Month: September 2013

Pressed, but Not Crushed

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2 Corinthians 12:10

The Message (MSG)

7-10 Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,

My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.

Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.
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Bathyspheres are amazing inventions. Operating like miniature submarines, they have been used to explore the ocean in places so deep the water pressure would crush a conventional submarine as easily as if it were an aluminum can, Bathyspheres compensate for the intense water pressure with plates of steel several inches thick. The steel keeps the water out, but it also makes a bathysphere heavy and difficult to maneuver. The space inside is cramped, allowing for only one or two people to survey the ocean floor by looking through a tiny plate-glass window.

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What divers invariably find at every depth of the ocean are fish and other sea creatures. Some of these creatures are quite small and appear to have fairly normal skin. They look flexible and supple as they swim through the inky waters. How can they live at these depths without steel plating? They compensate for the outside pressure through equal and opposite pressure on the inside.

Spiritual fortitude works in the same way. The more negative the circumstances around us, the more we need to allow God’s power to work within us to exert an equal and opposite pressure from the inside. With God on the inside, no pressure on earth can crush us!

It is not enough to begin; continuance is necessary. Success depends upon staying power. Abiding in the word and prayer is the way to have strength to deal with the pressures of life.

Beyond the Status Quo….

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John 5:31-47

The Message (MSG) 30-33 “I can’t do a solitary thing on my own: I listen, then I decide. You can trust my decision because I’m not out to get my own way but only to carry out orders. If I were simply speaking on my own account, it would be an empty, self-serving witness. But an independent witness confirms me, the most reliable Witness of all. Furthermore, you all saw and heard John, and he gave expert and reliable testimony about me, didn’t he?

34-38 “But my purpose is not to get your vote, and not to appeal to mere human testimony. I’m speaking to you this way so that you will be saved. John was a torch, blazing and bright, and you were glad enough to dance for an hour or so in his bright light. But the witness that really confirms me far exceeds John’s witness. It’s the work the Father gave me to complete. These very tasks, as I go about completing them, confirm that the Father, in fact, sent me. The Father who sent me, confirmed me. And you missed it. You never heard his voice, you never saw his appearance. There is nothing left in your memory of his Message because you do not take his Messenger seriously.

39-40 “You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you’ll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren’t willing to receive from me the life you say you want.

41-44 “I’m not interested in crowd approval. And do you know why? Because I know you and your crowds. I know that love, especially God’s love, is not on your working agenda. I came with the authority of my Father, and you either dismiss me or avoid me. If another came, acting self-important, you would welcome him with open arms. How do you expect to get anywhere with God when you spend all your time jockeying for position with each other, ranking your rivals and ignoring God?

45-47 “But don’t think I’m going to accuse you before my Father. Moses, in whom you put so much stock, is your accuser. If you believed, really believed, what Moses said, you would believe me. He wrote of me. If you won’t take seriously what he wrote, how can I expect you to take seriously what I speak?”

Dr. Jack Mezirow, professor emeritus at Columbia Teachers College, believes that an essential element in adult learning is to challenge our own ingrained perceptions and examine our insights critically. Dr. Mezirow says that adults learn best when faced with what he calls a “disorienting dilemma”-something that “helps you critically reflects on the assumptions you’ve acquired,” This is the opposite of saying, “My mind is made up-don’t confuse me with the facts.” When Jesus healed on the Sabbath, He challenged the deeply held beliefs of many religious leaders, and they sought to silence Him. Jesus said to them: “You search the scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” Oswald Chambers observed, “God has a way of bringing in facts which upset a man’s doctrine if these stand in the way of God getting at his soul.” Unsettling experiences that cause us to question our assumptions about the Lord can also lead us to a deeper understanding and trust in Him–If we’re willing to think it through and come to Him. My mind cries its questions, My longing heart, joining. O Father, please hear me ! O spirit, keep teaching! The unexamined life is not worth living.- Socrates

 

 

“You must die in order to live”

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Philippians 3:8

The Message (MSG)

7-9 The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness.

The autumn season we are now entering is one of cornfields ripe for harvest, of the cheerful song of those who reap the crops, and of gathered and securely stored grain. So allow me to draw your attention to the sermon of the fields. This is its solemn message; “You must die in order to live.” You must refuse to consider your own comfort and well-being. You must be crucified, not only to your desires and habits that are obviously sinful but also to many others that may appear to be innocent and right. If you desire to save others, you must be buried in darkness and solitude.”

