Viewing by month: December 2011
The Bible doesn’t reveal much about the life of the prophet Amos other than what he reveals about himself when speaking to Amaziah, the high priest of Bethel.
Amos answered Amaziah, “I was neither a prophet nor a prophet’s son, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of some sycamore-fig trees. But the Lord took me from tending the flock and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’ Amos 7:14-15
God decided to call on a herd-tender and tree pruner to be a prophet? Really?
Yes, really. Are you having a hard time wrapping your mind around the thought? If so, then consider the lives of a few other Biblical characters. Abraham, considered to be the religious patriarch and model of faith, was a wealthy trader and herdsman. The Apostles Peter, James, Andrew, and John were fishermen when Jesus chose them. Matthew was a tax collector. Luke was a physician. Paul was a persecutor of Christians when Jesus called on him.
It’s safe to say that none of these men knew that they were going to be called by the Lord to serve until they were. In all likelihood, neither did their mothers and fathers. Oh, their parents probably prayed or hoped for them to achieve greatness, as do most parents, but it’s doubtful that they knew the destinies that awaited their sons.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
God knew the calling that he had for each one of these men before they were born! It was part of His plan was for them to be herdsmen, traders, tax collectors, and persecutors of Christians before He called them. Peter, James, Andrew, and John were fishermen before Jesus recruited them to be “fishers of men.”
What we must remember here is that each of these men chose to answer the calling that God placed in their hearts. Believe it or not, each one of them could have said “Thanks, but no thanks. I’m perfectly content doing what I’m doing.” And God would’ve chosen someone else.
You have a calling in your life; everyone does, even the least likely of us. God has called you to serve Him. He has called you to greatness, and He’ll supply you with everything you need to answer the call. The love of the Father, the strength of the Holy Spirit, and the compassion of the Son are yours for the asking. Your calling may not impact lives in the epic proportions of Abraham, Peter, or Paul, but that doesn’t make it any less significant; not in the eyes of God, and certainly not in the eyes of the people in whose lives you will make a difference.
What you’re doing in and with your life at this very moment may have little or nothing to do with the plans that God has for you. It doesn’t matter; He knows the where, the when, and the why. You’re faced with two questions. The first question is not if He will drop a calling in your heart, but when? The second and most important question of the two is…
When He calls, will you answer?
Posted by Sam Maniscalco on 12/27/2011 at 10:45 AM | Categories:
Psalm 103 is perhaps one of the most beautiful and meaningful chapters in the Bible. Psalm 103 is homage to God by David for who He is to us, and what He does for us.
1Praise the Lord, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2Praise the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all his benefits---
3-5who forgives all of your sins…and heals…who redeems…and crowns…who satisfies.
Perhaps you can read Psalm 103 and not be rocked by its message of hope, promise, and deliverance.
Perhaps you’ve never let your sins accumulate to the degree that you couldn’t imagine the possibility of having a relationship with God.
Perhaps you’ve never been the victim of dis-ease, either in the form of a physical ailment or of mental anguish.
Perhaps you’ve never spent your life in a mental “pit,” living a life with no hope for today or the promise of a better tomorrow.
Perhaps you’ve never left your dreams and ambitions for a fulfilling life behind with your childhood.
8The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in love.
10he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
Perhaps you’ve never known what it feels like to be loved unconditionally, or to feel true compassion.
Perhaps you’ve never committed an offense so grievous against God or man that you couldn’t possibly imagine being forgiven.
Perhaps you’ve never been able to wrap your mind around the belief that contrary to our tendencies, God doesn’t punish us according to the severity of our offenses.
Perhaps you’ve never understood or accepted that God will “turn-the-other-cheek” time after time after time for the same offense.
13As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
Perhaps you’ve never figured out how the God that we are instructed to fear can be so compassionate, loving us the way a father loves his child.
Perhaps you’ve never realized that, unlike our earthly fathers, God the Father is perfect in every way. He’s always there to love us, to forgive us, to provide for us, and to lift us up.
Far too many of us today can associate with one or more of the “Perhaps” listed above. Sadly, some of us can relate to all of them.
Perhaps it’s time to reflect on God as you see Him; who He is, what He is, and what He does. Then, perhaps it’s time to take another look at Him through the eyes of Daniel.
Perhaps, like me, you’ll see God like you’ve never seen Him before.
Posted by Sam Maniscalco on 12/14/2011 at 10:22 AM | Categories:
Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for over three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. James 5:17-18 NIV
Elijah was just like us. It says it in the Bible, so it must be true, right? Well, in biological terms Elijah was indeed just like us; skin, bones, muscle tissue, nervous system, etc. There should be no arguments or questions in regards to what James tells us Elijah. Or is there?
Let’s take a look at this from a different perspective, beginning with Elijah, the man.
Elijah was a prophet who boldly proclaimed to Ahab, the King of Israel that not another drop of rain would fall on Ahab’s country until Elijah said that it would!
Now Elijah, the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.” 1 Kings 17:1
Elijah prayed to the Lord, asking Him to carry his prediction to Ahab. Scripture tells us that God indeed answered Elijah’s request. No rain, not even a drop, fell on Israel for over three years.
One day God told Elijah to make a visit to Ahab, and He would end the drought that had fallen upon all of Israel. Which is exactly what Elijah did, and he boldly proclaimed to Ahab that it would rain.
End of story, right? Well, not exactly. Elijah gave specific instructions to Ahab to prepare for the rains that were coming, including having a feast. Ahab did exactly as Elijah had instructed, joyfully anticipating the arrival of the heavy rains. That didn’t come.
Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel, and got on his knees, and burying his face between them, began to pray for rain. The rain didn’t come. Again, Elijah prayed for the rain. Still, the rain didn’t come. Undeterred, Elijah turned to the Lord in prayer. He knew that God would send the rain, just as He had promised. Finally, after the seventh time, heavy rains fell upon the Israelites.
Is any of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick?...And the prayer offered in faith will make him the sick person well…If he has sinned, he will be forgiven…The prayer of the righteous man is powerful and effective.
Elijah, the man of skin and bone and flesh was indeed just like us. In that there is no question.
Elijah, a man just like us, was filled with unwavering faith that can only be obtained by being filled with the Holy Spirit. That being said, the question that remains is:
Are you like Elijah?
Posted by Sam Maniscalco on 12/07/2011 at 9:34 AM | Categories: