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Monday, October 19, 2020

Let The Geese Teach Us To Lay A Firm Foundation Of Faith, So Even When Our Children Stumble & Fall On The Wrong Path, Their Knees Will Recall The Prayer To Get Them Back Up And On The Right Track Again. There Are Plenty Of Nuggets In Today's Reading.

 Join Me: I Am On FaceBook Live Each Saturday at 9:00 A.M.& YouTube At Noon For A Word Of God. Here Is The Link Where You Can Meet Me for 45 Minutes.  CD Link.




Jesus spoke the following to a crowd suffering from anxiety: ‘…Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.” (Matthew 6:25-26 MSG)

You say, ‘Yeah, but what can I learn from looking at a bunch of birds?’ Well, let us just see what lessons the geese can teach us:

1.. GEESE FLY UNITED: They do not fly separately, in random style, because no goose alone can go that distance. They are designed to fly in their characteristic ‘V’ formation. When a bird flaps its wings the air movement created provides an uplift, easing the workload of the bird behind it. Together, their flight range increases by 71 percent. Even the youngest, weakest, and oldest geese can make the trip. They accomplish together what they could never accomplish separately. With that said, the first Scripture the birds teach us is Hebrews 10:25: ‘Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another…‘ (NIV). Which means, ‘Stay in fellowship with one another, and enjoy the uplift it provides. ‘In other words, you’re not called to fly solo! The Bible says: ‘The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” ‘(1 Corinthians 12:21 NIV). Birds teach us how to work together and support one another, doing what is always in the best interest of one another. Now, occasionally a goose strays off on its own, but look what happens: it soon becomes exhausted, loses altitude, and ultimately pulls wearily back into the formation.  LET THE GEESE TEACH US HOW TO WORK TOGETHER AND STAY TOGETHER!

2.. EVERY FORMATION HAS TO HAVE A ‘POINT GOOSE’ OUT FRONT WHO LEADS AND SETS THE PACE FOR THE OTHERS: It’s a tough position because the point goose cuts the headwinds, meets the changing weather conditions, and is first to feel the rain in his face, the snow in his eyes and the ice on his wings. He keeps the formation on target whatever the situation. It is hard, exhausting, and lonely at times because there is nobody ahead of him to be the wind beneath his wings. The formation depends on him to persevere, stay on track, and get the everyone in safely to its destination. Every church has its point goose: The Pastor. Each department has its point geese: youth, finance, evangelism, care ministries, and so on. They lead, set the pace, and give direction to those who follow. There are always two common roles in the church: the under-employed and the over-functioning. Point ministries are the latter, so they tend to burn out frequently. However, just before the point goose is exhausted, a space opens in the formation and he slips back into it while another bird replaces him, seamlessly becoming the next point goose. Standing in for each other preserves the life of the formation. This is what Paul meant by: ‘from whom the whole body, fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.‘ (Ephesians 4:16 NASB).  Do not be content to be a consumer; instead, be a producer! A great church is not about paid staff; rather, it is about volunteers willing to stand in whenever and wherever needed. LET THE GEESE TEACH US HOW TO LEAD, FOLLOW AND FILL IN!

3.. IN THE WORLD OF GEESE, THE AGED, VERY YOUNG, AND INFIRM ARE KEPT PROTECTED IN THE REAR OF THE FORMATION: But they are not isolated, discounted or considered useless; in fact, they fulfill a vital role. They become the ‘honking section’ and cheer for the leaders. Inevitably, bad weather threatens the mission. The going gets tough and the tough are struggling. From the rear of the formation a lone honk sounds, initiating a geese chorus honking encouragement to the point goose. Paul understood this because he admonishes us: “Therefore encourage (admonish, exhort) one another and edify (strengthen and build up) one another, just as you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11 AMP). He knew we needed a ‘honking section’ supporting us with uplifting words and prayer. For instance, we need those who say, ‘We are behind you. We’ve got your back covered!’ Which is why the Bible further admonishes: “And as for you, brethren, do not become weary or lose heart in doing right [but continue in well-doing without weakening].” (2 Thessalonians 3:13 AMP). Many a servant of Christ has crossed their deepest valley on a wing, a prayer and a honk from some old-scarred, battle-hardened, straggle-feathered, half-bald honker of encouragement who was too stubborn to let a brother or sister quit on their watch! Occasionally, a strident, out-of-tune goose complains loudly and irritatingly. But within moments, the honking section kicks in, drowning out the grumbler, restoring order and unity. The church’s problem is not too many people speaking negatively, it is too few speaking positively! When someone cries, ‘defeat’, honk back, ‘victory’ When they cry, ‘fear’, honk back, ‘faith’. A few words of encouragement can overpower a storm of complaints. So, join the honking section and be known as a Barnabas, whose name means ‘Son of Encouragement ‘(Acts 4:36 NIV).  LET THE GEESE TEACH US HOW TO ENCOURAGE AND PROTECT ONE ANOTHER!