My heart fails me as I listen. But when the words are from Jesus, may I remind myself that it is my great privilege to enter into “the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings” (Phil. 3:10) and I am therefore in great company. May I also remind myself that all the suffering is designed to make me a vessel suitable for His use. And may I remember that His Calvary blossomed into abundant fruitfulness, and so will mine.

Pain leads to plenty, and death to life–it is the law of the Kingdom! Do we call it dying when a bud blossoms into a flower? Finding, following, keeping, struggling, is He sure to bless? Saints, apostles, prophets, martyrs, Answer, “Yes.”

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In the Thick Of It…..

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Jesus' modified miracles

Isaiah 33:2-4

The Message (MSG)
2-4 God, treat us kindly. You’re our only hope.
First thing in the morning, be there for us!
When things go bad, help us out!
You spoke in thunder and everyone ran.
You showed up and nations scattered.
Your people, for a change, got in on the loot,
picking the field clean of the enemy spoils.

Does it seem to you that the only stories you hear about miracles occur in remote African villages or obscure Chinese provinces? Do you wonder if God is visibly active only on the mission field? Steven Mosley, author of It Only God Would Answer, believes the reason we hear more stories from missionary ventures than local churches is, “God is most active when we are reaching out most, He stretches out when we stretch out.

I feel so empty this morning because of my mourning after the state of our nation. I woke up pondering why I am so consumed with my position in life rather than my position in Christ. There is so much work to be done in this world. I want desperately to have a connection with the Lord that will provide for the countless lost souls as felons and derelicts of society right here in my community.

“I considered the life of George Mueller. He wrote an entire book of answers to specific prayer request he made while living in complacent Victorian England. Mueller was stretched–he was seeking to meet the needs od two thousand orphans. In remote China, Hudson Taylor was given needed funds or had personal needs met without ever making an appeal to any human being. Taylor was stretched–sharing the Gospel where it had not been preached before. Brother Andrew, ‘God’s Smuggler,’ had an abundance of answered prayers. He, too, was stretched–devoting his life to taking Bibles behind the iron curtain.”

Mosley has concluded, “God is most active in the thick of it.” Are you asking God to help you meet your heart’s desire today, or are you asking Him how you might help Him meet His heart’s desires?

Don’t pray for task suited to your capacity. Pray for capacity suited to your task. I am praying and soliciting your prayers of agreement that God will provide “Second Chance Alliance” the opportunity to grow into a full pledge ministry. My wife and I are consumed with felon reform and human life being recycled for God’s glory to be seen on this earth. We want a building to house and educate the fallen and thought to be forsaken individuals of drug addiction and criminal lifestyles. We want a church to connect then with and a recycling business of plastic, aluminum and glass and electronics to give them work and help our planet to become “Green” again. Please pray with us that this stretching of our faith will produce this vision.

USDA Plans to Expand Worrisome Meat-Inspection Program

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Failed pilot inspection program leaves feces (and other contaminants) on beef and pork—and the feds want to keep it going.

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Remember when we reported that the United States Department of Agriculture was set to relax oversight of the poultry industry and allow slaughterhouses to speed up their kill lines? Food-safety experts lined up at the time to condemn the policy, which would privatize slaughterhouse inspections and allow poultry processing plants to kill the birds 25 percent faster.

As it turns out, the USDA has been piloting a similar process in five American hog plants for the past decade. Kill lines at these facilities were sped up by as much as 20 percent and the number of USDA safety inspectors at each plant was cut in half. We learned this week that the plants using the pilot process are some of the worst offenders when it comes to health and safety violations, according to the USDA’s own figures and extensive reporting by the Washington Post.

Serious health violations abound at three of the five pork facilities in the pilot; meat with “chunks” of fecal matter and other contaminants made it to the end of the processing line before it was caught by inspectors. (The plants were cited with violations for letting tainted meat get that far along without being noticed.)

