3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. 6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
“Shall your brethren go to war while you sit here? 7 Now why will you discourage the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the land which the Lord has given them? 8 Thus your fathers did when I sent them away from Kadesh Barnea to see the land. 9 For when they went up to the Valley of Eshcol and saw the land, they discouraged the heart of the children of Israel, so that they did not go into the land which the Lord had given them. 10 So the Lord’s anger was aroused on that day, and He swore an oath, saying, 11 ‘Surely none of the men who came up from Egypt, from twenty years old and above, shall see the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, because they have not wholly followed Me, 12 except Caleb the son of Jephunneh, the Kenizzite, and Joshua the son of Nun, for they have wholly followed the Lord.’ 13 So the Lord’s anger was aroused against Israel, and He made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation that had done evil in the sight of the Lord was gone.
Why did this inspire me so much? The fact of the matter is that we are all in a race. Whether you are conditioned and prepared or not, we are all participating in the marathon of life. More of us than we like to admit are completely out of shape in the race. We are sluggish in our spirits, fat in our lusts, and broken in our hearts. The great theologian Gloria Estefan already told us that “there’s no place that you can hide, oh no, the rhythm is gonna get’cha”. You can refuse to admit that we are all on a path towards a goal and pretend like things don’t affect you or concern you, but the “rhythm is gonna get’cha”.
Heb 12:1-2 (NASU) Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Can you dig it?
Do you ever wonder as you turn on the spicket to shower every morning where the many gallons of water are coming from and how much work went into channeling the water from its original location to your shower and to making the water clean and pure enough to cleanse your body? One of the greatest commodities in biblical times was di-hydrogen-oxide (H2O), water. Even today, it is one of our greatest natural resources. During times of drought, even in prosperous twenty first century America, we have to limit our usage of this resource and cling to it for its life giving and life saving properties. And yet still, it is hard to imagine, living in our culture, how important water would have been in Biblical times. It seems like every day in America a new bottle of water is available on store shelves. We water our grass with it, wash our cars with it and really don’t give much thought to how it arrives for our consumption. We even get fancy and squeeze lemon in it. If characters from Biblical times appeared today for a visit, I believe they would spend most of their time playing in the kitchen sink and possibly pressing Jacuzzi water stream buttons.
The book of Genesis accounts for us the importance of the struggle and search for water. Not only was the discovery of fresh water wells rare, it was essential. Issac discovered three such wells that we will take time to examine.
Gen 26:19-22 19 (NIV) 19. Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there. 20 But the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen and said, “The water is ours!” So he named the well Esek, because they disputed with him. 21 Then they dug another well, but they quarreled over that one also; so he named it Sitnah. 22 He moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarreled over it. He named it Rehoboth, saying, “Now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in the land.”
The significance of this scripture in our modern twenty first century lives may not stand out to you immediately, but with further dissection, we can all learn how to dig wells in our life and apply these Biblical principles.
Well # 1.) Esek means to quarrel
Well # 2.) Sitnah means to strive or have strife
Well # 3.) Rehoboth means board places (the place that they flourished)
Water meant life. It gave the ability to sustain crops, provided hydration for herds of animals, and for Isaac and his family to live out in the desert they needed to drink a lot of it. Wars were often not fought with weapons but with the abundance or lack of water. If one could destroy the water supply to anothe,r they would win the battle without having to draw their sword. Understanding this, the Philistines had attacked the wells of Isaac’s father Abraham. The Philistines had been an arch enemy of God and his people and they are an Old Testament representation of our enemy Satan. They depict to us today the evil men and seducers that we face in our modern world.
Gen 26:15 (NIV)
So all the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the time of his father Abraham, the Philistines stopped up, filling them with earth.
Our sworn enemies, whether natural or spiritual, are trying to stop us from being productive. Their goal is to see us fail and destroy our lives. Water also symbolizes the washing and regeneration that we find through New Testament baptism. Our sins and our failures are buried with Christ in baptism. The enemies of our soul and of our lives try to dry up the refreshment that we feel after repentance, water baptism, and the infilling of the Holy Ghost. They want to remove the water from our lives and to deliver to us such a life damaging blow that we will not be able to recover. If we give into this attack, we are left to die. Whether the water is physical or spiritual, it’s still the best source of refreshment and renewal. Death, even if not physical, can destroy our future. In Isaac’s day they were trying to kill him physically, they were trying to destroy his family, and they were jealous of his success.
Have you ever felt like someone was throwing dirt into your well? Was someone trying to destroy the source of life that you drink from? Have you ever felt like someone was trying to destroy you, and trying to push you away? Many people try to eliminate the possibility of you being productive and versatile in the kingdom of God.
Oftentimes you feel like people are trying to destroy you and manipulate situations to get you out of the workplace. Sometimes there are even people around you that are allowing the enemy to use them to push you out of the church. Satan would love to get you to throw in the towel on your ministry and your family. But, even with a sworn enemy trying to stop us, we need to keep digging. There is nothing that can stop us. What made Isaac successful was the fact that he was not willing to stop digging. When things got tough and when the Philistines tried to destroy everything his father had worked for, instead of giving up, Isaac dug in. The choice is simple to dig or not to dig.
