Saturday, May 28, 2016

When Arrows Fly Beyond You

1 Samuel 20:37 Jonathen cried out after the lad and said, "Is not the arrow beyond you?" 

King Saul's hatred for David could no longer be hidden. His outward demonstrations were a revelation of his true intentions. In a fit of rage he had thrown a spear at David and missed. Saul offered his daughter as a prize for going into the most dangerous part of the battle hoping that David would die, but instead he was victorious.  He even sent soldiers to murder David in his bed. The Bible says that "Saul saw and knew that the Lord was with David." David came to the realization that he had to go. He had to withdraw from Saul  in order to be safe. 
A plan was formed by David and Jonathen to discern whether David should leave or stay. David would go out and hide in the field for a few days while Jonathen went home to his father. If Saul asked about David, Jonathen would tell him that David had been summoned by his family. Depending on how Saul reacted would determine David's course of action. Once Jonathen knew his fathers intentions he would go out into the field where David was hiding and fire an arrow. If the arrow landed close to David, all was well in the kingdom, but if the arrow was fired further away, that was the signal to flee. 
I have often wondered how David must of felt waiting in the field as his future hung in the balance. Perhaps he  reflected upon his past anointing from the prophet. Maybe he thought about his victory over Goliath. Surely the Lord would not send him out to live like a fugitive after all of that. 
The day finally came when Jonathen shot the arrow, and he cried out, "is not the arrow is beyond you?" At that moment David's whole world was turned upside down. David was not in control of his circumstances. Life seemed so unfair.  David wasn't the one firing the arrow, but in a way, neither was Jonathen. This was all part of the Lord's plan to prepare David for his future. David would learn to trust God in a way that he had never known before. This wasn't going to be easy. The Lord was going to use the next season of David's life to take the Saul out of David. David was now forced to withdraw from the palace, the people, and all things familiar. 
Have you ever had a time in your life when the arrow seemed beyond you? Where you didn't know what was going on? Where like David, you saw things that even your closest friends couldn't see? The Lord gave you insight and discernment, but all you could do with it was go in the direction the Lord led you?  Well take heart, if today the arrow is beyond you, it's not beyond the Lord. He has a plan for you. Trust in Him and He will bring it to pass. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Calvary Chapel East Coast Pastors Conference 2016

Last week along with over eleven hundred men we gathered for the annual Calvary Chapel East Coast Pastors Conference. Before the conference takes place we start praying six months in advance. The conference is held at the Sandy Cove Retreat Center in North East Maryland along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. Our meetings take place in an old gymnasium. It's like a family reunion that you look forward to. Every year I meet up with a handful of guys that I have been friends with for years. Men that I confide in, and trust with my life. Their friendship through the years has been invaluable to me. All of us schedule our flights to arrive  around the same time. We travel together, and room together. The fellowship we share is one of the best things about the conference.  We laugh, we pray, and share what the Lord is doing in our lives.  You also make many new friends as you meet pastors and leaders from around the country. The conference begins on a Monday afternoon and ends on Wednesday afternoon. During our times together we get to listen to amazing Bible teaching. In addition to the teaching we have times of anointed, spirit led worship. In worship there is one guitar two singers and an eleven hundred man choir. As we lift up our voices to the Lord you can sense the work of the Holy Spirit among us. To me, it's a foretaste of heaven. This year was powerful. I think most of us come to the conference desperate to hear from the Lord. We come with an expectation. United we come boldly and humbly before the throne of grace, and the Lord meets us powerfully. Here is a brief overview of what I received. 

Session 1 Jeremy Camp: Most people know Jeremy as a Christian Artist heard on radio stations around the country. Yet knowing Jeremy personally there is a whole lot more to that guy. He is a minister of the gospel. For Jeremy, it's not simply about performing concerts, its about reaching people with the life saving message of the gospel. He recently started a ministry called "Speaking Louder Than Words". They are reaching into some of the remote parts of the world. The ministry helps with practical needs, but most importantly the spiritual needs of the people. 

