A Wedding Present from the Master

John 2:1-10 The Marriage Feast at Cana. His mother informs Jesus that their hosts have run out of wine. (verse 1-5)

Reading between the lines, we can discern that this is a great embarrassment. We can also surmise that his hosts are not wealthy people.

I have often overlooked the last part of the next statement: “And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.” (verse 6)

But there is no filler in the Word of God. It’s all important. So try to put yourself on the scene.

  • The key word is “firkins,” which is a liquid measurement containing nearly nine gallons. The pots are hewn out of stone, and polished. At 8.5 pounds per gallon, a stone pot with 27 gallons of water is heavier than a dose of xanax!
  • The purpose of these waterpots is stated in the words: “…after the manner of the purifying of the Jews…” This bears the same meaning as “…the tradition of the elders…” in Matt.15:2. (So we can be sure that the ever-present religious enforcers would be watching!)
    Guaranteed!  Everybody was washing up before eating!

Now just think about it. There must have been some water in the pots. So when Jesus said, “Fill the waterpots with water,” he didn’t mean, “Put a little water in them.” He meant, “Fill them till they’re full.” (I call this divine OCD.) The servants took his meaning: “And they filled them up to the brim.” (verse 7)

The next verse blows my mind! “And he saith unto them, ‘Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast.’ And they bare it.” (verse 8) Really! Without even tasting it to see if the trick worked? No special words: “In the name of me…” He didn’t even pray!  (That’s the Jesus I know–BIG brass ones!  We should always follow in his steps.)

Now you think you know the rest of the story, but you don’t.

“When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,
“And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.” (verse 9 & 10)

“…when men have well drunk…” C’mon, Christians! It’s just intellectually dishonest to try to claim that this is a story about grape juice. So let’s just say that “wine” means wine. It must have been pretty good wine, too, because it went so fast that they ran out.

So if they started with good wine, then what Jesus made was fine wine. Now I did some research on this. Fine wine sells for upwards of $250 a bottle. So do the math.

The six waterpots held “…two or three firkins apiece.” (verse 6) That sounds like 2.5 firkins, average.

2.5 x 6 = 15 firkins, in all
15 f. x 9 gal./f. = 135 gallons of fine wine
135 gal. @ $250/qt. x 4 qt./gal. = $135,000

What a sweet wedding present!

2 Kings 4:1-7 tells the story of the family of the prophet (Obadiah, according to the rabbis). Apparently, he mortgaged the house to feed all the prophets of the Lord who were fleeing from the wrath of Queen Jezebel. Then he died before he could pay the money back.

His widow turned to Elisha for help when the creditors came to take her sons into slavery to pay the debt.

After filling every vessel in town from her pot of oil (divine OCD), Elisha tells her, “Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children of the rest.”

I suspect the bride and groom from Cana also lived long off the proceeds of a MIRACLE.

Eph. 5:18 Warns, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;” Literally, it’s “…be ye being filled [continuosly]…” (Again, divine OCD!)

Our flesh causes us to be leaky vessels. So we lose the power to live above the world’s influence when we stop drinking the Holy Spirit. (John 7:37-39)  So always keep your vessel full.  Take another drink!

Miracles Part 4-Living in Power & Adventure

We continue our study of Miracles from Part 1Part 2, and Part 3

The prophet Daniel spoke the Word of the Lord specifically for these last days: “…the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.” (Dan.11:32) According to the scripture, God is searching out a people that he will prepare for a life of power and adventure.

There are individuals popping up in the churches today–young people whose souls are aflame with a desire to bring honor back to the name of Jesus. One here, two there–perhaps a half dozen–they are being drawn by God. Like the prophet Jeremiah they cry out: “But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones…” (Jer.20:9)

Their hearts break over an impotent church that has ceased to be relevant for today’s generation. Their spirits are grieved over powerless religion that is losing ground in the struggle for the souls of a lost world.

The apostle Paul had an encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. It left him blind and searching for answers. (Acts 9:1-9) Let all this generation take note that God did not send a big-name televangelist to minister to Paul.