4.. WITH GEESE, THEIR RELATIONSHIP IS ‘TILL DEATH DO US PART’: They take it seriously. They are fully committed. At the age of three years, a goose selects a mate for itself. Loyal bird as it is, a goose is known to live with its mate for a long part of its life. Even after the death of any one from the couple, the other one would live several years, alone, without engaging with a new partner. And many a times, they remain single for the rest of their life. There are few birds which do not split from their family after breeding season, geese are one of them (if only we would remember this regarding marriage and family). When the ravages of time or circumstances make it impossible for a bird to continue the trip and it begins to lose altitude or fails to keep abreast of the formation, the gaggle provides it with comfort, nurture and protection. Two strong geese leave the formation, flying with the ‘patient’ safely between them, find a sheltered location with food and water and make a home for the needy bird. They will stay with their ward until it either recovers or dies, before joining another formation. For them, everything goes ‘on hold’ to care for another bird! What an example of Christ-like relationship and self-sacrificing love. Which is why the Bible says: ‘…God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. ‘(1 Corinthians 12:24-26 NIV). In today’s culture however, we discount and marginalize the needy, including those no longer functioning as they once did. But God demands that we ‘have equal concern for each other ‘, especially with those suffering. If a gaggle of birds can do it, surely God’s family ought to do it too. ‘Look at the birds in the sky!’ Jesus directs. If they can do it for each other, ‘… Aren’t you worth more than birds? ‘(Matthew 6:26 CEV). One of the two greatest commandments (not suggestions) Christ gave us is, ‘…Love others as well as you love yourself. There is no other commandment that ranks with these.” (Mark 12:31 MSG). When word circulates that we love each other in this way, they will beat down the doors of our church to get in! LET THE GEESE TEACH US HOW TO KEEP OUR VOWS TO ONE ANOTHER IN LOVE, AND TO REMAIN IN COVENANT WITH ONE ANOTHER. ‘TILL DEATH DO US PART’ ISN’T JUST FOR MARRIAGE! JESUS KEPT HIS VOW TO US AND REMAINED IN COVENANT WITH US, BEFORE AND AFTER DEATH!

5.. LOST AND STRAYING GEESE ARE ALWAYS WELCOMED INTO THE FORMATION: It is not an exclusive club for the elite. Geese separated from other formations, isolated by weather, accident, or infirmity, are given full family status. The formation will alter its plans, reschedule its arrival time, and inconvenience itself to accommodate any strangers seeking its acceptance. Many newcomers arrive dirty, bedraggled, and ill-fed. However, they are never turned away. In the same way, God’s church is not a museum for masterpieces – it is a hospital for those who have been hurt by life, even self-inflicted hurt. Jesus said, ‘Come to me, ALL of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. ‘(Matthew 11:28 NLT). “ALL” are accepted! He also says: ‘I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. ‘(John 10:16 NIV). Christ has no higher agenda than to recruit, save and adopt the stranger into His flock. You say, ‘But they’re not my kind of people; they don’t look, talk or smell like me!’ So what? We do not get to choose our biological or spiritual siblings; God does. If they rub us like sandpaper, they are helping rub off rough edges and polish us up. Want to see the material God builds the church with? Prepare yourself for a shock. ‘Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators… idolaters… adulterers… homosexuals… sodomites, thieves… covetous… drunkards… revilers… extortioners…AND SUCH WERE SOME OF YOU. BUT YOU WERE SANCTIFIED, BUT YOU WERE JUSTIFIED IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS AND BY THE SPIRIT OF OUR GOD ‘(1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NKJV). We were taken into the formation, we were washed, sanctified, justified, and given full family status! How dare we do not extend the same grace and mercy to others! LET THE GEESE TEACH US HOW TO ACCEPT “ALL” INTO THE FOLD AND FAMILY!

6.. THEY LIVE TOGETHER AND BRING NEW GOSLING EVERY YEAR: Both parent geese take part in the upbringing of the goslings which is one of the reasons for high life expectancy in young ones. Geese produce a new generation every year, wouldn’t it be amazing if the church did the same? Selah...The Bible says this: “Jesus came to them and said: I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth! Go to the people of all nations and make them my disciples. Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to do everything I have told you. I will be with you always, even until the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:18-20 CEV); in addition: “But to as many as did receive and welcome Him, He gave the right [the authority, the privilege] to become children of God, that is, to those who believe in (adhere to, trust in, and rely on) His name” (John 1:12 AMP) Geese teach us the importance of consistent producing. We should not have, year after year, the same people, with no new faces filling the sanctuary. LET THE GEESE TEACH US TO DO WHAT GOD COMMANDED US TO DO…GO MAKE DISCIPLES!

7.. THE MALE GEESE ARE EXTREMELY OVER-PROTECTIVE OF THE FEMALE GEESE: The male community of geese display a caring and protective nature towards their female counterparts and will even stand between danger and her. 1 Timothy 5:2, “…Reverently honor an older woman as you would your mother, and the younger women as sisters.” (MSG). In a day when words like “gentlemen” and “chivalry” are alarmingly becoming extinct, Men of God, it should not be so among you. Male geese care for and protect the female geese. Now, does that mean you go around beating up people every time they say something cross to her? Absolutely not. But as men, you should always be a protective hedge to your sisters (and sisters in Christ). Protect them from wolves in sheep’s clothing; protect them from being belittled, overlooked, and bypassed due to their gender. Support your sisters, make them safe and secure and let the world know that you will stand between her and danger if need be. Think about it, if geese have enough sense to do this, what excuse can an intelligent man have for not doing it? LET THE GEESE TEACH US TO CARE FOR, GUARD AND PROTECT THE WOMEN IN OUR FAMILY (BOTH NATURAL AND SPIRITUAL).

