FROM BLAME TO THANKS
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19
The very fact of prayer reflects the wondrous character of God. The Lord asks things of us. He is never over demanding; He never asks what His grace will not enable us to do. Therefore, He says, “Now, you can ask of Me, too.” I’d say that is incredibly magnanimous of Him Who is Lord of all, and it is yet more evidence of the beauty of God, Who could be the absolute Dictator if His character did not prevent Him from being so.
I’ve heard individuals, in their emotional hysteria, angrily argue that God is unfair. A friend or relative senselessly dies. This or that prayer is not answered, though a similar prayer was answered for someone else. Any little discomfort or disappointment is blamed on God, Who they obviously think should keep them in supernatural bubble wrap, with steady entitlements. So, you see, it was not merely on the Cross that God was unfairly blamed.
Yes, the Cross was unfair to Jesus. It is we, not He, who sinned; and through Christ and what He did on the Cross, God said, “I, Who am holy, will become your sin and pay for your sin, and you will become My righteousness” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Therefore, we have no moral authority to claim what is unfair, when it comes to God. It is eternally and naturally better—and, as our text says, it is God’s will—for us to humbly and lovingly give thanks “in”—not necessarily “for”—all circumstances. Rejoice that Heaven is yours in Christ, when you don’t deserve it at all.
THE PRAYER COVENANT
Jesus: “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!” ~ Matthew 7:9-11
One of the slipperiest fishes to grasp is understanding this whole notion of prayer. Because an evaluation of prayer and God’s responses cannot be reduced to a formula, you have everybody and his brother claiming to have a comprehensive answer in a succinct truth, which never encompasses all specific circumstances but which everybody and his brother feels that it does.
Some things we know about prayer and God’s responses are in Scripture. “You are jealous and covet [what others have] and your lust goes unfulfilled; so you murder. You are envious and cannot obtain [the object of your envy]; so you fight and battle. You do not have because you do not ask [it of God]” (James 4:2, AMP). “Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1, NIV).
Immediately preceding our text is “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” These are just a few. One general principle we know: God commands us to pray, and He promises to answer in His own way and time.
Regarding our text, we see one golden truth: For our own good, God will sometimes not give us what we ask. We think we are asking for something good, like bread or fish, but God in His omniscience knows that is something bad, like indigestible stone or venomous snake. This is part of Romans 8:28, which says God works all things together for our good—which means shielding us from the bad sometimes. Because you are a hunter, your five-year-old son may ask, beg, and cry for shotgun and ammunition, but you say “No” because it would be a tragedy in the making for you to say “Yes.”
NEGATING THE SPARK
Have nothing to do with the fruitless
deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. ~ Ephesians 5:11
Conflict is Satan’s spark plug to achieve many of his purposes. At all levels, he seeks to “divide and conquer.” Historically, he has tried to pit one nation against another. He has nurtured one ideology against the other, including religions. He has fanned the flames of civil wars. He seeks to fracture communities. He is behind much of the fragmenting of Christian unity. (His two-pronged approach for the church is external persecution and internal dissension.) He wants to break up families, God’s first institution initiated in Eden’s Garden. He seeks to destroy individuals through a plethora of means: psychological, emotional, relational, physical, etc.
On the other hand, our God, who since Eden’s Garden has been putting lives back together one person at a time, is all about unity. The public prayers of the Biblical Jews almost always began with this: “The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” Even the New Testament makes clear that the one, true God chose in the dateless past to express Himself in three personalities with one purpose: Father, Son, Holy Spirit. (An analogy: I am one man but am known as a son, a brother, and a husband.) In His high priestly prayer, Jesus prayed for His followers, “Holy Father, protect them by the power of Your name, the name You gave Me, so that they may be one as We are one,” “that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me” (John 17:11, 21).
Will we let Him give us unity of life and of purpose? Will we let Him heal us inside to make us “whole”? Will we make ourselves available, being the blessed peace-makers (Matthew 5:9), to be instruments of His effort to defeat the enemy’s tactic of division? Will we promote our Lord’s mission to unify in Christ?
ENTERING HIS CREATION
…Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore, God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ~ Philippians 2:5-11
One might think that, since God has ever been, since He is omniscient, and since He knows how all things will turn out before they happen, He might get bored. I know that sounds odd, but from a human perspective, I can see how someone would logically leap to this conclusion. However, God, Who is outside of time, created time for creation’s sake. He is involved in each hour, minute, second, and micro-second of all creation (2 Peter 3:8), including His greatest creation: mankind.
Considering that—even considering the silly notion of God’s possible boredom—we can see that God ultimately engaged His creation by entering His creation in the form of a man, Jesus Christ. A little-known J. R. R. Tolkien short story, “Leaf by Niggle,” tells of an artist named Niggle who, in attempting his grand painting, spent years working on the detail of one leaf, much to the mockery of his detractors. To make a long short-story short, Niggle’s obsession with his painting ends with his becoming part of the painting, thus completing it. The story ends with Niggle’s joyous laughter as he walks the hills in his greatest creation. This story is a beautiful picture of God’s becoming a part of His creation by coming in the form of a man, Jesus Christ, to redeem or “finish” creation. Surely, Tolkien, a devout Roman Catholic, had this in mind when he penned “Leaf by Niggle.”
Entering His greatest creation, Christ punctuated His earthly experience with “It is finished” (John 19:30). Through His redemptive work, His greatest creation can enter the whole realm of Heaven (2 Corinthians 5:21). The Author of our faith has completed all the detail, finishing what He started (Hebrews 12:2, KJV; Revelation 21:6). Our part is to join Him in this completed gracious work, by faith (Ephesians 2:8-10).
To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. ~ Colossians 1:27
Paul was obsessed with this notion—so much so, that one of his favorite phrases was “in Christ,” which is effectively the same as saying “Christ in you.” The greatest for which Old Testament believers could hope was Immanuel, “God with us.” The notion of holy God living in the heart of unholy man was unfathomable to them. How could that ever be? Jehovah was the “Great Other,” the unapproachably holy God, in their theology.
However, what is impossible with man is possible with God (Luke 18:27). Jesus’ holy Blood would make our scarlet sins white as snow (Isaiah 1:18), making us fit habitation for Holy Spirit. It was judicial justification on God’s part—more than they could have ever asked or imagined (Ephesians 3:20-21). Now, God has Spirit-transformed, Spirit-empowered, living witnesses to the walking dead without Christ (Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13).
Therefore, Paul said that his “message and…preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power” (1 Corinthians 2:4). Do we live by the same credo, as did Paul, who surely remembered what God said in Zechariah 4:6: “‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty”; or do we look at Holy Spirit as a back-up when we don’t think we can do it on our own?
