Have You Heard………?


Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

In the Book of Joshua the 2nd chapter you can read about the story of Rahab.

Rahab and the Emissaries of Joshua
Rahab and the Emissaries of Joshua (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The mere mention of her name elicits the world of prostitution. Her Biblical story reveals that she was a ‘working girl’ who was willing to help 2 Israelite men who Joshua sent to spy on the land, including Jericho. The fact that she was willingly accommodating to these young, viral men could suggest the theory she was preying on their vulnerability giving rise to an opportunity for her to capitalize and get paid. The human mind will also fantasize about the origins of the spies ending up at a harlot’s house. In fantasy they may have deliberately ended up there to “blow off some steam.”

In the story’s enticing opening the reader will want to find out what happens. This is a great read in and of itself. However, the emphasis for this “shot” is on what Rahab heard and how she responded. As she takes the liberty to check on the spies she divulges her true nature. Here we see that the word was spreading about God‘s power being demonstrated through the chosen Israelites. The news worthiness of their trek through the Red Sea and the conquering of 2 kings was a source of awakening in the hearts of many. Rahab’s awakening is clearly stated in verse 11″When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath .”

Rahab heard what God had done and her heart awakened to TRUST IN GOD. The Israelite men were God’s men. She did not view them as objects for capital gain. Instead she was IN POSITION as a vessel for God to use as He deemed necessary. It is this design for FAITH THAT WE WILL NEED TO REALIZE IN ORDER TO MAINTAIN A CONQUEROR LIFESTYLE. We live life from day-to-day under the auspices of God’s Sovereignty. NOTHING, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, HAPPENS BY SURPRISE IN THE CREATOR’S WORLD. Yet human beings are constantly attempting to act as “the controlling force” of their destiny. Psalms 24:1 says the Earth is the Lords and the FULLNESS thereof. If you are ever going to be of use to anyone it is because of God and God alone. God is ALWAYS UP TO SOMETHING GOOD BECAUSE GOOD IS ALL HE DOES.

You have to hear about God’s power; hear about God’s grace; hear about God’s love; hear about God’s faithfulness; hear about God’s Sovereignty. Have you heard that Jesus Christ SAVES to the UTMOST?

Hear how He provides, protects and preserves His people. Hear how He can DO ANYTHING BUT FAIL. You can hear it from Genesis to Revelations as you read about the Mighty God we serve. All the while your heart will awaken to a continuous cultivation of FAITH in all that you hear about Him. As this faith matures, a newness in the way you think and respond to ANY life situation erupts. You will say things that you thought you would never say, do things you thought you would never do and life will take on new meaning. This and more is likely when you HEAR of his goodness, strength and power and discover He is always available for you. Faith comes by what you heard and what you hear from the Word of God.

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Get Tested! It Saves


Jordon river
Jordon river (Photo credit: swortman53)

I know someone who is desperately afraid of going to the doctor. His apprehension subjects him to incredulous fears associated with the process of finding out the status of his health. Day after day he experiences physical symptoms that force him to contend with the fact that his body is in need of medical attention. Yet his fear allows him to stay nestled in the confines of uncertainty. He continues to go on about the daily routines his life has constructed. Amidst all the vocational, social, political and ecclesiastical activities he fervidly attends to during the course of  weeks and months that have passed – with an astounding zeal for life, the fact of a physical struggle continues to plague him. He lacks a willingness to get honest and get tested.

All around the city of Atlanta there is an advertising campaign for children and adults to “Get Tested” for HIV. Billboards, TV commercials and print media all serve to push this message socially . The ad seems to present the point from the perspective that it is better to “know your status” and be treated rather than NOT know and do more harm to yourself and others.  A life of promiscuity and/or sexual irresponsibility, compounded with the guise of sexual crimes, all seem to give rise to this fear and more and more people are physically,mentally, emotionally and spiritually spent. The rippling effects of this crippling dilemma is rectified IF there is a willingness to get honest and get tested.

We can understand how medical testing yields physical, mental and emotional treatments BUT what testing applies to spiritual treatments?

The answer:

LIFE ISSUES i.e. TRIALS i.e. PROBLEMS i.e. HARDSHIPS i.e. DIFFICULTY i.e. UNCERTAINTY i.e TRIBULATION

The human race deems life issues as a NEGATIVE and not a POSITIVE. This is largely due to how the world order views these guaranteed life phenomena. The world has developed a safeguard to greatly support the negative associations with “life issues” so much so that when they materialize in a person’s life, an immediate barrier presents itself between him/her and the world.

For example, when someone is plagued with sickness –  PROBLEM – she not only has to deal with the mundane processes associated with treatment and the pursuit towards wellness. The issues magnify with the steady stresses of the employer, finances, loss, dissociation from society and certain peer groups and family and all the fears of loneliness. Meanwhile, people continue to make the world “go around” with their selfish and self-centered idealism towards preservation, progress and upward mobility while isolating themselves from the sick and shut-in. It is selfishness to the core that makes an associate retreat and withdraw from a person plagued with illness while being fully aware of their own ability to offer the sick with the resource of certainty – a certain affirmation that you will do all that is within your power to support the sick. That ideology is now absent in several American cultures today – and sadly, the church (without naming denominations) is in this number. It would seem obvious that they (the local church) would be inclined to serve the sick, poor and widowed most willingly. This is not to say that the existing church programs are not serving “Life Issues.” Oh no! Their service history supports the blatant reality of a need for more involvement from their neighboring local church bodies thereby exposing the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace that Paul clearly addresses.

