Monday, April 30, 2012

May 1, 2012

"Then the LORD said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon.  Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.’ And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD.” So the Israelites did this. When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds about them and said, “What have we done? We have let the Israelites go and have lost their services!” So he had his chariot made ready and took his army with him. He took six hundred of the best chariots, along with all the other chariots of Egypt, with officers over all of them. The LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, so that he pursued the Israelites, who were marching out boldly. The Egyptians—all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, horsemen and troops—pursued the Israelites and overtook them as they camped by the sea near Pi Hahiroth, opposite Baal Zephon. As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD. They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”  Exodus 14:1-14

Moses and the Red Sea is one of the great epochs of the Bible.

For someone of my generation it is hard to think of this story without having a mental image of Charlton Heston from the Cecil B. De Mille classic movie "The Ten Commandments". Some of you are envisioning that right now!

As dramatic and spectacular as that scene was in the movie, I've got to believe that the actual event was far more awesome! Scholars I read have determined the Red Sea was ten miles wide where the Israelites crossed and that area today is 3,000 to 5,000 feet deep. They also estimate that for 2.2 million people to cross at that place in the time span indicated by the Bible the sea would have opened nearly a half mile wide. That's a lot of water to split!

This Sunday we will be looking  at the expectation of God to lead us out of trouble that He led us into! We will trace that study via this blog over the next three or four days.

They Had A Dilemma

They Had A Decision

They Had A Deliverance

Even though this event happened 3,500 years ago it is relevant to you today because you still find yourself in dilemmas. They were in an extremely vulnerable place between the charging Egyptian army and the expansive Red Sea. Pharaoh had chosen 600 of his finest and fiercest charioteers and they were not in a good mood. This was a tough spot!

So, how did the people of God respond? Panic! They responded like many Christians do today, they rebelled against their leader and began longing for the old days! It is hard to move forward when you are looking back!

The people of God had a dilemma and you may find yourself in a dilemma today as you read this. You find yourself feeling very vulnerable and very trapped. And, as painful as your past has been you are considering going back! That is the reaction of someone in panic mode.

No one likes feeling vulnerable. Vulnerable feels weak and powerless. There is a good reason for that - you are! Just like the Israelites at the Red Sea when you and I feel trapped in a vulnerable place and threatened on every side we tend to ask the wrong question, "How do I get out of this?"

You have asked it. I have asked it. They were asking it. Moses was probably wondering it.

The right question is this, "How did I get into it?" And, the follow up question is, "What can I get out of it?"

How did they get into it?

God led them there! They followed the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. When the pillar moved, they moved. When the pillar stopped, they stopped! And following the pillar led them to where they were!

That is why this question is so important! Asking, "How did I get into this?" helps you recall if God led you to this place. And if you know He did, then that answers the other question because you know that if He led you in, He will bring you out!

What you will get out of it is eventual deliverance and a deeper trust in God!

Feeling vulnerable and trapped? Finding yourself in a tough spot? Ask the right questions and the answers will become more clear!

(EDITORS NOTE: I didn't complete this devotional last night as I usually do and mistakenly published my outline. Apologies to you early risers who logged on and found it unfinished.)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

April 30, 2012

"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." Hebrews 11:6

This is a great verse, isn't it? Most consider it the key verse of the great 11th Chapter of Hebrews. In one concise sentence it captures the essense of faith that pleases God. For that reason it is worthy of our consideration.

So, what IS this faith pleases God?

Faith is coming to God - "because anyone who comes to him"

Everyone is drawn to something - or someone. What you are drawn to reveals alot about you and, it will have a profound impact on you.

If you are drawn to money you may be greedy or ambitious.

If you are drawn to cars, boats, or houses you may be materialistic.

If you are drawn to God it is evidence that you have a measure of faith active within you.

Faith pleases God when it draws you toward Him!

Faith is believing God exists - "must believe that he exists"

Why would you come to someone Who does not exist? Why would you be drawn to an non-existant person?

