The Abraham factor… Thursday, Aug 21 2014 

Abraham is the father of three world religions. How much more can one life contribute to planet earth?

Abraham is considered the father of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. This encompasses much of the population of earth. Geographically it is quite a large area covered by these three religions. I would imagine most countries of the world are affected by at least one or more of these religions.

I had a discussion with a young pastor on the east coast and he contributed an interesting observation.

Pastor Bart Adkins of High Point, North Carolina is one of the brilliant young Apostolics of this generation. He is also a talented musician, singer and speaker. He made this observation:

“I had a conversation with dad one day musing on the thought that God has
attempted to make himself known to all the peoples of the Earth. It is
interesting to me in thinking about Judaism, Islam, and Christianity,
specifically, as though each one almost displays a particular aspect of God’s
character. The Jews had His law and Word, to a science. The Muslims have His War
and Judgement. The Christians have seen the revelation of His Grace and Mercy.”

Thank you Pastor Adkins for that keen insight.

Thanks for reading today….

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Sarah, we will miss you! Friday, Dec 6 2013 

Today I read of Abraham burying his wife Sarah.

Abraham was 137 years old. He would live another 38 years without Sarah.

Many were the memories with Sarah. Packing to leave Mesopotamia. The years in Haran. Finally the last move to the land of Canaan.

The 25 years of waiting for the promise. The faux pas of Ishmael, and that debacle.

Sarah had been there for it all. Now she was gone. Abraham looked into her cold still face for the last time.

Standing beside Abraham was his 37 year old son of promise, Issac.

Ishmael, who was 51, was probably there also. Maybe there were others as well.

Many years of memories were being laid to rest in that lonely, barren cave of Machpelah.

Eliezer, Abraham’s servant of over 60 years was there. That faithful servant who had lived the victories, hardships, and tragedies along with the family. He would be the one who would make the journey to bring back Rebekah in three years, when Issac was 40 years old.

Rebekah would never know her husband’s mother. Her children would never know their grandmother. Death was denying them ever knowing that.

We will never know the thoughts and feelings that ambled through all their minds as they walked away from a huge chunk of their lifetime. Sarah was gone. Dead. She had been there for so many years, now she was gone.

Death is such a horrible foe. It is so final and powerful. It takes so much from us. It leaves us lonely, sad, and empty, and sometimes angry.

In my opinion natural, physical, death does not compare with the pain of spiritual death.

The agony of watching someone walk away from God after years of worship and shouting and church functions is pain beyond description!

I Will Not Ignore Uriah’s Religion Saturday, Feb 26 2011 

Abiathar was angry.  He was going to confront Uriah.  As the priest that David
trusted in he would not allow this Hittite to worship Baal in the camp.

He stormed up to the camp fire where the noted warriors were lounging.  The fire
flickered on the swarthy faces of these hodge podge freedom fighters.

When he walked up, silence invaded.  It always does when the preacher walks in.

With steel in his voice he challenged Uriah.  'Have you been worshipping your
God here in the camp of Israel?'

Funny how silence can suddenly freeze every sound. Uriah was slow to answer.  He
was not about to take anything from any man, but this was the priest.

How he answered could easily start major trouble with men who wore their swords
ready to hand.  He had seen bloodshed in a flash not long ago when Abner met
Joab.

His eyes were steady as he looked up at Abiathar.  Slowly he stood.  He looked
up to only one man.  The man he gave his allegiance to.  David.

He respected Abiathar, but he feared no man. While the elite fighters of David
waited to see how this would go down, he said, "actually no I have not".

He waited.  Abiathar was seething with a righteous vengeance. 

"What are the remains of the altar I found today?  The word is that you
worshipped your god of the Hittites there.  I demand an answer!" Abiathar half
shouted.

Other men gathered around.  The small fire was now surrounded by a legion of
David's fighting men.

Uriah said tersely, " You asked If I worshipped in the camp.  I did not.  I went
to a high place and there practiced my own beliefs."

Abiathar snarled "How dare you?"

Uriah stood his ground.  "I did not join David's religion.  I joined his cause
to fight for his Kingdom.  He has never spoken to me of my faith.  I have done
nothing wrong."

Abiathar's eyes were those of a zealot.  Smoldering, angry, barely contained,
eyes.

It was a standoff of proud men both who felt they were right.

It was Joab of all people who deescalated the moment.  

