Monday, March 27, 2017


Our new mission statement is: To Make His Name Glorious!
1.       Declare our God is an Awesome God.
2.      Magnify who He is and what He does.
3.      Recognize and submit to His Lordship.
4.      Acknowledge His presence, power and purpose over us in all aspects of our lives.
5.      Say this is the Day the Lord has made and we rejoice in it.

What is the NAME we are to make glorious? Our name defines us. It separates us from others. It places us in a category—we belong to the Smith family. It can even say something about our heritage—where we’re from, who were our ancestors.

Can we define God by a name? Does His name describe Him?

In a distant village, a long time ago, there lived six blind men. One day a man brought an elephant into the village. They had never seen or felt an elephant before and so decided, to go see what the elephant was like.
“The elephant is a pillar,” said the first man who touched his leg.
“No! It is like a rope,” argued the second after touching the tail.
“It is like a thick branch of a tree,” the third man spouted after touching the trunk.
“No, it is like a big hand fan” said the fourth man feeling the ear.
“It is like a huge wall,” sounded the fifth man who groped the elephant’s side.
“It is like a solid pipe,” Said the sixth man with the tusk in his hand.
They argued as to who was right, each sticking to their own perception. A wise man heard the argument, stopped and asked them “What is the matter?” They said, “We cannot agree on what the elephant is like.”
The wise man then calmly said, “Each one of you is correct and each one of you is wrong. Because you had only touched a part of the elephant’s body, you only have a partial view of the animal. If you put your partial views together, you will get a better idea of what an elephant is like.”

When we want to know what God is like, we read stories about His activity in Scripture and what He has done becomes our understanding of who He is. In the first verse of the Bible we see Him as the One who created all that exists. As we study His creation, we discover He has unlimited power that by merely speaking, things came into being. We see amazing variety within creation itself. In our first glimpse, we say He is an awesome God.

As we read on it becomes obvious that there is a plan He is working out—there’s just too much detail within His design. Then it dawns on us, He is not just making all that is, but He is working on some type of plan. He’s not just filling up the world, but engineering things with a purpose in mind.

We read on and learn He is a holy God with holy requirements which Adam and Eve violated. Then we discover a new word: accountability. God gave them limits and they failed to stay within those limits. From then on He is the reconciler, working man back toward relationship with Him.

We continue reading the Book and hear the name God Almighty and find He is unlimited in what He does. He reveals Himself through such words as: deliverer, healer, the God who sees, our fortress who provides security and protection, our Savior who draws us to Himself, our provider, our shepherd, our King. Names for God that have to do with how man has interacted with Him throughout Scripture.

But when God formally introduces Himself, He uses the word YHWH. The word is all consonants so how to pronounce it remains a mystery. In the past, men have merged these consonants with certain vowels and come up with Jehovah or Yahweh. In our Bible it is the word LORD in all capital letters. In the Jewish Bible they use the word Adonai.

God used that word in two of the most significant passages of Scripture when He wanted people to know who He was:

Then Moses said to God, "Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you.' Now they may say to me, 'What is His name?' What shall I say to them?" God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM"; and He said, "Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'" God, furthermore, said to Moses, "Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, 'The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.' This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations.  (Ex 3:13-15)

The Shema: Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! (Deut 6:4)

LORD is an all-inclusive word that wraps up all the other names of God into one. ROPE

Remember how our human minds cannot take in all there is to know about the ways and thoughts of God…neither can we comprehend God in all He is and all He can do. Peel back one layer and there is another layer just as complex and amazing as the one we think we understand. We can spend our life trying to discover who God is and the one string we’ve focused on is merely one thread in an infinite number of strings that make up the rope of YHWH. I AM WHO I AM.

YHWH is more of a statement than a name. It’s in the present tense so it remains true even as that statement moves through time. As God was, He is and as He is, He will be. He cannot and will not change. God is God in every moment.

He is never not present, powerful and purposeful.