Faith is seeing the invisible and touching the intangible. Faith is knowing that which cannot be completely known.

Faith is overcoming the natural tendency to disbelieve what we cannot tangibly verify or prove. So, believing God exists shows that we have moved beyond the natural to the spiritual. Faith comes from hearing the truth about God's nature and existance from the Word of God and believing what it says. That pleases God!

Faith seeks God earnestly - "that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."

One evidence that God is real is that the more you seek Him the more you want to seek Him. That is because He rewards your earnest seeking with His presence and His goodness and His comfort and His joy and His love!

Earnest seeking means that you pursue Him not for what He can give you nor what you can get from Him. You seek Him earnestly to get more of Him! You let nothing stop you from your spiritual pursuit of God.

Who are you trying to please?

If you want to please God it will take faith.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

April 29, 2012

"The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:17-20

There are two things you can expect from God in this text. One we discussed yesterday and it is - You Can Expect God To Give You Joy As You Celebrate Your Salvation. 
The second expectation is - You Can Expect Joy From God As You Share Your Salvation.

TRUTH: Joy comes from being used by God to share His joy with others.

Another way you will know you have joy in the Lord is that you will want to share it!
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you.” Psalm 51:12-13
When the 72 went out in Jesus’ Name to share the good news of the Gospel of the Kingdom, they saw the power of God heal and deliver and change lives and their joy increased! Not only because they had joy BUT BECAUSE THEY SAW OTHER PEOPLE GET IT!
I don’t know of anything that gives me more joy than knowing that I have been used by God to bring comfort, or encouragement of joy to someone else!
Sharing the joy of your salvation is the SWEET SPOT of enjoying your salvation!
When you go out to share you joy with others:
·         You Find A Sweet PRESENCE!
·         You Find A Sweet POWER!
·         You Find A Sweet PEACE!
·         You Find A Sweet PASSION!
·         You Go With A Sweet PROMISE!
·         You Find A Sweet PRODUCTIVITY!
Someone once said that the way to joy is:                      Jesus   Others   You


These disciples returned to Jesus in great joy after they had shared the news about the Kingdom of God!
Luke 15:7 – “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”
Are You Celebrating Your Salvation?
Psalms 47:1 “Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!”
Are You Showing Your Salvation?
Philippians 4:4 - “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!”
Are You Sharing It?
Acts 2:42-47 – “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
Vance Havener said, “There is something wrong with our Christianity when we have to beg most of our crowd to come to church to hear about it.”
Have you forgotten the joy of your salvation?”


April 28, 2012

"The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.  However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”  Luke 10:17-20

What can you expect from God?

In the first two weeks we have learned some solid truths about healthy expectations of God.

Week one there were three truths from the encounter between David and Goliath. First, you can expect that if God allows a giant to appear before you it is to prove that His power is greater than the giant. Second, you can expect if God places a giant before you so He can raise up the giant within you. Third, you can expect that when God raises up the giant within you it is so you can raise up giants around you!
Last week we learned that we should expect God to help us get through our personal Jordan.

Sunday we will learn the third expectation - you can expect God to give you joy.

Do you have joy in your faith?

Do you live in spiritual joy?

I believe God desires for you to have joy. The disciples discovered joy in this text and gave Jesus great joy.

There are two sources of joy that I want to call your attention to in this encounter.

Expect Joy From God As You Celebrate Your Salvation - "However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” 

The ultimate and ongoing source of spiritual joy must be found in your salvation.

If you cannot comprehend and celebrate the significance of your salvation in Christ, you will never be able to experience true joy.

These disciples were sent out by Jesus on a spiritual mission trip. As they went from town to town in His authority they saw demons cast out and diseases healed. Imagine how must joy they must have experienced and how much joy they must have given others! After completing a successful mission they returned to Jesus greatly hyped by what they had seen and done.

Jesus' response to them was significant. You need to hear it and understand it.

He told them not to get too impressed with the signs and wonders but to be very impressed by their salvation. Joy arises as you begin to grasp the greatness of your salvation wrought by Christ and bought by His blood.

