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Where Are You?

WHERE ARE YOU?Genesis 3:8-9, “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of The Lord God as He was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from The Lord God among the trees of the garden. But The Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” Satan wants us to believe God was bellowing angrily as He stormed through the garden looking for “the man and his wife”. The truth is He wa leisurely walking through the garden, enjoying His creation, when He quizzically called out, “Where are you?” After all, it had been their daily routine since Creation. He knew what they had done yet He still wanted to walk with them.  He still wanted to enjoy their companionship. Was He angry? NO!! Most likely, He was saddened for He knew the relationship between them had changed forever and He knew it was necessary to discipline “the man and his wife”. There is a great lesson to be learned here. “The man and his wife” had committed the ultimate sin. God had told them they could enjoy the garden, do anthing they desired, but you must not “eat fruit from the tree in middle of the garden and you must not touch it…” At this point in time there was no greater sin.  Many of us believe that if God knew how we had lived, knew the many sins we had committed, knew the deep dark secret we’ve kept locked up deep down inside; He could not love us.  He would not desire to walk with us ever again. However, these verses show The Lord God does forgive us’ The Lord God does still love us. The truth is, even knowing “the man and his wife” had committed the ultimate sin, He still wanted to walk with them. The Lord God still returned to walk with them. The truth is: He knows how you have lived, He knows the sins you have committed, and He knows the deep dark secret you have locked up deep down inside, AND HE STILL LOVES YOU AND WANTS TO WALK WITH YOU!!  Do you hear the Lord God asking, “Where are you?”

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I Samuel 17 tells the story of David & Goliath. Stop, get your Bible, and read this true-life tale of how a young man slayed a giant because He knew and believed His Friend, God. In particular, focus on verses 45-47. This story is one you and I have heard so many times, we miss the jewels that are hidden in these verses. We go, “Yeah, yeah, yeah.  This little runt of a man comes up and against this giant and kills him with only a rock and a slingshot.” Then we say to ourselves, “I know it’s a story about the weak overcoming the strong.”

However, take a really intense look at chapter 17 and discover the pearls hidden in these verses.  Before we get started, we must look at some solid facts. Goliath, according to Scripture is between 9 and 11 feet tall. The American Standard Version states he is 11’3″. His armor weighed 5,000 shekels or  approximately 125 pounds. The iron point on his spear alone weighed 600 shekels or about 15 pounds. While David’s height and weight are not revealed, historians place him to be about 17 years so they feel he was around 5′ tall give or take a few inches. In all probability, David probably didn’t weigh anymore than Goliath’s armor and spearhead!! One of Goliath’s legs more than likely equaled the person of David in height and weight. Noone believed David could defeat this giant. His own brother thought he was being a conceited braggart. The king even questioned his ability to slay this giant. Finally, in the 40 days this Philistine taunted the Isrealite army, there is not one mention of anyone consulting God. No priest, no prophet, no sacrifices were made to receive God’s instructions. How many times, as we are facing our Goliaths, do we not even think to talk with God?

God has given us six steps to slay our Goliath. First, David knew his God. It is easy to say “Duh!” at this point but for 40 days several thousand men faced this giant and quaked in their boots. They cowered in fear. Why? They looked at Goliath with their physical eyes and not their spiritual eyes. What is your Goliath? Who is your God? David’s God was all-powerful. This giant was nothing in comparison to God. Is your Goliath more powerful than God?

Second, David believed God could do exactly what God says He can do. “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of The Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day The Lord will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth….” David knew what God would do for his children, the Israelites. Too many times, we forget our Father is the all-powerful God What is your Goliath? Who is your God?

Third, David remembered his past experiences with God. When asked by Saul if he could slay this giant; David replied, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep.  When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear.” David knew God had given him the means to kill these animals. This gave David the confidence to know God was going to give him the means to slay this giant. What is your Goliath? Who is your God?

Fourth, David knew God worked in uncoventional ways and was willing to be obedient. David had probably heard how a farmer named Noah had built an ark on his property even though there was no water anywhere in the vicinity. Why? Because God told him to. The result, Noah became the second father to the human race. David, every Passover, learned how a prince of Egypt had murdered an Egyptian official, fled to the wilderness, listened to a burning bush, and eventually led the Isrealite people to freedom. Are you willing to do whatever God tells you, even if it doesn’t make sense? What is your Goliath? Who is your God?

