Mountain Mover

BulldozerI’ve always thought I had strong measure of faith – until I come across someone who has more faith than me. I remember when my daughter was small, she would say: “Daddy, is it going to snow tonight?” I would say “No – it’s way too warm for snow”. She would then reply: “But God can make it happen!” At that point, the discussion was over. Yes – God can make it snow. In fact, God can do anything He wishes. Her child-like faith would trump my “grown-up” knowledge and understanding.

Jesus was nearing his trial, crucifixion & death. He was near Jerusalem finishing up His ministry. He gave some practical example of strong faith and I just can’t relate. Check this out…

22 Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God. 23 I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart.24 I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. 25 But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.” (Mark 11:22-25 NLT)

I think I have faith until I read this. I often wonder was He talking about literally speaking to the mountain and asking it to move, or was he speaking symbolically or figuratively. The only way I know to move a mountain is with “Mighty Machines” like a Bull Dozer!

He adds one more piece of instruction about praying with deep faith – forgiveness. I learned several years ago that forgiveness was a personal gift to me. Restoration of a relationship was done to me.  It’s fairly simple – Faith combined with Forgiveness calls upon the power of God to do ANYTHING! This really blows my mind. I don’t have this much faith yet but I’m sure improving in the forgiveness area. I do want to have “mountain mover” type faith for sure.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Restoration Story

 

Fixer Upper House Home Repair Construction ProjectThe word restoration brings with it concepts like renewed, reestablished, returned to a former or original condition. I’m a fan of Chip & Joanna Gaines and their show “Fixer Upper”. They take “run down” or “beaten up” old houses and make them beautiful again and worth a lot more money than they were previously. I have the privilege of seeing homes restored and updated with more new and modern materials. Just yesterday, I listed a home that had been completely taken down to the bare walls (with removal of some walls) and brought back with a new kitchen, new bathroom, flooring, electrical – you name it and it was touched and restored or renewed.

I definitely believe my life has been restored on more than one occasion. There have been seasons of my life where I “went through the motions” of following the Lord. Lately, I’ve had an insatiable hunger for more of Him in my heart. I am participating in a small discipleship group with four other men and we’re reading scripture together and talking about how the Lord is speaking into us. This morning I was reading in Isaiah and the Lord speaks of restoring His people and this passage spoke to me about His restoration of me. Check this out…

I will say to the prisoners, ‘Come out in freedom,’
    and to those in darkness, ‘Come into the light.’
They will be my sheep, grazing in green pastures
    and on hills that were previously bare.
10 They will neither hunger nor thirst.
    The searing sun will not reach them anymore.
For the Lord in his mercy will lead them;
    he will lead them beside cool waters.
11 And I will make my mountains into level paths for them.
    The highways will be raised above the valleys.
12 See, my people will return from far away,
    from lands to the north and west,
    and from as far south as Egypt.”

13 Sing for joy, O heavens!
    Rejoice, O earth!
    Burst into song, O mountains!
For the Lord has comforted his people
    and will have compassion on them in their suffering. (Isaiah 49:9-13 NLT)

I can still recall times of suffering in my life. I can see now what I couldn’t see then – how the Lord uses suffering and struggle to build things into my character and into my heart. I do not wish to go through that again, nor do I wish suffering upon people. I have learned to embrace it when it arrives. I can’t remove it. I can’t escape it. With the Lords help, I can survive it and grow in my faith through it.

My favorite part of this passage is, how the Lord can make mountains level and the highways above the valleys and how He leads beside cool waters. I am a survivor of suffering because the Lord is with me and He will ALWAYS be with me. His promises are real and so is His restoration of my heart. I am a real life that is a “fixer upper” for sure.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Forgivness & Restoration

 

God's mercy at the CrossBoth of these words are dear to my heart. They are words that require work. I believe the Lord is really good in both these areas. They are also close kin to one another.

Forgiveness is to pardon an offense against me.

Restoration is putting back into former position.

I look at both of these words in the context of my relationship with God and they are work that He’s done for me. He came to me through His Son Jesus to display complete forgiveness. He also restores me to a place where I’m no longer stained with sin – I’m clean in His Presence because of His restoration.

