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Friday, April 26, 2013

HIs Obstacles

Praying for one of the most precious young women that I know last night, and I was just rolling along praying for "obstacles to be removed and a path cleared for her and her ministry"  when God interrupted me, told me to stop and said, 'Pray for MY obstacles to be put in her path, obstacles that will make her stronger and grow her faith in Me.'  And so I did, and when I shared that with her, there were tears in her eyes, her heart understood what God was saying.
It takes me back to the definition of the fear of the Lord.

"The Fear of the Lord, is the "willingness to justify God in all that He allows into your life."
Trials, temptations, tribulations, suffering... ALL that He allows into your life!"  Roy Hession

And this that I read today, is also another way of saying, 'Live your life in the fear of the Lord.'
"You have to die to self everyday. How? By allowing your circumstances to help you become more like Christ–especially the circumstances you don’t like. Anytime you feel the pain of an insult, disappointment, suffering, physical challenge, failure, injustice, or trial–it’s an opportunity to die to pride, die to ego, die to sin, die to self. And if you keep dying to self, you’ll come alive in ways you never imagined. In fact, you’ll live forever."

Self-pity is a raging sin in my life, I did a "4th step" with my friend Steve the other day and looking back on my resentments, frustration and anger, they are almost all related to self-pity, so repent, and walk in the fear of the Lord.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Zechariah Bible Study #3 The Horns and the "Carpenters"

Zechariah Bible Study #3
Zechariah 1:18-21
The Horns and the ‘Carpenters’

18 Then I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, there were four horns. 19 So I said to the angel who was speaking with me, “What are these?” And he answered me, “These are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem.” 20 Then the Lord showed me four craftsmen. 21 I said, “What are these coming to do?” And he said, “These are the horns which have scattered Judah so that no man lifts up his head; but these craftsmen have come to terrify them, to throw down the horns of the nations who have lifted up their horns against the land of Judah in order to scatter it.”     NASB

18 Then I looked up and saw four animal horns. 19 “What are these?” I asked the angel who was talking with me.
He replied, “These horns represent the nations that scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.”
20 Then the Lord showed me four blacksmiths. 21 “What are these men coming to do?” I asked.
The angel replied, “These four horns—these nations—scattered and humbled Judah. Now these blacksmiths have come to terrify those nations and throw them down and destroy them.”   NLT

This vision connects to the comforting words of the last vision.  It shows that those nations who ‘went too far’ in harming the Jewish people will be judged/conquered/defeated/humbled.  Zechariah would have been familiar with Daniel and his prophecies.  Also in Revelation, horns represent ruling world powers.  Daniel’s prophecy contains an image of a statue with four types of metal, and another dream/vision that had 4 beasts.  Babylon is the power that took Daniel and many others from Judah captive.  Persia defeated Babylon during Daniels lifetime and a Persian king is the one who allowed the remnant Jews to return to Jerusalem and begin rebuilding.  Greece would be the next world power, Daniel spoke of the leadership of Alexander the Great, long before Alexander was born.  The last great world power is Rome.
A good question is, “How is it a comforting word to be told, ‘Here are the two world powers that scattered you recently and here are the next two who will step up and do the same?’”  The answer is two-fold.  #1 God is totally in control, knows the end from the beginning and knows what next will befall His people.  #2 As each world power comes and goes, because of God’s calling, Israel remains.  The preservation of Israel’s national identity and even Hebrew language, has to be seen as something that only God could do.  Jeremiah 30:11  ‘For I am with you,’ declares the Lord, ‘to save you;
For I will destroy completely all the nations where I have scattered you,
Only I will not destroy you completely.
But I will chasten you justly
And will by no means leave you unpunished.’
If you know that you deserved to be ‘destroyed completely’, not being destroyed will be seen as the mercy that it is.  It is only those who do not see their own depravity and God’s holiness, who have to be told about mercy.
Abraham experienced a lot of favor from the nations around him, but from Isaac, down to the present day, God no sooner called Israel, His son, than the nations began to hate them.  The nations pushed and prodded by the principalities and powers of course, who are always jealous and hateful towards God’s merciful, grace-filled choices.
“The more they afflicted them the more they multiplied and grew.”  Exodus 1:12.

