A Community of Faith - We invite you to connect with God through His Son Jesus Christ

Thursday, March 30, 2006

To relaunch at a later date...

Due unforseen circumstances and pressing committments Gathering Place Community and Cafe will go on a temporary hiatus and will be relaunced at a later date...however daily devotionals can be found at my personal site...Facedown Worshipper please check it out. Also check back frequenly for updates.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

God Bless,
Chris Jarrell

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Daily Caffeination 3/28/06

Resolving the Ownership Issue

The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for He founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters. - Psalm 24:1-2

As Christian workplace believers, God calls us to view Him as the owner of everything. We are to be stewards of all that He entrusts to us. This is one of the hardest of all commandments to follow for the Christian workplace believer because, if we work hard at business, we receive all the benefits of that work. It appears as though all that we have achieved was through our hand. Yet God says that it is by His hand that we are able to make wealth (see Deut. 8). He is the source of that ability. As soon as we become owners and not managers, we fall into trouble with God.

Joseph understood that he was a steward of all the resources of Egypt. God promoted him to affect an entire region of the world. Joseph had more power, prestige, and wealth than any 30-year-old who ever lived before him. The temptation for him in this newfound role in life must have been great. Many a man has not been able to handle material success. Many of God's choicest servants began well in their calling and service to God only to fail at the end. Consider Hezekiah, the great king who achieved many great things but failed to acknowledge God's blessing at the end of his reign. His reign was cut short due to pride. Gideon's fate was similar. Success can lead to pride if we are not careful.

"Not every man can carry a full cup. Sudden elevation frequently leads to pride and a fall. The most exacting test of all to survive is prosperity" [Oswald Chambers].

Ask the Lord today if you are living as a steward or an owner. Put whatever skills and resources you possess on His altar. Then you can expect God to do great things through you.

(by Os Hillman, from Today God Is First, Destiny Image Publishers, Inc. Copyright 2000)

Monday, March 27, 2006

Daily Caffeination 3/27/06

Treasures in Darkness

I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name. - Isaiah 45:3

"I have never been in this place before. It is new ground for me, and I find I am way out of my comfort zone. I am scared to death to trust Him at this level. I had to confess to the Lord I have not been able to accept or believe His love for me in this area." Those were the words I expressed to a friend when I was in a difficult place in my life. That day when I confessed those words, God led me to this passage of Scripture.

What we perceive as dark periods in our lives are designed to be treasures from God. They are actually riches stored in secret places. We cannot see those times in this light because of the often-accompanying pain or fear that prevents us from accepting these times as treasures. They have a particular purpose from God's viewpoint: "...so that you may know that I am the Lord...who summons you by name."

You see, unless we are cast into times in which we are completely at God's mercy for breakthroughs in our lives, we will never experience God's faithfulness in those areas. We will never know how personal He is, or that He can be trusted to meet the deepest needs in our lives. God wants each of us to know that we are "summoned by name." Every hair of our head is numbered. He knows every activity we are involved in. His love for you and me knows no bounds, and He will take every opportunity to demonstrate this to us.

Has God brought you into a place of darkness? Trust Him today to reveal that hidden treasure that can be found in this darkness. Let Him summon you by name.

(by Os Hillman, from Today God Is First, Destiny Image Publishers, Inc. Copyright 2000)

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Daily Caffeination 3/25/06

Making Adjustments

..."Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some." - John 21:6

A former client of mine was the marketing director of a large food brokerage company and told me a story about one of their client grocery stores located in the upper Midwest. It seems that the store could not understand why at a certain time every winter sales plummeted. They studied their product line and interviewed customers. They did everything possible to uncover the mystery. Finally, someone made a remarkable discovery that changed everything.

It seemed that whenever it was really cold outside, the manager raised the temperature in the store. When customers came into the store it was too warm for them, so they removed their coats and placed them in their shopping carts. This meant less room for food and resulted in reduced sales overall. They lowered the temperature of the store, and as a result, the sales climbed back to the levels they were accustomed to. Their adjustment resulted in restoring sales levels.