The process of lax inspections and faster kill lines has been used internationally too, with even worse results. A Canadian beef plant using the new system sent products tainted with E. coli into the market—an outbreak that led to the recall of 8.8 million pounds of beef and beef products in Canada and the United States. And several sped up Australian plants shipped meat still containing “chunks” of fecal matter and partly digested food, which was thankfully stopped at the border.

All of which makes faster kills lines and fewer inspectors a bad idea of meat processing, right? Not as the USDA sees it. The Administration wants to expand the failed program nationwide after it finishes up a review of the pilot, which should be completed by next spring. Food-safety advocates are in an uproar over that possibility.

“Expanding the trial inspection program that the USDA has been using is a very bad idea,” says Jaydee Hanson, senior policy analyst with the Center for Food Safety. “The program has some of the worst problems in the hog processing business. Moving the lines faster and reducing the number of inspectors and then relying more on company employees for nominal inspection is a good way to make our meat and poultry less safe.”

Hanson went on to call the policy allowing companies to inspect their own product “a travesty,” and outlined a call to action for the USDA regarding its handling of meat and poultry production and imports. She’d like to see the USDA adopt stiffer penalties for companies caught shipping contaminated products—including jail time—while providing better protections for workers who report safety violations to the authorities. The center’s suggestions also included tighter border control for contaminated meats coming from abroad, lowering inspection costs for small-scale meat processors, and declaring more pathogens illegal in food.

“If companies cannot legally ship food that is contaminated, knowingly or not, they will have to do a better job,” she says.

Hanson believes our society cannot trust food corporations to honestly inspect their own meat and poultry, adding, “the new ‘lite’ inspection program would cut the heart out of the federal verification program.”

In the meantime, the rest of us might just take this as a little hint to keep cutting back our meat intake more and more, or get to know our farmers and ranchers. Because if the pilot is indeed expanded, your steak or pork chop could become significantly less appetizing.

Thank You For My Suffering, Why? Because I am being perfected In Them

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Thou Hast enlarged me when I was in distress.( Psalms 4:1 KJV)

This verse is one of the greatest testimonies ever written regarding the effectiveness of God’s work on our behalf during times of crisis. It is a statement of thanksgiving for having been set free not from suffering but rather through suffering. I am writing about this tonight because my wife and I are coming into Jubilee in the morning, we are completing one year of captivity. In stating, “Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress,” the psalmist is declaring that the sorrows of life have themselves been the source of life’s enlargement.

haven’t each of us experienced this a thousand times and found it to be true? Someone once said of Joseph that when he was in the dungeon, “iron entered his soul.” And the strength of iron is exactly what he needed, for earlier he had only experienced the glitter of gold. He had been rejoicing in youthful dreams, and dreaming actually hardens the heart. Someone who sheds great tears over a simple romance will not be of much help in a real crisis, for true sorrow will be too deep for Him. We all need the iron in life to enlarge our character.

 

The gold is simply a passing vision, whereas the iron is the true experience of life. The chain that is the common bond uniting us to others must be one of iron. The common touch of humanity that gives the world true kinship is not joy but sorrow–gold is partial to only a few, but iron is universal.

Dear soul, if you want your sympathy for others to be enlarged, you must be willing to have your life narrowed to certain degrees of suffering. Joseph’s dungeon was the very road to his throne, and he would have been unable to lift the iron load of his brothers had he not experienced the iron in his own life. Your life will be enlarged in proportion to the amount of iron you have endured, for it is in the shadows of your life that you find the actual fulfillment of your dreams of glory. So do not complain about the shadows of darkness–in reality, they are better than your dreams could ever be.

I never imagined having a relationship with my creator as I now have and not to forget with my wife and my community. God used this house arrest to achieve many good things that are evident in my marriage to Him, my wife and the spirit. Never say that the darkness of prison has shackled you, for your shackles are wings–wings of flight into the heart and soul of humanity. And the gate of your prison is the gate into the heart of the universe. God has enlarged you through the suffering of sorrow’s chain.

He unleashed nails, whips, beatings, lies, harassment, scandal and every form of bitterness and betrayal upon our King of Kings, but look where He is seated. If Joseph had never been Egypt’s prisoner, he would have never been Egypt’s governor. The iron chain that bound his feet brought about the golden chain around his neck. Be encouraged in this life no matter what the circumstances are, because that is your opportunity to build relationship with God, man, family, hostile workers and difficult people. The church is even going to have iron in it for you to be used to exude maturity in Christ, be of good cheer and keep marching.

