Thursday, June 30, 2005

Inheriting Destiny

[Are you ready to walk in your world-changing destiny in God? This is a new article posted at our website.]
Psalm 127
A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon.

1 Unless the LORD builds the house,
  They labor in vain who build it;
 Unless the LORD guards the city,
  The watchman stays awake in vain.
2 It is vain for you to rise up early,
  To sit up late,
  To eat the bread of sorrows;
  For so He gives His beloved sleep.
3 Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
  The fruit of the womb is a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
  So are the children of one’s youth.
5 Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
  They shall not be ashamed,
  But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.
This is a wisdom psalm — it reveals to us the pathway of God’s favor. In this case, wisdom compares a way of life that is empty and vain with a life that is fruitful and full of blessing. This psalm was written by Solomon, who is considered the wisest man in the world. It belongs with the Psalms of Ascent (Psalm 120-134), a collection that was used to prepare the heart as one made pilgrimage to Jerusalem each year to celebrate the three big feasts of Israel: Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles.

Lord, Build Our House.

“Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.”

This is the first of three vanities Solomon warns us about. The word for “house” comes from the word banah, which means “to build.” In the natural, we think of a house as a physical structure, an abode or dwelling-place made of wood and stone.

But Solomon has something much deeper in mind, so instead of “building,” think “family,” for a house is a place of relationships. It is a place where inheritances are imparted. Every house bears a name, and that name establishes the family and its inheritance.

Whose name does the house bear? Unless it is name of the LORD, the house is in vain and will eventually come to ruin. Only the LORD can build something that will endure. Jesus gives us a vivid description of a house built in vain and shows us how to build one that endures:
Whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock; and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand; and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall. (Matthew 7:24-27)
Now, when God builds a house, He is not simply putting together a little social unit—He is planting a seed of hope to reap a harvest that changes the world. It is much more than a dynasty, it is a destiny. The LORD built Abraham a house, and through him blessed all the families of the earth. He built David a house, and through him brought forth a King of Righteousness who reigns forever.

Lord, build our house. Amen.

(continued here)

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Door of Your Mouth, The Gate of Your Heart

Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth;
Keep watch over the door of my lips.
Do not incline my heart to any evil thing.
(Psalm 141:3-4)
Consider the power of the mouth, or more precisely, our words. Words called the world into existence (Hebrews 11:3). God created us to exercise dominion over His Creation by our words. For example, Adam called forth the character and destiny of the animals by naming them (see Having Dominion). The Hebrew word for “speak,” dabar, means to arrange or subdue. Be careful, your mouth is a loaded weapon.

Yes, we need a guard to stand watch over our mouths. But David, the psalm writer, takes us to the heart of the problem, which is the … heart!
Do not incline my heart to any evil thing.
You see, there is a strong, inviolable connection between the mouth and the heart. Jesus said that it is out of the abundance, or overflow, of the heart that the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34). If you want to know what is in somebody’s heart in abundance, just listen to their mouth for a little while and you will soon find out. This is particularly true in pressure situations.

Paul also noted this powerful heart/mouth connection. “With the hear one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:10).

So as much as David desired God to set a guard over his mouth, he realized even more than something had to be done about the state of his heart, for that was the real problem.
Do not incline my heart to any evil thing,
To practice wicked works with men who work iniquity;
And do not let me eat of their delicacies.
(Psalm 141:4)
Proverbs reinforces this point:
Do not eat the bread of a miser,
Nor desire his delicacies;
For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.
“Eat and drink!” he says to you,
But his heart is not with you.
(Proverbs 23:6-7)
Now, here is an example of the mouth speaking something different from the heart. And the mouth can certainly disguise the heart for a time — some people know how to tell a lie. But the truth eventually comes out, for the mouth with slip up and give away the heart.

Our hearts can be deceived very easily by evil if we allow ourselves to be lulled by delicacies. A delicacy is something your put in your mouth. Think “words.” What are the words you put in your mouth. The devil, your adversary, wants you to put his words in your mouth. But if you do, you will begin to think his thoughts and walk in his ways.

We were created to think higher thoughts and walk in higher ways, those of God. The words of the devil may sound sweet and beguiling, but you will not like where they take you — Adam and Eve certainly didn’t.

That is all the more reason why we must keep our own hearts. The Hebrew word for “think,” in Proverbs 23:7, literally means to act as a gatekeeper. The careless words we allow in our mouth eventually settle in our heart. Then when they are in our heart in abundance, they come forth with great destructive power.

How much better it is to fill your heart and your mouth with the Word of God. When you do, Jesus said you can move mountains.

Guard both your heart and your mouth with the promises and purposes of God. Speak them to your inner being, with great intent and focus, until your mouth begins to overflow with words of light and life. Then you will know that you are walking in faith.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Connected, Expectant Heart

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
And in His Word I do hope.
(Psalm 130:5)
Faith and patience. That is what the psalm writer is talking about here. It is what keeps him connected with the LORD. For the Hebrew word for “wait,” qavah, literally means to bind together, to connect with. Think of a cord stretched from your heart to the heart of God. The distance in between is the distance between “Amen” and “There it is!” It is patient expectation, waiting in anticipation for the Lord to show up on your behalf. It is waiting in faith.

