Monday, October 26, 2009

After the Blessing

A Quick Look: Luke 17:11-17
Really Read It: 1 Samuel 1:21- 1 Samuel 2:11, Luke 17:11-17, Luke 12:13-21
Memorize:1 Samuel 2:1 Then Hannah prayed and said: "My heart rejoices in the LORD; in the LORD my horn is lifted high. My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your deliverance.”

Tronco was the biggest, meanest, toughest fighting bull on the farm. Don was the biggest, meanest, toughest bull fighter on the farm. Day after day these enemies met. They fought, they speared, they ran, they jabbed, they struggled and strained for victory. And at the battle’s end, Don always raised his spear in victory while Tronco stood in silence.
You might think less of Don if you knew that the only reason he was the toughest bull fighter on the farm was that he was the only bull fighter on the farm. You might think even less of him if you knew that while Tronco was the toughest bull on the farm, he was also the only bull. And even worse, he was not a real bull. Don wanted to be a bull fighter so badly that he made Tronco from a few logs, a few boards, and four old wagon wheels.
So day after day, Don fought his fake bull, but he also prayed. Don asked God to make him a great bull fighter. And God did it. The steps are boring, but the day came when Don stood in a huge bull fighting ring with a huge bull and a huge crowd watching. Don fought that bull with great skill and great flare. He won his fight, but he lost his God. Don told his fans how strong he was, how smart he was, and how quick he was. He forgot that he asked God, begged God to make him a great bull fighter. He forgot that God did it. He forgot God as soon as he got the blessing. Don never won another bull fight. He couldn’t even beat Tronco after that, so he worked shoveling bull dung for the rest of his life.
Don is a made up guy who got it wrong. Hannah is a real girl who got it right. I hope you can learn from both of them.
Hannah had some fights in her life too. She didn’t fight with a bull. She probably didn’t fight at all, but another woman fought her, insulted her, and made her life awful. It was all about kids. Hannah really wanted a kid. If you are a kid, you see a kid every time you look in the mirror. You see kids at school, at church, at the park, at the zoo, at the pizza place… There are kids all over, but there are a lot of grownups who really want to have a kid and they just don’t. Hannah was like that. I’m pretty sure that Hannah wanted a son more than Don wanted to fight a bull. I think that she wanted a son more than you have ever wanted anything. Hannah prayed so hard that she looked like she was going crazy. And God answered. Hannah got what she wanted, she got her answer from God.
Don messed up after that and a lot of people act like he did. They get what they want and then they forget God. Hannah didn’t do that. Hannah brought her son to God’s house and gave him to God. And Hannah prayed. In her prayer she told God how great he was, she praised Him, she thanked Him. And she talked about what happens to people who forget God. The guys who get from God and then forget God loose the gift. God gives money, food, kids, health but it fades away when you forget God. Hannah’s life has a happy ending. Her first son, the one she gave to God, was Samuel. And Samuel had a great life in God and lived as a great man, famous and trusted in his country. But Hannah had other children too, and God blessed her.
Jesus healed a lot of people when he was walking around on the earth. The Bible doesn’t always tell what the people did after they got better, but one time it does. In Luke 17 there were ten guys who all had a skin sickness called leprosy. Jesus healed all of them, but only one came back to Jesus. He came, “praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him.” Jesus said that his loud praising and his thanking was showing his faith. And his faith made him well.
Hannah and this man had faith and it came out in thanks and praises to God. It made the blessings of God keep going. Jesus told a story about a man who got great blessings from God, but after he got them he showed no faith. This guy was a farmer and he got a crop so big that he became rich. Then he said to himself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”
Jesus ended the story this way, “But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?' This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God."
“Rich toward God” might make more sense than the word “faith.” Rich toward God sounds like a money thing. And it could be. If God does for you and it has to do with money, then part of being rich toward God is giving God money. But rich toward God is way better and way bigger than just money. Rich toward God means you remember God like Hannah. She kept her promise to God and she kept praising God and thanking God all of her life. God gives a lot of blessings that are not about money. Without money can you still be rich toward God? How did Hannah do it? How was the healed man rich toward God? What about Don? How would his story end, if he remembered to be rich toward God after he got his blessing? See if you can change that to a story with a happy ending. You could make up a new ending for that rich farmer story too. What would his life be like, if he were rich toward God?

