try to outthink God. I am sometimes Compelled to do something...and wonder why, what if i dont...and once i start second guessing....its usually over. Its tough for me to recover and hear God again. I've heard many times about the 'still small voice' and admittedly, that is how I usually hear from God. WE are all endwelled by the same Holy Spirit, that impelled Jesus to the wilderness......lets listen to Him today.

God, thank you that you are with us, you make your home....your dwelling inside each and every believer. God I pray for protection over these men, guard their hearts, their families and allow your Spirit to guide all our decisions (big and small). Thank you for Jesus and salvation.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Good day to be 41!

It's my birthday!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

so much in names

Men, I was awake from 3:30 - 4:30 last night..... and I am a great sleeper..... i NEVER am awake that long at night if at all...and I just sensed God saying....Im ready to talk and you need to listen. I felt God telling me that I needed to spend more time in prayer for his church, my family and listening. I rarely listen in prayer......I usually pray til i fall asleep or in the morning....before I read Gods word, ask him to speak to me through it....but brandon said the other night....."if i were to spend as much time thanking God as i did asking for prayer life would nearly double".... and i'm right there with him.

Gen 36
Esau that is Edom.....or red, in reference to his trading his birth right for a bowl of Red Stew. The thing about this now, is that he is being called Edom,...and he is leaving the area of his birthright that is naturally his. Obviously his wealth has let him take his leaving in stride.... he has long 'gotten over' the hatred toward his brother and his is just living the dream.
Well..also mentioned in this chapter are his wives... who were apparently prostitutes by their names....Adah....meaning ornamental, outward beauty and no inner substance.....and his wife Oholibamah derived from Hebrew ohel "tent" bamah "high place" and the commentary i read said there were temple prostitutes in tents around the 'high places' of idol worship. So, Esau/Edom isn't the most upstanding/righteous man in the OT.

A few other names through this chapter i recognized, but these give insight into Esau/Edom.

Matt 27: Pilate was a pawn.

a Governor, a judge and apparently an official who wanted to remain in the 'good graces' of the people. Reminds me of elected officials these days. The people in the Sanhedrin had no authority to do to Jesus what was done, so they trumped up charges and brought Jesus to the only authority who could. Pilate was a Roman authority and therefore could carry out the crucifixion.... but Pilate knew Jesus had done nothing worthy of it. Pilates wife knew Jesus was innocent.... and according to custom, Pilate tries to offer up the most notorious criminal Barabus or Jesus to be turned loose. I guess this might be lie asking if we should allow Charles Manson free. Can you imagine....Charles Manson back in circulation...... yet the people called for Jesus to be crucified.
The people even screamed....."Let his blood be onus and our children" is irony.

God, I realized as you had me awake for an hour last night, that my prayer life isnt where it needs to be. Forgive me father. I do not thank near enough the blessings i have, and even the air i am breathing right now. You are so very good to us, your children. I thank you for not wiithholding your favor because I am a screw-up.....lowly, poor and destitute without you. Thank you for calling us to Austin, thank you for calling me be your child, to be your servant and to call you Abba.....Father. Thank you for your spirit as He fills us daily....and falls on us, when we call on Him. Thanks for Jesus, that He wilingly gave his life.... and that precious blood to save us. Amen

Monday, January 14, 2008

foundational truth

Matt 26:56b Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.

This verse in Matthew is probably obscure and one that brings shame to the disciples. But this one verse, is foundational in my personal belief that Jesus was resurrected and he was who he said he was. These same disciples who were scared to be seen with, denied, and werent even present at the crucifixion, obviously had a change. These same disciples who fell asleep when Jesus was in the garden, never really "got it" while Christ was with them..... evidently believed in Christ in a 'new way'. As a matter of fact, the change in the disciples pre and post resurrection leads me to know that they not only believed in Christ enough to drop their nets and follow him, but they believed in Christ NOW, enough to die for the cause of Christ.

Genesis 35:2 So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, "Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes.

