Signs In the Heavens

imagesGenesis 1:14 Then God said, “Let there ve lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years;

I am not trying to get mystical and yet I can not ignore scripture. Many Christians refuse to follow astrology and the zodiac and yet, could these be a perversion or misunderstanding of what the Bible really does teach?

The Hebrew word for signs is “owth” which means “signal” or “warning” of what is to come. From the Hebrew letters of the root, Aleph, Vav, Tav, it literally means a strong mark nailed in place. Where most people fail who follow the stars is that they are not signs for us but from God, nailed in place since the beginning.

The Hebrew word for seasons is “mow’ed” meaning appointed times or set feast, not as in food but as an appointed time for celebration or observance.

Is it possible that the stars are God’s daytimer of every major event timed out? Dig deeper and discover what you find.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-2 But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.


A Divine Appointment

Israeli Sycamore Tree

Israeli Sycamore Tree

Luke 19:1 Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.”

Let’s ask some questions.

  • What was it in Zacchaeus’ heart that gave him such drive to see Jesus?
  • Out of everyone in the crowd, why did Jesus pick Zacchaeus?
  • Not forgetting that Jesus knows everything, but how did He know Zacchaeus’ name?
  • Why was it so important that Jesus felt that He had to stay at Zacchaeus’ house?

Just with these four questions I can not help but to believe that there was a divine appointment. Yes, we can argue that everything that Jesus did and everyone he met was a divine appointment. Without a doubt, this was no accident.

How important are divine appointments? I am going to say that a divine appointment with God is so important that the tree itself was not there by accident. I believe that 30, 60 or 100 years earlier that God took special care as to make sure that this tree grew to maturity. It had a purpose. The meeting that Jesus had with Zacchaeus was so important that the preparation took decades to prepare for.

If that was true for Zacchaeus, ask yourself if your meeting with God was by accident or did years go in to staging it with anticipation of your meeting.

I believe that someone could write a story about this tree and all that it went through to make sure that it was ready for that day. The times it could have been cut down. The times that drought could have challenged it. The boys that played on it. Could this have been a tree that Zacchaeus himself played on as a boy, not knowing what destiny lay ahead of him?

Meeting with God is not accident.

Do You Have To Pray To Be Saved?

an altar call

an altar call

Romans 10:9 That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

I have a copy of the memoirs that an ancestor of mine had written. He was born in 1775 and died in 1875. The book is over 600 pages long. What awesome insight his writings have. It took them a week to ride from Richmond to Charlottesville and it takes me an hour. One of the writers of the Declaration of Independence stood at their defence in a church meeting. The trail from Lancaster, PA to Fort Pitt (Pittsburgh) was just wide enough for one horse. He even gives an account of the first altar calls.

It would seem that the idea of altar calls came about because of prayer meetings in the late 1700’s were experience strange powers of conviction where people would just fall onto the floor weeping. Some were as though they were dead. To provide a place for more focused prayer of repentance the altar was created, named after the places of sacrifice in the Old Testament.

All of my life I have known of altar calls. Growing up we called someone who gives their heart to Jesus, “praying through.” In my early ministry, when I began as a youth pastor, we led people in a “sinners prayer.” All salvations focused on the altar. Not even my ancestor was sure where the altar call started but he thought it started somewhere in New York.

What was it’s purpose? In the late 1700’s there were outbursts of prayers that would happen with people crying, screaming, and weeping. Some of these busts of loud prayers last for hours. So, someone came up with the idea of separating those in uncontrollable repenting into a more controlled atmosphere.

Here is an exerpt from the book Reminiscences of Rev. Henry Boehm, page 134:

“Dr. Bangs, in his History of Methodism, vol. III. p. 374, speaks of the revival in the city of New York in 1806, and says: ‘It was during this powerful revival the practice of inviting penitent sinners to the altar was first introduced. The honor of doing this, if I am rightly informed, belongs to Brother Aaron Hunt, who resorted to it to prevent the confusion arising from praying in different parts of the house.’ This has been for years stereotyped, and is interwoven into history… The truth is, he was not correctly informed… As early as 1799, when in company with that eminent revivalist, Rev. W. P. Chandler, on Cecil Circuit, at Back Creek, after preaching, the doctor invited mourners to the altar.”