Paul says that we should “live by the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 3:1; Galatians 5:25), not circumstantially, but continually. If all Christians lived like this, can you see what an irrefutable witness it would be to the world? There would be a supernaturally unified message that God indeed has sent His Son to redeem the world (John 17:20-23).
YOU HAVE A TALENT!
“Do not neglect your gift...”(1 Timothy 4:14, NIV)
God has equipped each one of us with specific gifts and talents. It’s up to each of us to identify those gifts and be disciplined enough to develop them. You have to learn to stay in your strength zone. What are you naturally good at? What do you enjoy doing? Take the time to identify your strengths and weaknesses, and as the Scripture says, give yourself to your gifts. In other words, don’t spend all your time trying to improve your weaknesses. Don’t waste valuable days pursuing things that are outside your main gifting. Focus on your strengths.
Be bold and step out in the area of your gifting. Are you good with people? Are you good with your job? Do you have a great voice? Find ways to develop those gifts. Know that your gifts and talents are a part of your divine destiny. If you’ll be comfortable with who God made you to be and thank Him for your unique gifting, you’ll not only enjoy your life more, but you’ll be ready to receive the abundant blessing God has in store for you.
MATURING IN THE FAITH
In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! ~ Hebrews 5:12
The Gospel is simple; the Christian life is not. Some want to expand the simplicity of the Gospel into the Christian life because they don’t want to make the effort. God has made the Gospel so simple, so empowered by Holy Spirit, that a single-digit-year-old child be saved. However, though we should retain childlike teachability, we should not live the Christian life in childish satisfaction. This prompted Peter to say, “grow up in your salvation” (1 Peter 2:2).
I’ve heard preachers and teachers who seem intent never to go beyond simplicity. They never challenge their hearers to “grow up” but seem to pacify them in their current state. Even animal mothers wean their young, getting them off mother’s milk and nudging them to solid food. As we teach our children to walk, run, tell time, dress themselves, read, do chores, etc., so should overseers teach and challenge Christians to grow, even if it is uncomfortable or inconvenient.
Considering the other side of the issue, I’m amazed at how Christians will reflexively try to reduce a complicated issue to a familiar, simple platitude, almost as if they do not want to be challenged. They’d rather not make the effort or have to think through things. After all, if you can escape growing pains, why not take that route? However, it is time to put childish things and attitudes aside (1 Corinthians 13:11), and Paul said that he had to reserve a message for the mature (1 Corinthians 2:6).
In the early days of my living for Christ, I sensed God whispering to me, “Other people are depending on your growing in your faith.” I did not understand that, at the time, but I didn’t question it. Dear fellow believers, other people, even as some of them are growing in their faith, are depending on your growing in your faith, so that God can use you to help them, even as others help you (Proverbs 27:17).
YOU ARE THE APPLE OF
“Keep me as the apple of your eye...”(Psalm 17:8, NIV)
In this day and age, people are considered to be important for so many reasons—titles, position, possessions, where you go, what you drive. But God’s value system is very different from the world’s value system. If you’ve ever thought that God has too many other important things on His plate to be concerned with you and your life, know this today—you are God’s number one priority. And there’s nothing you can do to be more important or less important.
God values you simply because He made you, and your value will never change. You are significant. Your life is significant. The things that concern you, concern God. He carefully watches over every detail of your life. There is nothing too big or too small for His attention.
Take your concerns and cares to the Father today. He loves to hear you call on Him, and He is waiting to show Himself strong on your behalf. Because you are important to Him, He is ready to bless and empower you to live in victory all the days of your life. You are the apple of His eye. You are blessed.
HE'S DONE ALL HE WILL
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. ~ Ecclesiastes 3:11
If we lived totally in darkness forever, we would never have a notion of light. If all humans lived in total immorality forever, we would never have a notion of morality. As our text says, God has inserted into our beings the drop of eternity’s notion. Therefore, we may choose to philosophize that this life is all there is, but all we are doing is hard-heartedly screaming against that still, small voice of eternity’s advocacy within us (1 Kings 19:11-12).
Jesus came into the world as the clearer, louder, larger voice, saying, “I am eternal life,” but the ecclesiastical Jews preferred their own notion of God and eternity, so they conspired to kill Him (Mark 3:6). His disciple John proclaimed it: “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:11-12).
God has done all that He will. He put the notion of eternity in our hearts and provided the consummation of that notion in Jesus Christ. God paid redemption’s holy price that holy justice demands: “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). He has sent His Spirit to convince us of our sin and to point us to Jesus (John 16:7-15).
If one is born and lives in a cave of complete darkness, and if someone from the outside light comes into the cave, that light-dweller can preach of the light, extol the benefits of light, and urge the man to walk into the light, but the darkness-dweller will never know the light’s reality until he walks into it (1 John 1:5-10).
“It is an honor for a man to cease from strife...” (Proverbs 20:3,
Strife is a very destructive force. It can creep into relationships by starting small, maybe through a comment ,gossip or a wrong look from someone, and it can then escalate into something much bigger. But when you choose to cease from strife and overlook an offense, you are acting honorably, and you are honoring God.
How do you avoid strife? Scripture tells us that love covers over many offenses. Love gives people the benefit of doubt. Instead of getting upset, walk in love—be patient, be kind to them. Extend grace.
Today, look for ways to walk in unity with the people in your life. When we walk in unity, there is a commanded blessing. Always avoid strife and choose peace and watch the hand of God move mightily in your life.
Jesus Said, It
I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. (Philippians 1:6)
It’s interesting that the last thing Jesus said on the cross was, “It is finished.” It certainly looked like the end. It looked like it was over. But I believe that wasn’t just a statement of fact, it was a statement of faith.
When it looks dark in your own life, when things aren’t going your way, dare to make that declaration of faith just like Jesus, “It is finished.” What you’re really saying is, “God, I know You are going to turn this situation around. I know that you are going to give me my life partner. I know You are going to heal my body. I know You are going to restore my family. I know You are going to give me the breaks that I need. I’ve done my part, and I know You will do Yours.” Always remember to speak victory over your circumstances because He is faithful, and He will complete what He’s started in your life
FROM ONLY GOOD, TO
GOOD AND EVIL
The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil….“but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” ~ Genesis 2:9, 17
There was nothing intrinsically evil about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, like the witch’s poison fruit in the children’s story “Snow White.” Like all humans, Adam and Eve were given a choice to trustingly obey God or to selfishly disobey God. When Eve listened to Satan and disobeyed and when Adam listened to the disobedient Eve and joined her in disobedience, their spiritual awareness shifted from exclusively on God to themselves. They knew they were naked, they were ashamed and afraid, and they hid from God.