Under Surveillance

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PRISM: 'really freaky'.

The National Security Agency paid millions of dollars to cover the costs of major internet companies involved in the Prism surveillance program after a court ruled that some of the agency’s activities were unconstitutional, according to top-secret material passed to the Guardian.

The technology companies, which the NSA says includes Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Facebook, incurred the costs to meet new certification demands in the wake of the ruling from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (Fisa) court.

The October 2011 judgment, which was declassified on Wednesday by the Obama administration, found that the NSA’s inability to separate purely domestic communications from foreign traffic violated the fourth amendment.

While the ruling did not concern the Prism program directly, documents passed to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden describe the problems the decision created for the agency and the efforts required to bring operations into compliance. The material provides the first evidence of a financial relationship between the tech companies and the NSA.

The intelligence agency requires the Fisa court to sign annual “certifications” that provide the legal framework for surveillance operations. But in the wake of the court judgment these were only being renewed on a temporary basis while the agency worked on a solution to the processes that had been ruled illegal.

An NSA newsletter entry, marked top secret and dated December 2012, discloses the huge costs this entailed. “Last year’s problems resulted in multiple extensions to the certifications’ expiration dates which cost millions of dollars for Prism providers to implement each successive extension – costs covered by Special Source Operations,” it says.
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Please Read Amos 9:1-6

Jeremiah 23:23-24

The Message (MSG)

23-24 “Am I not a God near at hand”—God’s Decree—
“and not a God far off?
Can anyone hide out in a corner
where I can’t see him?”
God’s Decree.
“Am I not present everywhere,
whether seen or unseen?”
God’s Decree.

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Imagine that you’re visiting a foreign country when you realize that you’re being followed. Your every move is watched. Your every conversation is monitored. Your hotel room is bugged, and the restaurant tables are electronically rigged to pick up every word you speak. It’s as if at all times someone wants to know what you are doing, saying, thinking and planning. You are constantly under the scrutiny of another, and it seems there is no place to hide.

Fortunately, most of us don’t know what it’s like to live under that kind of surveillance. Yet, in reality, we do live every moment of every day under the watchful eyes of the Lord. He sees everything we do; He hears everything we say; He knows every thought we think. for those who love and trust the Lord, this is an awesome yet comforting truth. But for those who are determined to resist Him, It’s a different story. Amos told Israel that God was pleading with them to turn from their sins(Amos5:4-15), and he warned them that there would be no hiding place for those who refused to repent(9:1-6).

The American Government is reenacting the strengths God really possesses without compromise. I am dealing with the seriousness of my walk with Christ after studying this message tonight. Father, have mercy on us when we are rebellious. We lift our heart to you in behalf of all who think they can somehow elude your constant surveillance and final judgment.

They shall not stand the judgment test
Who live for self today,
For God sees all and He will judge
The evildoer’s way!!!!
Live today as you will wish you had lived when you stand before God….

The King is Dead

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I am grieving tonight more so than I have since August 21st when the Syrian attack Saran gas was unleashed on innocent men, women and children. I have long seen our nation as King of this world dead and I have long grieved its future. Out of all God’s creations Man is the only thing that does what it wants. Man was given dominion over this planet and we have all played the harlot with our own lives and those of whom we have been trusted to Steward. I am in prayer that we as a nation would come back to our first love and begin to act as a nation with a Living King seated on the right hand of God Almighty.

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REV. DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.: I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin—we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand, we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring

A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth with righteous indignation. It will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, “This is not just.” It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of South America and say, “This is not just.” The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.

A true revolution of values will lay a hand on the world order and say of war, “This way of settling differences is not just.” This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war.
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READ: Isaiah 6:1-13
Not too long ago I watched part of a documentary on ABC Television which traced the history of the Royal Family – the House of Windsor. In that program they recounted the passing away of King George VI. In 1952 the sad word went forth from London . . . “THE KING IS DEAD”. King George VI had died in his sleep at the age of 56. He was somewhat of a private man, in comparison with others who’ve held the throne, but he was greatly respected and admired. His reign had carried him through the rigors of World War 2, the election of a socialist government, and the dissolution of much of the British Empire. His tired heart gave way. All across Britain, people flocked to churches to worship, to pray, and to seek comfort and hope.