8.. THE FEMALE GOOSE PRODUCES, THE MALE GOOSE PROTECTS: As a part of the reproduction cycle, the female goose lays an egg each day to reach the number to 5 eggs. Once all the eggs are laid off, she incubates eggs in her nest for 30 days. When she goes far from the eggs, she covers them with sticks to make them feel cozy and protected. Meanwhile, the male parent goose keeps the nest protected from a distance so that predators do not get a hint of the nest and eggs. As parents, both natural and spiritual, it is vital that we produce and protect. Geese have enough sense to produce gosling (children) and then to cover and protect them until they are prepared to go it on their own. As natural and spiritual parents, we need to follow their example. We are called to develop/train/produce disciples/followers for Christ (as well as natural children to carry on the family legacy), and at the same time to protect them. For some reason, currently, children turn 18 and they are considered “grown” (I beg to differ). In the same way, once someone comes to Christ, we disciple them (briefly) then put them on an auxiliary and move on to the next “to-do” on the agenda. Geese take the time to produce seed, but also to water, feed, nurture, protect, shield, and cover them. How is it possible that we do not do the same? TODAY, , LETS LET THE GEESE TEACH US TO BE PATIENT WITH OUR NATURAL AND SPIRITUAL CHILDREN. GIVE THEM TIME TO SIT AND BE STILL, TO LEARN, TO GROW, TO DEVELOP, TO BE PREPARED, TO BE GROOMED. IN A NUTSHELL: DON’T RUSH THEM UP OR OUT PREMATURELY!

9.. GEESE ARE GREAT COMMUNICATORS: They use approximately 10 different sounds to communicate, depending on the situation confronting them. Geese have enough sense to know what to communicate, when to communicate and how. Yet we the intelligent human beings that we are, get this wrong on every possible level. Now, I do not believe we should walk around with multiple personalities depending on who we are talking to now. But I do believe that we need to learn to communicate better. Some people can take an ‘in your face method’, while others need more of a ‘can we talk privately to the side?’ Truth is, some of us have so much great wisdom to be shared, however, because we do not choose our words wisely, the wisdom falls on deaf ears. It is not always what you say, but more likely how you say it that gets you heard or ignored. If geese possess the wisdom to change up their communication depending on the circumstances, shouldn’t we possess the same? For instance, at home I am not “Rev. J.P.; Pastor J.P. Evangelist or Counselor”, I’m just “J.P., Honey, Simply, an informal Mrs. Olson or Janet”. I change clothes and sit in front of my television and want to watch something non-spiritual, laugh and relax just like anybody else. I do not communicate with my husband or my family if they are visiting at home as though I am still a leader in the church or a trainer on the job. LET THE GEESE TEACH US TO USE APPROPRIATE COMMUNICATION.

10.. THE FEMALE GOOSE ALWAYS BUILDS THE NEST: Women, Wives, Mothers, Sisters, Aunties, God-Mommy is etc.…We play a vital role in the home! For the female goose, she literally builds the nest from sticks and branches, but she also includes for comfort, the feathers from her own body! Now that is sacrifice! And that is exactly what it takes to build a home. And that goes for both our natural and spiritual homes as well. We need to be the generous givers and nurturers, that we were designed to be both in our homes and in the church. We have children all around our lives, and it is important that we deposit in them daily. Build them up daily. Encourage them, strengthen them, guide them, pray for them, point them in the right direction, all of this is building a house, building a home, and building a generation that will carry on a lasting legacy. LET THE GEESE TEACH US TO BUILD OUR CHILDREN AND OUR LOVED ONES.

11.. THERE ARE AROUND 30 SPECIES OF GEESE IN THE WORLD: And yet none of them feel the need to attempt to compare, compete or clone. Wish this were the mentality of the church. We are all different and that is a good thing. We all bring a different perspective to the team and to the whole of the Body. Let us not continue the discord of “my way or the highway”. Be open to the varying views of others. And if the church is to grow it will have to come in contact with other people. And ‘other’ can mean piercings; tattoos; tri-colored hair; unwed mothers; criminal backgrounds; homeless; jobless; divorced etc.…the church is to be multi-cultural and multi-faceted, not one-dimensional. We do not need clones, copies, duplicates, or recyclables! There are 30 species of geese, meaning diversity is a good thing. LET THE GEESE TEACH US TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT, LIKE REFUSING TO BE THE SAME.

12.. GEESE HAVE A STRONG URGE TO RETURN TO THEIR PLACE OF BIRTH: Having a good instinct for places, geese return to their general area of living where they lived most after their birth. It has even been observed that geese fly 2,000-3,000 miles to return to the exact place of their dwelling to mate and nest. In other words, foundation is vital to anything you build. And that includes our families and churches. Geese return to their foundation. Which reminds me of many “church kids” who get older and stray. Some of them return and some never do. It is important from birth to set a firm foundation of faith in our children, that even when they stray and mess up, something on the inside (as the old song goes) will start back to working. Something will remind them of who they are and Whose they are, and they will return on the road of reconciliation. But that is difficult to do if they never received a road map in the first place! Yes, we need to teach our children that God loves them, protects them, sees, and hears them. But we must also avoid if our “little angels” will never get into any “devilment”. They are saved, not perfect. And they battle with seduction and temptation just like the next kid, and many of them fall prey. We need to teach them both how to avoid the trap, and also when they get trapped there’s always a way of escape: 1 Corinthians 10:13, "For no temptation (no trial regarded as enticing to sin), [no matter how it comes or where it leads] has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man [that is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not adjusted and adapted and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear]. But God is faithful [to His Word and to His compassionate nature], and He [can be trusted] not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [ALWAYS] also provide the way out (THE MEANS OF ESCAPE TO A LANDING PLACE), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently." (AMPC); Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” The Good New Translation reads: “Teach children how they should live, and they will remember it all their life.” (GNT); and the Message Bible reads: “Point your kids in the right direction—when they’re old they won’t be lost.” (MSG)  Let The Geese Teach Us To Lay A Firm Foundation Of Faith, So Even When Our Children Stumble And Fall On The Wrong Path, Their Knees Will Recall The Prayer To Get Them Back Up And On The Right Track Again.