YHWH or LORD, carries the weight of preeminence. There is no one else in my category as LORD. It is a word exclusive to God alone. A king may be called “his eminence” because he is Lord of His kingdom. But God is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He has preeminence.
Pre-before. Preeminence-before all other's with emenince.

Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other. I have sworn by Myself, the word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness and will not turn back, that to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance. They will say of Me, 'Only in the LORD are righteousness and strength.' (Isa 45:22-24)

For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil 2:9-11)

As LORD, no one else was to be given His position. So to help His people know what this meant, He said: Have no other gods before Me. (Ex 20:3)

Before: in front of, behind, above, beside, alongside, over, around, up against, opposite, next to, near.

I am distinct from all objects of devotion and dedication and authority. So let no one or no thing assume preeminence in your life except Me.

Jesus gave us a new title for God: FATHER. Father, all life originated in Him, but He is also, more so, Chief, Head, Master, Lord.

He said: Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. (Matt 23:9)

Why?  Because the same tendency remains for us to search for substitutes, replacements, second opinions.
For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. (Rom 1:21)

If God is not preeminent, we will allow something else to be.

Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (Matt 6:9-10)

God’s will in Heaven is indisputable, unquestioned, without opposition, absolute. Not may your will be done on earth but your will be done on earth as it is being done in Heaven.

His prophets understood this and said things like:

I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. (Job 42:2)

Is anything too difficult for the LORD? (Gen 18:14)

'Ah Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You, (Jer 32:17) Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying, "Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?" (Jer 32:26-27)

Abraham, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. (Rom 4:20-21)

Paul saw it and wrote: I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. (Phil 1:6) And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Rom 8:28)

David wrote: Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, And Your right hand will save me. The LORD will accomplish what concerns me; (Ps 138:7-8) Is God big enough to accomplish whatever concerns you?

God is not some hobby.  
He’s not a subject to be studied.
He is not an addendum to our over-crowded lives.
He is not just the blesser or punisher of life.
We are not doing Him some religious favor by believing He exists.
He is God Most High! He is Almighty God! He wears the name that is above all other names. He is LORD! [He is Lord…]

How might that affect your prayer life? [Who you are talking with, what He’s capable of]
How might that affect how much you trust Him? [For your life, your health, your future,
your kids, your grandkids.]
How might that affect your confidence in His love, ability and plans in your life?
How might that affect your focus when you worship?
How might that affect your perspective on “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!” [Irrespective of what’s going on. Regardless of circumstances]

1.       Believing in God is not acknowledging that He is, but who He is.
2.      Believing in God is declaring He is LORD.
3.      If He is LORD, He is more than a religious entity.
4.      If He is LORD, He is present, powerful and able to do exceeding abundantly beyond anything we could ever imagine.

5.      Before we can have Easter, we must have a God able to plan, orchestrate and pull off the impossible.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Heaven's View of Easter - Heaven Itself

Henry Ford had an idea. There must be a better way to produce automobiles. He didn’t invent the automobile. He invented the method by which automobiles could be made more efficiently, quicker and at less cost. He created the assembly line.

He began with the concept of the car he wanted built, divided that car up into segments and established stations along a motorized path where each segment would be completed and attached to the car as it passed along.

His vision was the entire process even though workers only saw a small part of that process. They didn’t see the full picture, only their piece of the puzzle. It wasn’t until they saw a finished car with all the segments put together that they appreciated how their segment fit into fulfilling Henry Ford’s dream.

God started the world with an idea. All that He planned within that idea was revealed in segments along the way. In God’s mind was the total picture, but that picture was too big for man to comprehend. Man couldn’t hold the immensity of God’s thought in his human mind. To let us know He was working a plan, He would give glimpses of segments of the plan.

In ancient days there were Seers – one who sees beyond the obvious in order to gain insight into the unknown.

Later that changed to Prophets – one who tells – foretelling or forth-telling – one given the words of God so he can relate the message of God.

