Archive for the ‘blessing’ Category


slide1One problem has caused more people to stumble in their walk with God than any other situation I know. We encounter harsh and cruel authorities at various times in our lives. How should we react to cruel and harsh authorities when they mistreat us or abuse their authority? Most people ask the question this way: Why Should I honor an authority that I don’t respect and even dislike?

The attitude of dishonor runs deep within our American Society. We believe it is our right to speak out against those we do not like, think are wrong, or disagree with us. I was in the lunch line with my mentor student last Tuesday. The lunch ladies had the Presidential Inauguration playing on a radio. President Obama was giving his acceptance speech. I overheard a fifth grade girl say “I don’t like him”. The boy behind her said “I wish he wasn’t our President”. I immediately turned to them and said, but he is our President. We need to honor him and the office that he represents. The girl said, but he’s not a good man, my dad didn’t want him to be President. I said “that doesn’t matter, he is our President, and it is our duty to honor and pray for him” The kids kind of had a shocked look on their face and then changed the subject.

I challenge you to live this next week and not hear one instance of dishonor. I can guarantee that you will hear someone say something negative about a politician, a bank official, a boss, a spouse, a teacher, someone. Dishonor is rampant in America.

As I look at the question of Honoring Cruel and Evil authorities, I want to relate a true story, as told in 2 Kings 6. As I tell the story I will draw out few points which will form the foundation of the answer to our question.

The Sunken Axe Head

pick-the-axe-head-up2 Kings 6 opens with a group of young prophets coming to Elisha. They have been meeting with Elisha, but there are so many young prophets, they have outgrown the meeting place. So they suggest building a bigger place. Elisha being a man of few words says one word: “yalak” which means Go. But they want him to come and upon asking Elisha to come he says “yalak”. One way means you go, and another way means I go. So they go to the Jordan and start cutting down trees. All of a sudden one guy is chopping real hard when his axe head flies off and sinks to the bottom of the muddy Jordan River. He starts crying out: “What am I going to do? I borrowed that axe”. Elisha goes over and cuts off a branch and throws the stick in the river where the axe fell. All of a sudden the axe head floats to the surface and floats over to the guy who lost it. Elisha tells him to pick it up. He picks it up and goes about chopping the wood.

You say “That’s a cool story” but what does it have to say about cruel authorities?

1. This world is under a curse.

That curse is sin. That curse resulted from our disobedience to the one True Authority. God was good and kind and man still rebelled. We became cursed because of sin. We are condemned to sink under the weight of our sins. We are all hopelessly drowning, whether you are a boss, a King, a President, a father, a mother, whatever authority you may have, you are condemned to drown in your own sins, condemned to eternal separation from Holy God in a literal burning fire of Hell.

2. Jesus Came to Reverse the Curse

Elisha took a stick and put it in the water at the exact spot that the axe head had sunk. Jesus died at the precise time and place needed to satisfy God’s demands of payment for our sin. What Jesus did was exactly what was needed to REVERSE THE CURSE

Jesus Christ, God’s son, holy, without sin, came to this world to REVERSE THE CURSE. He died upon the cruel stick of the cross of crucifixion. When Elisha took that stick and through it into the River of Death (which the Jordan symbolizes) he was painting the picture that the Cross of Jesus reversed the curse. Our sins have been forgiven and we rise above the curse. We are free. God is actively at work in this world reversing the curse upon man. That curse affects our leaders, our authorities, our husbands, our wives. The only way to reverse that curse is by Jesus.

3. We’ve Got to Honor God’s Word

Elisha said “Pick it up”. The man had to honor the commands of Elisha to reverse the curse and get the axe head. Christ may have won the victory but you have to pick it up! When we honor God, when we honor God’s structure of authority, when we let the reality of the Cross live in our daily lives, our daily inter-reactions with those around us, we have amazing power to reverse the curse!

King of Syria Seeks Elisha

Look at the next happening: in Verse 8 we read about the King of Syria and how he was trying to capture and kill the King of Israel. He heard the King might be over at the Wal-Mart in Raymore and he sent his troops over there, but he had already left. Then they heard he was going to be at the Home Depot in Belton, but by the time they got there, he had already left. Then they knew he was going to go to the ground breaking ceremony of anew manufacturing company. So they waited along the route he would have to take, but lo and behold he took another out of the way route.

So the King of Syria gathered his top men and said “Which one of you is the traitor?” Who is telling the King of Israel about my plans? But a servant stepped forward and said; No one is my Lord, for there is a prophet Elisha who tells the King everything you are going to do. Why he even know what you say in your bedroom!”

The King is angry and says “Where is this Elisha?” They spy out the land and word comes back that he is living in a little shack down in Freeman. SO the King sends his vast army to go get this one man Elisha. This is no scouting party. We are talking about tanks, jets, armored personnel carriers, 2000 infantrymen. This King wanted Elisha, dead or alive! So they march and late that night get within a couple thousand yards or so and decide it’s best to wait until the daylight in the morning.

open-his-eyesThe next morning Elisha’s servant goes outside to get wood for a fire and he sees this vast Syrian army and it looks like their guns are all pointed at him. So he runs inside and says Elisha, get up, the whole Syrian Army camped outside and I think they are after you! What do we do? Elisha says “Don’t be afraid! There are more on our side than on theirs!” And before the servant can dishonor Elisha with a wisecrack, he prays, Lord, open His eyes and let him see! Sure enough, his eyes are opened up and he sees an army that you can’t even begin to imagine. The hills surrounding Freeman were filled with millions of army men, tanks and blazing fire power. They must have outnumbered the Syrians 100 to one.

elisha-leads-the-blind-armyAs the army and the tanks advanced on Elisha’s little shack, Elisha prayed. He prayed that not that the Lord’s army would intervene. He prayed that the Syrian army would be made blind. And they all get stricken with blindness. Elisha runs out to them and says yoo hoo, guys, you are in the wrong city. Follow me and I’ll take you to the man you are looking for. So all these soldiers start following Elisha. He leads them up Richards Gebaur where the King is meeting with Ike Skelton. Then Elisha prays God, open their eyes. Their eyes are open, and they find themselves surrounded by the marines, and the King of Israel is there. He cries out to Elisha, Father, what do I do, Do I kill them? “Of course not” Elisha cries. Do we kill prisoners of war? Give them food and drink and send them on their way to their master. So the King of Israel prepared this huge feast, and after they had eaten and drank, he sent them home to their master.

OK, another cool story, but what does it mean?

lessons-from-army

1. Pray To See The Power Of God!

No matter how mean and cruel your authority may be-they are outnumbered by God!

2. God Is Greater Than Any Harsh Authority (Enemy) In Your Life.

God uses these encounters to show us His Power, if we let him open our eyes.

3. Honor Every Harsh Authority As A Prisoner Of War.

God told the King of Israel to honor his enemies. He did.

4. Enjoy a Feast With Harsh Authorities!

(Isn’t that what David wrote-Thou prepares a banquet table before me in the presence of my enemies)

5. Pray That Harsh Authorities Will See That Their Master Is The Devil!

Sometime the only way that someone will do right or turn to God will be when they realize just how mean low down and dirty the devil is. When they see how black and heartless their life has become.

  • The prodigal had to get eye level with those ugly pigs before he thought to return home.

If you treat evil authorities with evilness or dishonor you will never show them the love of God, you will never put them in a place where they can even see that they are following an evil master.

Whenever I talk to a wife who is living with an, insensitive, unloving, unspiritual husband, I tell her, why don’t you go to your husband the next time he does such and such and you want to ring his neck or such and such and instead of dishonoring him or rebelling, just say to him, honey, I love you, and I am praying about my attitude. God has led me to start praying for you that you would see yourself the same way God sees you. I want to draw closer to God and I have learned that God uses you to get me to see Him. So I will be praying that you will see God in a clearer way, so that I can see Him through you.