Jesus stood on the shoreline and watched Peter and a few of the disciples fish. Jesus yelled from the shoreline asking if they had caught anything. They had not. He then suggested they cast their line on the other side of the boat. Without knowing the person who was addressing them, they took His advice. They began catching so many fish they could not bring them in.

Adjusting our lives to God is the first thing that has to happen in order to begin experiencing Him in our daily lives. For some, it is simply following the advice of those above us. For others, it may require a major change in our job situation. Still, for others it could mean making changes in relationships. Whatever the case, you can be sure that until we adjust our lives to God we will not receive His full blessing. Ask Him today where you need to adjust to Him.

(by Os Hillman, from Today God Is First, Destiny Image Publishers, Inc. Copyright 2000)

Friday, March 24, 2006

Daily Caffeination 3/24/06

Peace-A Weapon Against Satan


Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me. - Psalm 23:4a KJV

In the battles of the workplace, your peace is actually a weapon. The workplace creates many opportunities to rob us of our peace. Cash flow concerns, deadlines, relationships - all create stress on us. Your confidence in the God of peace declares that you are not falling for the lies of the devil. You see the first step toward having spiritual authority over the adversary is having peace in spite of our circumstances. When Jesus confronted the devil, he did not confront satan with His emotions or in fear. Knowing that the devil was a liar, He simply refused to be influenced by any voice other than God's. His peace overwhelmed satan; His authority then shattered the lie, which sent demons fleeing.

There is a place of walking with God where you simply fear no evil. David faced a lion, a bear, and a giant. In this Psalm he stood in the "shadow of death" itself, yet he "feared no evil." David's trust was in the Lord. He said, "...for Thou art with me." Because God is with you, every adversity you face will unfold in victory as you maintain your faith in God! David continued, "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies" (Ps. 23:5a). The battle you are in will soon become a meal for you, an experience that will nourish and build you up spiritually. Only God's peace will quell your fleshly reactions in battle. The source of God's peace is God Himself. If fear has been knocking at your door, begin to face that fear with God's peace. It is God's secret weapon to destroy fear.

(by Os Hillman, from Today God Is First, Destiny Image Publishers, Inc. Copyright 2000)

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Daily Caffeination 3/23/06

No Confidence in the Flesh

If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more. - Philippians 3:4b

The apostle Paul surely could relate to the business executive. Paul reached the height of his profession only to have it completely stripped and torn from him. What he thought mattered in life became rubbish compared to what God did in his heart as He destroyed what seemed valuable at the time. It took a dramatic event to bring Paul into this revelation. It took a bright light, blindness, and the most fearful experience a human could have - being addressed personally by God, who was questioning why Paul was persecuting His people.

It would not be too long after his conversion that Paul would learn one of the greatest lessons every child of God must learn. That lesson is to avoid putting confidence in the flesh. In our work we are rewarded for achievement. It is a "measurable" life. We work. We see results. We get certain feelings of accomplishment from these activities.

It was not until I was placed in a situation to experience utter failure that I could identify with the words of Paul. I have met other workplace believers as well who achieved great success in their business life only to experience dramatic failure. That personal handshake with failure leads to a realization that:

Whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him... (Philippians 3:7-9).

Sometimes God lets us experience great pain to learn the lessons of greatest importance. Knowing Christ intimately is the most important lesson we will learn. Take stock in what you find your greatest pleasure in today. Avoid placing your confidence in things that are but rubbish so that you might know Him more intimately.

(by Os Hillman, from Today God Is First, Destiny Image Publishers, Inc. Copyright 2000)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Daily Caffeination 3/22/06

David's Source of Direction

Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul. - Psalm 143:8

David is the only person in the Bible whom God describes as a man after His own heart. Despite David's many setbacks he continually sought to know and do God's will in his life. Like many of us, his will got in the way of a sinless life.