Salvation brings forgiveness of your sins! What joy that brings!

Salvation redeemed you! That means His blood paid the price to buy you back out of the debts of your sins. That brings joy!

Salvation adopted you into God's family as His child and joint-heir with Christ. What a joyful realization!

Salvation regenerates you! That means His Spirit brings life to your spirit which was dead in its sins. What a joyous truth!

Salvation brings you into a personal relationship with God through Christ. You can walk with God and talk to God and hear His voice and feel His presence once you have been saved! The joy of the Lord becomes your joy!

Salvation connects you with eternal life! When you come into relationship with God through Christ, His life flows into the eternal part of you and your name is written into the heavenly Book of Life! Knowing you have received eternal life brings real joy!

The truth could not be more clear or simple to understand. If you want deep constant and abiding joy - spend your time meditating on and celebrating the great joys inherent in your salvation! If you cannot be joyful over your salvation nothing will ever give you joy.

Friday, April 27, 2012

April 27, 2012

"After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."  Luke 10:1-2

Good news!

There is a harvest to be had! It is out there! It is ripe! It is ready!

What does it take to have a harvest?

First, there must be good soil. Wherever there is good soil that has been prepared there is the possibility for a harvest!

Second, there must be seed sown. Everytime good seed is sown onto good soil there can be a harvest!

Third, there must be sunlight shined on the seed and the soil. Or, in this instance, SONlight must shine on it! Anywhere that the light of the Son shines on the good soil and the sown seed there is the possibility of a harvest!

Finally, there must be servants to bring in the harvest! Someone must go out and reap the harvest for the Kingdom. The ripe and ready grain does not bring itself into the storehouse. It waits for the laborer to bring it in!

This is great news for the discouraged congregation that hasn't been growing. There is a harvest to be had!

For the pastor who is about to give up because his church is plateaued. There is a harvest to be had!

The only thing needed to bring in the harvest is laborers! Jesus gives the plan for the harvest - GO! Yes, you! And the second thing is while you are heading into the harvest - PRAY! Ask God to raise up more laborers!

Will you go! Will you sow seed as you go? Will you shine the light of God's love as you go? Will you bring in the harvest that God has prepared?

There IS a harvest to be had!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

April 26, 2012

"The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”

"At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do."  Luke 10:17; 21

You would think Christians should have the market cornered on joy wouldn't you?

How could you be in possession of what Christians say they have and NOT have joy?

Do you have joy? Are you experiencing joy at the moment?

We see joy expressed in these verses above. First, the disciples came back from their short-term mission trip filled with joy!

Also, we see a joyful Jesus in the other verse.

What was the source of their joy? I have some ideas but before I share those let's define some terms to assure we have the same understanding.

How do I define joy?

Joy is when I connect with God through Christ, in the way I was created to be connected with Him. Joy is oneness with Him!

How do you get joy?

When you reconnect with God by repenting of all sin that has caused you to become disconnected from Him you receive joy. Connecting with God through faith allows His Spirit to fill up the empty spot in your spirit. Joy comes from the Holy Spirit so if you do not have the Spirit you can't have joy.

How do you keep joy?

Obviously, you remain connected with God and live in obedience to His Holy Spirit! Joy is the product of a personal relationship with God. Disobedience is sin and sin breaks relationship with God, robbing your joy. Joy is the product of proper daily decisions and continual devotion to God.

Do you know joy?

Are you living in joy?

Have you lost your joy?

Why would you be content to live without joy?

What is keeping you from having your joy restored?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

April 25, 2012

"After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road. “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.  “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.’"  Luke 10:1-9

For the 40 years I have been privileged to serve in pastoral ministry I have read many books and attended many seminars and been exposed to many different plans or strategies of discipleship. Discipleship IS the deal for those of us who claim the Name of Jesus. But it was never meant to be a program or a strategy, it is intended to be a lifestyle. It is what He expects us to do!

In this encounter between Jesus and His disciples He demonstrates the model for making disciples. I invite you to pay close attention to how Jesus changed these followers into disciples.