An example of this from history is the surprising, sad, origin of the phrase,
Hep Hep Hurray, English Hip hip hurray   "Hierosylma est Perdita," Latin for "Jerusalem is lost," which later was shortened to its acronym, "hep."  The crusaders shortened it to the first letter of each word.  Why this excessive hatred, toward a city and a people?  God’s right to choose, to elect, grinds against the pride of man like nothing else.

Again one of my favorite, Reggie Kelly quotes, “Everything is fine, until someone gets a coat of many colors."

Psalm 83 gives a good rendition of this truth which will continue to the end of this age.
 “1 O God, do not remain quiet;
Do not be silent and, O God, do not be still.
2 For behold, Your enemies make an uproar,
And those who hate You have exalted themselves.
3 They make shrewd plans against Your people,
And conspire together against Your treasured ones.
4 They have said, “Come, and let us wipe them out as a nation,
That the name of Israel be remembered no more.”
5 For they have conspired together with one mind;
Against You they make a covenant:
6 The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites,
Moab and the Hagrites;
7 Gebal and Ammon and Amalek,
Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre;
8 Assyria also has joined with them;
They have become a help to the children of Lot. Selah.”
We should  take a minute with this Psalm to consider it, which is what Selah means.
The enemies experience great unity when they want to bring Israel down.  The mention of 10 nations lines up with other end time scenarios where 10 nations are mentioned.  Verse 2 makes it clear that the anger and unity of the enemies is, at its root against God.

Verse 19 - The mention of Judah, Israel and Jerusalem in the same verse shows the unity of the nation as it goes through tribulation.  Actually, we see this in the church in persecuted lands, they have no time or energy to ‘waste’ on denominational disagreements, there is a unity in tribulation that does not exist in prosperity.  The purifying work that God does in our lives as individuals, and in the life of the Church (1 Peter 4:17), is the same work He is doing in the Jewish people.  Fire purifies, so if God is coming back for a pure and spotless church... how do you think He will get us from where we are now to where we need to be at that time??

Verse 21 - The ‘carpenters’ are craftsmen with specific tools to do their job.  So how is it comforting to be told, “Here are four powerful kingdoms that will overthrow your people and here are four kingdoms that will in turn overthrow them.”?   Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome are the kingdoms, and each succeeds in destroying the one before it, lastly leaving Jesus Himself to destroy the final kingdom, which has sprung out of the vast Roman empire.  Bottom line,  the sovereign God is in control of it all.  Kingdoms rise and fall at His command and His care of the Jewish people continues without interruption or end.

With the reformation and the move of God that put the scriptures in the hands of the ‘common man’ there was a need for direction on how to properly interpret scripture.  The reformers came up with the perfect solution.  Let scripture interpret scripture, and so we turn to the book of Daniel for a very similar section of scripture to get more insight into what Zechariah is showing us.

Daniel 7:19 “Then I desired to know the exact meaning of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others, exceedingly dreadful, with its teeth of iron and its claws of bronze, and which devoured, crushed and trampled down the remainder with its feet, 20 and the meaning of the ten horns that were on its head and the other horn which came up, and before which three of them fell, namely, that horn which had eyes and a mouth uttering great boasts and which was larger in appearance than its associates. 21 I kept looking, and that horn was waging war with the saints and overpowering them 22 until the Ancient of Days came and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom.

23 “Thus he said: ‘The fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on the earth, which will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth and tread it down and crush it. 24 As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise; and another will arise after them, and he will be different from the previous ones and will subdue three kings. 25 He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time. 26 But the court will sit for judgment, and his dominion will be taken away, annihilated and destroyed forever. 27 Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him.’

28 “At this point the revelation ended. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts were greatly alarming me and my face grew pale, but I kept the matter to myself.”

