Behold The Star!

wp-1482643782975.jpg

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. Matthew 2: 1-2 KJV

 

The star that the wise men saw was not an ordinary star. It was His star. The star announcing the birth of the Messiah. The one who would take away the sin of the world. It was the light of one whom the prophets spoke about. Centuries had passed and they were alive to witness it all!  This caravan of learned men, bearing gifts, made their way to Bethlehem, to see this child. By the time they arrived, he was 3 years old.  What kept them going as they travelled over all types of terrain and weather conditions?  Why didn’t they falter in the heat of the day or the coolness of the night air? They followed this star for three years! Who does that and why? It was the light of the star and the Promise that lay beneath it.

Today, that Promise, that Light, that Star is within us. Inside every believer is that Light that can never be extinguished.  But life can be hard, gruesome, unkind, and unrelenting at times. Even the best of us waver and lose focus on the Light within, giving way to situations and circumstances that seem to choke the life out of hope.  Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, a broken relationship, financial hardship, or health issues, our “Herods” want to find the source of our Light and quench it forever. Just as Herod the King really wanted to kill the Christ child, Satan’s task is to kill our hope once and for all.

Our only recourse is to focus on that Light, but we cannot force ourselves to focus.  If we could, we would have succeeded by now. The key is the source of the Light and it can be found in this verse of scripture:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  John 3:16 KJV

The key to this whole verse is that God’s love for us caused an action on His part. He gave. Yes, giving is part of our DNA. It’s the reason our faces light up when we see the smile on someone else’s face as a result of our gift . It’s the joy we feel, not expecting anything in return, while walking away more blessed than the recipient. What if we were to turn the tables on our own tragedies like the woman whose son was killed in the line of duty as a police officer. She had every reason to literally stop living.  I can’t imagine losing a child.  But she chose to give by feeding the other police officers every year for Thanksgiving at her house until she was 70 years old. What a blessing!

Christmas can be a tough time for many people and believers are not exempt from the trials of life.  But instead of focusing on “What do the lonely do at Christmas?”;  How about being a blessing to  someone else. It could be something as simple as a smile, a hug, a listening ear, a sandwich to a stranger; paying for someone’s meal, or groceries; There’s no greater gift than the one we have inside of us!  Let’s “Give Love on Christmas Day!” And when we Behold the Star, it alters our perspective!

 

 

 

Bad Decisions Are Not Final

Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt. Gen 37:28

It was cold, damp and dark in what used to be a place where water flowed freely and people came to draw from its sweet refreshing contents.  The young man was mentally and physically anguished, disillusioned by his kin that they would actually be excited about his dreams. He should have kept his mouth shut, but he had to share what God had shown him with those closest to him. Look what that got him; thrown into a pit and left there to die. ” …and now what would become of his dreams?…” -the very words spoken by his brethren  rang out in is spirit.  Sometimes we make poor decisions even with the best intentions.  But that doesn’t stop God’s plan for our lives from being accomplished.  It’s not like He is caught by surprise or anything.  If Joseph hadn’t opened his mouth he may have never ended up in Egypt and would not have eventually become the Prime Minister of that country, second in command to Pharoah and responsible for saving his entire  family.

On the other hand, sometimes we make poor decisions knowing full well the error of our ways. Consider Abraham, for example.  God told him he was going to have a son. Granted, he was 75 when he was told this and there was absolutely nothing cookin’ in he and Sarah’s bedroom.  First, God changed that situation with supernatural Viagra. He had to because why else would Sarah offer her handmaid (a sister with a bangin’ body) to be the surrogate and help God out.  Abraham said “Sarah, I believe you heard from the Lord!”  Now you know Jehovah had nothing to do with that. The result was Ishmael who was blessed but not the son of promise. Isaac came just the way God said he would, through Abraham and Sarah.   Generations later, the descendants of this “mistake” purchased Joseph from their brothers the Midianites and took him to Egypt, the location where his purpose was manifested.

God is the air traffic controller of our lives. He proves his love for us in that even when we  “miss it” (our scheduled flight) He always redirects and revamps the flight schedule, sometimes even sending a chartered flight just for you to get you to your destiny.  As long as you are “in Him” (in the terminal – in Christ) you will always reach your destination.. You may not can trust Delta or United, but God can be trusted.

