Posts Tagged ‘Commitment’

Genesis 28:18–22 – TURNING A DREAM INTO DESTINY

Dream to Destiny

Dream to Destiny

Approaching the little Baptist Church near the station I can hear the voices that once drowned out the clatter of trains singing their praises again. The pump organ, now gone, for just a moment fills the room again with it’s sonorous tones as worship at full volume rises above the matters of the week. Mrs Young smiles as her head bobs above the music manuscripts, her strong vibrato voice somehow coaxing “Oh for a thousand tongues to sing” just one more time.

I am the ragged young man with long hair and a beard and no shoes who sits in the second front seat on Sunday mornings, and the man wearing a suit and tie always greets me at the door. There he is again, smiling and welcoming me in. I can see it, the photographs of remembrance still evoke the same emotions though the faces are fading in sepia.

We were a Church together with all the seemingly disparate parts meeting as one. We loved eachother. It will be a place I will always remember and return to, marked; a memorial in my mind. It is Jacob’s anointed stone and represents for many a stairway to heaven; access to God. It must be the very house of God; a place where dreams are transformed into destiny.

Nothing has changed for Jacob in Genesis 28, yet everything has changed. He is still running, still in a desert landscape, still propelled to leave home, still rejected by his brother, yet Jacob wants to preserve this moment, this milestone, this inspiring vision for his life, so he takes the stone he rested on, sets it upright as a memorial pillar, then anoints it with olive oil. It will represent that the dream he had of a stairway to heaven and the promises of God have been set apart for God’s purposes in his life. This is his first place of worship; the first place where he has made contact with God in a significant way. He names it Bethel; house of God; a place to meet with God and listen to Him speak. This must be the very house of God. A place where dreams are transformed into destiny.

Then Jacob makes this vow: “If God will indeed be with me and protect me on this journey, and if He will provide me with food and clothing, and if I return safely to my father’s home, then the Lord will certainly be my God. And this memorial pillar I have set up will become a place for worshiping God, and I will present to God a tenth of everything he gives me” (Genesis 28:20-22 NLT).

Jacob knows he needs God’s help, so he expresses it in terms of a covenant of commitment. He is saying in effect “Since you have promised these things then I’ll serve You. I commit my life to you”? As a covenant seal Jacob commits himself to paying a tithe. Tithing is a principle that unrolls gradually in the Bible, like a scroll. God doesn’t command him to do it. He isn’t planning to tithe regularly. This is the only recorded time that Jacob intends to tithe, a once-off offering that Jacob wants to make. It declares his trust and dependency upon God who provides and cares for him.

For once in his life Jacob is more concerned with giving rather than grabbing. Tithing won’t save him or ensure that God will bless him with material things. God has already promised to do this. Tithing is not a talisman against evil. For Jacob, it is an expression of his commitment to God, a response of his heart to God’s purposes for his life. My Pastor speaks about it as living the unlived life.

God invites me to respond to Him today; to commit my life to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, entrusting my life into His care; to meet with and listen to God and His purposes; to respond to Him with all my heart; to determine to live a life of generosity and recognise a place of personal worship as the house of God. That’s when God turns my dreams into destiny.

Pastor Ross

If this article has resonated with you, would you please pass it forward to those whose lives you think may also be touched by Words of Life. Thanks and may God bless you.

P.S. Don’t forget to purchase a copy of Above the Storm, my new e-book on the ancient book of Job, full of short stories to help you understand some deep truths. This is a creative exploration of Job. You will not read another commentary like it.

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Part 4 – Matthew 11:12 – WELL HE STARTED IT!

Crescendo of Violence

Since I had nothing better to do and everyone had gone out, I decided to watch the war movie “SAVING PRIVATE RYAN”. It was some years ago now and I was at my daughter’s house and Joel, my son-in-law had just connected his TV WITH SURROUND SOUND. The movie was set during the invasion of Normandy in World War II and since it was directed by Steven Spielberg I thought it might be worth watching. THE VERY FIRST SCENES SHOCKED ME! They depicted the Omaha beachhead assault of June 6, 1944 and the intensity of the surround sound and slaughter of men brought me to the point of turning it off. I couldn’t watch or hear such a graphic portrayal.

As a Chaplain I speak with old servicemen who have encountered the horrors of war, and I can only begin to appreciate why they speak with tears running down their faces after all these years.

MURDERED! Beheaded! Violence of unspeakable proportion! And their legacy has been repeated. Those who followed their example were ruthlessly mistreated, flogged and threatened and some were never released except into the hands of God. No I’m no longer talking about World War II. I’m talking about the followers of Jesus throughout the centuries.

They were demonised by family members, beaten and bruised by the brutality of violent men, betrayed by the very people they loved the most!

But they didn’t give an inch and cut through the garbage of humanity with a message as sharp as a razor and as lethal to those who resisted as hell itself.

IF YOU’RE A PACIFIST DON’T READ MATTHEW 11:12! Although this is part of what Jesus said, the red letter part of your Bible, YOU WON’T LIKE IT! Jesus spoke of VIOLENCE AND WARFARE and said we would be in the thick of it.

“And from the time John the Baptist began preaching until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people are attacking it.” 

“Well he started it!” “No I didn’t, she did!” Sorry, I am just reminded of my childhood days when the arguments got too heated with my sister. But this is a slightly bigger battle. John started it and the repercussions of his actions have been ongoing.

Jesus has already made it clear to His disciples about the PERSECUTION that they will encounter when they go out to preach and heal. There’s a WAR THEME amplified with violence and heard through the sound system of their experience. Dare to follow Jesus and you may not get out alive.