What would church look like if the people were trying to be rich toward God? You can watch a video of a church like that.

You can find more of Nathan’s writing on lulu and helium.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Get Some Wisdom Part Two

A Quick Look: Proverbs 1:2-5
Really Read It: Proverbs 1:1-33
Memorize: Proverbs 9:10 "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
James 3:17 “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”

Paul’s search for wisdom was much like Solomon’s. Paul read and studied and taught the Scriptures, but he had no wisdom until he was struck by the power of God. As a young man Paul believed the Scriptures gave him all the wisdom he would ever need. But then God, gave him the Holy Spirit. God gave Paul the supernatural gift of wisdom. God taught Paul the Scriptures. God revealed the gospel. God reached into Paul’s mind and gave him wisdom. After that Paul looked back at the laws and regulations in which he had once trusted. He said they had the appearance of wisdom, but they lack value. They lack the power to change a life. (1 Corinthians 2:13, Colossians 2:23)

Solomon and Paul are great examples of wisdom, but Jesus is no doubt the best the world has seen. Jesus is seated in heaven with full wisdom, all wisdom. The man Jesus when He walked on our earth did not have full wisdom, but He did speak and act through the Spirit of wisdom. (Isaiah 11:2, Luke 2:40)

It is through Jesus that this wisdom is available to His children. People can get wisdom only through the blood of Jesus. He bought it. His blood paid for the sin of humanity. His blood is redemption for the earth. But it also paid for wisdom. Jesus became the wisdom of God for His people. (1 Corinthians 1:30, Ephesians 1:7-9)
Wisdom is in Jesus. God wants to give wisdom to His people. But that doesn’t mean that every person sitting in church has it. Sadly that is far from the truth. Wisdom is needed. Wisdom will stop destruction in any life. But God doesn’t send wisdom just because it is needed. God does not respond to need. God responds to faith. God responds to hunger, desire, and passion. Wisdom would not be so rare if people who name the name of Jesus would truly desire it, seek it. Solomon said, “Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public square.” (Proverbs 1:20) Wisdom is not hard to find. It is available. You don’t have to find to public square to find wisdom. Solomon really means that you can get wisdom. Today, you have it close enough to you for you to reach out and get it. Today you will get one day older. You can ‘t stop that. You are turning into an old person. But are you turning into a wise person. You can stop that or you can find one day’s wisdom today.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Get Some Wisdom Part One

A Quick Look: Proverbs 1:2-5

Really Read It: Proverbs 1:1-33

Memorize: Proverbs 9:10 "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

James 3:17 “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”

Old people are the wise ones and kids are foolish. That’s how it works. When you first got to the earth, you didn’t know how to talk or walk. The biggest challenge of your day was to touch your nose, and you couldn’t do it. But you learned so much so quickly until you got to be the smart and able person that you are today. And if you keep learning, you will be really smart when you are really old. But the truth is there are a lot of foolish grownups and foolish old people. You only get to be a wise old person if you get a little wisdom each day and you keep adding and keep growing in wisdom. So a kid doesn’t have to be foolish. It is foolish to wait until you are old to get wisdom. It wouldn’t work. You have to start getting wisdom now. Keep getting it and keep doing it all of your life.

God is ready to give wisdom. He wants to His people to have it. He wants His children to live by it. God doesn’t waste His wisdom; He only gives it to His people. To get the wisdom of God, a person must first fear God. A child of God will worship and reverence God. If that heart is in you, that God fearing, God reverencing, soft heart then God will begin to give wisdom. But that is a big if. It is everything. The fear of the Lord is life changing, life directing. It’s salvation. It’s being born again. It’s your whole heart. It’s all of Christianity. God will give His wisdom to that person. He wants His children to have it, but He also wants His children to want to. God is looking for people who are seeking His wisdom, living out the wisdom that they know, and working to get more. James wrote that anyone who doesn’t have wisdom should ask for it in James 1:5. The problem with wisdom is that the people who don’t have it, don’t have enough wisdom to know that they need wisdom. An easy solution and the honest solution is that everyone should ask for wisdom. No one is walking the earth today who has enough wisdom. No one has gotten all of the wisdom that God wants to give.

