A Call to Worship

 Genesis 35:1-4 “1 And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother. 2 Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments: 3 And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went. 4 And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, and all their earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem.

When we move from Genesis 34 to 35, we can imagine the atmosphere being like a person living on the streets to living in a mansion. The Lord opens a door that can only be opened with a special key. That key has two words written on it…Faith & Obedience. This key is available for anyone, no matter where you are at in your walk with the Lord. Whether we are on top of the mountain and everything in life is going great, or we are struggling with a trial or a difficult situation. The Lord has this key in His hand, just waiting for us to receive it!

Verse 1: For several years Jacob had lingered some 30 miles from Bethel and had paid dearly for his disobedience. But now the Lord spoke to him and told him to move to Bethel and settle down there. Jacob already knew that Bethel was God’s appointed place for him. (Gen. 31:13 “I am the God of Bethel, where thou anointedst the pillar, and where thou vowedst a vow unto me: now arise, get thee out of this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred” (KJV)). But Jacob was slow to obey what he knew was the right way to go. We know from chapter 31 that God had instructed Jacob what to do and where to go. But like many of us, we all face times when we fail to follow the Lord’s instructions. We know the right thing to do, but we choose to disobey.

Verse 2: Jacob speaks to his entire household; he is so committed to the Lord’s will that he also instructs his servants as well. He tells them to put away the strange gods, be clean, and change your garments. Here is a great picture of salvation, (a) strange gods is our acknowledgement of sin, we are all sinners, (b) be clean is our repentance of our sins, and (c) change your garments is the rebirth into the family of God, putting on a new self. There is always room at the foot of the Cross. I am reminded that no matter where, what, or how we have stumbled in our walk, the Lord is always ready for us to turn back to Him. Jacob provides us with a great picture of the Lord’s mercy, patience, and love towards His children. I am thankful to have such a loving Father.

Verse 3: Jacob tells everyone that they are going to live in Bethel, build an altar and serve the one true God. After the incident in Schechem, Jacob seems committed, not only to act like a Christian, but he is admitting his need for God. I believe this is an important truth for Christians to remember, repentance is when we confess and turn away from sin.

Verse 4: Jacob must have preached a powerful message because they gave up their strange gods. Jacob buries their idols under an oak tree near Schechem. I am reminded of Joshua 24:15 “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (KJV).

I have to wonder how many Christian households need someone to stand up and preach the same message Jacob preached or Joshua spoke to the nation of Israel. How many church pews will be empty because the family is too busy worshipping their worldly idols?

Our call to worship does not simply rest on an attendance record at a local church; it is our personal relationship with the Lord and extends out to our family and friends. Remember that Jacob had to begin with his own faith and obedience first, and then he followed the Lord’s will in sharing his faith with family and friends.

In Christ,

The Silent Preacher

Graphic Image: Retrieved from: https://www.truthforlife.org/static/uploads/resource_banners/tfl-player-image-a-call-to-worship.jpg

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Through the Storm

Acts 27: 13-19 “13 And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete. 14 But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon. 15 And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive. 16 And running under a certain island which is called Clauda, we had much work to come by the boat: 17 Which when they had taken up, they used helps, undergirding the ship; and, fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands, strake sail, and so were driven. 18 And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship; 19 And the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship” (KJV).

The crew did not want to spend the winter months at Fair Haven and going against Paul’s warning they decided to set sail for Phoenix, a few hours away. As soon as they felt the south winds blow they left the port of Fair Haven.

Shortly after departing they were caught by a strong typhoon or hurricane force winds. The storm was so strong that they had to let the ship drift in the winds and tides. They had to undergird the ship, which is simply using chains or ropes to strengthen the ship. By the second day they began to lighten the ship, throwing unnecessary items overboard and by the third day they began throwing the ships tackling. Anything that was not essential went overboard. They must have been in real trouble.

Wrong decisions based upon wrong advice may often land us in troubled waters and stormy seas. Paul warned them not to sail during the winter months and specifically told them that this trip was going to be dangerous. But Julius listened to the ship’s crew.

It is easy to say “I told you so”, when someone does the opposite of what we tell them. But the problem wasn’t Julius’ failure to listen to Paul. When you think about it, Julius took the best advice he could have, after all Paul was not a ship’s captain or part of any ship’s crew. The problem we run into is when we don’t seek the Lord’s will first. We tend to listen to others or make decisions based on feelings and emotions, instead of entering into a time of prayer and study in order to seek the Lord’s will. Luke 22:42 “Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done”.