Slowly Joab rose to his feet.  All eyes shifted to the General.

Joab slowly and calmly said to the priest, "Uriah is not asking you to approve
of his worship Abiathar.  He is asking you to ignore his religion."

Everyone there could feel the release of tension.  It was a word fitly spoken. 

Abiathar stalked off into the night.  Uriah stretched his hands to the fire and
said nothing.

It is not the things that we are forced to approve that are our danger in 2011.  

It is the things we ignore.

Did Uriah's religion factor in to David's taking Bathsheba?

Why did Bathsheba have enormous influence on David until his death?

Did Joab resist placing Uriah in the forefront of battle? He was after all a
Baal worshipper?

I do not know these things, but I do know this......

The world is not asking me to approve of Gays.  The world is asking me to ignore
them. 

 Pulpit silence.  

The world is not asking me to approve of abortion.  The world is asking me to
ignore it.

Pulpit silence.

The world is not asking me to approve social drinking.  The world asks me to
ignore it.

Pulpit silence.

Maybe just maybe had Abitahar forced the issue, the entire course of Israel's
history might have been redirected.

I have decided I will not approve, nor will I ignore certain things.

I will speak, and maybe some Uriah's may yet live!

Thanks for reading today.

Why David? Why? Thursday, Oct 7 2010 

‘Why, David, why?”

The place was another nameless cave.

The men stirred about restlessly.

Gradually, and very uneasily, they began to settle in.

All were as confused as Joab, who had finally voiced their questions.

Joab wanted some answers.

Now!

David should have seemed embarrassed or at least defensive.

He was neither.

He was looking past Joab like a man viewing another realm which only he could see.

Joab walked directly in front of David, looking down on him, and began roaring his frustrations.

“Many times he almost speared you to death in his castle.

I’ve seen that with my own eyes.

Finally, you ran away.

Now for years you have been nothing but a rabbit for him to chase.

Furthermore, the whole world believes the lies he tells about you.

He has come, the King himself, hunting every cave, pit and hole on earth to find you and kill you like a dog.

But tonight you had him at the end of his own spear and you did nothing!

“Look at us.  We’re animals again.  Less than an hour ago you could have freed us all.  Yes, we could all be free, right now!  Free!  And Israel, too.  She would be free.  Why, David, why did you not end these years of misery?”

There was a long silence.

Men shifted again, uneasily.

They were not accustomed to seeing David rebuked.

“Because,” said David very slowly (and with a gentleness that seemed to say, ‘I heard what you asked, but not the way you asked it’), “because once, long ago, he was not mad.  He was young.  He was great.  Great in the eyes of God and men.  And it was God who made him king – God – not men.”

Joab blazed back, “But now he is mad!  And God is no longer with him.  And, David, he will yet kill you!”

This time it was David’s answer that blazed with fire.

Better he kill me than I learn his ways.

Better he kill me than I become what he is.

I will not practice his ways.

I will not throw spears, nor will I allow hatred to grow in my heart.

I will not avenge.

Not now.

Not ever!”

Joab stormed out into the dark.

That night men went to bed on cold, wet stone and muttered about their leader’s views.

That night angels sang and dreamed, in the afterglow of that rare, rare day, that God might yet be able to give His authority to a man who did not throw spears.

Thanks for reading today!

3 Things Wednesday, Oct 6 2010 

Unlike anyone else in spear-throwing history, David did not know what to do when a spear was thrown at him.

He did not throw Saul’s spears back at him.

Nor did he make any spears of his own and throw them.

Something was different about David.

All he did was dodge.

What can a man, especially a young man, do when the king decides to use him for target practice?

What if the young man decides not to return the compliment?

First of all, he must pretend he cannot see spears.

Even when they are coming straight at him.

Secondly, he must also learn to duck very quickly.

Lastly, he must pretend nothing at all happened.

You can easily tell when someone has been hit by a spear.

He turns a deep shade of bitter.

David never got hit.

Gradually, he learned a very well kept secret.

He discovered three things that prevented him from ever being hit.

One, never learn anything about the fashionable, easily mastered art of spear throwing.

Two, stay out of the company of all spear throwers.

Three, keep your mouth tightly closed.

In this way, spears will never touch you, even when they pierce your heart.

Thanks for reading today!

Spear Throwers Tuesday, Oct 5 2010 


David had a question:

What do you do when someone throws a spear at you?

