Archive | March 2013

Balaam and the Blessing

“When Balaam saw that God wanted to bless Israel, he didn’t look for omens as he had done before. He turned toward the desert, looked up, and saw Israel’s camp grouped by tribes. The Spirit of God entered him.” Numbers 24: 1-2

Originally, Balaam was out to earn a good fee and please King Balak. He was paid to curse Israel and although he told Balak up front that he would only say what God told him to say, his expectation was to be cursing Israel. Therefore, he looked for omens that confirmed his expectations.

Twice he set up sacrifices to impress everyone and encourage omens. Twice God did the unexpected and blessed Israel instead of cursing them. The third time, Balaam gets it and looks for God instead of omens. That’s when his relationship with God changes. When Balaam was looking for omens, God simply “came” to him. But when Balaam quits looking for omens to confirm his expectations and looked instead for what God wanted to share, then God’s Spirit “entered” him.

We have our plans and dreams and hopes and expectations and we spend a lot of time and energy looking for the “omens” that promise our satisfaction. We look for sunshine, a favorite thing, a special “sign”. We call it “good luck” or “good fortune” or “God’s favor”. During these times, God can only come to us because we are looking for what He can do for us (His presents) instead of looking for God Himself (His presence).

We don’t always see what God wants us to do because our ideas of what we want Him to do get in the way. But if we follow Balaam’s example, we can get a clearer picture. It’s a three step process:

1) Stop looking for omens, the signs that we’re going to get what we want. Put aside our wants and expectations and be willing to let God do it His way. What He wants, when He wants, how He wants to do it.

2) Turn toward the desert. Away from the distractions of life and things and people and away from our swirling, tumbling thoughts.

3) Look up. See this world, this life, this situation from God’s perspective.

Then the Spirit will enter us. He will teach us, show us, guide us and open our eyes to see God’s blessings.

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The False Signals Parable

God allowed a small stroke in my life. The blood flow to my brain was cut off for just a moment and most of my right occipital lobe died, so I no longer saw to my left. Part of the lobe was not affected, and since God designed the brain so amazingly, the unaffected part began to stand in the gap and rebuild what was missing.

Just like a child makes many mistakes when they’re learning, sometimes my brain now makes mistakes in interpreting the visual signals it gets from my eyes. This frequently happens when it’s raining.

I was walking to the train station downtown. It was raining. There are a lot of metal grates in the sidewalks downtown. My brain was telling me that the grates were an inch above the sidewalk, not even with it. Now, I knew the grates were flat with the sidewalk, but that is not what I was seeing. So as I walked along, I had to tell myself over and over again that what I was seeing was not really true.

As we walk with God in our life, we are learning certain truths about God. That He loves us and has plans to prosper us and not to harm us, that with Him in life we have a future and hope. But Satan comes along with his lies and tells us we’re unlovable, or failures. Satan has so many lies he tries to feed us. Just keep telling yourself over and over again that it’s not true and speak the love and promises of God into your life. God has more truths than Satan has lies!

Praying the Armor of God

In the name of Jesus, we put on the armor of God.  We ask that we be filled with the Holy Spirit, that He would remind us to put on the armor and teach us how to use it.

In the name of Jesus, we put on the belt of truth – may the Holy Spirit fill us with wisdom and discernment that we may recognize the lies of Satan and the lies of men, and replace those lies with Your truth.  May all that we think, say, feel and do be based on Your truth. 

 In the name of Jesus, we put on the breastplate of righteousness, the blood of Christ.  Thank You Jesus for living for us and dying for us.  Thank You for shedding Your blood that we may one day stand before God in white robes of righteousness.  May the Holy Spirit fill us with love that we may love You with all our heart and soul, mind and strength; that we might love others as Jesus loves people, and love ourselves as You love us.  May all that we think, say, feel and do pass through and pass on Your love. 

 In the name of Jesus, we shoe our feet with the gospel of peace.  We ask that the Holy Spirit remind us to put on our shoes, do all that we can do and then stand firm.  May He prepare us and make us ready to give an answer for what we believe.  When You open the door to an open soul, may our mouths open with the words You want said to them.  May we be filled with and controlled by Your peace. 

 In the name of Jesus, we put on the helmet of salvation and ask the Holy Spirit to fill us with the mind of Christ.  May He help us to cast down our imaginations and bring every thought captive to Christ. 

 In the name of Jesus, we wield our shield of faith.  May the Holy Spirit increase our measure of faith.  May all that we think, say, feel and do be based on faith, not fact or feeling. 

 In the name of Jesus, we brandish the sword of Your word.  May the Holy Spirit fill us with Your Word, help us to hide Your word in our hearts and remind us to meditate on Your word day and night that we may be sure to obey it.  May all that we think, say, feel and do be based on and checked against Your word. 

 Remind us to pray at all times in the Spirit.  Help us to be alert with all perseverance.  Teach us to start fighting back.  In Jesus’ name.

A Lesson from Hagar (Genesis 21:14-19)

Abraham has sent Hagar and Ishmael away with bread and a container of water.  She leaves and wanders in the desert.  That was her first mistake – to wander.  She, who once called God The God Who Watches Over Me (and under similar circumstances out in the desert (Genesis 16:6-14)) seems to have forgotten Him and His promises to her about her son having many descendents.  She neglects to ask for direction. 

When their water is gone, she gives up.  She puts Ishmael under a bush and goes off far enough away so she won’t have to watch the boy die.  She doesn’t ask God for help.  She doesn’t go looking for water.  She doesn’t even stay with the boy to comfort him.  She selfishly tries to spare herself pain.  She sits downs, sobs loudly and has a pity party, forgetting all about The God Who Sees Me, who saw her once before.

Interestingly, verse 17 says God heard the boy crying.  He doesn’t respond to Hagar’s selfish, pitiful sobs, but He hears the boy crying and steps in to help.  The boy Ishmael, whose name means God Hears.  Another lapse of memory of Hagar’s part.  God tells Hagar to go back to the boy, help him up and take him by the hand, repeating the promise of making him into a great nation.  God opens her eyes and she sees a well.  A well she couldn’t see in the desperation of giving up.  A well she couldn’t see through tears of pity. 

Who says the Bible has no application in our lives (especially the Old Testament)?

When our lives fall apart or are turned upside down, we shouldn’t just start wandering – we should seek directions from El Roi, The God Who Watches Over Me, The God Who Sees Me, the God who knows the best way to the next well of mercy and grace.  Remember His promises like Isaiah 46:4.  “Even to your old age, I shall be the same, and even to your graying years I shall bear you!  I have done it, and I shall carry you, and I shall bear you, and I shall deliver you.” 

Don’t give up, even when it seems nothing is left.  Don’t seek to avoid the pain – God’s only going to send you back to what you’re avoiding, like He did with Hagar.  Walk through the situation and the pain to healing. Do everything you can and leave the results to God.  Cry out to El Roi, The God Who Hears Me, and remind Him of His promises.  Don’t be afraid.  Remind yourself that God hears and is working out the answer no matter how circumstances appear to be.  Get busy helping someone else in need.  Be sure to open your eyes – and don’t look at yourself or your circumstances.  Look up at God and out to see what He’s doing.  Look for His wells of comfort, mercy, grace and provision.  Fill up your mind on His Word, your heart on His love, your spirit on His truth, and press on!  He plans to accomplish great things through you!