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Friday, August 31, 2012

Freeform Friday Week 13

Ephesians 2:1-3, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”

You He made alive! Once dead, now living, once walking in tresspasses and sins according to the course of this world, now walking in righteousness and holiness. You He made alive!

New audio is up at www.handofhelp.com after a protracted hiatus, I'm finally recording audio again.

With everything happening in this world, may we perpetually remember and glory in the reality that us He has made alive.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 157

Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of Joshua

Before being the consummate warrior, leader of men, and one possessing the high honor of having had dialogue with God Himself, Joshua was a servant, an aide and understudy to Moses. For forty years Joshua served faithfully and before Moses dies, God tells Moses to commission Joshua to lead the people into the Promised Land.

Joshua was faithful, and his faithfulness was rewarded in due season. He never attempted to take power for himself, or dispossess Moses of his authority in his latter years; he served in the capacity of his office, until God saw fit to promote him to a higher office still.

Of the many lessons the life of Joshua can teach us, this is perhaps the most profound, yet most often overlooked of all. Be content with where God has positioned you, be content in the calling to which you were called, do the work with which you were entrusted to the best of your ability, with all your heart, and the day will come when having been faithful in the little, God will require greater things still.

We spend so much time trying to plot and plan and inch our way up the ladder, not realizing it is God who promotes, it is God who calls to a higher office, and if we would have spent the time just being faithful to the calling to which we are presently called, we would have been promoted long ago. The difference between man promoting himself, and God promoting him, is evident. When man promotes himself it is a difficult thing, like slogging through a muddy field, but when God promotes a man, it comes about with ease, and in such a way wherein everyone can see the hand of God at work.

Before one can lead, they must first learn how to serve. Before one can be entrusted with great things, they must first prove themselves faithful in the little things. If you trusted someone with a dollar, and they betrayed your trust, then you know that giving them ten thousand dollars would result in the same sort of betrayal. If however, you entrusted someone with a dollar, and they lived up to your expectation, then you know you can trust them with more.

Little things are tests on our way to greater things. This is why we must not despise what we would deem lesser callings, but faithfully set about doing our duty and being faithful in the calling to which we are called. Some are called to preach, others are called to pray, others to vacuum the sanctuary after everyone has left, but no one calling is less than another, for all of them work together toward the glory of God and furthering of His kingdom. God sees the act of obedience and faithfulness of an individual, not what it was they were obedient in. God rewards obedience in its purest form, regardless of what He commanded of the individual.

Not only did Joshua serve at the behest of Moses, he learned from him, and applied that which he learned throughout his hundred and ten year life. It’s not enough to have a good example, it is not enough to have a good role model, if we reject their counsel and set about following a different path than that upon which they walked.

Joshua knew Moses was a man of God, he saw the power of God in the life of Moses, he saw what God did through him, and desired to be used in like manner when his time came. Because Joshua desired to be used of God as Moses was, he applied the same virtues and practices he had seen Moses practicing, one of which was consistent and heartfelt prayer.

The life of Joshua in its entirety is an awe inspiring one, seeing as he was close to 90 years of age when God called him to lead the people. When most individuals would be well into their retirement, God calls Joshua to lead Israel, not during peacetime, but during a season wherein their enemies were plentiful and the battles they had to wage became some of the most talked about military campaigns ever waged.

The life of Joshua also confirms what many have known for generations: that being a warrior and being a man of prayer are not mutually exclusive. One would be hard pressed to find a military mind as brilliant as Joshua’s in the Bible, or a more consummate soldier for that matter, but Joshua is also a man who prayed often, obeyed without complaint, and kept faith with the promises of God even when others doubted them.

What endears me most to Joshua took place early on in his life, when he, along with Caleb, and ten others were sent to spy out the land of Canaan. For forty days these men spied on the land of their enemies, and when they returned, all but two namely Caleb and Joshua, gave reports of frightful giants whom they could not hope to overcome.

Joshua and Caleb remembered the promises of God, and stood on them. They did not see the giants as an obstacle that could not be overcome, but rather as an opportunity for God to show His power once more.

Depending on whether or not we stand on the promises of God, we will either see the obstacles in our lives as insurmountable, or as an opportunity to see the glory of God.

It was upon reading this passage in the Scriptures many years ago, that I was instantly drawn to Joshua, his life, his leadership, and his relationship with God.

Although there are many prayers Joshua prayed throughout his life, we will be discussing one prayer in particular. It is a prayer he prayed after being beaten back at the gates of Ai, even though Jericho, a far stronger and more imposing city had just been vanquished.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 156

Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of Moses continued...

Moses was an imperfect man who trusted in the perfection of God. He was a man for whom humility was a way of life and whose dependency upon God remained constant throughout his journey.

Did Moses make mistakes? Of course he did. He was, after all, a man. But the desire of his heart was always more of God in his life and God honored this.

When we are in the presence of no one but God, and begin to intercede on behalf of others whether a family member, a friend, or an entire nation, our true heart is revealed. Men might feign piety when among other believers, they might feign righteousness when the situation requires it, but there is no profit or benefit in feigning intercession on behalf of others, especially when it’s just you in your prayer closet or your secret place.

In both intent and deed, Moses possessed a pure heart, and desired to see the salvation of the people of Israel. There was no other reason for him to intercede the way he did, with the passion he exhibited, going so far as to put himself in danger for the sake of the people if Moses did not possess true and lasting love for them.

Beholding the world as it is, one would find plenty of excuses to turn their back on the whole thing, find a quiet place somewhere in the foothills of a mountain range, and live out the rest of their life in solitude, just them and God and a few basic necessities.

Love, however, compels us to stand in the gap, to hold the line, and to pray ceaselessly that God open the eyes of the blind, stir hearts to repentance, and cause those who thus far have refused to hear the gospel of Christ, to open their hearts toward it.

We pray and intercede on behalf of others, because the word of God confirms time and again, that intercession works.

When we intercede on behalf of others, and live with the expectation of having our prayers answered, we do so not because they are good, but because God is good.

Exodus 34:9, “Then he said, ‘If now I have found grace in Your sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray, go among us, even though we are a stiff-necked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us as Your inheritance.’”

Moses did not try to sugar coat the reality of the people’s spiritual condition, nor did he try to approach God with the ‘they’re good people’ paradigm. Moses knew that the omniscience and justice of God prevented him from being able to highlight the people’s virtues, so Moses appealed to the mercy of God instead.

Moses acknowledged the stubbornness of the people, as well as their iniquity and sin, and rather than attempt to justify it, minimize it, overlook it or ignore it, he asked for God’s pardon and guidance instead.

One could more readily hide the midday sun than men hide their iniquities and sins from the eyes of God. All knowing is by definition all encompassing, and since God is all knowing our attempt to either justify our iniquity or pretend it does not exist, elicits the anger of God.

One other aspect of the prayer of Moses I have always found intriguing, and one that is a worthwhile lesson for us all, is that Moses was not content to have any surrogates. Moses did not settle for an angel, he prayed and earnestly so, that the Lord Himself, His presence, be with His people, for only in this way would it be known that they had found grace in His sight.

Exodus 33:15-16, “Then he said to Him, ‘If your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth.”

The only way the world will know we are separate from all the people who are upon the face of the earth, is if the Presence of the Lord is with us. It is the Presence of God, the Holy Spirit dwelling in the heart of the individual that identifies him as sanctified and set apart, and that separates him from all others.

Moses wanted the world to see this distinction among the people of God. He wanted the world to know that they were indeed a peculiar people, a separate people, a people who served their God and whose God protected them and kept them.

It befuddles me that although the word of God clearly tells us we are to be a separate and peculiar people, the modern day church is going out of its way to amalgamate and ingratiate itself to the world.

May we rejoice in that we are a separate people from all the people who are upon the face of the earth. May we rejoice in the reality that the presence of our God in our midst and in our hearts makes us separate and unique.

What makes us separate and unique is not a fish sticker on our back bumper, it is not a membership pin from a particular denomination…it is the Presence of God. If His Presence does not go before us, then there is no point to any of what we do. If His Presence does not go before us, then all our endeavors are futile, our machinations vain, and our proclamations vapid. Moses knew this as well as any hero of the Bible, and he tailored his prayers in such a way that consistently and continually the presence and will of God for himself as well as the nation of Israel was foremost in his petitions.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 155

Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of Moses continued...

Every one of Moses’s requests was of a spiritual nature. First he desired to be shown the way of God, then he desired to know God Himself, and finally he asked God to show him His glory.

Throughout his prayer, Moses never requested anything tethered to this present world, because he had realized the futility of the material long ago when he abandoned being a prince in the house of Pharaoh for being a sheepherder in the desert.