Fifth, David had the right perspective. Everyone looked at this giant and said he was too big to defeat. David looked at this giant and said he was too big to miss. Too many times we look at our Goliath with our physical eyes rather than our spiritual eyes. What is your Goliath? Who is your God?

Finally, and most importantly, David was not killing this giant for his own personal gain. David was killing this giant for God’s glory. David states, “All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that The Lord saves, for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give all of you into our hands.” Why are you wanting to overcome your Goliath? For your own personal benefits or to show others what a great, loving, caring God we have?

God has given us in these verses our own personal plan in overcoming our Goliath:

1. Know your God. Study your Bible daily.

2. Believe your God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do.

3. Remember  those times you’ve seen God work in your life.

4. Keep your focus on God. Stop looking with your physcial eyes and start looking with your spiritual eyes. Is Goliath stronger than God?

5. Ask yourself, “Is this for my  glory or will  I  tell others how God has slayed my  Goliath?”

Look at your Goliath and tell him you “come against him in the name of The Lord Almighty…This day The Lord will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head.” Maybe Jesus was remembering this incident with David when he looked at his disciples and said, “Have faith in God…I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.” (Mark 11:23)

In this last week we have had at least 15 people killed in explosions and hundreds injured. One thing I can guarantee is not one of them thought when they awoke in the morning they would be dead before bedtime. All of them thought they had many years ahead of them. We don’t know when our last day is, when our last meal will occur on this earth. There is one certainty. There is life after death. Everyone has the opportunity to enjoy life after death with their Creator. When a Pharisee declared Jesus had “come from God”, Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” Then Jesus goes on to say, “…no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.” This may sound mysterious but Paul puts it plainly in his letter to the Romans, “…if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” What does it mean when it says “you will be saved”? It means you will see the “kingdom of God” and you will have eternal life. Rest assured, after death you can speand eternity in a place that is not in the presence of God. Jesus spoke of it many times while he was here on this earth. He said it clearly in his talk with Nicodemus, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe in stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” God loves you! God wants to spend eternity with you! He went to a great expense just so He could spend eternity with you. God is taking reservations and would love to write your name in the Book of Life. How about making your reservation today?

IT’S NOT IMPORTANT

Once upon a time there was a young man and a young woman. They lived in a garden and their Creator provided everything they needed. This garden had every kind of fruit, every kind of vegetable, every animal they would ever need. However, in the center of this garden were two trees, one of them the fruit appeared to be an apple. Pointing to this tree, their Creator told them, “You can eat the fruit from any tree in this garden, but don’t eat the fruit from this tree because if you eat it, it will make you very sick and you will die.”

Being obedient, they obeyed their Creator for a long, long time. But then, one day, an ugly bully entered the garden. He watched the man and woman as they went about the garden and soon discovered the woman was easily persuaded to do everything the man desired. One day, when the man was tending the plants and animals of the garden; this bully slithered up behind the woman while she was sitting under this very same forbidden fruit tree. In his most charming manner, he started a conversation with her. “Boy, that fruit really looks good!! I bet its the most delicious fruit in this garden. Let’s have one!!” The woman protested saying, “Oh no!! My Creator says I can eat fruit from any of the trees in this garden EXCEPT the fruit of this tree!! He said it would make me very, very sick and I would die if I eat it!” “Oh surely, He was exaggerating!!” the bully said in a conjoling manner. He continued, “I can’t believe just one little apple from this tree would kill you!! Anyway, it’s just one little apple, IT’S NOT IMPORTANT!! It won’t even be missed. He’ll never notice if YOU eat just one!” The woman thought about what the bully said as she looked at one of the fruit from this forbidden tree. She thought to herself, it really does look good. “Well ok. After all, how important can one little apple be. I mean, come on, how sick can one little, itty- bitty, teeny-weeny apple make you. Enough to kill me? I don’t think so!!” And, with that, she took a bite. It was sooooo good, she ran to find the man. When she found him, she told him how good it was. “See it didn’t hurt me, I’m not dead. The Creator must have been mistaken because I’m still here!!” So, with that, he took a bite from the apple. And, thus began an often fatal disease called IT’S NOT IMPORTANT.