Previous to their disobedience, they knew only good through their loving obedience and singular awareness of God. After their sin, they were self-aware, thus also knowing evil. (“And [God] said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?’”) Unfortunately for them and all their descendants, they now knew the full meaning of the name God gave the object of their temptation: “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” They tried to hide their nakedness, of which they were formerly unaware and unashamed, with sewed fig leaves (Genesis 3:7). Underscoring that man’s attempt to cover his sin is always woefully inadequate (fig leaves), “the LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them” (Genesis 3:7), thus foreshadowing the Savior He would one day send.
Sin dulls the awareness of the truly good. In Christ, however, our sensibilities are restored to a higher level than ever, because we have His goodness in us. Therefore, in Jesus, we have “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:7); “an inexpressible and glorious joy” (1 Peter 1:8); “love that surpasses knowledge” (Ephesians 3:19)—in short, “life…to the full” (John 10:10).
THE BEING BEFORE THE
The devil led [Jesus] up to a high place and showed Him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to Him, “I will give You all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If You worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.’” ~ Luke 4:5-8
The less time we have to make a decision is usually a good indicator of how deeply God has infiltrated our souls. When our living faith fully integrates our instinct, we know that we are on good ground. If we have much time to contemplate an action, we may tend to rationalize such things as “Will this be good for me?” “Will I gain or lose in this action?” “Will I be happier if I do it?” “What will people think of me if I do this or don’t do it?”
When Jesus gets down into our souls’ deepest fibers, we will act as He would. This is deeper than W.W.J.D. (What Would Jesus Do?); it is the redeemed being behind the doing. For example, when we find ourselves tempted in the instant and we resist instantly, or when we find ourselves lovingly sacrificing, with no second thought of cost to us, we know we that we have been transformed—maturely in the faith, though never perfectly in this life. The same goes for greatly and joyfully giving. for humbly and joyfully serving, or for thoroughly and joyfully forgiving. This is more than idealism; it is growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).
TRUST IN HIM ALWAYS!
Don’t trust in your strength, your skills, your talents or any man. Trust in God.
When we live this way — when we admit we’re not strong enough, smart enough, talented enough — we open ourselves to God’s supernatural help. You do not have to be limited by your own natural abilities any longer.
Expect God’s supernatural touch in your life. When you see it and realize how incredible it truly is, His supernatural touch will change your life.
Pure and Simple
“Only when we see that the way of God’s law is absolutely inflexible will we see that God’s grace is absolutely indispensable. A high view of the law reminds us that God accepts us on the basis of Christ’s perfection, not our progress. Grace, properly understood, is the movement of a holy God toward an unholy people. He doesn’t cheapen the law or ease its requirements. He fulfills them in his Son, who then gives his righteousness to us. That’s the gospel. Pure and simple.”
Prayer, Me talking to the God that lives within (Holy Ghost) John 14:16 Him talking to Christ Jesus on my behalf Romans 8:26, Jesus Telling the Father He is working and doing what the Father wants for me. Hebrews 7:25, Ephesians 2:6 we are seated with Christ there He's in us here and we are joined with Him as One Spirit 1st Corinthians 6:17, He and the Father are One and we are One together and in Him and with Him and the Father, all because of faith in His shed Blood. Ephesians 6:18 says praying with all prayer in the Spirit, John 4:24 God is a Spirit and must be worship in spirit and talked to in spirit through Jesus Name. Confused ? ask God for the true in Jesus Name. And ask him to teach you to pray in the Spirit. Oh yeah believe you receive when you pray Mark11:24, Hebrews 11:6,John 15:7.
Then [Jesus] told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which He revealed His glory; and His disciples believed in Him. ~ John 2:8-11
Jesus, the Ultimate Alchemist, changes everything. He transforms darkness to light, death to life, rejection to rejoicing, tears to joy, dejection to delight, the finite to the infinite—in short, negative to positive. If only all the world believed this, what a world it would be! However, for a myriad of reasons, our natural reaction is to cling to the baubles in lieu of the riches. We’d rather have the little to which we are accustomed, rather than the much to which we are unaccustomed.
What we will not yield to the Lord is retained with less enjoyment and less effectiveness. He changes submission into glory! However, instead of submitting to the Great Alchemist, we settle for the less. With white knuckles, we cling to our self-made dreams, our meager-or-wild plans, our familiar-but-dissatisfactory emotions—in short, our blandness instead of His grandness. We could have wine, but we settle for plain water.
Dear friend, do not be afraid to cast your all—your past, your present, your future, your plans, your dreams, your very soul—into the hands of Jesus, Who will transform your everything, even as He did the water to wine. Let your life be the most recent sign through which He reveals His glory. As the bridegroom seemingly saved the best for later in our text, your Heavenly Bridegroom surely saves you to experience the best forever.
He that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. (Galatians 6:8)
Sowing looks like a losing business, for we put good corn into the ground never to see it anymore. Sowing to the Spirit seems a very fanciful, dreamy business; for we deny ourselves and apparently get nothing for it. Yet if we sow to the Spirit by studying to live unto God, seeking to obey the will of God, and laying ourselves out to promote His honor, we shall not sow in vain. Life shall be our reward, even everlasting life. This we enjoy here as we enter into the knowledge of God, communion with God, and enjoyment of God. This life flows on like an ever-deepening, ever-widening river till it bears us to the ocean of infinite felicity, where the life of God is ours forever and ever.
Let us not this day sow to our flesh, for the harvest will be corruption, since flesh always tends that way; but with holy self-conquest let us live for the highest, purest, and most spiritual ends, seeking to honor our most holy Lord by obeying His most gracious Spirit. What a harvest will that be when we reap life everlasting! What sheaves of endless bliss will be reaped! What a festival will that harvest be! Lord, make us such reapers, for thy Son's sake.
I looked, and I saw beside the cherubim four wheels, one beside each of the cherubim; the wheels sparkled like topaz. As for their appearance, the four of them looked alike; each was like a wheel intersecting a wheel. As they moved, they would go in any one of the four directions the cherubim faced; the wheels did not turn about as the cherubim went. The cherubim went in whatever direction the head faced, without turning as they went. Their entire bodies, including their backs, their hands and their wings, were completely full of eyes, as were their four wheels. ~ Ezekiel 10:9-12
Will God reward us for doing nothing? Yes, sometimes. We can get in the way of God’s purpose by doing something; therefore, not doing that something is a rewardable non-action. It may not make sense to us at the time, but God sees the Big Picture that we can never fully comprehend in this life. His will is intricate, with as many movable, connected parts as the interconnected wheels representing God’s will which Ezekiel saw.
