The Remnant Arises!

Gideon leads a remnant. Gideon’s army has 300 uncommon men connected to his vision of victory. These 300 men are going into this battle as believers. They are faced with the natural impossible. They are being called upon to do the unthinkable. They are following Gideon into the unquestionable insurmountable. 300 men are expected to overpower 135,000 well-trained and well-armed soldiers.

These are the soldiers that no one in Israel had dared to fight. For the last seven years Israel has been hiding and running scared. These Midianites and Arabian mercenaries are a military machine. Gideon’s men will be armed with trumpets, clay jars and lamps. The contrast of ability and readiness for the battle is staggering. The contrast leaves this narrative only two options. Gideon and these 300 men will be utterly swept up by the Midianites and will die noble, though foolish deaths or Gideon and these 300 will do the impossible. Either this is foolishness or this is faith.

It is faith. Gideon has a word from God. Gideon will win this battle because Gideon believes the Word of God. Hebrews 11:32 mentions Gideon in Faith’s Hall of Fame. Gideon overcomes the power of the enemy in the midst of darkness after 7 years of defeats.  This is the power of faith. This was not a fight just about Gideon’s foes. This was Gideon’s good fight of faith.

We all have a good fight of faith. We all have places in our lives that have defeated us. For some of us it’s been for seven years. Seven is the number of completion.  The Holy Spirit tells us “seven years” perhaps to indicate to us that Israel had been completely defeated. Have you been completely defeated? Do you know what it is to have no power over some part of your life that is now starting to take over all of your life ? Have you ever tried and failed? Tried and failed. Tried and failed. Well, if seven years is completion, then it’s time for your defeats to be defeated.

It is your faith in the love, wisdom and power of God that will get you your victory. You know God loves you. You know God has the best plan for your life. You know God has the power to deliver you from anything and  anybody. That kind of faith can conquer and more than conquer any devil trying to defeat you.

Gideon subscribed to a strange strategy. In the blackness of the night Gideon divided his 300 men into 3 companies of 100 each. He had them surround the camp of the Midianites. He put a trumpet in every man’s hand with an empty clay jar and lamp within the jar. He then told them, “Look on me and do likewise” (Judges 7:17).

This remnant was given three tools for their victory. 1) Trumpets. 2) Clay Jars. 3) Lamps. These three tools signify that kind of remnant that God is raising in these last days. The end-time remnant will be distinguished by the weapons of our warfare. II Corinthians 10: 4, “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God, to the pulling down of strongholds” . We will need trumpets, pitchers and lamps to fight the good fight of faith.

The trumpets signify the boldness we must have in declaring and proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There are modern Midianites that can only be defeated by the preaching of the simple Gospel. The remnant God is choosing and preparing are a people that will blow the trumpet. When the spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon in Judges 6:34 the first thing He did was blow the trumpet. When the Spirit came upon the early Church in Acts 4:31, it says, “and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spake the Word with boldness”.  One of the marks of Spirit-filled remnant people is that they are not afraid to confront the evil of their times. The Midianites weren’t just against Gideon and the 300. They were depressing a nation, a whole generation of God’s people needed to be delivered.

Only a bold remnant will  declare the unpopular claims of Christ. It takes boldness to trumpet Jesus as the only possible means of salvation. It takes boldness to trumpet Christ and crucified, resurrected and exalted. It takes boldness to trumpet  salvation by grace and faith in Christ. It takes boldness to trumpet Christ as the Judge of all the earth. It takes boldness to trumpet the reality of eternity – heaven and hell. We need trumpets. We need boldness.

We need pitchers, clay jars. We need the brokenness of  believers. The clay jars were for one reason. They were to be broken. When the battle was over there will still be trumpets and lamps, but the vessels of clay would be broken left on the battlefield. Our faith must always be up for being broken. Faith is not so fragile that it can’t survive brokenness.

Brokenness protects you from bitterness. People that refuse to be broken during the battle are bitter people. They spend their lives regretting everything they have been through. They still talk about old battles as if they happened yesterday. They are still carrying around the broken pieces that they picked up from their last battle.