He chose a reluctant Ananias. He was nobody special. He was just “a certain disciple…” (Acts 9:10) If you are just a certain disciple, God can use you, too, to open blind eyes, and to lead a man to the Lord!

Ananias was fearful. Ananias even argued with God! But in the end, he obeyed, and Jesus used him to change the history of the world. (Acts 9:13-17)

Scarcely had the scales fallen from Paul’s eyes, when he began to “preach Christ” in the synagogues of Damascus and in Jerusalem.(Acts 9:20&29) Something about this enraged the Jews. They were not bothered by the rest of the church. (Demons never are!)  But they set about in a satanic fury to kill Paul.

What was it that brought this violent reaction? “But Saul was being filled with more and more power.” (Acts 9:22 CJB) What was he doing different from the other Christians that stirred up the powers of hell so much? Paul “preached Christ.”

Peter would later admit that the rest of the church had been preaching “another gospel.” (Gal.1:6-7) Peter said the gentiles knew their message, but were not converted by it.  They were preaching: “Peace by Jesus.” (Acts 10:36-37) But Jesus said, “I came not to send peace, but a sword.” (Matt.10:34) So Paul came back to the true gospel.  Paul “preached Christ.”

Just like Philip had “preached Christ” in Samaria. (Acts 8:5) “And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the MIRACLES which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.” (Acts 8:6-7)

Paul “preached Christ” in the same way–attended with miracles and healings. (Acts 14:3-10) He also confronted demonic powers.(Acts 16:16-18)  Paul himself testified of his methods: “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”(1Cor.2:4-5)

But the church’s response was to get rid of Paul! “Yea, all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”(2 Tim. 3:12) But that price was higher than this church was willing to pay. They packed Paul off on the first boat bound for his boyhood home in Tarsus. (Acts 9:30)

This tragic story closes in verse 31 with what looks at first glance like a victory report: “Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.”

But a red flag goes up at this point. The place that had “rest” was an area smaller than most U.S. states! Meanwhile, the rest of the world was perishing in its sin. They had sold out! They purchased a separate peace! (Just like so many churches today.)

No doubt, this church needed to be edified (built up in the faith), and to learn to walk in the fear of their Lord, whom they had still not obeyed! Sadly, history records that they would remain comfort-able in the Holy Ghost until a Roman army drove them out of the city.

Do you “…love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength…?”(Mark 12:30) Are you willing to pay any price to live for his glory? Will you dare to believe God for the power to “preach Christ” as Paul did?

“But ye shall receive power,” Jesus told his disciples, “after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me…”(Acts 1:8)

In the very act of commissioning his church to preach the gospel, Jesus added these words: “Behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry [wait] ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.”(Luke 24:49)

And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father…” Jesus continues in the next verse, “For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.”(Acts 1:4-5)

How do you receive power from God? How do you receive the promise? How do you receive the baptism in the Holy Ghost?

“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”(Luke 11:13)

It’s really very simple: Just ask your heavenly Father for it. Then receive it the way you received your salvation. Take God at his word that he will give it, and open your mouth and give thanks for the gift. But don’t let what comes out be your own words of any known language.

Now begin immediately to ask God for boldness and opportunities to minister his power to the needs of others around you.

Our life changing study continues in Part 5….

Pro-Vision for the Pastor’s Vision

Proverb 27:23-27.  [Bible & concordance required.] This is the Word of the Lord! It cannot be obsolete.  So take another look at what it’s saying to PASTORS.  (“Doth God take care for oxen?”1Cor.9:9)

There is a maxim among preachers. “Goats’ milk is worth more than sheep’s wool.”

Well, good news, fellows! Proverb 27 supports that old adage.

Verse 23 starts out with the Double Annunciation of Deity. [Like “verily, verily…”] The Hebrew begins, “Yada, yada…” (“And Adam knew (yada) Eve his wife; and she conceived…” Gen.4:1)

Two things are of note here:

  • Repetition of the imperative means, “Pay Attention…”
  • KJV’s “Be diligent…” correctly suggests that we have been negligent.