Exodus 33:19, “Then He said, ‘I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.’”

It is only when we realize what the glory of God is, that we can conclude it has been shown to us as it was shown to Moses. God Himself defines His glory as His graciousness and compassion. We see His graciousness, we see His compassion, we see His goodness pass before us as Moses did if only we choose to open our eyes and see them for what they are.

In order to be able to see the glory of God, we must be near Him. We cannot live with the expectation of seeing or experiencing the glory of God, while being far from His will, far from His purpose and walking away from Him rather than toward Him.

As simplistic and rudimentary as the preceding might sound, there are many believers today who desire to see the glory of God, and all that it entails without being in the will of God, and about their callings.

The glory of God and the person of God are inexorably linked and we cannot experience one without the other. This is why any spiritual movement that does not have Jesus as its focus, cornerstone, nexus and linchpin, cannot succeed, thrive, or perpetuate, because they are attempting the impossible…namely possessing the glory without submitting to God.

Exodus 33:21, ‘And the Lord said, ‘Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock.’”

Whenever we stand near God and behold His glory, it transforms us. One cannot behold the glory of God and remain the same. Even those around us will see the difference, and wonder if only to themselves what the catalyst for this change might have been.

Moses spent forty days and forty nights in the presence of God. For these forty days and forty nights God sustained him since he neither drank water nor ate bread. Yet, when Moses came down the mountain the skin on his face shone, and the children of Israel were afraid to come near him.

Exodus 34:28-30, “Sow he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments. Now it was so, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the Testimony were in Moses’ hand when he came down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him. So when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin on his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him.”

Being in the presence of the Lord, spending time with Him, and seeing His glory are undeniably visible on the countenance of the individual. One cannot be in the presence of God and not show signs of this reality.

We are transformed in His image, and grow from glory to glory when we stand in the presence of the Lord. Both inwardly and outwardly, the glory of God is visible and palpable. The people saw the countenance of Moses, they saw his skin shining, and they were afraid to come near him because they did not understand what this meant.

By the same token, Moses was unaware that the skin on his face shone while he talked with God. The presence of God, and the visible glory of God in us and upon us, need not be something we ourselves highlight, or attempt to draw attention to.

Moses didn’t go around telling people to look a little closer to see how his face shone; the man didn’t even know this was happening to him.

It’s always off-putting when men attempt to lift themselves up, or glorify themselves because of something God did in them or through them. We have adopted the mentality of the world when it comes to the work of God, and rather than being humble that God might raise us up, we claw and scrape and climb our way to the top as viciously, cunningly and mercilessly as those of the world. We fail to understand that any glory we appropriate for ourselves will be nothing more than bitter ash in our mouths, and any kingdom we build for ourselves will be nothing more than ruination.

God is not mocked. He sees all things, He knows all things, yes even the hidden things of the heart, and if we attempt to use the glory of God for our own benefit, then we will suffer the consequences of our deceitfulness in due season.

To have the glory of God be so heavy upon you that your skin is shining and you not even noticing is a humbling and remarkable thing. Moses was so consumed with being in the presence of God, that he didn’t notice how having been in His presence changed him.

When we are in the presence of God everything else fades into obscurity. We realize our own insignificance, our own fragility and impotence, while seeing the grandeur of our God in its true light and being all the more humbled by it.

There is no more life changing an event than being witness to the glory of God, and knowing this, Moses prayed that he might see it.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 154

Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of Moses continued...

Isaiah 55:9, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

The ways of the Lord will always differ from the ways of man. The ways of the Lord will always be higher than our ways and as such our prayer must be that the Lord show us His ways, rather than accept or validate our own.

The way of the Lord is certain. There is no second guessing or confusion when we allow Him to lead us, and we follow after Him as obedient children. It is when man takes it upon himself to seek after a different way, or forge for himself a different path that confusion becomes a constant companion and second guessing a way of life.

Before the invention of the global positioning system, men and women alike actually had to rely on maps or road signs for their directions. Not that the global positioning system is a cure-all, because once in a while you hear stories of how some unfortunate soul or another ended up driving into a lake or a river because they were following their GPS. By and large however, the machine is accurate, and it will get you to your destination.

The difference between a GPS and God is that God is always accurate, and sometimes His way will lead us through places and situations where the flesh begins to scream, and reason begins to moan that if we continue to follow the course we happen to be on it will lead to nothing but heartache and sorrow. It is then that we must disregard our own senses, our own reason, and trust fully in God our Father.

We either trust God, or our flesh. We either follow the predetermined way God has set before us, or lean on our own understanding and veer of the path that has been marked and highlighted for us.

If the prayer of our heart is for God to show us His way, it’s not so we might analyze and compare it to our own path, it is not to have a second option once our first choice fails miserably, it is to follow it, and in following it we will know Him all the more.

The way of God is a holy way, it is a righteous way, and only the righteous can walk upon it, while the rebellious and duplicitous veer off and seek another way.

The way of God is singular. The way is Christ, and no man comes to the Father but by Him.

The instant we allow ourselves to be open to the possibility that there is another way to God but through Christ, we make Jesus a liar and His sacrifice of no effect.

Hence the reason we must desire wholeheartedly that His will be done in our lives, that His way be shown to us so we might walk upon it, and not attempt to impose our will upon God.

Moses prayed for God to show him His way that he might know Him, and find grace in His sight.

When we take into account that this was the selfsame man who heard God speaking to him in a burning bush, who by God’s command led His people out of Egypt, who had spent forty days in the presence of God, who spoke to God, and had a more intimate knowledge of Him than most men dare to imagine, it is humbling to see his desire remain the knowledge of God.

No man or woman living today can claim to know God on the level Moses did, yet few if any of us pray to know God more on a consistent basis.

We have other things we deem more important or time sensitive to pray about, and the knowledge of God, and the desire thereof always seems to get pushed to the back of the line, and the bottom of the list.

No matter how far along we think ourselves to be, no matter how much we know of God, there is always more of Him to be discovered. We grow in the knowledge of God by continually being in His presence, and desiring to know Him better.

When our desire is to know God, we are not distracted by other issues. We do not desire other things since our sole focus is the knowledge of Him. Once this occurs in the heart, we realize just how futile desiring anything else but Him truly is, and how much time we’ve wasted throughout the years chasing after something other than God.

Exodus 33:18, “And he said, ‘Please, show me Your glory.’

The knowledge of God stirs within us the desire to see the glory of God. There is no such thing as contentedness when it comes to our relationship with God. We never come to a point in our walk, in our knowledge of Him, or our relationship with Him, wherein we are satisfied, and desire no more. With each new revelation God pours into our hearts, with each new glimpse of Him, with each new whisper, our desire for Him and the knowledge of Him and the glory of Him only grows and intensifies.

If our desire to know more of God has waned, if we have substituted something else for wanting to see His glory, then it is incumbent upon us to search our hearts in the light of the gospel and see where we have strayed, and where we have allowed the enemy to sidetrack us, and detour our spiritual journey.

To desire to know God and His glory is the natural state of a child of God. We are neither abnormal nor aberrant in our desire for more of God in our lives. It is not wanting or desiring to know Him more, it is not wanting or desiring to see His glory that is uncharacteristic and anomalous, yet somehow we’ve twisted this aspect of our faith as we have so many others throughout the years.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 153

Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of Moses continued...

Even though we might intercede on behalf of someone, and pray for someone, even though we might do as Moses did, and petition God on behalf of those who would speak evil of us, in His sovereign wisdom God might still choose to correct the individual and show them the error of their ways in a direct and forthright matter.

Miriam was not spared the punishment of God just because Moses prayed for her. For seven days the leprosy she was struck with manifested itself, and for seven days the entire Israelite camp knew that Miriam was under the judgment of God.

Granted, if Moses would not have prayed, Miriam’s leprosy might have been a permanent issue, but there is always consequence to our actions, our disobedience and our rebellion.

Another thing we can learn from the prayer of Moses is that it’s not wrong, selfish, or sinful to pray for ourselves.

Yes, Moses spent much time in prayer. Yes, Moses spent much time in intercession on behalf of God’s people, but he also prayed for himself, petitioning God to show him His way.

Exodus 33:13, “Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people.”

Moses didn’t pray for possessions, he did not pray for accolades, or glory, fame or position. Moses prayed for God to show him His way, that he might know God all the more, and find even greater grace in His sight.

Moses understood what many today simply fail to understand: our relationship with God is ever growing, maturing and expanding. Even though God had told Moses he had found grace in His sight already, and Moses reiterated this fact in his prayer, his one desire was for God’s way to be made known to him that he might find even more grace.