My question when reading today, was why did the household of Jacob have ANY foreign gods? Then I was convicted....why do I? What are the things in my life that I treasure, that I hold onto? Things that i treasure from time to time, more than my time with God. I dont think we realize the jealous nature of God. And its not like a Jr. High girl jealousy. God wants all of our affection, he wants to be the focus of all of our being, and he wants us to share that focus, love and affection with others.

I really appreciated what Brandon said last night, when he was talking about not having to judge people that I'm suppose to bless. I know I have...pulled up to red light..and see a homeless guy and i dont even make eye contact because I know he is just going to buy beer with my money. I am so grateful that God didnt withhold HIS BLESSING from me based on the fact that I wouldnt do exactly as he would have hoped with it. We are just called to bless others...God can do the changing of that persons heart.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Wrong Place Wrong Time

Matt 25 I think about the parable of the talents and think about the poor sap that only got one talent. The master only gave him one because he knew that one...may be more than he could handle, yet he still freely gave him one talent. I'm sure the master, while away...thought about that one talent, hoping for, the last guy to surprise him. Anything short of burying it (for the one) .... would have pleased the master.
This kinda speaks to my both-ander status. God gives all a chance, there is that decision that has to be made tho. Did God know the decision....maybe, ok yes...but maybe, anyway, I dont really know, but in this parable the last was sent to the same place as Pharisees, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

I realized this morning that although I had memorized the "sheep and the goat' just a few short weeks ago, that I now....dont know it, like I did.

Gen 34 The story of Dinah is a sad one. I want to think... "its wrong place wrong time". Had Jacob followed Esau, and trusted God, then his family wouldnt have been in this land, and Dinah would not have been out where Shechem could take her. I think about Jacob and his deceitfulness and how that is carried down (or passed down) to his sons. And his son, in my opinion, take it to a whole nother (new-other) level. They not only are deceitful, but they use religious practices of circumcison as a snare. And for Shechem to agree, should give him a little bump in credibility. Maybe he did love Dinah, and the two crazy kids got caught up in lust, whatever the case, the brothers took out revenge on not only Shechem, but the entire clan.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Birth Pains

Genesis 33
You know the thing I am feeling is a sense of Thanksgiving an trust. God called Jacob to go back to his home...and all the silly notions Jacob could conjure up about Esau plotting to kill him and bringing 400 men to do it, were just that...silly notions. God doesnt call you out, tell you he is going to bless you to lead you into a trap....its not God's MO. I trust that this morning.

Matt 24
Jesus goes into some pretty gory detail about the end of times. He even prophecies about the temple being torn down. One of the things i read this morning that I just took for granted...was that not only was the temple torn down, but the entire nation of Israel was run over. The Romans totally slaughtered the people..and showed no mercy toward them, their women of their children. At the end of the siege the famine was so great that it was said that the Israel people...who were so....Kosher...for lack of a better term...were eating garbage, leather from belts and shields, and hay.

Father, I pray today that your 'good news' is heard from us. That as we are at work, school, stores and streets that we have your boldness, and your power to bring your light into a dark world. God as the 'birth pains' of your return quicken....I pray that we sense the urgency of sharing you with others, with our families, our friends, and our neighbors. God thank you for our lives.... and I pray that we continue to be faithful in our giving of ourselves, our time and our money to further your Kingdom.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

tons of woes

Matthew 23
And the "scorching" continues, 7 woes?.....when i was reading felt more like 30 woes. I bet if I was a Pharisee it would have felt like even more woes, more personal. And you know, as a Pharisee, you are very prideful and there is this "prophet" exposing all your sins and secrets to the same people who have followed you, and given you your platforms.

Genesis 32
I was struck by the figurative and literal struggle with God.
The first part of the chapter, Jacob, gets a word from the Lord, to go back to his home and he will be prosperous. Then the word that Esau is coming with hundreds of men. This in Jacobs mind is a conflict. Esau can only mean to harm him, and therefore God must be he positions himself to protect his people & possessions.
Then the second part of the chapter is a literal struggle with God. Jacob wrestled with God and God injured his hip as a reminder.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Fear of Isaac

Genesis 30
First time i had ever noticed Jacob calling God the "Fear of Isaac"... looked up and this was what Jacob called God. Also translated in Hebrew the "kinsman of Isaac" or the "refuge of Isaac". Really until Moses encountered God these early patriarchs referred to God by many names.