First, Jesus did ministry and they watched. He preached the gospel and declared the Kingdom, healing the sick, delivering the captives, casting out demons, and doing miracles. While they were impressed and amazed, it often seemed like they really didn't grasp the significance of Who He is and what He came to do. But He ministered in power and authority and they watcher.

Second, Jesus did ministry and they helped. When He fed the five thousand He had them find the loaves and fishes. Then He had them help organize the crowd and hand out the food. Finally, He asked them to gather up the leftovers. He did ministry and they helped.

Third, Jesus sent them to do ministry and He watched. They discovered that when they went in His Name declaring His Kingdom healing happened and deliverance happened and salvations happened! Not only did they change lives but their lives were changed in the process!

Fourth, Jesus celebrated with them when they returned from their mission trip with stories galore! When His Kingdom came the kingdom of darkness fell!

Finally, as Jesus prepared to ascend into Heaven following His death and resurrection, He commanded these disciples whom He had disciples to go and make more disciples. In other words, they were to do ministry while others watched. Then they were to to ministry together. After that they were to let the others minister while they watched and then all of them would celebrate together!

Disciples disciple! It is what they do! It is how they live. It is why they live!

Who are you discipling? Who is discipling you? Are you spending your life or investing it?

April 24, 2012

 "After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road. “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town."  Luke 10:1-12

During this season of the church schedule we are tackling the topic of "What can I expect from God?" One of the foundational truths of the study is, "Your expectations of God arise from your experience with God." The second truth that is a corollary of the first is, "Your experience with God comes out of your encounters with God."

Those truths are illustrated in this encounter that Jesus had with His disciples - all 70 of them! Wanting to expand their expectation of Him, Jesus sent them out to get some experience encountering people in His Name and His authority.

Over the next few days we will see how that worked out for them. And we will analyse why that is and what it means for you.

I think one of the indicators that your spiritual experience with God is weak is when your "expector expires". In otherwords, you stop expecting big things from God and start noticing big problems around you. You allow your problems to get between you and God. You allow your problems to outgrow your faith. A telltale sign is when you find fear rising up where faith used to be.

What do you do when your "expector expires"? What happens when your experience with Him grows old and cold?

You come to Christ, like these followers did, and seek a fresh encounter with Him. You get a fresh look at Him. You get a fresh listen to Him. You let Him restore His love in you. And you lay down your complaints and pick up His cross. You stop stewing and start serving. You forget your problems and go serve other's needs.

A fresh encounter with Christ gives you new experiences with Him and raises your expectations of Him!

Could you be ready for a fresh encounter?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

April 23, 2012

"The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters. " Psalm 24:1-2

Happy 47th Anniversary!

How did you celebrate?

Celebrate what?

You must be kidding! Yesterday was EARTH DAY!

Earth Day is a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's environment held on April 22. It was founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-Wisconsin) as an environmental teach-in in 1970 and is celebrated in many countries every year. The first Earth Day was in 1970. Earth Day is in spring in the Northern Hemisphere and autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. The United Nations celebrates Earth Day each year on the spring equinox, which is often 20 March. This is a tradition which was founded by peace activist John McConnell in 1969. The United Nations first celebrated Earth Day on the spring equinox in 1971. This was also the first time ever that the United Nations celebrated Earth Day. The first Earth Day on the spring equinox was also in 1970.

So, Earth Day is a celebration of the earth and it's environment, right?

Then, it would seem logical to honor God, the Creator of the earth on Earth Day! Who better to focus on than Him? Right?


Why? Because Earth Day is the creation of godless people with an anti-God, anti-capitalistic agenda. Granted, not everyone involved with Earth Day or who may celebrate it are like these people. But a thorough study of the origins, purpose, guiding prinicples and implementation of Earth Day will reveal that there is a definite social and political agenda that drives the movement. If you don't believe me, do the research yourself. These are the people pushing the global warming theories that have been largely discredited. How about getting the 48 hour weather forecasts more accurate before predicting entire climate changes in coming decades?