For example, let’s say that your thoughtful, well-intentioned actions would hinder what God wants to do in a person’s life or a situation. If you have any leeway at all, you should not immediately leap into action. You should intently pray, being open and sensitive to God’s Word and Spirit. You could muck up the whole purpose of God with an action intended for good. You may never understand it, but you can’t understand it; therefore, trust Him with all your heart (Proverbs 3:5-6).
I speak from experiences, but I’ll choose just one. Years ago, in a situation in which I desperately wanted the best outcome for a young person, I pled with the individual not to make a certain move. As I prayed, I clearly heard my Lord say, “You’re doing too much. You’re getting the way of what I’m doing. Step back.” In the immediate future, the person indeed went through horrible situations that their actions produced, but God used those painful, even self-destructive choices to work in that person’s life for golden lessons the person could later use to help others.
At times, God’s will in the Big Picture is indeed inscrutable. Let Him guide your actions and non-actions, regardless of your comprehension. Seek. Trust. Obey.
Utmost for His
“Who His own self bore our sins in His own body on the tree.”
“The Cross of Jesus is the revelation of God’s judgment on sin. Never tolerate the idea of martyrdom about the Cross of Jesus Christ. The Cross was a superb triumph in which the foundations of hell were shaken. There is nothing more certain in Time or Eternity than what Jesus Christ did on the Cross: He switched the whole of the human race back into a right relationship with God. He made Redemption the basis of human life, that is, He made a way for every son of man to get into communion with God.
“The Cross did not happen to Jesus: He came on purpose for it. He is ‘the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.’ The whole meaning of the Incarnation is the Cross. Beware of separating God manifest in the flesh from the Son becoming sin. The Incarnation was for the purpose of Redemption. God became incarnate for the purpose of putting away sin; not for the purpose of Self-realization. The Cross is the centre of Time and of Eternity, the answer to the enigmas of both.
“The Cross is not the cross of a man but the Cross of God, and the Cross of God can never be realized in human experience. The Cross is the exhibition of the nature of God, the gateway whereby any individual of the human race can enter into union with God. When we get to the Cross, we do not go through it; we abide in the life to which the Cross is the gateway.
“The centre of salvation is the Cross of Jesus, and the reason it is so easy to obtain salvation is because it cost God so much. The Cross is the point where God and sinful man merge with a crash and the way to life is opened — but the crash is on the heart of God.”
From the day God created man and woman on this Earth, and from the horizon in the east to the horizon in the west—as far back as you can imagine and as far away as you can imagine—has as great a thing as this ever happened? ~ Deuteronomy 4:32, The Message
In his hit song “Imagine,” John Lennon erred in the first four words: “Imagine there’s no Heaven.” Then, the atheist ex-Beatle continued to sing of peace. Of course, there would be no peace if humanity were only animals scurrying around for themselves, with no notion of God or Heaven. There would be no concept of good without God.
Let’s imagine something else. Imagine a world with no sin. (Historically, we’d have to go back to the pre-fallen man of Eden’s Garden.) Imagine a world in which Jesus Christ benevolently set up His kingdom on earth. Imagine a world in which even the animal kingdom lives at peace with other creatures and in which people indeed live in peace. Amazingly, we don’t have to imagine that because God prophesied that it will be a reality during the Millennial reign and in the new heavens and new earth (Isaiah 11:6-9; 65:17-25).
However, how about today? What can we realistically imagine? Imagine people daily seeking to be courteous and kind. Imagine people seeking benevolence daily. Imagine families in which each member continually looks for ways to encourage, help, and love all other members. Imagine a world in which freedom is not abused but celebrated in peace and consideration. These imaginings are achievable when individuals, families, and communities fully yield to Jesus Christ, His Word, His Spirit, and His plans. Indeed, Christ “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21). Yes, He can make into holy reality our holy imaginings…and immeasurably more.
Taking His Punishment
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs." ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-5
I read about a small boy who was consistently late coming home from school. His parents warned him one day that he must be home on time that afternoon or not expect his dinner. Nevertheless he arrived later than ever.
His mother met him at the door and said nothing. At dinner that night, the boy looked at his plate. There was a slice of bread and a glass of water. He looked at his father's full plate and then at his father, but his father remained silent. The boy was crushed.
The father waited for the full impact to sink in, then quietly took the boy's plate and placed it in front of himself. He took his own plate of meat and potatoes, put it in front of the boy, and smiled at his son.
When that boy grew to be a man, he said, "All my life I've known what God is like by what my father did that night."
By Faith Not Feeling
The just shall live by faith. (Romans 1:17)
I shall not die, I can, I do, believe in the Lord my God, and this faith will keep me alive. I would be numbered among those who in their lives are just; but even if I were perfect I would not try to live by my righteousness; I would cling to the work of the Lord Jesus and still live by faith in Him and by nothing else. If I were able to give my body to be burned for my Lord Jesus, yet I would not trust in my own courage and constancy, but still would live by faith.
Were I a martyr at the stake
To live by faith is a far surer and happier thing than to live by feelings or by works, The branch, by living in the vine, lives a better life than it would live by itself, even if it were possible for it to live at all apart from the stem. To live by clinging to Jesus, by deriving all from Him, is a sweet and sacred thing. If even the most just must live in this fashion, how much more must I who am a poor sinner! Lord, I believe. I must trust Thee wholly. What else can I do? Trusting Thee is my life....
Enemies at Peace
When a man's ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him. (Proverbs 16:7)
I must see that my ways please the Lord. Even then I shall have enemies; and, perhaps, all the more certainly because I endeavor to do that which is right. But what a promise this is! The Lord will make the wrath of man to praise Him and abate it so that it shall not distress me.
He can constrain an enemy to desist from harming me, even though he has a mind to do so. This He did with Laban, who pursued Jacob but did not dare to touch him. Or He can subdue the wrath of the enemy and make him friendly, as He did with Esau, who met Jacob in a brotherly manner, though Jacob had dreaded that he would smite him and his family with the sword. The Lord can also convert a furious adversary into a brother in Christ and a fellow worker, as He did with Saul of Tarsus. Oh, that He would do this in every case where a persecuting spirit appears!
Happy is the man whose enemies are made to be to him what the lions were to Daniel in the den, quiet and companionable! When I meet death, who is called the last enemy, I pray that I may be at peace. Only let my great care be to please the Lord in all things. Oh, for faith and holiness; for these are a pleasure unto the Most High!
God Gives Us All We
And they who know Your name [who have experience and acquaintance
with Your mercy] will lean on and confidently put their trust in You,
for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek (inquire of and for) You
[on the authority of God's Word and the right of their necessity]. Psalm
Put on the garment of praise first thing in the morning. Listen to worshipful music, read the Word, and renew your thoughts to bring them into line with what God says you are righteous and blessed. You can think right, talk right, and act right all day, if you spend time with God before trials come your way.