John is in prison and soon to die because of his faith. There’s a SPIRITUAL BATTLE going on and demonic activity has spewed out volcano-like. The fault lines are moving and sin is surfacing in indescribable acts of violence. As the demonic hordes engulf them Jesus and His disciples cast them out with a force that stuns the Satanic world and disrupts ours (see Matthew 10:8 note).

You want to be follower of Jesus? It’s a breeze but the cold icy tentacles of violence may cause you to shudder. Jesus warned His disciples that they’d be tried in courts, flogged with whips, arrested, betrayed, rejected by family members, hated by nations, persecuted in various towns, called names, threatened, and even killed “because you are My followers” (Matthew 10:18). Why go through all this? Well, this was their opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about Jesus (Matthew 10:17-42). No other reason than that. NO OTHER CAUSE MORE WORTH DYING FOR. John would soon find this out at the hands of the savagery and violence of king Herod. HE WOULD BE MURDERED! Jesus Himself made it clear that He didn’t come to bring peace but a sword (Matthew 10:34). When it comes down to it this sword of truth cuts through the dissenting hearts of men. He of course was also murdered and those who orchestrated His death heard the crescendo of their violence at the Cross and it’s reverberation has been ringing in our ears ever since. It seems Satan isn’t going to take this lying down but the blows inflicted upon him will prove to be fatal for his purposes.

It was all John’s doing. HE STARTED IT! Stirring people up and calling them “a brood of snakes” (see Matthew 3:7 note) didn’t help. No half hearted, lilly livered coward here! The question is “AM I?”

God bless you Church in the Spiritual battle you face today as you take up the Cross and I’m not talking about petty things we have to put up with. In Luke 9:23-24 (NLT) Jesus describes the commitment level in this way “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow Me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake, you will save it.”

Pastor Ross

Part 3 – Matthew 11:7-11 – THE GREATEST ROADWORKER WHO EVER LIVED!

The Greatest Roadworker

My sister and her husband Pete are on a holiday working their way through OUTBACK PLACES in Australia. Unfortunately they can’t travel on the dirt roads at the moment because of an unexpected rainy season. They have to stick to the highways because if they get off the track they will sink in the mud and never get out.

A policeman friend of mine told me how he did just that. He said he was driving along one minute and the next he was sinking into the road. He was stuck in the middle of nowhere out in western Queensland. There were no trees to hitch a winch to, just scrub. About 5 or 6 other vehicles got stuck trying to get him out. In the end it took a crane from a nearby mine to get them all out of the mud. By that time the mud was half way up the doors. Not good to be engulfed by the road you are trying to drive on. The only way to survive the wet season in the outback is to drive on the SEALED ROADS.

There’s even a sealed highway through the middle of the Nullarbor Desert in Australia. But what intrigues me is WHO ACTUALLY MAKES HIGHWAYS IN THE DESERT? I imagine road workers and crews from the outback to be no-nonsense hard-working men with skin like leather. The only people they would see for miles would be the tourists. Of course road workers are the best people to ask questions about the way ahead and their SURVIVAL TECHNIQUES would be invaluable.

Matthew 11:9 describes such a man. He was a ROAD WORKER AND A PROPHET. He knew the road ahead. Jesus described him as “MORE THAN A PROPHET”. What is he getting at? He goes on to describe him in effect as a council ROAD WORKER, PREPARING THE ROAD for Jesus to come.

Out in the middle of nowhere surrounded only by tourists who were trying to make their way through a wasteland created by their own sinfulness and self centred living, John the Baptiser was telling a HARDHITTING NO-NONSENSE STORY of how to survive such a wilderness and how to get back on the road that leads to you to God.

He certainly wasn’t trying to draw attention to himself, even though seeing a man walking around dressed in camel skin and eating locusts and wild honey is a little disconcerting. He was trying to draw attention to JESUS. In Matthew 11:10 (NLT) Jesus says “John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say, ‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will PREPARE YOUR WAY before You.'”  

He is referring Isaiah 40:3 (NLT) written years before which says that John was not just a road maintenance man; he was a HIGHWAY CONSTRUCTION ENGINEER, making a HIGHWAY IN THE WILDERNESS for the Lord. “Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting, “Clear the way through the wilderness for the Lord! MAKE A STRAIGHT HIGHWAY THROUGH THE WASTELAND for our God!” The wilderness is just a wasteland without a highway that leads you to the Lord. I don’t want my life to be a wasteland.

John was a rough and ready looking character with a straight talking preaching style that would leave you wanting to jump in the water and be baptised just to avoid the heat of His fiery rhetoric.

Jesus gave him high praise. In Matthew 11:11 “I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist….” Jesus always has a way of bestowing ROYALTY ON A ROADWORKER. Preparing the road for Christ and actually seeing Jesus walk on that road makes you the greatest person who ever lived. No other prophet had experienced seeing the Messiah. There was a road train of resources coming down the road John has prepared and Jesus is at the wheel. We now have access not just to a MESSAGE OF REPENTANCE and baptism, but the MESSAGE OF ETERNAL LIFE IN CHRIST. Anyone who accepts Christ and comes under His authority is even greater than John. He says, “…even the least person in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is!” (Matthew 11:11)

In the eyes of Jesus, John was the GREATEST ROADWORKER WHO EVER LIVED. Even before his birth Luke 1:15 (NLT) says “for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth.” He wasn’t a rock star or a wealthy businessman. He didn’t have a whole lot of fame and power. He was just a SIMPLE ROAD WORKER who believed in Jesus as the Messiah and who totally committed his life to that belief.

God bless you Church as you take the road less travelled. That straight and narrow highway that gives you access to God through believing in Christ. It’s a road that leads you to the Cross, to repentance, to faith in Christ, to obedience and to eternal life. It is the greatest journey you will ever take. 

Pastor Ross