Now please do not misunderstand my thoughts here: good advice is and what others think is one way that the Lord uses in order to guide us down the right path. It is important to remember that we still need to seek the Father’s will in everything we do. Just be cautious about making decisions that affect your walk with the Lord.

In Christ,

The Silent Preacher

Graphic Image: Retrieved from: https://kripashish.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/capt-ship_storm_wip_04.jpg

Proactive Leadership

 Joshua 2:1-3 “1 And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot’s house, named Rahab, and lodged there. 2 And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, there came men in hither to night of the children of Israel to search out the country. 3 And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country. 4 And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were:” (KJV).

Joshua sends out spies to gain information about the city of Jericho. He sends two men, who upon entering the city stayed at a harlot’s house. The woman Rahab allows the Hebrew men a place to stay. But news travels fast, even in those days. The King wants to know who these men are that have come into his city to gather intelligence. When Rehab is questioned, she lies in order to protect the men.

While much has been written about the story of Rahab, I want to continue my focus on the leadership skills of Joshua. Notice that Joshua sent spies in order to gather strategic information concerning the city. We know that Joshua has already been promised victory over the city, so why did he need to spy out the land of Jericho? Joshua 1:3, “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that Have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses” (KJV).

Joshua was being proactive in his leadership. Sending out spies to gather specific information about the city would provide the details needed to carry out the best possible attack. He was also being responsible with the Lord’s blessings and promises. “Joshua’s faith was manifested by an active, persevering use of means; and accordingly Joshua, while confident in the accomplishment of the divine promise, adopted every precaution which a skillful general could think of to render his first attempt in the invasion of Canaan successful” (Jamieson, Fausset & Brown, (1961). James 2:22 “Seest thou how faith wrought with his works and by works was faith made perfect” (KJV).

Leadership requires a continuous and proactive response. When we lead others, we need to be ready for anything. Working and leading a ministry requires us to ready for the next step or stage. The Lord may be waiting for us to be proactive before he will allow us the blessings of growth. Joshua had prepared for his new leadership responsibilities for years and once he was given the charge over Israel, he continued to prepare for what the Lord set before him.

There may be times when you are ready to take a break and put your ministry in neutral. Everything may be going well and you are in a stage of great blessings and growth, but this should be the time when we recharge and continue to move forward. Be proactive and ready for the next stage of growth. This applies to leadership as well as our own personal relationship with the Lord.

In Christ,

The Silent Preacher

 

Reference

Fausset, A., Jamieson, R., & Brown, D. (1961). Jamieson, Fausset & Brown’s commentary on the whole Bible. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Pub. House.

Image. Retrieved from: http://www.theleadershipcoach.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/what-every-leader-wants-proactive-team.jpg

Step with Confidence

 Joshua 1:9-15 “9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. 10 Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, 11 Pass through the host, and command the people, saying, Prepare you victuals; for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land, which the LORD your God giveth you to possess it. 12 And to the Reubenites, and to the Gadites, and to half the tribe of Manasseh, spake Joshua, saying, 13 Remember the word which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, The LORD your God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land. 14 Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle, shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this side Jordan; but ye shall pass before your brethren armed, all the mighty men of valour, and help them; 15 Until the LORD have given your brethren rest, as he hath given you, and they also have possessed the land which the LORD your God giveth them: then ye shall return unto the land of your possession, and enjoy it, which Moses the LORD’S servant gave you on this side Jordan toward the sunrising” (KJV).

Joshua was strong in the Lord; this can be seen by the confidence displayed as he encouraged his people. Joshua commands his officers, giving them detailed instructions on what to do. But notice that Joshua is sharing the promises that were delivered to him by the Lord. He was not adding or taking anything away from the original instructions given to him by the Lord.

Interesting to watch some leaders and observe how they assign tasks and instructions. Sometimes they don’t even provide instructions, they just tell you what they want done. It ends up being your job to figure out how to accomplish the task. And more often than not, this usually ends with the boss changing their mind; telling you that the method you have decided to use is completely wrong.

It can be frustrating to work for leaders that follow their own plan; or at the least, they fail to provide the total package of information at the beginning. Providing instructions periodically during the process leaves a worker in the dark. May I offer some advice here? Whether you are leading a ministry, work, or a parent, please take the time to provide as much information as possible. Great leaders are those that keep their workers well-informed and updated along the way. There may be times when things change or a new process has been added, but those situations are very different from keeping your workers in the dark.