Ephesians 4:2(NET) with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,
4:3 making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

At the end of the book of Joshua, the author makes a compelling appeal to Israel before his apparent death.

Furthermore, Joshua was prophesying to Israel that they would need to have courage and consistency in dealing with “Life Issues” in the future.

English: The Walls of Jericho Fall Down (Josh....
English: The Walls of Jericho Fall Down (Josh. 5:16, 6:1-10,13-19) Русский: Падение стен Иерихона (Иис. 5:16, 6:1-10,13-19) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Joshua 23:6-11 (NET)
(6) Be very strong! Carefully obey all that is written in the law scroll of Moses so you won’t swerve from it to the right or the left,
(7) or associate with these nations that remain near you. You must not invoke or make solemn declarations by the names of their gods! You must not worship or bow down to them!
(8) But you must be loyal to the LORD your God, as you have been to this very day.
(9) “The LORD drove out from before you great and mighty nations; no one has been able to resist you to this very day.
(10) One of you makes a thousand run away, for the LORD your God fights for you as he promised you he would.
(11) Watch yourselves carefully! Love the LORD your God!”

His instruction is concise: “REMEMBER WHAT GOD HAS SAID, WHAT HE HAS DONE AND CHOOSE HIM DAILY – in war and peace”  One example is pertinent here – JERICHO. Jericho was a city that Israel needed to go through to get to the Jordan River. It was God’s Determined will that Israel would cross the Jordan River and enter the Promised Land. Jericho was an immediate “Life Issue” to Israel because of its great army and wall that was designed to protect its inhabitants. Israel was ill-equipped to handle Jericho’s might militarily. However, Joshua was in complete relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who meticulously brought the Israelites out of Egypt, through the Red Sea and preserved them in the wilderness. The story concludes with the Israelites marching silently for 6 days around the wall as God instructed them. Victory prevailed on the 7th day as they marched silently, blew the trumpet and began to shout on Josh’s command. Simultaneously, the walls of Jericho tumbled down. God permanently dealt with the barrier.

The Israelite‘s  testing i.e. “Life Issue”  in the Old Testament offers Bible readers a glimpse into God’s character. The tests were all designed to get them to line up with His will for them. Israel’s history with God gives rise to the importance for humans to practice willingness to be honest and get tested.

Every “Life Issue” has a Divine purpose. Get Tested! It saves.

A Presence of COURAGE


Courage
Courage (Photo credit: drp)

In my teen years we used to sing a song in the choir – “I’m determined to walk with Jesus-yes I am.” Through hard trials, tribulations, persecutions, I am Determined… I’m Determined to walk with Jesus, yes I am.”  It had an infectious bass line that pounced down deep in the souls of all who heard it with a reverberating, spiritual anchor. A simple yet powerful display of the presence of COURAGE.

This type of determination I speak of must have it’s origins securely connected to a firm foundation. I have found it to be a compelling gift to be able to assess when it is present and when it is not. I know that there are many times when my faith in Christ and the finished work at Calvary gives me courage to stand in the midst of hardships. I have just too many examples to refuse this reality. But, I must admit there are times when my human side shows up. Then, and only then, is my determination to walk with Jesus hindered.

I am glad that we have Joshua 1 to remind us all of what the presence of COURAGE in us looks like. In the first 9 verses God repeatedly offers Joshua this vital instruction – “Be strong and of a good COURAGE” 2 times and  “Be thou strong and very COURAGEOUS”. Then towards the end of the chapter he again states “Be strong and of a good COURAGE.”  By the 10th chapter God once again felt the need to ONCE AGAIN REPEAT “Be strong and of a good COURAGE.”

Thank God for repetition! He is so gracious. How many times has he repeated something in your life? Are you listening? I know this Divine teaching principle has always been at work in my life. For so long I was too caught up in my human affairs to even pay attention to the  subtle messages God was teaching me through repetition. It took God’s consistent faithfulness in and over my life to get me to yield to his Word. But in the text, Joshua was a quick learner. He was listening to God’s Word so intently that by verse 18 it appears that the message was thoroughly received – “BE STRONG AND OF A GOOD COURAGE JOSHUA!”

“Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might,” Ephesians 6:10 comes to mind as we define what strength was required. Joshua was going to encounter many adversaries – some of which were superior to his military preparedness. Joshua had to rely on the Strength of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to overpower the might of the earthly armies along the way. If he were naive enough to disregard God’s instruction – “BE STRONG AND OF A GOOD COURAGE JOSHUA” – he would not have realized the success that God was calling him and the children of Israel to. It stands to reason hear how difficult it must have been for Joshua to disregard ALL human efforts to succeed and rely TOTALLY on the STRENGTH AND POWER of God’s Word EXCLUSIVELY. Imagine how Joshua had to encounter the men under his command who would see the mission from the prospective of human eyesight and how he had to CONSTANTLY remind them of the importance of FAITH IN GOD’S WORD! It seems to me that the more opposition he faced, the more inclined Joshua was to exercise DETERMINATION to do it God’s way and thereby continue to bask in the presence of COURAGE.

We often times get sidetracked from the presence of COURAGE because we put so many unsubstantiated demands on ourselves on how a DETERMINED response should look like. “I should have said this” “I could have done it this way” “Why can’t I be like ……..” “If only I had ……. faith”  “God I want to be like……” Clearly the demands we place on ourselves to be what or who we are not capable of being – AT THE TIME – are designs of bondage that keep us from being the person we are at that moment and relying on God’s Word exclusively.  Joshua never seemed to experience a dilemma getting ready for God to demonstrate His power. He merely was who He was called to be – the son of Nun and Moses’ right hand trained to one day lead – who was given Divine and SPECIFIC instructions on how to succeed moving forward. He did not have to encounter all of the self help gurus, the constant barrage’ of success stories that dictate how human success works and constant reminders of how success is SUPPOSED to look. NO! He was under the tutelage of Jehovah Jireh, Jehovah Shalom, Jehovah Shammah and Jehovah Tsori just to drop some names 🙂

What a travesty it would have been if Joshua was so egotistical to respond to God by saying, “OK God, I hear you. I will get the ranks ready and we are going to make you proud of us. I am going to do my best. You will not be ashamed of me God, I won’t let you down. I got it God. We will be strong in our might and skill sets, our military growth and our courage to win will not go unrealized.” This is why God makes a SPECIFIC attempt to repeat the message “BE STRONG AND OF A GOOD COURAGE, JOSHUA.”

Guess what, God is doing the same repetition today. Are you so busy telling God how you are going to get the job done that you are not basking in the the reality of His Sovereignty? – “IT’S ALREADY DONE!” A presence of COURAGE is so peaceful. You can be assured that God will do EXACTLY what He is going to do and no one or nothing can prevent His will from prevailing. The more Joshua practiced this “single-mindedness” the more he realized victory and success. It worked then and it is STILL working today.

THANK YOU LORD FOR THE PRESENCE OF COURAGE.

Revival: The How & Why of It


How do Christians experience revival? What happens in them that causes such a need? I was presented these questions in a conversation yesterday. The first question’s answer is “faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.” The second question’s answer is “sin.” We are all born in need of spiritual rebirth. Spiritual revival occurs through faith.

The first question requires some personal identification to our “REVIVAL” experiences. I know what it is to be an ACTIVE participant in sin which directly supports a spirit in need of revival. Sin separates us from God eternally. Salvation revives our spirits and attaches us to the Holy Spirit. This attachment is a Divine characteristic of Christianity. ACTIVE participation in Christianity keeps the spirit revived in three ways:

HOLY SPIRIT - FOIX

  1. Prayer to God,through Christ and reading God’s Word, experiencing new life in us through the Holy Spirit.
  2. Regular fellowship with other Christians via worship service, Bible study and various gatherings.
  3. Consistent service to both Christians and non-Christians via ACTIVE participation in various ministries.

The condition of our spirits is well-maintained when these three ACTivities are in place in our weekly routines. Revival denotes a need for a “life source” to infuse its life into lifelessness.  When it is done properly, revival works. Otherwise, the lifelessness continues and the need for revival gradually becomes eliminated by death.   Spiritual revival is solely dependent on Spiritual Life.

The second question reminds me to review the Psalmist’s situation in Psalms 85. This chapter, worth reading, gives us clarity on what happens when sin and disobedience to God’s Word are at hand. But it is REALLY important to notice the element of HOPE in God for restoration. That is key. Hopelessness is a subtle foe. It is a derivative of a sinful lifestyle.

The Old Testament Israelites were notorious for getting deliverance from God and then falling away from God and into the ways active sin.  The natural human condition is to run away from God. Adam and Eve depict this in Genesis 3:8.  New Testament Jews revoked the opportunity to develop faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Therefore, their spiritual revival has not been established and they are waiting for their human, earthly promise of the millennial Kingdom to be instituted by the coming Messiah aka Jesus Christ. There is a Divine divide between the Heavenly promises and the Earthly promises that is necessary to apply to Psalm 85. 

THIS IS TRUE FOR MANKIND: SIN SEPARATES US FROM THE LIFE SOURCE. REVIVAL RESTORES US TO THE LIFE SOURCE. 

JESUS CHRIST IS THE LIFE SOURCE

Faith in His death is the source of the forgiveness of our sin – through prayer on a regular basis. Faith in His burial and resurrection signifies the absolute “new life” experience Christians can experience over the course of their lifetime “in the faith.” We transition from spiritual “death” to spiritual “life” through faith IN HIS DEATH, BURIAL AND RESURRECTION.

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