Now this is not the end of the story. The Bible says the Syrian army went home and didn’t bother Israel for a long while. I think they got reformed. They got a little bit of heaven scared into them. Elisha could have had God’s Army kill them, but no one would have learned anything. Jesus could have had the Roman Soldiers killed, Pilate Killed, Annas and Caiaphas killed, but in that little victory the whole world would have been lost.

You may rebel or do something to prove a point. You may even embarrass the authority or win a lawsuit, but at what price comes your victory? When you chose to dishonor even an ungodly authority you are closing your eyes to all that God wants to do. You are closing your eyes to God’s Power!

Our story doesn’t end there.

Ben-Hadad Besieges Samaria

A new King takes over. His name is Ben Hadad. He doesn’t know about what happened and so marches on Samaria and lays siege. His army camps out for months. Things get so bad that people are willing to pay 5000 for a donkey’s head to eat. One day the King is walking along the wall of the city, and a woman calls out to him from the streets below.

help-meShe says “Help me King!” He says, “If the Lord doesn’t help you, what can I do, I don’t have any food! But she says, that not what I want King. A few days ago my best friend Betty said, hey, things are so bad, let’s make a pact. If we eat your son today, then when all that food is gone, we can eat my boy Johnnie over there.” So I killed my little boy and we’ve been eating him for the last week or so, but he is all gone. So I look for Betty to remind her that it’s Johnnies turn, and now she is gone away and Johnnie is nowhere to be found.

The King of Israel got so upset that he started tearing his clothes. He yelled “God strike me dead if I don’t cut Elisha’s head off this very day” He took his despair and anger out on Elisha. Why hadn’t Elisha done something? Why was there all this suffering because of the evil Ben Hadad? Why didn’t Elisha call the Army of God or strike them blind? He had done it before?

Remember, we need to have our eyes open at all time to see God, to see what He is doing. God intervened the time before, because He wanted to show His glory in a certain way. But this time God was silent, Elisha was silent, there was suffering going on. Why” I don’t know, but God was clearly allowing it!

murderous-captainWe get a glimpse into why when we look at verse 32. We find that while the King is fuming, Elisha is sitting in his house with the elders of the city. He says, “Guys, by the way, the murderous King we have is sending his Captain to cut off my head”. Keep the door shut so he can’t come in. Sure enough, as Elisha was talking, there was a knock on the door. No one budged except to lock the door.

They hear someone yelling at the door: “This disastrous siege is because of God! How can we trust God anymore?”

  • (You may have been tempted to say just that when you endured a harsh authority)

Elisha yells back: “Hear ye the word of the Lord: About 3 o’clock tomorrow afternoon in the city of Samaria you will be able to buy a 12 ounce Filet Mignon for one dollar and a 15 piece bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken for fifty cents!

Listen what happens next: The Captain, the Kings right hand man yells out “Even if God could open the windows of Heaven, this would never happen” So Elisha yelled back: You will see it with your own eyes, but you won’t eat any of it! The Captain made a terrible mistake. He dishonored the word of God! He dishonored God! He dishonored God’s messenger.

four-lepersThe rest of the story is that 4 lepers decided it was better to die by the Syrians than to starve to death, so they go into the enemy camp. No one is there, because God had let them see His great army and hear the sounds of His Army and they got scared and ran away. They left their filets and fried chicken out. It was a feast. The lepers went back and told the people and you would have thought it was Wal-Mart on Black Friday. Everybody started running to the enemy camp to get food. Sure enough, the Captain who dishonored God and Elisha was trampled to death before he could get one bite!captain-trampled-to-death

God allowed evil to happen to His people. He allowed an evil authority to cause things to get so bad that horrible horrible things were done. Why? I can’t tell you, but I can tell you that it was His plan. If anyone dishonors God’s plan, God’s authorities, they will get trampled.

If You Want to Feast, Honor God’s Word & Wait For His Power! (Always Give God One More Day)

feastGod has a feast prepared for us, but we must learn to Honor even evil authorities, because no authority is in place against God’s will.

Now with this foundation, we are able to answer the question before us:

Question: How could a Righteous God appoint cruel people to positions of authority?

God is the originator of the authority, but He is not the author of the cruelty. Man is responsible for his cruel actions, not God. All authority is of God, but not all authority is godly.

MAJOR QUESTION: Are we to submit to authority when those in authority mistreat us?

Last week we saw from David’s life that yes, we are to honor even evil authorities, even when they abuse and mistreat us.

Now let me just say this now: Our government has enacted laws that govern the treatment of minors and spouses. I believe they are fair and equitable laws. We need to submit to and honor those laws. So when you know of an adult who is abusing children, or a husband or wife abusing their spouse, you are duty bound to come to the aid of the one being abused and placing them under the proper authority. If this happens to your self, you should certainly seek the help of the proper authorities. They are there by God to punish evil and reward good. So do not misinterpret what I am teaching to mean you should put up with abuse. If your direct authority is not doing right, you are to utilize the chain of command. And you should always feel free to go directly to the top! (Boss tells you to steal, falsify documents etc)

But lets look at New Testament writings in 1 Peter 2:

Servants (employees, students, civilians, church members), be submissive to your masters (employers, bosses, teachers, church leaders, civil authorities) with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. 1 Peter 2:18 (NKJV)

Peter says we should also submit to the harsh.

What does harsh mean? Mildly irritating? Difference of oppinion? No, it is worse than that. The Greek word is skolios which means:

skoliós; Crooked, bent or warped from dryness, such as wood. Has the picture of one who is crooked, perverse, wicked. A Master who is perverse and unjust. [Complete Word Study Dictionary, The]

Well, maybe that is just one interpretation of harsh. So I looked at Vines:

tyrannical or unjust masters—Vine’s

The New Living Translation says it this way, as if there was any doubt as to the meaning of harsh:

You who are slaves must accept the authority of your masters with all respect. Do what they tell you—not only if they are kind and reasonable, but even if they are cruel. 1 Peter 2:18 (NLT)

The Living Bible says:

Servants, you must respect your masters and do whatever they tell you—not only if they are kind and reasonable, but even if they are tough and cruel. 1 Peter 2:18 (TLB)

  • But Jim, if spousal or child abuse is wrong, why would God allow His own born again children to be abused by harsh authorities?

God does not want His children to be abused. He does not even condone child abuse. He is the most loving father in the universe. God doesn’t just love, God is love. And in His Loving ways that are higher than my ways, God tells me to be submissive to harsh, cruel, crooked, perverse, tyrannical, unjust and dishonest leaders.

God’s Way vs. Man’s Way

Understand what God considers EVIL:

  • For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water. Jeremiah 2:13 (KJV)
  • Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward. Jeremiah 7:24 (NKJV)
  • “For My people are foolish, they have not known Me. They are silly children, and they have no understanding. They are wise to do evil, But to do good they have no knowledge.” Jeremiah 4:22

Being evil before God is not murdering, not stealing, not lying…Being evil involves two things:

  1. Forsaking God (Not obeying Him)
  2. Following Your Own Plans (following the counsels and dictates of your evil hearts)

God wants us to depend upon Him. Whatever happens in our life is to draw us into greater dependence upon Him. Even that which you consider evil is meant to draw us into God’s presence. When we rebel against authority, when we dishonor authority, we are closing our hearts to God and His Divine plan.

WHY SHOULD WE SUBMIT TO HARSH AUTHORITIES?

There are Three Personal Benefits of Submitting and Honoring Harsh Authority.

1. Submission to Harsh Authority places our case in the hands of God who judges justly

(For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 1 Peter 2:21-23

  • If we take matters in our own hands, God steps back and lets us be on our own.

Say we rebel and win, we divorce and find a better husband, we quit the cheer leading squad in a tiff, we hang the phone up and vow to never talk to them again, a wound or root is left in our spirit that is not Christ like, and eventually will bring trouble and even defilement. God Hits a Lot of Straight Licks With Crooked Sticks

2. We receive a blessing

Not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. 1 Peter 3:9 (NKJV)

When we walk after God, and not after the evil imaginings of our heart, we receive a blessing.