The psalm writer has faith because the Lord has spoken His Word. Without the Word, there is no faith, for faith comes by hearing the Word (Romans 10:17). If the Lord had not spoken, if there had been no promise, then there would be no reason to wait, no right to expect. But the Lord has spoken, and so the psalm writer confidently declares, “In His Word I do hope.”

The word “hope” is not a word of doubt (“I hope so, but I don’t know”). Rather, it too is a word expressing expectation. God has spoken, so I have expectation. Why? Because the Word of the Lord will never return empty-handed. It will always accomplish what He has said (Isaiah 55:11).

The Hebrew word for “word” is dabar. It is not a passive thing, but active. That is, it accomplishes things. When God speaks His dabar, things happen. God said, “Light, be!” and light immediately came into existence.

The psalm writer might have chosen to let the circumstances of his life establish what his expectations were going to be. But instead, he turned to the Lord, and to the Lord only. And so there was calmness in his soul.

Is your heart connected to the heart of God? Are you trusting in Him? Does His Word set up an expectation in your heart? Rest on His promises. He has spoken His promises and already set things in motion. It is only a matter of time until they appear. So do not give up, but stay ready and watch in eager anticipation.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

The Glory of God at Walmart

Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
The whole earth is full of His glory!
(Isaiah 6:3)
The whole earth is full of the glory of the Lord. That is what the angels cried out in Isaiah’s great vision. Not selected parts of the earth, not merely the temple of the LORD — the whole earth is full of His glory. Not used to be, not will be, but is—the whole earth is full of His glory. Wherever you may be right now, whether you recognize it or not, it is filled with God’s glory. This is true of every place you can think of:
  • The public school
  • The office building
  • The warehouse
  • The corner drugstore
  • The fine dining establishment
  • The fast-food eatery and drive-through
  • The local Walmart
  • The neighborhood pub
  • The strip club in the seedy part of town
  • The county jail and state prison
All these places are filled with the glory of God — everyone of them. It cannot be otherwise.

So the problem is not a lack of God’s glory being present in the earth. The real problem is the inability of people in those places to experience it. There is a blindedness that keeps them from seeing it and believing. The apostle Paul said,
But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age had blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)
These folks have been blinded by the god of this age (the devil). But God has provided a solution:
For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:5-6)
From the very beginning, God has been in the business of shining light in the darkness. At the Creation, when the earth was shrouded in darkness, God said, “Light, be” and there was light. The apostle John called Jesus “the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world” (John 1:9) and said, “This the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).

When God commands the light to shine, there is no darkness, no blindness of the heart or mind that can stand up against it.

If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, you have authority from God to speak the Light into dark places. Heaven is full of the light of God, and we have the authority to command the will of God to be done on earth as it is in heaven. Jesus, the Light come into the world to give light to every human being, has given us the authority of His name to pray and speak and act on behalf of the Light.

As believers, we have the Holy Spirit living within us. The glory of God is resident within us, and we have the authority from Him to release it everywhere we go — to leave a trail of glory. To carry the powerful overshadowing glory of God throughout our world (see The Shadow of Glory).

In our neighborhood, there is a building on the corner of the main thoroughfare, and the owners want to open up a “bikini bar.” This building has seen a series of night clubs and bars, probably since it was built. Ugly words have been exchanged between the owners, local residents and businesses, and county commissioners over this matter. Now, a bikini bar is not a good thing. It is a degrading business that exploits the weaknesses of human beings. It does nothing to reveal the glory of God and quite a lot that obscures His glory.

But the glory of God fills that place nonetheless, and will continue to even if the bikini bar successfully opens — only who will know it?

What the Lord has been showing me is that we need to pray for the blinders of the evil one to be removed from their eyes, and for the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ be revealed there. In other words, don’t curse the darkness, turn on the light. And so I have been praying for a revelation of Jesus Christ to come forth in that place, that His name be lifted high there, and that the glory and goodness of God be made manifest in that place. The glory is already there, it just needs to be revealed — so that battle is already half-won.

God is looking for believers who will get into agreement with His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. So wherever you go, pray for His glory to be made manifest and the name of Jesus to be lifted up. Pray for God to cause the blinders to fall from the eyes of all those around you. The atmosphere will begin to change and those places will begin to emerge as fertile fields for the seed of the Gospel to grow and bring many to forgiveness and freedom in Jesus Christ.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

The Spirit of Bondage and the Spirit of Adoption

For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15)
Notice what is contrasted here: The spirit of bondage and the Spirit of adoption. The spirit of bondage leads us into fear; the Spirit of adoption leads us to reach for our Father.

Why does the apostle Paul make this contrast? I believe the answer has to do with fatherhood. “Spirit of adoption” speaks naturally of having a father, a family, a name, a place of belonging and an inheritance. But “spirit of bondage” speaks of slavery, without family or name or inheritance — without a father.