Moses desired to grow the intimacy, he desired to grow the relationship between himself and God, and he knew that the only way to do this was to know the way of the Lord and walk therein.

Even though we might be called to pray for others, and intercede on behalf of others, we cannot neglect ourselves, or our own spiritual wellbeing.

Yes, there is a danger in being consumed with praying for others to the point that we neglect our own walk, our own spiritual growth, our own relationship, and our own maturing in God. Moses was wise enough to understand that he could only serve God’s people if he himself continued to walk in the way of God. If perchance he ceased walking in the way of God, though he might continue to pray for the people and intercede on their behalf, God would no longer answer him because he would no longer be walking in the light.

If my own walk stagnates because I am too concerned with the walk of others, then somewhere along the way I have done something outside of God’s will. From a purely human perspective we might not see anything wrong with being consumed with our calling, but if it takes away from our relationship with God, then God sees something wrong with it.

Relationship comes first. It always has, and it always will. It is because the men and women of the Bible had an established relationship with God that He was able to use them in great and mighty ways. First they were men and women of prayer who knew God, and who loved God. It is out of that love and knowledge that obedience was birthed, and because obedience was birthed in them God was able to work glorious works through them.

There is much wisdom in the prayer Moses prayed for himself, as well as a real and visible dependency on God. Moses did not pray for God to show him the easiest way, the fastest way, the least troublesome way, or the most scenic way. Moses prayed for God to show him His way, for only in the way of God, only in obedience and subservience to Him will we walk surefootedly, possessing the knowledge that we are walking toward the right destination.

More often than not, when the way of the Lord gets difficult, or seems to require effort on our part, we tend to try and make our own way, find a circuitous route, and avoid the exertion required to follow the way of God.

We think ourselves wise in our own eyes, having of our own volition spared ourselves some sort of difficulty by forging our own path, not realizing that though the way of the Lord seemed difficult, there would also be a blessing and a grace along the way for those who walked it.

We get so caught up in following the way of a denomination or a certain preacher, and tragically, often even the way of the world, that we dismiss and disregard the way of the Lord thinking it irrelevant.

In the way of the Lord there is grace. In the way of the Lord there is mercy. In the way of the Lord there is peace, there is joy, and there is strength. No matter how good our own paths might seem to our own eyes, no matter how good the way of a denomination or a certain church might seem, if it is not in harmony with the way of the Lord, it will lead to ruination and despair.

May the cry of our heart be as that of Moses, ‘show me now Your way, that I may know You.’

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 152

Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of Moses continued...

Forty days and forty nights is how long Moses spent interceding on behalf of Israel so God would not destroy it…forty days and forty nights of no food and no water, just pleading and intercession.

When Moses interceded on behalf of Israel, it was by no means a quick and passionless exercise. He didn’t just throw up a prayer, hoped God heard it, and made his way down the mountain to get a good view of what was about to happen. Moses pleaded with God. For forty days and forty nights, Moses did nothing else except pray and intercede and hope to change the mind of God in regards to consuming the people with His wrath.

Because Moses was passionately selfless, he was an effective intercessor. Because Moses cared more for the wellbeing of God’s people than his own, God’s heart was stirred, and He gave ear to his pleas.

Exodus 32:30-32, “And it came to pass on the next day that Moses said to the people, ‘You have sinned a great sin. So now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.’ Then Moses returned to the Lord and said, ‘Oh, these people have sinned a great sin, and have made for themselves a god of gold! Yet now, if You will forgive their sin – but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which you have written.’”

Moses was ready to sacrifice himself on behalf of the people. He went before God and asked that his name be blotted from His book if God would not forgive the people their transgression.

If ever we needed a definition of what it means to stand in the gap, this is it.

God being just, He did not blot Moses’s name from His book, but there were consequences to the sins of the people, and those who did sin against the Lord, did have to pay a price.

Exodus 32:33, “And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book.’”

From this verse we can glean that not all the people of Israel participated in the worship of the golden calf. Not all of them were caught up in the mob mentality, bowing before a graven image and forsaking the God who had guided and led them. Some remained faithful, stood strong, and continued serving God even when the majority went on to worship an idol.

There is a lesson in this for every one of us. God does not judge collectively, He judges individually. The ‘everyone else is doing it so I guess it’s okay’ mentality doesn’t cut it with God.

His message to Moses was clear: ‘whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book.’

Each of us is accountable for our choices. God will not judge me for the choices you’ve made, nor will He judge you for the choices I’ve made. Each of us will stand before God on that great day as individuals, and as individuals we must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.

Should we pray for each other, intercede on behalf of each other, be a present help for each other, and feel for each other? Most definitively, without equivocation, yes!

We can even counsel each other, and lovingly rebuke when we see a brother or a sister straying, but in the end, those who sin against God will be held to account.

Even though Moses prayed, even though he interceded, even though he attempted to atone for the sins of the people, the justice of God is still the justice of God, and He made it clear to Moses that although He relented in His wrath and did not destroy all the people, those who sinned against Him would suffer the consequences of their actions.

God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but the death of the wicked is a direct result and consequence of the sin they chose not to repent of.

It is evident, and beyond doubt that Moses loved people. He loved the people of God, but he also had love in his heart for those who had sinned, and rebelled against God’s commandments.

It was love that compelled Moses to go up to the Lord, and attempt to make atonement for the people’s sins.

When we are servants of God, we love as He loves, and this compels us to intercession and to pleading on behalf of the people more than we would otherwise do for ourselves.

Nowhere in the word of God are we told that Moses interceded for himself for forty days and forty nights, but he did just that on behalf of the people when they sinned against God.

The tenderness of one’s heart toward the lost says allot about a man, and reveals the level of his relationship with God.

You cannot love God, and hate God’s people. You cannot love God, and be indifferent toward those whom He said He would watch over. There must be a consistency in us in regards to our relationship with our fellow man that cannot be faked or otherwise mimicked.

Moses even interceded and pleaded with God for those who spoke evil against him and despised him.

It all started when Moses married an Ethiopian woman. Since Miriam his sister and Aaron his brother disapproved, they began to speak against Moses. No sooner had they began to speak against him, than Miriam was struck with leprosy.

Moses knew why Miriam had been struck with leprosy. He knew that she, along with their brother, had been speaking against him, yet we find Moses coming before God pleading for her healing.

A lesser man would have pointed to Miriam and said, ‘behold, this is what becomes of those who speak against the servant of the Lord,’ but Moses prayed for her healing.

There is much to be said about the character of a man, when he even prays for his enemies and those that speak against him. May we be spoken of as Moses was, as men and women of integrity and character who seek the face of the Lord on behalf of others.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Freeform Friday Week 12

If there is one bit of good news in regards to all that’s going on in this mad, mad world of ours, it’s that people are starting to wake up. Admittedly they are doing so slowly and grudgingly, but more and more individuals are beginning to see the handwriting on the wall, and are unable to deny the reality of what they are currently witnessing.

Times are not changing. Times have already changed, and with each passing day it is becoming clearer still.

As is always the case, with knowledge comes the individual responsibility to act upon the knowledge one possesses, to attempt and change course, or retrace one’s steps to see where it was we wandered off the path, and so close to the precipice.

Because we’ve grown used to tag lines and catch phrases, we’re attempting to dilute everything that’s happening in the world to a catch phrase, or a zingy one-liner.

We all know one-liners are effective. If I were to say ‘made from the best stuff on earth’ or ‘just do it, I’m loving it, taste the rainbow,’ or a myriad of other taglines, chances are you would immediately know what I’m talking about.

The current spiritual climate in America as well as the world is far too complicated for a tagline however.

I’ve been reading of, and hearing more and more believers attempt to encompass the complexity of the times we are living in with one-liners such as ‘the time for half-measures has passed,’ but was there ever really a time for half measures? Was there ever a season wherein God looked down and said, ‘looks like a good time for you to serve Me with only half your heart, commit only part of your way to Me, and to seek Me only sporadically?’

What we are seeing today is the consequence of rebellion and disobedience toward the will and word of God. It’s that simple! There is no mystery to why the world is waxing worse, and what was once deemed vile and perverted is seen as normal and acceptable.

Contrary to popular sentiment, it will get worse, because it must. What we fail to understand is that the greatest judgment that God can visit upon man, is to leave him to the desires of his heart. God doesn’t have to strike us with plague, give us boils, blind us, or make us all lepers. All He has to do is leave us to the desire of our wicked heart, and we will hurt ourselves far worse and in far more thorough a manner than God’s mercy and love would ever allow Him to do.

Whether we like to admit it or not, we are our own worst enemy, and it is against the self, against the flesh, that we must be on guard constantly and sober mindedly.