In the morning hour, David sought to hear from God. I can imagine David sitting on the open deck of his palace looking over the hills of Jerusalem, listening to God. There, in his morning watch, he felt God's unfailing love. He reaffirmed his trust in God. He also understood that the key to knowing God's will lay in spending such moments alone to reflect on what God had done and was doing in his life.

Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; may Your good Spirit lead me on level ground (Psalm 143:10).

Sometimes we fall prey to believing that God is not concerned, and that He does not lead us in our work life. We are tempted to think that He leads us in other areas, but not in our daily workplace. The truth is that God is in every aspect of life and desires to direct us.

Do you need direction in your life today? If so, David provides the best example of gaining direction. Set aside the morning hour to draw close to His presence. There, you will sense His unfailing love for you. His direction for your life will be a natural by-product of this time of communion with Him. Ask God to lead you by His Spirit today.

(by Os Hillman, from Today God Is First, Destiny Image Publishers, Inc. Copyright 2000)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Daily Caffeination 3/21/06

The Training Ground of God

Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle. - Psalm 144:1

David was a man skilled in war. From his days as a shepherd boy to the days of serving in Saul's army to leading his own army, David learned to be a skillful warrior. How does one become a skillful warrior?

The only way one can become a skillful warrior is to be trained and placed in the middle of the battle. It is only when we are placed in the furnace of battle that we truly learn to fight the real battles. Practice doesn't make you battle ready. War games won't prepare you for facing your real enemy in the battlefield. The stark reality of being in the midst of the battle makes us effective warriors.

Simply reading your Bible will not make you a warrior for the Kingdom. Knowledge without experience is mere folly. Only when you are placed in situations where there is nothing or no one who can save you but God will you learn the lessons of warrior faith. This is the training ground of God, which will make you into a soldier for Christ in the workplace. Consider it to be suicidal faith - faith that says I want to be dead to anything that keeps me from fulfilling God's purposes for my life. It is when your efforts can do nothing to change your circumstance and you are at the mercy of God. These are the real training grounds of God. Do not shrink back from the battle that God may be leading you to today. It may be a training ground that is necessary for the calling He has on your life.

If you can trust Him in these times, you'll know that you have gained a faith that will move mountains and will sustain you in the most difficult of circumstances. "Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle."

(by Os Hillman, from Today God Is First, Destiny Image Publishers, Inc. Copyright 2000)

Monday, March 20, 2006

Daily Caffeination 3/20/06

The Anguish of Faith

Do not hide Your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit. - Psalm 143:7b

Of all the biblical characters, David gives us a glimpse of a man who walked with God with great emotion in victory and in defeat. David never lost a battle throughout his many years of serving as king of Israel. In many of the Psalms, David often lamented about the difficult places where God had placed him. He talked of his enemies and the need for God to deliver Him. He talked of God's everlasting love for him. How do you suppose David came to this understanding after years of being sought after by King Saul who wanted to take his life? His years of turmoil within his family gave him many reasons to lose all hope in a loving God.

David often began his Psalms in a place of discouragement and loss of hope. But He never ended one Psalm in defeat. He always came to a place of victory in God by the end of the Psalm. David always placed his life in God's hands, knowing He would care for him.

Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul. Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord, for I hide myself in You. Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; may Your good Spirit lead me on level ground (Psalm 143:8-10).

It is okay to feel discouragement. It is part of the process of grieving and working through those times of pain. But God wants each of us to allow Him to walk with us in these places. If you find yourself in one of these places, do what David did. Ask God to show you the way and let Him bring the word of His unfailing love to you.

(by Os Hillman, from Today God Is First, Destiny Image Publishers, Inc. Copyright 2000)

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Daily Caffeination 3/18/06

Discerning the Work of God

Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, O my God, because of what they have done; remember also the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who have been trying to intimidate me. - Nehemiah 6:14

Nehemiah set out to rebuild the wall at Jerusalem that had been destroyed. Nehemiah held a position in the Persian Empire that would be comparable to Chief of Staff in our government. Nehemiah wept over the destruction of the city wall and repented for the sins of his generation and the generations before him that had led to the fall of Jerusalem. Nehemiah responded to the news by seeking approval from his superior to take time off to rebuild the wall. Tobiah and Sanballat met Nehemiah's action with resistance, as did Noadiah the prophetess and other prophets. These were the religious and political leaders of his day. They became distractions to his work and opposed him.