So this scripture is a word of correction for SHEPHERDS who will search it out in the Berean tradition!

2. There are two parts to the shepherd’s charge, because there are two distinct groups under his care:

  • First of all, there are the sheep (flocks). His responsibility is to “Yada,” to know them intimately. This is reinforced with the next word, “paniym,” the face. (Compare verse 19, “As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man.”) Be intimately familiar with the face of each sheep.
  • Secondly, he must “set his heart,” i.e. commit his energy, to the goats (herds).

Great care must be exercised to balance the pastoral work. Neither group can be neglected.

But the two groups subsist on different diets. Sheep are grazers, while goats tend to browse. Indeed, the proclivity of goats to feed on garbage necessitates the greatest of care to keep them on a healthy regimen. This is still true in the church today. King Solomon’s admonition is to train the goats in close proximity, where a careful dietary regimen can be maintained. He warns, “…feed thy kids beside the shepherds’ tents.” (Song 1:8) There is a secondary benefit to this in that goats are only loyal when suckled by hand from birth. (He that hath an ear…)

Remember that both sheep and goats are accepted as clean animals under Levitical law (Deut. 14:4). Understanding that one Christian is a sheep, while another is a goat, does not deny that either is “…accepted in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:6) The Blood of Calvary is sufficient for both. [Observe the use of the possessive pronoun “thy” in reference to both groups. Contrast its absence when the Son of man sits in judgment of the unrighteous “goats”(Matt.25:31-46). He takes no ownership of them. In effect, the Great Shepherd says, “These are not like my goats.”]

3. Let’s look at the “Why?” of the passage. Verse 24 begins with the causal preposition, “For…” Here it becomes evident that this is about finances for your God-given vision. “For riches are not forever:”

Money is not “forever,” i.e. for eternity.  It’s for here and now! God is faithful to send provision for your vision, but if you’re too spooky-spiritual to use it, you will never be able to reach the prize of your high calling. This passage explains how it works.

4. Let’s skip to verse 26. (We’ll come back.) Again there are two parts.

  • “The lambs are for thy clothing…” Only newborn lambs can properly motivate us in the work of the ministry. A flock without lambs is a dying drove. So lambs’ wool can be seen to be our covering, a robe of righteousness, that gives meaning to all that we do. (Souls! Souls! Souls!)
  • “… and the goats are the price of the field.” Obviously, “the field” is real estate where the flock can be fed. Goats (literally “he-goats”) are presented here, side-by-side with the lambs, to show their own high standing in this grand scheme. God sends these big Billy goats to provide a venue for the vision. Before you can build a 20 million dollar cathedral, you need help from men of means. (Any vision that you can fulfill without help is not from God!)

The desire of your heart is the same in both cases. You want to bring people to Jesus, but you have to have a place to put them!

The carnal mind will see something “unfair” in this. The pastor is perceived to be hob-knobbing with elites in expensive restaurants. But only his faithful inner circle assembles at his home for training and planning.

“Common sense” demands that the whole congregation be given equal access to the shepherd’s time and energy. Human wisdom declares that like-treatment will produce like-results. But Jesus did not do Kingdom business in that way. He spoke to the multitudes in parables, but to his disciples He said privately, “Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God .” (Mark 4:11). We always do well to follow in His steps.

5. Now let’s return to verse 25. The American Standard Version translates it very well: “The hay is carried, and the tender grass showeth itself, And the herbs of the mountains are gathered in.”

  • Every good preacher knows that God gives him hay (words) to feed the flock on Sunday morning. (“He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle…” Ps.104:14a)
  • When we have been faithful to deliver the hay, we find tender grass sprouting up from the same source. (“Oh! I wish I had thought to say that fresh Word in the message.)
  • There is also a gathering of herbs for medicines and spices. (“…And herb for the service of man…” Ps.104:14b) This suggests gatherings and offerings for the essentials of the man of God.

