If you have stumbled here by accident let me first insist that there really are no accidents in life. If however, you came on your own free will then please by all means open your hearts and your minds to the "New Wine" that God has prepared for you!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Our cups

What’s in your cup?  If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, then God has ordained that you are now the temple of the Holy Spirit; 1 Corinthians 3:16-17. “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple is holy, which temple are you?”

So what is holiness? Is your cup continually being re-filled with the Holy Spirit or is your vessel being filled with the things of the world? Being “holy” simply means “being set apart for only God’s use”. An example of this would be the temple service ware consisting of bowls, cups and utensils. These cups, if you will, were only to be used in and for the service of God in the temple by the temple priests. They were not to be used for common use by anyone and so they are “set apart” for only God’s use.

The fact is that all of us fill our cups with all manner of filth. While we are suppose to be “set apart” for only God’s use we tend to give our enemy much too much room in our cups. Instead of being in a state of holiness, we tend to defile our cups with the dirt of the world. In 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22, God commands us “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.”

Have you been quenching the potentially powerful work of the Holy Spirit in your life? In Acts 2:1-4, we watch as God fills the apostles with His Holy Spirit. In fact, they spoke in other languages that they did not already know so that everyone present was able to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ in their own language. The eye witnesses describe this event, “Then there appeared to them divided tongues, of fire, and one sat upon each of them.” Acts 2:3. So are you on fire for God or have you quenched the fire that He put inside of you? 

Let me ask you again, so what are you filling your cup with? We make choices every minute of every day. The choices we make can either be Godly choices or ungodly. As we pour sin into our lives, God warns us that we can grieve The Holy Spirit living inside of us. “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:30. What you fill your cup with will have a direct influence on whether or not you will be “set apart” for God’s use, whether or not God will act upon your petitions or even accept your sacrifices.

Keep in mind that I am not talking about a believer’s position or salvation regarding eternity. Jesus Christ has redeemed us by paying our sin debt, past, present and future, when He died on a cross over 2000 years ago; nothing can change that. What I am talking about is the present condition of the contents in our cups. God so desperately wants to help us. He wants us to choose to fill our cups with blessing, to choose to set our cups apart for only His use.

David wrote in the 23rd psalm “You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.” Oil is symbolic of the presence of the Holy Spirit and here we have David proclaiming that his cup was filled to overflowing by God. 

We were all once cracked cisterns full of sin and incapable of holding water, but now, Jesus has healed us and we are capable of being filled with the Holy Spirit if we so desire. If we make godly choices as often as we can, our cups are available to be re-filled with God’s goodness and mercy. 

Surrendering our will to God is the first step towards empting our cups. As we continue to yield to Him He is able to fill the new room we have made in our hearts. Soon the Holy Spirit’s presence becomes a strong influence on our lives that helps guide us through the muck and mire of this world.

God only wants the very best for us. He desires our entire heart, soul and mind. The bible states that we are more than conquers when we are being led by Jesus Christ. The old things have passed away and we become new creatures in Christ. Let us live in Christ to our full potential by allowing the Holy Spirit to rule in our lives. This exciting journey can only begin as we choose to empty our cups and be filled by His Holy Spirit.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Goliath's brothers

It’s the little things in the bible, that as you look at them under a greater light, give you some incredible insights. It might be a certain number used or a name; it might be even as small and seemly insignificant as a date but, rest assured, every single  letter and punctuation mark are inspired by God written by men under inspiration of the Holy Spirit. 

An example of this is found in the life of David in the days when he was still tending to his father’s sheep. In the hills surrounding Bethlehem, David would watch over his father’s flocks. Healthy sheep, left alone without a good shepherd to tend them, are easy pickings for the lion, bear, wolf or coyote.  Any predator can finish off a lame animal that has fallen behind if the animal is left unguarded.

It was during this time of David’s life that he went to visit three of his brothers who were fighting on the front lines about thirty miles away. The armies of both Israel and the Philistines were encamped opposite each other in the Valley of Elah. The champion of the Philistines was a giant named Goliath who was from Gath. He stood nine feet tall and was a daunting figure as he stood every morning and evening taunting the army of Israel. 

As the story goes (1 Samuel 17:40-51), all the men of Israel were greatly afraid to go out and fight one on one with Goliath. So for forty days and nights, Israel had to endure the humiliation that was inflicted upon them by this giant; that is, until David came to visit his brothers. 

 David, with his staff in his hand, chooses five smooth stones from the brook. He carefully places them into his leather shepherd’s bag slung around his waist. The text says that David ran towards the army to meet the Philistine. Reaching into his bag he pulled out one of the five smooth stones.

With one relaxed, incredible aim with his sling David hurls the projectile into the forehead of the giant causing him to fall to the ground. David had confidently just said to everyone present “This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand; for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hands.”

