Monday, June 27, 2016

Lessons from a new King and a new Prophet

Setting the background:

Israel splits (931 BC) - 10 northern tribes become known as Israel.  2 southern tribes as Judah.

Northern Kingdom - set up new temples and golden calves for worship.  Has 6 kings over the next 57 years - ALL BAD!!!!

Then - a new King - Ahab - from bad to worse.  1 Kings 16:29-33

Then - a new PROPHET - 1 Kings 17:1-6 - Elijah - rugged mountain man prophet - similar to John the Baptist.

Now - for the story:  1 Kings 18:1-19:19 - 3rd. year of drought.
Vs. 21 - "how long will you waver between two opinions?"
vs. 37 - "that these people will know"

Note:  Beersheba - southern-most town in Judah.  Horeb = Mt. Sinai where Moses received the 10 Commandments.

LESSONS FOR US????  - James 5:17 a  - "a man just like us"

#1.  God's Presence (power, working) is not always accompanied by great miracles  (powerful movements, dramatic events)
Examples:  1) still, small voice  2) history of Israel - several highs - exodus    conquering of Promised Land    David & Solomon   Return   Christ & Apostles

These peaks separated by long periods of dark times, dry times. 

#2.  God doesn't stop working when the fire stops falling .... nor should we.  1 Kings 19:15

Note:  most workers never see fire fall!!! - 1 Kings 19:18 - these 7000 were not there to see the fire fall, yet were faithful during all those 3 1/2 dry years
John 20:28-29
Example:  Jeremiah - despised, ridiculed, but never quit.  Tradition says not one convert in the 40+ years he preached.

#3.  There's no shame in getting knocked down.  James 5:17 - Elijah was a man just like us.  If you fight the battles, gonna get knocked down.

#4.  There's no gain in staying down.  1 Kings 19:10
On one hand, God provides rest
 However, that doesn't mean retirement - 1 Cor. 15:58 - stand firm

#5.  Elijah was a man just like us - James 5:16-18
Point:  You cannot know IF and when you'll make a difference! 

So - 1 Cor. 15:58 - STAND FIRM!!!!!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Declaring Your Name

1 Cor. 16:13 - "rise up"  (climb higher, do better, become what should be, step up, grow up, "buck" up)

Many men WANT to do this - yet FAIL to climb!!

WHY - (some reasons...)

1)  Selfishness - we want what we want even while wanting what God wants.  We're born with sin nature, want what self wants.  This = true of all people - not just men.

2)  Fear of God's calling - what might He ASK of me?  Where might it lead?  What will I have to give up?  take up?   Not sure if I want to do what He wants of me.

3) Ignorance - Exactly what am I to Rise TO
                       Exactly How am I to do it?

4)  Despair - - tried and failed repeatedly, therefore why bother?  give up? 

On one hand, this is NOT every man's battle (some simply don't care, are not trying to Rise Up)
However, it is the battle of many - (and might be surprised by how many)

For those attempting to 'Rise Up' ... a story I find helpful.  The story of Jacob.
Name Jacob = manipulator, deceiver, heel-grabber, trickster.
Background prior to the story of Jacob.
He was 2nd. son of Isaac & Rebekah, grandson of Abraham - father of the faith.  Twin brother to Esau - was born second but had hold of Esau's heel at birth.
bought Esau's birthright, stole his blessing, fled to Haran (uncle Laban, mother's brother), worked 20 years, acquired family and wealth and now headed home.

Jacob --- doing well at this point??? -
On one hand, had great herds, gained wealth, servants, 2 wives, 2 maid servants, 11 sons, he's DONE WELL!!
To appease Esau, sent gift of 220 goats, 220 sheep, 60 camels, 50 head of cattle, 30 donkeys.  And, that just a portion of what he owned.
 However, doesn't love 1st wife, (primary, head wife).  With 2 wives and his 2 non-wives created constant rivalry in household.
He's been at odds with his father-in-law employer for 20 years, recently left there without notice!!  (was chased down and released because he was 'family')
He was going home to dad he deceived 20 years ago, and facing the brother he stole the blessing & birthright from and who vowed to kill him - who was approaching with 400 men1!!

SO Jacob decides to pray (reasonable, novel idea!) and get serious with God

AND something significant happens in the midst of that prayer time - Gen. 32:22-31

Angel?  pre-incarnate Christ??  are many views..  BUT it's clear = wrestling with God!!  And in midst of that, something very significant takes place - declaring, admitting owning his name.
AND, as he was wrestling with God, was also wrestling with himself!!

NOTE:  Gen. 32:27 - he declared his hame, he named his name, which - a confession ... OF...

#1.  His character

#2.  His failure (s) - (relationally)

#3.  His predicament - (which = of his own making)

#4  His incompetence  - (ineptitude, inadequacy) - he's unable to fix this

#5.  His need - (of God, God's help, blessing) - wants to rise up but trying to do it on his own.

He spent 30 years trying to climb up, when (in fact) he was slowing sliding Downhill!!

Finally he Recognizes it, admits it.
The result = turning point!!!  Jacob ==> Israel

Now to the application.