Then the Lord God provided a leafy plant and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the plant. ~ Jonah 4:6
Providence is a glorious, mysterious thing. God, even knowing that Jonah would bring a terrible attitude to his mission, nonetheless did not choose someone else for the job, “for God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29). Think of it: Likely years before Jonah was called, God ordained a seed to be planted on this spot, nourishing the seed with rain, nutrients, and sunshine, resulting in a leafy plant that would provide a brief shade for Jonah’s scowling, sunburned brow, and making the reluctant, disgruntled prophet very happy for a few moments, answering Job’s prayer before he could ask (Isaiah 64:24).
One day, possibly before the first Christmas morning, God ordained a seed to fall to the ground, sprouting a tree, whose wood would make a cross for our Lord and Savior. What glorious, agonized Providence was that! The blessed wood, stained with our Jesus’ sin-destroying blood, hosted the greatest act of love and of rescue in mankind’s history.
Dear fellow believer, God has planted the seed of His Spirit in you (1 John 3:9). He has prepared you for time such as now. Your next step, your next stop, your next human encounter, your next stumble, your next well-intentioned wrong choice, your next disappointment, or your next success might be involved in the special Providence of God for His purpose. Keep alert, and “devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Colossians 4:2).
The power of a godly touch! Have you known it? The doctor who treated you, the teacher who dried your tears? Was there a hand holding yours at a funeral? A handshake of welcome at a new job? A pastoral prayer for healing? Can’t we offer the same?
Many already do! You use your hands to pray over the sick. If you aren’t touching them personally, your hands are sending notes, making calls, baking pies. You’ve learned the power of touch. But others of us tend to forget. Our hearts are good; it’s just that our memories are bad. We fear saying the wrong thing, acting the wrong way. So rather than do it incorrectly, we no nothing at all.
Aren’t we glad Jesus didn’t make the same mistake? Jesus touched the untouchables of the world. Will you do the same?
He Is Waiting
The crowning attribute of Christ was this: his heart was spiritual. His thoughts reflected his intimate relationship with the Father. Our hearts seem so far from his. He is pure; we’re greedy. He is peaceful; we’re hassled. He is purposeful; we’re distracted. He is pleasant; we’re cranky. The distance between our hearts and his seems so immense! How could we ever hope to have the heart of Jesus?
Ready for a surprise? You already do. One of the supreme yet unrealized promises of God is simply this: if you’ve given your life to Jesus, Jesus has given himself to you. He has made your heart his home. It would be hard to say it any more succinctly than Paul does in Galatians 2:20, “Christ lives in me.”
God is willing to change us into the likeness of the Savior. Shall we accept his offer?
HIGHLY GLORIFYING OUR
We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. ~ 2 Thessalonians 1:12
The Westminster Shorter Catechism proposed this interrogative interaction: “What is the chief end of man? Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” The enjoying Him seems easy enough; and, indeed, most Christians will say that they want to glorify God. However, they have their own notions of their ultimate manifestation of glorifying God. Some think that it is dramatically dying for Jesus (John 21:19). Some think it is audible—that is, singing and praising (Romans 15:9). Others think it is doing good works, even though they have their own list of what they consider good works (Matthew 5:16). Some think it is wearing Christian t-shirts and Christian jewelry, participating in Christian rallies, Christian banquets, Christian concerts, and church meetings.
The renowned C. S. Lewis made this discomforting claim: “The glory of God, and, as our only means of glorifying Him, the salvation of human souls, is the real business of life.” If Mr. Lewis is correct, then we should all, in one way or the other, be directly involved in personal evangelism. However, the first way that we are involved in “our only means of glorifying Him, the salvation of human souls” is in our own salvation: the confessing our sinfulness, the asking of Jesus to forgive us by His perfect work on the Cross, and the giving of our lives wholeheartedly to Him. Then, our changed lives and our new priorities are billboards to the world of the reality of Christ, while our verbal proclamation rounds out our witness.
BRAVE AND BOLD
Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. ~ 2 Corinthians 3:12
It takes a certain brand of bravery to live the bold and full Christian life. The enemy, who can manifest his purposes through unbelievers and believers alike (ask Peter: Mark 8:33), tries to paralyze you. When you accept Christ as Savior, Satan has lost that eternal battle, but the last thing he needs is a bold Christian glorifying his Lord.
He may leave you alone, if he sees that you love your comfort more than you love your God (ask the Laodiceans: Revelation 3:17-19). He may try persecution, ranging from subtle criticism to physical torture, to paralyze you. Even as he did with Jesus Himself in the wilderness temptations (Matthew 4:1-11), he may tempt you to divert from God’s plan. He may say things like, “God is going to use you and then throw you away,” “You’re going to fail and bring dishonor to God,” “Your past and your weaknesses disqualify you from serving God,” “You have wrong motives in serving God,” “You are going to look like a fool,” etc.
The brave believer eventually concludes that the only judge is God, that he will leave all things in His hands, and that he will go all-out to serve his Lord, relying on His power (Zechariah 4:6; Acts 1:8). True, we don’t understand our own true motives sometimes, but we shouldn’t let that paralyze us. We don’t know how other people will judge us, but we shouldn’t let that paralyze us. Because we love Jesus and because He has called us to this brave, bold life of faith, He will take the responsibility to work all things together for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28).
HE PROVIDES ALWAYS!
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”(Philippians 4:19, NIV)
In Second Samuel Chapter 12, David had gotten off course. The prophet Nathan was correcting him. In doing so, he reminded David of what God had brought him through. David had seen God’s goodness, favor, protection, finances and healing down through the years. And in verse 8, Nathan made an interesting statement. He said, “David, if it had not been enough, God would have given you much, much more.” In other words, “David, looking back over your life, if you were ever lacking, if you ever needed more wisdom, more favor, more protection, more finances, God would have given it to you.”
That tells us that we have what we need right now in order to fulfill our destiny. The moment that what you have becomes not enough is the moment that God will give you more. The moment something starts to keep you from your destiny, the moment it begins to stop God’s plan for your life is the moment God will show up and intervene on your behalf.
Today, be encouraged that you have what you need, and what you need tomorrow is on its way. God is faithful and gives you what you need to fulfill His purposes.
What God sees
On a trip to the United Kingdom, our family visited a castle. In the center of the garden was a maze—row after row of shoulder-high hedges—one dead end leading to another. By successfully navigating the labyrinth, you discovered the door to a tall tower in the center of the garden. I just couldn’t figure out which way to go. Then I heard a voice, “Hey, Dad, back up and turn right.” Do you think I trusted her? I listened. It was my daughter calling from the tower. Her vantage point was better than mine. She was above the maze. She could see what I couldn’t!