This quote, to show God’s unyeilding plan, from one of the first five books in the Bible written by Moses.

Deut. 4:
27 The Lord will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the Lord drives you. 28 There you will serve gods, the work of man’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell. 29 But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul. 30 When you are in distress and all these things have come upon you, in the latter days you will return to the Lord your God and listen to His voice. 31 For the Lord your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them.

Knowing the truth and sticking with what God has said, and knowing that none of His words will fall to the ground, we press on!!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Syrophoenician woman

Asked to teach the adult class and this is what came out.

Turning Aside to See the Syro-Phonecian Woman

Mt 15:21-28; Mk. 7:25-30

The heart of God to be revealed, for hope to spring in hearts that are dry and barren.

I can not teach on this by myself, and that is God’s design.  Each person in this room is eligible to “complete" what God is wanting to teach all of us.  You are free to interrupt to add your “two cents" and when you do you will be answering the call of God, that we be a body, and that each one has input that can help the whole.

Exclusion, Exclusive, what comes to mind when you hear those words?...

No one said “Jesus”.  We need to turn aside to see this real event that is recorded for us and learn from it.

“Everything is fine, until someone gets a coat of many colors”  Reggie Kelly

 1) Why does Jesus refuse the Syrophoenician woman’s request for exorcism? 2) Why does Jesus indirectly refer to her as a dog? 3) Why does Jesus change his mind and grant her request?

If you find in your Bible Study, the need to apologize for God, or to “cover” for Him.  I can assure you, you are missing the meaning of the passage.  You need to dig deeper, as we will be doing tonight.

We need to face the reality that this event would have been a “suffering” in the life of this woman.  Ignored, rejected in a general way, rejected in a very specific, hurtful way.
What did she want?
Who did she want it from?
According to Matthews gospel Jesus had already healed the Centurion’s servant at this point and given high praise to the Centurion for his faith.  So this isn't a case of 'racism.'
Why is He treating her like this?
What does He know that we do not know?
Is it okay for God to use our lives as symbols for others to learn from?
Is a part of the answer to the question, “Why does suffering exist?” that the Redeemer is using/will use what is happening in your life for a good effect in the life of another?  Is that okay with you?  When you gave Him your life, did you really give Him your life?  Or do you have limits, lines that you don’t want Him to cross?

God is exclusive.  In His plan of salvation there is a step that must be included and that is the total death of, “I deserve...(good thing)”  The ground upon which we receive from God is marked by the words and the life that says, “I do not deserve any thing good, death and hell are my destination if not for the mercy of God.”
The important question is not what she wanted?  If she only wanted healing for her daughter, she had every opportunity to tell this pompous, arrogant, Jewish teacher where He could get off and continue her search for some one else to heal her daughter.  The important question is, who did she want?  She wanted HIM!

This quote from John Piper fits in here.
John Piper: “Ordinarily faith would mean trust or confidence you put in someone who has given good evidence of his reliability and willingness and ability to provide what you need. But when Jesus Christ is the object of faith there is a twist. He himself is what we need. If we only trust Christ to give us gifts and not himself as the all-satisfying gift, then we do not trust him in a way that honors him as our treasure. We simply honor the gifts. They are what we really want, not him. So biblical faith in Jesus must mean that we trust him to give us what we need most — namely, himself. That means that faith itself must include at its essence a treasuring of Christ above all things.”

Could it be that our inability to see what is being shown here is because, inwardly, we still hold to a belief that something in me was good, something in me was attractive, and God seeing that little “spark” in me, chose me for that reason.  This turns the fact that we are “chosen” upside down.  This leaves room for pride and ugliness in our dealings with others.
God makes it very clear that His choice of Israel was not based on ANYTHING in them,
Deut. 7:7 “The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples,”  Ezekiel 16:1-6
“Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, make known to Jerusalem her abominations 3 and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God to Jerusalem, “Your origin and your birth are from the land of the Canaanite, your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. 4 As for your birth, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water for cleansing; you were not rubbed with salt or even wrapped in cloths. 5 No eye looked with pity on you to do any of these things for you, to have compassion on you. Rather you were thrown out into the open field, for you were abhorred on the day you were born.
6 “When I passed by you and saw you squirming in your blood, I said to you while you were in your blood, ‘Live!’ Yes, I said to you while you were in your blood, ‘Live!’”