In my lifetime, there has been dire warnings of global cooling. Then there was panic about global warming. Neither of those have happened. Now they have morphed it into "global climate change". How much credibility do you want to give to a movement that has changed its fundamental premise three times in less than half a century?

Twenty years ago a wise friend of mine told me that the environmentalist movement was the new home of the communist/socialist types. I thought he was a little paranoid or conspiratorial and laughed him off. But time has given credence to his point of view. Again, some study and observation will make it clear to you who the movers and promoters of this movement are.
Pastor Brad, are you saying there is no climate change?
I am not prepared to say that climate changes don't happen, but I am saying that we have only been keeping climate records for a little more than a century. How can you make accurate assumptions or predictions based on limited data over a 100 year span of the ancient planet? And, if it is proven that there is climate change how can we prove that it is man caused?
This all sounds very speculative and quite pessimistic. It sounds like something people with no Godly faith or hope might worry about. It also sounds like a scare tactic that could be used by people who are trying to gain control over your behavior and your emotions.
To me it sounds a whole lot easier and more encouraging to just believe that there is a Creator and that He is intimately involved in our world today. He made it, He sustains it, and He will protect it until He makes a new heaven and a new earth. If you REALLY want to celebrate Earth Day, celebrate God - the Creator of Earth because "the earth is His and everything that is in it...."

Don't buy into the hoax! Buy into HIM!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

April 22, 2012

"Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." James 5:16

Why are my sins important to anyone else - unless I happen to sin against them? James seems to indicate that my sins could be a problem to you and and yours to me because the church is a body - The Body of Christ!

I guess the first question to ask is, "What is the Church?"

As I mentioned, the church is the Body of Christ, but the name for the Church in Scripture is "eklessia". It literally means "called out". The Church is the Body of the "called out ones".

Called out from what? Called out to what?

Good questions!
Being the Body of Christ you can easily reason that the Church would be called out from sin. Don't you think that is reasonable? So, if you are called out from sin and you continue to sin how does that impact the Body? If I continue to sin or if I sin against you, doesn't that impact the Body?

Being the Body of Christ you can also logically assume that we are called out to God. I mean, who is it that would call us out of the world other than God? So, if the Church is called out from sin and to God, how do you think sin affects that?

Being the Body of Christ we are called together. You are called out and I am called out and together we are the Church. So, if we are called out together how does sin impact that relationship? If I sin against you doesn't that create some stress or tension in our relationship? Of course. And vice versa.

Think about what sin does. Sin separates us from God. How can that be good for the Church that is called out by God for God?

Sin also complicates. Once Adam and Eve sinned their lives got immediately complicated. Sin harms relationships, impairs judgment, stirs up guilt and alienates us from God. How does complicating life enhance the Church? It doesn't!

Just those two problems caused by sin are damaging enough to the Church to make the case that sin needs to be dealt with within the Church if the Church is to fulfill its mission as the Body of Christ called out of the world.

James prescribes drastic action to deal with sin. Confess them to each other and prayer for each other. When you know what my sins are and I know what your sins are then I can pray specifically for God to strengthen you. I can also do something else significant, I can hold you accountable. You can hold me accountable. We will each know how seriously the other is dealing with our sins. Transparency and accountability are effective weapons against sin in the church. If I am intentionally standing against my sin and you are standing with me against my sin, doesn't it make sense that I will be stronger in resisting sin?

Sin prospers in the darkness but whithers in the sunlight (Sonlight) of truth. James says expose it to the light of truth and shine the searchlight of accountability on it and you will be healed! When you are healed and I am healed guess what happens to the Church? Health!

So, why wouldn't you want to do that? There is a direct connection between holiness and church health! The holier a church becomes the healthier it grows. What church wouldn't  want that?

Friday, April 20, 2012

April 21, 2012

 "He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel:"  Psalm 103:7

Moses was one of the greatest men of God ever to walk the planet. That comes as no surprise to anyone who has ever read the Bible even casually.