In 1963, another shocking word was sent out across the world: “The President is dead”. It was unbelievable. JOHN F. KENNEDY, young, vibrant and dynamic, was cut down by an assassin’s bullet – a nation was plunged into grief. People flocked into churches in the greatest numbers since the announcement of the end of World War 2. Ministers changed their sermon texts and preached messages of healing and hope to the people of America.

About 700 years before Christ was born in Bethlehem, the sad announcement was made, “THE KING IS DEAD”. King Uzziah, the eleventh King of Judah, had died. Crowned at the age of 16, he had reigned 52 years. Despite his failings, he was the greatest king since David.

The heart of Isaiah, the prophet, was broken. Uzziah was not only his king, he was also his friend. In his heartbreak, Isaiah made his way to the Temple to worship and to seek comfort and renewed faith.

Friends, when sorrow comes, when life presses you in, the best place to be found is in the House of the Lord. (We ought to ALWAYS be found in the House of the Lord! But especially when we’re facing the difficult seasons of life – there is an answer in god, there is hope in Him, if we will quickly turn to Him.)

When Isaiah went up to the House of the Lord, he learned that the king was dead . . . BUT THAT GOD WAS NOT DEAD! He was still upon His throne. Isaiah had lost his earthly king, whom he loved, but he caught a fresh glimpse of the King of Kings. He met with God in an encounter that radically changed his life.

Would you note with me, tonight, that Isaiah saw four things that I want to draw to your attention:

1. ISAIAH SAW THE LORD.

Here is the greatest vision that anyone can ever have. To see the Lord! Let’s read about it together. [READ vv1-4.]

Isaiah saw something of God’s nature and character – he caught a glimpse “through the curtain”, as it were. He saw something of the Lord as Moses described Him in Exodus 15:11 – glorious in holiness, fearful in praises (or awesome in His glory – NIV).

The vision was of God high and lifted up upon His throne. He saw God as the central object of all praise, surrounded by heavenly courtiers – angelic beings – the seraphim.

What a vision! Oh, that we would all have such times of encounter with God. BUT, would you note with me, it seems that it was ONLY ISAIAH who saw the glorious vision. If others were seated around him there in the Temple, THEY had no such revelation. He doesn’t write “WE saw the Lord”, he says, “I saw the Lord”.

There is a sense in which our corporate worship is still very much made up of INDIVIDUALS who are worshipping. (Hopefully we are not “individualistic” in our worship, in the sense that we ignore or disregard others around us. We must be mindful of one another, and offer Him corporate adoration – BUT WE ARE STILL INDIVIDUALS as we do so!)

It IS possible for one person to be moved to tears, whilst the person beside them – on the same row of chairs – is UNMOVED. One repents, whilst another trusts in his own self-righteousness. One responds willingly – with a soft heart – to the claims of Christ, whilst another is desperately resisting the persuasion of the Holy Spirit.

Which one are you tonight? Are you sat here, going through the motions of a cold, formal religion, satisfying your conscience that you’ve come? Or are you meeting with God here? Are you opening up to the Lord as He knocks at the door of your heart?

Isaiah met with God, he had a revelation of the greatness of the Lord, and it changed his life forever. The same living Lord is here tonight to meet with WHOEVER will call upon His name. EARTHLY kings may come and go – but the King of Kings is alive forever more, and just as powerful as ever He has been, and just as willing to reveal Himself to men.

And listen, Isaiah didn’t get this revelation just because he was a prophet. He saw God because he had a soft, pliable heart, and a listening ear. Titles and offices don’t cut any ice with God!

2 Chronicles 16:9 – For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is LOYAL to Him.

The Old King James put it: “Them whose heart is PERFECT toward Him.”

That word “loyal” or “perfect” is the Hebrew word “SHALEM”, which means “completely devoted to”; and it’s related to the word “SHALOM”, which means “PEACE” or “stillness”.

So, the verse says that God’s eyes roam the whole earth looking for a heart that is disposed toward Him, devoted to Him, and still before Him. God looks for people to reveal Himself to who are listening and available.

Isaiah was listening, and ISAIAH SAW THE LORD. The second thing that Isaiah saw this day in the Temple was:

2. ISAIAH SAW HIMSELF.

[READ v5.]