In other words, the spirit of bondage is a spirit of fatherlessness. There are many ways a person might experience fatherlessness. It might be because of a father who literally abandoned his family. Or it might be a father who died young, leaving his children orphans. Divorce also leaves a type of fatherlessness. Or there might be abuse, physical, emotional, even sexual — these all leave their mark upon the soul. It may be as simple as neglect, or a father who is emotionally absent from his children. Fatherlessness breeds helplessness and a loss of identity, leading to bondage and resulting in fear.

The spirit of bondage is demonic. It comes from the devil, whose purpose is to deceive us and draw us away from our Father. He wants us to doubt, not only the Word of God, but the heart of God, the heart of our Father.

God has not given us the spirit of bondage. He does not call us slaves. Rather, He has given us the Spirit of adoption—the Holy Spirit resident and at work within us, revealing to us our identities as children of God. We call God our Father, He calls us His children, His sons and His inheritance.

As Paul tells us, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:16-17).

In his letter to the Galatians, Paul speaks to this same theme of adoption:
When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. (Galatians 4:4-7)
The spirit of bondage is the spirit of fear! But those who have received the Lord Jesus Christ no longer need to remain the slaves of fear. For we now have the Holy Spirit in us, by whom we cry out to our true Father — Abba, Poppa, Daddy. Claim your inheritance and walk in your identity in the house of your heavenly Father.

Friday, June 24, 2005

The Spirit of Faith

I believed, therefore I spoke. (Psalm 116:10)
Paul quoted this verse and called this the "spirit of faith":
And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believe and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak. (2 Corinthians 4:13)
Faith is a matter of the spirit, that is, of the human spirit infused by the Holy Spirit. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17) and the Word of God is given by inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). In other words, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Faith. John Gill’s comment on 2 Corinthians 4:13 brings this out well:
Now of this faith the Spirit of God is the author; this is not of ourselves, of our own power, it is the free gift of God, and a valuable gift it is; it is of the operation of God, and the produce of his almighty power; and of this the Spirit of God, in conversion, is the powerful operator: hence he is here called the "Spirit of faith.” (Exposition of the Entire Bible)
Notice how both the psalm writer and Paul describe the activation of faith: I believe and therefore speak. Paul similarly describes this operation in his letter to the Romans:
But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus Christ and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:8-10)
With the heart we believe, with the mouth we confess. That is how faith works, always. The word “confess” means to agree with. That is, what we say with our mouth needs to be in agreement with what we believe in our heart. When they do not line up, our faith gets short-circuited and becomes ineffective.

Jesus taught this same principle to His disciples:
Assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, “Be removed and be cast into the seas,” and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. (Mark 11:23)
There is the believing with the heart, and there is the speaking with the mouth. The result? Mountains move! Faith-filled words spoken in agreement with our heart always have that effect.

In the Psalm text, “I believed, therefore I spoke,” the word for “speak” is the Hebrew dabar. It literally means to arrange, and in a positive sense means to subdue, declare, command, name or pronounce. In other words, when we believe the Word of God and speak in agreement with it, we are causing things to happen. Just as God subdued the darkness by calling forth light, our faith-filled words cause things to come into line with the Word of God.

Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. With the heart you believe, with the mouth you confess. In this way, the facts of the world will be made to line up with the truth of God’s Word. For if you have received the Lord Jesus Christ, you posses the Spirit of Faith.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Established, Fearless Heart

He will not be afraid of evil tidings;
  His heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD.
His heart is established
  He will not be afraid,
  Until he sees his desire upon his enemies.
(Psalm 112:7-8)
Just who is the psalm writer talking about, anyway? Whoever trusts in the Lord. We see this in verse 1:

Blessed is the man who fears the LORD,
who delights greatly in His commandments.
Now, the heart is the core of your being, the center of who you are. Is your heart restless and unsettled? Is it fearful or confused? The fear of the LORD will establish your heart, that is, bring stability, rest and peace to the center of your being.

What is the fear of the LORD? It is not the fear that comes from the world, a fear that torments. The fear of the LORD is to live in absolute awe of Him, to love what He loves and hate what He hates, to treasure His favor above all things and avoid His displeasure at all costs, to take pleasure in His Word, His will, His ways and His works and honor them in everything you do. It is to love and trust Him. This is the fear that sets you free.

When your heart is centered on the Lord, it is established by Him, and nothing can disturb your peace. Bad news may surround you, but you will not be afraid of it, unless you release your focus.

Peter walked on water, even through stormy wind and waves, as long as he kept his focus on Jesus. When he let the surrounding circumstances fill his eyes, his thoughts and his heart, he immediately began to sink. When he cried out to Jesus, letting Him become the focus again, he was lifted up again.

You see, the problem is not about the evil tidings that continually crop up around us. Those have been around ever since the Fall. The real problem is the orientation of the heart. Settle your heart completely on the Lord, which is a matter of loving and trusting Him, and you can settle the matter of fear. Oh, there may be demonic influences attached to your fear, no doubt. But these are actually undermined by love and faith, and a simple word of command will dismiss them.

Perfected love — the intimate relationship with God where His love and peace rule and reign in you heart—casts out fear.