This disease has been passed down from one generation to the next for several thousand years. With each generation, it gets stronger and stronger. Unfortunately, it kills more and more people each generation. The really scary part of this disease is it affects everyone. This same bully or one of his minions spreads this lie from person to person, from city to city, from state to state, from country to country, from father to son, from mother to daughter. Not one person who has ever lived has escaped being affected by this dreadful disease. Like all diseases, it starts small. Almost unnoticeably. One of the first symptoms is one begins thinking, “It won’t hurt just this once if I …” The “just this once” can be a piece of candy, one more helping of food, a piece of gossip. All of us knows what our “just this once” is. Before we know it, the illness has progressed to the next stage, the “I can do it later” stage. This stage quickly progress into the full-blown “It’s not important” often times fatal disease.The “it’s not important” disease shows itself in many different ways. “It’s not important” if I don’t pray today, “It’s not important” if I don’t study today, “it’s not important” if I’m not obedient. The last and most fatal stage of this horrible disease is the “it’s not important” if I believe God.

Now, here’s the wonderful news!! The Creator loves each one of us soooooo much, He gave us a cure for this dreadful disease. It is definitely a wonder drug. It works every time!! It’s realizing we are not the ones in control, He is!! It’s when we surrender ourselves or our circumstances to Him that we find that perfect peace we have been seeking so intently. You see, no matter how upsetting the situation, how difficult the circumstances, how much we have believed the bully’s lies; it IS important to pray, it is important to study, it is important to believe God, it is important to make Jesus Christ the Lord of your life, it IS important to know God loves you, it is important to know God will never leave you, it IS important to know God is in control. For you see, in this parable the Creator is God, the woman is Eve, the man is Adam, and the bully is Satan, and the tree is the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Let me say one final time, it IS important for you to know God is in control and God wins. God wins every time and no matter what the circumstance!!

HAPPY EASTER!!

HE IS RISEN!!! HE IS RISEN INDEED!!!! I wish each and everyone of you a most joyous Easter. I only have a few words for you this day. Without Easter all we are left with is death, with Easter all we have is LIFE, LIFE EVERLASTING!!! John 3:16: For God so loved the world He gave His one and only Son; that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.

STRONGHOLDS

image2Corinthians 10:4-5–“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

Sometimes, do you wonder how or why God doesn’t just give up on us? Not that I’m stubborn or stiff-necked or dense (smile), but really; this stronghold of the enemy took almost 9 years to totally demolish. Every time , I thought God and I had dealt with it, the stronghold was back and it had a stronger grip on me.  Finally, I had had enough. I cried out to God, “PLEASE LORD, GIVE ME VICTORY OVER THIS STRONGHOLD!! DEMOLISH IT ONCE AND FOR ALL!! SHOW ME WHAT  IS HAPPENING SO I CAN REPENT, AND LEARN FROM IT, AND SHOW ME WHY SO IT WON’T HAPPEN AGAIN!!” At last, I was teachable!! God could work with me and what He showed me was not easy to accept but “with God’s righteousness going before me and the glory of The Lord as my rear-guard (Isaiah 58:8) and the 2 Corinthians Scripture, God demolished the stronghold. God also gave me a marker, a memory, I will always be able to point to and know Satan can’t attack me there again.

We can be assured a stronghold occurs because we are not believing God. We are not believing He can love us if He knew this one horrible sin, or He can’t work through us, or what He’s asking is too hard….the reasons are many and varied. However, it all boils down to “I DO NOT BELIEVE GOD CAN DO WHAT HE SAYS HE CAN DO.” In essence, we are calling God a LIAR. And its when we realize this, our heads snap, the alarm bells sound, the sirens blast and we know we have been had by the greatest liar of all times, SATAN.    God tells us in Isaiah 45:19, “I, the Lord, speak the truth; I declare what is right.” Do you have an area you and God are dealing with it repeatedly? It just never goes away. This is a stronghold. Recognizing it is the first step in demolishing the stronghold. PRAY!! Talk with God. Not with fancy words but from your heart. Second, we must repent and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you to God’s Truth. Then, get into God’s Word. Let Him speak to you. Let God lead you to a study where He can teach you. God, “the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of The Lord, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17). Finally, let Him lead you to verses that will fight this stronghold and put them on index cards or write them down in journal, someplace where you can refer to them often. God wants to teach us, allow Him. Isaiah 50:4 says “He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.” Psalm 32:8, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.”

God has left us an instruction manual in how to handle every situation life hands us.  It is called the Holy Bible. Do you have a stronghold? Fight it with His weapons, they are divine and they are powerful.