Really the story is about Laban losing his children and grandchildren, because he has treated his son-in-law so bad. He continued to cheat and mislead and change his wage over 20 years, and finally God released Jacob from serving under Laban. I think that we sometimes look at our situations and feel like we are being oppressed, or that we cannot be of much use in the situation we are in, but God has plans....and we should look at each season as God's provision and timing for us. Sometimes its difficult to see from inside...... but remove yourself and give it some time, and you can often see God's leading and direction....and no doubt, God never left Jacob. Jacob even said..... "God has seen the toil of my hands...and has rebuked you."

Matt 22 Parable of the Wedding Banquet
My understanding of this parable is that Jesus is still talking in context to the Pharisees..... he has scorched these guys for a whole chapter, and he is just continuing here.....Jesus first told his disciples to take the Gospel to the Jew first then the Gentile. Pharisees were Jews...and they had the opportunity to hear and accept the Gospel/ go to the wedding banquet first....but they were too busy or didnt want to come. So God invited everyone else (the Gentiles)...and they came in....and the one that was tossed out (not in the right clothes) wasnt clothed in Christ's righteousness (wedding clothes).

The Pharisees were called.....first....but few were chosen. Nicodemus was one widely believed to have been one of the few "chosen". I think this is more an indictment on this group of Pharisees, than a wide Calvinistic view of "chosen/elect".

Matt 22: 36"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'[b] 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'[c] 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

I love Brandons analogy about the Laws of the Prophets HANGING on these two commandments. Everything is dependent on that "hinge". When we hang we have been doing in our house...we use these small almost frail looking hooks....they are about an inch to an inch and a half long, one nail goes through it...and because of its design and the balance of that hanger/hook....we can hang pictures many times it weight and size. That is the picture that I think about when we talk about ALL THE LAWS HANG ON THESE TWO COMMANDMENTS. Love God...and Love others....even the least of these others.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Why do we doubt?

Matt 21:20When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. "How did the fig tree wither so quickly?" they asked.

WHY? Seriously...WHY?
Do we not recognize God's mightiness? His power? His Sovereignty? His Dominion? I mean c'mon....Peter, John, have seen him heal the sick, make dead men rise, turn water to wine, make the blind see, why is it so hard to understand and see that Jesus, who is God's son, can wither a fig tree. Why do we continually question, when we see his mighty works. Why, like the disciples, do we insult the Creator day after day with our faithlessness. Brandon talked about living on mission last night, and I for one have been reluctant to ever do that. Honestly I dont know that I ever trusted my Heavenly Father enough with the very life He gave put all my eggs in that basket.

I, like the disciples, have seen God's hand at work. I have seen him heal marriages, I have seen him cure disease, I have seen him heal and change sinners to servants. I have witnessed the Holy Spirit come into a place and take over, God has change my life why would i ever doubt or question....yet i do... God forgive me.

Genesis 30- Jacob, after years of service, cut a deal with Laban...who has nothing but his own interests at heart. Laban allowed Jacob to name his own price since he knew Jacob was honest and would understate his own value. Jacob then used his vast experience and understanding of herdsmanship to cultivate the deal so that he would be justly provided for. The same skill and knowledge that grew Labans own portfolio, Jacob now worked to take care of his own.

Last night was awesome, to be in the presence of God, to be with my new church, to "shout to the lord", and hear His word. I know God was there...and He inhabited the praises of His People.

Friday, January 04, 2008

love story-sufficient grace

i know the story of Jacob is one of pay back...and deception....but the story of his love for Rachel is incredible.
Genesis 29:20 So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.

then he was deceived and his uncle/father-in-law swap out daughters on him...and he agrees to

27 Finish this daughter's bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work."

28 And Jacob did so.

14 years of work....and for love. I have been married 20 years this May..... but to invest 14 years up front.... Rachel must have been one Hot Shepherdess. Did those few days (7 years) still feel like a few day after he had been deceived? And yet Leah was not loved. I am sure the father meant to sneak one past Jacob, in hopes to get more work, get rid of the less desirable daughter first, have someone love and care for her....yet she wasnt God blessed her with children.

