Monday, September 28, 2009

Thank God for NO!

In Acts 16:7, Paul and his apostolic team were headed to Bithynia when suddenly, the Spirit of God impressed them to stay away from that region. The verse says, "After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not."

The word "assayed" tells us how badly Paul and his team wanted to go to Bithynia. The word "assayed" is the Greek word peiradzo, which means to attempt or to try. The Greek tense used in this particular verse indicates an incomplete action, which alerts us to the fact that Paul and his team actually tried to go to Bithynia but were unsuccessful in their attempt. How hard they tried is not clear, but the Greek word peiradzo implies that they tried very hard to go there.

Paul suffered many difficulties as he traveled to different regions, but it rarely stopped him from going where he had intended to go. The reason he and his ministry team didn't press on in their efforts this time is that the Holy Spirit "suffered them not" to go to Bithynia. The phrase "suffered them not" comes from the Greek words ouk eiasen. The word ouk is a strong "No!" The word eiasen is from the Greek word eao, which means to allow or to permit. When these words become the phrase ouk eiasen, the new word means to not permit or to forbid.

That day, the apostle Paul and his team listened to the leading of the Spirit to stay out of the region of Bithynia. By staying away from Bithynia, they apparently circumvented some kind of disaster that awaited them there. We don't know what devilish trap had been set for Paul if he had gone to that region, but we do know he avoided it by obeying the Holy Spirit's instructions.

As children of God, we must learn to follow the Holy Spirit's leadership, direction, and guidance. We must stay sensitive to what the Holy Spirit is telling us to do, even if we can't rationalize or figure out why He is telling us to do it. God does not have to give us everything we want. He is not a Genie in a bottle! He is not our Fairy God Parent! He is God and He is sovereign! GOD CAN SAY NO!

I am learning to thank God for his NO, for the times HE forbids, won't allow or permit. I admit I haven't always appreciated it. I want Him to fix it, move it, take it, let me do it and He says NO. However it was in NO that I learned the fire can't kill me, it was in NO that I learned the lions won't destroy me, it was in NO that I learned that God's grace is sufficient.

I am learning that when God says NO, it gives me a great opportunity to say YES to His will and YES to His way. Thank God for NO.

Friday, September 18, 2009

People who talk out of both sides of their mouths

Have you ever known a person who agreed with whomever he was talking to at the moment? When he was with you, he agreed with you. But when he was with someone else who had a different opinion, he agreed with that person. Did that person's opinion fluctuate so quickly that it nearly shocked you?

It is very difficult to build trust with a person like this because you never know if he is really with you, or if he's just agreeing with you to your face until he can turn around and disagree with you behind your back. This type of person's lack of integrity makes it difficult to build a significant relationship with him. The apostle Paul called this kind of person "double-tongued" (1 Timothy 3:8).

The Greek word for "double-tongued" is the word dilogos, which is a compound of the words di and logos. The word di means two, and the word logos means words. When compounded together, these two words form the word dilogos, which could be literally translated two-worded. It is the picture of a man or woman who says one thing to one person but a different thing to the next. In other words, people like this are inconsistent in what they tell others. They are so wishy-washy that their opinion is constantly fluctuating, depending on whom they are speaking to at the moment.

This is usually an indication that this person is a people-pleaser. Because he wants everyone to like him, he agrees with whomever he is with at the moment. This is a serious character flaw. In fact, First Timothy 3:8 forbids us from giving this kind of person any prominent place of leadership in the ministry. It is also a principle that should be taken into consideration when looking for a prospective leader in any church, business, or organization.

Truthfulness is necessary so trust can be built between leaders and followers. It is compulsory in marriages, in friendships, and in relationships between employers and employees or between a pastor and his leaders. If a long-term relationship is to be built, trust is not optional—it is essential.

If there is a person in your church, business, or organization who is constantly changing what he says depending on who he is with at the moment, I urge you not to elevate this person into a leadership role. That person doesn't demonstrate the character that is required in leaders.

But what if you are the leader, pastor, or employer, and you have someone working under your authority who is constantly switching what he says, depending on whom he is talking to? In that case, take Paul's words to heart. Don't promote that person to a higher level of responsibility until this habit has been broken. Don't lay hands on a person who is double-tongued!

Sparkling Gems from the Greek.

Monday, September 14, 2009

It Happens After Prayer

If I were to ask you to list your top 5 examples of powerful people praying in the Bible, who would you name? We all agree with Jesus! To try and further prove a point, eliminate New Testament people, just using the OT people who would be in your top 5? I would dare to say that not many of you, if any of you listed Job. Jesus, sure, Abraham, of course, Moses certainly, Elijah and Hezekiah, can't leave them out, David, Solomon Jehoshaphat, we could go on and on and never mention Job.