It is because we’ve come to take comfort in the world’s affections that we are so hesitant in standing for truth. It is because we prize the acceptance of the world more than that of Christ, that we so readily disavow ourselves of Him.

There never was a time for half-measures we just talked ourselves into believing there was. And as we slumbered, and compromised, and flirted with the world, the darkness grew bolder and stronger and more cunning.

Now that we are once more awake, may we do what we must to keep the light of truth shining, and the name of Christ lifted high.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 151

Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of Moses continued...

When the Scriptures speak of great wrath coming from the Lord of hosts, we tend to forget that this wrath was not aimed at the godless, or those who had no knowledge of Him, but to those who considered themselves the people of God.

When we play games with God, we will always lose. When we discount the word of God, the warnings of God, and the messages of God, we will always suffer the consequences of our indifference and apathy.

God had already weighed the people and found them wanting. God had already passed sentence on the whole of Israel, decreeing that His wrath would consume them. And yet Moses begins to intercede for Israel. Moses knew God was right. Moses knew God wasn’t making up the details about the people having become corrupt, or abandoning the way which He had commanded them to follow, and yet he still intercedes on their behalf.

Exodus 32:11-13, “Then Moses pleaded with the Lord his God, and said: ‘Lord, why does Your wrath burn hot against Your people whom You have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians speak, and say, ‘He brought them out to harm them, to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth?’ Turn from Your fierce wrath, and relent from this harm to Your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel Your servants, to whom You swore by Your own self and said to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven; and all this land that I have spoken of I give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’”

Notice that upon hearing the people had abandoned God, Moses didn’t run down the mountain to the people to try and reason with them. He remained in the presence of the Lord, and began to intercede on their behalf.

The first thing Moses does is come before the Lord in prayer and supplication on behalf of a people that had given their hearts over to idolatry.

Moses pleaded with the Lord his God. We see the personal nature of the relationship Moses had with God. We see that unlike Jacob, who called God, the God of his fathers, Moses knew God intimately and personally.

In order to be able to intercede on behalf of others, God must first be your Lord. When God is Lord of your life, it essentially means He has power, authority and control over you. You are no longer your own, you no longer do as you please; you are a servant beholden to your Lord, doing all He commands you to do.

Even though Moses pleaded and interceded on behalf of the people, even though he wanted to see them spared, he also wanted to see honor brought to the name of God.

‘Why should the Egyptians speak, and say, ‘He brought them out to harm them, to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth?’

Even when interceding on behalf of others, even when standing in the gap for an entire nation, we must also seek the glory and honor of God. Will our prayer honor God? Will our prayer bring glory to Him?

Moses was equally concerned about the people themselves, as he was about what the Egyptians would say concerning the Lord his God.

If only the men and women of our day who call themselves sons and daughters of God would be as aware and concerned about the honor and glory of God as Moses was.

Tragically we live in a day and age wherein even those who call themselves shepherds of God’s flock have no qualms about heaping shame upon the household of faith, and by relation upon the name of God Himself.

It is because such individuals are unconcerned with the glory and honor of the God they purport to serve that they pursue practices and lifestyles unbecoming a child of God.

Even in such a delicate circumstance wherein the fate of an entire nation hung in the balance, the honor and glory of God were still at the forefront of Moses’s mind.

What a world it would be if all the children of God filtered every decision they made, every word they said, everywhere they went, and everything they did through whether or not it brought honor and glory to God.

It takes boldness to plead with God the way Moses did, especially when he knew the people were deserving of what God had purposed to do. Not once throughout his prayer, did Moses even intimate that God was overreacting, or that somehow the people did not deserve His judgment being poured out upon them. Not once did Moses say ‘I think you’re being a bit harsh Lord,’ because he knew the justice of God, and that in His justice God was justified in consuming the whole of His people.

What we fail to understand, at least from reading this passage in Exodus, is just how much Moses pleaded with God. Near the end of his life, Moses looks back on the journey of God’s people, of how God saved them from the hands of the Egyptians, and in the telling of this, he also revisits the time when God had purposed to destroy the nation for its rebellion and sin.

Deuteronomy 8:18-19, “And I fell down before the Lord, as at the first, forty days and forty nights; I neither ate bread nor drank water, because of all your sin which you committed in doing wickedly in the sight of the Lord to provoke Him to anger. For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure with which the Lord was angry with you, to destroy you. But the Lord listened to me at that time also.”

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 150

Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of Moses continued...

God sees the corruption of His people, He sees their divided hearts, He sees the sinfulness toward which they gravitate, and He wholly and unequivocally rejects the justifications they try to use for their rebellion.

In their own mind, Israel had a perfectly valid excuse for asking Aaron to make them a god. Moses had gone up on the mountain, and he had not returned. Days had passed – far more days than reasonable – and the people concluded that something must have happened to Moses.

Rather than turn their face to the one true God, they demanded other gods of Aaron, gods made by the hands of men, idols which required no obedience, subservience or righteousness.

It’s not as tough Moses kept the will of God a secret from the people, or was reticent about telling them what God’s expectations were. Throughout their journey Moses instructed, and taught, and shared the plan of God, but once we start heading down the path of thinking we know better than God, it is a slippery slope.

Not only had the people corrupted themselves, they had turned from the way which God commanded them. In order to be said that someone turned from the way which they were commanded to follow, it is logical to assume they knew the way they ought to have gone.

Having the word of God, takes the notion that we can somehow claim ignorance of God’s will, off the table completely. We will not be able to stand before Him, shrug our shoulders, and say ‘we didn’t know that,’ because His word is unambiguous and straightforward.

Just as Israel could not excuse their behavior, many who dismiss the word of God and the will of God today, will not be able to excuse their behavior either.

Human nature is surprisingly consistent. Men act and react today, as they did four thousand years ago, because the basic construct of mankind has been such since the beginning of time. No, I don’t believe we’re evolving, because if mankind were evolving, logic would dictate they would be seeking more of God, and the knowledge of Him than doing more of what He detests and abhors.

Not only have we been shown the way, the Christ, the Son of God came to earth, lived, died, and rose again in order to make a way. No man can claim ignorance of the way, because the way is Jesus, the cornerstone and foundation of our faith.

God speaks, and man refuses to hear. God speaks and man hardens his heart. God shows us the way, and we pretend as though He wasn’t clear enough, or the way was not highlighted properly.

Once again, God is not mocked. He hasn’t grown frail with the passing of time, He hasn’t started to miss a step, or be a bit slower than He used to be. He sees all, knows all, perceives all, and when those who are to be His, those who are called by His name become corrupt, stray off the path, and harden their hearts, He grows exceedingly wrathful.

Zechariah 7:11-12, “But they refused to heed, shrugged their shoulders, and stopped their ears so that they could not hear. Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Thus great wrath came from the Lord of hosts.”

Throughout the history of Israel, this has been a visible and ongoing pattern. God blessed the people, the people began to stray, God began to warn the people, the people refused to heed, God continued warning, the people hardened their hearts, and then finally, the wrath of God was poured out.

In His love God pleads with us to repent, and return to the path which we have forsaken. In His love God sends messengers to warn us that if repentance is not forthcoming, judgment certainly will be. Instead of heeding the warnings of God however, we stone the messengers, have a love feast to reaffirm that our god is love and he would never do such a thing, and go on doing that which stirred the wrath of God in the first place.

God doesn’t send messengers to pat us on the head and tell us how great we are doing. He doesn’t send words such as, ‘my people, I’m so proud of you for trying; you’re doing so well, bravo.’ Obedience is expected, it is a given, it is not something with which we impress God; it is the least He expects of those who are called by His name. Righteousness, holiness, humility, selflessness, all these things are expected of us, and if we practice them we are not excelling in the ways of God, we are meeting the minimum requirements.

2 Chronicles 24:19, “Yet He sent prophets to them, to bring them back to the Lord; and they testified against them, but they would not listen.”

There have always been, and there will always be consequences to disobedience. There have always been, and there will always be consequences to straying from truth, wandering off the path, and disregarding the words which God speaks in love.

God’s desire is to bring us back to Himself. Throughout history He has sent prophets to bring the people back to the Lord, and for just as long the people have been stiff-necked and rejected the warnings of God.

Obedience is a choice we make. It is not something we can be forced into doing; it is not something God can twist our arm to do. We choose to obey, we choose to heed His warnings, we choose to humble ourselves, and we choose to repent. What God does, is warn whenever we are not walking in the way we ought to, but as far as forcing us to do it, He will not.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 149

Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of Moses continued...

