It was recently during Hurricane Sandy that I read how teenagers for the first time ever had to live without any electricity, and (can you even imagine) – without a cell phone! For the first time in their lives they enjoyed the privilege of experiencing what life was like decades ago. Forced to slow down, unable to text or "Facebook", everyone who lost power entered a "moment" of technological communication silence, and they waited anxiously for the powers that be to restore their normal life patterns.
When God called Gideon to lead Israel against their enemies, He wanted to show that a small army empowered by God was more effective than the largest armies. But notice how they fought – without weapons that an army would normally use. They fought with shofars and lamps! They fought with weapons that the world would consider ineffective, yet triumphed mightily over their enemies. They shouted as loud as they could, sounded the shofar, and broke the vessels that held the fire so that their lamps burst through with brightness.
During the Feast of Sukkot, the Jewish people took part in a water drawing ceremony on the last day of the feast. They would go down to the Pool of Siloam, draw water and bring it to the Temple Mount. Then they would pour out the water and recite Isaiah 12, "and with joy you shall draw water out of the wells (springs) of salvation." In Hebrew, the word salvation and Yeshua (Jesus, in Hebrew), are the same.
The central fact of the gospel message is the resurrection of Yeshua (Jesus), declared in Psalm 2, the begotten Son of God. In 1952, Dead Sea scrolls were discovered in Cave 4 called the "Messianic Apocalypse". The Messiah's ministry of resurrection is reiterated in these ancient documents with an obvious reference to Isaiah 61:1-3. The scroll identifies someone who "… will heal the wounded, and revive the dead and bring good news to the poor." It is clear that at least some of the authors of these documents clearly understood the central nature and ministry of the coming Messiah, most certainly based on their intimate knowledge of the prophetic writings in the Tenach (OT)…that ministry, resurrection of the dead.
During the Great Depression, poverty swept across America like a whirling tornado, ripping up dreams and scattering hopes to the wind. One such poverty twister hit a small part of Texas where a man named Yates ran a sheep ranch. Struggling even to keep food on the table, Yates and his wife did all they could to survive. Finally, they had to accept a government subsidy or lose their home and land to the creditors.
During the American Civil War in the 1860's, a fierce battle took place at Altoona Pass. It was a key supply point for the Union Army, so the Confederate Army led by General Hood sought to take Altoona Pass which held over a million and a half rations. When Union General Sherman realized Hood's plans, he dispatched General Corse along with 1,500 men to hold the city.
A foreign soldier was brought before his commanding officer and accused of communicating with the enemy. He had been seen emerging from an area where their troops were known to patrol. The poor man summed up his defense in a few words, stating that he had slipped away to spend an hour alone in prayer. "Have you been in the habit of spending an hour in private prayer?" demanded the officer. "Yes, Sir," he replied. "Well" said his commander, "never in your life have you been in more need of prayer than right now. Kneel down and pray aloud so that we all may hear you."
It must have been a bad storm. These men were experienced, hardened sailors who had seen it all at sea. If they were scared, this could have been the first "perfect storm" since Noah's flood. So they started the first interfaith prayer meeting in the Bible, each man crying out to his own god. As the ship groaned and creaked in howling wind and massive waves, and the men threw cargo overboard in a desperate attempt to save it, where was Jonah? On deck helping them? Confidently praying to His own God? Shaking with fear and paralyzed with deep conviction? No, he’s taking a nap down below…
Just over six years ago, our second, Obadiah was born and he's grown so much! It's amazing to me how fast these kids grow. He has long since outgrown his newborn clothes and is now fitting into kids clothes, sheesh! Weighing in originally at just over 8.1 lbs, he's already pushing 50! He likes to eat — the kid can't get enough!
At a time when thousands of people were dying each year of rabies, Louis Pasteur, pioneer of immunology, was working on a vaccine. Just as he was about to begin experimenting on himself, a 9-year-old boy, Joseph Meister, was bitten by a rabid dog. The boy's mother begged Pasteur to experiment on her son…
The world loves the extraordinary, the spectacular. It relishes on the big, bright, grand and expensive. I remember when we traveled through Las Vegas years ago, to speak at a church in Carson City. Uyy! The lights, the size of everything — crazy! But all I could think as we rolled down Sunset Strip was how sad it is that this is what the world finds extraordinary. The bigger, the brighter, the more expensive — the more the world worships it.
Some time ago, I wrote a devotional about not worrying for tomorrow because tomorrow holds its own worries. But it occurred to me recently, that just about as often as we worry for tomorrow, we fret about yesterday. How many times do we find ourselves saying, "I wish things could be the way they were, I wish I was younger, I wish I could fit into those jeans again, I wish I didn't make that terrible mistake … you fill in the blank"?
Every time I turn on the news it seems the new buzzword is – CHANGE! So how can we just shift gears and change? Let's learn a lesson about basic automotive mechanics. Generally a car has between 4 and 5 gears. The first gear maximizes power in exchange for speed. As you move through the gears, you can continue to go faster, yet without using any more power, and before you know it – you have to look at the speedometer – cause nobody wants a speeding ticket!
As we are entering some of the most turbulent times in history, we've been receiving an unbelievable amount of email expressing concern about the future. But I want to tell you a little something – the future is VICTORY!
The prophet Elijah, through his dramatic demonstration of the LORD's authority and power, inspired repentance in the people of Israel, calling them to exercise His judgment on idolaters by slaying 450 prophets of Ba'al and 400 prophets of Asherah on Mount Carmel. Yet this spiritual victory was followed by a severe demonic reprisal through the woman Jezebel.
Momentum is simply the force or speed of movement that carries an object to its final destination. If you want to break through, you need to have a certain amount of momentum. In order for a rocket to blast into space, it needs tremendous momentum to break the gravitational barrier – but with the enormous power of jet engines and rocket fuel the ship is propelled faster and faster till it breaks free of the earth’s gravitational pull.
Three thousand years ago, when Solomon dedicated the Temple to God, the priests offered up thousands of sacrifices. After the sacrifices were offered up — then the glory of God fell! The glory of God was so thick and heavy that the priests could no longer minister! Do you see the connection? First the offerings — THEN the glory fell!
Charles Spurgeon wrote "Prayer pulls the rope below and the great bell rings above in the ears of God. Some scarcely stir the bell, for they pray so languidly. Others give but an occasional pluck at the rope. But he who wins with heaven is the man who grasps the rope boldly and pulls continuously, with all his might."
1 Chron. 20:4-8 And it came to pass after this, that there arose war at Gezer with the Philistines; at which time Sibbechai the Hushathite slew Sippai, that was of the children of the giant: and they were subdued. And there was war again with the Philistines; and Elhanan the son of Jair slew Lahmi […]
Junk mail — those annoying letters that fill your mail box. Along with the junk comes the delightful bills, and renewal notices. Of course the junk, we can just throw away, the bills, unfortunately can't be ignored, but the renewal notices, those we're thankful to see. Without them, we'd likely forget that we need to renew our licenses, our credit cards, membership cards, whatever else.