If you want to know what to expect from God there is no better case study that Moses. He knew what to expect from God because of how well he knew God!

One of the great themes of this series on what to expect from God is this "your expectations of God will arise from your experience with God." 

I don' think that point is even debatable.

But it does raise the question, "How did Moses experience God?"

His experience with God began from an encounter with God through a burning bush.

Burning bushes were not uncommon in the searing desert heat, but this bush burned - and burned - and burned - and burned - and never was consumed. That caught Moses' attention and when he drew near to investigate it God spoke to him from that bush and placed a call on Moses' life.

From the moment Moses reluctantly accepted God's call he entered into a personal spiritual experience that changed his life and caused his life to change the world!

So, Moses became a mighty man of God because of an initimate personal faith experience with the Living God. That experience began with a personal encounter with God. And out of that personal spiritual experience with God arose his history changing expectations of God in delivering His people and developing them into a nation.

Our 2012 world is in desperate need of godly men and women who know exactly what to expect from a Holy, Loving and Mighty God! But that won't happen without modern day believers who are experiencing God in a powerful personal spiritual relationship. Like Moses, they need to know God's ways and not just His deeds.

But, that level of spiritual experience won't happen without some personal transforming encounters with God! That is the pressing need of our day!

Have you had a life-changing encounter with the Living God through Jesus Christ?

Have you followed that encounter with a personal daily spiritual experience with God through Christ? Are you experiencing His Word daily? Are you aware of His presence daily? Are you walking in obedience daily? Are you hearing His voice through prayer and study of the Word? Is there spiritual fruit produced in your life on a daily basis?

If you cannot honestly answer these questions in the affirmative, are you willing to seek a fresh encounter with God?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

April 20, 2012

"When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran. Then the men of Israel and Judah surged forward with a shout and pursued the Philistines to the entrance of Gath and to the gates of Ekron. Their dead were strewn along the Shaaraim road to Gath and Ekron. When the Israelites returned from chasing the Philistines, they plundered their camp."   I Samuel 17:52-53

You learn a lot about yourself and others when confronted by a giant. The great Biblical account of David and Goliath illustrates that.

Of the many lessons to be learned from studying this engaging encounter are the ones we focused on this week about what to expect from God.

In the last two posts we learned that David expected God to demonstrate His giant power when he confronted Goliath. I think you, too, can expect that when you are confronted by a giant circumstance of life that God will bring His power to bare against it.

We also learned to expect that if God allows a giant to confront you He will use it to raise up the giant within you!

For this morning, I want to share the third expectation David had when he faced Goliath and one that you can have as well. You can expect that when God raises up the giant within you He will use that to raise up giants around you!

After David slew the giant with one shot from his sling, the indimidated Israeli army rose up after Goliath went down. The courage and bravery of David infused courage into every disheartened soldier. Across the battlefield fear and panic fell upon the Philistines and they were soundly routed by the Army of God.

David not only killed a giant but he raised up giant-killers! You can expect God to do the same through you if you will stand against your giants in His strength. But that wasn't the end of it! In II Samuel 23 there is a list of 37 mighty men - giant-killers encouraged and inspired by the faith of their King who slew Goliath!

Once again I remind you from this story of David and Goliath that your expectations of God will come out of your experience with God. David had big expectations because he was familiar with a BIG GOD! His God had empowered him to kill a lion and a bear, so he expected God to help him against the giant!

David was one of the greatest kings to ever lead Israel - maybe one of the greatest kings of all time - because he expected God to demonstrate gigantic power through him and he expected God to raise up the giant within him and he expected God to use him to raise up mighty men to defeat the giants who stood opposed to God's people!

What do you expect from God? How do you expect Him to use you? What giants need to fall? Are you raising up any giants? How is your personal experience with Him? Are you winning your private battles?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

April 19, 2012

"David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.” But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The LORD who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you.”  I Samuel 17:32-37

When confronted with a giant you can expect your gigantic God to demonstrate His power to deliver you!