Isaiah SAW HIMSELF as he had never quite seen himself before. He did not see himself in the way that one sees themself as they admire their own image in a mirror. No, no! He did not see himself as a good person, worthy of God’s commendation, and the praise of people. He didn’t think to himself, “WOW! I must be the best person here, because God has honoured ONLY ME with a vision of Himself.” That was NOT his attitude at all.

Instead he cried out: Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell among a people of unclean lips!

AND THIS IS ALWAYS TRUE. The closer we get to God, the more clearly we see our sins. The contrast between His holiness and our unholiness gives us a vivid awareness of just how very far short of God’s glory we truly fall.

The times when we DO feel we have made it – we’ve arrived – we’re knocking on the door of perfection – they’re the times that we’ve been neglecting to pray and worship and feel the presence of the Holy Spirit.

When Peter was CLOSEST to Jesus he said: Depart from me; for I am a sinful man. When John received the Revelation of Christ on the Island of Patmos, he wrote, I fell at His feet as though dead!

A lost sense of God brings a lost sense of sin. But a renewed sense of God brings a renewed awareness of our own sinfulness.

Isaiah saw himself in a whole new light.

The third thing that Isaiah saw was:

3. ISAIAH SAW GOD’S CLEANSING POWER.

And I praise God for this! Oh, if all we ever see is the weakness of our sin – the depravity of our hearts – without discovering the cleansing power of God, WHAT MISERABLE PEOPLE WE WILL BE. But He DOES have power to cleanse!

When Isaiah confessed his sin, God was faithful and just to forgive his sin and cleanse him from all unrighteousness.

Let’s read about it . . . [READ vv6-7].

A live coal – a burning coal – a coal that speaks of purification and cleansing – was brought by that seraphim from off the altar of sacrifice and touched to his lips. That altar that the live coal was taken from was the Altar of Burnt Offerings – it was the altar where the blood was shed. It was the place where the priests would kill those animals to pay for the sins of the people, because without the shedding of blood there is no remission (no cleansing) from sin – Hebrews 9:22 – God has declared it.

So you have a coal that has been touched by two things: BLOOD and FIRE. The blood speaks of cleansing from sin (only blood can wash away our sin), and the fire speaks of refining, purifying power. The blood washes away sin, the fire brings the refining of positive holiness.

When God saves you, what does He do? He applies to your life the cleansing power of the eternal blood of His Son, Jesus – that washes away the sins of your old life – and then He sets you in the way of a whole new life which is being refined by the workings of the Spirit of Holiness; we begin to live a life of positive righteousness. HE CALLS US RIGHTEOUS BECAUSE OF THE BLOOD OF HIS SON, AND THEN HE MAKES US RIGHTEOUS THROUGH THE WORKING OF HIS HOLY SPIRIT – the FIRE of the Holy Ghost.

This is the power that ONLY GOD has in a life. Government agencies, social workers, psychiatrists, modern education; they can all try what they will, they cannot change the heart of man with all their programs of reform – THEY’RE POWERLESS! But God can come in a moment of time, and revolutionize a person, and make them a new creation!

[ILLUSTRATION:] I understand that the success rate for rehabilitating hard-line drug addicts is pitifully low. An independent government study was undertaken in the U.S. and found that the success rate of de-tox centres in getting people off drugs permanently (tested after 7 years) was just 2 – 9%. The more intensive rehabilitation centres were not much better – just 9 – 11%. But this independent government study found that “TEEN CHALLENGE” (an organization that is thoroughly Christian – founded by David Wilkerson in New York – you may remember the story “The Cross and the Switchblade”) had a success rate documented as being 86%. When the government researchers were asked what was the difference, they replied (in their words) that the ONLY thing they could put Teen Challenge’s success down to was “THE JESUS FACTOR” (the government’s own words!). Teen Challenge are making a difference because this is not a program based upon the wisdom of men, but on the power of God to transform a life. they’re not preaching rehabilitation; they’re preaching RADICAL REGENERATION. And they’re not prescribing substitute drugs; they’re prescribing a relationship with the Saviour Jesus Christ!