It’s clear from the text that David was confident God would win his match with the giant Goliath. He was also well prepared at using his sling which he had used many times before as a shepherd. But the question that burns in my mind is why did he carefully choose five smooth stones from that brook? 

 The answer to that question can be found in 2 Samuel 21:15-22. The text mentions that Goliath had four other brothers that were born to a giant living in Gath. So David had picked up four extra smooth stones from the brook just in case one of Goliath’s four other brothers came looking for him.

So what giants are there in your own life? Do you have the same confidence in God that David had as he stood and faced the giant Goliath? Are you prepared for the battle as the giant shows up in your valley, to taunt you, trying to wreak havoc in your life? 

Know this first and foremost, that when Jesus died on the cross, He said “It is finished” and the veil was torn from the top down to the bottom. This carpenter-king has paid our debt in full allowing us to once again become sons and daughters of God inheriting eternal life that was prepared for us from before the foundations of the earth were laid.

 There is nothing left to fear in this life.  The sting of death has been taken away for all time. This redemption is awaiting you. You can’t work for it, you can’t buy it, you can’t be good enough to earn it but you must ask in order to receive it from the Lord! Won’t you ask Him to forgive you right now?

So with confidence you too can trust that the battles you fight belong to the Lord. Remember that Jesus Christ, who said He is the Good Shepherd and will lay down His life for His sheep, is always on the alert for that one little lost lamb. 

The Good Shepherd will not only lead you, feeding you on His word, but will also guide you safely to the fountain of living water that flows from the Father’s throne. In this life there will be giants to run up against; there will be trails and tribulation and pitfalls to stumble into but be of good cheer because Jesus Christ has overcome the world and this present darkness.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The King

Psalm 51 is probably the world’s greatest prayer of repentance. David wrote this beautiful song just after Nathan the prophet confronted him with his adulterous affair with Bathsheba and murder of her husband, Uriah. David first asks God for mercy and then goes on to admit his sin. Psalm 51 is too long to quote word for word but here is a short section “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit.” 

The problem with David, was that he did not follow God’s scriptures. God had given all future kings of Israel fair warning in Deuteronomy 17:14-20. Kings were not to return to Egypt to multiply horses, they were not to multiply silver or gold for themselves and they were not to multiply wives but have only one. David missed God’s mark, like all of us have done to one degree or another, and now he will begin to reap from the seeds he has sown.

 If we try and imagine what David’s life as king was like, with all of his many foreign wives, it soon becomes apparent that there must have been some incredible family rivalries. There must have been some pretty good fights in the king’s palace among his children, especially his sons.  But for David and Bathsheba, the cost of their sin would begin nine months after their adultery as their child is born, immediately becomes ill, and dies fulfilling the prophecy of Nathan. 

Soon Solomon is born but also more deaths were not far behind the new additions to the family. Absalom takes vengeance for the rape of his sister Tamar by killing his brother Amnon . Forty years pass as Absalom prepares to take the kingdom away from his father David. Absalom dies at the hand of Joab and David is left to grieve for another son.

The late pastor Chuck Smith said “Any man who would lead others needs to be led by God. No man should rule over men, unless he himself is consciously ruled by God.” It’s interesting that the Messiah was prophesied to come from the line of David, the root of Jesse, and that Jesus Christ fulfilled that promise. Even more intriguing, is the fact that Jesus Christ was recognized as that perfect king by the people of Israel as He rode on a donkey over palm branches into Jerusalem.

The musical group “Tears for fears” once wrote a song with the lyrics “Everybody wants to rule the world”. It is so true how many men over history have wanted to rule it all. These men have ended up causing great pain and catastrophe upon the earth they so desperately wanted to control. The fact is, there will be no peace anywhere on earth until the Messiah, Jesus Christ, returns to claim the throne.

The apostle John wrote about a vision he had of a future event where the title deed to the earth is sealed up in a scroll but it seems at first glance there is no one worthy to open it! A section from Revelation 5:1-7 states “So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it. But one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.”

Oh, what a king we have in Jesus! Who is our Emmanuel (God with us), the only God-man and whose blood can take away our sin. The spotless Lamb of God, who took away the sting of death forever, will one day return to reign and rule the earth that He made.  The Living Word of God, literally the alpha and omega (the beginning and the end) will one day return to take His place as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

This present world is filled with darkness and, as time continues to pass, people are not getting any better as they are left to their own devices. Jesus once told a Jewish Pharisee who asked Him what he must do to be saved from the world, to which Jesus responds “You must be born again”
Have you received the free gift of salvation God extends to all men and women of the earth?  The bible instructs us that one day every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Why not choose to worship Jesus as King and bow your knee and confess Him as King!