David did and He did! Goliath didn't.

But that is not where the expectations ceased. David expected more from God. He expected that had God confronted him with a giant to raise up the giant that was within him.

As I said in my last post, our expectations of God arise from our experience with Him. So, the greater our experiences with Him the bigger our expectations of Him! That certainly was true of David. Is it true of you?

Once as David was tending his father's sheep a lion attacked the flock and carried off a sheep. Boldly, in the power of God, David pursued the lion, grabbed it by it's mane and killed it! Little shepherd boys don't kill lions. It just doesn't happen - but it did! When the lion confronted him it raised up an inner strength he didn't realize he had!

On another occasion his flock was attacked by a bear. Emboldened by his experience with the lion, David did not hesitate to confront the bear, reclaim the sheep, and slew the bear with his "bare" hands! His experience with the lion raised his expectation against the bear and God did as David expected. Shepherds 1 - Bears 0!

Just as David mentioned to King Saul, what God had raised up in him through the lion and the bear, God would also raise up against the Philistine, Goliath! It was his expectation based upon his experiences!

Here is a lesson for you. Just as God promised in I Corinthians 10:13, "He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able". In otherwords, you can expect that God will not allow you to be confronted by a giant until He has helped you slay a lion and/or a bear. You can expect that He will help you experience some smaller victories before he allows the giant to show up.

So, if you are staring at a giant, you can expect His giant-killing power to rise up within you! You will stand, the giant will fall and He will be glorified!

Experience Him and expect it!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

April 18, 2012

"David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”  I Samuel 17:45-47

What should I expect of God? I can show you what David expected. He expected that God put a giant in front of him so he could demonstrate that He is a giant God!

The old saying. "The bigger they are the harder they fall" certainly applies to God. Some powerful enemies have opposed Him and He stands undefeated. According to what I read in the back of the Book, He will remain undefeated for ever!

How did it happen that David looked at Goliath and said, "He is too big to miss, when all the other soldiers were thinking 'he is too big to fight'!"

That is THE big question, isn't it?

Here are a couple of obvious answers from reading this story.

First, David spent his time focusing on God while Saul and his soldiers had been focused on Goliath. It matters where you fix your focus!

David, as a shepherd, spent his days watching sunrises and sunsets and full moons and constellations of stars. His constant focus was on the beauty and grandeur of God! The more you gaze at God, the better He looks!

As for the Army of Israel, they had been subjected to the sights and sounds of a seriously large and loud Philistine warrior. Seeing this imposing enemy while listening daily to his taunts and curses had taken a toll on their faith and taken their focus off God.

Is there a giant hovering over your life? Has it taken a toll on your faith? Have you found yourself more focused on that giant than on God?

Second, David's expectations of God came out of his personal experience with God. All the time he had spent with God in the remote areas where he tended sheep had allowed him to get to know God well. When he was lonely and called upon God, God came. When he was frightened and called upon God, strength and courage came. When a lion attacked his flock, God's power came and enabled him to slay the lion. And when a bear came after his sheep, he was given a godly strength to kill the bear.

Because David had learned to trust God in his private battles, he found it easy to trust God in this public confrontation.

You expectations of God will reveal a lot about your experience with Him. If you are losing in your personal spiritual battles you will have difficulty racheting up your expectations against your giant.

Where do you need to trust Him in your personal battles? Where is the focus of your life?

Giants can fall in your life if God stands tall in your life. David proved it! Will you?

Monday, April 16, 2012

April 17, 2012

"Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. He looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him. He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!”  I Samuel 17:41-44

Sunday I began my new sermon series entitled "HIMpossibility" and subtitled "What Can I Expect From God"?

This whole idea of shaping realistic expectations toward God is a tough one when we have a God Who can do anything, at any time and in any way He chooses but sometimes chooses not to.

So, the way I decided to approach this important subject is to study some of the great heroes of the Bible who saw God do mighty works in their behalf and see what they expected from God.

Let's begin with David versus Goliath and learn what we can.