LIFE OF SHEEP AND SHEPHERD

imagePresently I’m studying Charles Swindoll’s LIVING THE PSALMS Study in which one of the Psalms we studied was the 23rd Psalm. What I learned was so revealing  it caused me to view my relationship with The Shepherd in a whole new light. It makes the relationship between me and my Shepherd, our Shepherd more poignant, more alive, and draws me closer to such a loving, caring Shepherd.  I hope sharing some of these insights with you, it draws you closer to Jesus Christ, our Shepherd. My prayer is it gives you new insight into this Psalm that is so familiar to us.

Through insights into the characteristics of sheep and the shepherd’s relationship to the sheep and his responsibilities we can gain new insights into our relationship with Christ.

Sheep lack a sense of direction. They can get lost in the familiarity of their own territory. In our walk with Christ we can’t guide ourselves–we must rely completely on the Word of God and the voice of our Shepherd-Savior to keep us from losing our way.

Sheep are virtually defenseless. Other animals have growls, claws, sharp teeth, keen sense of smell, hearing, speed, venom, ferocity to protect themselves. However, the sheep is awkward, weak and ignorant, have spindle legs, tiny hoofs, and pitifully slow. So it is with the believer against the Enemy. It is only in the Shepherd we find our strength and protection.

By nature, sheep are unclean. They will remain filthy indefinitely unless the shepherd cleanses them. Without the Shepherd’s cleansing, we remain perpetually dirty.

Sheep are easily alarmed and will actually run over each other, racing away from what startled them. The shepherd catches the sheep; gently, but firmly, forces it to lie down and feed quietly on grass beneath its feet. We also at times of turmoil sometimes need to be forced to feed on His Word and lie down and rest by our Savior’s feet.

Sheep are instinctively afraid of rapidly running water. As a result, even though they may be tired, thirsty, and hot, they’ll only stand and stare at a fast-flowing stream but never drink from it.  For this reason, shepherds lead their flocks to quiet, peaceful waters.

Sheep are easily distracted and if they see a clump of grass will wander to it giving no heed to where the flock is pasturing, becoming easily lost. Sometimes followed by other members of the flock.  Quickly danger can overcome them.  It is the shepherd that calls them by name and it is only the shepherd’s voice they will respond to. If a thief or anyone else attempts to call them, they will pay them no heed. Redeeming is not accomplished by the sheep.  It’s only by the shepherd’s action the lost sheep is restored to the flock. It is only by the blood of Jesus Christ, our Shepherd, the lost are redeemed and restored to God’s kingdom. It is only when He calls our name we run to our Shepherd.

One of the most interesting revelations Charles Swindoll received from Charles W. Slemming writings regarding the shepherds of the Middle East.  When a shepherd moves his flock to a new field, the shepherd will corral the sheep until he has personally walked every inch of the new field for adder holes. When he finds a hole he will fill it with grass and pour oil from his pouch into it. This renders the viper helpless and he is trapped in his hole.  Before allowing the sheep to enter the field, the shepherd will take each sheep individually and  anoint his head with oil thereby protecting the sheep if by chance a hole was overlooked. By oiling the viper’s burrow the shepherd has prepared the table and the sheep are able to eat abundantly; by anointing heads with oil, the sheep have protection to enjoy their abundance.

Many times in the wilderness there was no streams so the shepherd relied on wells to quench the thirst of his flock.  Some wells were 100 feet deep so the shepherd used a leather pail, which held about one gallon, and a long rope. The pouch was lowered, drawn by hand, and poured into a stone basin beside the well. This process could take at least two hours for a flock of a 100 sheep if the shepherd allowed the sheep to drink all they wanted. Our Shepherd-God provides “abundantly beyond all that we ask or think” according to Ephesians 3:20.

Swindoll mentioned that F. B. Meyer in his book THE SHEPHERD PSALM refers to “goodness and lovingkindness” as our “celestial escorts”. Charles states, “another commentator suggests they are “God’s Sheepdogs” ever near His flock, ever nipping at our heels, always available.  Notice “goodness and lovingkindness” are action words. They are “following” us “all the days of our lives”. It is with His “sheepdogs” The Lord comes to find us when we are wandering, when we are lost.” He knows right where we are. He knows the circumstances we are in. There is nothing that happens to you that is not a part of His plan for you and He has neither lost nor left behind a single one of His sheep.

Throughout this Psalm, David remembers his days as shepherd and relates them to his relationship with his Shepherd. Hopefully, this better enables you to personalize this psalm to your relationship with your Shepherd.