Isaiah saw God’s cleansing power. The seraphim applied the blood-soaked, fire-purifying coal from off the altar and Isaiah experienced the sweet, clean feeling of forgiveness and peace. Hallelujah! Oh, there’s nothing like it in all the world!

Isaiah saw the Lord, Isaiah saw himself, Isaiah saw God’s cleansing power; then, the fourth and final thing he saw was:

4. ISAIAH SAW THE WORLD.

[READ vv8 – 9 (up to “GO!”)]

A knowledge of God will make us good in all our relationships. Isaiah got in with God and he heard God’s heartbeat for a lost and dying people. He heard God’s summons for a messenger to reach out to them. God said: Whom shall I send, who will go for us? And immediately Isaiah says, HERE I AM, SEND ME!

Would God call a sinful man to preach His message? A man of unclean lips?! Friends, there are no other kind of people available to God! Yes, God calls sinners to go for Him. He has not committed His glorious gospel to sinless angels, but to fallen men.

But God sends them ONLY after they’ve been cleansed of their sins by His grace. The message of God must be spoken through purged lips. The work of God must be poured from clean vessels. YOUR PAST WILL NOT EXCLUDE YOU FROM BEING USED BY GOD: BUT HOW YOU’RE LIVING TODAY MIGHT!

Yes, God can take YOU and use you for His glory – if only you’ll live for Him a cleansed, purified life.

CONCLUSION:

Note: Isaiah did NOT say, “Where do you want me to go?” “What’s in it for me?” “What is the salary?” “What are the retirement benefits?” Isaiah signed a blank cheque on his whole life. He didn’t try to strike a bargain with God; he didn’t attempt to negotiate a compromise. God called – Isaiah answered. God commanded – Isaiah obeyed. Such an unconditional response comes only from the heart of one who has SEEN THE VISION: the one who’s MET WITH GOD.

The same thing can happen to you here tonight. THE KING IS ALIVE! He WAS dead – He died for our sins on the cross. But He arose from the grave and He lives today – He lives forever! He calls us to see Him as He truly is – the holy God. He calls us to see ourselves as we truly are – sinful and needing Him desperately. He calls us to discover that He can cleanse from all sin, and give life anew to those who will receive Him. And then He commissions us to look on the fields of this world that are white unto harvest, and to GO and be His witnesses.

Where are you along this process tonight? Have you seen Him? In the pages of His Word – in the voice of the preacher – do you hear His call? Do you recognize that your sin and guilt keep you from Him? Have you accepted His salvation – purchased with His own blood? Are you hearing His call to go, to be His witness to others?

Open your heart to Him tonight. Don’t be the one who is hardened, and goes away empty. Respond to Him with the faith He gives.

Gideon’s 300 – Just a Few Good Men

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imagesCAP3N0DZ Chapter 5 ends with these words: “And the land had rest forty years.”
Chapter 6 begins: “And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord…”

The cycle continues for God’s chosen nation. It’s the same old story.
Rebellion – Retribution – Repentance – Restoration
Rebellion led to retribution, repentance would lead to restoration.

When America is under God’s blessing we forget Him, and we have made the complete circle many times as a nation.
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God used the wicked Midianites to judge His people. V. 5 says they were like grasshoppers in number.
Imagine a field full of grasshoppers jumping around. What if you were told to count them. There would be no way.

We should shake in our boots when we see the parallels w/ global terrorism. They are innumerable and jumping around and impossible to defeat.

Terrorism isn’t our greatest threat, as great as it is. And it’s not N. Korea, Iran, or China. V. 1 says that “The Lord delivered them into their hands…”

In the Bible God often uses one wicked nation to judge another.

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Our Christian founded nation has come a long way. We have freedom of religion but many are trying to twist that into freedom FROM religion. And we need to remember which religion we were founded upon.
George Washington: While just government protects all in their religious rights, true religion affords to government its surest support.

Thomas Jefferson: “The reason that Christianity is the best friend of Government is because Christianity is the only religion that changes the heart.”

Jefferson: “Of all the systems of morality, ancient or modern, which have come under my observation, none appear to me so pure as that of Jesus.”

Can you imagine seeing such quotes in a public school textbook?

John Adams: “The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.”

John Quincy Adams: “It is no slight testimonial, both to the merit and worth of Christianity, that in all ages since its promulgation the great mass of those who have risen to eminence by their profound wisdom and integrity have recognized and reverenced Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of the living God.”