So in the middle of your seemingly impossible situation, you are faced with a decision. Can I dig it? Can I grab my shovel and dig another well? While you are digging, sometimes strife will break out, but keep digging. Don’t throw in the towel, dig another well. The fact of the matter is if you keep digging you’re going to have a Rehoboth, a big place, a broad place, a place for all your dreams that you thought were destroyed by the enemy. The dreams and times of refreshing are about to come to pass.
What separates the successful from the defeated? A lack of problems and situations is not what makes somebody else thrive in a toxic environment while everyone else crumbles. We all have our enemies and our seemingly impassable situations. What separates the failures from the victors is simply one thing, keep digging when everyone else stops.
I refuse to allow my past, pain and problems; poison my future. It does not matter what has happened to you! It does not matter what others are saying about you! It does not matter if you do not meet all the criteria that the religious and the Pharisees say you need to meet in order to work for God. What matters is do you have the tenacity, the determination, the faith to keep digging in spite all the dirt that’s being thrown at you? Do you have a desire to read, study, and digest the word of God and make it become relevant to your situation and life?
We can all find the silver lining in our situations. Every time life threw dirt on you and ever person that gave up on you actually pushed you to just dig another well. They created the success that you are going to be. Everyone that does you dirty is actually doing a service of justice for you. If no one moves your cheese, you will never be forced to reevaluate and come up with better and more successful solutions for victory. You can stand and be grateful for every time you were forced in a prayer closet by a person or a life circumstance. Open your mouth and shout, “Thank you for pushing me to my knees and thank you for helping me realize that no matter what happens God is faithful to help me through anything life can bring.”
I want to encourage you as you read this that God has given you the power to reinvent yourself. Today is a new day; forget about what’s happened in the past and stop stressing about what’s going to take place in the future. All you need to do is be willing to keep digging in spite of the circumstances that are surrounding you. Rehoboth, can you dig it?
With his heart palpitating and his face crimson, the groom stood at the altar dejected, broken, and confused. The girl that he had planned to marry did not show up to their big day. The guests had filled the church, the minister stood with empathy showing on his face, and the tens of thousands of dollars that had been spent were lost with no reward. Humiliated, the groom wondered what went wrong. She promised to love, honor, and cherish him when he popped the question, and now she hadn’t even given him the dignity of a phone call. He had no choice but to make an announcement to the guests that the day was over, his life was ruined, and they were just going to have to eat cake anyway. He would pick up the pieces of his life, return to the grindstone at work, and continue forging ahead all alone with no soul mate in this world.
The above story describes what could be one of the worse nightmares for anyone, male or female, that had romantic intentions and lifelong desires thwarted. We have all been made promises that ended in despair and at some point, most of us have made a promise that we either purposefully or accidentally didn’t keep. The groom in the story could very well have described any person, or it could be an allegory to describe Christ. The bible speaks in flowery language about the bride of Christ, the church. God is looking for a bride with more than good intentions, but he is looking for a bride that couples actions, attitudes, and accomplishments for the kingdom. The bible tells a story about 5 foolish virgins and 5 wise virgins awaiting their wedding day. The 5 wise virgins were ready and prepared when their groom came and the 5 foolish virgins were found distracted, unprepared. The thing about this story that strikes me is that all 10 women in this story were virgins. This means they were all to some degree prepared for the big day. In Biblical times all good brides were virgins on their wedding day. This was an expectation that couldn’t be messed with or altered. This means that all 10 ladies had kept themselves separated. Many in the church feel that they are separated from the world because they have made choices of purity and some choices towards Biblical responsibility, but something huge is missing in their lives and hearts. Matthew 25 ends this accounting of the virgins stating that the unprepared virgins begged for the bridegroom to come back, but they had missed their opportunity. Even though untouched and still virtuous, the 5 foolish virgins had never fulfilled the true potential of a bride and missed the wedding day. We , as modern day Christians, could liken this to the second Coming of Christ. We need to be more than separated and pure, we need to be active in the kingdom.
Our world is full of potential and good intentions, but both are worthless unless coupled with action. The word potential is based from the root word potent, meaning power. You have no power and no potency without action. Potential is worthless unless it is activated by power. Good intentions are also pointless unless we act out our intentions. My engagement to somebody and my intention to marry them is meaningless unless I actually show up to the wedding day, dressed, planned, and prepared to dedicate my future to the groom. I can intend to marry him, but if I don’t show up ready to actually follow through, he is left jilted at the altar like the man I described above. The church, as the bride of Christ, needs to have more than just good intentions and potential. We need to allow our potential to be potent while we walk in the spirit and use the power of the Holy Spirit to be the witnesses described in Acts 1:8. I don’t just intend to make an impact on my community; I’m going to actually do it. I’m not going to just talk about the love of God; I’m going to display it. I’m not going to just attend church; I’m going to be the church. I’m going to operate in my role in the body of Christ and let my intentions become potential and my potential become action.