The 42nd chapter is our coming out chapter, our double for your trouble chapter, our triumph over trials chapter but God leveled me to the floor when He said to me, "It all happened after prayer". I am so used to that phrase being used in other areas, other chapters, other stories, not Job 42. I was a closet "prosperity theologian", (not really just saying).

I was Bildad and didn't know it. Bildad, the forerunner of the prosperity theology movement suggested in Job 18 that if you obey God, you will be blessed and enjoy great prosperity but if you suffer it means you are out of God's will because He wants everyone well. Repent, admit, and God will bless. Well Job does repent and without realizing it privately, I thought his restoration was tired to his repentance but it didn't happen after repentance, it happened after prayer.

After God unleashes his wisdom on Job by saying in effect who and where were you, do you understand:
The Source of The Universe
The System of the Universe
The Specialization of the Universe

Job admits the error of his ways and says opening up Job 42:
I am weak
I am unwise
I am wordy (I feel ya Job)
I am unworthy

But this is not when restoration. It didn't come after repentance, it came after prayer. Vs 10 says AND, that's the conjunction, WHEN, is the adverb. "And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends". It happened after prayer.

I lost it Sunday, it all hit me. Some blessings God will never let me see until I let go of some things. I read vs 10 and see enemies, God still calls them friends but either way, I still have to pray for them. My outline for Sunday was:
I. Prayer for your Enemies, vs 10
a. Forgive
b. Favor
II. Prepare for your Environment, vs 11
a. Family
b. Friends
c. Fortune

III. Provides beyond our Expectations, vs 12
a. Redemption
b. Reconciliation
c. Restoration
d. Recompensation

Like I said, I lost it Sunday and God decided to take Macedonia down the same path I was on. It was time for ALL OF US to let go of some things. There is a blessing of restoration that God wants to give us but we have to let go of the things that keep us in bondage.

I went home and preached some more to myself and wrote out a new sermon entitled, It Happens After Prayer
I. We must Follow God's Instructions
II. We must Forgive those who have Intentionally Hurt us, vs 10
III. God will give Favor to those who have been Injured, vs 11
IV. Our Future will not look like our past Incidents, vs 12

I am going to start losing weight this week, not physical pounds but emotional baggage I need to let go. Time to pray for my friends (enemies) and walk into what God has for me.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Just as If

This morning's devotion blessed me, I hope it blesses you.

Romans 5:9
Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

Because of His blood I've been justified. What does that mean? Justification means just as if If you take an eraser and erase something you wrote, you can still see the print of the writing. But the Lord says, "When I clean you up, I don't leave a print." Not only does His blood remove the stain, but it also removes the mark from the stain.

A man bought a Rolls Royce. After several months, he had some problems and took the car back to the dealership. The dealership contacted an ace mechanic at headquarters who said, "Just ship the car to us." So they shipped the car to headquarters where the car was fixed. The car was then brought back and returned to the owner.

The owner waited weeks, but the bill didn't come. Months later, the bill still hadn't arrived. He came back to his dealership and said, "Look, you all fixed the car and did a good job. But I haven't received the bill. I don't want to wait for a huge bill later and I can't pay for it. Let me pay for it now. '' The office manager said, "Sir, we don't have any record of a bill." The man said, "Oh yeah, I brought the car here. You must have a bill." So they faxed headquarters requesting the bill for this man's repair work. In a few moments, the answer came back, "We don't have any record of anything ever happening to this car."

Well the same thing will happen in your life when you are saved. The devil is always trying to accuse the saints before God saying, "Look at Frank. Ain't you gonna wipe him off?" The Lord says, "Wait a minute, send a fax up to heaven's headquarters for the history of Frank E. Ray, Sr., Memphis, Tennessee. In a few minutes the record will come back. I'm sorry we don't have any record of anything he has ever done wrong. He's been covered by the blood. Justification. Just as if nothing has ever happened.

365 Days in the Presence of God: Daily Devotions from the Sermons of Dr. Frank Ray.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

How Long??

Have you ever had a day when you looked over your situation, your struggles and your strife and said to yourself, "HOW LONG"? How long must I deal with this? How long must I put up with this job? How long will I remain broke? How long will God let this happen in my life? We all have had a HOW LONG day.

I am sure you work by, worship by and are woven next to people who never question, never doubt, always have good days, always are shouting, no heartache, no headache, no questions, only exclamation points but it is my contention we all have had a How long moment. Moses had one in the Wilderness, David had one in the 13th Psalm, Asaph expressed the sentiments in the 73rd Psalm, Habakkuk certainly had his day and even Jesus had his moment in Mark 9.