I did not want to get real personal with you, but God said I had too, because this is something God has been teaching me over the last thirty five years. My Brothers in August 1988 voted to fire me from Tompkins Industries, Inc, where I was President. Dad had retired in 1986 and gave us different responsibilities, but made us equal in ownership. But we didn’t get along. And Dad didn’t intervene.  So I found myself without a job, with no savings, and a wife and six children to provide for.   The next three years were incredibly hard. We struggled financially, my relationship with Mom and Dad and my brothers was non-existent, until my grandmother passed away. I had just been fired from an Asphalt Paving company that I had been hired to manage. My brothers asked me about starting my own paving company. I said yes, I could start one, and they agreed to loan me $80,000. I started Tompkins Pavingy on March 21, 1991, having had only 6 months prior paving experience. My office was back at Tompkins Industries, the place they fired me from in August of 1988.

I have kept a journal the last 35 years, and I wanted to share some journal entries with you that might help with this issue of submission and harsh authorities.

April 7, 1991: “When I think of all that was taken away from me at Tompkins, and how now monetarily the boys are doing so well, and I am struggling…, it is very hard not to be bitter. Especially now that I am officing with them. But Father-You did exactly what I needed, for you will work a far greater eternal glory. Please keep reminding me of that… I gladly accept your fire of suffering-knowing that my family, my children, my grandchildren are better for it! Teach me thy way O Lord and I will walk in your truth.”

The brothers started to get nervous about their money. Sales were slow at first. They were refusing to pay vendors until they got their money. They refused to let me have any say so with the check book. They had become a “Harsh” Authority to me very quickly. What I though had been a restoration of our relationship seemed to be a ploy to ruin me further. So one day, one very bad day I wrote:

July 21, 1991: “the thought that has come to me is that Job’s afflictions came all at once (or do it seems). He was strong in his resolve not to curse God and die. But what would have happened if your afflictions came slowly, over a period of several years. Slowly, methodically your will to live, your hope is chipped away. Finally something happens, and any hope left is finally dissolved. You are left with no way out, but to take your life. The thought to end my life has been on the top of my mind-it just seems there is no hope anymore-that I’ve boxed myself into a hopeless situation-one which will lead to ruin for my family. It’s been tough the last 4 or 5 years-the afflictions have slowly eaten away at my love for life, my love for others-my love for God. I’m to the point where I have no hope, no confidence in my own strength, or friends, or family-I don’t know what to do.”

February 19, 1994: “What a difference 2 years makes-(91-92) winter was very discouraging. 94 winter I am very thankful for the way God has given. It would take several pages to list all the ways.”

March 21, 1994: “How headstrong and self confident I am by nature. So confident of my intellect and abilities to make things happen. God had to take all that away-to show me His strength and ability to provide in the face of my inability to do what is right. Only as I give over to Him my confidence for success am I allowed to receive His great gifts.”

“When God desires to deal with a particular man, He does not leave Him until He has brought him through to a clear place. God does not leave us in darkness for long. He will reveal His will. He waits until He is finally free to speak, and our attention is focused on Him. Trials issue in triumph. Clearly it is not the number of trials which is important, but that we reach God’s goals through them.”

March 21, 1994: Insight from 2 Samuel 12:20: So David arose from the ground, washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he went to his own house; and when he requested, they set food before him, and he ate. This is the Mark of a Man after God’s own Heart: “When we realize God’s way with us without resentment or regret. “UPON SEEING GOD’S WAY, WE BOW AND WORSHIP THE WILL OF GOD.

I know first hand the blessings that you receive when you honor even harsh authorities.

3. In trusting God, Rather than vindicating ourselves, Godly Character is built within us.

Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 1 Peter 4:1 (NKJV)

The suffering of Christ was mistreatment by authority. We are to arm ourselves with the same mind. WHY? We are called to honor authority even when it mistreats us. Peter says if you do this well you will cease from sin. This means we grow in our character. Paul writes:

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. Romans 5:3-4 (NLT)

The Bible instructs us to unconditionally submit to authorities, however, it does not tell us to unconditionally obey authorities.

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Romans 13:1 (NKJV)

Submission deals with our attitude, obedience deals with our actions.

Isaiah 1:19: If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land.

We must be willing AND obedient. The fear of the Lord resides in our heart, and honor is an outflow of Holy fear!

  • God wants to reward your Submission to His Ways and His heart…
  • It is not about obedience, it is about your attitude…

Obey (Peitho-Be Persuaded) those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give an account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. (Heb 13:17)

We must have unconditional submission. But not unconditional obedience. Case in Point:

Nebuchadnezzar: Mighty Ruler, Brute Beast, Servant of God

submissive-honorShadrach Meshach & Abednego decided it was more important to fear God rather than worship Neb. They had honored Neb, and he had made them governors of Babylon. But when he commanded them to worship the golden statue, they politely refused. They confessed their obedience to God.

“O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18 (NLT)

Shadrach Meshach & Abednego honored both God and the Kingthey-honored-the-king

  • They Honored God by refusing to sin.
  • They honored the King by submitting to his authority and speaking respectfully to him.
  • God gave them a Full Reward
  • The King promoted them

And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 1 Peter 3:13-17 (NKJV)

pressure-enlarges-usWhen we submit to harsh authorities, we bring God into our situation. God uses that pressure to enlarge us! Look at Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. The three became four! God enlarged them as they honored Him and the harsh authority He had placed over them.

Bottom Line: In learning God’s Ways, we must learn to Honor the Authorities God has placed in our lives. Honoring requires that we submit-and that requires a heart attitude. Obedience without the right attitude produces no reward. God values your heart above all else.

1. We must LEARN the value of submission and honor

2. We must OBEY God first, but when faced with a harsh authority, we must have our eyes OPEN to see God’s Power.

3. We must correct our heart ATTITUDE.

4. We must APPEAL in the right spirit. (Esther)

5. We must COMMIT the matter to God if we suffer.

6. We must SEE the authority as a Prisoner of War, and treat them with dignity.

7. We must PRAY that the authority will see himself as God sees him, praying for their repentance and ultimate blessing from God.

Remember, Nebuchadnezzar came to see himself as he really was, a brute beast.brute-beast

Have you dealt with any Brute Beasts in your life?

Any Harsh Authorities?

Did you react you way, or God’s way?



tompkinsindustries1When I was at Tompkins Industries, we were trying to increase our walk-in traffic for our hydraulic hose repair business. We wanted more construction guys to come to us to get new hoses made when the OEM hose broke. It was around 1979 and I thought we could use a rewards punch card to generate repeat business. Not being very creative, I made it a simple reward, get 10 hoses made and get 20 bucks back. All of a sudden we started seeing more of the same guys. And they were bringing more hoses with them. We were having to give out some money too.

But a fellow worker, Dan Turnbull, had another idea. Obviously Dan was more in tune with the kind of guy who walks around with broken hydraulic hoses. Dan suggested we give Buck knives as a reward. Wow! We started to see a lot more guys. They had a whole assortment of Buck Knives they could choose from. Tompkins Industries still rewards loyal customers with Buck Knives. I have heard that they are one of the largest Buck Knife dealers in the country.

Rewards have an amazing impact on our lives. We encounter rewards on a daily basis. As a child our parents used rewards for our behavior. In school our teachers used rewards to get us to learn. In our jobs our employers use rewards to get us to work. (If you look at a paycheck as a reward). In marriage, unfortunately, husbands and wives use rewards to further their relationship. Rewards are all around us, ingrained into our thinking and actions.

rewardscardsWe have even been brain washed by credit card companies to spend money because we think we are rewarded when we do so. They call them Rewards Cards! When I was using my American Express Card for my business, at one time we accumulated over 500,000 awards points. You say boy Jim you must have been a good boy! No, you got that many points because you spent $500,000 dollars (some things got triple points). It took 4 or 5 years to accumulate that many points, but they were gone just like that. They like you to spend money, but what you get in return is so overpriced. It is better to save the money and then buy your own reward at a cheaper price. You save all around.

churchrewardsChurches have gotten into the reward thing too. They offer Starbucks Coffee bars, gymnasiums with complete health clubs. I would love to go to a church with such “perks” but is that why we should go to church? We have become such a reward oriented society that inner character takes a back seat to outer behavior. Cheating in High Schools and Colleges is an accepted fact because the rewards are so great! Character doesn’t matter, results do.