Session 2 Jim Cymbala: I love this guy. I have read several of his books and have listened to some of his sermons. Jim pastors the Brooklyn Tabernacle in New York. Jim emphasized the importance of the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in our preaching. It is one thing to preach the word, but it is quite another to preach the word in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Session 3 Sandy Adams: Pastor Sandy is from Calvary Chapel Stone Mountain Georgia. Sandy shared one of the best messages I have ever heard on the life and ministry of Samson. He highlighted the anointing Samson had at the beginning of his ministry,  and the decline and removal from ministry due to his sin. Samson was a "he-man with a she-problem" and it cost him his life.

Session 4 Q&A: The Q&A was a time where leaders among the Calvary Chapels answered some important questions that have come up in recent days. Some of the issues they dealt with were "Women in Ministry, and Pastors and Alcohol." It was a blessing to be able to have insight and clarity on these subjects. I believe it also put all of us on the same page in relation to these things.

Session 5 Tony Clark: Tony is a personal friend and also a great pastor. He did an excellent job teaching out of Revelation 2 looking at the church in Ephesus. Drifting from our first love is a real danger. It's important to stay close to Jesus. Tony also exhorted us to stay away from anything that would take us away from close fellowship with the Lord.

Session 6 Louis Neely: Pastor Louis has been in ministry a long time. He has a wealth of knowledge. He encouraged all the pastors to continue to trust in God and live by faith. To get in the spiritual battle and take it to the enemy. (The worship time following Louis's study was off the chart powerful. The Lord met us that night in such a special way that words are inadequate to describe what took place.)

Session 6 Don McClure:  The work of the Holy Spirit is so essential to everything we do in ministry without it we are powerless. Don gave a good word on the importance of that truth. You left that study wanting more of what he described.

Session 7 Raul Ries: In so many places the church has been affected by the world. Many Christians are no longer walking in the fear of the Lord. They live as they have always lived. Raul took us to the book of 1 Thessalonians teaching about walking in the fear of the Lord. It was powerful and practical.

Ending: Me and my friends were able to go back and attend the evening service at Calvary Chapel Philadelphia where Raul Ries taught for Pastor Joe. The worship was amazing and the fellowship a blessing. We all flew out the next morning back to our churches to apply what we have learned.

If you missed this years conference you missed it... but GREAT NEWS, all of the sessions from the conference can be watched by downloading the CC Philly App. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Behaving Wisely

1 Samuel 18:5 So David went out wherever Saul sent him, and behaved wisely 
1 Samuel 18:14 And David behaved wisely in all his ways and the Lord was with him. 
1 Samuel 18:15 Saul saw that David behaved very wisely
1 Samuel 18:30 David behaved more wisely than all the servants of Saul.

Following his victory over Goliath, David was given the great privilege of being King Saul's armor bearer and the head of the men of war. This promotion was something that David took very seriously. Four times within the chapter it says he "behaved wisely". Regardless of what task he was given David carried himself in a manner that honored the Lord. The chapter also records the results of his behavior. In verse five it says "David was accepted in the eyes of the people and Saul's servants." One thing I love about David is he didn't try to be something he wasn't. He did his job as unto the Lord and he was accepted. One of the greatest blessings bestowed on David is found in verse 14 when it says, "The Lord was with him." David had the daily assurance of God's presence. Knowing God is with you wherever you go makes all the difference in the world. David continued to grow as an armor bearer and a leader among God's people. I wish that David's behavior resulted only in positive feedback, however that was not the case.  Not everyone was pleased with him. King Saul's heart began to grow bitter toward David. The people were singing songs about David having more victories than Saul.  Filled with envy, Saul picked up his spear and tried to pin David to the wall. He also incited his servants to ensnare David. The Bible says that Saul was motivated by fear and became David's enemy continually. Nevertheless David continued to behave wisely. 
There may come a time when you are in a circumstance where you can choose to behave wisely or react harshly. You can wait patiently or get even immediately. It's always best to let the Lord fight your battles. Remember that the Lord is with you. Continue to live your life on the job, at school, at home, or at your church; that pleases God. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Prepared to Fight