2 Corinthians 8 (the message) verse 10 – So here’s what I think: The best thing you can do right now is to finish what you started last year and not let those good intentions grow stale. 11 Your heart’s been in the right place all along. You’ve got what it takes to finish it up, so go to it. 12 Once the commitment is clear, you do what you can, not what you can’t. The heart regulates the hands. 13 This isn’t so others can take it easy while you sweat it out. No, you’re shoulder to shoulder with them all the way, 14 your surplus matching their deficit, their surplus matching your deficit. In the end you come out even.
The following is a transcript/summary a video message. I originally recorded this and put it on Face Book. I tried to upload the video to my blog but it is currently not working. I will revisit this and try it again. Until then, enjoy the transcript. I hope that it blesses you and you find the scripture passages helpful in your walk with God.
Prov 11:24-25(from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language)
24 The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller.
25 The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.
I am just dropping in today with a short message about giving and receiving. Oftentimes we fit giving and receiving into two categories. We either only associate it with Christmas, birthdays and other holidays and make it about gifts, or we pigeon hole the concept of giving to encompass only financial and monetary contributions. Because of these cultural associations that we have created, most people turn off their “thinking caps”, to use a term from elementary school, and do not listen to lessons on giving, or we just refuse to tune in or talk about it at all. While I will briefly touch on finances in this short lesson, I am only doing so because the Bible has more to say about money than it does about any other topic. Matthew 6:21 states that where your treasure is that is where your heart also is. I have heard the thought my whole life that what controls your check book, even if it is the necessities, will control the attitude and direction of your life and heart. In this economy it is tough to hear pleas for money for missions, for the church, and for the impoverished and less fortunate because we, ourselves, are also struggling. It is in these times though that the church in Macedonia, recorded in II Corinthians chapter 8 bound together and gave liberally out of their poverty. This was the original economic stimulus plan!! God knew before Obama thought he knew. I’m going to read some out of II Corinthians Chapter 8 from the Message translation. Finding and rediscovering these passages of scripture has opened my eyes to a whole new level of giving and receiving. It takes away all of our excuses. God’s economy is not our economy. Regardless of your secular politics and your opinions on the direction that the United States is headed, we can all agree that it is the nature of God to abolish fear. I say this all the time; I refuse to participate in the fear surrounding economic recession!!
Paul Speaking about the church in Macedonia to the church in Corinth,
2 Cor 8:2 Fierce troubles came down on the people of those churches, pushing them to the very limit. The trial exposed their true colors: They were incredibly happy, though desperately poor. The pressure triggered something totally unexpected: an outpouring of pure and generous gifts. 3 I was there and saw it for myself. They gave offerings of whatever they could — far more than they could afford! — 4 pleading for the privilege of helping out in the relief of poor Christians. 5 This was totally spontaneous, entirely their own idea, and caught us completely off guard. What explains it was that they had first given themselves unreservedly to God and to us. The other giving simply flowed out of the purposes of God working in their lives. ( Skipping down ) 9 You are familiar with the generosity of our Master, Jesus Christ. Rich as he was, he gave it all away for us — in one stroke he became poor and we became rich.
You have to give in proportion to what you want to receive. If you are stingy with money and gifts, you will be met with stinginess. If you are harsh and judgmental, you will be treated with that same level of mercy. Christians love to quote the following passage from Luke chapter 6 to motivate us to give of our financial resources. We get so excited because in our hearts, we are not giving from the motivation of pure Christianity, we are giving to receive.
38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
However, if you read this passage in context with the statements preceding it, you find a commandment that is almost more difficult than the commandment to give liberally of financial resources.
Luke Chapter 6 (KJV)
36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:
I like the message bibles interpretation of Luke 6: 38
Message Bible Luke chapter 6
38 Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back — given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting is the way. Generosity begets generosity.”
Remember that giving and receiving is not only about finances. It is about time, love and tenderness (to quote the great Michael Bolton)
Reminds me of a story I heard about a Baptist preacher who just finished his sermon for the day and proceeded toward the back of the church for his usual greetings and handshaking as the congregation left the church. After shaking a few adult hands he came upon the seven year old son of one of the Deacons of the church.
“Good morning, Jonathan,” the preacher said as he reached out to shake Jonathan’s hand.
As he was doing that, he felt something in the palm of Jonathan’s hand. “What’s this?” the preacher asked.
“Money,” said Jonathan with a big smile on his face, “It’s for you!”
“I don’t want to take your money, Jonathan,” the preacher answered.
“I want you to have it,” said Jonathan. After a short pause Jonathan continued, “My daddy says you’re the poorest preacher we ever had and I want to help you.”
Let’s not associate everything with money!!
James 1:5 (New American Standard) But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.