We all want God’s Blessings in our lives. We all want to be disease free, money in the bank, large house, multiple nice new cars, kids all loving and successful, grand kids healthy, smart and on a track for success. We want a Hollywood kind of life. We pray the prayer of Jabez and expect that to open our lives to riches untold.

God is very clear in His Word what He considers blessing. God is very clear what He considers a Reward. If we are to find the “Pathway of Blessing” we need to understand what Rewards are and how does God Reward us in our Christian walk! Does God reward us because we go to church? Does God reward us because we tithe 10 percent? What is the basis of Reward? What opens the “Pathway of Blessing” to us.

pathwayWe began our series with our foundational verse:

Psalms 25:4 Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths.

If we are going to allow God to teach us His pathway of Blessing, we have to submit ourselves to His ways, which are higher than our ways. The Children in the Wilderness never learned the pathway that God had for them because they would not submit to knowing His ways.

We were introduced to the importance of Honor toward Jesus Christ in allowing Him to work in our lives, and to guide us into the Pathway of Blessing. This past week God gave me a fresh personalization of Proverbs 3:5,6, and I would like all of us to learn this.

I am not changing SCRIPTURE, but I am internalizing it, making it my own. John 3:16 is just a verse some crazy guy holds up at football games. But when it becomes your verse, it is life changing. It has the power to give you new life. When you realize that God loved me so very much that He sent His only Son Jesus Christ to be born in the form of a man so that He could become sin fo me, and that if I believe that what Jesus did for me means that my sins are forever forgiven, that God now lives in me and because I have a new nature-God’s Nature I will have eternal Life with God-that is when John 3:16 packs power!

prov356Proverbs 3:5,6 takes on a totally new meaning when we personalize it this way:

I want our church, our people to understand the importance of Honor in discovering God’s Blessings and Rewards. If we are to do so, we can no longer depend and trust in our fleshly, finite understanding. God’s ways are higher than our ways, His thoughts are Higher than. We must ask God to open our hearts and minds to His ways and His words!

2 John 1:8 (NKJV) Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.

Are you receiving a Full Reward from Jesus? Do you know what you must do in order to even hope of receiving a full reward?

fullrewardsI’m not talking about heavenly rewards. I’m talking of the rewards of our Life in Jesus Christ! Jesus came to give us live and that abundantly! There is meant to be rewards for following Jesus! We’ve lost sight of the Power of the path of Jesus! When the apostles preached the doctrine of Jesus, people were changed, lives were energized, rewards were poured out upon the people. It was powerful to be a follower of Jeus Christ. That Power effected their work, their home life, their marriage, their possessions, their way of life. it also affected their outlook toward struggles, toward persecutions, toward thieves, towards personal losses. Why did followers of Christ subject their lives to such drastic changes, changes that effected every aspect of their life? Because of the REWARDS!

Yes, there will be rewards in heaven. We will have to appear before the bema seat and answer to God:bemaseat

But I believe Jesus taught us about earthly rewards! The Life of a Christian is to be a life of REWARD! Each ones rewards are different because God has a different path for each one of us. But there are REWARDS! And what you do determines if you lose those rewards or end up with partial rewards!

Am I preaching a Prosperity Gospel? Yes I am. If you do as I am going to teach you will prosper beyond your wildest imaginations. You will prosper the way God measures prosperity!

  • Deuteronomy 29:9 (NKJV) Therefore keep the words of this covenant, and do them, that you may prosper in all that you do.
  • Psalms 10:5 (NKJV) His ways are always prospering; Your judgments are far above, out of his sight; As for all his enemies, he sneers at them.
  • Joshua 1:7 (NKJV) Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.

God’s Pathway is a Pathway of Blessing, a Pathway of Prospering.

Consider Ruth:

ruthRuth 2:11-12 (NKJV) And Boaz answered and said to her, “It has been fully reported to me, all that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband, and how you have left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you did not know before. The Lord repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.”

Now Ruth chose to follow after he mother-in-law. It was a way of poverty, a way of ridicule, for she was a Moabitess. Boaz prayed that she would receive the full-reward because of the path she had travelled on. If you read the “rest of the story” you learn that God indeed gave her a full reward, for Boaz, a wealthy man, married her, and through their union, the Christ child came.

What did Ruth do that made God want to reward her? I’ll reveal that in a moment, but first, what is

“FULL REWARD” IN MAN’S EYES…

phariseesIn Matthew we find Jesus teaching about Pharisees. He mentions that because of what they did they had their “full reward”. Jesus lets us see the difference between man’s idea of full reward, and what God’s idea is. Matthew 6:1-6 (NIV) 1 “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Man’s idea of Reward is anything that is visible. It is success, praise of men, money, fast car-anything that is visible and smells of success. Jesus said God’s reward only comes upon the invisible, on that which we don’t see. Those hidden prayers, those secrete gifts, secret acts of compassion. Those are the things that God gives a full reward for. So if God rewards secret and hidden thoughts actions and attitudes, could his rewards be similar, perhaps even unseen by the world, or more importantly unnoticed by the world?

  • The world rewards the Flashy, the Confident, God rewards the humble of heart.
  • The world rewards the Rich, God rewards the poor widow who gave her last mite.

The Full Rewards of God cannot be purchased by money, they cannot be won by lottery, they cannot be given, for they come from God alone. They are that magnificent.

God’s Full Rewards: They touch our Innermost Being.

1. Reward of Peace: If one follows the pathway of God he will be rewarded with a deep peace that comes from abiding in the Prince of Peace. Proverbs 3:17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness, And all her paths are peace. Men have spent enormous sums of money to buy peace in their soul, but such peace is the reward of one who walks in the pathway that God has for Him.

2. Reward of Rest: One who walks in God’s Pathway “Shall not be afraid of evil tidings, His heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord” (Ps 112:7) His heart will be free from the fear of evil. What better reward than a complete rest from worry, anxiety and a calm assurance that there is no fear on God’s Pathway.

3. Reward of Good: Another part of the believer’s great gain lies in the consciousness that all things are working together for his good. Nothing is, after all, able to injure us. Neither pains of body, nor sufferings of mind, nor losses in business, nor cruel blows of death, can work us real ill. Jeremiah 6:16 (NKJV) Thus says the Lord: “Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’

4. Reward of Joy Psalms 16:11 (NKJV) 11 You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. The full reward of God is a life lived with the utmost of purpose, fulfillment and joy. No matter what the trials, the difficulties, the sickness, God gives us the full reward of His Joy regardless of circumstances. When you have sustained a trial which once would have crushed you, the victory is exceedingly sweet.

5. Reward of God’s Ear When you abide in Christ and walk in His Pathway, you have God’s ear when you call unto Him. Psalms 37:23-24 (NKJV) The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand. If God is always holding your hand, He’s always going to be listening when you call!

What Did Ruth Do to earn a Full Reward? What Must each one of us do to earn a Full Reward?

Ruth Demonstrated the “Honor Principle”

honor-principle

Ruth honored Naomi. She also honored Naomi’s God! We Must Apply the Honor Principle to our daily lives. In the Book “Honor’s Reward, John Bevere details what he calls the “Honor Principle”. This Honor Principle is simply stated in I Samuel 2:30:in 1 Samuel 2:30: “Those who Honor me I will Honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed.”Eli was a High Priest, and worthy of Honor because of his office. His sons were causing disgrace to God, because of their debauchery and dishonoring of the office of Priest. So God said that Eli had lost his reward, in fact his family would be totally removed from serving as Priest. Eli and Eli’s family lost his reward.