Does it not seem odd to you that David did not know the answer to this question?

After all, everyone else in the world knows what to do when a spear is thrown at them.

Why, you pick up the spear and throw it right back!

“When someone throws a spear at you, David, just wrench it right out of the wall and throw it back.

Absolutely everyone else does, you can be sure.”

And in doing this small feat of returning thrown spears, you will prove many things:

You are courageous.

You stand for the right.

You boldly stand against the wrong.

You are tough and can’t be pushed around.

You will not stand for injustice or unfair treatment.

You are the defender of the faith, keeper of the flame, detector of all heresy…..after the order of King Saul.

There is also a possibility that some 20 years from now you will be the most incredibly skilled spear thrower in all the realm.

Thanks for reading today!

You can live for God anywhere! Thursday, May 20 2010 

You can live for  God anywhere!

He lived in the bulls-eye center of one of the worst times of history. Every man was doing that which was right in his own eyes!  There was no King in Israel.

Less than 10 miles from his ancestral home where he still lived, idolatry had just been introduced to Israel.

Idolatry would dominate every facet of Israeli life for the next one thousand years.  It would take a seventy year exile in Babylon to purge the southern nation, and a permanent exile of the northern kingdom to finally get rid of idolatry.

He was there to see the birth of Idolatry!

About five miles from his home one of the tribes had just forced a priest to become the priest of their tribe. They were dissatisfied with their land along the coast, and their tribe was looking to expand their boundaries beyond what God had allocated their tribe.

He had a ring side seat to watch a tribe lose its place forever in Israel. Dan’s heritage disappeared before his eyes.

He was right in the midst of a controversy that eventually cost the nation 65,000 fighting men.  He saw the results of infighting among tribes and saw the results.

He saw the grisly piece of evidence sent to his tribe and was close enough to hear the battle cries over three days that finally left only four hundred men to the tribe of Benjamin. To see a piece of a mutilated woman and the war that erupted among the people of God was no small issue!

Yet through it all he stayed true to the word of God!  When others had no regard for the law, he lived by every letter down to the smallest detail.

The world around him was going to hell in a hand basket, but he never flinched!

Let others fight among themselves.  Let others worship idols.  Let others lose their inheritance.  It never touched him!

If the law said take off your sandal and meet the near kinsman in the gate, that is exactly what he would do!

If the law said another man had first claim to the woman he was interested in, he would honor and defer to the law!

He stands as a silent sentinel to those who make up their mind no matter what others do, I will live by the word of God!

He is a testimony against every excuse maker, and compromiser that says everybody is doing it.

While his nation fell to idolatry, killed itself off, and gave away their inheritance, he stayed true to the law of God!

Is it any wonder his great grandson became the greatest King Israel ever had?

Thank you Boaz, and thanks for reading today!

Amaziah and the third sermon. Tuesday, May 18 2010 

In yesterday’s blog I introduced you to the prophet Amos.  He was an amazing man who obeyed his God and did a remarkable job.  Today I would like to continue with his mission and show you his three sermons.

His clothes were simple and probably homespun.  His language was of the simple unlearned people of the south Judean hill country.  So when this prophet of God walked into Bethel to deliver his message he started at a disadvantage.  The wealthy merchants and landowners were skeptical of this back woods evangelist.

When he delivered his first sermon, all doubts were replaced with satisfied nods of approval.  He thundered down God’s disapproval on the surrounding nations that Samaria had recently defeated on the battlefield. Around the coffee shops and gossip centers of Samaria Amos got the nod of approval.

They no doubt said things like, well he hasn’t bathed lately and his language is abominable, but he did say some valuable things!  So the balance slowly tilted in his favor and they showed up for his second sermon.  This time Amos hit a home run!

In his second sermon he climbed to the top of their preacher charts.  He preached how low down, no good, the southern kingdom was! He pointed out how the southern nation was not pleasing God.  Suddenly his clothes and language did not matter.  Amos was their man!  Their preacher was preaching what needed to be heard.  Three cheers for Amos!

Then came the third sermon.

As he took the center stage of their rapt attention, it was a sea of smiles.  They couldn’t wait for the newest sequel to his last two sermons.  They had waited all week wondering how he could ever top the last two weeks.