As you read through these verses, try looking at it from the perspective I have discussed. The method and detail of Joshua’s instructions is a perfect model for any leader to follow. Using this method will also allow workers to build trust in your leadership abilities. If you fail to provide pertinent information, your workers will begin to doubt your abilities. Ministry and work production will be affected. When you staff and workers begin to doubt, your confidence will decrease and your leadership abilities will be challenging. Just something to ponder and think about…

In Christ,

The Silent Preacher

Reference

Graphic Retrieved from: http://transformingtruth.org/assets/WALKING-With-Confidence_t.jpg

Step Counter!!!

Joshua 1:7-8 “7 Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. 8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success” (KJV).

Joshua is given a powerful promise. Each new step that Joshua is about to take and lead the nation of Israel will be prosperous. No matter what challenges and difficulties encountered, they are promised success. What a wonderful promise and there is no doubt that hearing this promise would allow Joshua to take each step with strength and courage.

The only stipulation for cashing in on the Lord’s promise; Joshua must remember his previous steps and those of Moses. The stipulation was to continue to observe the law. This made me think of the phrase “remember where you came from”; a phrase often used when someone advances to a higher leadership position.

When we remember the law, we look back at our past in a humble manner. The law is also a reminder of the steps that lead to the Cross. We remember that our authority comes from the Lord. As a leader it is easy to become power-hungry and use that power to gain glory from those under our authority. This is an area where I have seen great men of God fall into Satan’s traps.

As a leader in any profession, we must always remember that the Lord has blessed us and entrusted us to be in such positions. We must be careful to conduct ourselves in a manner that brings honor and glory to the Lord.

Spending time in His word becomes a greater challenge when serving in a leadership position. Leadership usually requires more responsibility and consumes more of our time. It becomes difficult to find time to focus on our personal spiritual growth, but we must also seek spiritual guidance and wisdom for others.

As we look at Joshua, we begin to see how important it was for Joshua to spend years preparing. Before Joshua could take over, he spent years training and developing his spiritual maturity first. He had to be mature and well prepared spiritually before he could add the additional responsibilities in leading the nation of Israel.

I am reminded that “we” as believers are all filling a leadership position. We are all responsible for the most important job of all ministries; sharing the Gospel with others. Of all the ministries and leadership roles, being trained and ready to lead others to Christ is and should be our number one goal. I don’t think anyone would say that they witness perfectly to others and don’t need to grow spiritually in this area. I know from personal experience that everyone is different when they hear the Gospel message; the excuses for not believing may be the same, but that person has a unique and deeper reason for either rejecting the message or not understanding it. The more we study and grow in the Lord, the better prepared we are when the Lord opens the door of opportunity for us to share His message.

In Christ,

The Silent Preacher

Graphic Reference

Retrieved from: http://www.fitnessexact.com/wp-content/uploads/counting-steps.jpg

Step Out!!!

 Joshua 1:3-6 “3 Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. 4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. 5 There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. 6 Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them” (KJV).

Joshua has willingly stepped up and officially takes on the leadership role of the nation of Israel. It is important to notice that Joshua took on his new role before he was given the official brevet command and commission over Israel. While training under Moses, Joshua was fulfilling the role of a spiritual advisor to Moses 1. But that is not the only position he was filling at that time, Joshua was being groomed as a high level military leader and warrior 2.

We see in these verses that God assigns Joshua three important tasks: lead Israel into the promise land, conquer and defeat the enemy, and control the distribution of the claimed inheritance.

Each of these three tasks was followed by three special promises, one for each of the tasks. The first promise was the ability to cross the river and reach the new territory. The second promise was the ability to conquer the enemy. And the third promise was to divide the newly gained inheritance to each tribe.

I want to focus on the final verse of today’s lesson. Verse 6 “Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them” (KJV). I’m afraid that we often fail to step out in faith because we desire to know the details before we make any moves. Meaning, we want the complete detailed plans and instructions first, and to put it plainly, we want all the answers to any “what if…” questions. But that is not how faith works; His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not ours 3.

This is a lesson that may be difficult to learn. But the message for us today is clear; God has given us, all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus 4. In order to obtain those spiritual blessings we must step up in our faith, the process begins when we are moved internally by the Touch of our Master. And this is exactly what Joshua did, and as I explained in my previous post “Step Up”, Joshua was stepping up years prior to this new leadership role. He was prepared to answer the call at a moments notice.