Moreover David said, "The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine." And Saul said to David, "Go, and the Lord be with you." 1 Samuel 17:37

David was sent by his father to the battlefield where his three older brothers were stationed. When he arrived at the Valley of Elah he was surprised to find that Israel and the opposing army of the Philistines were at a stand still. Suddenly a giant named Goliath came into the valley and began to blaspheme God and challenge Saul to send a man to fight him in a winner take all contest. David began to inquire why no one would go and face this man. Why were God's people cowering in fear? David's older brother began to criticize David's concern. He accused him of being arrogant and having ulterior motives. Yet David's heart was for God's people. He was a shepherd who cared for the flock. David turned from his brother and refused to listen to his words. King Saul heard about the discussions going on in the camp and he called David for an interview. David began to tell the king of his victories while caring for his fathers sheep. Although David had not been on the battlefield he had killed both a lion and a bear. The lion and the bear prepared David to face the giant. In David's mind the Philistine was nothing more than a wild beast seeking to destroy God's flock. The Lord didn't need a soldier to fight this battle, He wanted a shepherd. David was so confident in what the Lord was going to do that he said, "He WILL deliver me."
The battles we face today are often preparation for the battles ahead. God uses the current circumstances to prepare us for what He has in the future. The prophet Jeremiah had to run with the footmen in order to prepare for the horses. Moses had to dwell in the desert shepherding a flock of sheep so that he could lead God's flock through that same wilderness. Fight the battles of today with courage and trust in God, and you will be ready for the battle ahead. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, for I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. 
1 Samuel 16:7 

The Lord had removed His anointing from Saul and told Samuel to go and find another king for Israel. Samuel was instructed to go down to the home of Jesse the Bethlehemite who had eight sons. Each one of the sons was then brought to stand before Samuel. The first son was named Eliab. When Samuel saw Eliab he said within his own heart, "Surely the Lord's anointed is before Him!" Why do you suppose that Samuel thought that? Probably because he was looking for someone who resembled Saul. Yet the Lord was not interested in another Saul. Although Saul had all the natural endowments and characteristics of a leader he lacked a surrendered heart.  Therefore the Lord told Samuel to look deeper than the outward appearance. The next brother was Abinadab, then Shamah, and then the rest of the brothers; and each of them the Lord refused. At this point Samuel must have been confused and so he asked Jesse, "Are all the young men here?".  Jesse then informed the prophet that his youngest son was out taking care of the sheep.  How sad, David wasn't even invited to the dinner with the prophet Samuel. Nevertheless although David was overlooked by others, He was well known to God. Samuel called for David and anointed him in the midst of his brothers and the Spirit of God came upon him that day. 
Perhaps today you feel overlooked. You're wondering when is it going to be your time. The Lord knows right where you are. He sees you faithfully serving your family and raising your kids. He sees the hours you put in at your job to provide. He see's the struggle your in. Remember the Lord looks at the condition of your heart. When the Lord needed David He knew where to find him.  
Someone once said "Its not great talents that God blesses, but great likeness to Jesus." God has a plan for you,  He knows where you are, and in His timing He will raise you up. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A Time to Move Forward

1 Samuel 15:28 
Now the Lord said to Samuel, "How long will you mourn over Saul seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; 1 Samuel 16:1a