Not Good Enough

” You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. “

John 15:3 NKJV

………….

I never have nor will I ever be a fan of Chitterlings (If you eat them or know of them the common vernacular is “Chitlin’s”). If you don’t know what they are, don’t ask.  They can be easily identified by the stench while cooking.  It is undeniably the worst, even though they are extensively cleaned as part of the preparation process. I have been told that some people clean them better than others and you can hardly sense the aroma at all.  Unfortunately, the best chitlin’ cooker can’t hide the evidence once the heat is applied. Such are our efforts when we try to clean ourselves. Many say they will one day “get themselves together”. ” I’m gonna stop this, stop that, and stay on the straight and narrow.” That’s about as futile as cleaning Chitlins’.  Our best efforts aren’t good enough.  Once the heat is applied in our lives, we see the stench of the impurities that were hidden from plain view in the intestines of our soul.

Jesus already cleansed us. Before we were born, He knew us.  His death burial and resurrection sealed our redemption and now we are clean.  Not because of our efforts, but because He said so.  Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say I am? Peter said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God!”  A revelation of who Jesus is and what he has done will cause the transformation of or present manifestation. Faith for this only comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.  This is not natural because it doesn’t make human sense.  After all,”Nothing is free, right?”  Wrong!  For by grace are you saved through faith; that not of yourselves, but it is the gift of God;  with no strings attached! On you worst  day, you are clean because He said so! Be blessed.

It’s A Mind Game

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

2Cor 10: 4-5 KJV

Mark Batterson has a 7 Day devotional reading plan that I came across called “Chasing The Lion”.  One of the daily readings referenced this scripture and his thought was from a different perspective. Most believers are somewhat familiar with this passage which is  usually referenced from a negative connotation.

Before I begin, let’s determine what is meant by “strongholds” or “imaginations”.  A stronghold can best be defined as a mental house of thoughts.  These mental images (imaginations) are vivid images of negative situations or circumstances.  We typically interpret this passage from the perspective of receiving healing, or deliverance from something; even negative thoughts that our innermost fears give residence.  We impeach those mental pictures introduced to our mind by replacing them with what God has said.  Yet, Mark Batterson suggested that we can use this passage to impeach Satan’s attacks on our ideas, inventions, our purpose, our Godly plans and God-given assignments.

What is it that God has placed in your heart that you can’t [not] do?  What about that dream or purpose He has placed in your heart that you would do for free? Joseph’s brothers tried to kill the dreamer thereby killing the dream he had. We are protected in the arms of Jesus but I believe many dreams, plans, and aspirations are snuffed out by our failure to cast down those strongholds as well.  The devil doesn’t mind you going to church, serving in ministry, and the like, as long as you never fulfill your individual purpose for being on the planet. The only reason he attacks your mind is because he is threatened by your potential. We only fail to finish when we never start the process.  The task of “casting down strongholds” is never over as long as you are on the planet.  You must know that God cannot lie and, that truth will make you free to live out your purpose.  You will complete that book, write that song, find that cure, start that business, and God will be glorified in you. Replace those contrary mental houses of thoughts with what God has said.  After all, it is finished!

Who’s Your Daddy?

Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt: Exodus 3:16 KJV

 

All throughout the bible, God introduces Himself and is introduced as God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Family lineage is an identifier whether it be good or bad. I recall as a child being “labeled” as one of those “Nelson children”.  Mind you, my name is Nicholson, but once it was discovered who my “folk” were, It was widely accepted that I was well-behaved, smart, talented, and could probably sing even though they hadn’t yet heard a note. You see, there had been a long line of “Nelson” children who had matriculated through Carrie A. Tuggle Elementary and  A. H. Parker High School. They knew the matriarch very well….Johnnie Mae Nelson, my grandmother.  She didn’t drive, but you’d better know that if she was called, she would be up to that school in a minute and it only took one time if you know what I mean.

Neither Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob were perfect children of God. In fact, the Bible often discloses some of their imperfections. Each of their names had specific meanings.  Abraham meant father of many nations. his name was changed from Abram which meant fatherless. Isaac was the “son of promise’ and Jacob’s name was changed to Israel after an encounter with God. What’s interesting is that God never referred to Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel.  Why? Jacob was a trickster, a hustler, a conniver.  Well maybe a junior hustler, because when he met his uncle Laban, “the player got played”. Yet,God chooses to identify Himself  with his birth name— the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob!  There’s a message for us here.