13.. THE OLD AND YOUNG GO THROUGH CHANGES TOGETHER: While the gosling (young geese) is Maturing (gaining), the adult geese are Molting (losing). During the maturing time for the goslings, the adult geese do not leave the area. The maturing period of the goslings overlaps with the molting season for the adults. Molting season runs from early June to late July. Adult geese lose wing feathers during this time and are unable to fly. Geese can fly again approximately 6 weeks after molting. The key? Maturing for the Young and Molting for the Old Happen at the Same Time. We need to learn to embrace change, transition, development, and growth, for all ages in our families as well as our churches. The young are gaining, while the older are losing. The young are getting stronger while the older are weakening. However, this will not be a problem if it is understood, acknowledged, and embraced by both parties. Which requires patience and love. The young should never become prideful and the older should never feel discarded or threatened. Let the Geese Teach Us to Embrace One Another As We All Change in Different Ways That Will Make Us Better.

Who Knew Birds Could Be One of The Best Bible Study Teachers? I Hope You Learned as Much as I Did!


J.P. Olson

Monday, October 12, 2020

When Is The Last Time You Touched The World, & Unbelievers, In Such A Way That You Disturbed Them? Disturbed Their Sin, Their Unbelief & Addictions. When Is The Last Time You Disturbed The Devil? When Is The Last Time You Gave Someone A Taste Of God?

Join Me: I Am On FaceBook Live Each Saturday at 9:00 A.M.& YouTube At Noon For A Word Of God. Here Is The Link Where You Can Meet Me for 45 Minutes.  CD Link.


Now this message may appear to be out of touch with reality in regards to what's going on and Covid 19, but it is very much in touch with reality if we were actually being the salt of the earth before Covid hit the world, So if your salt stayed in the shaker, this message should help us become more effective with our salt shakers in the near future when Covid is behind us.

Listen, Jesus Left Heaven To Get To Us, Satan Left Hell To Get To Us, And Yet We Will Not Leave The Church To Get To Them. In Order For You To Taste Salt, It Has To Touch Something. In Order For Salt To Change Something, It Has To Touch Something.

Matthew 5:13 “Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.” (MSG)

In the past week God has placed on my heart the urgency of the hour. My readings may reflect that. As children of God we have to get serious, we must surrender all to Him. We must get about our Father’s business because we are living in the End Times and it is urgent that we try to reach the unreached for many are lost. The whole reason we’re here is to be 'salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth'. But if the salt never touches anything, how does it change anything? This makes me think of the evangelism that has so greatly halted in our churches. Oh, we go to church week-after-week, Sunday School; Sunday worship; prayer; bible study; meetings; rehearsals; revivals; special services and the like, and we’re quite comfortable sitting in our sanctuaries (a.k.a. “salt shakers”), well contained! Problem? Salt is touching salt but touching nothing else. Many will read this and say how can we reach anyone during this Covid? The question is; before Covid 19 were you being the salt of the earth outside of the walls? Today we are forced to be outside, but what are we doing  with our salt shakers, have we made calls, since we have social distancing?  Some churches have resumed having service in their building, however, we are forced to be outside of the walls, are we being effective inside our shakers?

In Order For You To Taste Salt, It Has To Touch Something. In Order For Salt To Change Something, It Has To Touch Something. For us salty Christians to change something, or someone, we have got to touch it and them! We can’t remain in the salt-shaker, where we’re useless because we’re touch-less and tasteless.

Therefore, we can’t sit in our churches and complain about the world and the way it is, while we sit in the salt-shaker sanctuary touching nothing and nobody. Now before you read the next few lines, were you doing any of this before Covid? If not read on, because when and if Covid subside in the name of Jesus; we could just imagine if we actually left the salt-shaker sanctuary and went to shake some salt in the nursing homes, in the hospitals, at chemotherapy, at dialysis, in the prisons, in the homeless shelters, at the soup kitchens, in the cancer centers; what change might we bring about if only we’d leave the salt-shaker sanctuary? What if we shook some salt while standing in the grocery aisle, in the barbershop, or at the nail and hair salon? What if we shook some salt at our jobs, in our families and in our communities? What if we shook some salt in that drug-infested park, or gang-infested territory? What if we shook some salt as we walk the streets with our masks on from day-to-day, passing countless ‘tasteless’ individuals on the way? I mean after all, the Bible says that’s what we’re here for, right? Isn’t that our purpose? Isn’t that our charge? Isn’t that our call; to be the salt of the earth?

Is it possible that people haven’t tasted God, because we haven’t touched them with Him? With His unconditional love, His sufficient grace, and new mercies. With His forgiveness, kindness, compassion and encouragement. With His protection, provision, and presence. With His unspeakable joy and reassuring peace.

I reiterate, is it possible that people haven’t tasted God, because we haven’t touched them with Him?

Psalm 34:8, “Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see – how good God is. Blessed are you who run to Him.” (MSG)

But how can people “taste” how good God is, if we are His salt, but we never leave the saltshaker?