God gives wisdom in two ways. He gives wisdom through His word and He gives wisdom through the Holy Spirit. Moses is a great place to start to see the Word as a source of wisdom. God spoke to Moses so that he could write the first five books of the Bible. Of course, at the time they were written, they were not the first five books of the Bible. Those books made up the whole Bible for the brand new nation of Israel moving into their own land. Moses taught them from the Word of God, and in Deuteronomy 4, he spoke about the importance of the Word. At the beginning of this chapter Moses told them to remember and do the Word, to live as the Word directs, to live by its wisdom. Moses even told them that if they did, other nations would be impressed by their lives. A life of wisdom doing the Word was meant to be a tool to advance the Kingdom of God. When other nations saw that wisdom, they would be jealous to have that wisdom for themselves. If Israel lived it, other nations around them would turn to the God of Israel. Sadly the Bible shows only a few instances when this happened. That is because Israel didn’t do the Word very much. The same is true today. When the people of God seek wisdom from the Word and display it in their lives, people who care nothing for God will notice. Sadly this doesn’t happen much.

A look at Biblical wisdom cannot leave out Solomon. We are almost sure that Solomon studied the Word like Moses said to do. His father David would have made sure that his son read the laws of the Tabernacle and the Ark. It seems that Solomon would have read the words of Samuel and David that told about the great works of God in the years just before he was born. Solomon should have gained wisdom that way, but he got more wisdom than any other person on earth when God gave it to him. Solomon is a great example of getting wisdom through the Word and getting supernatural wisdom through the Holy Spirit. But what did he say about wisdom after he had gotten so much? In Proverbs 1, he wrote that the Proverbs, and I would add all of the Word of God, are for getting wisdom. But as he continued in the first Proverb, he brought in the idea of teachers. Parents are the most important teachers for children, and they must impart Godly wisdom to their children. But gaining wisdom doesn’t end when childhood ends. God gives wisdom through His Word, but for God’s people to get wisdom, good Bible teachers are also needed.

James 3:17 is a great test for true wisdom. “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” The test of wisdom is not doing a great thing like creating a huge building or flying to the moon. The test of wisdom is the list from James. Does this big thing give out mercy and good fruit? Are those words peace-loving and considerate?

Start getting mercy right now from the Bible, from good teachers, and from the Holy Spirit. And remember to test the thing that you think is great.
Test the thing that you think is wisdom with James 3:17.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


A Quick Look: Acts 8:15-17

Really Read It: Acts 2, Acts 8, Acts 10

Memorize: Acts 1:5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.

“Hey, Dad, look. I found a cordless fan. This will be great for our camping trip. This thing can run in our tent all night and we’ll be cool as ice.”

“That looks just like the fan I had in the garage, Son. Were did you find it?”

“Wow, how did you know? I found it in the garage.”

“But the fan in the garage isn’t cordless…”

“It is now, Dad. Check it out.”

Dad took the fan from his foolish son and looked it over. It was true there was no cord anywhere, just a useless little stump where the cord used to be. It was not true that it would be great for the camping trip. A piece of tree bark could do just as well as that fan at keeping the campers cool. The fan had no power.


I drive a 1999 Suzuki Esteem with 160,000 miles on it. If you have seen some neat cars made by Suzuki then you didn’t see my car. I like it, but it is old. And it’s not fast. It wasn’t fast even when it was new, and now with the clunks and sputters in the engine it is even less fast. But I would race any Mustang, any Porsche, any Corvette. I would even take my car to the NASCAR track as long as I get to make one rule. My car gets to use gasoline and the other cars don’t. I will win every time. It doesn’t matter that those cars have high dollar fine tuned engines built for speed. They will go nowhere without gasoline. They have no power.