6. Verse 27 adds a word of assurance that there will always be sufficiency for every necessity. “And thou shalt have goats’ milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household…”

But milking the goats is a constantly recurring chore.  It cannot be deferred.  Unexpressed milk will congeal, clogging ducts and glands.  This can cause infections and abscesses. The neglected goat can become sick.

Sometimes, people of means are like a new mother who gives up nursing, and consequently ceases from lactating. Like goats who supply on demand, they give only as they perceive an urgent need. But giving is recognized in the New Testament as a spiritual gift, a charisma, to be exercised by Christians with equal import to gifts of healings or of prophesying (Rom.12:6-8).

Failing to milk the goats, so to speak, deprives them of the opportunity to give, and therefore to receive from God’s abundance. (2 Cor. 9:6) Everyone loses when the shepherd shirks this responsibility.

7. Finally, there is long-term thinking:

  • Verse 24. “…and doth the crown endure to every generation?”
    Clearly, the answer is, “No.” God never intended for the father’s anointing to be passed to his biological son, like a king’s crown. Too often the legacies of great men of God have embarrassed the church when their descendants have tried to carry on like a family business.
  • Verse 27. “…and for the maintenance for thy maidens.”
    But a man of vision will mentor a “School of the Prophets” to perpetuate his work and anointing. Apprentices–young men and women who have “poured water on the hands of Elijah” (2Kings 3:11)–are God’s chosen vessels for the continuity of his church.

In this way, the Lord gives provision for his vision, for his flock, and for his servants as well.

Miracles Part 3–Miracles in the Infant Church

We continue our study of MIRACLES from Part 1 and Part 2.

Churches today are much about comfort, and little about power. They are user-friendly places, where spectators come to hear and see, but not to do. It was not so from the beginning.

Originally, Jesus commissioned his church to, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15) But Luke’s gospel adds one caveat: “but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49)

Our Lord’s charge to, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations…” (Matt.28:19) was the plan and purpose of his entire ministry. But on the very brink of its fulfillment, he applied the brakes. He had scarcely uttered his direction, “Go ye…,” when he ordered a halt to the Great Commission. “Wait! Don’t go yet…!” One thing was lacking.

At the very cusp of the church’s inception, Jesus said, “Wait for the promise of the Father…” (Acts 1:4), because “…ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you…” (Acts 1:8)

Jesus knew that the church could not be successful unless it preached a gospel of power. He had told the seventy, “I send you as lambs among wolves.“ But he also added “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you“ (Luke 10:3 & 10:19). As D. L. Moody commented, “It is a foolish, and a wicked thing, to attempt to do God’s work without God’s power.”

The church’s charter was never intended to be a war of words. “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” (1Cor.2:4-5)

That the apostles understood their equipping is evident from the earliest days. “And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.“ (Acts 4:33).

Peter and John preached a power gospel when they met the lame man at the temple gate. “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” (Acts 3:6) This brought about the conversion of 5,000 men (Acts 4:4), and “all men glorified God for that which was done.”(Acts 4:21) Where are those Christians today who still live for the glory of God?

“And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people…” “And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.” (Acts 5:12 & 14) Who are they who still hunger and thirst for the souls of men?

The message was not confined to Jerusalem, nor the power limited to the apostles. “And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following.” (Mark 16:20) Clearly this was the activity of more than a few. It was obviously for the purpose of demonstrating the truth of the gospel they were declaring. “And these signs shall follow [all] them that believe…” (Mark 16:17)

Stephen was just one of the deacons, ordained by the apostles to serve tables and minister to widows. (Acts 6:1-6) But his servant heart soon laid hold on the hand of his Lord. “And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.” (Acts 6:8)

Philip was also a young deacon. But he traveled on his own to the city of Samaria. There revival broke out when he “preached Christ” to men of a different culture. Specifically, we are told that the people heard him speak, “hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.” (Acts 8:4-7)

These manifestations of power are described as an integral part of the fact that he “preached Christ.” It is not that preaching Christ is merely associated with these demonstrations. Paul indicates that it was only “Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God…“ that he was able to have “…fully preached the gospel of Christ.” (Rom.15:19)

Without these manifestations of power, Christ is preached less than fully. And the devil mocks as the church fails in its commission. And the souls of men continue to perish without hope. What good is faith if you can’t use it at such a time as this?