Exodus 32:7-10, “And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go, get down! For your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves. They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them. They have made themselves a molded calf, and worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!’ And the Lord said to Moses, ‘I have seen this people, and indeed it is a stiff-necked people! Now therefore, let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them. And I will make of you a great nation.’”

Moses was doing what only a handful of individuals have had the privilege and honor to do in this life, and that is talk to God audibly and directly. The awe Moses must have felt is indescribable, and as he is standing there, basking in the glory of God, God speaks to him and says, ‘go, get down!’

It wasn’t that God no longer wanted to speak to Moses or fellowship with him, but there were pressing matters at the base of the mountain. God knew what the people had done, He knew they had broken faith, and molded a calf which they worshipped and to which they sacrificed.

These were the people of God. People who should have known better, people who should have known they were spurring the wrath of God, but no matter the consequences of their actions, they still proceeded to do what their flesh dictated, which was worship an idol.

Although the aforementioned scripture establishes the context, and tells us why it was that Moses had to intercede on behalf of the people, there are also some practical lessons we would do well to learn from the exchange that took place on Mount Sinai.

The first thing I want to point out, because it goes against the god modern culture has so meticulously fashioned, is that the one true God gets angry. His wrath burns hot against the sons of disobedience, and against those who trample on the blood of His son.

Love is not God’s singular attribute. Yes, God is love, but He isn’t just love. It is because we’ve homogenized the idea of God, and who He is, and what He does, that many refuse to believe His own words and warnings, which are clearly spelled out in the scriptures.

You can read from the Bible, verbatim, without exegesis, without applying systematic theology to the verses you read, and men will still shake their heads and say, ‘nope, that can’t be God. That’s not the god I serve. My god is love, my god wouldn’t do that.’

This is why false or skewed doctrine is so dangerous. This is why false teachings must be plucked from the root from within the household of faith. Once false teachings and false doctrines take root, once they begin to bloom, then men will no longer believe the very word of the God they purport to follow and obey.

God gets angry! Unrepentant sin angers Him. Rebellion angers Him. Disobedience angers Him. Idolatry angers Him. There are many things that anger God, not just one, or two, or a handful.

In essence God told Moses He needed a minute to destroy the whole of what He called His people, for the rebellion and idolatry the had just exhibited.

Because we no longer believe God gets angry, because we no longer believe He judges, and punishes, and allows His wrath to burn hot, we do not attribute anything of what is going on in America as well as the world, to Him.

‘Well, that couldn’t be God…God doesn’t do that…God is love, and He wants you to have your best life, and be the best you, you can be.’

No wonder what passes for the church today is so messed up, disjointed, fractured, divided, and worldly. We no longer teach on who God is anymore, even in what ought to be His house, among His people.

We have manufactured a palatable God who polls well, and is approved by a great majority, because the God we’ve manufactured is cuddly, and fuzzy, winks at sin, and gives us stuff.

We are treating God today as the people of Israel did when Moses went up on Mount Sinai. We are indifferent toward Him, think Him impotent, and don’t for one second consider that by being idolaters in word and in deed we are daring God to rain judgment upon us.

In our stiff-necked, indifferent, and lawless demeanor, we give God no choice but to allow His wrath to burn hot and consume the rebellious and the disobedient.

We take God so lightly, and demean the things of God so blatantly that one wonders why it is judgment hasn’t already descended, and why in His wrath God has not as yet consumed.

God’s wrath was not burning hot against the world, or against those who never knew Him, but against His own, those that ought to have known Him best. The people of God had corrupted themselves, just as many of those calling themselves the people of God today have corrupted themselves. They turned aside from that which God had commanded, just as many calling themselves believers today have turned aside from what God has commanded.

Why would we, even for one second entertain the thought that God will somehow react differently toward our corruption and rebellion than He did toward the people of Israel at the base of Mount Sinai? What makes us think that today God would wink at the sin He was ready to destroy an entire nation for in Moses’ day?

God is not mocked…a true and worthwhile lesson for any believer.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 148

Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of Moses continued...

Moses did not live an autonomous life. He did not attempt to brave the trials and hardships of his existence on his own, but consistently deferred to God, and asked Him for help and guidance.

It goes without saying that a man who has learned to be dependent upon God, tethered to God, and obedient to God must also have had a vibrant prayer life.

If the prayer of Abraham taught us to pray and intercede on behalf of the lost, the prayer of Moses, which we will be discussing al length, teaches us to pray for the household of faith and those who have strayed from the truth.

Both Abraham and Moses interceded on behalf of others, both men had tender hearts for their contemporaries, and both were considered mighty men of God. Perhaps there is a connection between having a tender heart toward those around you, and being a remarkable servant of God.

Certain truths become self-evident once we are able to establish a pattern. One such pattern is that all true men and women of God were men and women of prayer. Another such pattern is that they obeyed God even when it wasn’t in their flesh’s best interest to do so.

So here we have Moses, a man who was tried, tested and proven, having led the people of Israel out of bondage, out of Egypt, and we find them traveling through the desert toward the promised land.

Up to this point God had shown His strength and might to the people. It was not as though they were ignorant of what God could do, it was not as though they had not seen Him parting the sea or protecting them. And yet, as Moses went up Mount Sinai to receive the tablets of the Testimony, the people became impatient, and went to Aaron demanding he build them gods to go before them.

Every time I read this particular passage in the word of God, I am struck by how quickly men forget the goodness of the Lord, and how soon they forget all His benefits. It had not been so long since all the people had seen the army of Pharaoh decimated by the waters of the sea, it had not been so long since they themselves had crossed through the sea as if on dry land, but all of that was in the past, and they were looking toward the future, and Moses was nowhere to be found.

Moses was in fellowship with God. When you are in fellowship with God, you lose track of time. You come before Him, you get on your face and start pouring out your heart, and the next thing you know hours have gone by, and you’re in the same spot, still speaking to God and hearing Him speaking to your heart.

Such is the relationship Moses has with God. Moses did not come before God out of habit, or duty, or because it was his job, he came before God because he loved Him, and enjoyed spending time in His presence.

We do not serve God out of obligation. We do not spend time in prayer because if we do God will show us favor, or bless us. We spend time in prayer because it is our way of communing and fellowshipping with Him and it is something we look forward to doing each time we get a chance.

It didn’t take the people long to abandon the God who had been with them, who had saved them, who was for them a pillar of fire by night, and a pillar of cloud by day.

Thinking that their possessions meant more to them than the idol they wanted him to build, Aaron asked the people to break off their golden earrings, and bring them to him.

To what I am certain was his surprise, the people brought all their gold before Aaron, and with the gold he made a molded calf.

Sad and tragic as the following might sound, it is nevertheless true: men give up their gold for the promise of a false idol, far quicker and with more enthusiasm than they would to the one true God.

In serving their idols, it is assumed that men will have to pay a price. This is why no one complains when they’re charged to go see a sporting event, or a concert. When these same individuals are asked to be selfless, and do as Christ commanded, they bristle and begin accusing whoever happens to be standing behind the pulpit of money grubbing, and greed.

Thankfully I’ve never had to take an offering in my life. I have never, not once, stood before a group of people and uttered the words, ‘now we’re going to take an offering.’ Yes, when I travel and preach the pastor usually take up an offering for the ministry at the end of the service, but even then it is a muted and hurried affair.

Is it that I’m a secret millionaire? No, not even a secret thousandaire I’m afraid, but there has been so much negative implication concerning preachers and finances, that I would rather not have to deal with it at all.

Somehow, God still provides, and every moth the bills get paid, the children in our orphanage get fed, and we are able to continue doing the work to which we have been called.

So what’s the point of this little detour? Am I trying to defend the money grubbers, and the private-jet-having preachers? No, I’m not, but if you’re spending ten times more on your idols than you are sowing into the kingdom of God, perhaps you’re not the best person to be appointed judge over others.

Yes, I believe it is more blessed to give than to receive, and I live by this principle. But where you give, is as important as the giving itself. Do not give to have your name etched on a plaque, or to be honored by some prominent minister. Give because God stirs your heart to give, and give wherever He stirs you to give.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 147

Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of Moses

Few if any believers today – or at any time in the past for that matter – would disagree with the notion that by all counts Moses was and is a monolithic figure within the pages of Scripture.

Even little children, who’ve only attended a handful of Sunday school classes, can tell you that Moses was the man who parted the Red Sea, and led the people of Israel out of captivity.

Much like little children we have a tendency to focus on the supernatural things God did through Moses, and ignore or marginalize his life up to the point of standing before Pharaoh and demonstrating the power of the Almighty.

The life and biography of Moses are a very dramatic read. Moses was born in slavery, saved miraculously from death, taught in the school of Pharaoh, but also in the school of God during the forty years he spent in the wilderness.