Fans and cars are not the only things that need power. How many things do you have that would be totally useless without power? Computer, chainsaw, coffee maker, copy machine, calculator, and that’s just the letter C list I got in 32 seconds. But God also made people to need power. In Acts 1:8 Jesus said, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses.” You must have power to be a witness for Jesus. Holy Spirit power is for something. It’s to be a witness. To be a witness is every part of your life. This power is to preach, teach, talk about God. You don’t have to be big and put on a suit to preach. The Holy Spirit will give you power use the right words about God at the lunch table or at the park. This power is to heal sickness. This power is hope right now. This power is to push back fear. This power is to live a life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. And Jesus gives His children this power, but that’s not really the whole story.

To get the whole story, you need to pick something in which you want to be great. A sport, acting, singing, speaking… And pick somebody who is already great at it. Just like Bob Roberts who wanted to be a great singer and he was such a big fan of the great Joe Jones. But then the famous singer Joe Jones heard a song by Bob Roberts and he was blown away. So the big super star singer became a fan of some other singer. And when they met, Bob ran up to Joe and said, “You’re the best!” But Joe looked at Bob and said, “No. You’re the best!” But that just made Bob want to say it even louder, “No. You’re the best!” And those two guys kept saying, “You’re the best!” “No. You’re the best!” to each other for 45 minutes and they both meant it every time.

That is what Jesus and the Holy Spirit do to each other and people get stuck in the middle of their argument. Stuck between Jesus and the Holy Spirit is a great place to be. Here’s how it works. Start with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit wants to tell Jesus that He’s the best, and He uses people to do it. So the Holy Spirit leads people to Jesus. That is how people get saved, born again. But then Jesus wants to say it back to the Holy Spirit and He uses people to say it too. Jesus fills His people with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes in to people like a strong fast wind. And as soon as the Holy Spirit is in a person, He starts doing in that person. He starts giving that person power. And the reason for all of the Holy Spirit’s doing is to lift up the name of Jesus, to praise Jesus, advance the name of Jesus, to tell Jesus, “You’re the best.”

Your job as a person is to be the voice of the Holy Spirit to tell Jesus, “You’re the best.” You do that when you give your life to Jesus. But you’re not done. Keep giving your life to Jesus so that those words keep going. And while those words are still flying through the universe, your job is to be the words of the Holy Spirit saying it back. Most church people never get there. Cry out to Jesus that He would fill you with the Holy Spirit. Jesus wants to do it, but He loves the Holy Spirit too much to shove Him into a person that doesn’t want Him. Jesus will send the Holy Spirit to every one who wants Him. But it doesn’t work to just say you want to be filled with the Holy Spirit and then turn on the TV. Your mouth says you want Him, but Jesus sees into your heart. If you really want to be filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus will be able to tell, but other people will be able to tell too. When you want something it shows.

Praying, asking, crying out is a great way to prove that you really want this. It will also help to read how it worked in the Bible. Here are a few of the Bible passages where people were filled with the Holy Spirit. I put just a few words about each event, but you should really read the whole thing from the Bible.

  1. In Acts 1 Jesus told His followers to wait for the Holy Spirit and then He went up to heaven. In Acts 2, 120 follows of Jesus were together in one room when, “a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” After that Peter preached in the street and 3,000 people started following Jesus.
  2. Acts 8 tells the story of Philip preaching in a city called Samaria. The Holy Spirit helped Philip preach and do miracles and heal sick people. The people believed Philip’s message about Jesus and they were baptized. But they weren’t filled with the Holy Spirit until Peter and John came and prayed for them.
  3. In Acts 10, God used angels and dreams to set up a church service for Peter to preach to a bunch of people he had never met. While Peter was talking to them “the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. 46For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.


What would it look like if a church was filled with the Holy Spirit? You can watch a video and see what the Holy Spirit does.

You can find more of Nathan’s writing on lulu and helium.