Easter - 2018

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Another Simple Prayer Request ... "Strengthen Me."

Judges 16 is a chapter full of references to Samson’s strength or lack thereof. Of all the chapters on Samson, chapter 16 has the most (16:5,6,9,15,17,19,28). The term is used many times in the scriptures, but it is not always used with the word "me" following it.

In the context of Judges 16 we understand Samson’s request to be centered upon the return of his physical strength. It was here, at the end of his life that Samson finally fully understood and believed where his great strength originated. Samson was a man indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God who granted him power for the work of being a Judge of Israel. Yes, the strength left him when his hair was cut, and after his hair grew back, this is when he asks God for his strength back, but it was not necessarily the hair, it was the Holy Spirit of God at work in this man’s life. 

The hair and the other Nazarite vow signs were outward manifestations of God’s control in that person’s life. We have these today, Communion is an outward manifestation of what God is doing within our hearts. Baptism is another outward manifestation that represents our death to the old man and our resurrection into Jesus Christ. God wanted the person who was a Nazarite to be a living picture of God’s power and control among the people. In this final request, Samson is finally granted the vision of his vow and through his strength plans to show the sovereign power of our God.

Samson needed physical strength, but he really needed the spiritual strength that only the Lord can give. The same is true of our long obedience in the same direction. King David realizes the strength he needs from the Word of God. David in Psalm 119:28 declares where his strength comes from … he sings, “My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.”

Samson’s new vision understood from where his strength came … I wonder if we know from where our strength comes from?

You know I love ya, Don

Monday, July 28, 2014

A simple prayer request ... "Remember Me."

Some other references in the Word of God where people said the same thing: Samuel (1 Sam. 1:11) Nehemiah (Neh. 13:14,22,31); Jeremiah (Jer. 15:15); Jesus (Luke 23:42); and the Early Christians (Acts 4).

In each of these references the person is praying to God or speaking to Christ and wanting God to recall past things they have done or simply to look upon them and the request they are about to beseech Him for. Except for several times in the epistles of Paul, the words "Remember Me" are used in prayer. It is a natural human desire to be remembered by others and especially God. It is certainly amazing that this man who had forgotten God so often in his life would now come to God and ask God to remember Him. This is so like God’s people today who live in disobedience for years and then want God to remember them when a major test comes along. It is the
humble petitioner who feels like they need to appeal to God to remember them. When we feel distant from God, and are in fact spiritually distant from Him in our daily walk and talk. Our soul yearns to feel God again.

Samson had probably repented of all his wrong doings of the past by this time. He had had plenty of time to reflect upon his past transgressions in the grinder and came to understand that he was in his present plight because of his own doings.

A long obedience in the same direction praises the Lord we can still turn to Him and know that He is willing to hear and answer those who come in faith. God is always willing to remember us.

2 Chronicles 7:14 states, “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”  This passage is often applied to the nations, but it applies to our own hearts as well… Romans confirm that if we confess with out mouths and repent, God will grant a new vision and God will remember.

You know I love ya, Don

Friday, July 25, 2014

Hippies ... someone the Shepherd brought home.

Carl Ketcherside served with and was instrumental in a strict branch of the Restoration Movement. However, the Lord made a lot of changes in his life. In his later years he moved to St. Louis and ministered among the down and out. At this time, Ketcherside began to work with a group of teenagers he described as "a crew of ripped off long haired kids," with a history of drug addiction. He loved them, listened to them, and one by one baptized them into Christ.

An affluent member of the church asked, "How are you making out with the hippies--those long haired, sad looking specimens you have been meeting with?"

Carl responded, "Those are not specimens, they are children of God. You are talking about my brethren in the Lord."

Condescendingly the other man continued, "They look to me like something the cat dragged in."

And Carl replied, "They look to me like someone the shepherd brought home."

At one time in your life … you were the one that cat dragged home and Jesus stepped in and reached out to you and brought a change and a brighter future. You look someone the shepherd brought home…

Ephesians 2:10 states it this way, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” The question becomes … what are you doing for God? If I were a non-believer looking at your life, would I want to know Jesus because of you? Because of how you live your life and how the hope found in Christ brings a brighter future?

God has made it very clear that He uses ordinary people on a ordinary journey to make EXTRAORDINARY changes in the world around them. You and I have a mandate, a message, a calling that is very clearly laid out and it is for every believer that truly believes. Jesus said … “Go, make disciples and preach and teach and Baptize and LIVE the truth that He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Are you? Are you listening? …are you seeking? Are you doing? These things are not for a special person over there…they are for the special person living inside of you.

You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The LONG process of refining and making maple syrup.

Seeking God is an effort of sacrifice and discovery. You probably have heard many sermons on Gideon’s fleece and how he tested God… but the reality the story is about how God was forming Gideon on his journey through seeking.  The pushing over of his father’s idols and the fleece without dew and fleece with dew was God working within the person of Gideon. God is refining his confidence and clarifying the future of having faith while living that faith… isn’t it true of you and me as well. God is working and building within us a new person that emerges from the depths of our heart.

God reveals himself according to our experience and in our experience God reveals himself to the world through you! Now Listen… that is a profound reality on our journey in the same direction of obedience. God is revealing himself in our experience and in our experience God reveals himself to world. Are you seeking God?

God is changing Gideon through his experiences… because if we read on in the text, Judges 7 reveals that Gideon puts together a great army and God rejects the army, and through a series of reductions, God reduces the army to 300 soldiers. Why? So that the world would know that ONLY GOD Could do this…only God could make this happen. God is working and reducing and refining and developing and revealing himself in the world in which you live.

