Lucky socks

A rabbit’s foot. Four leaf clovers. That one pair of socks. Good luck charms. Some people gotta have them. They believe that they bring them good luck. They think that they make them succeed. Baseball players are known for it. They have to follow the same routine, wear the same pair of socks, tie their shoes a certain way, etc. If they don’t, they might not play well. I don’t buy it though. Dude, you didn’t strike out because you wore the wrong socks today; you struck out because you swung at three straight pitches that were low and away.

Nevertheless, people get superstitious about stuff. They think these things bring them a blessing or something. Speaking of that, there was this family in the Bible that had a good luck charm of sorts. Except it wasn’t a good luck charm; it was the presence of God. And that presence caused some serious blessing in their life.

1 Chronicles 13:14 The ark of God remained with the family of Obed-Edom in his house for three months, and the Lord blessed his household and everything he had.

Those must have been an amazing three months! Sitting right in your living room is the ark of the covenant. In that ark was the presence of God. It was WAY more than a good luck charm. It was WAY better than lucky socks (and probably smelled a lot better, too). The presence of God brought blessing upon this home. It brought protection and provision. The presence of God, right there in the living room of the house. Wow!

You know what, though? You can have the presence of God right in your living room today. The Bible calls you a house in which the Spirit of the Lord dwells. All you need to do is invite Him right into the living room of your house. Invite Him to come and to stay. You will find the same blessing that Obed-Edom found. You will find peace that you didn’t know was possible. You will find provision and clarity and hope.

The ark of God in your personal living room. Imagine it…

Now, do more than imagine it. Receive it.

Put your socks in the laundry and put on the presence of God, instead.

 

Made for this

anthony-run

My oldest son is just wrapping up his first ever cross country season. Now cross country is a unique sport. You run… like a long way. It’s not something I was made for. Okay, I’ll admit it; I’m out of shape. It’s not just that, though. I played sports, but the running part wasn’t the part I was good at. My son, however, he’s good at it. Like really good.

I find it awesome that God made us each so uniquely that we have different things we are good at. It’s like He had a purpose in diversity. It’s almost as though He created us differently for a reason.

Exodus 31:1-5 Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts.

Bezalel was chosen by God and filled by the Holy Spirit. He was given wisdom, understanding, and knowledge. Pretty awesome, huh? Here’s the plot twist: he wasn’t chosen and filled so that he could prophesy or perform miracles. He was chosen and filled to be an amazing artist! God gave him the skills and the creativity to do crafts. I’ve never heard someone say, “paper-mache’ – I was made for this!” Yet Bezalel was not only made for it, he was anointed for it! I wonder if a young Bezalel felt like his gifts weren’t useful. I wonder if he thought about how he could contribute to the Lord.

Maybe you have sold yourself short on what YOU can do for God. You might think that you don’t have the right gifts or the right skill set. Let Bezalel encourage you today:

You have have been chosen. You have been filled. And you have been made for __________.  I don’t know what that is for you, but God can help you fill in the blank. We have all been made unique in His image for His glory and His great purposes.

What have you been made for?

Gas for the generator

Exodus 27:20-21  20 “Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning. 21 In the tent of meeting, outside the curtain that shields the ark of the covenant law, Aaron and his sons are to keep the lamps burning before the LORD from evening till morning. This is to be a lasting ordinance among the Israelites for the generations to come.

Let’s just be real here. Neither one of us have ever pressed clear oil out of olives so that we could keep our lamps burning. Generally, if I want light, I just make sure to have a good light bulb and to always pay the power bill. That usually does the trick. Probably the closest I’ve come to this whole “oil for the lamp” thing is changing the butane can on my camping lantern. Either that or filling up my generator with gas during a power outage. Now THAT’S important. I wouldn’t want the generator to run out of fuel. I mean, shoot, all the stuff in my freezer would go bad. Not only that, but the 3 lamps I have on in the house would turn off and it would be dark. So ya, I guess I can relate to the Israelites and the oil filling. Sort of.

gascangenerator

But wait. What if this whole oil for the lamp commandment was more than just actual oil for an actual lamp? What if there was a greater purpose than bringing light to the temple? After all, God did say that this would be a lasting ordinance for generations to come. Is it possible that we are still supposed to be filling lamps with oil? Absolutely!

Here’s the picture: The temple isn’t a building – it’s you. The lamp is the light of Christ. The oil is the power of the Holy Spirit. 

The command is still the same. As God’s people, we are to be a temple of the living God. And with our lives, we are to shine the light of Christ. We are to be a lighthouse, a light on a hill, a beacon of light for the world to find life. Yet, the light in our lives fades unless we give it attention. We need the power of the Holy Spirit to fuel us to be that light!

Now some of you might say, “I’ve asked the Holy Spirit to come and empower my life.” Awesome! I mean that. That’s really awesome! But here’s the thing: you don’t just fill the generator with gas one time. You have to check the fuel level and fill up when it is running empty. You might be running empty, too. You might feel burned out, used up, worn, tired, and without oil.

Now what? Well, you simply ask. Ask the Holy Spirit to come and fill you today. Ask again tomorrow. And then ask again the next day. The oil of the Holy Spirit keeps our lamps burning. Don’t walk through life as an unlit lamp. Be filled today!

Grounded

1 Thessalonians 4:7-8  For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.

groundedRemember getting grounded as a teen?  Unless you were perfect (not likely), you can probably remember the agony of losing privileges.  It is way easier to ground teens today.  They have phones, iPods, tablets, TVs, and all kinds of other stuff like that.  Take it away and they are left with the miserable existence that is actual human interaction, using an imagination, and enjoying their surroundings.  Yes, those powered devices are quite the thing.  A teen grounded from them can’t imagine living without them. How will I live without all these powered devices at my immediate disposal?