King David is separated from his son Absalom. Joab, David’s military leader and top advisor knew that David longed for his son. There were protocol’s involved so Joab orchestrated a plan to get Absalom back to Jerusalem. Joab sent a woman to pretend she was in mourning due to a similar situation as David and Absalom, but David figured it out. She said something in her little discourse that really resonated with me. Check this out….

14 Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But that is not what God desires; rather, he devises ways so that a banished person does not remain banished from him. (2 Samuel 14:14 NIV)

Her description of life is pretty keen. We use up our life every day “like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered”. The Lord does not leave us in our guilty state – He forgives. He then does something else amazing – He restores me. I was “damaged goods” when He found me and now I’m forgiven and I get to put my feet back under His table.

Forgiveness and Restoration are easier for me when God does both on my behalf. He then calls me to offer forgiveness and restoration to others who need both. This part is much tougher. I do remember that I was once dead, but He gave me life. When I forgive, I’m a lot like Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Peace Offering

 

I am sorryI have heard of Peace Offerings before because I’ve been the recipient of one and the giver of one. Peace offerings imply that there has been a dispute or a battle between two people. I’ve given something as simple as an apology with a gift card and at other times more elaborate gifts. I feel like the peace offering can also mean I don’t want to be at odds with you anymore. It doesn’t necessarily mean that an apology is in order, but a “cease fire” of words. This sometimes needs to happen inside family disputes. Otherwise the dispute can escalate into years of broken relationship. The Lord instituted a peace (aka fellowship) offering for His people. Check this out…

1 ‘“If your offering is a fellowship offering, and you offer an animal from the herd, whether male or female, you are to present before the Lord an animal without defect. 2 You are to lay your hand on the head of your offering and slaughter it at the entrance to the tent of meeting. Then Aaron’s sons the priests shall splash the blood against the sides of the altar. 3 From the fellowship offering you are to bring a food offering to the Lord: the internal organs and all the fat that is connected to them, 4 both kidneys with the fat on them near the loins, and the long lobe of the liver, which you will remove with the kidneys. 5 Then Aaron’s sons are to burn it on the altar on top of the burnt offering that is lying on the burning wood; it is a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the Lord. (Leviticus 3:1-5 NIV)

This is one offering that involves the individual who brings the offering is the one who does the killing. I believe that this would be in my face a bit. I think it would leave a mark on my heart having to take the life of a young animal to restore fellowship or peace with God.

I must confess that I don’t always understand the context of these sacrifices and offerings. It confuses me and I’m so glad that God made a way directly to Him through Jesus – the One and Only sacrifice needed for sin. The downside to these terms is that I take them for granted. I believe the involvement in the fellowship/peace offering would bring the issue that I was working at resolving front and center and in my face. The fact that an animal had to die to restore fellowship and peace would be a very sobering event.

As long as it depends upon me, I want to learn to work and cooperate with everyone. I don’t want to be difficult or impossible to deal with. I welcome feedback and input in all my relationships so that I can keep growing. I want to grow in my understanding of difficult people. I’m thankful that I can go directly to the Lord regarding all my relationships including my relationship with Him. I’m thankful that Jesus became the final and ultimate sacrifice to restore fellowship and peace with God.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Unexpected Hospitality

 

Friends enjoying coffee togetherThere are times when another person goes above and beyond to show me a warm welcome and hospitality. In fact I believe that some people have a gift of hospitality. They can make you feel like royalty in their presence.

Josephs brothers are going back to Egypt a second time to buy food because of the severe famine that Egypt was prepared for thanks to Joseph. Their older brother Simeon had been in custody the whole time they were gone. Joseph had made it clear to them that they are to bring their younger brother back when they came. He had also put their money back in the sack with the grain they came to buy the first time. They were really on edge about this Egyptian ruler. They had no idea he was their brother whom they had sold into slavery so many years before.

When they show up the second time, Joseph prepares to have them over to his home for a meal. They are a bit nervous and paranoid that something bad is happening. They reach out to Joseph’s steward whom I think knows something is up. Check this out….