Whenever God does a new work, it is often met with resistance by those in the established religious community, and sometimes among those from whom we would expect support. Jesus met the same resistance when He began His public ministry. This same phenomenon happens today. When God begins a new work that cannot be easily explained based upon prior experiences, many make the mistake of assuming it not to be of God. The very people who should embrace and encourage the work become the source of skepticism and opposition. God tells us that His ways are not our ways. He does things in ways beyond our limited understanding.

Before you are tempted to criticize or oppose something that looks different from your past experience, ask God for wisdom and discernment. Examine why you might be tempted to oppose it. The Lord cannot be put in a box. He delights in doing things in ways that may not fit our former paradigms.

(by Os Hillman, from Today God Is First, Destiny Image Publishers, Inc. Copyright 2000)

Friday, March 17, 2006

Daily Caffeination 3/17/06

A Refiner's Fire

For he will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap. - Malachi 3:2b

The Lord has a specific manner of preparing His people for useful service. God desires to turn His children from rough, hard-edged stones into gems of gold and silver.

He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; He will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years (Malachi 3:3-4).

The refiner's fire can only accomplish its purposes when the heat is turned up to extraordinary temperatures. It breaks down the metal in order for it to become moldable and shapeable. Only when the temperatures reach this level can the work be fully accomplished. So it is in our lives.

Until the Lord completes His refining process, the offerings we make are not made in righteousness and cannot be acceptable. Thank God that Jesus is our righteousness and that there is no righteousness apart from Him. Still, the Lord continues to purge all that is not of His righteousness out of our lives. This comes through trials that bring each of us to the end of ourselves in order that He may only reflect that which is Himself.

When God takes you through the refiner's fire, be encouraged because it is His overriding commitment to turn you from a rough, hard-edged stone to a precious metal. He will do this through certain events in your workplace, your relationships, and other circumstances in your life. Our job is to avoid trying to blow out the fire.

(by Os Hillman, from Today God Is First, Destiny Image Publishers, Inc. Copyright 2000)

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Daily Caffeination 3/16/06

Death and Birth of a Vision

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. - John 12:24

Almost every significant thing God births He allows to die before the vision is fulfilled in His own way.

. Abraham had a vision of being the father of a great nation (birth). Sarah was barren and became too old to have children (death). God gave Abraham and Sarah a son in their old age. He became the father of a great nation (fulfillment).

. Joseph had a vision that he would be a great leader and that many would bow down to him (birth). Joseph's brothers sold him to some merchants and he became a slave. Later he was falsely condemned to spend his years in prison (death). God allowed Joseph to interpret the dreams of the butler and baker and later the king, whereupon, he was made a ruler in the land (fulfillment).

. Moses had a vision of leading his people out of the bondage of Egypt (birth). Pharaoh as well as his own people drove Moses out of Egypt after Moses' first attempt to relieve their bondage (death). God gave Moses signs and wonders to convince Pharaoh to free the people and bring them out of Egypt and into the Promised Land (fulfillment).

. The disciples had a vision of establishing the Kingdom of God with Jesus (birth). The very ones He came to save killed Jesus, and the disciples saw Him buried in a tomb (death). God raised Jesus from the dead, and the disciples performed great miracles until the gospel had spread through all the world (fulfillment).

. A grain of wheat has a "vision" of reproducing itself and many more grains of wheat (birth). The grain dies in the ground (death). A harvest springs up out of the very process of "death" in the ground (fulfillment).