God is not only our Father when we are pleasing Him.  He is our Father when we disappoint Him and sometimes our actions disprove that we even know him. He is our Father when we struggle with the same issues over and over.  He never gets tired of re-teaching a lesson unlearned. Thank God for His amazing grace and his tender mercies that are new every morning! Thank God that He blesses us even when we don’t deserve it! That’s because He’s a good, good Father!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Your Own Mail

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.  2 Timothy 2: 15

Mail

Have you ever opened someone else’s mail by mistake? If you have, as soon as you recognized it was not addressed to you, what did you do?  Hopefully, you stopped reading it. Many times bible passages are taken out of context and even things are added to the scripture that are not in the Bible at all.  We just heard someone else we respected say it, and took it at face value. The Apostle Paul was writing to Timothy, telling him to study the Word, not to prove anything to anyone else; but so that He accurately teach and explain it to others.  The Key word is accurately or “rightly dividing” “truth”.

There are three things that should be considered when interpreting and understanding scripture. The first is to determine who is speaking. The second  is to whom is it being spoken; and thirdly, in what context (situation or dispensation) were the statements made. This is the foundation of understanding any passage of scripture.  However, at the end of the day, one final factor can bring about freedom or bondage from the same Bible…

Every passage of scripture should be viewed through the lens of the finished work of Jesus. There are many verses in the Bible that were meant for the Jews only, or were meant for the people of that particular dispensation, but in the light of the cross, are only reminders of what we have now obtained through Him, and in Him.

In essence, the Bible has to be sorted like mail.   Everything in it is not relevant to the New Testament believer.  For example, Deut. 22:5  states that the woman should not wear anything that pertains to a man (paraphrased).  In times past we took that to mean that women shouldn’t wear pants.  The reality is no one wore pants back then.  Furthermore, in light of Jesus’ finished work , we are saved through out faith in Him and what He accomplished for us. That has nothing to do with one chooses to wear.

It is in Him we,live ,move and have our being. So His love for us and our revelation of what He as done is the catalyst that produces behavioral changes in our lives.  We’ve been reading someone else’s mail.

God’s Degree of Difficulty

Easy Button

If you’ve ever watched or participated in a gymnastics competition, you are aware that every routine begins with a certain degree of difficulty which determines the maximum score which can be awarded.  For example, there has to be a certain skillset within the routine in order for the judges to award the competitor with a “10”.  As believers, we often place God in a box, sometimes unknowingly placing limitations on his ability due to our perception of the situation.   It’s very easy to say, “There is nothing too hard for God!”, in our best Christian face and tone. But we have a difficult time when the situation seems impossible to us.  It is almost as if God has to exert more energy to do some things rather  others which are a little less “difficult” to pull off.  The fact of the matter is,  God has no hard or easy button!  It’s all the same to Him.  Terms like “easy”, “hard” and “time” are all finite units of measure created for man. God is not limited at all!  His Word produces whatever is necessary for the situation or circumstance.  When there was no light, He spoke and there was.  He told water to produce fish and birds and it was so.  You know the scripture, “Is there anything too hard for God” Jer. 32:27 (paraphrased).  Whether it’s cancer or a headache; growing flowers or limbs on a maimed body; mending a broken heart or  a relationship; It’s not hard, it’s not easy; It’s all the same to Him. His word will produce by itself with any other external source, just as it did in the beginning. In Him is Life, and that life is the light of men (John 1:4).  The very fact that you may be walking through the valley of the shadow of “whatever” should encourage you. Why?  Because the very fact you can see the shadow means that light is present.  Focus on the light!  Light always dispels darkness. The two cannot occupy the same space.  So in good times, thank Him. In bad times, thank Him.  When he provides what you need or desire, thank Him; for the big and the small.  It’s all the same to Him.  And our praise for his provision should be the same as well.

Prayer:  “Lord remind me by your Spirit to give you just as much praise for the big as the small, and the easy as the hard, for you are God alone and it’s all the same to you.  In Jesus’ name  Amen!”