Don’t you think we should do the same with God? “God is. . .higher than the heavens” (Job 22:12 TLB). The Psalmist says, “The LORD is high above all nations” (Psalm 113:4).
Can he not see what eludes us? Doesn’t he want to get us out and bring us home? Of course he does!
FROM BEING TO DOING
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. ~ Ephesians 2:10
From childhood, we are told to be “good.” We eventually inferred that being “good” had to do with behavior and morals. If we hear it consistently and often enough, then we may tend to “be good,” at first possibly to please our elders, but later possibly to please our conscience.
However, being good does not go far enough. We must also “do” good, as it relates to the betterment of others. Scripture calls this “good works,” which Paul said God has prepared in advance for us to do. (Note: In Christ, our good works are “sanctified” and qualify for God’s glory and for our reward.) Now, there are common good works all Christians are called to perform: witnessing, tithing, loving, etc. Then, there are specific good works God has tailored for each of us, but He has empowered us with spiritual gifts to effectively accomplish those good works, to His glory and for “the common good.” (See 1 Corinthains12:7-11, Romans 12:6-8, and Ephesians 4:11-13 for listings of spiritual gifts. God chooses which ones we have, as 1 Corinthians 12:11 says; therefore, we have to “test and approve” His will in this: Romans 12:2.)
Though our “good works” are often used to minister to Christians, even in our church organizations, they also are used to minister to the lost and to the general populace. These good works are the end-product of the process Paul expresses when he tells us to “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God Who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose” (Philippians 2:12-13). We act on our faith and gifts, thus working outwardly what God has worked inwardly.
THE SUPERIORITY OF
And God said to Balaam, “You shall not go with them; you shall not curse the people, for they are blessed.” ~ Numbers 22:12, NKJV
In Numbers 23 and 24, Balak, king of Moab, took Balaam to three different locations to curse the migrating, mighty Israelites. However, in those three locations, Balaam, the prophet, after seeking his God, blessed Israel in seven discourses, infuriating Balak.
It doesn’t matter from what direction the enemy curses you: if you belong to God, His blessings triumph. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). The enemy’s curses have no power over you because Galatians 3:13 says that Jesus Christ became a curse for us, thus inoculating us from curses’ consequences. Even more than that, 2 Corinthians 5:21 says that, on the Cross, Jesus became sin for us so that we have become the righteousness of God, immune from the eternal consequences of sin: death (Romans 6:23). If that weren’t enough—and it is—“The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and He delivers them” (Psalm 34:7).
Keep serving by His grace. In His power, keep fighting the good fight. Walk forward, following Jesus, without fear. Don’t worry about any manner of curse, for God will “turn the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord your God loves you” (Deuteronomy 23:5).
A Spiritual MRI
We can’t live with foreign objects buried in our bodies or our souls. What would an X-ray of your interior reveal? Remorse over a poor choice? Shame about the marriage that didn’t work, the temptation you couldn’t resist? Guilt lies hidden beneath the surface, festering, irritating. Sometimes so deeply embedded you don’t know the cause.
And you can be touchy, you know. Understandable, since you have a shank of shame lodged in your soul. Would you like an extraction? Here’s what you do. Confess! Ask God to help you. Psalm 139:23-24 says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Confession. You see, confessors find a freedom that deniers don’t. If we confess our sins, he will forgive our sins! He will cleanse us. Not might, could, would, or should. He WILL!
LOVE GOES WITH
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NIV)
Have you ever thought about how love affects giving? Someone once said, “You can give without loving, but you can’t love without giving.” Love prompts us to give of ourselves, our time, abilities and resources. The Bible tells us that God is love, and the world will know that we are His followers by the love we show. Giving is what shows our love.
We are entering into a time of the year that the world knows as the season of giving, but let’s remember to take time to focus on the greatest gift of all, the gift of eternal, abundant life through Jesus. If you’ve never received this gift, open your heart and pray this simple prayer: “Lord Jesus, I come to You today, giving You all that I am. I repent of my sins and confess that I need You. I believe You died and rose for me. Be my Lord and Savior and make me new today. I receive Your love and Your gift of eternal life.” Then, go out and share the gift of love with someone else because it’s the gift that will last in eternity. He paid the price.
Listen, then apply
A not-so-bright fellow saw a sign in a travel agency window: Cruise–$100 cash. He walked in and when the fellow at the desk asked for the money, the not-so-bright guy started counting it out. When he got to one hundred, he was whacked on the head. He woke up in a barrel floating down a river. Another not-so-bright guy floated past and said, “Say, do they serve lunch on this cruise?” The first not-so-bright guy answered, “They didn’t last year!” It’s one thing not to know. It’s another to know and not learn.
Paul urged his readers: “Put into practice what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me” (Philippians 4:9 RSV).
If you want to be just like Jesus—spend time listening for him in his word until you have received your lesson for the day. Then apply it!
THE CREATIVE ELEMENT,
Jesus: “…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” ~ John 10:10, NIV
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17, NKJV
The “all things new” factor has the element of creativity. Love becomes a dance, not a march. Joy becomes a symphony, not a prescription. Peace becomes a sonnet, not a sensation. Purpose becomes a relationship, not a task.
Don’t miss the sparkle in the “life to the full.” It is a matter of yielding to God’s Spirit. In the verse “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10), the Greek word translated “handiwork” is “poema,” from which we get the English word “poem.” See the creative element, the spark? You are God’s poem.
All areas of your life have the capability of reflecting Heavenly rhythm, even as you “work” alongside Christ, Who said, “Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” (Matthew 11:29-30, The Message)..
THE MOST MERCIFUL,
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through Him you believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and glorified Him, and so your faith and hope are in God. ~ 1 Peter 1:18-21
“Inoculate” means “to implant (a disease agent or antigen) in a
person, animal, or plant to…stimulate disease resistance.” Then,
regarding severe disease such as cancer, chemo and radiation attempt to
drastically attack the disease in the individual. As we all know, severe
side effects can occur when treating diseases in these manners.
How would He do this? How would He treat the patient? Would He use a kind of invasive inoculation or give us some variation on invasive chemo or radiation? His justice demands that sin’s price be fully paid: death. From the natural perspective, no treatment without the patient’s decimation seemed feasible.