Was providing a more controlled atmosphere  wrong? No, and it has served us well. Great ministry has taken place at what we refer to as an altar. The downside is that change took place within our theology. After following this pattern for over 200 years many in our churches have come to believe that in order for someone to be saved they have to have an “altar” or say a prayer. What happened to just believe?

The word believe in the above verse comes from the root word in both Greek and Hebrew which means to become persuaded. In Acts 10 Peter is preaching to a group of gentiles in Cornelius’ house. He was sharing with them their first message of who Jesus was and while he was preaching they believed.

Acts 10:43-44 “…To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will received remission of sins.” While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.

Even Peter used the word “believe” in his message. So, when were these saved? I am going to go out on a limb and say that they were saved just as soon as they believed, during the message. No altar call. No sinners prayer. No praying through. Then the Holy Spirit interrupted the message by filling these fresh new converts with the Holy Spirit and they began to magnify God and speak in languages they had never learned. I have never met anyone who disagree that this kind of experience does not happen on sinners. Therefore, they were saved without an altar call.

Shallow thinking to think that salvation comes through simple believing? No. Believing is where it all begins. That is where the walk in Christ starts.

What is the evidence that someone has believed? I would think that it would be repentance. That is where, often times, the emotion gets involved.

Although prayer may not be the means by which we are saved, prayer is the life of the believer. Jesus spoke in Matthew 6 that there are three things that every believer will do. This was evident from His use of the word “when.” – Giving financially, fasting, praying.

If you are in disagreement that salvation comes only through believing, all you have to do is to produce scripture that says the contrary.

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What Is A Sinner?

can't hit it?

can't hit it?

Luke 15:10 “Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

The word sinner is much like the word wicked, it paints a picture in our mind of someone who is evil. I can remember back in my Junior High years in study hall that the guy sitting beside me asked me if I thought that his grandmother, who was great to him, baked cookies, and never did anything wrong, was a sinner. I did my very best to explain what I knew then. Just as hard as it was then, many still have a difficult time explaining what a sinner looks like.

The easy definition is anyone who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their saviour. But, what does the word sinner mean?

Whether we go back to the root word in the Greek or the Hebrew it is still the same. The word means to miss the mark, or go the wrong way. Although, in the Hebrew it is not from the same word as wicked, they have similar meanings. Wicked is to have no direction. But a sinner can have the directions and yet go the wrong way. This does not imply anyone making a mistake. A sinner will attempt to be their own guide.

Paul well defined sin or sinner in Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” It does not have to be a blaten attempt to be wrong. Even some of the best intentions are wrong. Therefore, we need the help that Jesus offers.

Jesus understood this definition very clearly when He said that no one can get to the Father except through Him.

Riches and Wealth

images1 Chronicles 1:11 And God said to Solomon: “Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked riches or wealth or honor or the life of your enemies, nor have you asked long life–but have asked wisdom and knowledge for yourself, that you may judge My people over whom I have made you king-

God has given Solomon a choice of anything that he desired. He chose wisdom. In our society, especially with a weak economy, riches and wealth would be nice. But, I think that there is a clue here. God did give Solomon riches and wealth along with honor and the life of his enemies, but it took wisdom to control them.

To fully understand riches and wealth in the ancient Hebrew text lets take a look at how both words are spelt and what the root words reveal.

Riches is pronounced “osher” and is spelt “Ayin” which was drawn as an eye,  “Shin” which looks like teethe and represent eat or destroy, and “Resh” which is the head of a person. Riches are those things that are attractive to the eye and consume your head.

Wealth is pronounced “Chayil” and is spelt with a “Tav” which looked like a cross and meant mark or covenant, “Yod” which looked like an arm and meant work, and “Lamed” which looked like a staff and meant control. Wealth is the mark or evidence of your work which you control.

So, in a very difficult economy, which of these two should you and I invest in; riches or wealth? Neither are bad but both can be destructive. But, they take wisdom to handle.

Do a word study and see what scripture has to say about each.

William Seymour

imagesIn 2006 many celebrated 100 years since the beginning of a spiritual moved that begun because of a black man named William Seymour. Born in 1870, Seymour was converted in 1891 in Indianapolis during a trek across America. Within the churches he associated with were preached holiness, healing and the second coming of Christ – these shaped his mark in history.