He spends forty years as a prince in Egypt, and another forty as a sheepherder, roaming about the wilderness tending sheep. It is in the desert that God reveals Himself to Moses, and it is also in the desert that Moses begins to understand God has a greater plan for his life than what he had previously envisioned. No life is linear. Each life is extraordinary in its own way, but Moses’ life had more twists and turns than most.

As is the case with every servant God chooses for a specific task, Moses had to undergo the process of being stripped of pride and any semblance of arrogance. It is one thing to be born a sheepherder, live as a sheepherder, and die as a sheepherder, it’s quite another to go from being a prince to a sheepherder.

By all accounts Moses was a man of faith. The word of God tells us that by faith Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter and chose instead to suffer affliction. In fact, every major decision Moses made in regards to his life was made by faith, and not by sight.

If Moses would have chosen sight over faith or even reason over faith, then he never would have refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, knowing his only reward for this choice was likely affliction. If Moses were not a man who walked by faith, he never would have forsaken Egypt, because choosing the more difficult path goes against human instinct.

Hebrews 11:24-26, “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.”

By faith we see the true worth of a relationship with God. By faith we realize that the reproach of Christ is a greater fortune than the treasures of Egypt. By faith we look to the reward…a reward that is not forthcoming in this life, but in the life to come.

If the reward of which the author of Hebrews speaks had anything to do with this present life, then Moses would have already received his reward, as you couldn’t get much higher up the food chain than being a prince of Egypt at the time. If the reward of which the word of God speaks had anything to do with the physical or the material, than we could point to Moses and rightly call him foolish for having renounced his princely status, and the treasures of Egypt.

The life of Moses was a life dependent on God…a life tethered to God. Moses was a man who lived under the authority of God daily. It was not something he did on occasion, it was not something he did infrequently, but throughout his life, throughout his journey, we see Moses humbly following God’s leadership, and resting under the covering of His authority.

Unlike many today, Moses was a man who did not resist God. Today too many individuals, even those who have been called to serve, like to play the I think I can out will God game. Wherever God leads, they have a tendency to resist, or try and steer in a direction of their choosing.

I see this often with mothers and children in stores, especially in the candy isle. If at first their request for chocolate is summarily denied, the children holding their mothers’ hands start to pull ever so slightly toward the candy, or the cookies, or the chocolate. All the while they pretend as though nothing untoward is happening, even though the mother can sense she is being tugged in a specific direction.

After a while, some mothers will look down at their child and whisper ‘stop that,’ while others, perhaps not paying enough attention, allow themselves to be dragged to the place the child desired to go to all along.

The only problem is that God is not an inattentive mother who can be manipulated to do what we desire Him to do. God is not distracted or otherwise occupied to the extent He will not notice when we attempt to steer Him toward a different destination than the one He chose for us.

Sometimes He whispers ‘stop that,’ at other times, He leaves us to the desire of our heart just so we’d learn how horribly awry things can go if we do not obey Him, and follow the path He has highlighted for us.

Moses knew there was no better place to be than under the authority of Almighty God. Because of this knowledge, and the faith he possessed, Moses looked upon the treasures and trappings of Egypt and saw them for what they were, realizing that the reproach of Christ is a greater treasure still.

Do we behold the things of this earth and see them as Moses did? Do we look upon the material world and prefer the reproach of Christ knowing it is a far greater treasure?

As true believers, as followers of Christ, we must do as Moses did, and choose to suffer affliction with the people of God over enjoying the passing pleasures of sin.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 146

Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of Jacob continued...

As much as we would like to deny it, or pretend it isn’t so, doubt is a constant companion on this journey of life. We doubt our own abilities, we doubt a certain endeavor will succeed, we doubt forfeiting food that actually tastes good for seaweed smoothies actually does have health benefits, but it is our duty as wise men and women of God to overcome doubt.

Doubt is like a shroud that blurs everything around us. We do not see reality as we ought because doubt affects our perception. Neither do we see God as we should, because we are focusing on the doubt rather than on Him.

Doubt is the poison tipped arrow that does nothing more than breaks the skin…at first we think it inconsequential and irrelevant, we wave it off and ignore it, until it starts to get infected, we start to lose feeling in the area where the arrow nicked us, and before we know what happened we are returned to the earth from which we came.

In our moments of doubt we also try to help God, or somehow aid Him in answering our prayers faster, or in a way more acceptable to us. God knows what He’s doing, and He asks that we trust He knows what He is doing.

One of the most frustrating things we can do is second guess God all the time. It is frustrating both for ourselves and for Him, because each time we think we know better than God we end up running aground, and God has to delay His plan for our lives because we’ve chosen to take a circuitous route.

With your human reason, and with your eyes of flesh, you might see green pastures and wildflowers, but God sees beyond the meadow to the cliff just out of sight. Trust that God has better vision than you do, He sees farther than you can, and knows what tomorrow holds as readily as yesterday.

We are focusing on the doubt of Jacob, because even those we perceive as giants of the faith had their moments of doubt. Peter was walking on water when doubt struck him and he began to sink like a stone. Nothing else changed from the moment Peter took his first step upon the waters, to when he began to sink, than that he allowed doubt to make its way into his heart.

‘I can’t be walking on water, because walking on water is impossible. I’m a fisherman, I’ve been at sea my whole life, I know what is and isn’t within the realm of possibility.’

And so, Peter begins to sink.

Matthew 19:26, “But Jesus looked at them and said to them, ‘With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’”

Faith takes us beyond the realm of reason, outside the realm of possibility in the physical, and translates us into God territory, where the impossible happens every day. With men, many things are impossible, with God, all things are possible. Not just most things, not just a handful of things, but all things are possible with God.

It took a Man wrestling with Jacob until the break of day and touching the socket of his hip causing it to pop out of joint for Jacob to do away with his doubt once and for all.

Genesis 33:24-25, “Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, he touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him.”

When we have an intimate encounter with God, everything changes. When we meet God, when we encounter Him in all His glory, we will have convictions not doubts, certainties and not suppositions, faith and not the illusion of faith. We believe in God because we have met Him. We know Him, we know His strength, we know His might, we know His authority, and we know His sovereignty.

God did answer Jacob’s prayer, but He answered it in such a way wherein all the planning Jacob had done had been nullified and rendered useless. It turned out Jacob didn’t need to split his people into two camps, he didn’t need to send his brother various livestock as a gift, and he didn’t need to fear, or be distressed.

The way God answers our prayers often times highlights the futility of our own endeavors, of our trying to work things out on our own, using our own wisdom and intellect.

Genesis 33:4, “But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.”

So here was a man who was dreadfully afraid of what his brother would do upon seeing him for the first time in twenty years. I am certain scenarios played through Jacob’s mind, one worse than the other, and in his own strength he tried everything he could to shelter himself and his family from the wrath of Esau.

Then Jacob prayed, and God worked it out in such a way, wherein all the preparation Jacob made, was rendered unnecessary and mildly absurd, for his brother Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him. There was no sword in Esau’s hand, there was no bow or spear, there was no violence in him, just love for his brother; a love God had placed there doing away with twenty years’ worth of animosity in an instant.

You can try to protect yourself from the violence of men, or pray for God to take the violence from their heart altogether. We fail on our own, or walk victoriously with God, depending on whether or not we truly know Him, trust Him, and humble ourselves before Him.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Freeform Friday Week 11

We’ve started a conversation. Seems inoffensive and harmless, doesn’t it? While riffling through e-mails for payday loans, discount dentures, and the newest weight loss drug that can make you drop twenty pounds in five days, I happened upon an e-mail titled simply, ‘I disagree.’

That, by the way, is a perfect title for an e-mail, because it just raises too many questions. You just have to open it. What’s the person disagreeing about? Is it important? Are they right?

It turned out the person in question as disagreeing with my premise that as servants of God our duty is to obey.

Throughout the e-mail, this person kept talking about starting a conversation, and I found this strange because the conversation the person was referring to was not within the context of myself and them, (don’t know if it was a he or a she as yet) but within the context of mankind starting a conversation with God.

Apparently, if we disagree with God on certain issues, or certain tenets of the faith, well, we just start a conversation with Him, and tell Him our point of view, and make our case as to why we refuse to obey Him, and as such have become rebellious in word and in deed.

Being the curious cat that I am, I started to do a little research on this conversation starting business just to see what it was, and boy, did I ever find out.

To shorthand it for you, if you hear the word emergent, or hear someone going on incessantly about how they’ve started a conversation in the fellowship you are currently attending, run. Don’t wait until the song break, don’t wait for them to pass the plate, don’t wait for the likely effeminate gentleman standing on the dais to make a point…just run.