So we shouldn't be surprised or shocked when Job has his day. Tired of the sickness, stressed from the situation, annoyed by the UnBiblical sermons and all of the stuff he was facing, Job unloads in the 19th chapter vs 1 by saying HOW LONG?

How long is the grown up question that evolved from our childhood question, "Are we there yet"? When I make the journey from South Bend to OKC with my children, as long as the DVD is playing, food is available, something to play with or draw on, life is good. However, the moment the food is out, the DVD is over the question comes, Daddy, are we there yet?

Are we there yet is not a question that comes in the good times of life, its only when the fun is over. How long never shows up as long as you like what is taking place, it only comes on the hard days. How long is coming! Bind it, don't claim it, come against it, don't speak on it, it's still coming. Lay hands on it, pour oil on it, get the prayer cloth from the holy land that the television ministry said would get you your breakthrough, it's still coming.

Job says its constant. No whining, no being a wimp, but it is causing me 19:2-3
Despair- vex my soul
Destruction- breaking me into pieces
Disgrace- reproached me
Disaffection- made yourselves strange to me.

I have written too much but since it's coming, Is there Hope? Yes, here it is through Job's experience:

I. Concentrate on the Fact vs 25 "I Know Redeemer"
a. Stands for me
b. Speaks for me
c. Strengthens me

Job uses the word Ga'al when he says redeemer which means God is my vindicator. Job in his frustration, not being able to convince his friends of his innocence was leaving it in the hands of God to prove to them he was not guilty of the sin they accused him of He realized GOD HAS GOT HIS BACK.
II. Change your Focus "He will stand"
a. Look past your problem
b. Look at your possibilities
c. Look at God's provisions

Myopia is a disease that causes a visual defect in which distant objects appear blurred because their images are focused in front of the retina rather than on it; spiritually myopia is a disease that cause a lack of discernment or long-range thinking. It causes a focus on the sickness, not the healer, problem not provision, questions not the answerer, the burdens not the burden-bearer....
III. Celebrate Your Future,"Whom I will see for myself"
a. The battle is fought
b. The fight is fixed
c. I ain't finished.

Walter Hawkins penned the song "Don't wait until the Battle is over, Shout now because you know in the end you are going to win. The time has come for some shouting to take place in God's house for what is about to take place. It may not be here now, but it's on the way.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

"Desot.exe" Infection

I received a very informative and expensive lesson on infections that attack computers. My home computer suffered an infection known as "Desot.exe." It is a virus that masquerades as a "Windows antivirus software" that informs you your computer is infected and needs to be cleaned. It then refers you to a site in which the attempt is made to get you to purchase their "product", which is simply a scam to get your credit card information.

It is football season and so I am downloading every football fantasy kit, living on ESPN, CBS Sports, Yahoo getting ready for all things football but this virus lives on these sites via the pop up windows and the downloads. I never paid attention to them before as I have always had my Norton Internet Security software to prevent any attacks; however my software had run out. I had purchased the new and improved, updated Norton but it was in the box, on the computer. It needed to be in the computer, installed, running, but instead it was in a box on the computer. I was too busy to install it.

"Desot" took over. Desot is an upgrade of the System 32 virus that applies spyware and malware to ruin the productivity of your computer. Desot intermingles with your Windows operating system and makes itself at home. The best technicians by remote access and by hands on application could not get rid of this virus. My computer needed to be wiped out completely in order to be made clean again.

My devotion is over but I tell you there is a virus, an infection, a disease if you will called SIN. We are all infected with the disease called Sin. We get this infection simply by being born. I don’t know if scientists will ever find a gene in our genetic make up that is the "Sin" gene; but just like your hair color and eye color are inherited... you also inherit Sin.

The bad news is that you can do absolutely nothing to help yourself. You can’t take penicillin or Zithromax to get rid of this infection. You can’t try to live a holy life on your own. You can’t go to a surgeon and have him cut out the infection. Is there a cure for this fatal infection? Or are we doomed to die? I’m here to tell, there is a cure! There is a remedy!

Romans 5:17 says, "For if, by the trespass of the one man , death reigned through that one man , how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ." Yes, there is a disease called Sin. Yes, it is fatal Yes, if this infection is left unchecked...untreated... it is a terminal illness, but there is hope! And that hope is found in Jesus Christ! God can cleanse us from Sin. He can change us from within! He can heal us from the infection! He restores us into a great relationship with Him. We are forgiven!

By the way, take Jesus out of the Box. My virus cleaner was on the computer in the box. Many of us have Jesus still wrapped in the box, on our desk, on the nightstand, on our table but He has never been applied in our heart. Jesus works better when He is let out of the box. It's not enough to wear a cross around our neck if we don't allow the power of the cross to permeate our lives.