God is calling you to love and trust Him for all He’s worth (which is infinite). That’s why Jesus came, to reconcile you to the Father. When you receive new life in Him, through faith in Jesus Christ, and let the heart of the Father settle into your heart, filling it to overflowing, there will be no room for fear. Your heart will be established in Him.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The House of Joshua

If it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River; or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. (Joshua 24:15)
Joshua’s name means “Yahweh is Salvation.” In the Greek translation of the Old Testament it is Iesous. In English it is Jesus.

Joshua was the son of Nun (“posterity” or “perpetuity”) and of the tribe of Ephraim (“doubly fruitful”). A man full of faith, he was one of the twelve spies sent by Moses to spy out the Promised Land, and one of only two who came back with an accurate report (see When Its All About God).

Probably trained for war in the Egyptian army, after the Exodus, he became Moses’ right hand man. In fact, God selected Joshua as Moses’ successor, and Moses laid his hands on Joshua and imparted to him the spirit of wisdom. God also promised to be with Joshua just as He had been with Moses. With strong faith, and saturating himself with the instructions and promises of God, Joshua showed himself to be a strong and effective military strategist and leader for his people.

The Book of Joshua is the history of how Joshua led the children of Israel to take possession of the Promised Land. At the end of the book, Joshua reviewed the history of how God kept His promise to the house of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Along the way, there had been much faithlessness, and Joshua issued this challenge to the children of Israel:  
“Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.”
There were only three possibilities:
  • The gods their fathers had served on the other side of the River.
  • The gods of the former inhabitants of the land on which they now dwelt.
  • Yahweh, the God who delivered them from Egypt and established them in the land of promise.
There was no “none of the above.” If we do not serve the true God, then we will inevitably be found serving idols.

Joshua had long ago made his own decision, and he stated it clearly and concisely:
“As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
Of the tribe of “double fruitfulness” and the house of “posterity and perpetuity,” Joshua followed in the inheritance of faithfulness. His decision was not only about himself—it never is. His decision set the destiny of his house. Joshua was a man of full of faith, and his children would be as well.

You must choose — it cannot be avoided. If you do not serve Yahweh God, you will ultimately be serving satan — no way around it. There are no “self-made men,” and no one is the captain of their own soul. The choice you make will affect the destiny of your house, your children and your children’s children. Choose wisely.

Monday, June 20, 2005

The House of Jacob

This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven! (Genesis 28:17)
Abraham passed the inheritance of his house on to Isaac, the son of promise and of faith, and God confirmed the covenant to Isaac.

Isaac had two sons, Jacob and Esau. Though they were twins, Esau was the first-born, and rightful heir to the double-portion of the inheritance. But Esau had little regard for the inheritance and bartered it away for a bowl of soup.

Jacob, on the other hand, valued the inheritance highly, so highly, in fact, that he was even willing to resort to trickery to gain it. But the trick was soon found out and Jacob had to go into exile. However, the blessing of the inheritance, once it is given cannot be revoked, so Jacob was now the rightful heir.

Rebekah, Jacob’s mother, directed him to Padan Aram, the home of her father Bethuel. There he was to take a wife from the daughters of Laban, her brother. Jacob was not to take a wife from the daughters of Canaan, a house under curse and doomed to failure.

On his way, between Beersheba and the crossroads of Haran, Jacob lay down with a stone for his pillow. That night he dreamed a dream. He saw a ladder set up on the earth and reaching up to heaven, and on it the angels of God were ascending and descending.

The LORD spoke to Jacob and confirmed to him the covenant He made with Abraham. He spoke of the expansion of Jacob’s house, the blessing that would be to all the families of the earth through his seed, and the promise of the land through which he was passing.

When Jacob awoke, he said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it. How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven” (Genesis 28:16-17).

Jacob called the place Bethel (“house of God”) and he made a vow to God:
If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going; and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God. And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all the You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.” (Genesis 28:20-22)
God blessed Jacob with twelve sons and from him came the twelve tribes of Israel, through whom God has blessed the world with the revelation of Messiah.

When you are in covenant with God, He blesses your house beyond measure, revealing His own house to you in the midst of it. The purpose and destiny of the house of God becomes the purpose and destiny of your house, and your house becomes the gate of heaven.

Friday, June 17, 2005

A Word About The Faith Log

About ten years ago I asked the Lord to teach me about faith. Now, don’t get me wrong. I grew up in a Christian home, received the Lord Jesus Christ at a very early age, and even went to Bible college, where I studied all the major doctrines of “the faith” (along with many minor ones). Even learned about apologetics and how to “defend the faith.”

But something was missing. I would see people who did not have anywhere near the Christian background or Biblical training that I had, and yet they knew how to grab hold of faith, step out on faith and accomplish great things with their faith. I envied them. Though I knew Jesus, and I understood and appreciated faith as a doctrinal matter, I did not know much about how to use my faith in the very practical way these folks did.