I am sure God would love to hear His salt getting out of the shaker more often! After all, the work salt is supposed to do is not inside the salt shaker, all clustered together with the other salt. It's supposed to get out and change the flavor of something!

Matthew 28:18-20, “Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority (all power of absolute rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always [remaining with you perpetually – regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion], even to the end of the age.” (AMP)

Now, how are we to make disciples 'OF ALL NATIONS', if we never leave the pulpit or the pew?

How is it God said 'GO', but we have YIELDED to the point that we have STOPPED?

How can we 'MAKE' something without ever touching it?

How are people to 'LEARN' of our God if we’re the TEACHERS who are never in CLASS with our STUDENTS?

How can they 'BELIEVE' Him if we don’t tell them ABOUT Him?

How can they be expected to 'OBEY HIS WORD', when they haven’t HEARD HIS WORD?

Romans 10:14, “But how will people call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how will they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher (messenger)?” (AMP)

Furthermore, how are they to be 'BAPTIZED', without us touching them?

According to Jesus, "You are the salt of the earth…” not of the sanctuary! But of the entire Earth! This means we must leave from within the church walls.

We must operate outside of our comfort zones, our pulpits, and pews. We must leave the meeting and the auxiliaries. We must leave the Fellowship to go Fellowship, before they all Drown!

Can you imagine the horror on the face of an individual who’s fighting with all their might, absolutely terrified that they may die any minute while trying to stay afloat in the troubling waters of life…and yet, we, the church, Jesus’ Life-Guards, are standing on the shore, watching…equipped to help…but just watching…knowing how to save…but choosing to just watch…having the Word that will deliver from destruction…and yet we remain on the shore, still watching. People are struggling at sea, because the saints are only concerned with their safety on shore. This should not be!

Listen, Jesus Left Heaven To Get To Us, Satan Left Hell To Get To Us, And Yet We Will Not Leave The Church To Get To Them?

As Christians we were never meant to be all clustered together in a spiritual salt shaker, just salting each other and soaking up more blessings, miracles and the like for ourselves. The salt's got to be in direct contact with the meat or the vegetables that need it.

Acts 17:6, “But when they did not find them there, they dragged out Jason and some of the Lord’s followers. They took them to the city authorities and shouted, “Paul And Silas Have Been Upsetting Things Everywhere. Now They Have Come Here.” (Cev). They Took The Gospel Message “Everywhere”! And We Can’t Get Folks

“…Paul And Silas Have Turned The Rest Of The World Upside Down, And Now They Are Here Disturbing Our City,” They Shouted.” (TLB) –

Now, When Is The Last Time You Touched The World, And Unbelievers, In Such A Way That You Disturbed Them? Disturbed Their Sin, Their Wickedness, Their Unbelief, Their Habits And Addictions. When Is The Last Time You Disturbed The Devil? When Is The Last Time You Gave Someone A Taste Of God By Giving Them A Touch From God?

When is the last time we’ve made an impact like this on the world, as the church?! When is the last time we went door-to-door letting them know Jesus is King? When is the last time we’ve attacked sin, the very thing the unbeliever holds dear? When is the last time we touched the world in such a manner that they couldn’t deny the taste of God?!

People of God, we have to do more than rub shoulders with each other in the saltshaker sanctuary! Think about it, salt on top of salt is dangerous and deadly to our physical health…could it be just as dangerous and deadly to our spiritual health as well?  If the last days are really upon us, what are we doing sitting in salt shakers?

This is what we should be doing in these last and evil days. Preaching the gospel truth message to the masses as God’s servants! Not to each other! But to others! If we don’t touch, they don’t taste, they’ll just settle for tickling! And do you really want to be held responsible for that?

Like it or not, but if your time is pretty much spent with Christians alone, well you're missing your mission! We'll do that in heaven! We'll hang out together all the time, for all eternity! But right now, we have got to be involved with some people who are not going to heaven yet! It's time for you to take all that you've been storing up spiritually and start taking it to places and people where it's really needed.

It is time to look around your community for a place to volunteer so you can be in contact with some un-reached people with some deep needs. You need a community connection, not just a church connection; something that will put the salt of your life in contact with some of the lives that really need the flavor of Jesus! Remember: “…if you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness?” They can’t taste godliness without first touching your saltiness. So, are you within reach? Are you still salty? Are you in use? Are you available? Are you touchable?

Let today be the day that you challenge yourself, your family and friends, your community and certainly your church to come out the salt shaker and touch the world with a taste of God! 'Many' are waiting, but will you be counted in the number with the 'few', who are in fact available to proclaim the message of salvation to the masses? I know for some of us our defense or maybe excuse is a better word is that Covid has us locked in, but before Covid did we ever leave the saltshaker? Or someone will say, she wants us to catch Covid, talking about touching people, being the salt of the earth is not talking about physically touching people, but feeding people God's Word, the Good News, The Gospel, which is not always inside the sanctuary on Sunday's.  Let us mask up and reach someone today or reach them with a word via telephone or text or invite them to a virtual watch party of a church service online if you cannot move around. Remember: Salt With No Touch, Has No Taste! Reach Them Today!  It Is A Time Of Urgency.


J.P. Olson

Monday, October 5, 2020

Remember This: Arrogant Prayers Go Unanswered! It’s Not About the Asking, But the Attitude That Accompanies It! Make Sure You Approach God In Prayer With The Right Attitude. He Still Answers Prayer, But He Examines The Poster Of That Prayer First.

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Luke 18:9-14, “He told his next story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people: “Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man. The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: ‘Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income. ’“Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, ‘God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.’” Jesus commented, “This tax man, not the other, went home made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.”

