Thursday, August 23, 2007

Three Benefits of Honoring a Sabbath

I think these blessings from Isaiah 58:14 apply if you take one day each week to rest and to honor God:

  1. You will delight yourself in the Lord.
  2. God will make you ride on the high places of the earth.
  3. God will feed you with the heritage of Jacob.
I personally don't think it matters whether that day be Saturday, Sunday, or some other day, but I do think the Sabbath was created to allow man time to rest his body and refresh his spirit.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Email Is Down. What Do I Do?

My email has been down for the past sixteen hours. Not my "home" email -- I use Google's gmail at home, and I am well pleased with it -- but my "work" email. At work, I use MS Outlook which talks to MS Exchange Server handling thousands of users.

When the email is working, I use it as my to-do list. I read through the emails, starting with the most recent, and either respond or let the email sit in the in-box as a reminder to do a task. After responding where needed, I work on the tasks that remain.

But what happens if the email is down? Then I work on the projects I remember. I continue acting on the last instructions I received.

I do the same thing with knee-mail. Sometimes, I have difficulty "connecting" with God. I go through spells where I don't receive any fresh insight or direction. What do I do? I continue to do what I remember. I continue acting on the last instruction I received.

Sometimes we needlessly wonder what God wants us to do now, when all we need to do is keep doing what He already told us.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

22 Blessings of Fasting in Joel 2

  1. God will send corn, oil, and wine (v. 19)
  2. You will be satisfied.
  3. You will no longer be a reproach among the heathens.
  4. God will remove far off from you the northern army and destroy it (v. 20).
  5. The pastures of your wilderness will spring up (v. 22).
  6. Your tree will bear fruit.
  7. Your fig tree and vine will yield their strength.
  8. God will cause the former and latter rains to fall (v. 23).
  9. Your threshing floors will be full of grain (v. 24).
  10. Your vats shall overflow with wine and oil.
  11. God will restore the years that the locust has eaten (v. 25).
  12. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied (v. 26).
  13. God will deal wondrously with you.
  14. You will never be put to shame.
  15. You will know that God is in the midst of you (v. 27).
  16. You will know that God is your God, and none else.
  17. You will never be ashamed.
  18. God will pour out His Spirit (v. 28).
  19. Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
  20. Your old men shall dream dreams.
  21. Your young men shall see visions.
  22. Even your servants will get drenched with God's Spirit (v. 29).

26 Blessings of Fasting in Isaiah 58

  1. You will loose the bands of wickedness (v. 6).
  2. You will undo the heavy burdens
  3. You will undo the bands of the yoke.
  4. You will let the oppressed go free.
  5. You will break every [enslaving] yoke.
  6. You will be able to divide your bread with the hungry (v. 7).
  7. You will be able to bring the homeless poor into your house.
  8. You will be able to clothe the naked.
  9. You will not have to hide from your own flesh and blood.
  10. Your light [righteousness? testimony?] shall break forth like morning (v. 8).
  11. Your healing [also restoration and salvation] shall spring forth speedily.
  12. Your righteousness shall go before you [conducting you to peace and prosperity].
  13. The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard, shall gather you up.
  14. You shall call, and the Lord will answer (v. 9).
  15. You shall cry, and He will say, Here I am.
  16. Your light shall rise in darkness (v. 10) [This blessing and the following appear to come if one gives their own food money to the poor].
  17. Your darkness [sinful life? darkness of soul? obscurity? gloom?] will become like the noon day.
  18. The Lord shall guide you continually (v. 11).
  19. The Lord shall satisfy you in drought and dry places.
  20. The Lord shall strengthen and fatten your bones.
  21. You will be like a watered garden.
  22. You will be like a spring of water whose waters never stop.
  23. They of you [children? congregation? staff?] shall rebuild your ancient ruins (v. 12).
  24. You will raise up the foundations of many generations.
  25. You will be called "The Repairer of the Breach."
  26. You will be called "The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In."

The Five E's of Evidence

I saw Lee Strobel on TV recently talking about the evidence that transformed him from an atheist to a believer of the the gospel. He listed five E's: Execution, Early Accounts, Empty Tomb, Eye Witnesses, Emergence of the Church.

  1. Execution
    Christ died by crucifixion. The Roman guards testified that Christ had died. Christ was buried under Roman guard.
  2. Early Accounts
    Myths take time to develop -many, many years or even decades. But the news of Christ's resurrection spread within months.
  3. Empty Tomb
    Today, 2000 years after the event, the empty tomb doesn't mean much, but at the time, it stood as a strong witness that Christ had indeed risen.
  4. Eye Witnesses
    Jesus appeared to over 500 different people post-resurrection. Many myths involve "someone" who heard or who saw, but the resurrection account names names -- Mary, Peter, Paul, and others who encountered Christ personally.
  5. Emergence of the Church
    What else would account for the rapid growth of the church at that time? What besides the fact that Christ had arisen and everyone knew it? Some say the disciples duped the people, but those same disciples died defending the very truth they preached -- that Jesus Christ was alive.

Thoughts from Bishop Francisco Montefusco.

I was blessed to hear Bishop Francisco Montefusco preach at the World Missions service of the Pentecostal Church of God's General Convention.

Bishop Montefusco's text:

And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. - Genesis 1:28
  • Everything God created multiplies. Birds, Fish, Trees, and Men all multiply. Christians should multiply.
  • A young Brazilian approached Bishop Montefusco and said, "I want to pastor." Bishop Montefusco replied, "Where are your sheep?"
  • Brazilians are expected to multiply in their local church before going out.
  • Even church musicians are expected to have their own disciples.
Bishop Francisco Montefusco is the national bishop of the Pentecostal Church of God in Brazil.

Thoughts from Bishop J. W. Macklin

I was privileged to hear Bishop J.W. Macklin of the Church of God in Christ preach at the Sunday Morning service of the Pentecostal Church of God's General Convention. I thought I'd share some tidbits.

  • Macklin's father once advised a group of aspiring preachers, "Stop trying to preach things nobody else has preached - if nobody else has preached it, there's probably a reason."
  • Nothing changes until something changes.
  • Rubber bands are useless until put under tension.
  • Be careful that you don't pass your church on the way to your church.
  • We cannot influence the world around us if we insulate ourselves from the world around us.
  • Stop allowing what-your-church-has to dictate what your church does.
  • The size of a church is not square feet nor attendance, but vision.
  • Four Things We Must Do:
    1. Receive the Power
    2. Walk the Walk
    3. Speak the Word
    4. Expect the Unexpected