Stepping up in our faith is the beginning phase, being ready and prepared for whatever the lord has planned for us. The next step is for us to step out in faith. Now we have to put on our shoes and start walking. We may not know where, how far, or how long our walk will be, but stepping out in faith is the only way we can claim them. The Lord has set before us a series of doors and there will be one door that He will open when the time is right.

I picture a long walking trail that winds through the mountains of life. I can see thousands of doors and each one is locked shut. Personally I have been walking the “Faith Path” since March, praying every day for the Lord to open a door for me. During my walk I have gone through many frustrating days; as much as I know that the Lord will open that door when he is ready, there will be days when I get tired from walking, days when my shoes become worn out, my feet become blistered, but I continued walking. The Lord opened that door last month and the blessings on the other side were more than I could have imagined. Wiersbe (2010) said it best “He has set before His church an open door that nobody can close 6” and we as Christians must walk the path until we reach that unlocked open door. Then we need to walk through the open door by faith in order to claim the blessings. Just like Joshua did when he took the church on a “Faith Path” journey through the river and defeated the enemy, so they could claim the new territory.

I pray we will all move forward in our walk with the Lord, maturing as believers and being faithful servants so we can move into new territory and claim what He has promised for us. The Lord’s will is for us to continue growing and stepping out in faith 7. If we are not growing and moving forward, then we are moving backwards…

Isaiah 43:18-19 “18 Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. 19 Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert” (KJV).

In Christ,

The Silent Preacher

References

1 Exodus 24:13 “And Moses rose up, and his minister Joshua: and Moses went up into the mount of God” (KJV).

2 Exodus 17:10) “So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill” (KJV)

3 Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (KJV).

4 Ephesians 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:” (KJV).

5 Revelation 3:8 “I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name” (KJV).

6 Wiersbe, W. (2010). Be strong putting God’s power to work in your life: OT commentary, Joshua (2nd ed.). Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook.

7 Hebrews 6:1 “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God” (KJV).

Graphic Retrieved from: http://naomidemmon.theworldrace.org/blogphotos/theworldrace/naomidemmon/trust
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Step Up!

 Joshua 1:1-2 “1 Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying, 2 Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel” (KJV).

The death of Moses must have been difficult for the nation of Israel. Moses led the nation for years and through many trials. As the nation wandered in the wilderness, it was the great leadership of Moses that helped guide and provide for them, through the Lord’s direction.

As we begin the New Year, maybe we should be watchful of new opportunities and challenges. Much like the changing of leadership that Israel is about to witness under Joshua.

Joshua had spent years training and the Lord instructed Moses to prepare this young man for such a moment as this. Maybe you have been sitting under a great leader who has been training you for years. And maybe this will be the year that you begin to take on new challenges. This may be the year that the Lord has been grooming you for.

A great leader is someone who lifts you up in times of trouble; they encourage teamwork, excellence, growth, and unity. Like all great leaders, there will come a time when the torch needs to be passed down. If you have been filling a leadership role for years, ask yourself “have I been training someone to fill my shoes”? All too often, I have seen great ministries come to a halt because the leader moved on or was called to a new ministry.

I believe it is important for a leader to train younger generations, preparing and grooming them to take over. Just as important is the willingness to be “trained”, this responsibility does not rest on the leader alone. Those who serve should be ready to take over a ministry in a moment’s notice. Moses listened to the wisdom of the Lord; trained a younger generation. At the same time, Joshua was willing and ready to be trained. “And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him: and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the LORD commanded Moses” (Deut. 34:9, KJV).

Remember that all ministry work is to bring honor and glory to the Lord. Leadership is not about being selfish or power-hungry; it is about leading others, for the honor and glory of the Lord.

Galatians 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (KJV). It’s not about me; it is all about Christ…

In Christ,

The Silent Preacher

Out With The Old…In With The New!!!

 Psalms 51:10-12 “10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. 12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit” (KJV).

As we journey through the last few days of 2014; we look forward to beginning a new year, many of us will consider making some resolutions. Personally, I don’t like to make New Year resolutions, but I do like to look back over the past year and reflect on my accomplishments and failures. This is a wonderful time for personal reflection; a time to examine our spiritual walk with the Lord. Before I discuss these verses let’s take a moment to ask ourselves some questions.

During this past year…

  1. How was my spiritual walk?
  2. How much time did I spend in prayer?
  3. Did I spend enough time reading my Bible?
  4. How many Bible studies did I complete?
  5. What ministries did I support? (Financially, prayerfully, physically, etc.)