This short parable contains a diminutive (‘extremely or unusually small’) prayer that produced a dynamic answer. But before we can fully appreciate the prayer, we need to understand the context.

1…THE AUDIENCE: Jesus, in the presence of His disciples, was specifically addressing: “…some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people…” These were probably the Pharisees, since one of the two characters in the story was a Pharisee. The Pharisees, a Jewish sect, were strict observers of the Mosaic law of the Old Testament. They loved the external, detailed aspects of the law and, when it was not specific enough, they added their own traditions – hundreds of them, in fact. Unfortunately, these overzealous rule-keepers valued the outward keeping of their rules above all else. As a group, because they had become exceedingly self-righteous, they looked down on anyone who was not in their sect.

2…THE SETTING: The two men Jesus told about in the little story had one similarity and many differences. Their similarity was that both: “…went up to the Temple to pray…” For a Jew living during the time of Jesus, the temple was the prime place of prayer. When Solomon dedicated the first temple, his prayer was that God’s eyes would be open to the temple day and night. It was to be the place where God would hear prayers and forgive: (2 Chronicles 6:20-21, “That Your eyes may be open upon this house day and night, toward the place in which You have said You would put Your Name [and the symbol of Your presence], to listen to and heed the prayer which Your servant prays facing this place. So listen to and heed the requests of Your servant and Your people Israel which they shall make facing this place. Hear from Your dwelling place, heaven; and when You hear, forgive.” (AMP). Jews still view the temple in Jerusalem as the supreme location for prayer. Today in modern Jerusalem you can see Jews gathered at the Western Wall of the remains of Solomon’s temple. This sacred place is often called the Wailing Wall and was believed to be the back wall of the Holy of Holies on the temple mount. Three times a day, for thousands of years, Jewish prayers from around the world have been directed toward the Western Wall. Jewish mystical tradition teaches that all prayers from around the world ascend to the Western Wall, and from there, to heaven. The Talmud says, “If someone is praying outside the Land of Israel, he should direct his heart in the direction of Israel. If the person is praying in Israel, he should direct his heart toward Jerusalem. Those in Jerusalem should direct their hearts to the Temple.”

3…THE MAIN CHARACTERS: In Jesus’ story, one man was a Pharisee and the other, a tax collector. Jesus, no doubt, used these two types of men because they represented the extremes of the culture. The Pharisees represented the superficially upright, externally moral, legalistic, self-righteous, ultra-right wing of Judaism. The tax collectors signified the bad boys. Because Israel was under Roman occupation, the Jews were saddled with a heavy tax burden. Tax collectors were Jews who collected taxes from their Jewish brothers and sisters for the Romans. This made them traitors in the eyes of their people. To make matters worse, often they were found to be guilty of extortion as well as associating with prostitutes and other “dregs (‘most worthless parts’) of society.” You have to love it!

4…THE INEFFECTIVE PRAYER OF THE PHARISEE: Luke 18:11-12, “The proud religious law-keeper stood and prayed to himself like this, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men. I am not like those who steal. I am not like those who do things that are wrong. I am not like those who do sex sins. I am not even like this tax-gatherer. I go without food two times a week so I can pray better. I give one-tenth part of the money I earn.’” (NLV).

Skillfully, Jesus shows us five reasons why God refused to respond to the Pharisee’s prayer.

1…HE PRAYED FROM A POSITION OF SELF-PROMOTION: When he prayed, he “…STOOD UP…” It was customary for men to stand when they prayed at the temple. But this Pharisee was standing with an attitude. An amplified study of the language reveals that he took his stand ostentatiously. “The Pharisee took his stand ostentatiously and began to pray…” (Luke 18:11 AMP). The word “ostentation” is defined as “a flamboyant display which is intended to impress.” It’s Latin Origin “ostendere” literally means “to stretch out to view.” The posture of the prayer may say much about the nature of the prayer and the one praying. Proud men stand in order to be noticed, especially when they pray. The Pharisee’s prayer was pretentious and showy – and God was not impressed! I love the definition of the word “pretentious”, it means “attempting to impress by affecting greater importance or merit than is actually possessed.” In other words, acting in “character” while possessing no character. Matthew 6:5-15, “And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people were making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?“ Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.“ The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and He knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this: Our Father in heaven, Reveal who you are. Set the world right; Do what’s best—as above, so below. Keep us alive with three square meals. Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others. Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil. You’re in charge! You can do anything you want! You’re ablaze in beauty! Yes. Yes. Yes. “In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.” (MSG) NEVER BE SELF-PROMOTING IN PRAYER!

2…THE PHARISEE WAS SELF-CENTERED: He “…PRAYED ABOUT HIMSELF…”. The King James Version says that he “…PRAYED WITH HIMSELF…” The New American Standard Version states he “…PRAYED TO HIMSELF…”. His prayer was self-absorbed. It was to himself, with himself, and about himself. Self-centered people focus their conversations and prayers on themselves. However, God’s heart is all about selflessness. Philippians 2:1-4, “If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.” (MSG) NEVER BE SELF-CENTERED IN PRAYER!