Showing Honor is an essential Key in finding God’s Pathway of Blessing. Blessing in your personal and public life. Blessing that provides God’s Full Reward.

1. Partial Reward

Jesus was not honored by the people who knew him, the people of Nazareth. In fact, Matthew says they were offended at Him. Mark records He was able to only heal a few people.

Mark 6:4-5 (ESV) 4 And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” 5 And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them.

honorprincipledeterminesrewards2. No-Reward Situation – Healing of the Paraplegic Luke 5:17-26

17 Now it happened on a certain day, as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come out of every town of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was present to heal them. 18 Then behold, men brought on a bed a man who was paralyzed, whom they sought to bring in and lay before Him. 19 And when they could not find how they might bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the housetop and let him down with his bed through the tiling into the midst before Jesus. 20 When He saw their faith, He said to him, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” 21 And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 22 But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answered and said to them, “Why are you reasoning in your hearts? 23 Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise up and walk’? 24 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”–He said to the man who was paralyzed, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” 25 Immediately he rose up before them, took up what he had been lying on, and departed to his own house, glorifying God. 26 And they were all amazed, and they glorified God and were filled with fear, saying, “We have seen strange things today!”

Surely one Pharisee needed healing. The Power of God was present to heal, but it did not heal any of the Pharisees. They were dishonoring Jesus in their hearts. They were amazed, but they received no reward. They received no reward because they failed to Honor the Son of God.

3. Full-Reward

fullrewardMatthew 8:5-13 (NKJV) 5 Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, 6 saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.” 7And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.” 8 The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! 11 And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour.

This officer obeyed his commander. His men obeyed him. He was saying to Jesus that he had authority because he honored his country and his superiors by respecting their authority. So all I have to do is speak the word, and those under me respond immediately to my commands.

The Key phrase “I ALSO”. He knew that all Jesus had to do is speak a command, and the servant would be healed.

Jesus was blown away at this man’s faith. No one, not the Jews, the Pharisees had even come close to this man’s faith. This Gentile centurion had put it together- He saw the relationship between Honor and Authority. He received a Full Reward because he rendered honor and understood authority.

canaanite-womanIn Mark 7 another Gentile woman came to Jesus for help with her demon possessed daughter. She knew he had the power to heal her. When she asked, he ignored her. As he ignored her, she continued to beg until finally Jesus said that it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs. Jesus called this woman a dog. Now if she had been an American woman, she would have gotten in his face and reamed him out.

But she did something amazing, she honored him, she honored his authority by simply saying, Yes Lord, yet even the little dogs under the table eat from the children’s crumbs..

Jesus said, for this saying, the demons have gone from your daughter.

She received her full reward!

The Honor Principle: Do You Want to See Jesus?

Luke 13:34-35 (NKJV) 34 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! 35 See! Your house is left to you desolate; and as

see-jesus

suredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ “

You will never see Jesus until you learn to honor those that He sends. When we honor the messengers of Jesus, we honor Him.

Jesus washed the feet of the disciples in John 13: John 13:5-7 (ESV) Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.”

We all know the story. But after he did he said an amazing truth:

John 13:20 (NKJV) Most assuredly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.”

Jesus applies the Honor Principle in every aspect of our lives in Matthew 10: 40-42 “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.  He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.”

Let’s examines Jesus words and substitute the word Honor everywhere receives and gives is used:

“He who honors you honors Me, and he who honors Me honors Him who sent Me. 41 He who honors a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who honors a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. 42 And whoever honors one of these little ones with only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.”

To find the Pathway of Blessing (Rewards), we need to see:

1. Our Honor of God & His Son enables us to see the pathway of blessing (and to receive Full Reward).

  • “Show me your ways O Lord, teach me your paths”

2. There is an Authority Structure in the Kingdom of God.

  • “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matt 28:18)
  • “Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.” (1 Corinthians 15:24-25)

We must honor those that Christ has ordained we honor: Christ; Prophets-Spiritual Authorities; Righteous man-Our Peers; Little Ones-Under our Care

3. When we Honor “Sent Ones” we walk the Pathway of Blessing (Full Reward)

a. When we honor those authorities over us, we receive a reward
b. When we honor those around us, we receive a reward
c. When we honor those under our care, we receive a reward.

When I was growing up I was taught to respect (honor) my parents, my teachers, elders, the Pastor, even the President. I believe we have lost the importance of honor in our country, in our society, in education, in our relationships, our marriages, and our churches.

Life is all about what we can get for ourselves. Everyone does what is right in their own eyes. As a result we have lost sight of God’s pathway of Blessing. We have lost sight of what God considers “full rewards”. We are in pursuit of pleasure, fame and fortune and that is our reward, that is what we idolize, that is what we focus on.

God wants us to focus on His Son, Jesus Christ. And Jesus says we must learn to honor Him. We must learn to honor those authorities He has placed in our lives. We must learn to honor those He sends our way. When we discover the importance of honor, and commit to living lives that honor our Savior in everything we do, we will see and enjoy walking on God’s “Pathway of Blessing”. The way will be shining and clear. We will receive God’s “Full Reward”

One word of advice, to Honor others requires humility. It requires Faith to See the Power of God behind and because of the person you Honor. For as we obey God and Honor those He has placed in our path, then He will reward us with the Pathway of Blessing!

It is not a matter of Honoring someone only if we like them or respect them or think they agree with us. It is a matter of Obeying God because He commands us to Honor the authorities He has given us and those for whom we are responsible.

  • “he who receives whomever I send receives Me” – He who honors whomever I send, honors me!

Let me close with the story of a woman who desired very much to give her husband a child, especially a male child. They lived in a culture where the children you gave your husband showed your love for him, and showed your blessing by God. This particular man had another wife, and year after year she would give him a child.

This woman was at the end of her rope. Her husband assured her that he loved her, but she did not believe him. She couldn’t stand the bragging of the other wife. She felt disgraced every time she went to the store. She could her her friends whispering about her behind her back. Finally she had enough. She could take it no more. She went to church and fell on the floor before the communion table. She cried and cried and wept and wept. She cried out to God until she was so hoarse she could not even speak anymore. So she laid their and prayed and prayed. Her lips were moving, but their was no voice. She finally told God that if He gave her a baby boy, she would give him back to the Lord, to serve Him in church all the rest of his life.

Now at this point, in walks the old preacher. He sees her laying down on the floor, her lips are moving, but no words are being spoken. He concludes she is drunk. So he yells at her and says, Woman, we don’t allow drunks in church! You need to get rid of the wine and go home until you can sober up! Then you can come to church!

Now if this woman had been raised in America, she would have stood up and started yelling at the preacher. You insensitive jerk! I have been pouring my heart out to God, I really need His touch, and you want to kick me out of church? Do you see a wine bottle? How can you be a man of God and accuse me of being drunk? What kind of a pastor are you? I’m never coming back to this church again!

If Hannah had reacted this way, she never would have received God’s Blessing, His full reward of the baby Samuel. She would have gone home a bitter woman, and she would have died thinking that God doesn’t answer prayer. In fact, she probably would have concluded there really is no God.

Instead, Hanna honored this “Pastor” who actually was Eli the High Priest. She said “No My Lord, I am a woman of sorrowful spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I was pouring out my soul before the Lord. Regard not your handmaid as a wicked woman.” (I Sam 1:15-16 AMP)

She honored this man, even though he had wrongfully accused her. Why, He was her authority, he was the High Priest. Now was Eli a hannaGreat Priest? No. in fact God said “I have warned him continually that judgment is coming for his family, because his sons are blaspheming God and he hasn’t disciplined them. So I vowed that the sins of Eli and his sons will never be forgiven. ( I Sam 3:13-14)

Hannah honored an evil, accusing Priest, because to do so was to honor God! And as a result of her humbling herself (as a handmaid) and honoring Eli, she went home and conceived a blessed baby boy, Samuel. She received her full reward. God showed her His pathway of Blessing.