Not long later he came down with a severe case of smallpox which scarred his face and left him blind in one eye. This was the moment that he accepted God’s call upon his life. In 1905 he had his first opportunity and temporarily pastored a church in Houston. It was there that he heard news of a group in Topeka, KS led by Charles F Parnham who taught in the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. Parnham, the founder of the Apostolic Faith Movement, was the instructor of this small school. In was in 1900 that he possed a question to his students, “what is the first evidence that you have received the baptism of the Holy Ghost.” From their studies they concluded that it was speaking in tongues. The assembled a prayer meeting on December 31, 1900 and just past midnight of January 1, 1901 a young lady began to experience what they called tongues.

Later that year of 1905 Parnham moved to Houston where he opened a short term Bible School much like the one in Topeka. Seymour enrolled in the school which focused on prayer, fasting, Bible study and evangelistic outreach. Although it would be a few years later before his personal experience, he was convinced that tongues was the initial evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. He took opportunity as often as possible to preach beside Parnham.

Later that year Seymour felt God’s call upon him to go to California upon an invitation to speak in Los Angeles. He arrived in February of 1906. He began to preach his pentecostal doctrine and was thus locked out of the church. He was then invited to speak to prayer group meeting in a house. They had been praying for revival.

One evening the owner of the house, Edward Lee, began to speak in tongues and many followed. People were falling to the floor, some falling into a trance for more than five hours. One neighbor, Jennie Evens Moore, played the piano, although she had never played in her life. She later became Seymour’s wife. Over the next few days hundreds stood in the streets as Seymour preached from the porch.

Seymour felt God calling him to go to California. Those at the school helped raise the money for his journey and sent him with God’s blessing expecting him to return in about a month.

It was on the third day of these meetings, April 12, that Seymour himself finally received this same experience at 4 in the morning after an all night prayer.

So many were filling the street that they began to search for another meeting place. A building had been secured at 312 Azusa Street. It was very rustic. Two wooden crates were stacked to create a pulpit in the middle of the building and the seats were set in a square around the pulpit. Starting with 100 people, it did not take long for them to have 1200 with not more room to stand. That summer, in just one service, they baptized around 500 new converts of all different nations represented.

There was an upstairs room designated as the prayer foom where many met, seaking to be baptized in the Holy Spirit and for healing.

For the next three years the meetings continued without a break. It was one continuous service, the building never empty.

From Seymours ministry at Azusa the Pentecostal work was established in 50 countries.

Whether you agree with his doctrine or not, he made quite a mark around the world.

The Right Questions

where are you?

where are you?

Genesis 3:9 Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”

If God is all-knowing then why could He not know what had happened to Adam and Eve. If God is all-seeing then why could He not see where Adam and Eve were?

It is said that the practice of the Rabbis with their students was to answer questions with questions. Often times the answers are found within us but we do not see them until we are asked the right questions. Jesus, recognized as a Rabbi, did this very thing.

God was not asking a question for his benefit. He was asking a question for the benefit of Adam and Eve. They, for the first time, had a sin problem and did not know what to do with it. So, God came to talk them through it and help them to discover exactly what their issue was.

Issues in our lives are not always evident. It was an obvious need to the four friends who lowered the paralyzed man’s bed down through the roof of the house where Jesus was teaching. There friend needed to be healed so that he could walk. But, that was not what Jesus did first. Jesus saw a more urgent need and addressed it. It was his salvation. They were asking the wrong questions.

When Jesus went to the pool of Bethesda He discovered a paralyzed man waiting for someone to move him into the water. But, for him he did not realize that he did not need Jesus to move him into the water. Jesus was the healer. This man was asking the wrong question.

It was revealed in Acts 8 that Simon’s problem was not what was so evident, but the Holy Spirit revealed that his problem was bitterness. Someone was not asking the right question.

Are you asking the right questions?

  • Why do you seem to always have problems with relationships?
  • Why does your anger get the best of you too often?
  • Why do you raise your voice to the children?
  • Why do you always feel the need to have control?
  • Why do you feel the need to physically need to give yourself away in your relationships?
  • Why are you always late?
  • Why do you keep spending money that you do not have?
  • Why am I not enjoying being around my children?
  • Why do I feel that no one likes me?

Start asking the right questions and receiving the healing you really need.