Jesus has always instructed his followers to “Launch out into the deep.” But fearful men of religion have seized the helm, steering the old ship of Zion only into the calmest of waters. They have mutinied against the Captain of our Salvation, because they lack the courage of Paul.  His faith brought 276 souls safely through the storm. “And when they had taken up the anchors, they committed themselves unto the sea, and loosed the rudder bands, and hoisted up the mainsail to the wind, and made toward shore.” (Acts 27:40) In the modern church, our Lord’s rebuke still stings us today. “Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?” (Mark 4:40)

Where are those young people who still have the courage to hear the Master’s voice, “Heal the sick, cleanse the leper, raise the dead…?” (Matt.10:18) Or has Jesus no integrity, that he would command us to do what cannot be done? Brothers and sisters, is there unrighteousness with God? Who will dare to take him at his word? “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”

“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will? (Heb. 2:3-4).”

Our series continues in Parts 4 and 5

Miracles Part 2–Miracles in the Life of Christ

Let’s continue our study on MIRACLES that we started in Part 1.

John the Baptist testified boldly of Jesus, saying, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:15-36) But later on, John found himself languishing in Herod’s prison. (Luke 3:20) As human frailty crept into his soul, perhaps he saw room for doubt while he listened for the footsteps of the executioner. So he sent his disciples to Jesus to seek some assurance that he had gotten it right. “Art thou He that should come? Or look we for another?” (Luke 7:20)

Jesus sent the witnesses back to John. In verse 22, he offers what the Son of God considered (He oughta know!) six definitive proofs that the Spirit of Christ (the anointing, Acts 10:38) was clearly at work in His ministry. “Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that

  • the blind see,
  • the lame walk,
  • the lepers are cleansed,
  • the deaf hear,
  • the dead are raised,
  • to the poor the gospel is preached.”

Christ (the Anointed One) cited his work as one part preaching, and five parts MIRACLES. So why do so many in the modern Christian church think we can get the job done by talking it to death?  (We’ve stopped following the Master!) No wonder Islam is growing  at a rate three times faster than Christianity. How, then, will the gospel be preached in all the world?

The fact is that the Lord’s public persona was saturated with signs and wonders. Great multitudes were gathered by his mighty works throughout the region. (Matt.4:23-25) The people glorified God as he healed the sick and raised the dead. (Mark 2:12, Luke 7:16, John 11:14) MIRACLES!

Indeed, the common folks marveled in wonder and amazement (Matt.8:27, 9:8, 15:31). But the religious leaders were less pleased, and sought for some opportunity to destroy him. (Matt.9:32-34, 12:9-14) Obviously, there is a bitter enmity between religious zealotry, and the Spirit of Christ.

In no case is this more glaringly obvious than in Luke 13:10-17. The ruler of the synagogue responds with indignation when Jesus bends the Sabbath rules in order to un-bend an afflicted sister. The fact that it is the power of God that ministers such great compassion is treated as insignificant. How can God break the Sabbath? The Spirit of Christ reached out in mercy to lift the burden of the woman so long afflicted.  And the demonic spirit that darkens the heart of religious enforcers is stripped naked of its self-righteous veneer. It embarrasses itself when scrutinized under the spotlight of benevolent motives. The purveyors of powerless religion are forced to flee in shame!

John ends the gospel record of Jesus’ ministry by pointing not to his words, but to his works. MIRACLES! As much as we savor the red letters of scripture, and lead our lives according to their message, John closes with emphasis on what Jesus did, rather than on what he said.

“And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.” (John 21:25)

We cannot conceive of the ministry of Jesus without him walking on water, raising the dead, opening blind eyes, and healing the lepers. Everyone knows that a Christ without MIRACLES is a false Christ!  Likewise, then, a powerless church is a church deficient in the Spirit of Christ (the anointing).