It started to go downhill when he called the jeweled, proud, over dressed women of Samaria a bunch of cows!  The smiles disappeared, replaced by looks of confusion.  Side-glances confirmed that there were other unhappy members in the congregation.  It erupted full bore when Amaziah the priest stood and called Amos down.

Amaziah informed Amos that his services were no longer needed in Samaria and maybe he should depart now and head south.  It was a not too polite “get out”.

Amaziah told King Jeroboam that Amos had committed treason.  Amaziah told Amos to get back to his own turf and preach his pretty little sermons.

Amos replied that he was not a prophet, but just a herdsman, and a poor one at that.

Then it happened, the moment that was so incredible.

Amos turned those blazing eyes on the man Amaziah.  Amaziah stood there insulated with wealth, position, and power.  He was dressed in the finest clothes, educated in the best schools, and had all of society’s approval.

Facing him, was a simple country farmer with raggedy clothes, no schooling, and buried under society’s anger.

However, this country boy was God’s man.  When he spoke all the authority of heaven backed up his words.  He pointed the long finger of judgment at Amaziah.

He spoke to Amaziah and said your wife will become a harlot in the streets.

Your children will fall by the sword.

This land shall be divided and will go into captivity.

And so it was.

When anyone chooses to openly and publicly withstand God’s man, God always reacts with the same action toward them.

Amaziah made the fatal mistake of rebuking a God called, God sent man.

God have mercy on anyone who is foolish enough to follow the footsteps of Amaziah!

Look beyond his clothes, his grammar, and his education.  Look carefully for the touch of God on his life.

And whatever you do, never under any circumstances, lift your voice against a God called, God sent man.

Thanks for reading today!

When Justice Was For Sale To The Highest Bidder Monday, May 17 2010 

It was the most prosperous time in their history.

Money was flowing.

The Northern Kingdom of Israel was being led by the dynamic and charismatic Jeroboam II.

Jeroboam had waged successful war against Israel’s hostile neighbors and won control of the trade routes that poured wealth into Samaria.

The land was fertile, the rains fell, and the bumper crops swelled their barns and their bank accounts.  It was a golden age.  Public buildings were being built.  Private residences were large and expensive.  The public worship was now ostentatious and full of pomp.

The rich landowners with total disregard for God’s law,  built great personal estates.  They did so at the cost of dispossessing their poor neighbors.  The poor were further treated badly by the greedy merchants who used unjust weights to buy and sell grain.  These dishonest merchants mixed husks with barley kernels.

More and more of the people were being forced to sell themselves and their children into slavery.

Justice was for sale to the highest bidder!

The wives of the rich demanded more and more luxuries.  No one seemed to give a thought to those who were cheated to pay the tab of the greedy.

No one that is except God!

Ten miles south of Jerusalem, a poor farmer heard an inner voice speak to him.  He was of the poorest part of society.  He dealt in Sycamore figs.  The modern equivalent of someone who gathers cans along the roadside to get money.

His name was Amos.  He left Tekoa to challenge the greatest nation on earth at the zenith of it’s wealth and power.

Has there ever been men like those prophets of old?  Fearless men who gave account to no one but God!

When that poor country boy walked into Bethel, don’t you know his eyes were wide?  No doubt his mouth was hanging open.  He had never seen anything like this in the poor region he lived in.

He walked the streets and saw the luxurious homes of the wealthy.  He saw the opulence of the rich and famous.  He observed women reclining on ivory inlaid couches, feasting on meats and drinking exotic wines while they listened to the lastest popular music groups (Amos 4.1, 6.4-6).

He saw a nation that was hardened by selfishness and greed.  He  spoke to them about the need for their hearts to be touched with the needs of the poor and oppressed.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Does God still care about injustice?

Is Justice for sale to the highest bidder in your life?

Thanks for reading today.

Burger King Got It Wrong! Monday, Apr 5 2010 

Burger King got it wrong.  They say have it your way.  The book of Judges shows me this is not the way to happiness or success!

The book of Judges opens to us one of the darkest times of man’s history.  The people of God should have been celebrating victories and conquering a new land.

Judges opens the window into the heart of mankind, and the picture is not pretty!

Seven times in the book the statement is made “Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord”, two times it says “Every man did that which is right in his own eyes”.  The result of that environment was catastrophic.  It further emphasis that there was no King in those days.  So every man was left to follow his own decisions.