That’s when I asked the Lord, and He began to take me through the “School of Practical Faith.” He introduced me to what faith actually is, where it comes from, how it grows and develops and gets strong, and how it operates. He revealed the power of words — His words — in my mouth. He showed me how faith requires love and love requires faith. He also taught me how faith partners with patience and develops expectation. And He instructed me in the absolute necessity of forgiving others and how that sets my faith free. In short, He instructed me in the dynamics of faith.

As God has been teaching me, I have been taking notes and sharing with others what I have learned. These notes have taken the form of newsletters, articles, books, and most recently, this blog we call The Faith Log.

This is, of course, a work in progress, one that will take me the rest of my life. That’s because, now that I’ve learned how to use my faith as a tool, the Bible has become vibrant and exciting to me. I’m trading my thoughts for God’s, believing His Word for all its worth (and rejoicing at its infinite value). And I’m discovering a host of life-changing, world-changing truths — things I had never noticed before I learned how to apply my faith.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The House of Abraham

And the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice, that the LORD may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.” (Genesis 18:17-19)
Noah is the tenth generation from God. Abraham is the tenth generation from Noah (Genesis 11:10-26).

  1. Noah begat Shem
  2. Shem begat Arphaxad
  3. Arphaxad begat Salah
  4. Salah begat Eber
  5. Eber begat Peleg
  6. Peleg begat Reu
  7. Reu begat Serug
  8. Serug begat Nahor
  9. Nahor begat Terah
  10. Terah begat Abram (later called Abraham)
When Abram came on the scene, the times had once again become evil. The scattering and confusion at the Tower of Babel had already taken place.

Terah, in the line of blessed Shem, turned out to be an a maker of idols. We find this in Joshua:
And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘Your fathers, including Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, dwelt on the other side of the River in old times and they served other gods.’” (Joshua 24:2)
Terah’s name means “delay,” and he certainly was a delay to the plans of God. Terah moved his family to Haran, a crossroads. The crossroads represents a place of dramatic decision. It was there that God called Abram, saying, “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house” (Genesis 12:1). The purpose of God to bless the world had been delayed at the crossroads long enough. So God called and Abram went.

Now, even though “Abram” means “exalted father,” his wife Sarai was barren, so there was no heir in his house. But God promised that Abram would indeed have a son and that he would be the father of nations. He even changed Abram’s name to Abraham (“father of multitudes”).

In Genesis 18:17-19, we again see the promise of a great and mighty nation coming from Abraham:
“For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice, that the LORD may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.”
The sense of “I have known him” does not mean simple knowledge, i.e. “I know that Abraham will command his children and his household, etc.” Rather, it means that God chose Abraham for that purpose. It was not about what Abraham would do, but about what God would do in, to and through Abraham. That is always God’s way — He initiates, we respond.

So God chose Abraham, so Abraham would command his household to keep the way of the Lord. Abraham believed God and received all that was promised.

When God calls you, He will empower to do everything He has planned for you. It will be an inheritance for all your house and a blessing to the nations.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The House of Noah

Then the LORD said to Noah, “Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation.” (Genesis 7:1)
Continuing the generations from Adam — Enoch (“Dedicated”) was the father of Methuselah, whose name, roughly translated, means, “When he dies there shall be an emission.”

Methuselah fathered Lamech (“Powerful”) and lived to be 969 years old. When Methuselah died, the Flood came.

Lamech lived 182 years and had a son, Noach, whose name means “Rest,” for Lamech said, “This one will comfort us concerning our work and the toil of our hands because of the ground which the Lord has cursed” (Genesis 5:29).

The time in which these patriarchs found themselves was a time of great and growing evil. The life of Enoch stood out in bold relief. The name of Methuselah was the omen of coming judgment.
Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. (Genesis 6:5-8)
Noah has favor in God’s sight. He was pleasing to God — he must have been a man of faith, for without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).

So the LORD told Noah, “I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall go into the ark—you, your sons, your wife, and your son’s wives with you” (Genesis 6:18).

As the narrative continues, God gives Noah instructions about the ark, the dimensions, the design, and all the animals he was to bring inside. The judgment of God was about to fall, as it must, in order to set things right. For, in the beginning, God established a destiny for the house of Adam, and He was not about to see it fail. So Noah is a figure of God’s redemption, a fore-shadow of God’s promised Messiah.

Noah found grace in the sight of the Lord. It was by faith, then as now, for by grace are we saved through faith — the gift of God, not of works (Ephesians 2:8-9).

But what I really want you to notice is how the faith of Noah brought with it the destiny of his household. Noah was the one who found favor, but it affected his whole house. Noah was the only one found righteous in his generation, but his wife, sons and daughters-in-law reaped the benefit.

Remember that the house is a place of destiny and inheritance. By his faith, Noah not only established his own destiny, but by inheritance he passed that destiny on to his children.

God always honors His inheritance through the generations. That is, He works through fathers, who impart to their children. That is why the genealogies in Scripture are important (“these are the generations”). They show the line of inheritance and connect us to the purposes God has always had for the house of Adam (of which we are all a part).

What is the inheritance you are passing on to your children? Is it faith and the promises of God? Will it bring redemption for the world? The answer is found in your own relationship with God.