19 So they went up to Joseph’s steward and spoke to him at the entrance to the house. 20 ‘We beg your pardon, our lord,’ they said, ‘we came down here the first time to buy food. 21 But at the place where we stopped for the night we opened our sacks and each of us found his silver – the exact weight – in the mouth of his sack. So we have brought it back with us. 22 We have also brought additional silver with us to buy food. We don’t know who put our silver in our sacks.’

23 ‘It’s all right,’ he said. ‘Don’t be afraid. Your God, the God of your father, has given you treasure in your sacks; I received your silver.’ Then he brought Simeon out to them.

24 The steward took the men into Joseph’s house, gave them water to wash their feet and provided fodder for their donkeys. 25 They prepared their gifts for Joseph’s arrival at noon, because they had heard that they were to eat there.

33 The men had been seated before him in the order of their ages, from the firstborn to the youngest; and they looked at each other in astonishment. 34 When portions were served to them from Joseph’s table, Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as anyone else’s. So they feasted and drank freely with him. (Genesis 43:19-25; 33-34 NIV)

I am amazed at Joseph’s cool, collected behavior. It is obvious that he loves his brothers and misses his family, but he is playing his part well prior to the big reveal. He is obviously drawn to his kid brother, with whom he had a special bond.

I find it interesting that he invites them to a meal in his house. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed some of the best, heart felt conversations over a meal. It’s crazy when we have guests over and we just talk and share over the meal, but when we move to the more comfortable living room, the conversations are not as intimate – or so it seems. There is something about share life-giving resources with one another that makes for good conversation. I’m impressed by Joseph’s behavior toward his brothers who meant to harm him so many years ago. He had obviously forgiven them. I can learn from this type of forgiveness and love that leads to restoration.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Forgiveness

 

Man holding rock with bible verse John 8:7This is a really big concept in the realm of relationships. I think everyone on the planet has needed forgiveness at one time or another. I think everyone has had to dispense forgiveness as well. Forgiveness carries with it the idea of willfully stop being angry or resentful toward someone for something they’ve done – willfully or accidentally. I believe forgiveness is a huge cornerstone of my faith in God. God has forgiven me so many times and in so many ways I could never keep score. I deserve punishment, but instead I receive forgiveness.

Jacob had really taken advantage of his brother Esau in the past. He had conned Esau out of his birthright and stolen the blessing from his blind, disabled dad. Jacob seemed like the kind of guy that would step on others to get what he wanted. Jacob sent an offering (a peace offering I think) to his brother Esau via some of his servants. Esau decided to come see Jacob. This alarmed Jacob because he knew full well that he had really harmed his brother. Jacob divides his flocks, servants and family into two groups so that if Esau attacks, at least half of his family would have a chance to escape. The moment arrives and Jacob clearly wasn’t expecting what happened next. Check this out…

1 Jacob looked up and there was Esau, coming with his four hundred men; so he divided the children among Leah, Rachel and the two female servants. 2 He put the female servants and their children in front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph in the rear. 3 He himself went on ahead and bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother.

4 But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept. (Genesis 33:1-4 NIV)

This is a fantastic example of forgiveness. Jacob deserved retaliation, but instead received restoration. I don’t believe that at the first point of contact that restoration was completed, but I believe it the process was started for sure.

I was reminded this morning that forgiveness is a gift I give myself as well as the other person. The opposite of forgiveness is bitterness and seething anger. I heard someone say that bitterness is a pill that I take thinking it will kill the other person, but the opposite is true: it kills me from the inside.

I’ve had to forgive some pretty major hurts over the years. I have had to have the Lord’s help in doing that. The really cool thing is that the Lord reminded me of how much He forgives me when I don’t deserve it. When I look at others who’ve harmed me, I can forgive. I have hurt the Lord far deeper than I’ve ever experienced hurt from another person, yet He is ALWAYS faithful to forgive. He not only erases my past –He redefines my future and restores me to the place of an heir to my inheritance. The depth of His love and the unlimited Grace that He gives blows me away. How can I not forgive when He has forgiven me for so much?

32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32 NIV)

Forgiveness is not optional for Christ followers. Forgiveness is a command from the Lord Himself. After having practiced forgiveness, I see the incredible gift it is to me to actually forgive.

Pressing On!

Dwayne