Our study will continue in Parts 3, 4, and 5

Miracles Part 1–Miracles in the Old Testament

Judges 6. The Midianites were ISIS terrorists of their day. “They came as grasshoppers for multitude…and they entered into the land to destroy it.” (verse 5)  “The Midianites were so cruel that many Israelites ran to the mountains and hid in caves.” (verse 2, CEV)

When Israel cried out for relief, Yahweh responded by calling an anointed servant to bring deliverance.  His choice of personnel was a really odd one. The angel of the Lord was directed to the home of Gideon, who was hiding by the winepress for fear of the invaders (verse 11).  We know that God calls “things which be not as though they were” (Rom.4:17).  That certainly was the case when the angel addressed Gideon with the ironic title “mighty man of valour!” (verse 12)

Gideon proves to be a reluctant hero, rebuffing the call of God with an angry retort. He had lived in a land full of idolatry, and seen the hopeless religion of the Amorites. He had no more use for powerless religion in the name of Jehovah, than for the same thing in the name of Baal. He comes right to the point with the angel, “If the Lord be with us…where be all his MIRACLES…?” (verse 13)

After all, Israel is being oppressed because of idolatry (verse 10).  They “set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save.” (Isa.45:20) How is that any different if the Lord’s arm is shortened that it cannot save? Or if his ear is heavy that it cannot hear prayer? (Isa.59:1)

Every Jew knew that Moses had confronted Pharaoh with a whole series of MIRACLES, just to get his attention.  Moses had parted the Red Sea, and Joshua parted the Jordan River–by MIRACLES!  Noah survived the flood. The walls of Jericho fell down. The sun was stopped in its course for nearly a whole day. MIRACLES!

Gideon had been nurtured on all the stories handed down from the forefathers of Israel. They all had one thing in common: Whenever God showed up, there were MIRACLES.

No wonder Gideon had questions. His people were oppressed; beat down by their enemies. And the power of God was nowhere to be seen. How could he be expected to believe that the Lord of Hosts, the God of Armies, was with them under these conditions?

Some today will say that Gideon was guilty of unbelief. They contend that he would have done better to proceed in BLIND FAITH, rather than question the call of God. But the angel of the Lord took no umbrage at his question. Rather, he tells Gideon, “Go in this thy might…” This thy might! The thing that made Gideon a mighty man before God was the courage to question powerless religion!

Gideon was right, and Yahweh approved.  God has no use for a dead religious system either. The Lord stood by Gideon with manifestations of power.  MIRACLES.  The same was true with others who judged Israel. Samson didn’t always get it right, but he had POWER!

God’s anointed kings illustrate the same message.  David didn’t kill Goliath because he was such a good shot with a sling. It was a MIRACLE. Jehoshaphat didn’t know what to do, but he kept his eyes on the God of MIRACLES.  The Holy Ghost is on record that he “worshipped the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”  That’s a pretty strong testimony.

In the lives of the prophets, it is a MIRACLE-working God who is represented.  They raised the dead, healed the leper, called down fire, and sent the sun backwards across the sky. Malachi closes the record of God’s works in the Old Testament with these words: “I am the Lord; I change not.” (Mal.3:6)

If idolatry is praying to a “god that cannot save” (Isa.45:20), how is that different from the powerless religion of professing Christians.  If he can’t cure AIDS or Ebola, his arm is shortened! We cannot conceive of the ministry of Jesus without him walking on water, raising the dead, opening blind eyes, and healing lepers. Everyone knows that a Christ without MIRACLES is a false Christ!

 We continue this study in Parts 2, 3, 4, and 5…

It’s a No-Brainer!

The history of monarchies in every nation is replete with kings seeking to establish their dominion beyond their own lifetimes. They try to consolidate enough power for their descendants to rule upon their throne after them. But very few of these dynasties have ever reigned in any country for longer than a century.

“Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling places to all generations; they call their lands after their own names.” The scripture calls this behavior, “folly.” (Ps. 49:10-13) It is obviously beyond the power of any king to establish his dynasty forever.

2 Sam.7. David the King purposed in his heart to do something for the honor of the Lord, who had raised him up from shepherd boy to king. Though David’s intentions were pure, Jehovah was having none of it. Speaking through Nathan, the prophet, he said, in effect, “Dumb idea, Dave, but you’ve got your heart in the right place!”

David had already been blessed beyond his wildest dreams in being King over Israel. He wanted to give something back to God, as a way of saying, “Thank you.” But no one can ever out-give God!

The Lord responds to David’s gesture with a blessing above his highest thoughts. God presents him with the Holy Grail of monarchy.  He offers him an everlasting dynasty (vs.12).

Overwhelmed by the awesome graciousness of Jehovah, David sits before the Ark of God, saying, “Who am I?” And, “What is my house…? (Verse 18)

It is a good thing to wait humbly before God when seeking direction or blessing. But this was not the time for that! It was a no-brainer.  It was time to ACT on what God said!

Finally, David did three things right:

  • David believed. Always take God at his Word (vs. 21).
  • David worshipped. Open your mouth and declare the greatness of God (vs. 22).
  • David consented (vs. 25). To possess the promises of God, you must give the okay, or you will miss your blessing.

“For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” (2 Cor.1:20) His “yes” always requires our “amen” to make the blessings flow into our lives.

Jesus died on the cross 2000 years ago to pay the price for my sin. Now we know that his sacrifice brought the free gift of righteousness (right standing with God) upon all men for justification (Rom.5:17-18). It is pointless to say that I am not worthy, as none of us are (Gal.2:16). But saving grace was not applied to my life until I added the confession of my mouth to heartfelt faith in his finished work on Calvary (Rom.10:9-10). He said, “Yes,” when he shed his blood, but only by my “Amen” did it wash away my sin (Rev.1:5).

In the same way, all the promises of God are procured by faith in his Word, and applied by our consent that his grace is greater that our unworthiness.

It’s a no-brainer!  Just say yes to God.

Giant Killers PART 2–Basic Training for Giant Killers

Daily Application for Giant Killers 1 Samuel 17

1. Defending the sheep from the lion and the bear was a commercial enterprise. David learned to stand in his covenant as part of making his daily living.

  • Jesus said, “Occupy (literally, do business) till I come.”
  • It is a godly thing to take risks for profit, trusting in the Lord to prosper the venture (Josh. 1:8).
  • His success was dependent on fulfilling his father’s vision, out of sight of any man (Lk. 16:12).
  • God gives WORK to His sons (Eph. 4:28, 2 Thes. 3:10).

Eccl. 2:24“There is NOTHING BETTER for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should MAKE his soul enjoy good in his LABOUR, This also I saw, that it was FROM THE HAND OF GOD.” Giant-killers have to go to work every day to practice walking in covenant with God.

2. David did NOT go up to the battle to find a giant, let alone to fight him in single combat. David was there because his FATHER SENT HIM to do a routine, mundane task.
  • Before you can be an effective giant-killer, you must have a FATHER to send you.  Every Christian needs a mentor.

3. The MOMENT that David spoke up for God, his BROTHER began to criticize and accuse him (verse 28).  Those who are jealous and afraid are still with us today.  But giant-killers cannot be stopped by the naysayers. “The friendship of the world is enmity with God.” (Jam. 4:4)

  • You will never live a victorious Christian life if you concern yourself with the opinions of those who are living in defeat.
  • Plug your ears, and walk with God.

4. Verse 45, David equated standing in his covenant to acting “in the name of the Lord”.  Jesus commissioned His church to act “in my name…” (Mark 16:15-20).

  • It is impossible to fulfill the Great Commission without a Giant-Killer Mentality!

5. In his  father’s house there were EIGHT sons (verse 12).  They ALL had the same rights and authority under the covenant, but 88% of them never did anything for God!