There are battles God sends us into for the express purpose of being broken. We have to be broken or we will try to carry our old selves into a new battle. There are some battles behind you that when you look back at you should praise God for because it was in that battle that you left some broken and shattered parts of your life behind you.

Brokenness is living with the knowledge that it’s all about him and never about you. You had to be broken so that what God has put you can finally shine.

So we need the lamps. The lamps are a type of the brilliance that lies within you. Your brilliance is more than your erudition and education. Your brilliance is more than your beauty and your charm. Your brilliance is more than your charisma and attractiveness. Your brilliance is the excellency of God’s power at work in you. Your brilliancy is the glory of God. When you finish this battle and complete this brokenness the brilliance of God in you is going to shine out of you as never before. God’s best in you is about to be seen, not just by others, but first by you. For those of you who know that you have not peaked in your potential. There is more and better in you and you are about to see it shine.

When the battle began in the blackness of the night all the enemy heard was an explosion of sound, light and movement. I have an announcement for every devil that thinks they have defeated the people of God. I hear the sound of trumpets, I hear the power of brokenness and I see an army arising with the glory of God within them. This remnant army is marked by boldness, brokenness and the brilliance of God.

This is the time to finally settle the matter. The battle belongs to God and the victory is ours!

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The Culture of Failure

White House on Reverse of US $20 bill.

Image via Wikipedia

What has happened to our commitment to achievement? Why are we so ready and willing to host the mediocre? Where is the excellence and advancement that once marked America? We live in an age when failure is permitted, tolerated, and sadly expected.

As I have diligently sought to stay aware and well-read concerning the deliberations of the Congressional “Super Commitee” I have noticed the spirit, the attitude, the culture that permeates the modern American political process. It is both shocking and noteworthy that the breaking news today is the announcement that the Super Committee has failed to reach an agreement. They needed to cut federal spending by 1.2 trillion dollars over the next ten years. The goal alone is laughable. We are holding a 15 trillion dollar debt. That would mean every American of every age would need to pay over $40,000 each in order to pay off the national debt. To cut 1.2 trillion over the next ten years is to cut 3% of federal spending. This is a low bar for any legislative body. There is nothing “super” about this committee.

They failed! That’s the news of the day. Those who lead us and make decisions that shape our nation and our collective destiny have failed. They failed to do what is most basic in leadership-make it happen!

The reason they failed is because they had permission to fail. They failed because they know you will let them fail. They failed because failure in leadership is no longer appalling, it is now just “par for trhe course”. Our leaders fail and have no shame.

What we see in Washigton, DC is a culture of failure. My sense of what we need now in our nation is burdened by the failure of our president to demand action on an issue so crucial to our economic well-being. It is the failure of the Congress to understand the power and the importance of making choices and determining decisions. It is the failure of the electorate, every one of us that vote, for not constructively and actively pressing our representatives to work until there is a deal that is good for the nation, especially the middle class and poor. This is the culture of failure. It is not a culture I choose to subscribe. I choose to be victorious in all my efforts.

Those who subscribe to kingdom living live with the guarantee of success and significance. We are called to be supernatural. We are to demonstrate the best that life has to offer. If you are a born again, Spirit-filled believer you have the power of achievement and accomplishment. “For it is God, that worketh in you both to will and do His good pleasure” (Phiippians 2:13). Failure is not an option for God, therefore failure is not an option for us. We have the power to get God’s will done. Let’s get it done!

Perspective, Paterno and Penn State

What went wrong at Penn State? Is what we are seeing in Pennsylvania a national problem? What does it say about the times in which we live? Where and with whom are our children safe? Do we really care about the well-being of our children?

Jeremiah, the prophet lamented in his day because of the unfairness and lack of justice in the land. “They judge not the  cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they prosper; and the right of the needy do they not judge” (Jeremiah 5:28). The children that were victimized at Penn State were inner-city, urban, underprivileged children from broken families. They were set up by an empowered pedophile and then led to the slaughter.

What we have witnessed from Penn State this week is nothing short of a microcosm of the dysfunction of our nation and the culture. What we have seen in the news since this past Saturday is the sickness of our society. We live in a day when people are more committed to their idolatry and celebrity than truth and justice.