If this is what passes for Christianity nowadays, last one out turn off the lights and shut the door, ‘cause the party’s over. We’re done.

No, I’m not trying to be overly dramatic for drama’s sake. A whole new breed of believers are coming to the forefront who are actively questioning the deity of Christ, and concluding that whether or not He is the Son of God, born of a virgin, hanged on a cross, and raised the third day is irrelevant, as long as He was a good person and a sound teacher of higher moral standards.

Somewhere along the way we thought ourselves so wise, we stopped noticing our own foolishness, and persisted in it until its ultimate conclusion.

I’m just hurt, and saddened, and my heart aches, because these people and their message are no longer the fringe, they are no longer on the outskirts, they are now the mainstream, and those who continue to lift high the name Jesus, and echo His sentiment that no man goes to the Father but by Him, are seen as the outcasts, the fools, and the heretics.

We have succeeded in turning the world upside down, but not in the way the apostles did. We have succeeded in upturning and redefining light making it to mean darkness, and darkness making it to mean light. These are the days of which the Bible speaks, and clearly so. May we be wise enough to know the limits of our own wisdom, and trust in the word of God to be as a lamp unto our feet.

Apparently I never got the memo about our relationship with God no longer being about obedience, but rather about dialogue. Man will do anything to avoid repentance, obedience and subservience, including fooling himself into believing he will somehow get past the entrance into the kingdom of God without holiness.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 145

Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of Jacob continued...

Another aspect of Jacob’s prayer worthy of highlighting is that Jacob had a specific purpose to his prayer. There was nothing general about Jacob’s prayer, there was nothing ambiguous or veiled.

‘Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, lest he come and attack me and the mother with the children.’

That is a pretty direct prayer. Jacob knew exactly what he needed from God, and he minced no words in his prayers. The only thing Jacob could have said that would have been more concise is, ‘Lord help me! I fear Esau will kill me if You don’t.’

Even when the purpose and goal of your prayer is birthed out of fear as Jacob’s was, it is good to have a purpose when we pray. There are prayers of fellowship, wherein we commune with God, and speak to Him as to a loving Father, and then there are prayers of petition wherein we know exactly what it is we need, and focus on that particular thing.

Jacob was petitioning God for protection, asking God to save him from the hand of his brother Esau, because he feared him. That’s pretty specific, by any standard.

Jacob sees the danger, he sees he is helpless, he sees he has no one left to turn to, and he turns to God. His prayer is one of specificity, and purpose, one that does not suffer from a long introduction or an interlude. Jacob gets to the point, and he does so with urgency because he realizes the predicament he is in.

There is not a shadow of the pride or arrogance from twenty years ago – it has all been stripped and burned from him – and now humbly, meekly, he petitions God to intervene on his behalf.

Jacob is not afraid to admit that he’s afraid. There is no shame or reticence in Jacob’s prayer. He opens his heart to God, and reveals his innermost being, testifying of the fear he possesses in regards to his brother Esau.

I have known brothers in the Lord who thought it beneath them to admit they were afraid. They thought it something shameful or unbecoming to come before God and admit fear. Jacob, one of three Patriarchs, the spiritual and physical ancestors of Judaism, admitted to fear, he confessed it, and asked God for help in overcoming it.

We all have our fears. Whether we fear for our families, for our children, for our lives, for our health, whatever it is we fear for, we must confess before God, that He might intervene and deal with the root cause of our fear.

Yes, perfect love casts out fear, but in order for the fear to be cast out, it must be confessed that the perfect love of God might come in and do away with it.

Jacob didn’t just fear for himself, he feared for the mother and the children as well. It is in the small things, that we can more readily gauge change in an individual. Man can pretty well fake his way through the big things, but when it comes to the details, to the nuances, that is when you begin to see the true nature of a man.

Jacob the selfish, Jacob the proud, Jacob the deceiver, fears for someone else other than himself. He fears for the mother and the children. It is in this instant that we know Jacob has had a true change of heart, that he is not the man he was twenty years prior. He becomes selfless, and puts the lives and needs of others ahead of his own.

Yes, Jacob feared for himself as any man in his position would, for Esau had sworn vengeance, but he also remembers the mother and the children, fearing for them as well.

With all the emotions coursing through him, with all the fear, with all the doubt, with all the distress, Jacob still stood on the promises of God. No matter the fear he felt, Jacob would not be moved from the promises God had made to him, and he reminds God of these promises in his prayer.

Genesis 32:12, “For You said, ‘I will surely treat you well, and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.’”

Not only was Jacob aware of what God had promised him, he trusted in the promises of God.

If we, as believers, as children of God and bondservants of Christ would stand on the promises God has made to us, we would never again be anxious, fearful, or distressed.

If we not only acknowledged the existence of these promises but believed them with all our heart, we would live with the awareness that not a hair upon our head will come to harm, because He who created all things and in whom are all things, is the keeper of our souls.

The Lord is our protector. He is faithful, and He keeps His promises. The Lord promised he would make Jacob’s descendants as the sand of the sea, and Jacob reminded Him of that promise. At this juncture Jacob had no idea how this would come about, how his life would be spared form the wrath of his brother Esau, but he believed that God was able to fulfill His promise.

There is no denying the splash of doubt in Jacob’s actions. There is no denying that he attempted to save himself before going to God, but now that he stood before God, he remembered all God promised him and began to draw strength.

Not only can we learn practical lessons of what to do from the life and prayer of Jacob, we can also learn what not to do in certain instances, and learning from the mistakes of those who came before us will spare us much heartache in the long run.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 144

Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of Jacob continued...

True men of God, who come to know Him intimately, come to realize just how generous God truly is. With each new mercy, with each new blessing, men of God become all the more aware that these mercies and blessings are undeserved and unmerited.

1 Corinthians 4:7, “For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you glory as if you had not received it?”

There is nothing that a man can possess which he did not receive. This is the essence of Paul’s argument to the church at Corinth. Whether a spiritual gift, a material blessing, or a divine mercy, all things come from the hand of God, all things are received, and if all things are received of God, then we have no reason to glory in them as though we did not receive them.

How can I be prideful of something if I know it isn’t mine? How can I boast and glory in something if I know it was a gift, received from the hand of God, not because I deserved it, but just because He is so good?

I cannot for the life of me understand individuals whom God endows with a certain spiritual gift, who then turn around and expect their fellow brothers in Christ to raise them up and praise them as though they themselves were something special and unique.

They take up titles for themselves, expect to be called by these titles, feel entitled to a life of ease and comfort, and expect brothers and sisters in Christ to obey them without question, all because they received something from God which was not their own, which they cannot claim, nor appropriate for themselves.

An individual who is able to grasp that all things come from the hand of God, and that they have nothing which they did not receive, is well on their way to understanding the deeper mysteries of man’s relationship with God.

Although God blessed Jacob, and did so abundantly, he comes to the realization that he is unworthy of the many blessings of God. There are certain individuals, and I’ve run across a few of them myself, who begin to look their noses down on others when God begins to bless them. They begin to feel superior, or somehow more spiritual than their fellow believers, because they equate material blessing with God preferring them over those whom He did not bless as He blessed them.

True servants know to humble themselves before God with each new blessing and each new mercy shown them, rather than allow pride or a sense of self-accomplishment to take root in their heart.

When we walk in humility, when we acknowledge we are undeserving of God’s mercies as Jacob acknowledged, we leave no room for pride. The oxygen pride needs in order to breathe is effectively removed from our hearts as we walk in humility, and pride is chocked off and expires because it has nothing to feed off of.

Lest we think Jacob’s wealth was something to scoff at, or easily dismiss, we must keep in mind that the richest people of the time were those who possessed animals, whether goats, cows, donkeys or camels. It was an agrarian culture Jacob lived in, and one can only begin to imagine his wealth when understanding what he intended to give as a present to Esau his brother.

Genesis 32:13-15, “So he lodged there that same night, and took what came to his hand as a present for Esau his brother: two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, thirty milk camels and their colts, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty female donkeys and ten foals.”

Due to the culture we live in, very few would look at a farmer or a rancher and consider them as wealthy or well off. We tend to see the glitzier careers, such as sports stars, or famous singers, but the only other man besides the president who was able to purchase a helicopter during the Communist regime in Romania, was none other than a sheep herder who had over twenty thousand sheep. No one else could afford the price, or the taxes on something so extravagant, except for a man who tended his sheep, made his cheese, and sold his wool every year.

Make no mistake, Jacob was a wealthy man by any standard, yet he beholds all that he has amassed, and after acknowledging they are all from the hand of God, he concludes that they are undeserved.