Continue reading “Giant Killers PART 2–Basic Training for Giant Killers”

Even An Angel Has to Ask

Luke 1:26  The angel Gabriel was dispatched from heaven to the home of the virgin Mary.

In church, this is called the Annunciation as if he came to “announce” her pregnancy.  But she wasn’t pregnant!  He didn’t come to make an announcement, as if it were an accomplished fact.

His mission was  finished only when MARY SAID, in verse 38, “be it unto me according to thy word.”  Certainly, he spoke in the language of heaven, with faith-filled words: “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee…,” “He shall be great…,” etc.  But he did not leave–he was not done–until he had Mary’s agreement and her permission for God to proceed.

For though he was Lord God of heaven and earth, and though the salvation of all mankind depended upon his plan, he waited for authorization.  God himself did not presume to use the reproductive organs of a young woman without her permission.

She was a minor, but he didn’t seek her father’s okay.  She was betrothed, but he didn’t check in with Joseph first.

The Creator of the universe had to humble himself before a young girl!

What a demonstration of the sovereign dignity of a woman’s person.

Giant Killers PART 1–Tips for Giant Killers

Rethinking the story of David & Goliath.  (1 Samuel 17)

 1. For 40 days the whole army of Israel was petrified by the giant.  In fact, the whole story was bad news for Israel–until David showed up.
    Verse 42, David came out looking like Carrot Top.  A scrawny, red-headed kid, he didn’t exactly dominate the scene with his physical presence.
    The Philistine was just the opposite.  A little simple research into the terms used to describe Goliath reveals that he was ten feet tall, held a 20-foot spear with a 19-pound iron tip, and his shirt weighed more than David’s whole body weight!  It was no contest.
    Then David SPOKE.  He did not mention the height or weight of his Gathite opponent.    He made no comment on his weapons or his armor.  (Nor did he deny or denigrate them.)  He only declared his own inevitable TRIUMPH.  He had faith like Abraham, who against hope believed in hope, and staggered not at the promises of God, being fully persuaded that He was able also to perform them (Rom. 4:18-21).
  •  First rule of giant-fighting: Always SPEAK VICTORY OVER YOUR GIANT.
2. David called Goliath an “uncircumcised” Philistine.  (Verse 26)
Circumcision was the TOKEN of the covenant between God and Israel (Gen. 17:11).    [Every blood covenant has a token.]  David was evidently making his stand based on the promises of that covenant.
    But everyone else in the army had the same covenant.  So why was David better able to champion Israel’s cause than anyone else?
    David KNEW he could whip the giant because he had killed the lion and the bear (verse 34).  He had PRACTICED taking risks against lesser foes.  He could ASSESS the level of his faith based on experience in seeing the faithfulness of God.  In the day of battle he was confident that his covenant would not fail.  He had first-hand knowledge that God is not a man that he should lie (Num. 23:19).
    God is no respecter of persons (Ac. 10:34, Gal. 2:6).  All God’s people have an equal inheritance in the blood covenant.  They just don’t ACT LIKE IT!
  • You cannot grow giant-killing faith by always PLAYING IT SAFE.
  • Stop trying to fit in with the rest of the church crowd who are paralyzed by anything out the ordinary.
  • You need to assess the level of your faith so that it cannot be neutralized by fear when you need it most.  This requires practice, and sometimes  disappointment.  (Disappointment is not defeat, if you keep trying.)
  • Begin to take a stand on the basis of God’s promises BEFORE it’s a matter  of life and death.  (If you fall down, get up again.)
  • Dare to believe God for something today. The walk of faith requires courage.

Remember: “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”(Rom. 14:23)

3. Verse 46.  David knew he was opening a can of worms. When you set out to kill a giant, there are a whole “host” of troubles nearby.

    According to verse 9. when you defeat the champion, they are all supposed to surrender.  But giants always lie! (John 8:44, 2 Co.2:11)

  • When you take a stand for God, don’t expect the devil to play fair!  Rejoice in today’s victory, but be prepared for more Philistines tomorrow.