Has God given you a vision that is yet unfulfilled? If that vision is born of God, He will raise it up in His own way. Do not try to raise the vision in your own strength. Like Moses, who tried to fulfill the vision of freeing the Hebrews by killing the Egyptian, it will only fail. But wait on your heavenly Father to fulfill the vision. Then you will know that it was His vision when He fulfills it in the way only He can do.

(by Os Hillman, from Today God Is First, Destiny Image Publishers, Inc. Copyright 2000)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Wednesday Prayer 3/15/06

If you have specific prayer or praise you want to share leave a comment and through out the day we will add it to our prayer list.

Remember, you can post your comment as anonymous. So please don't hesitate to leave a prayer need or praise report and you can be as specific as you choose to be.

Let us join together as we lift up one another in prayer.

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
"Every great movement of God can be traced to a kneeling figure." - D.L. Moody
"Every time we pray, our hrizon is altered, our attitude to thinhgs is altered - not sometimes but every time - and the amazing thing is that we don't pray more." - Oswald Chambers


PRAYER NEEDS OF GPCC
  • God's continual guidance and direction as we prepare to launch.
  • GPCC will create buzz throughout the online community and throughout Central Virginia, specific the tri-cities area.
  • Impact of GPCC on those who may connect with us.
  • That individuals would become Christ-followers through the ministry of GPCC.
  • Wisdom for the leadership
  • Influence within our local community. God's favor.
YOUR INDIVIDUAL PRAYER NEEDS






YOUR PRAISE REPORTS






Remember as leave a prayer need or praise you can remain absolutely anonymous.

Daily Caffeination 3/15/06

Following Only the Father's Commands

Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by Himself; He can do only what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does." - John 5:19

Have you ever thought about a typical day in Jesus' life? Perhaps He might have had questions like these, "Who am I going to heal today? Who will I visit today? Which person will I deliver from demons this day?" etc. The demands on Jesus' time were great. Yet we see that Jesus allocated His time very deliberately. We don't get the idea that Jesus was flustered or stressed from the activity He was involved in. He often sought times of prayer and reflection away from the disciples. His life appeared to have a balance of quiet moments and active ministry into the lives He came in contact with.

How do we determine what we will be involved in each day of our lives? What keeps us in sync with the will of our heavenly Father for the daily tasks He calls us to? Jesus tells us that He was only involved in those things the Father was involved in. Nothing more, nothing less. So often we determine our participation in an activity based on whether we have the time to do it or whether we desire to participate. The real question we should ask is, "Does the Father want me to participate in this activity?"

"Lord, should I add this Bible study to my schedule? Should I spend an extra night out on this committee this week? Should I take on new business that will take me away from home more? Should my daughter be involved in music lessons?" These are the daily challenges for the world we now live in. We are an activity-based society that often encourages more and more activity, often in the name of Christian virtue.

Our lives will become less cluttered, less stressful, and more fulfilling when we follow the model Jesus provided. It may not always please everyone. Jesus never sought to please everyone. Ask the Lord each day this week how you and He are to spend your time. Yield your schedule to Him. Let Jesus direct your every activity. You may discover that He desires you to cut back some things in order to spend more time alone with Him. He will be faithful to show you. And you will become more fulfilled because you are centered in His will for you.

(by Os Hillman, from Today God Is First, Destiny Image Publishers, Inc. Copyright 2000)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Daily Caffeination 3/14/06

The First Requirement of Ministry

The priests are in mourning, those who minister before the Lord. - Joel 1:9b

The first requirement for being used by God in the life of others is to mourn on their behalf. We must identify with their pain and suffering. Each of us must be broken for others first.

In order to be fully used by God in the workplace, we need to understand what breaks God's heart. When we understand what breaks God's heart, we are able to mourn on behalf of a grieving person, or a nation we are called to serve. What breaks God's heart? When we begin to answer this question, we begin the first step to becoming instruments of change for those things that are important to God. Perhaps it is an overemphasis in our own talent and abilities, or lack of complete trust in Jesus. Perhaps it is the lack of respect for human life that leads to the killing of innocent babies. Perhaps it is the deceit and pride that often rule the workplace of commerce. Or perhaps it is the strife and divisions among His own Body that grieve Him most. When we begin to mourn over our own sins in these areas, God begins to use us as instruments of righteousness to affect these things. It was only when God let me see my own sins in the workplace and how they broke His heart that I began to be an instrument for His purposes.