  • Do you want to see God’s Pathway of Blessing?
  • Do you want God’s Full reward for your life?
  • Are you willing to humble yourself before Jesus Christ and dedicate your life to honoring Him and those He has sent into your life?

Matthew 15:8-9 (NIV) “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.'”

    1. Have you honored Jesus in your heart by repenting of your ways, your sins, and coming to Him as your Lord and Savior.
    2. Are you willing to lay aside the rules of man and enter into a living, daily relationship of honoring Jesus and those he sends into your life?
    3. Are you willing for God to teach you His pathway of Blessing?

value-of-honorEver since the age of 12 I have been nudged to seek after God. Verses like Isaiah 55:6-9 touched my heart:

“Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

I grew up with an awareness of a God whose thoughts were higher than my thoughts, and whose ways were higher than my ways. As I grew and became alive to God through the new birth in Jesus Christ, my desire to know this God increased. I read the Bible, not in a scholarly way, but with the illumination of my new teacher, the Holy Spirit. I read books by Watchman Nee, who had tremendous insight into the ways of God. I attended the Basic and Advanced Seminar taught by Bill Gothard. I saw tremendous insights into the ways of God from His teachings.

However, as I struggled in my early walk,  I realized that simply knowing the ways of God does not mean you are a Spiritual Christian. I had a tremendous head knowledge, but there was a huge void in my heart. After marriage, I continued to struggle in my Christian walk. I battled with enemies of pride, lust, greed, selfishness. I made many wrong choices. At one point in my life I remember thinking that I was a castaway like Paul mentioned in 1 Cor 9:27, that God had put me on the shelf and would no longer use me.

In my struggles with my walk with God, I would constantly turn to the Psalms. Here was a man (David) that I could relate to. His honesty with God encouraged me. I remember reading Psalms 25 and having my heart suddenly do somersaults.

Psalms 25:1-12 (KJV) 1 Unto thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul. 2 O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me. 3 Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause. 4 Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. 5 Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day. 6 Remember, O LORD, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses; for they have been ever of old. 7 Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O LORD. 8 Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way. 9 The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way. 10 All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies. 11 For thy name’s sake, O LORD, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great. 12 What man is he that feareth the LORD? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose.

I could go on for hours of how much this Psalm meant to me. Briefly, however, it meant that David struggled with his flesh and sins and enemies too. He got down, but out of the depths of despair, he held up his soul to Almighty God. He affirmed His trust in Him, and asked God to remove any shame from his life. Then he said something that I have meditated on for over twenty five years, and I still do not know the full depth of these verses, but such as I know I will try to explain.

He said “shew me your ways” or as some translations say, “make me to know your ways”. Then He said “teach me your paths.”

I had always thought David had got it backwards. I had wanted to learn the ways of God, but David said show me your ways. The Hebrew word for show means not just a head knowledge, but a knowledge gained by intimate, personal experience. David desired a personal, intimate knowledge of the way that God worked in his life. Way in the Hebrew means course, in a broad sense. It required a personal intimate relationship to know the course, the way God worked.

Then David prayed “teach me your paths”. Teach implies close attention to what is being taught. Path is the word for a literal, step by step path. David was telling God that if He would show David how God was working in every thing that was happening in his life, the rejection, the pursuit by enemies, the isolation of being on the run, then David would pay close attention to learn and see step by step the path that God was wanting Him to take.

God gave me a picture of a guy who was experiencing the hand of God in a very intimate way, and sometimes that hand left bruises, sometimes it was a gentle nudge, sometimes it was a slap on the rear, but David knew intimately what God was doing, and because he had this intimate knowledge of God’s way, he was learning which path to follow, which step to take, and it was a daily even hourly lesson.

All of a sudden I could look back at what God had done in my life, and realize that His ways were in everything that had happened. I thanked Him for His ways, I asked Him to show me what He was doing, I asked for forgiveness for my sins and failure to pay attention to what He was trying to do.

I asked Him to teach me His path, to teach me which way I was to go.

I am convinced with every fiber of my being, that if you desire first of all to know intimately the ways of God, He will show you. He will even take you through things that are painful and difficult to understand. But if you pay attention, you will know His way, and once you commit to knowing His way, then you can start learning the path He has for your life. It will be as if a giant searchlight has been turned on. You will see the steps pf God before you.

I believe that if you follow the path that God has for your life, it will be a path of Blessing. It may not be riches as the world counts blessings, but Blessing is experiencing the Presence of God. That is the True Pathway of Blessing.

It seems very rare when every aspect of our life seems blessed. Seems like there is always a struggle either in our job, our finances, our friendships, our family, our possessions. David found the Pathway of Blessing in every aspect of His Life. I believe, and based upon the life lessons God has made me to experience, that we can find the Pathway of Blessing in every situation we face. If you have never committed to knowing the ways of God, let me encourage you to do this. I must advise you that the ways of God cannot be understood until you experience them. But I will give you encouragement, if you look at the events of your life with this mindset, to know the ways of God, you will discover a Pathway of Blessing that you may never have seen before. It will be like these video games with secret passageways. When you commit to knowing the ways of God, you will have the key to seeing God’s pathway that He has only for you!

The Pathway of Blessing Leads to Rewards

2 John 1:8 (NKJV) Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.

John was a very elderly man looking back on life when he wrote this. He was writing with the benefit of a life lived walking in the truth of Jesus teachings. He had what John Bevere calls a “Grandfather Anointing”. It is when the young children listen to Grandfather because he is wise.

This last holiday God convicted me over not doing more to bring Jesus Christ into our family gatherings. We had tons of great family times with the kids and grandchildren, but other than a few prayers, I did little to bring the reality of Jesus into our gatherings. So I am going to institute the Pathway of Blessing Moment with Grandfather. I am committing to sharing with my children and grandchildren a lesson from my life and God’s Word in which God revealed His path for my life. Hopefully I can write these down and give them to my family so that when I am gone they will have an encouragement to learn the pathway that God has for their life.

From John’s “Grandfather Anointing” we learn a couple of very important things that will frame our study of the Pathway of Blessing.

1. John is speaking with a sense of urgency when he says “Watch out”

2. Don’t take this matter lightly, but look after this diligently.

3. Don’t lose your FULL REWARD!

Some of you who grow plants can understand this vividly. Imagine planting acres of corn or wheat, and then fertilizing, watching the plants grow, seeing what looks to be an abundant harvest, only to have a hail storm or tornado or something else wipe out the crop. All that work down the drain. Or perhaps you area businessman, and have built a great business, but because of a few bad decisions, or maybe right decisions but at the wrong time, you lose your business. All that work down the drain. Many recently have watched their hard earned money go down the drain because of someone elses bad decision. Most of us have experienced the loss of our labor. We know how empty and discouraged it can make us feel.

John cries out to us to watch out, so you may receive a full reward!

  • God is a Rewarder of those who Diligently Seek Him (Heb 11:6)
  • In Keeping the Word of God there is Great Reward (Psalm 19:9-11)
  • I will cry to God Most High, Who performs on my behalf and rewards me (Ps 57:2 AMP)

God loves to reward His children. He loves it when we seek Him and give Him our hearts. Now if it is possible to have a full reward, then it is also possible to have no reward or a less than full reward. Next week I intend to look at Rewards and how following the pathway of Blessing determines our rewards.

Scripture repeatedly tells us to FINISH WELL:

Matthew 10:22, 24:13-Those who endure to the end will be saved,

James 5:11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord–that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.

Hebrews 3:14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end,

Revelation 2:26 And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—

Revelation 3:5 He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.

endurance-runChristian Life is not a Sprint. It is an Endurance Run.

Life-Defining Moments

In the Bible we see people making Life-Defining decisions.