Declaring Your Name (owning, admitting)

#1.  Declaring your name is the 1st. step in Rising Up.
Because, we don't fix what isn't broken - example:  AA - step 1.

This is not - "I'm broken, failing in every way".  It is "I'm failing in many ways", and often, "I'm failing in the most important ways".
Two most important laws - relationship with God and relationship with man.

"declaring, naming" = admitting your 
        A.  flaws, failings
        B.  fault - sometimes your character is NOT all your fault, but your conduct is NOT the fault of others.
        C.  inability to overcome 'self

#2.  This principle is not gender specific - it is for all.  Applies to everyone who has reached the age of accountability

#3.  The naming/declaring is designed to help you UP!
Point:  it's not to push you down, hold you down, but so you see the truth, admit the need, turn to God, RISE UP.

#4.  the naming is only the 1st. step.  NOW = go forward, trusting God, becoming

#5.  the naming is not a one-time event.  example:  1 Tim.1:15, Phil. 3:12-15

The next mornign Jacob crossed the Jabbok - he didn't look blessed!!!!  Probably looked terrible after wrestling all night, and now limping.
BUT, 1)  he was blessed
         2) he knew it
         3) in time - people stopped calling him Jacob and started calling him "Israel"

1 Cor. 16:13

Monday, June 6, 2016

God's View of Children

Psalm 127:3-5 - " ....full of them"
Isa. 29:22-23  - note:  "MY hands"
Mark 10:13-16

Point: = children are a gift, a blessing from the Lord, and ..... with the blessing, comes a new calling, new vocation.
ie:  Parent/Parenting - which for the Christian is different from the world's view

Children are sacred creation from God.

Obviously, parents are to provide 1) physical needs  and 2) psychological needs - "nurture"

With Christian calling - add:  3)  spiritual needs - Mal. 2:15  - seeking "Godly offspring" - Born?  or Built? - answer:  BUILT

New Testament word/concept = Edify/Edification - building up.  From the Greek word for "house" and the Greek word for "build" - used figuratively in the New Testament - not talking about literal building.

New Testament usage = on one hand, figurative, however, real/practical  Example:  Rom. 14:19, 15:2

Does this apply to parenting?  children?  Prov. 22:6   Eph. 6:4  Duet. 6:7 = teach, train, develop, nurture, instruct, impress = BUILD!!!!

Granted is a difference in a literal house (it will stay built once it is built) and figurative (a life with free will and free choice so no guarantees)
Nevertheless, "Godly offspring" are NOT born, but are BUILT!!

Some Observations/Application

#1.  This is an ongoing process.
Includes A)  adult children
            B)  Grandchildren, great-grandchildren
            C)  "acquired" children - (of all ages)

#2.  These is no outcome guarantee - children have a free will.  Not ultimately determined by how the child is raised.
#3.  There is an input guarantee  ie:  God's Presence  & God's Assistance, however, remember that  He will not overcome choices and free will of the child.

So, how do we build them?  (broad brush)  (basic principles)

#1.  Verbal Instruction - Duet. 6:4-9 - need to be told how to do something
      A.  teach what?  - "these commandments..." - these are the rules for life.  Impress on them the specifics.

but also  B)  teach WHY  On one hand, we are raising kids in a skeptical era (therefore they question)
Therefore, are raising kids in a cause and effect universe.  Therefore, Answer them!!
If can give some answers, the instruction is much quicker to be accepted.

#2.  Parental Modeling - "60% of learning that affects behavior is based on watching someone we know and trust"
James 2:18
NOTE:  #1 an d#2 are Both necessary IN combination with one another

Modeling the faith list: - in areas like
1)  marital love/faithfulness
2)  respect for your spouse/for authority - both the person & position
3)  Partnership and co-operation  - (help mate)
             (life partners means more
4)  conflict resolution - where do kids learn how to fight
5)  apology/forgiveness/humility/perseverance
6)  Christian work ethic  (plus Christian play ethic)
7)  financial responsibility - giving, tithing, saving, earning, investing - Stewardship
8)  servant-hood - in the home
                         beyond the home
9) love for God - God's Word, church, people, kingdom

James 2:18 - "1)show me you own the faith (by your works)
and/or  2) show me what your faith consists of (by your works)
By our deeds we define our faith.

Build them through:
(1)  Verbal Instruction
(2)  Parental Modeling

#3)  Personal Development
The level (height) to which you take your children is partly determined by the level (height) that you attain.
On one hand, you hope they go beyond you,
However, they are standing on your shoulders.  If your shoulders aren't too high up, they won't get very high up either.

#4)  Spiritual Partnering.
Expect/welcome input from spouse?  extended family?  church?  Christian community?
Our kids need voices beyond us.   Prov. 11:14
But also, vital partner = Holy Spirit!!

Mal. 2:15 - "because HE was seeking..."  (His desire)

Isa. 62:6-7 - speaking about new heavens and new earth.  Don't rest.  Give Him no rest.  Work never ends.  The need is always there.

than partners for life.  Means partners IN life!!)