Benjamin Franklin: God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the Ground without his Notice, is it probable that an Empire can rise without his Aid?”

There are many more quotes, but suffice it to say that when Americans turn their backs on Christianity they turn their backs on America! This doesn’t mean they have to be Christians, but they should at least tolerate us and appreciate us, for Christianity and its principles are what have made America great.

In Judges 6 God’s people are so ravaged by the Midianites that they are hiding in dens and caves. In v. 7 they cry out to God to for mercy and God gives them…
Gideon.

Here’s 4 principles from the life of Gideon that can help us all:

You and I are in a battle spiritually, it’s a fight, not a frolic; a war, not a waltz; it’s a warzone, not some tiptoe thru the tulips.

God just needs a few good men.

1. The Principle of Encounter.
v. 11, 14 Gideon has a word from the Lord.
v. 22-24a He was an ordinary man, not a prophet, preacher, priest, or a king. He was radically changed by this encounter. He used to be afraid. How do we know? Because he threshed wheat at the winepress.

The winepress was at the bottom of the hill so you could carry the grapes downhill. The wheat threshing took place at the top of the hill so the wind would drive away the chaff. Gideon is hiding at the bottom doing the work of the top. He’s hunkered in the bunker! The end of v. 11 says he’s hiding from the Midianites.

But fear turned to faith after his encounter with the Lord. His eyes turned from his enemies to the Lord.
We all must turn our eyes from our foes to our Father! We can live our lives looking at the terrorists or the political imbeciles in Washington or we can turn our eyes to the hills from whence cometh our help! “Looking unto Jesus!”

“The man that fears God can face any foe.”

ill.–the 12 spies of Canaan: 10 saw giants, 2 saw God.
ill.–when most looked at Goliath and said “He’s too big to hit” David said, “He’s too big to miss!”

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus…”

America is truly in a fight for survival, so it’s time we turn to God!

2. The Principle of Courage.
v. 12 “valor”
7:1-3 Gideon raised up an army of 32,000. And God says, it’s too many! The Midianites were innumberable! But God says no, I just need a few good men. I’ll get the glory when I do more with less! God will share anything with us except His glory.

22,000 were afraid and left. Now there’s 10,000 remaining. God doesn’t use the fearful. He hasn’t given us the spirit of fear.
Proverbs 29:25
25 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.
1 John 4:18
18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
Soldiers of the cross have courage and aren’t afraid to take a stand.

366 times the Bible says be not afraid, one for every day, even in leap year!

Some should be serving but are afraid…
[teaching / witnessing / driving a bus / tithing]
Some are afraid to trust God.

In the parable of the talents the bad servant said he didn’t invest his talent because “I was afraid.”

Fear and sin are linked. In Eden Adam said he hid himself from God because he was afraid.

But if God be for us, who can be against us?!

encounter, courage…

3. The Principle of Wisdom.
Courage needs to be balanced with wisdom.
7:4-7 Still too many? Gideon has got to sweating it now!

The first purging was of the fearful…this one is of the foolish. There is a fine line between bravery and stupidity.
ill.–should we not lock our doors because we trust the Lord?

God told the cowards to go home, and now He tells the careless to leave as well. It was just a little test, and they failed it.

4. The Principle of Strength. 7:9-14 God told Gideon to lurk in the shadows of the enemy camp and see what he can learn.

In this dream we see God doing something extraordinary thru someone who is very ordinary. It was not Gideon’s strength, but God’s thru him.

v. 15-21 What a powerful victory story! 300 vs. a multitude with no weapons. A trumpet in one hand, a torch covered w/ a pitcher in the other hand.

• The trumpet stands for boldness – its sound announced that we’re here and not backing down. It’s time for Christians in America to stop rolling over and playing dead…let your voice be heard. Say to Washington, if you vote against morality and common sense, we vote you out!
• The clay pitcher stands for brokenness – God has placed His treasure in earthen vessels but we must be broken before Him.
• The torch stands for brightness – “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works…”

Now is the time for Christians to get bold, broken, and bright…and we could take America back for God!

It only takes a few good people to do this and with God’s help we can have victory as we hold high the sword of the Lord!