Friday, June 10, 2005

The House of Seth

And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth, “For God has appointed another seed for me instead of Abel, whom Cain killed.” (Genesis 4:25)
The house of Abel — gone! The house of Cain — on its way out! How would the house of Adam now be fulfilled in its destiny. Who would receive its inheritance to be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and exercise dominion?

Enter Seth, whose name means “appointed,” for he was appointed by God.

When Adam and Eve disconnected from their divine source and fell into sin, God made a promise, putting a curse on the deceiving serpent — that is, cursing the one who had introduced the curse — saying,
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel. (Genesis 3:15)
This is called the “protoevangelion,” the first mention of the Gospel. It refers to the Messiah who would come and bring redemption.

Not long after, when Cain was born, Eve said, “I have acquired a man from the LORD” (Genesis 4:1). No doubt, she understood this to be the “seed” promised by God. But she was mistaken, as history soon revealed.

When Seth was born, she said, “For God has appointed another seed for me instead of Abel, whom Cain killed.” There is a difference in her attitude. No longer was it about what she had acquired, which soon turned to dust. Now it was about what God appointed.
And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his own likeness, after his image, and name him Seth. After he begot Seth, the days of Adam were eight hundred years; and he had sons and daughters. (Genesis 5:3-4)
When Adam was 130 years old, he fathered Seth, then lived 800 more yeas. Seth was begotten in the likeness and image of Adam, just as Adam was created in the image and likeness of God. Seth was like Adam, not in Adam’s original state, but in his fallen state. By these words, “likeness” and “image,” the Scriptures are alerting us that this is the seed-line through whom Messiah would come, the seed-line appointed by God.

Consider the house of Seth. He was 105 years old when he fathered Enosh (“man”). He lived for another 807 years and had other sons and daughters.

Enosh, at age 99, begot Cainan (“possessor” or “possession”) and lived 815 more years.

Cainan was 70 years old when he begot Mahalalel (“praise of God’) and lived 840 more years.

Mahalalel was 65 when he fathered Jared (“descent”), then lived 830 more years.

Jared, at age 162, fathered Enoch (“dedicated”) then lived 800 years more.

Consider the house of Enoch. Enoch lived 65 years and begot Methuselah. Then for the next 300 years, he lived in complete and constant fellowship with the Lord. “And Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:24).

The testimony of Hebrews is that Enoch pleased God. Therefore, it must have been a matter of walking in faith, for without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:5-6).

Now, Enoch did not die as the others had done, but went on with God without experiencing death. God took him. Enoch simply entered into the glory realm of God and never came back.

In his walk with God, Enoch became aware of how far the house of Adam and its subsequent generations had missed the mark. He realized that there would have to be a judgment to set things in accordance with the rightness of God.

The naming of Methuselah reveals this with prophetic significance. The interpretation of this name is varied:
  • Brown-Driver-Brigg’s and Strong’s both render it as “man of the dart.”
  • Hitchcock says, “he has sent his death.”
  • Jamieson, Faucett and Brown says “he dies, and the sending forth.”
  • Gill relates the meaning as “when he dies there shall be an emission,” and the significance as “sending forth of waters upon the earth, to destroy it.”
Methuselah was 187 years old when he fathered Lamech, then lived another 782 years. And now the significance of his name comes into play: At age 969, Methuselah died — and the Flood began!

Even in the midst of great descent and decline in the world, and looming judgment, there is still hope and the possibility of walking with God in the world, and even pleasing Him, but it is only by faith.

Wednesday, June 8, 2005

The House of Adam

A house is a place of destiny. The destiny of Adam and Eve was to “be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28).

However, that destiny was subverted when the devil came baiting them with fear — “God is holding back from you” (rough paraphrase).

You see, the house is not only a place of destiny, but also of inheritance. So the devil came whispering doubt into the ears of Adam and his wife about the inheritance of God, implying that God was somehow trying to cheat them out of their full portion.

Adam and Eve bit.

Because of their disobedience, the purpose of their household was now undermined, and they missed their inheritance — not because God reneged, but because they disconnected from the promises of God (faith) and hooked up with the lies of the devil (fear).

This faithlessness hit the family hard, bringing immediate death in spirit and body. It now became the inheritance of the household and was passed on to the next generation.

Adam and Eve lived long and had many sons and daughters (Genesis 5:4), but only three sons are singled out by Moses in the Genesis account: Cain, Abel and Seth.

“Cain” means “acquired.” Eve gave him this name, saying, “I have acquired a man from the LORD” (Genesis 4:1). “Abel” means “vapor, breathe.” It speaks of a very transitory destiny.

Recall the story of Cain and Abel. Though Abel offered a sacrifice by faith (we know it was by faith because it was pleasing to God, and without faith it is impossible to please God), Cain did not. The rejection of his faithless offering seethed within him until he compounded his fault by murdering his brother, Abel.

By this faithless act, the house of Abel was immediately cut off, but so was the house of Cain, although it was not immediately apparent. We see a few generations of Cain, and the inheritance of murder was passed on, after which, this line is spoken of no more.