Consider Rehoboam:

rehoboamIn I Kings 12, we find a new King, Rehoboam, son of Solomon faced with a dilemma. Do I lower taxes as the people are requesting, or do I do something else to establish my throne. He listened to the advice of his father’s advisors, and they said to speak good words to the people and they would follow him forever. Then he listened to the words of his young friends whom he had hung around all his life-“His Posse”. They gave him different advice. So when the people came back after three days, Rehoboam told them: “My father laid heavy burdens on you, but I’m going to make them even heavier! My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions!”

This resulted in the destruction of the Kingdom his father had built, and 10 of the 12 tribes of Israel were permanently fragmented. One bad choice cost him dearly for the rest of his life.

Now this Life-Defining moment was not made then, it was made years earlier when young Rehoboam decided his friends and what they thought were more important that God or his dad. Rehoboam was one of these kids who rebelled against his dad and scorned what he said. When his life-defining moment came, he lacked the judgment to make the right decision.

Consider the Children of Israel

hebrew-childrenThe children of Israel were given every opportunity to develop a trust in the power of God to protect them and provide for them. They saw Him part the Red Sea, destroy the Egyptians, provide food and water, daily guidance. Yet they never developed that trust in an awesome God. Their lack of trust did not cause too many problems until there was one Life Defining Moment. God had them send in 12 men to spy out the land He was going to give them. Ten of the men came back and reported how impossible the situation looked. Two men said God could overcome any situation. The people whined and complained because they had never developed the discipline of trusting in the power of God. The result of their life-defining moment was wandering, death, and never entering into the rest of God’s Promised Land.

Consider What God Wants

what-god-wantsI went to a Bible College that believed if you obeyed the rules, you were a great Christian. But something in me said that was wrong. God showed me by sparing my life from a head-on collision with a tractor trailer rig, that it was more important to know His heart. To simply obey the rules did not bring joy to my heart. But when I obeyed because I knew His heart and what He was trying to teach me, it brought Joy. It brought meaning.

  • The young Rehoboam never caught the heart of his father Solomon, and so 10 tribes of Israel were lost.
  • The Children in the wilderness never caught the heart of Moses and so an entire generation of Israelites were lost.

If we as fathers and mothers do not learn to communicate this truth of the Pathway of God’s Blessing, we will lose an entire generation of children. We need to lead our children and grandchildren into catching the heart of God, and learning His path for our lives. As Solomon pleaded with his son Rehoboam, God also pleads with us:

Proverbs 23:26 (AMP) My son, give me your heart and let your eyes observe and delight in my ways,

Early in my life I made a decision that the God of the Bible was my God and guide for my life. Whatever I struggled with I would seek to know the Power of God’s Word in order to walk in the right path.

What Disciplines are Guiding Your Life? How are you dealing with the struggles within your soul?

The Value of Honor

If we are going to see the Pathway of Blessing that God has for our live, we must learn the importance of Honor.

The Ugly Package Reveals God’s Way

john-9-blind-man-honors-jesusIn John 9 we find a man who was blind from birth. The disciples ask Jesus whether this man sinned or his parents sinned to cause his blindness. Jesus said neither, but this happened so that the works of God should be revealed in him. This happened so that he might see the pathway of Blessing that God wants him to walk in. Jesus then took some dirt and spit in it. He worked the dirt and made a clay that he was able to place over the man’s eyes. Then He said, go and wash in the pool of Siloam. Now why did Jesus do heal the man this way. Remember, we prayed to be shown the ways of God. God’s way is to use ugly things to bring Him glory. Sometimes he gives us ugly packages and tells us to carry them around. In fact God wants us to rejoice in our ugly package. When we start walking then God gives us light and this ugly package reveals the path He wants us to walk in.

When the blind man honored Jesus and accepted the dirty clay, and then went and washed his eyes, they were opened and he could see the path God wanted him to take. The Blind man HONORED Jesus Christ, even before He knew him to be the Messiah. This man was holding an ugly package, blindness. He was scoffed at, spit upon, ridiculed. His parents avoided him, because blindness was considered a curse. Along comes a man of compassion. The blind man honors him by allowing him to put mud on his eyes, and then HONORS his command. As a reward, his eyes are opened and he can see. Later, Jesus reveals himself to be the Son of God. He asks the man do you believe? He says Lord I Believe!

Jesus is before each one of us this morning. He wants us to see the ugly package that we are holding. Some of us are holding more than one ugly package. Jesus says, are you willing to let me touch your ugly package and let me show you what I can do? Are you willing to believe that I am the Son of God? Are you willing to see how much Blessing can come from this ugly package? ARE YOU WILLING TO HONOR ME!

You may be struggling with your faith this morning. You may be struggling financially, You may be struggling in your marriage, in a friendship. You know what ugly package you have. It may be obvious to the world, or you may have succeeded in hiding it. But Jesus knows the distress of your soul.

He wants you to Honor Him this morning. He want you to believe that he can use the ugliness in your life to show you His Pathway of Blessing. He wants to Reward your love for Him, your obedience to Him, Hour Honoring of Him.

One more illustration to underscore the truth that Honor is the foundation of learning the Pathway of Blessing that God has for your life. If you fail to Honor Jesus Christ, you will never see the Pathway of Blessing. You will never realize your FULL REWARD!

Mark 6: Neighbors Refuse to Honor Jesus

mark-6-no-honor-no-mighty-worksIn Mark 6, we see Jesus entering into his own country, the country of his upbringing, Nazareth. The people were astonished at His claims to be the Messiah, to be the fulfillment of Prophecy. They said, “isn’t this the carpenter, the Son of Mary” Why just last week he was fixing my chair. Someone else said, mu Johnny went to school with Jesus. He used to play in our back yard. Mark 6:3 said they were offended at Him.

And then we read in verse 5: “Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them.”

Here was the Son of God, the creator of the World, and the people of Nazareth kept Him from doing any major miracles. They were restraining the Power of the Son of God! How did this happen? What were these people doing to restrain the Son of God? Jesus reveals what was restraining Him in verse 4: A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives and in his own house.” The thing which prevented the Blessing of Jesus was their failure to Honor Him as the miracle working Son of God!

Honor Defined

To Show Honor is to Give Value. To Honor someone we consider them valuable, precious, just like gold or a precious jewel. Other words to describe honor are appreciation, esteem, respect. To Show Dishonor is to show no respect, to give no value. To treat it as common, ordinary or menial. We Show Honor in our actions, our words and even our thoughts. All true Honor originates in our heart.

honor-in-heartThe Pharisees had more head knowledge of God’s Word than any other people, yet they failed to see Jesus as the Messiah. He did not “fit” their image of what the Messiah would look like. They were looking with their physical senses. In Luke 17:20-21 they even asked Jesus when the Kingdom of God would come. Listen to His reply:

Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”

Jesus told them the key to seeing the Kingdom of God was seeing with their heart, for indeed, it is inside us. That is why they never saw Jesus as the Messiah, for their hearts were far from God, tin fact they did not honor God in their hearts.

On the other hand, Simeon honored God in his heart, and was able to recognize the baby Jesus as the Messiah. In Luke 2:25-32 we read:

“And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel.”

Simeon saw with his heart that Jesus was the Messiah. He honored God’s instruction to him, that he would see the Messiah, and he waited till God’s chosen one was revealed to him.

Do You Want to walk in the Pathway of Blessing in 2009. Do you want God to take all the ugliness in your life and turn it into a Pathway of Blessing and Life?

Do You want Jesus to do great and Mighty things in your life?discoverpathwayofblessing

You Must do Three Things:

  1. Commit your life to paying attention to God and letting Him Show you first hand His Ways, even when they are ugly and unpleasant.
  2. Honor Jesus Christ with all your heart, your mind and your body.
  3. Look for God to Teach You His Path for your life, day by day, moment by moment

Demonstrate that Honor with times of Delighting in His Word and with times of Delighting in Conversation with Him.

  • Do You Desire God’s Blessing in Your Life this Year?
  • Do You want to see the path that God wants you to take?
  • Do you want to know first hand the mighty miracle power of Jesus Christ?