This period of time lasted 450 years!  This period of time was as long as the entire duration of the monarchy.  Because there is one book of Judges, and six books of the Kings (Samuel, Kings, Chronicles), it is natural to feel like the Kings were a longer period of time.  Both of these time periods were 450 years.  Why?

God gave man 450 years to reveal what happens when man does that which is right in his own eyes.

The result of that time period is so abhorrent and tragic, we scarce can comprehend it.  The last five chapters of Judges are as bad and ugly as any period of history, any place on the Globe.  From this experiment and experience we can truly agree with God that it is not in man to direct his steps.

It might help to think of these Judges as freedom fighters.  The word Judge to us today speaks of courtrooms and juries.  These men, (and one woman), were liberators, fighters, leaders of armies!  They are renowned for their military campaigns.  The following is a list of Judges and their term of time.

Judge Enemy

  • Othniel/40 years                         Mesopotamia
  • Ehud/80 years                             Moab, Amon, Amalek
  • Deborah, Barak/40 years             Caanan
  • Gideon/40 years                          Midian
  • Abimelech/3 years
  • Toah/23 years
  • Jair/22 years
  • Jeptha/6 years                             Ammon
  • Ibzaim/7 years
  • Elon/10 years
  • Samson/20 years                          Philistines
  • Eli/40 years                                 Philistines
  • Samuel/20 years                          Philistines

By my addition there were 111 years of oppression and 339 years of peace for a total of 450 years of the reign of the Judges.  This is the same amount of time for the Kings!  There was 120 years of the United Kingdom, 200 years of a divided Kingdom with Israel and Judah side by side, and an additional 135 years of Judah.

The conclusion I get is this, God gave man 450 years of man doing what he thought was right on his own.  Then he gave man 450 years where a king ruled over his life.  Both time periods ended in abject failure.  Opening the door for the prophets and God’s voice being the law of man and earth.

The only successful government has proved to be when God himself rules over the affairs of men.

In the first 16 chapters of  Judges, it is all about God’s people being attacked from without.  The enemy is from the outside.  Then the last five chapters are the result when Israel turns upon herself and begins to carnage herself. The result is one of the most terrible times in all of history.

Before it is over Israel will have killed more of her own that any of her attackers ever did from the outside.  If fact, she will have killed more of her own that all of the outside attacks combined over the entire 450 year period!

What a statement God leaves on the pages of the Bible about what happens when we forget who our real enemy is and begin to war on our brothers.

In the last five chapters, it begins with the introduction of Idolatry into Israel with the story of Micah and his graven images.  The stage is set for idolatry and it takes a thousand years and a dispersion (Israel), and a captivity (Judah), to finally purge Israel of Idolatry!

The story moves on to the tribe of Dan.

This tribe is not satisfied with their inheritance so they look for new territory.  They journey east, then north, a total of about 144 miles to conquer Laish.  They rename the city “Dan”(hence the term from Dan to Beersheba).  This is not the inheritance God assigned to the tribe of Dan.

This story lets us see the terrible result of what happens when you are not satisfied with your inheritance!  The tribe of Dan is forever removed from the pages of the Bible.  The only mention I find is one descendant worked on Solomon’s temple.  Dan is never mentioned again, never included anymore in the list of the tribes all the way to the book of Revelation!

What more would anyone need to illustrate the danger of not being satisfied with our inheritance?

The book of Judges then moves on to the story of the concubine.

The woman was abused and finally dies.  Her master cuts her into twelve pieces and sends a piece of the evidence to each tribe.  The nation goes to war and the result is horrific.  Israel loses 65,000 men in the final chapters of Judges, all because they had a piece of the evidence.  The tribe of Benjamin is reduced to 400 men and almost obliterated.

I believe they would have been wiped out if not for a future son of Benjamin that would literally change the world, Saul of Tarsus.  God preserved the tribe for Israel’s first king, and Christianity’s first missionary.

The moral of the story is again so stark!  It is so dangerous to go to war over a piece of the evidence.

Was all lost for humanity?  Not at all.  God in his infinite wisdom was letting man work through the slow process of human government to help man self discover for himself his need of God.

All was not lost, for even in this morass, at the bulls eye center of the greatest carnage were faithful people who held on to God.  That is why Boaz steps onto the stage.  There was in the days of the Judges, Ruth 1.1

We will discuss that in the book of Ruth!

Thanks for reading today!

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