Jacob took what came to his hand as a present to Esau, and his present was nothing to scoff at. To give away such things on a whim just because they come to your hand, you know you won’t miss them and you have allot more where those came from.

Obedience is not reserved only for the poor, it is not mandated only for those who have nothing by way of the material, but when God speaks, obedience is mandated of everyone. Jacob was a rich man. He could have pretended he did not hear the voice of God telling him to return to his homeland and face his brother, but he knew better, even with the limited understanding he possessed concerning God.

Jacob knew he was dependent on God. How many supposed believers know this important truth?

Blessing can either make you humble, and thankful and grateful to God, or it can make you proud and arrogant and forgetful of God.

The heart of man is the battlefield, and man’s soul is the prize. It is within the heart that a battle rages between the self, and the Spirit of God. It is within the heart that two opposing forces clash and collide, and depending on which will have ultimate victory, we will either seek God all the more in our prosperity, or forget Him altogether.

As the old proverb so aptly states, if you put two dogs in a cage, the one you feed will ultimately win. Feed your spiritual man. Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 143

Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of Jacob continued...

When we come to know God personally, and view Him as our Lord and our God, the fears melt away, and we learn to trust He who is able to carry us through our trials and hardships.

The only reason men doubt God is because they don’t know Him well enough. If they truly knew God, then they would never doubt any of His promises, or His ability to save and preserve His beloved.

Grow in the knowledge of God, and you will know perfect peace, joy, and safety.

Because Jacob did not know God as he ought to have, even though God had reached out to him repeatedly, he was fearful of his brother, and distressed at the prospect of having to look him in the eyes after twenty years.

David was at the end of his journey here on earth. In a short while he would return to the earth from whence he came, and he begins leaving charges to Israel, as well as to his son Solomon. As his parting words to his son Solomon, David encourages him not to seek fame, not to seek fortune, not to seek power, but to seek to know the God of his father. Everything else in this world pales in comparison to man’s need to know God personally.

1 Chronicles 28:9, “As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever.”

David set out two possible paths his son Solomon could have taken, and encouraged him to choose the right path. If Solomon sought God, David confirmed the truth that Solomon would indeed find Him. If however he chose to forsake God, then God would cast him off forever.

Know God. Don’t be content with hearing about Him from a preacher, a friend, or even myself; know Him personally, and intimately and passionately. If you seek Him, you will find Him. God is not hiding from His children. God is waiting for His children to pursue Him, and with every step we take toward Him, He will take two steps toward us.

It is presupposed that every individual who prays to God, must know God. This is a misguided supposition. Some pray to God without ever knowing Him.

Acts 17:22-24, “Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, ‘Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands.’”

By Paul’s own words, the Athenians were worshipping God, without knowing Him. To know God, is to love God, and to love God is to die to self and all that it entails.

It is as it was, and many today worship God without really knowing Him.

Even though Jacob did not know God as he ought, even though he does not have the wherewithal to call Him his God, Jacob prays with humility and reverence.

‘I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown Your servant.’

Not only do we see reverence and humility in the prayer of Jacob, we also see him begin to identify himself as a servant of God. Even within the short timeframe that it took Jacob to pray this prayer, we are starting to see a certain level of maturing taking place.

There is nothing that matures a man faster than hardship, and Jacob found himself in the midst of a world of hardship.

Realizing none of his plans would suffice if his brother Esau decided to attack him with his four hundred men, Jacob comes before God, and begins to pray a prayer that the self-assured and borderline haughty Jacob of twenty years past would have never prayed.

Jacob sees himself as undeserving, and unworthy of the least of all the mercies God had shown him over the years, realizing also that these blessings, these mercies, were not created or brought about by his hand, but by the hand of God.

Do we acknowledge the blessings of God and identify them as such? Do we look at the mercies God has shown us and thank Him for them?

Jacob knew that all his hard work, all his strategizing, all his plans, would have amounted to little more than nothing if God had not blessed him and extended mercy toward him.

Even though Jacob had but a rudimentary knowledge of God, he still knew enough to know that he ought to be thankful toward the God from whom all blessings come, and that indeed, they come from Him.

Another thing we would be wise to learn from the prayer of Jacob, is that the mercies God shows us are undeserved and unmerited. God does not bless us because we are better than our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. God does not show us mercy or favor because we are better Christians, more righteous, or holier than the rest of the Body of Christ. He shows us all mercy in the way He chooses, and the way which is pleasing to Him. Since God is sovereign, He can do that, and all we can do is thank Him for the underserved mercies He showers upon us each and every day.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 142

Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of Jacob continued...

Even the best of us often times take it upon ourselves to spare ourselves or save ourselves in certain situations. The flesh revels in the notion that we can affect change, or that we are somehow captains of our own ships, masters of our own destinies, and determiners of our own fate.

Manmade plans fail because they are made by men. No matter how well we plan for every possible contingency, you can’t plan for everything, because our minds are not infinite as the mind of God is. We can see certain angles, foresee certain hardships, but we can’t see all the angles or all the hardships, and this is why we must trust in God.

God sees it all, from beginning to end, and everything in between.

More importantly God knows the why of it all, from why certain trials are allowed to come over us, to why we are told to stay in a certain place while others are being told to flee. God does not have a collective plan for His children. He is an intimate and individual God, and our place of refuge and safety is in His will, and nowhere else.

Around the fire, or through the fire, wherever God leads us, He will protect us, and we must do as Jacob did, and stand on His promise. We must overcome our fears, our reservations, our predisposition to thinking we know better than God, or that we can come up with a better plan, and obey Him. Go when He tells you to go, stay when He tells you to stay, and pray always, for it is the means by which we communicate with Him.

It took Jacob twenty years, a handful of heartaches, countless hardships, and numerous disappointments, but he is finally on the right path, humble enough to go before God with prayer and supplication and ask for His help.

So what was so special about Jacob’s prayer, and why is it worth discussing at this juncture?

First of all, Jacob’s prayer was the prayer of a man who knew God only partially. No, we can never know God in His fullness, but we can continually grow in the knowledge of Him. Growing in God is a natural and mandatory part of our relationship with Him.

So how did I come to the conclusion that Jacob knew God partially? I came to this conclusion by meditating on his prayer, and the phraseology thereof.

Jacob begins his prayer with the following words: ‘O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac.’ Although Jacob acknowledged God, and prayed to Him, he referred to God as the god of his father Abraham and Isaac. As yet, God was not personal to Jacob. He knew God only as the God of his forefathers, but not as Lord and King of his life.

As yet Jacob does not have the boldness to say ‘my God,’ but instead refers to Him as the God of his forefathers.

This is relevant, because although thousands of years have passed since Jacob’s prayer, many still walk about thinking of God as the God of those who came before them, and not their own personal God.

Many a soul adopts a certain denomination because their parents or their grandparents grew up in it, and they filter their faith through the prism of their forefathers’ faith.

Even though God had spoken to Jacob, he still thought of Him as being the God of his fathers.

Jacob even goes so far as to acknowledge the sovereignty of God, the omnipotence of God, but he does not personalize his reference to the Lordship of God. He does not say ‘my Lord,’ but rather ‘the Lord.’

‘But that’s just semantics isn’t it? You’re just grasping at straws…does it really matter?’

Yes, it matters. It really matters. Whether or not God is personal to you, whether He is your God or the God of your fathers matters a great deal.

John 20:26-28, “And after eight days His disciples were gain inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, ‘Peace to you!’ Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.’ And Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’”

We see the marked difference between the wording of Jacob’s prayer, and Thomas’s reaction at seeing Jesus and touching Him. Thomas did not say, ‘God of my father,’ instead he made it personal and intimate by saying, ‘my Lord and my God!’

Know the God before whom you stand, not as some secondhand God, but as a personal God, one who knows you better than you know yourself, one who hears your prayers and petitions, and one who loves and cares for you.

In reading the history of Jacob we come to realize that God always looked out for him. God even revealed Himself to Jacob when he was fleeing the wrath of his brother Esau, going so far as to show him a ladder leading to heaven in a dream. God attempted, and repeatedly so to reach out to Jacob and establish a relationship with him.

Even with the promise that God would be with him, even with seeing an army of angels as he approached his homeland, Jacob still felt fearful and dreaded meeting up with his brother Esau. Even with all that God shows us on a daily basis, even with all the ways He reveals Himself to us continually, we, as Jacob, often doubt, grow fearful and despondent concerning things we have no control over to begin with.

We can take our fears, our doubts, our apprehensions, and our concerns to God in prayer and see Him work them out in a way only He can, or we can trust in our own wisdom and abilities and carry these burdens on our own. The choice is ours to make.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.