Typical of the Prophet was the introductory phrase: the word of the Lord came unto…and he spoke. God gave him insight, a glimpse of the idea, then granted him a way to communicate that insight. He spoke or he did something in response to God’s revelation. God told a prophet to go and do or go and say…that’s what he’d do. Never hear a prophet say, “I need more details than that.” – you can’t handle the truth.

God would reveal to these prophets pieces of the picture of what He was doing. They would see there piece and then share details of what they saw. They didn’t see the finished product, only what He showed them in that moment.

Like being handed a single piece of a jigsaw puzzle to describe without the picture on the box, that one piece doesn’t always make sense on its own. But when that piece fits together with other pieces the whole picture begins to make sense.

Often looking back we can see how each piece fits into the whole picture.

Like Micah being given a glimpse of Jesus’ birth. Like Daniel given a glimpse of the Messiah’s entrance into Jerusalem. Like Isaiah being given a glimpse of Jesus’ death. Like John given a glimpse of the Second Coming. Though they didn’t fully grasp the significance of these glimpses they trusted God that when connected to the big picture they would all make sense.

It’s a bit like living through difficult times. We don’t know all that’s going on or what it means, so we take what we’ve been shown and trust that somehow it fits into the bigger picture of what God is doing.

Heaven’s View of Easter – To many, Easter is a sad story of circumstances gone wrong but turns out okay because of the resurrection. Heaven saw it quite differently.

Heaven itself: The Place

Throughout the OT God gave glimpses of Heaven. A few prophets saw it, but, without having any picture to compare their glimpse with, their piece of the puzzle didn’t always make sense. But they believed what they saw. That’s why God gave them glimpses. He knew He could trust them with what He showed them.

Same with us: trust in what God shows us and He’ll show us more.

In the Psalms, David describes three levels of the heavens:

The Atmospheric Level: The birds of the heavens. (Ps 8:8)
The LORD also thundered in the heavens, (Ps 18:13) Who covers the heavens with clouds, Who provides rain for the earth… (Ps 147:8)

The Astronomical Level: When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained; (Ps 8:3) the expanse that is declaring the work of His hands. (Ps 19:1)

Heaven Itself: The LORD is in His holy temple; the LORD'S throne is in heaven; (Ps 11:4)
The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all. (Ps 103:19)

God directed our attention upwards but never said how far up.

But early on, there was separate understanding about a place for the dead after life – Sheol. Again only a glimpse, but no one saw it as connected with Heaven. It seemed to be a separate holding place for the dead – Hades.

Solomon had all the dead collecting in a single place – an assembly of the dead. A man who wanders from the way of understanding will rest in the assembly of the dead. (Pr 21:16)

David saw a separation within that assembly of the ungodly dead from the righteous dead: The heavens will praise Your wonders, O LORD; Your faithfulness also in the assembly of the holy ones. (Ps 89:5)

When David said of his baby that died: he will not come to me but I will go to him. He was confident he and the child would go to the place of the holy ones distinct from just an assembly of the dead.

This assembly of the ungodly dead was further explained in the NT when we learn of Hell: a place of torment, a prison of the unrighteous, created for the devil and his demons—a place to be held until final judgment.

Jesus made the two distinct when He said: The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.' (Luke 16:22-24)

So, from early glimpses we learn there is life after death, and separate places, separate circumstances for those who die.

But even David’s view of what went on in Heaven was blocked. His said: Will You perform wonders for the dead? Will the departed spirits rise and praise You? (Ps 88:10) The dead do not praise the LORD, nor do any who go down into silence; (Ps 115:17) So don’t let me die. Keep me alive because only then can: we… bless the LORD from this time forth and forever. (Ps 115:18)

Since earth was all David had experienced, being alive was the greater good for David. Which we pretty much believe today.

But later, in a larger view of the picture, in the Revelation to John, God showed him: Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing." And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, "To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever." (Rev 5:11-13)

The assembly of the righteous dead is in the presence of God and they are praising Him.
Yet we still don’t have the complete picture.

Jesus showed us more when He called Heaven: Paradise.

Paradise actually means “the garden.” A reference as much to the place of beauty as to the location.

"Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise." (Luke 23:43)

Paul used the same term when in a vision, he was: caught up to the third heaven, caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.  (2 Cor 12:4)

Though not mentioned as such, I’m convinced the Garden of Eden was a type of Heaven. In the Revelation to John, Jesus said: 'He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.' (Rev 2:7)
Wasn’t that same tree in the Garden of Eden?

Ezekiel calls Eden, the garden of God; God's garden… (Ezek 28:13)

The Book of Revelation gives us the greatest details, but even in those descriptions, all we can say is it is a place beyond description, beautiful and welcoming. Anyone who gives more descriptions of Heaven is generally making up what they want Heaven to be like. And that is a glorified earth. Heaven exists in its own indescribable category.

Lady buried with her fork in her hand.

Jn 14:1f

My Father’s house – Heaven – Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (Matt 6:9-10)

A place but also a platform from where God orchestrates His activity in the world.

Dwelling places – abiding space

Mansions is a most unfortunate translation

Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. (Jn 14:23)

The abode is the dwelling place. We’ll enter the abiding space of God.

Heaven is the realm where God is. That’s where Jesus was going. So that Where I am, there you will be.

And Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, (Heb 1:3)

But being full of the Holy Spirit, Stephen gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." (Acts 7:55-56) He is there.

Prepare a place for you. Heaven is the place prepared for us where we go after we die.
Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord—we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. (2 Cor 5:6-7)

How do we get there? Little kid was asked: how do we get to go to heaven? Die.

Yes and no. Remember, there are two destinations – one for the righteous dead and one for the ungodly dead. Righteous – people with a personal relationship with God. Ungodly – people without a personal relationship with God.

Vs. 5-6 – Who was Jesus talking to: His own people.

Those who know the way: into what? Eternal life.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (Jn 3:16)

The only way. This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. (Jn 17:3)

And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

God bases entrance into Heaven, not on some subjective—who’s been naughty and who’s been nice. It is a holy place that He created for Himself and has invited us to join Him there.

You might call Heaven restricted air space we have permission to enter.

But from Heaven, God’s will exists and is sent out to the world.

1.                           Heaven exists and is beyond description.
2.                           It is where God’s throne is.
3.                          From that throne God directs His intentions in the world.
4.                          He reserves space for us there in response to us accepting His invitation of salvation.

5.                         The decision to receive that invitation is made here, on this side of death, not on the other side.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Settling for More

“There is no passion to be found in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” – Nelson Mandela

To settle means to come to rest, much as snow settles on the ground or dust settles on a book shelf.
A bird settles down on the window ledge. A dog settles down when he finally quits barking. A horse settles down when she stops pulling at the reigns. The house settles down when the parents take the grandkids home.

To Settle also means: to lower your standards of what’s acceptable and best in order to have someone or something right now.

If you settle for something, you choose or accept it, not because it’s what you really want, but because you thought there was nothing else available or better.

In seminary, many professors allowed us to contract for grades. Each grade had requirements. The higher the grade the greater the requirement. I wanted an A but the requirements seemed too much for the amount of time I was willing to give to that course, so I settled for a B.

Settling is choosing to live a life that is less than the one we’re capable of living.

The Eaglet and the Turkeys

A young eaglet fell from his nest and landed near a flock of turkeys. The turkeys scattered but soon returned. Though startled by the intruder, they invited the young bird to join them. He looked at them. They had feathers though not as beautiful as his. They had beaks but not as noble as his. They had wings but not as grand as his. And though they looked similar, he could tell they were different.

