A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The LONG process of refining and making maple syrup.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Traffic Ticket Gone Wrong.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 14, 2014

Happy Summer!

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

You know I love ya, Don

Monday, July 7, 2014

Whose Hand are you holding?

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

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

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

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

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

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

You know I love ya, Don

Monday, June 30, 2014

In God we Trust ... Hope ... Find Freedom!

Happy Independence Day… This week we will celebrate the 4th of July in America. It is a day set aside to celebrate our patriotism and the signing of the Declaration of Independance from England. We will watch patriotic programs, celebrate with family and friends, possibly take some time to give thanks for our freedoms as American, we will even renew our commitment to those who sacrificed for our nation. We will be patriots.

Patriots… are people who care about this country, and what it stands for. Patriots are people who recognize the benefits of the Constitution, people who hope to preserve our nation’s values. A patriot is one who votes, earns a honest living, studies our nation’s history and knows what is going on today.

Believers are dual citizens…regardless of what it says on our passports, as Christians, we hold dual citizenship. We’re loyal to our native home, but we recognize that we’re also part of the Kingdom of God. If we at times feel uncomfortable, it’s because we’re not really home yet. The Bible tells us to submit to, respect, and pray for those in governmental authority, but it also lets us know WHO our Sovereign is. We are citizens of Heaven and subjects of the King of kings.

The psalmist in Psalm 146 verse 2 the declaration of a long obedience in the same direction as … “I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praises to my God as long as I live.” A journey of a long obedience in the same direction requires the words, “All my life” and “as long as I live.” There is not a partial following of God’s ways. He doesn’t leave room for some or partial. Either you are all in or you are not. You are on board or you are not in God’s Kingdom.

So we learn to be a patriot in God’s Kingdom is …  in God we trust, in God we hope, and in God we find freedom. 

You Know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Long Obedience Confesses a Sinful Nature

Jacob demonstrated his belief in the sufficiency by his long obedience in the same direction by  asking God for a blessing. However, God first insisted that Jacob tell Him his name. Why? Didn’t God already know his name was Jacob?  (Genesis 32:27) Of course. The name Jacob means “supplanter” which is one who displaces another deceitfully. And that is exactly what Jacob did by tricking his brother out of his birthright and stealing his blessing. So by speaking his name Jacob was confessing his true nature to God. By speaking his name he was confessing to God that he had sinned against his brother. From this we learn the principle that God will not bless a person unless they first confess their sin.

John taught this truth when he wrote, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). And the Psalmist experienced this truth when he said, “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’ -- and you forgave the guilt of my sin” (Psalm 32:5). 

The greatest blessing that God can bestow on a man or woman is the forgiveness and cleansing from sin and that blessing can only be received when we first confess our sin to Him.

Prussian King Frederick the Great was once touring a Berlin prison. The prisoners fell on their knees before him to proclaim their innocence -- except for one man, who remained silent. Frederick called to him, “Why are you here? “Armed robbery, Your Majesty,” was the reply. “And are you guilty?” “Yes indeed, Your Majesty, I deserve my punishment.” Frederick then summoned the jailer and ordered him, “Release this guilty wretch at once. I will not have him kept in this prison where he will corrupt all the fine innocent people who occupy it” (Today in the Word, December 4, 1992).  Admitting you are a sinner is the first step in being set free from the bondage of guilt.

You have sinned. God knows you have sinned. He wants you to agree with him that what you have done is wrong because only then can he bless you with forgiveness and cleansing. 

You know I love ya, Don 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Theoretical verse reality!

God proved to Jacob that his way wasn’t going to work when He disabled Jacob with a single touch that dislocated his hip. With his hip dislocated Jacob realized the greatness of the One with whom he wrestled. We know that Jacob realized that it was actually God he was wrestling because he said, “I saw God face to face...” (Genesis 32:30).

With his hip dislocated all Jacob could do was hold on and cry for a blessing from this God-man. The Bible teaching us some interesting things about being blessed. Hebrews 7:7 says, “Without doubt the lesser person is blessed by the greater.” So by crying out for a blessing Jacob was acknowledging that God was greater than him. By seeking God’s blessing he was humbling himself and exalting God. He realized that only God could provide the blessing he so desperately needed and he believed that God was sufficient. God said to the apostle Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). In his weakened condition Jacob was able to believe in God and so God’s power was made perfect through his weakness. But so many times we find it so difficult to do something so simple as believe in God.

In college a student was asked to prepare a lesson to teach his speech class. He was to be graded on creativity and ability to drive home a point in a memorable way. The title of his talk was, “The Law of the Pendulum.” He spent twenty minutes carefully teaching the physical principle that governs a swinging pendulum. The law of the pendulum is: A pendulum can never return to a point higher than the point from which it was released. Because of friction and gravity, when the pendulum returns, it will fall short of its original release point. Each time it swings it makes less and less of an arc, until finally it is at rest. This point of rest is called the state of equilibrium, where all forces acting on the pendulum are equal.

The student attached a three-foot string to a child’s toy top and secured it to the top the blackboard with a thumbtack. He pulled the top to one side and made a mark on the blackboard where he let it go. Each time it swung back he made a new mark. It took less than a minute for the top to complete its swinging and come to rest. When he finished the demonstration, the markings on the blackboard proved the law of the pendulum.

The student then asked how many people in the room believed the law of the pendulum was true. All of his classmates raised their hands and so did the teacher. The teacher started to walk to the front of the room thinking the class was over. In reality it had only begun. Hanging from the steal beams in the middle of the room was a large, crude but functional pendulum made from 250 pounds of metal weights tied to four strands of 500 pound test parachute cord. 

The student invited the instructor to climb up on a table and sit in a chair with back of his head against a cement wall.  Then the student brought the 250 pounds of metal up to the teachers’ nose. Holding the huge pendulum just a fraction of an inch from the teacher’s face, the student once again explained the law of the pendulum he had applauded only moments before, “If the law of the pendulum is true, then when I release this mass of metal, it will swing across the room and return short of the release point. Your nose will be in no danger.”

After that final restatement of this law, the student looked his teacher in the eye and asked, “Sir, do you believe this law is true?” There was a long pause. Huge beads of sweat formed on his upper lip and then weakly he nodded and whispered, “Yes.”

The student released the pendulum. It made a swishing sound as it arced across the room. At the far end of its swing, it paused momentarily and started back. The student later testified that he had never seen a man move so fast in his entire life as the teacher literally dove from the table (Ken Davis, How To Speak To Youth, pp104-106). It was easy for this teacher to believe in the law of the pendulum when it was all theoretical. But when his life literally depended on the law of the pendulum he showed that his belief was only theoretical. How easy it is for us to believe in God’s sufficiency in church on Sunday morning or in a Bible study. But in the real world where our lives are on the line … too many of us demonstrate that our belief was only theoretical.

A long obedience in the same direction realizes that you have no one else to turn to besides God. You need to trust in God to provide for your needs instead of trusting in yourself. You need a belief that works in the real world with real problems and not just in the pew on Sunday morning. God is more than theory ... He is sufficient. Believe it.

You know I love ya, Don