The third son was Seth, whose name means “appointed,” because Eve said, “For God has appointed another seed for me instead of Abel, who Cain killed” (Genesis 4:25). Notice the distinction between the naming of Cain, “I have acquired,” and Seth, “God has appointed.” One is about us and our works; the other is about God and His works.

The Genesis narrative now shifts to the inheritance and destiny of the house of Seth—and there is a hope for redemption for the house of Adam.

God has appointed you for an inheritance and a destiny. Will you believe His promise? Your life will be a blessing for those who come after you, and a redemption for those who have gone before.

Tuesday, June 7, 2005

Let Not Your Heart Be Slammed

Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. (John 14:1)
There are no chapter breaks in the original text. These were added later by translators as a reference help, but sometimes they get in the way and obscure the message. So let’s back up a few verses to discover the context.
Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are you going?”

Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward.”

Peter said to Him, “Lord, why can I not follow You now? I will lay down my life for Your sake.”

Jesus answered Him, “Will you lay down your life for My sake? Most assuredly, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times. Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me”
(John 13:36-14:1).
Jesus was about to be handed over for an unjust trial, abuse, severe flogging and finally, crucifixion. He was betrayed by Judas. But He also knew that Peter would betray Him by denial — He even prophesied to Peter about this.

But in that same moment He said, to Peter and all the others, “Let not your heart be troubled.” On this, the darkest night of His life (and the darkest time for His disciples, as well), He speaks a powerful word of comfort and hope.

The Greek word for “trouble” here is tarraso. It means to be stirred up, agitated, and disturbed, to lose calmness, be disquieted and made restless, to be stricken with fear and dread, and perplexed with doubt. In other words, Jesus was saying, “Don’t let your heart be slammed!”

It does not matter what your circumstances are. It does not matter what your failures have been. Don’t let them slam into you and send you into despair. Don’t let them overwhelm your heart and fill you with doubt and fear.

But that is only half the prescription. The other half is even more important:
Believe in God, believe also in Me.
The Greek word for “believe” is pisteuo. It is the verb form of pistis, the word for “faith.” It is dynamic — faith in action.

Our natural tendency is to keep focusing on our circumstances and our failures. That’s just the way the enemy wants it, so he keeps whispering those things in our ears. But Jesus wants us to direct our attention to Him, because He has destroyed the works of the devil and taken care of everything that pertains to our wholeness and peace. All we need to do is to exercise our faith and trust fully in Him.
  • To Martha, Jesus said, “Don’t let your heart be crowded — focus your heart on Me” (Luke 10, rough paraphrase).
  • To Peter, Jesus said, “Don’t let your heart be slammed — focus your faith on Me” (rough paraphrase).
Don’t be distracted and discouraged by your situation, however dark it may now seem. Don’t let your past sins, failures or mistakes steal your attention away from Jesus. Focus your faith on the solution — Jesus — not the problem. Let not your heart be troubled.

Monday, June 6, 2005

Is Your House Crowded?

And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.” (Luke 10:41)
You remember the story of Mary and Martha and the day Jesus came to their house. Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus as a disciple (which was a very brazen thing for that time and place).

Meanwhile, Martha was banging around the house, “distracted with much serving” (Luke 10:40). The Greek word for “distract” literally means to “drag all around.” Picture her with many implements of service, dragging them all about her house. She let herself become distracted from the glory of Jesus’ presence and become encumbered with other things.

Finally, Martha was upset enough that she went to Jesus and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me” (v. 40).

That’s when Jesus answered and said, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.” To be worried means to be anxious about something, to focus attention on something with anxiety. Have you ever noticed that you cannot be worried about something without focusing your attention on it?

Not only was Martha anxiously focusing her attention on many things, but she was also “troubled.” The Greek word here, turbazo, literally means “crowded.” Martha was focused on so many things that she was filled with anxiety and her thoughts were crowded. No wonder she was overwhelmed.

All the while, the answer to her problem was sitting quietly before her, untroubled and at peace. Jesus was there in her midst. Mary had already tumbled onto the secret of quietness. Jesus said, “But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (v. 42).

The house of Martha’s soul was crowded with many things; Mary chose the one thing that was needed. Martha was focused on the worry of many things; Mary was focused on the presence of Jesus.

Nine centuries earlier, David was surrounded by enemies and foes. An army was encamped against him from without, and adversaries were breathing out threats and violence and false reports (that might have been from within his camp).

David could easily have let himself become overwhelmed, and perhaps for a time he was. But he did not let the house of his soul remain crowded. He sharpened his focus. “One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek” (Psalm 27:4).

In the midst of all this turmoil, what do you suppose was the one thing David desired?
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in His temple.
That was all he needed, all he wanted — to dwell in the house of the LORD and behold His beauty. All questions would be answered there. For the house of the LORD is spacious and bountiful, and not crowded at all.

Is your house crowded? Are you full of anxiety? It is because you are focused on many things, and only one thing is needed. If you will turn you attention to Jesus and dwell in His presence, you will be choosing the good portion, and it will not be taken from you — and the LORD your Shepherd will take care of you.