Samuel was grieved over the fact that Saul remained unrepentant. In fact the Bible says that he was mourning over the life of Saul. You only mourn over those you love. Saul had made his decision to do things his own way. He no longer listened to Samuel, he wouldn't listen to Jonathen, he wouldn't listen to anyone. It didn't have to be that way, but that was Saul's choice. Although Samuel was broken, there came point when enough was enough. Weeping had endured for a night, it was time for joy to come in the morning. It was time for Samuel to remove the garments of heaviness, and replace them with garments of praise.  The Lord spoke to His prophet and told him it was time to get back to work. Samuel couldn't change Saul's mind, but he could keep doing God's work. 
There are trials that you will encounter in life and ministry that will cause you grief and bring tears to your eyes. Yet you can't stay in that place of sorrow forever. There comes a point, when like Samuel, you need to get up and keep moving forward. There comes a time when you have to fill the horn with oil and get down the road. Samuel had to keep moving forward with his eyes on the Lord, and so do we.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

There's Always A Battle

But Saul said, "Not a man shall be put to death this day, for today the LORD has accomplished salvation in Israel....There they made sacrifices of peace offerings before the LORD and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly. 1 Samuel 11:13,15b

It wasn't long after Saul was inaugerated to be king that he faced his first major challenge. The  enemies of Israel, known as the Ammonites, threatened to wipe out the people of Jabesh Gilead. The elders of Jabesh began to frantically search for someone to deliver them. They went to King Saul weeping over what was about to happen. The enemy had prepared to attack and they had no way to defend themselves. When Saul heard the news he was genuinely concerned for the well being of the people. Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon him and he moved into action. He rallied the troops and prepared them for battle. Saul engaged the enemy and won a great victory on behalf of the people. Saul gave all the credit to the LORD for his victory in battle. At this time in his life he was humble and dependent.  In Gilgal Saul and the people were unified with joy over what the Lord had done. Nevertheless it wasn't long after this victory that things would begin to change. 
When the Lord is doing a work in and through our lives there will always be battles to fight. In those moments where our faith is tested we can run to our King of Kings Jesus, and He will come to our aid and be our defense. When the enemy comes in like a flood the Lord will raise up a standard against him. Whatever confrontation comes your way look to Jesus for the battle strategy in order to gain the victory. When it's all said and done give Him all the glory. 

PRAYER: Lord we thank you that no matter what challenge we face Your strength is sufficient to meet the challenge. As we go out into this world help us to put on the whole armor of God and fight with the spiritual weapons You have provided. In Jesus name, AMEN

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

A Different Man with a Different heart

1 Samuel 10:9a-10b So it was when he had turned back to go from Samuel, that God gave him another heart; then the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them. 

The story of King Saul began with an amazing work of the Spirit of God in his life. One day Saul and his servant went out searching for the families lost donkeys. Their quest was  unsuccessful so they decided to seek the council of the local Seer named Samuel. Unbeknownst to Saul the Lord had already been speaking to Samuel about his arrival. Saul didn't know it, but he was to be the next king of Israel. When Samuel met Saul he shared a message that was unexpected and didn't make sense. He spoke of Saul being the desire of all Israel. Samuel alluded to a plan that God had for Saul's life. This meeting wasn't by accident it was a divine appointment. Samuel fed Saul, and anointed Saul and told him that the Spirit of God was about to come upon him. Saul was about to enter into a whole new chapter in his life. Sure enough when Saul departed, the words of Samuel came to pass. The Spirit of God came upon Saul and gave him a new heart and he began to prophecy. Saul had the power of the Spirit, and a gift from the Spirit. 
When the Spirit of the living God comes upon our lives He transforms us. He begins to change us and make us new. Maybe today you woke up and assumed it was going to be another ordinary day, but what if today is a turning point in your life. A day when the Spirit of God does a fresh work in your heart, followed by a new chapter to be written in your life. 

PRAYER: Lord today we ask that we would yield to the work of Your Spirit. We pray that our hearts would change and be more like Your heart. Father may the gifts of the Spirit flow forth from our lives. Lead us in whatever direction that will bring You the most glory. In Jesus Name AMEN!