3…THE PHARISEE WAS SELF-RIGHTEOUS: He prayed, “…God, I thank you that I AM NOT LIKE OTHER MEN – robbers, evil-doers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector.” He is telling God all the bad things he is too good to do. This Pharisee views himself as too righteous to rob, do evil, or commit adultery. He saw himself as above such lowly behavior. Self-righteous persons love to point out and criticize the shortcomings of others. However, God does not need our help in seeing others’ shortcomings. In fact, the Bible puts it like this, “…If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, SAVING YOUR CRITICAL COMMENTS FOR YOURSELF. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, YOU ARE BADLY DECEIVED.” (Galatians 6:1-3 MSG). NEVER BE SELF-RIGHTEOUS IN PRAYER!

4…THE PHARISEE WAS SELF-ABSORBED: He prayed, “…I FAST TWICE A WEEK AND GIVE A TENTH OF ALL I GET…” He not only told God what he wouldn’t do, but also what he did do that set him apart from ordinary sinful men. This man fit the description of Jesus’ hearers – those “…who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else.” (Luke 18:9). Self-absorbed men like to speak of the good they do. However, our awesome God is not awed by our deeds of righteousness. In fact the Bible states, “For we have all become like one who is unclean [ceremonially, like a leper], and all our righteousness (our best deeds of rightness and justice) is like filthy rags or a polluted garment; we all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away [far from God’s favor, hurrying us toward destruction].” (Isaiah 64:6 AMP). The Common English Bible says it like this: “We have all become like the unclean; all our righteous deeds are like a menstrual rag…” (CEB) Doesn’t sound to me like God cares two cents about our supposed “righteous deeds”, especially when His Word compares them to a used menstrual rag! NEVER BE SELF-ABSORBED IN PRAYER!

5…PRAYER IS OFTEN A WONDERFUL REVEALER OF THE HEART: The Pharisee had a proud, self-promoting, self-centered, self-righteous, self-absorbed heart. But the main cause of his inefficiency in prayer was his self-sufficiency! He did not feel the need to ask God for anything. He had it all together and under control. The biggest problem with legalistic religion is that it quickly digresses to the point where God is no longer needed. For the Pharisee, prayer had become little more than a chance to brag. 2 Corinthians 12:9, “but He has said to me, “MY GRACE IS SUFFICIENT FOR YOU [MY LOVINGKINDNESS AND MY MERCY ARE MORE THAN ENOUGH – always available – regardless of the situation]; for [MY] POWER is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” Therefore, I will all the more gladly BOAST IN MY WEAKNESSES, SO THAT THE POWER OF CHRIST [MAY COMPLETELY ENFOLD ME AND] MAY DWELL IN ME.” (AMP). You see, you only get to brag about your weakness; it is God who gets to brag about His strength! Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things [which He has called me to do] THROUGH HIM WHO STRENGTHENS AND EMPOWERS ME [TO FULFILL HIS PURPOSE – I AM SELF-SUFFICIENT IN CHRIST’S SUFFICIENCY; I am ready for anything and equal to anything THROUGH HIM WHO INFUSES ME WITH INNER STRENGTH AND CONFIDENT PEACE].” (AMP) Again, it’s not about YOU, it’s about HIM! Philippians 4:19, “And my GOD WILL LIBERALLY SUPPLY (FILL UNTIL FULL) YOUR EVERY NEED ACCORDING TO HIS RICHES IN GLORY IN CHRIST JESUS.” (AMP) No matter how self-sufficient you think you are, it is GOD ALONE, THROUGH JESUS CHRIST, where your needs are supplied! NEVER BE SELF-SUFFICIENT IN PRAYER!

And NOW to THE EFFECTIVE PRAYER OF THE TAX COLLECTOR: Luke 18:13, “BUT the tax collector, [merely] standing at a distance, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but kept striking his breast, saying, O God, be favorable (be gracious, be merciful) to me, the especially wicked sinner that I am!” (AMP). Jesus began with the word “But,” signifying that in every way the tax collector was a contrast to the Pharisee. As a result, the tax collector’s prayer was highly effective.

There are several reasons why his prayer succeeded:

FIRST, THE TAX COLLECTOR WAS WITHOUT PRETENSE! “He stood at a distance….” He did not consider himself worthy of a front and center place at the temple. Instead of standing where he could be easily seen, he was entirely UNASSUMING (‘not pretentious or arrogant’). The tax collector was also HUMBLE (‘having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance.’ Latin in origin, ‘humilis’ literally means ‘lowly’, from ‘humus’ meaning ‘ground’). Instead of staring confidently into heaven, he prayed with a bowed head and heart, humble enough to be lowly enough, that the image would be that of prostrating on the ground. Modest people bow their heads in deference to those they consider above them. Proverbs 18:12, “Before disaster the heart of a man is haughty and filled with self-importance, BUT HUMILITY COMES BEFORE HONOR.” (AMP); Psalm 147:6, “THE LORD LIFTS UP THE HUMBLE; He casts the wicked down to the ground.” (AMP); James 4:10, “HUMBLE YOURSELVES [WITH AN ATTITUDE OF REPENTANCE AND INSIGNIFICANCE] IN THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD, AND HE WILL EXALT YOU [HE WILL LIFT YOU UP, HE WILL GIVE YOU PURPOSE]” (AMP). Further, HE DID NOT JUDGE OR CONDEMN. He did not tell God how much better he was than someone else. Instead of picking at the splinter in the eye of another, his vision was overwhelmed with the beam in HOW OWN EYE. Matthew 7:5, “You hypocrite (play-actor, pretender), FIRST GET THE LOG OUT OF YOUR OWN EYE, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (AMP). Rather than tout his own righteousness, he simply called himself a SINNER. The tax collector knew better than to try and bluff God or deny the obvious. He knew what he was – A SINNER. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, “Don’t you realize that this is not the way to live? Unjust people who don’t care about God will not be joining in His kingdom. Those who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex, use and abuse the earth and everything in it, don’t qualify as citizens in God’s kingdom. A NUMBER OF YOU KNOW FROM EXPERIENCE WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT, FOR NOT SO LONG AGO YOU WERE ON THAT LIST. Since then, you’ve been cleaned up and given a fresh start by Jesus, our Master, our Messiah, and by our God present in us, the Spirit.” (MSG) Unlike the independent Pharisee, the tax collector was DEPENDENT. He did not think he had it all together or could handle it. He knew he was INSUFFICIENT. He knew his need and Who could meet it. So he asked GOD to supply! When someone approaches God with the humble, dependent, unpretentious attitude of the tax collector, his heart is attuned to real needs and right directions. 1 Samuel 16:7, “But God told Samuel, “Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. God JUDGES PERSONS DIFFERENTLY THAN HUMANS DO. Men and women look at the face; God LOOKS INTO THE HEART.” (MSG). The tax collector’s prayer was right on target. He not only asked for something, he asked for the right thing, the right way. James 4:2-3, “You are jealous and covet [what others have] and your lust goes unfulfilled; so you murder. You are envious and cannot obtain [the object of your envy]; so you fight and battle. You do not have because you do not ask [it of God]. You ask [God for something] and do not receive it, BECAUSE YOU ASK WITH WRONG MOTIVES [OUT OF SELFISHNESS OR WITH AN UNRIGHTEOUS AGENDA], so that [when you get what you want] you may spend it on your [hedonistic] desires.” (AMP) Always make sure you motives, intentions and Heart are in right standing with God as you enter prayer!