These are just a few simple examples to help us reflect spiritually. These are not meant to be an exhaustive list but merely challenge us to think deeply and spiritually about our New Year resolutions. The most common resolutions include: weight loss, healthier eating habits, removal of bad habits, money (saving and debt reduction), etc. All of which are excellent resolutions that will help each one of us; but what about our spiritual resolutions?

David begins with “Create in me…” which is the most important ingredient for spiritual change. Create begins the process by cutting down and clearing out what has been standing in our way. It is like clearing out a forest in order to pour the foundation of your home. Once the trees have been removed the cleaning continues with the removal of the stumps and roots.

As we establish our new resolutions, it is critical to ensure our minds and hearts are cleaned, old things are passed away, removed, and forgotten. We now have the ability to fill our minds with a clean spirit and a new heart. As we enter into a new year, I pray we will all focus on creating a new spirit and a clean heart that allows us to grow closer to the Lord.

There are two things that stood out in these verses; the first is our ability to create a new habit that will focus on the Lord. The second is to restore what we have been doing for the Lord, allowing us to enhance and improve them. We can always improve our walk, relationship, and love for the Lord. As a Christian we never stop growing in the Lord, but just as it is important for us to eat healthy, we must eat a healthy spiritual diet as well.

Zabriskie (2014) encourages us to establish a resolution of reading through the Bible in 2015. The article listed 20 reasons and benefits that can be achieved from reading through the entire Bible in a year. It also discussed how quickly most of us fail at completing the common resolutions.

One key to remember when establishing any resolution is your ability and desire. We often fail because we do not allow enough time to perform the new task of change. For example, if you desire to read through the Bible in a year, make sure you set aside plenty of time each day to accomplish your reading. You must also take into account those events that will “pop-up” and keep you from completing your daily reading. This is an area that needs to be accounted for. Either establish an alternate time during your day or ensure you have the time to catch up on your reading. I like to set aside a couple of hours each day, this gives me plenty of time for reading and studying. When something comes up, then I have plenty of time set aside to make up any reading or additional research that I may need to accomplish.

Establishing my daily quiet time with the Lord and His word has not been an easy task for me, but I have to admit, it has been the greatest blessing. The Lord has blessed me in so many ways, reading my Bible has allowed me to slow down and listen to what He has planned for me. It has also provided me a great opportunity to stare into the mirror of my life, showing me those areas that need some attention, cleaning, and redirection. I encourage everyone to do what they can to ensure they have set aside some “quiet time” with the Lord daily. The Bible is the only book that has the ability to continuously strengthen us on so many levels. Reading His word will allow us to grow and strengthen our personal life, marriage, parenting, family, work, and church life and fellowship. The Bible will never be outdated and we can never learn too much from it.

I pray the Lord will bless everyone who reads this post and help them grow closer to You. May the Lord speak clearly and strengthen you daily. May He lift you up when you are down and allow you to be His light to those around you. May His wisdom fill you each and every day. God bless you for taking the time out of your day to read my posts. It is an honor and privilege for me to have the freedom and ability to share what the Lord places on my heart.

In Christ,

The Silent Preacher

Reference

Zabriskie, M. (2014). Resolved: read the Bible in 2015. Fox News. Retrieved from: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/12/26/resolved-read-bible-in-2015/

When the Door is Closed…

Acts 16:5-12 “5 And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily. 6 Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, 7 After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. 8 And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. 10 And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them. 11 Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis; 12 And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days” (KJV).

Paul is now on his second missionary journey and this time he takes Silas with him. It isn’t long before he meets up with Timothy and takes him under his wing. In verse 10 the use of the word “we” indicates that Luke has now joined the team.

As they continue building churches and teaching new believers, everything seemed to be wonderful then the Lord holds up the “stop” sign.

The Lord’s stop sign halted Paul’s original plan to spread and strengthen the gospel message in Asia. This caused Paul and his team to travel through the regions of Phrygia and Galatia. When they reached Mysia, the Holy Spirit put up another road block. This time the Lord sent him a vision to direct his path to Troas.

Once in Troas and receiving the Lord’s new plan, they immediately set sail for Macedonia and the city of Philippi. Along the way to Philippi, they stopped briefly at Samothracia and then Neapolis.

Application: When we are in a dark place, seeking direction from the Lord, we often sit still, waiting for a clear sign and direction before moving forward. Or maybe we are working in a ministry that seems to be slowly depleting itself. Members are falling by the wayside faster and faster, you have tried everything possible, but have no idea how to keep it afloat. So you sit and pray, waiting for the Lord to show you a new direction. Maybe you are waiting for the Lord to pat you on the back and tell you “well done my faithful servant; but I have shut the doors on this ministry”.