Matthew 20 smacks a whole lot of Christians right between the eyes. Cant God extend His grace, the same grace he extended to you and I to anyone who believes. Cant Carla Faye Tucker, in prison, be afforded by the Giver of Grace..... sufficient Grace at her appointed time? God doenst have to be fair by worldly standards. We need to rejoice with the angels when a lost person comes to know Christ.

I think this parable parallels perfectly with the story in Luke when Jesus is talking to Simon and says

41"Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,[d] and the other fifty. 42Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?" 43Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled."

"You have judged correctly," Jesus said.

46You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little."

Gods grace gets poured out in prison just like it does in youth camp or church revivals or small groups or over dinner.....but the most on fire Christians that I see...are the ones who feel like their debt was the hugest. They tell their family, friends, co-workers, waitresses, accountants, guy in the elevator, they are the first to volunteer their testimony at church, and these folks become a great witness.....what we need to realize is that our debt was just as big as their debt.... punishable by death. Unfortunately we value and weight sins according to an improper scale....and when weighted properly against an infinite God..... the punishment for lying, lusting, cheating, gossip is still eternity spent in hell paying for those sins. We should be so thankful for God's Mercy that we should NEVER think his Grace is too good for someone.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Allow God to Rule in Everything

Genesis 27
Upon me be thy curse ..... how simple that would be if that is the way it played out. But when we try to go before God.... and ask for his blessing later.... this got all screwed up. Rebekah knew that Esau had sold his birthright to Jacob, but that Esau would accept it, so she got in the way...... and assisted in misleading her husband, put Jacob in the same situation, and gave Esau the cause to hate his brother.
What a tangled web we weave when we practice to deceive.

Matthew 184Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus, makes it very clear to the educated of the day...that what we bring doesnt add up to anything, where the kingdom of God is concerned. We talk about this childlike faith all the time, but what it doenst for reason to be thrown out the door. What it does mean is that we should know and proclaim that we are totally dependent, like a child, on our Father in heaven and his atoning sacrifice of Jesus, his son.

20For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." I claim this verse all the time... and its a great verse.... I know I dont use it in the context that it was delivered. In matthew 18 it is used when we correct and rebuke in the name of Christ. I dont know if you have ever been on either end of a "rebuke" but admittedly, both ends feel horrible, if done with the wrong intent. If done correctly, and God is in the middle of it..... there is love and correction and although our initial reaction is bow up, when called out..... God will work through it.

So, I guess if there is one theme today..... is for us to rely on God. To not get in front of him, in ANC, with family matters, relationally with others. God, we are totally dependent on your for salvation, even for the lives we lead and the air we breathe. God give us insight..... to see that the ends..... dont always justify the means.... let us just rest in you and your providence..... and realize, like Rebekah, we could screw this up royally in our own power. I have prayed for years to be a part of something bigger than myself, and i'll admit..... you have me there now. Allow us all to be instruments of your works in Austin and let us give you glory in all that we do.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Radical living

Matt 17:17"O unbelieving and perverse generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me."

You know...I guess I may be the densest person on the planet....but I realized, he is talking to us here. I think Jesus is literally disgusted with his disciples. He has been with them now for 3 years...and they have watched and seen how Jesus has casted out demons, fed thousands...twice, and he feels that they should be at a greater level of faith than they are. He even calls their deficiency unbelief. OUCH. Disciples were suppose to be taking the apprentice role and be learning and growing in their to become teachers..... “It is enough for the student to be like the teacher”

I just hear Jesus disgust....saying...."bring the boy to me" He chastized his disciples when he tells them that they could have not only healed the boy..but moved the mountain...if they had faith as little as a mustard seed. How often do needs around us go unmet because we neglect radical trust in God, especially on behalf of others' needs? (commentary Bible Gateway)

God, I pray for that radical trust, for a radical faith, for a radical love of others.