Here’s the thing: if you want the power, you have to obey Dad.  You have to live by his rules.  When we are young, we go through times where mom and dad’s rules seem impossible to follow.  It’s just not fair!  We would be better off living on our own.  Then we remember that with parents comes food, clothing, housing, and powered devices.  If we really think it through, doing it their way is worth it.  If we are in our right mind, we realize that the benefits of living by their standard is worth it!

God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life!  And when we reject that holy life, we reject Dad, who gives us the power.  It’s like we are grounded, but we are the ones who put ourselves in time-out.  We wonder why God seems so distant.  We can’t figure out why we can’t hear from Him.  We are frustrated that our life seems to be powerless.  And it’s all because we have rejected the giver of the power.  If we want it back, we need to live by the house rules.  We are called to resist what is impure and live a holy life.  We are to live set apart for our God!

*Are you striving to live a holy life?

That jerk cut me off!

Zechariah 5:1-2 I looked again—and there before me was a flying scroll! He asked me, “What do you see?” I answered, “I see a flying scroll, thirty feet long and fifteen feet wide.’”

road-rageSome things are a little more complex than they seem at first glance.  It’s like holding up a picture and asking someone what they see: “I see a picture.”  Okay there smartypants, what do you see… IN the picture?  This happened to Zechariah and I wonder if he felt a little silly.  He sees a scroll and when asked, he says: “I see a scroll.”  Ya, duh.  I imagine the angel thinking – alright buddy, stick with me here.  There’s more to what you see.

Isn’t that how life goes?  We see things with our eyes and make assumptions or remedial judgements about the situation.  But do we ever consider that there is more to it than what we see?  You know that jerk that cut you off in traffic?  I wonder what is going on in his life.  I wonder what causes him to be rude.  Or maybe he isn’t rude.  Maybe he is lost and didn’t know that he was supposed to take that exit.  Maybe he is taking a phone call from his good friend who is going through a life tragedy, which caused him to not pay attention.  And maybe still, he is just a hot rod in a hurry who could care less about the other cars on the road.   My point is: we often default our thinking to that last sentence.  The truth is, we don’t really know. 

It would do us good to consider what is beneath the surface of the things we see.  We see a teen girl dressing like she shouldn’t be.  I wonder if her dad abandoned her and she is looking for male attention.  We see a grumpy old man, but I wonder if he is coping with losing his wife.  When will we realize that the actions of humans are the result of what is inside?  Zechariah saw a scroll, that’s all – a scroll.  And it took the angel to help him understand the deeper meaning behind it.  He needed help to know what was really going on, to understand the things of God that his eyes didn’t catch.  Like Zechariah, we need help, too.  We need the Holy Spirit to show us the hearts of people so that we can truly love them like Jesus does.

*Are you stuck on what you see on the surface?  Ask God for a deeper look.

You’re no strongman

Zechariah 4:6 So he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.

strongmanHave you ever watched a strongman competition?  Those guys are amazing!  They lift huge logs, pull cars down the road, bend stuff, break stuff, and much more.  I’m talking some serious muscles.  And they aren’t just weightlifters who have big muscles to show off.  They are the real deal; they genuinely have some serious strength.  But all those muscles don’t help them with many of life’s challenges.  Like everyone else, they have to navigate relationships, trials, disappointment, and loss.  There’s no amount of muscle that can help with those things.

We all would like to think that we are strong enough to handle life’s biggest challenges.  We toughen up when things get hard and power through them.  We flex our emotional muscles at hardship and hope it’s enough to overcome.  The reality is: it isn’t.  I hate to break it to you, but you are no strongman.

In Zechariah 4, the Lord says these words: “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit.”  You see, if you are going to overcome, you need more than might; you need more than power.  You need the Spirit of the Lord alive in you.  And it is by His Spirit that I overcome temptation and sin.  It is by His spirit that I can go on after disappointment or loss.  It is by His Spirit that I can live this life to the fullest.  So if you think you are strong enough today… you aren’t.  Only He is and only He can give you the true strength to carry on.

*Are you relying on your strength or His Spirit to navigate life?

Stop freakin’

Haggai 2:4-5  But now be strong, O Zerubbabel,’ declares the LORD. ‘Be strong, O Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares the LORD, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the LORD Almighty. ‘This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.’

freakinThere are a lot of good company slogans out there and among my favorites is Beacon Plumbing.  “Stop freakin. Call Beacon.”  It’s clever, funny, and catchy.  The point is – when you are having a plumbing catastrophe, don’t freak out, just call in the pros.  They have successfully imprinted their company name onto my mind.  When I think of plumbing emergencies, I think of Beacon.

Do you ever find yourself freaking out in life?  Maybe it’s the overwhelming circumstances you are facing.  You are frustrated and scared and unsure of what will be around the next turn.  Maybe you are feeling stuck.  Stuck in your sin, stuck in your present situation, stuck in general.  Or maybe you are feeling out of control.  You used to be able to control what was happening around you, but you just can’t do it anymore.  And you are about to freak out.  Fear starts to knock at your door and you feel weak.  Frustration is mounting and tension is high.

Stop freakin’!  Call…. well….. on the Lord.  In Haggai 2, God is speaking to His people, telling them to be strong.  Be strong because I am with you.  Be strong because I have made a promise to you.  Be strong because my Spirit is with you.  And do not fear!  Because just as much as Beacon can handle plumbing catastrophes, God can handle ALL of life’s catastrophes.  He’s the pro that you need to call.  He’s the strength that you need to rely on.  He’s the truth that stands strong in the face of the lie.  He’s God.  So stop freakin’ today.  Call on the name of the Lord!

*Is there an area of your life that causes you to freak out?  Call the professional today and stop freakin’.