I would like to point out that these scenarios are perfectly fine for a Christian to experience. But maybe when the Lord holds up that stop sign, we need to look around behind us, because He is holding up the “Go” sign for us. It might mean that His new plan and direction might be for a new ministry or new location. I am reminded that Paul and his team could have become distraught, depressed, or angry when their plans were changed. But they didn’t, they simply said “Ok, Lord, but which way shall we go now”?

When we are faced with a closed-door from the Lord, maybe we should begin with prayer and keeping with the door analogy, try opening some of the other doors around us.

I can remember being on fire for the Lord, building and working in a growing ministry that was aflame for God. But it did not last long before He quickly shut that door. I was so confused and hurt, I felt like it was something that I had done. I spent a lot of time in prayer, seeking answers. A new door was opened when I stopped focusing on myself and turned it all over to the Lord. My prayer went something like this “Lord, thank you for all of the blessing that I have been given during my ministry and thank you for closing the door. Forgive me for trying to reason with your plans, I am at your service, use me as your will desires for my life and I will follow you anywhere”.

As I waited for the Lord, I dedicated my time in prayer and studies. It was not long before the Lord opened a new door for me and has been using me ever since. We should not be surprised when the Lord changes directions, as long as we understand that we are not the ones in control.

Isaiah 64:8 “But not, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand” (KJV).

Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (KJV).

Kyle Idleman’s (2011) book “Not a Fan” is a wonderful reminder of these verses. A fan is someone who gives up hope when their team is not doing so great. But when the team is winning, then they are the best fans. Here is just one of his many great quotes ““The biggest threat to the church today is fans who call themselves Christians but aren’t actually interested in following Christ. They want to be close enough to Jesus to get all the benefits, but not so close that it requires anything from them” (Idleman, 2011).

In Christ,

The Silent Preacher

Reference

Idleman, K. (2011). Not a fan: Becoming a completely committed follower of Jesus. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan.

Her Only Christmas Present

Luke 2:36-38 “36 And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; 37 And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. 38 And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem” (KJV).

Luke writes and describes an amazing woman named Anna in 3 little verses. But Luke’s detailed method of writing allows us to learn so much about her. Yesterday I discussed the remarkable faith of the man Simeon and today we will look at Anna’s only Christmas present.

From the text we can deduce a few outstanding qualities of this woman. First, she is described as a prophetess. A prophetess is defined as a female who possesses the ability to see and describe future spiritual events, and this is done by an inspired woman (Strong, 1984). “As a prophetess, Anna receives insight into things that normally remain hidden to ordinary people; she recognizes who this child is and tells of his significance to selected people in Jerusalem” (Branch, 2013). Her actions affirm Amos 3:7: “Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plans to his servants the prophets.”

She was a very spiritual woman who had a great family origin, “daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asser”. “But she had much more than age and ancestry; she had a deep faith and a resilient piety: she did not depart from the temple, worshipping, fasting and praying night and day” (Arias, 1984).

She would have been married at the age of 14 or 15; which lasted only 7 years before the passing of her husband. From the text we can place her at the age of at least 85; some commentaries place her age at 114-115 years old. The point to focus on is her long dedicated life and service to the temple.

She fasted and prayed regularly and this would indicate the she was probably thin. Her ability to move about the temple in order to minister to others shows us that she was able to move around and her vision was still acceptable (v.38). This is an amazing ability for a woman her age. After the death of her husband, Anna devoted her entire life to working night and day in the temple.

Notice in the latter part of verse 38 “spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem”. She was still excited to be a witness of the truth and her long years of dedicated service at the temple was a testimony of her faith. After spending 80 plus years serving in the temple, Anna was still on fire for the Lord. God truly blessed her for her dedicated service by providing her with the one greatest Christmas gift she could have asked for…

In Christ,

The Silent Preacher

References

Arias, M. B. (1984). Simeon and Anna sodalities : a challenge to churches in transition. Missiology, 12(1), 97-101.

Branch, R. G. (2013). Anna in the Bible: Luke reveals the prophetess as a Biblical model for aging. Bible History Daily, Bible Archaeology. Retrieved from http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/people-in-the-bible/anna-in-the-bible

Strong, J., & Strong, J. (1984). The New Strong’s exhaustive concordance of the Bible: With main concordance, appendix to the main concordance, key verse comparison chart, dictionary of the Hebrew Bible, dictionary of the Greek Testament. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.