Did you catch that?  This book is no ordinary book, these words are no ordinary words.  It applies to Israel, to each one of us individually and to the Church.
Ephesians 2:1
“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;"
It is not what you are going through, but it is Who that is with you. 
We do not realize how precious and costly a thing faith is.
God does.
We perceive what Jesus did as cruel, because we do not see the ultimate value in where this “dark night of the soul”  with no answer, even with rejection, even with a time of feeling totally forsaken and alone was leading.  For this woman, for Israel, for the gentiles, for you and me, for the Church these times of suffering, are leading somewhere.

This definition of the fear of the Lord, fits in here.
The Fear of the Lord, is the "willingness to justify God in all that He allows into your life."
Roy Hession
Trials, temptations, tribulations, suffering... ALL that He allows into your life!

We are not promised explanations, we are not promised easy answers, we are promised something of far greater value.  HIM.

Our cries of “Where are You?”   Our very real times of feeling forsaken and alone are revealing true faith, strengthening true faith.  That is one side of the coin, the other side is they are putting the knife in “performance faith.”
Performance faith is “watch me do.... and then God will move.”

Let’s look closely at this verse in Revelation and then bring it back around to the woman from Syria.
Rev. 6:6 “And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.”
Oil?  Symbolic of the anointing of God on our lives.
Wine?  Symbolic of the Joy of the Lord, that transcends circumstances.

Yes she wanted healing for her daughter, but she had no “right” to it.  When she acknowledged that she had no right to it, but pleaded for it, crying out for mercy, she was then standing on the ultimate RIGHT ground with God, the only ground from which we can truly approach Him, and from that place her answer came.  No matter what the cost was to get to that place, it is worth it.

We get God when we bring nothing.  Deut. 32:36, Psalm 102, Daniel 12:7, Leviticus 26:40-42, Zechariah 4:6

In our individual lives, and in the Church as a whole, this is the truth that needs to be revealed.

In the same way that this woman had to come to a place of desperation, where she would submit to God’s sovereign choice of Israel, that put her on the outside, we must come to a place of admitting our natural and moral disqualification from receiving grace before we can receive grace.  A true and deep conversion, like with Bobbie on Sunday, will result in an acknowledgment that everything that God had done up to that point, was worth it, to get to that point.
   “Jesus must take before he can give, that is to say he must remove natural hope in order that she might receive God’s gift on the basis of grace that is only accessible to faith.” Reggie Kelly

“God has not changed tactics. He still uses silences and Bible difficulties and offensive situations as challenges for us to rise to the occasion and prove that we believe that no matter what, the answer is found in Jesus and in him alone, and that if we cling to him for long enough, all that we need will be revealed.

We again see this in Jesus’ interaction with the Canaanite (Syrophenician) woman. She needed him. He gave her the silent treatment. Instead of giving up, she hounded him all the more. When she finally wrung a response from him it was worse than nothing. He insulted her and said he wouldn’t give her a thing. Still she hounded him and ended up receiving not only her request but Jesus’ high praise (Matthew 15:21-28). It turned out that despite not revealing a hint of it until it was all over, her persistence thrilled him. And when you receive the silent treatment, your determination to keep badgering him because you believe he cares and will not remain silent forever, will likewise thrill him, gain you high praise and you’ll hear from him as well.”

Grantley Morris

This is the pattern of God, The law is given.   The acknowledgment is given “We can not do this."   The sacrificial death of Jesus for us.   Grace is given, but grace is only grace when you see the rightness of God in excluding us.    Death before resurrection.       (prayer)