Dr. David Osborn at Denver Seminary says, "Too often we try to use God to change our circumstances, while He is using our circumstances to change us." (Compass, April 2003) You see, God is right now in the process of making us like Christ.

Think of the process of refining maple syrup. Maple trees are tapped with buckets hung under the taps, and out drips a sap, which is thin and clear, like water. On a good day, 50 trees will yield 30-40 gallons of sap, but it is essentially useless at this point with only a hint of sweetness.

Then as the buckets fill, they are emptied into large bins that sit over an open fire. The sap comes to a slow boil; and as it boils, its water content is reduced and its sugars are concentrated. Hours later, it has developed a rich flavor and golden-brown color, but it must be strained several times to remove impurities before being reheated, bottled, and graded for quality. In the end, those 30-40 gallons of sap are reduced to one gallon of pure, delicious maple syrup, which is far better than the cheap, imitation, colored sugar-water that passes for maple syrup in the grocery store.

So it is when we come to faith in Christ. We start like raw, unfinished sap, which could have been tossed aside as worthless. But God knew what he could make of us. He sought and found us, and his skillful hands are transforming us into something precious, sweet and useful. The long and often painful refining process brings forth a pure, genuine disciple easily distinguished from cheap imitations.

Are you seeking ?  Jesus said in Luke 11:9-10, “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Don’t expect to open the Kingdom of God unless you are seeking the Kingdom of God.

We are on this journey together ... you know I love ya, Don

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Traffic Ticket Gone Wrong.

John went to the store the other day. He was only in there for about five minutes, and when he came out there was a motorcycle cop writing a parking ticket. So John went up to him and said, 'Come on buddy, how about giving a guy a break?'

The Police Officer ignored John and continued writing the ticket. So John called him a jerk. He glared at him and started writing another ticket for having bald tires!  Then John really got angry with the cop and started calling him some even more unfriendly names. The cop finished the second ticket and put it on the car with the first. Then he started writing a third ticket!

This went on for about 20 minutes. The more John abused him, the more tickets he wrote. When the cop finally ran out of tickets, he silently mounted his bike and drove on down the road. John just stood there looking at the multitude of tickets shaking his head. He then proceeded to take his keys out of his pocket and walk to his car that was parked around the corner

The message was a good one, “give a guy a break.” The delivery however was the problem. The police officer never took the time to ask, “Is this your car?”

The question is; “What does God seek from His followers?” What is God’s call of us on our long obedience in the same direction?

“Mighty warrior” is what the angel calls Gideon...And here is Gideon’s response …. Judges 6:15 "But Lord, "Gideon asked, "how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family."

Wow, now that sounds like a special guy now doesn’t it? Gideon has an impressive resume’ … I am a no body… He’s got the weakest clan, and he is the lowest out of all of them. Basically Gideon says, “God I am the lowest of the low. Why would you pick me, I am just an ordinary guy living out my days waiting for someone else to make life better.”

A long obedience in the same direction recognizes that God has called every believer to a purpose. Gideon reveals that God is speaking and that through the transformational power of the Holy Spirit every believer is a mighty warrior. 

What question is in front of you today? Answer it and allow God to move through you, another one of His Mighty Warriors. You know I love ya, Don

Monday, July 14, 2014

Happy Summer!

Summer always reminds us of our dedication to God, family, and country. The season is kicked off with Memorial Day. The middle of summer is sparked with the Fourth of July holiday. The summer season ends with Labor/Patriot Day. Sprinkled throughout are reminders of devotion and loyalty. The daily devotional offered a terrific reminder of what it is to be truly devoted to God and His body of believers on June 24th: “A believer is devoted to God in love.”
Paul writes, “Whatever we do, it is certainly not for our own profit, but because Christ’s love controls (compels) us now.” God is looking for volunteers, not conscripts. Law motivates conscripts while volunteers are motivated by love. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, enlistment centers all over America were jammed with boys too young to fight, men who had retired, and even the blind. One elderly man said to a recruitment officer, “I’d consider it my greatest privilege to die defending this country.”
Why do men and women do this? Duty? Yes, but something even greater emerges – devotion! Their hearts have been captured by a cause. Facing the loss of his freedom, his family, his ministry, and possibly his life, Martin Luther told the ecclesiastical powers of his day, “I will not recant. My conscience is captive to the Word of God!”
No one should ever have to beg and pressure you to teach a Sunday School class, work with young people, give to the cause of Christ, visit the sick, lonely and needy, or serve others. You should be begging for the opportunity. Paul said, “What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ … for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.” (Philippians 3:7-8).
The long obedience in the same direction is a commitment to Jesus. Commitment to Christ is like signing your name on a blank check and saying, “Lord, You fill in the amount.” You’re not doing God a favor by serving Him; He’s honoring you by allowing you to serve and respond to Him. Our response to Jesus truly defines our long obedience in the same direction.
As believers, we are on a long obedience in the same direction. Please know that Karen and I pray for you everyday. I also want to wish you the happiest of summers. I encourage you to intentionally make memories that will last through eternity by loving on each other.

You know I love ya, Don

Monday, July 7, 2014

Whose Hand are you holding?

Little girl and her father were crossing a bridge over a river. The father was kind of scared so he asked his little daughter, 'Sweetheart, please hold my hand so that you don't fall into the river.'

The little girl said, 'No, Dad. You hold my hand.'

'What's the difference?' Asked the puzzled father.

'There's a big difference,' replied the little girl.

'If I hold your hand and something happens to me, chances are that I may let your hand go.
But if you hold my hand, I know for sure that no matter what happens, you will never let my hand go.'

Trusting in God is not me holding God’s hand but God holding my hand. He is not capable of letting go. In any relationship, the essence of trust is not in its bind, but in its bond. 

You know I love ya, Don