From my reading, studying and meditation over this story I have identified three expectations David had of his God when he confronted the giant.

David expected that when God confronted him with a giant it was because He wanted to demonstrate His power over giants.

Second, David expected God to use the giant in front of him to raise up the giant in him.

Third, we learn that God uses the giant to raise up the giant is us so we can raise up giants around us.

If you are facing a giant this morning I hope this will bring you some hope and comfort when you realize how you can expect God to use that giant in your life.

No matter whether that giant is a health issue or a financial issue or a relationship issue or an employment issue - regardless of what form the giant has taken, God will use that giant to accomplish one or more of these holy purposes in your life. That should come as a giant relief for you

Over each of these next three days I will probe deeper into each of these great expectations you can have toward your God! But, for now, thank God that on the other side of your giant and the momentary stress or pain he is causing you will be some giant joy and spiritual growth!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

April 16, 2012

“Don’t worry about this Philistine,” David told Saul. “I’ll go fight him!” I Samuel 17:32

Three frogs are sitting on a lily pad. Two of them are thinking about jumping off the pad and into the pond. How many are left?

You are right! Three! Because thinking about jumping is different from jumping! They didn't jump!

Is it harder to fight a giant or to fear a giant?

For forty days or so the soldiers of the army of God had sit and listened to the taunts and rants of this Goliath guy. And every day they heard it and did nothing in response, the harder it became. The longer they stared at him and failed to act, the larger he looked.

There might be a lesson for us! Giants must be faced. The sooner you face your giant the better it will be.
Avoidance is not godly. Problems do not go away because we pretend they don't exist, they only get bigger and badder!

Procrastination doesn't kill giants. Actually, it doesn't kill midgets either!

I remember being bullied on a daily basis by Jim Leslie. Day after day he would pass me in the hallway at school an punch me when I walked by. He would come up behind me and knock the books out from under my arm or talk smack or hit me. I was about 5'6'' and he was about 6'2''. But one day I finally reached the limit of my tolerance and when he hassled me I spun around and punched him in the gut. As I was turning with my hand balled up into a fist I was fully convinced that I would get killed for doing this but I just couldn't take it any longer - if I died I died!

Much to my surprise - and apparently to his as well - he didn't strike back. Instead, he backed away, made a few parting insults and walked away. He never bothered me again! I took a stand and it paid off.

Problems don't solve themselves. Threats don't diminish over time. Giants don't get any smaller. Confrontation never gets easier. So time solves little when you are being threatened or opposed.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

April 15, 2012

It was 100 years ago that the unexpected happened.

In the frigid waters of the North Atlantic the "unsinkable" luxury line "Titantic" hit an iceberg and gashed a huge hole in its hull. At 2:20 am on April 15, 1912, it slipped below the surface of the ocean with 1517 souls still aboard.

So unexpected was it that when the news hit the newspapers it was met with stunned disbelief. It seems most had bought into the hype of the "unsinkable" Titanic.

Should they have had such loft expectations of a ship on its maiden voyage? Wouldn't their hopes have been more realistic had the crew and the captain have had the experience of several previous voyages?

History shows the fallacy of expecting something based on speculations and calculations and projections rather than experience. And it certainly calls into question the decision to allow fewer lifeboats than usual. Was that because of the assumption if the ship was not likely to sink they would surely not be needed?

A century of specualtion and second-guessing has only added to the folly of their grand but unfounded expectations.

In the great "faith chapter" of the Bible, Hebrews 11, the phrase "by faith" appears some 18 times by my count. That's another way of saying "they had expectations" of God.

For most of them their expectations were rooted in their experiences with God. They had personally experienced what He could do for them and could easily imagine Him being able to do more.

The chapter records that their expectations were rewarded, some in this life but all in the life to come. God had "something better" planned for them.

God always delivers more than we expect from Him!

Two millenia of "by faith" experiences have proven God REALLY IS unsinkable and you can expect Him to keep your life and your hopes afloat!

Your life won't always be smooth sailing but the One Who steers the ship also controls the sea!