However, He had the perfect solution, even before the disease occurred, even before the patient came into the world (Revelation 13:8, also our text). He would do it in the most merciful, gracious way possible. God used a substitute for all patients, to satisfy justice and spare the patient. Now, we accept what Jesus did on the Cross. He paid the full price for sin, including death, sin’s wages (Romans 6:23). Then, as incredible as it seems, He not only imputed our sin to Jesus but also imputed Jesus’ perfect righteousness to us (2 Corinthians 5:21), thus completely healing the patients and making us fit for holy Heaven. He has made it so easy, all we must do is believe from the heart (Acts 16:31; Romans 10:9)
Since the word of God is God breathed, it is also Holy Spirit revealed. The problem most modern day Christians have, they do not trust the Holy Spirit in fellow believers to teach them God's truth. So, everybody is up in everybody else's business, intimidating, debating, and arguing that their opinion is right and everyone else in wrong. This has fragmented the Church. There were times the disciples argued with Jesus, but look at what He said to them in John 14:26, "But the Comforter, whom the Father will send in My name, HE SHALL TEACH YOU ALL THINGS, AND BRING ALL THINGS TO YOUR REMEMBRANCE, WHATSOEVER I HAVE SAID (In the holy scriptures) UNTO YOU"
It was of utmost importance that the followers of Jesus were to tarry in Jerusalem until they were endued with Power from on high. After the Holy Spirit came upon the 120 believers who in Acts 2:1-4, immediately the disciples understood by the Holy Spirit indwelling and teaching them what Jesus had already said in His 3 years of ministry. The Holy Spirit will not teach anything contrary to what Jesus had already taught and it doesn't vary with different denominations and organizations. It is obvious that what most people have is opinions and not Holy Spirit revealed.
When Saul of Tarsus, a Jewish Pharisee was saved, he didn't go to Jerusalem to discuss with the Apostles what He should preach, nor did he go to a Christian book store to find a book of sermons, nor did he look for ways to win friends and influence people. Galatians 1:15-18 "But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the heathen (gentiles): immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia (a desert), and returned again unto Damascus". During this approximate 3 years Paul was being taught by the Holy Spirit what Jesus had taught the 12 apostles before His death, burial, and resurrection. Paul was blessed by not having to spend time sifting through all of the ridiculous conflicting opinions of men. kbm. I will continue posting on this later. Please be patient.
Reach out and touch
Oh the power of a godly touch. Have you known it? The doctor who treated you, or the teacher who dried your tears? Haven’t we known the power of a godly touch? Can’t we offer the same? Perhaps you already do. You can use your hands to pray over the sick and minister to the weak. If you aren’t touching them personally, your hands are writing notes, making calls, or baking pies. And you have learned the power of a godly touch.
But others of us forget how significant one touch can be. Or we fear saying the wrong thing, so we say nothing at all. Aren’t we glad Jesus didn’t make the same mistake? Keep in mind the perspective of the lepers in the world. They aren’t picky or finicky. They’re just lonely—yearning for a godly touch. Jesus touched the untouchables of the world. Will you do the same?
In Him [Jesus] was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. ~ John 1:4-5
Light always wins against darkness. Light penetrates and scatters darkness. God has twice said, “Let there be light—once at creation; the other, when Jesus was born. In both cases, darkness was defeated.
The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., said this, regarding the fact that hate cannot drive out hate: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that.” We have seen or heard of the demon-possessed in remote tribes. The Spiritists (witch doctors, shamans, etc.) try to drive out demons with rituals and ceremonies, but the best result is never expulsion of the demons. As demons fled at Jesus’ command when He walked the earth, so demons today must flee at the authoritative name of Jesus Christ. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can drive out darkness.
Education, psychiatry, self-improvement, non-Christian religion—none of these can drive the darkness from a man. His darkness is rooted in his spirit, not in his mentality, psychology, or personality, though those things can be affected by his spiritual darkness. It all comes back to Jesus, the purest Light, the Conqueror of all darkness.
It also involves the individual’s will. Is he finally fed up with the darkness and the manifestations of it in his life? Is he ready for the solitary Remedy, the pure light of Jesus, to drive the darkness from within him? Those who will not accept the Light of Jesus have never heard the truth, have never believed the truth, or have loved darkness over light (John 3:19-20).
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. ~ Philippians 2:14-16, NIV
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. ~ 2 Timothy 1:7, NKJV
Christians occasionally become unwitting agents of the Satan (e.g., Peter, Matthew 16:23), but more often, unbelievers are unwitting agents of Satan. Christians are told, “Keep your religion in your churches and out of the public square.” Then, if the enemy wins that battle, he will plot through intrusive government to get into your churches to tell you what you can or cannot do there. Christians are first told what they cannot do; then they are told what they cannot say; eventually they are told what they cannot think.
Do you see a pattern here? The enemy of all souls seeks to drive back faith’s works and faith itself. He often uses fear to drive believers “inward” so that they will not witness “outward.” Satan knows what is in the Bible, sometimes (sadly) better than we know, and he works tirelessly to shut down and shut up Christians.
As the stars shine more clearly when the sky is darkest, so Christians should shine more clearly as the world becomes darker spiritually and morally. Every generation has brave believers who refuse to live an introverted Christian life but who speak and act unashamedly for the sake of Christ and for the eternal salvation of souls. The only question is whether we are not just willing but eager to be among that brave band of believers.
“Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, ‘Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city’” (Acts 18:9-10, NKJV).
Walk in Light
I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. (John 12:46)
This world is dark as midnight; Jesus has come that by faith we may have light and may no longer sit in the gloom which covers all the rest of mankind.
Whosoever is a very wide term: it means you and me. If we trust in Jesus we shall no more sit in the dark shadow of death but shall enter into the warm light of a day which shall never end. Why do we not come out into the light at once?
A cloud may sometimes hover over us, but we shall not abide in darkness if we believe in Jesus. He has come to give us broad daylight. Shall He come in vain.' If we have faith we have the privilege of sunlight: let us enjoy it. From the night of natural depravity, of ignorance, of doubt, of despair, of sin, of dread, Jesus has come to set us free; and all believers shall know that He no more comes in vain than the sun rises and fails to scatter his heat and light.
Shake off thy depression, dear brother. Abide not in the dark, but abide in the light. In Jesus is thy hope, thy joy, thy heaven, Look to Him, to Him only, and thou shalt rejoice as the birds rejoice at sunrise and as the angels rejoice before the throne.
AND TIME IS TICKING
For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. ~ Revelation 7:17
Someday, we will wonder, even marvel, that we crept in incremental commitment to Christ, rather than go “all in” much earlier or at all. It’s as if we are dragging toward full commitment, wary of its cost, making our sudden retreat shorter if we decide our recent step is too much. In that, we would be like the Israelites if they had inched into and across the Promised Land, taking an occasional step backward, making a few yards’ advancement per day.