Today, ask God to show you what things in your world are breaking His heart. Then see how He might want you to be the priest to affect for Him. The first step is identification with what breaks God's heart.

(by Os Hillman, from Today God Is First, Destiny Image Publishers, Inc. Copyright 2000)

Monday, March 13, 2006

Daily Caffeination 3/13/06

Obeying the Spirit of God

Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Go south to the road - the desert road - that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." - Acts 8:26

Philip was conducting what we might today call a revival meeting. God was blessing the meeting, and many were being healed and delivered from demonic influence. Here is the scene:

Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there. When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said. With shrieks, evil spirits came out of many, and many paralytics and cripples were healed. So there was great joy in that city (Acts 8:5-8).

And yet, in the midst of this great event, the Holy Spirit spoke to Philip and told him to remove himself and go to a completely different area to speak to one individual. Philip was so sensitive to the directive of the Holy Spirit that he left what would be deemed a successful event to go speak to another - an Ethiopian eunuch. The result of his obedience was that Philip led the eunuch to faith in Christ and baptized him. The Lord then took Philip away supernaturally to another region many miles away.

God's ways of determining where we invest our time and energy often have little to do with results. The danger for each of us is to determine that we are in the center of God's will simply by the success or failure of the events we are involved in. Our plumb line for determining success can be only one thing: obedience. Philip responded in obedience to the direction of the Holy Spirit.

Are you listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit? Has God prompted you to speak, go, or come alongside another? Ask God today to help you hear the Holy Spirit's voice so that you might be used mightily in your workplace.

(by Os Hillman, from Today God Is First, Destiny Image Publishers, Inc. Copyright 2000)

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Daily Caffeination 3/11/06

Suffering for the Salvation of Another

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. - Matthew 5:11

Recently, a friend told a true story about one of his closest friends who experienced great suffering for the soul of his persecutor. This man worked on a cargo ship. His boss was the captain. This friend was a committed Christian who shared his faith with others and was a good worker. One day the friend led the sea captain's girlfriend to Christ. The sea captain already hated and ridiculed the Christian worker because of his faith in Christ. When his girlfriend came to Christ, she stopped sleeping with the captain. The captain blamed the Christian man for the change in his girlfriend. One day he entered the restaurant where the Christian man was having lunch. He walked over to his table and began hurling obscenities and began beating him. The Christian man simply tried to defend himself but did not fight back. The captain kept beating him until eventually the man lay on the floor bleeding.

Two men entered the restaurant and saw what was taking place. They jumped the sea captain and took him outside and began beating him. The sea captain was beaten so badly that he needed immediate medical attention. The Christian worker saw the condition of the sea captain, came to his aid, and began helping him. The sea captain was so moved that this man could do this after he had literally beaten him bloody that he began to weep, not understanding what could move a man to have such love in the face of being beaten. The sea captain accepted Jesus at that moment.

The Bible tells us that while we were yet sinners Christ came and paid our penalty so that we might live eternally. Many in the workplace have never known the love of Christ. You might be the only one they ever meet who can introduce them to this love. Ask God to show you how to love the unlovable in your workplace today.

(by Os Hillman, from Today God Is First, Destiny Image Publishers, Inc. Copyright 2000)


Friday, March 10, 2006

Daily Caffeination 3/10/06

When God Restores What the Locusts Eat

I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten - the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm - My great army that I sent among you. - Joel 2:25

There are seasons in our lives that involve times of famine and times of restoration. Solomon tells us that He has made everything beautiful in its time and that there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under Heaven. (See Ecclesiastes 3:1,11.)