God wants to answer our prayers, but so often we ask for the wrong things. We pray about non-essentials and miss the real needs of our hearts. This tax collector nailed the request, just as Solomon did when he asked for wisdom, and the disciples when they wanted to be taught to pray. The tax collector asked God for mercy. He offered one of the most effective prayers found in the Bible. “Have mercy on me a sinner.” Our relationship with God is founded upon God’s Mercy. As Isaiah witnessed, God is absolutely holy, without sin in any way, shape, or form. His level of holiness is so intense that the seraphim literally called out the brilliance of His holiness. Isaiah 6:3, “And one called out to another, saying, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is filled with His glory.” (AMP) On the other hand, we are not holy in any way, shape, or form. We are sinners by nature, deed, attitude and act. The wages of sin is death, and we deserve severe punishment for our continued sin. The best our righteousness merits is total and eternal banishment from God’s presence and from blessing of any type.

YET, GOD IS MERCIFUL! Lamentations 3:22-25, “It is because of the Lord’s MERCY and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His [tender] compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great and abundant is Your stability and faithfulness. The Lord is my portion or share, says my living being (my inner self); therefore will I hope in Him and wait expectantly for Him. The Lord is good to those who wait hopefully and expectantly for Him, to those who seek Him [inquire of and for Him and require Him by right of necessity and on the authority of God’s Word]” (AMPC)

He can rightfully withhold our punishment because His Mercy drove Jesus to the cross in our place. The Father can spare us because He refused to spare Jesus. Jesus took our penalty. He died in our place. We can be saved. Living in this consumer-centered, commercial-filled world, we are constantly being told that we have a RIGHT for more and better. Such a message may make for an effective advertisement, but it spells poor theology. The tax collector knew what he deserved, and it was not more or better. It was eternal separation from God in outer darkness. So instead of telling God that He must give him the great riches that were his right, he asked God for mercy so he would not receive the judgment he truly did deserve.

The word used here for Mercy is “Hilaskomai”, which is actually the word for an atoning sacrifice. In the fullest sense, the tax collector is saying, “God, be merciful to me through Your atoning sacrifice for sins, because I am a sinner.” The tax collector understood what too many miss. He knew that he could not merit a relationship with God through his own righteousness or good works. Paul summarized this reality with the following words: “Now God has us where He wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all His idea, and all His work. All we do is trust Him enough to let Him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join Him in the work He does, the good work He has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 MSG).

NOW FOR MAKING IT PERSONAL: If you never have before, now is the time to say to God the words uttered by the tax collector, “God be merciful to me, a sinner.” If you mean it, this can be a soul-saving, life-changing prayer. It was for the tax collector and it has been for untold others. Praying this is our part in being justified or made right with God. “I tell you, this man went down to his home JUSTIFIED (FORGIVEN AND MADE UPRIGHT AND IN RIGHT STANDING WITH GOD), rather than the other man; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:14 AMP).

Learn to pray as the tax collector, NOT the Pharisee. Lose any trace of arrogance, pretense, self-righteousness, self-centeredness, and self-sufficiency as you approach life in general and prayer in particular. Live and pray with humility, honesty, and modesty. Come dependently to God in prayer. Learn to tell Him what you really need. And oftentimes it’s not Materials, but Mercy!

Tax Collectors Didn’t Have the Best of Reputations, But With Humility, At Least This One Knew How to Get the Right Response From God!

Remember This: Arrogant Prayers Go Unanswered! It’s Not About the Asking, But the Attitude That Accompanies It!

Lastly, the word ‘posture’ is defined as, ‘a particular position of the body.’ However, an additional definition reads, ‘an approach or attitude towards something.’

Make sure you approach God in prayer with the right motives and intentions in your heart and attitude. Yes, He still answers prayer, but He also examines the posture of that prayer First!


J.P. Olson