Here it is, plain and simple – Penn State administration, alumni and students openly chose to protect their institution and their sports idolatry and celebrity rather than protect abused and victimized children. Sports and sports celebrities in America and around the world are worshipped by parishioners called fans in sanctuaries called stadiums while receiving multi-million dollar offerings called salaries and bonuses.

There is an embarassing effect that comes from the now infamous Coach “Joe Pa” and this scandalous coaching staff at Penn State. We have to learn that in one of the most celebrated institutions of higher learning in America there is no education of ethics.

Where is truth and justice?  Where is the sense of right?  Who witnesses a 10 year-old being raped and then walks back out of the room? Why the silence?  Why weren’t the police called immediately? Where is the outrage from the staff and students?

The “riot” after the firing of Coach Paterno was another clear indicator. We are raising and teaching a generation to care more about football than fairness. The only consideration should be for the children that were raped and robbed of their innocence.

I look forward to witnessing the expensive damage control and image repair Penn State and its legal team will now have to engage and endure. We are praying for the victims and their families.

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Image by pennstatelive via Flickr

The November Number

fruitThis month is just getting started. What kind of month will this be for you? If your month has started off a little “rocky”. I’ve got some good news for you!

Those who are interested in biblical numerology know that the number eleven (11) is the number of confusion and disorder (see Genesis 11). It is the number that precedes twelve (12) which is the number of  government and order. There were 12 tribes that set the order for Israel. There were 12 apostles that set the order for the church. The New Jerusalem, the believer’s heavenly home, is built and established on the principle of twelve (see Revelation 21). This represents God ‘s eternal government.

While the month of Novemebr is the eleventh (11th) month it is not the month of your confusion and disorder. Calm down! November represents the number nine (9). November got its name from the Latin word “novem” which means nine. Nine is the biblical number of  manifestation and fruitfulness. There are nine facets to the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-24). There are nine intial diversities and manifestations of the Spirit (I Corinthians 12:4-10). There are some numerologists that will indicate nine as the number of judgment. This is because judgment is a manifestation or the fruit of someone’s deeds or actions.

This month expect God to manifest  supernatural increase in your life. Your efforts, labors and investments in family, people, business and ministry are about to bear fruit. Be willing to let others help you. Like the spies that came back from the Promised Land, you will need help carrying the fruit you are about to reap. It took two men to carry one bunch of grapes! (Numbers 13:23).

The Priestly Blessing

Please forgive me if this seems like bragging. I pastor a great church! Friendship Central Church in Chattanooga, TN is growing with prayerful and biblical people. They are not quickly or easily motivated by programs or personalities. One of the questions I get asked as a leader is, “Where is that in the Bible?”

I am never offended by that question. It lets me know that the Berean believers are still alive and well. Each week following worship and each day following the National Prayer Call I announce a benediction. I give the priestly benediction of Numbers 6:23-27 along with my own prayer for the people.

This past Sunday, I actually did the hand gesture that Aaron and the high priests would have given in the Tabernacle during the benediction. Pastor Mark Bolin of Estill Springs, TN. taught on the Aaronic blessing at The Gathering 2011.  It was powerful! He closed the session out showing us the hand gesture used by the Hebrews.

The priest would raise his hands with palms facing downward. Thumbs would be outstretched and touching. The four fingers of each hand would be split into two sets. (Like the Vulcan greeting on Star Trek).

When the hands and fingers were properly positioned it would form the Jewish letter “Shin”. It actually looks like a “W”.  This is the letter that forms the Hebrew word picture and definition of Shaddai. Shaddai is one of God’s covenant names (Genesis 15). It is a promise from the Father to provide all we need and too much.

According to Jewish tradition the Divine Presence would shine through the hands of the priest casting a covering of blessing over God’s people. This is called by the Jews the Nesiat Kapayim. It is the official “lifting of hands” ceremony. It is not specifically described in the Bible, but the history and traditions of the Jewish people teach us this protocol.

Think about this the next time you are running out of church and leaving worship without a benediction.