God brings about both the good and the bad. The seasons of famine have a divine purpose in our lives. They accomplish things that only these hard places can accomplish. But there is a time when those hard places have accomplished their purpose and He begins to restore. God did this with the nation of Israel after a season of famine and devastation.

Be glad, O people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for He has given you the autumn rains in righteousness. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil. "I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten - the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm - My great army that I sent among you. You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will My people be shamed. Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the Lord your God, and that there is no other; never again will My people be shamed" (Joel 2:23-27).

God wants each of us to know that there is a time when He will restore in order to demonstrate His gracious hand in our lives. He is a loving Father who tenderly guides His children through the difficult places. If God has taken you through a time of leanness, know that He is the restorer of that which the locusts have eaten. Wait patiently for Him to bring this about in your life. He will do it.

(by Os Hillman, from Today God Is First, Destiny Image Publishers, Inc. Copyright 2000)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Book Discussion (Velvet Elvis Intro)

Thursday’s Book Discussion

Velvet Elvis (Repainting The Christian Faith) by Rob Bell

Over the next few months we will be reading and discussing Rob Bell’s book Velvet Elvis. As we go through this book it is my hope that we go through this book that we would have honest and open discussion of various questions and topics that the author Rob Bell brings to the surface.

As you read this book, you will discover the content to be challenging, thought provoking, enlightening and inspiring.

Some of you may find some of the topics discussed in the book upsetting they even may go against your personal doctrine and theology. You may not even agree with everything the author says. However, I want to encourage you to read this book and share your thoughts and opinions as we move from chapter to chapter.

Rob Bell’s Bio

Rob Bell is the founding pastor of Mars Hill, one of the fastest growing churches in American history. He is also featured in the first series of spiritual short films called NOOMA. Rob and his wife, Kristen have two boys and live in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Velvet Elvis is divided up into seven different movements or chapters. It is a thought provoking book on repainting the Christian faith.

Brief exert from the book from Movement Three True

“We have to test everything.
I thank God for anybody anywhere who is pointing people to the mysteries of God.
But those people would all tell you to think long and hard about what they are saying and doing and creating.
Test it. Probe it.
Do that to this book.
Don’t swallow it uncritically. Think about it. Wrestle with it.
Just because I am a Christian and I’m trying to articulate a Christian worldview doesn’t mean I’ve got it nailed, I’m contributing to the discussion.
God has spoken, and the rest is commentary, right?”

(Velvet Elvis Copyright © 2005 Rob Bell, Zondervan™ Publishing)

Daily Caffeination 3/9/06

Confidence in Numbers

David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the Lord, "I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, O Lord, I beg You, take away the guilt of Your servant. I have done a very foolish thing." - 2 Samuel 24:10

It just seems to be human nature. As we grow in wealth and ability, our confidence moves from complete trust in the Lord to trust in our resources. King David decided one day that he needed to know how many fighting men he had in his army. This was a grievous sin in the nation of Israel. God always made it clear to the nation that He, not their army, was their source. It was against the law of God to number the troops. David's general, Joab, knew the serious nature of such an action.

But Joab replied to the king, "May the Lord your God multiply the troops a hundred times over, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it. But why does my lord the king want to do such a thing?" (2 Samuel 24:3)

Joab knew that David was treading in dangerous waters when he brought up the idea to him. But David had it in his mind that this is what he was going to do. And he did. The result: God judged David for this sin by smiting the nation with a plague that resulted in the loss of 70,000 lives.

Recently, I was having lunch with a former stockbroker who lost everything in the 1987 stock crash in the United States. He made an interesting comment. "You cannot know how to fully trust the Lord in the financial area until you really have to. When I lost everything, I was forced to trust Him when I knew I could not pay my next bill unless God provided. This was the time I learned to trust God. I never had to trust God before I lost my money because I had plenty. We don't willingly enter this level of trust with God."

Ask God today to keep you from trusting in your own resources. Ask Him how to balance trust and blessing from Him this day.

(by Os Hillman, from Today God Is First, Destiny Image Publishers, Inc. Copyright 2000)