You Need to take the step of Honoring Him with all your life. You need to take every ugly thing in your life and give it to Him and say thank you Jesus. I know you can take the ugliness in my life and make it beautiful. I know you can make my path straight, you can give me renewed strength and love for you.

Will You Honor Jesus Christ, the Son of God? Will You Allow Him to Work Mighty Miracles in Your Life.

Will You Commit to Honoring Him in Your Family with Your Grandchildren?


Barack Obama is wasting little time to assume control of the United States Executive Branch. From weekly messages from his semi-oval office, to appearances on “ 60 Minutes”, he is rapidly inserting himself into what is left of the political decisions of the Bush Administration. Change.gov: The Office of the President-elect

In summarizing Obama’s appearance on “60 Minutes” last night, the LA Times said:

teamofrivals1“Asked by CBS’ Steve Kroft whether he planned to put political enemies in his Cabinet, as Abraham Lincoln did, Obama responded by saying the first president from Illinois was a “very wise man.” With the economy struggling, the president-elect said the nation had little choice but to boost government spending, something he said conservative and liberal economists agreed on. “We have to do whatever it takes to get this economy moving again,” he said. “We’re going to have to spend money now to stimulate the economy.” Besides Lincoln, Obama said he had been reading about the Great Depression and President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first 100 days in office. He said he hoped his team could emulate that administration’s confidence and willingness to experiment.“

The London Times Online had this take on the interview: “Mr Obama said he had spent “a lot of time” reading the writings of President Lincoln since the election, because “there is a wisdom there and a humility about his approach to government, even before he was president, that I just find very helpful.” He and Mrs Clinton have both read and admired ‘Team of Rivals’, Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book about how President Lincoln bought old foes into government after winning the 1860 election. Reminded that the 16th president put many of his political enemies in his cabinet, Mr Obama was asked on CBS’s 60 Minutes whether he was considering the same approach. “Well, I’ll tell you what,” he replied. “I find him a very wise man.”

Baruch writing the words of Jeremiah

Baruch writing the words of Jeremiah

It would be interesting if Barack included an enemy or two on his cabinet, as President Lincoln did. However, most leaders do not like the idea of opposition. In another troublesome time many years ago, in the nation of Israel, the King of Judah listened as the writings of a man named Baruch were read. You can read what happened in Jeremiah chapter 36. The King’s advisors had heard Baruch reading from a scroll and were frightened by what they heard.

“When they heard all the messages, they looked at one another in alarm. “We must tell the king what we have heard,” they said to Baruch. “But first, tell us how you got these messages. Did they come directly from Jeremiah?” So Baruch explained, “Jeremiah dictated them, and I wrote them down in ink, word for word, on this scroll.” “You and Jeremiah should both hide,” the officials told Baruch. “Don’t tell anyone where you are!” Then the officials left the scroll for safekeeping in the room of Elishama the secretary and went to tell the king what had happened.” Jeremiah 36:16-20 (NLT)

King Jehoiakim had his trusted aide Jehudi read the scroll to him.cut_it_with_the_penknife

“It was late autumn, and the king was in a winterized part of the palace, sitting in front of a fire to keep warm. Each time Jehudi finished reading three or four columns, the king took a knife and cut off that section of the scroll. He then threw it into the fire, section by section, until the whole scroll was burned up. Neither the king nor his attendants showed any signs of fear or repentance at what they heard. Even when Elnathan, Delaiah, and Gemariah begged the king not to burn the scroll, he wouldn’t listen.” Jeremiah 36:22-25 (NLT)

Here was a King who was open and honest about his contempt for opposition to his government. In fact, after burning the scroll, he sent his son and some other men to arrest Baruch and Jeremiah. Fortunately, God had hidden them, and they were spared. In those days opposition was often met with imprisonment and death.

Barack Obama Reads LincolnBarack is busy reading about Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D Roosevelt. Would that he had the courage to seek wisdom from God’s Word.Bible - Word of God

Judah was facing economic and political hardships that eventually resulted in the toppling of the government and their captivity by a foreign nation. Times of prosperity had suddenly (over a process of forty years) turned into military defeats and isolationism. All the while they continued to fast, worship and seek after Jehovah God. Yet all the while they practiced greed and honored other gods, especially the god ‘BAAL’. They would worship in the Temple on the Sabbath and through the week offer sacrifices to Baal and other gods. They wanted to cover all the spiritual bases. They were tolerant of all the religions. They were tolerant of people’s rights to worship whom they please in a manner they please. Child SacrificeThat tolerance led to the horrible practice of child sacrifice to Baal.

“They have built pagan shrines at Topheth, the garbage dump in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, and there they burn their sons and daughters in the fire. I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it never even crossed my mind to command such a thing!” Jeremiah 7:31 (NLT)

Americans do not see abortion as child sacrifice, but I can’t help but think that God does.

aborted-baby

I can just see God saying “You allow your sons and daughters to be aborted in the womb, a practice that never even crossed my mind to command such a thing” Ibelieve we sacrifice them to the god of self-indulgence, and to the god of convenience.

I’m wondering if Barack Obama will be a President who will cut out of the Bible the portions of Scripture that he disagrees with. Indeed, I’m wondering if he will believe in the Bible as the Word of God at all. True belief requires OBEDIENCE. As he considers the wisdom of Lincoln and the actions of Roosevelt, I pray he will consider the warnings of God’s Word, especially the warnings of Jeremiah.partialbirthabortion

Barack has claimed that his name has its root in the Arabic and Semitic word for “blessing”. He said it is similar to the Hebrew word “ ‏בָּרַךְ (bārak) <Strong’s: 1288> to kneel, bless, praise, salute”. Other linguists have said it is more akin to the Hebrew word “‏בָּרַק (baraq) <Strong’s: 1299> cast forth (lightning)”. The Theological Workbook of the Old Testament has this to say in reference to the meaning of ‘baraq’ (lightning):

“The association of lightning with the Lord also serves as a polemic against Baal, the principal Canaanite nature deity. The Ugaritic texts and artifacts portray Baal as the god of lightning, fire and rain. Thus one text reads: “Baal flashed his thunderbolts” (ʿnt, IV, 70), and another says: “He flashed lightning to the earth” (Text 51, V, 71). In a stele he is pictured as brandishing a club in one hand, and holding a stylized thunderbolt ending in a spearhead in the other (C. F. A. Schaeffer, The Cuneiform Texts of Ras Shamra-Ugarit (1936), plate XXXII, fig. 2). The stele indicates that Baal had power over fire and lightning. It is against this background that one must read Jeremiah’s warning: “Do not learn the ways of the nations, and do not be dismayed at the signs in the heavens…. But the Lord is the true God; he is the living God, an everlasting King; at his wrath the earth trembles…. The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, these shall perish from the earth, and from under the heavens…. When the Lord utters his voice there is a tumult of waters in the heavens . . . ; he makes lightning’s for the rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasuries” (Jeremiah 10:2-13; cf. Jeremiah 51:16).

blessing or curseI don’t know the true meaning of Barack Obama’s name. I do know that God said in His Word (Deuteronomy 28) that we can either have blessing or cursing and that choice is made by heeding and following the Word of God. In fact, God says in Deuteronomy 30:19 (NLT): “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!”

Followers of Christ must pray for Barack Obama. We must pray that he will be a “Blessed” leader, because he has decided to obey God’s Word.  We must pray that he does not follow the example of Jehoiakim, and burn the Word of God that he disagrees with. If that happens, his name will indeed be “Lightning”, for he will be following the ‘god of lightning-Baal’. And God says that the gods of this world will perish from the earth, along with all those who follow them.

Barack, I hope you include the writings of Jeremiah in your readings. Barack, you need to meet Baruch, and follow the Word of God. Then and only then will your name mean “Blessed of God”. If there is any hope for America, if there is any hope for the Blessing of God on our country, it will be because our leaders humble themselves before Almighty God and agree to follow Him! Our God still Reigns!