Sunday, June 5, 2005

What’s in a House?

A house is a an abode, a dwelling place. It is a place of decision and destiny. Don’t think “building,” think “family,” for a house is a place of relationships, a place where inheritances are imparted. Every house bears a name, and that name establishes the family.

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Amen.

Saturday, June 4, 2005

Love and the Right Hand of God

I have called upon You, for You will hear me, O God;
  Incline Your ear to me, and hear my speech.
Show Your marvelous lovingkindness by Your right hand,
  O You who save those who trust in You
  From those who rise up against them.
(Psalm 17:6-7)
David was in a jam and he needed help — pretty quickly! So he cried out to the Lord, very fervently and with great intent, but also with great confidence that God would give close attention to him.

“Show Your marvelous lovingkindness by Your right hand.” He is calling for a very distinct display of God’s hesed, His steadfast loving and covenant mercy. “Do wonders for those who are the objects of your great mercy.”

“By Your right hand.” David is looking for a very practical display of God’s love demonstrated through His power.

The word for “trust” (“O You who save those who trust in You”) means to flee. As David’s enemies rose up against him, he was fleeing to the LORD for refuge — “ LORD, help!”

When the chips are down, you can run to the LORD and look to Him for refuge and help, and He will back you up and bring you out. He will demonstrate His great love and mercy in very practical ways, by the might of His right hand.

Thursday, June 2, 2005

The Algebra of Effective Faith

Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:8)
Faith works through love (Galatians 5:6). Without love, faith is meaningless — a failure.
Though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:2)
So let us now speak of faith in terms of love. First Corinthians 13, the “Love Chapter,” will be a very helpful guide. It extols the virtues of love throughout, but since faith works through love, it gives us some powerful insights into the effective, meaningful exercise of faith.
  • Faith working through love is patient and kind (v. 4).
  • Faith working through love does not envy, does not parade itself, is not puffed up (v. 4).
  • Faith working through love does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil (v. 5).
  • Faith working through love does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth (v. 6).
  • Faith working through love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (v. 7).
  • Faith working through love never fails (v. 8).
Now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (v. 13)
Love never fails. Faith works through love. Faith working through love never fails.

Wednesday, June 1, 2005

I Have Come Down From Heaven

And they said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, “I have come down from heaven?”
(John 6:42)
There are a lot of things Jesus said that really bugged people — made them downright angry. This is one of them.

Jesus said, “I have come down from heaven.” What? How can this be? We know his father, his mother. He grew up around here. How can he say he came down from heaven?

They knew Jesus only in the natural realm and thought they knew all about Him. But they did not understand the spiritual realm, and so they missed His true identity.

You see, Jesus is fully human (still is, by the way, even though He has ascended to heaven) as well as fully divine. But even in His humanity, He has a spiritual dimension — He is spirit, soul and body, just as you and I.

Many people did not understand Jesus in His divinity or even in His full humanity.
He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name; who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
(John 1:11-13)
Though many considered Him only in His earthly dimension, and rejected Him, His coming has opened up wondrous possibilities. As many as receive Him, He gives them the right to become the children of God. It is not about physical birth but about spiritual.

In John 3, Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (v. 3). The words “born again,” literally mean “born from above.” This is spiritual birth, and happens by an action of the Holy Spirit giving new life to our spirit.

All those who have this new birth from above now have the ability to see the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is the rule and reign of God in heaven and on earth. Those who are born again can see it because we are part of it—not only because we are in it on the earth but because we were born there in heaven.

All those who receive the Lord Jesus Christ has the right to be children of God. We are born from above. Not only that, but Paul tells us that we are citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20).

Even more, we are seated in heaven together with Jesus (Ephesians 2:6). This is not a future event but a present reality. You may have thought you were simply here on the earth and of the earth. But the truth is much greater than that—you are of heaven and seated in heaven with Jesus on His throne

(Makes a great deal of sense, when you think about it. Jesus is the head of the Church, His Body. You don’t imagine that only Jesus’ head is seated on the throne of heaven, do you? No, His body is there as well.)

Now, brace yourself, because here is a real mind-blower for you: If you have received the Lord Jesus Christ, and are therefore born from above, and have your citizenship in heaven, and are currently seated in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus, you can say, just as Jesus did: I have come down from heaven.

Selah on that for a while and let it change your thinking in a radical way. The word “radical” comes from radix, which means “root.” You may have thought that your roots were on the earth (and they are, but only after the flesh). Your real roots, however, are in heaven. You come from a heavenly family, with a name and an inheritance from heaven. You have a heavenly bloodline, a royal bloodline from God’s own throne room.

You are not limited to your viewpoint from earth, you can now view things from heaven, where you are seated. You can see what is going on in heaven and give the command, as Jesus taught us,
Kingdom of God, come!
Will of God, be done on earth as it is in heaven!
You are no longer simply on earth, looking toward heaven. You are of heaven, fully authorized to bring the reality of heaven down to earth.

If you have received the Lord Jesus Christ by faith, you are now born from above. You have the ability to see the kingdom of God at work on the earth because you have come down from heaven.