He asked them what they were. “Turkeys,” replied one of the birds. “Am I a turkey?” the eaglet asked back. “You can be if you’d like. Being a turkey is easy,” the turkey said. “All you have to do is eat what we eat, scratch like we scratch and gobble like we gobble. If you want to be a turkey, you’ll just have to be like what we are.”

The little eagle felt he had no choice. There was no way he could get back to the nest so he decided to become a turkey. He began to copy the other turkeys’ behavior. He’d scratch up worms and scoop them up in his beak. He didn’t like worms, but all the others seemed to enjoy them, so he ate what he could.

After dinner the turkeys began to gobble. He’d never gobbled before, so he let out a squawk and when he did all the turkeys ran into the bushes. One of the turkeys said, “Why don’t we work on that later? Right now it’s time to roost for the night.”

He wasn’t familiar with the term “roost” so he just watched the turkeys as they clinched onto the branches and fell asleep. He’d never slept clutching to a branch. He tried but kept waking himself up as he began to tumble off the limb. He found a fork in the branch where two limbs came out together. He settled down between them and slept the rest of the night.

In the morning he followed the turkeys around, scratching on the ground, picking up worms and other insects. He’d just swallow them whole to hurry and get them down. He decided you must have to develop an acquired taste to really enjoy them. Maybe he’d get that in time. That evening he repeated the same process of settling into the crook of his bush.

Day after day, he lived the life of a turkey. He ate turkey food, he slept in turkey bushes, he even got better at gobbling, not good, just a bit better so he didn’t scare the other turkeys away. They even gave him a turkey name—they called him Theodore.

One day, he looked up and saw a bird, high in the air, floating among the currents. When one of the turkeys saw him watching the bird, he told him, “Don’t look up there. Everything we need is right here on the ground.” So the eaglet went back to scratching.

A few days later he heard a beautiful squawk, like a whistle calling him to look up. It was the bird again, dark, black feathers shining against the blue sky. This time something within the eaglet called out to him. He felt urges that made his heart want to leap out of his chest. Urges so strong, he could settle for being a turkey no longer. He was an eagle and he knew it.

As he moved toward the clearing, his eyes were fixed on the bird in the sky. He opened his massive wings, flapped hard and lifted off the ground. Soon he was soaring on the updrafts. He instinctively knew what he was supposed to do. With each breath of rarefied air, free from the dust scratched up from the ground, he rediscovered what he was made to do.

Two morals: It’s hard to soar with the eagles when you hang around with turkeys.
It’s easy to soar with the eagles when you realize you’re an eagle.

Soaring is what an eagle is made to do.
Soaring is what an eagle is equipped to do.
For an eagle to refuse to soar requires him to deny who he is and refuse what he’s been given.

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory [who He is and what He does] and excellence [how He does what He does]. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises [what He has committed to us], so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. (2 Pet 1:2-4)

The divine nature – what God gives us that defines us as His children. Being who we are and having what we need to live the life to which He has called us.

The eaglet says: I am an eagle. I have what an eagle has. I can do what an eagle can do.
I am a Child of God. I have what a Child of God has. I can do what a Child of God can do.

Unless we know who we are, we will never realize the full potential of the life God has given.

[I pray] that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. (Eph 3:16-19)

If you are a turkey, being a turkey is fine and fulfilling. But if you are an eagle, trying to be a turkey when you aren’t a turkey will never fulfill the desires that cry out within you.

Jesus said: I have come that you might have life and have that life in abundance. (Jn 10:10) He has placed something inside of us that cries out for that abundant life. It is begging us not to settle for less but long for more.
For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Col 1:9-14)

Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, (2 Pet 1:12-13)

Stirring brings things back that have settled down.
      George Anderson’s life had stirred up the lives of some of the men in our church.

This week, Friday evening, Saturday evening and next Sunday morning, our Bible Conference is planned to stir up the desire for God that’s in you but has perhaps settled to a place of lesser significance.

So we might realize: Those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, (Isa 40:31)


            If you’re going to settle, settle for more not less.