Jesus did not misrepresent the fully committed life: He clearly said that we should consider the cost (Luke 14:28, KJV). However, He also said that the benefits, both in this natural life and in eternity, would far outweigh any loss in this snap-of-a-life. Of course, He not only spoke of these things but also lived them Himself. He was “all in” regarding His Father’s business from the moment it dawned on Him.
The Christian life is The Great Adventure if we are “all in.” Maybe part of His wiping tears from our eyes will be regret for not trusting Him enough to find His plans for our lives and then going “all in” (see 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, The Judgment Seat of Christ). Maybe another part of the tears will be that many souls were lost because we inched, rather than walked-and-ran boldly. It doesn’t have to be that way…and time is ticking away.
YOUR MARK MOMENT IS
ON THE WAY.
Luke 7:16-17(NKJV) Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen up among us” and “God has visited His people.” We all have times of visitation from the Lord. These are the times when God distinctly intervenes in our lives to bring us help, direction, care, and provision. He's ordained special times to pour out His love, favor, and blessing. It may be through a person we met, an unexpected promotion, or supernatural favor so that in a split second we are thrust years ahead.
These marked moments in our lives keep us on the course of our destiny. Ecclesiastes 9:11 says "I returned and saw under the sun that—The race is not to the swift, Nor the battle to the strong, Nor bread to the wise, Nor riches to men of understanding, Nor favor to men of skill; But time and chance happen to them all". You see, when you really understand this point, you don't have to be frustrated because things aren't happening as fast as you'd like. You don't have to worry about how things will turn out. All you have to do is stay in faith, knowing that God is directing your steps. As long as we keep believing, our marked moments are on their way.
Don't allow the enemy to steal your joy or distract you by getting you focused in the wrong direction.
STEPPING INTO THE
It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter. ~ Proverbs 25:2, NKJV
We moderns are trained to settle for superficiality. The 10-scene, 30-second commercial; the so-called experts reducing complexities to politically biased platitudes; the deceptive, attractive sales pitch, with the murky fine print—these are but saccharin disguised as nutrition. However, in a fast-paced age, we are satisfied with the capsule, without worrying with the ingredients.
Our text says that God may conceal a matter. Yes, He even keeps secrets (Deuteronomy 29:29). However, as our text also says, it is royally noble to search out a matter. The Lord has instilled in His greatest creation a curiosity—one of the many branches of aspiration which differentiate us from animals. God expects us to seek—most importantly to seek Him (Isaiah 55:6). I believe that He is pleased when we “search out a matter.”
Be careful about relying solely on others’ opinions. (God has given us Scripture and His Spirit in His born-again ones as magnifying glass.) Do not neglect the drive within you to search the truth of a matter. Yes, it takes time and effort, but you will never better yourself by always relying on others.
Imagine a person born deep in a cave. He never leaves that cave and rationalizes life in the darkness. From outside the cave comes a man who tells the darkling of light. He describes the light and its benefits. He praises the light. He preaches the light. He emphasizes how life in the light is immensely preferable to life in the darkness. However, the darkling will never “realize” the light until he himself searches out the matter. His stepping into the light is worth a thousand men telling him of the light.
Don’t settle for the darkness. Don’t rely on others’ speaking of light. Nobly seek the light yourself, and step into it (John 8:12; Colossians 1:12).
~ Author known only to God
"If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything." ~ 1 John 3:20
Here's a question: Can you & I truly have a generous heart like the Holy Spirit does, if our things are more important than people? Why don't we ask God to give us an opportunity to put our faith-declarations into action today.
He shall not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord. (Psalm 112:7)
Suspense is dreadful. When we have no news from home, we are apt to grow anxious, and we cannot be persuaded that "no news is good news." Faith is the cure for this condition of sadness; the Lord by His Spirit settles the mind in holy serenity, and all fear is gone as to the future as well as the present.
The fixedness of heart spoken of by the psalmist is to be diligently sought after. It is not believing this or that promise of the Lord, but the general condition of unstaggering trustfulness in our God, the confidence which we have in Him that He will neither do us ill Himself nor suffer anyone else to harm us. This constant confidence meets the unknown as well as the known of life. Let the morrow be what it may, our God is the God of tomorrow. Whatever events may have happened, which to us are unknown, our Jehovah is God of the unknown as well as of the known. We are determined to trust the Lord, come what may. If the very worst should happen, our God is still the greatest and best. Therefore will we not fear though the postman's knock should startle us or a telegram wake us at midnight. The Lord liveth, and what can His children fear?
Just Show Up
After Albert Einstein’s wife died, his sister moved in to help with the household. For fourteen years she cared for him, allowing his valuable research to continue. When she suffered a stroke and lapsed into a coma, Einstein spent two hours every afternoon reading aloud to her. She gave no sign of understanding but he read anyway. If she understood anything, she understood he believed that she was worth his time! He did what love does…he showed up.
Do you believe in your kids? Then show up! At their games. Their plays. Their recitals. It may not be possible to make each one, but it’s sure worth the effort. Show up! Whenever I speak at an area congregation, an elder in our church shows up. He does nothing. He says nothing. He just smiles when we make eye contact. It means a lot to me.
You want to bring out the best in someone? Then just show up!
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After He had provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in Heaven. ~ Hebrews 1:3
This verse has always seemed important to me. It spans the breadth of all time. Recently, it grew in importance as I realized something. First, one may say, “This is pure metaphor. Jesus Himself said that God is spirit (John 4:24), so God has never had a ‘right hand’ and never will.”
Granted, the metaphor “right hand” carries the meaning of equal power and equal stature, somewhat similar the popular usage “He is my right-hand man.” However, Jesus Christ is God, Who came in the flesh to procure the salvation of mankind. (Don’t fret over the concept of the Trinity. It’s rather simple. For example, I am one man, but I am a husband, brother, and son. Therefore, in the dateless past, knowing that man was going to need redemption, God CHOSE to express Himself in three personalities and offices toward His greatest creation, mankind: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.)
That Jesus is God in the flesh justifies the many anthropomorphic descriptions of God—that He has a face, a right hand, feet, breath, etc. Jesus, as usual, is the default answer to most questions. Jesus was the creative agent, as our text says and as John 1:1-3 echoes: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.” (Yes, another “name” for Jesus is the “Word of God.” At His second coming, Revelation 19:13 describes Him this way: “He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and His name is the Word of God.”)
If anyone ever says to you, “To hear you talk—it’s all about Jesus Christ,” smile and say, “Thank you. Yes, it is!”
Deuteronomy 11–13 - The constant theme of Deuteronomy is that God’s people should obey his commandments. But isn’t this one of the major themes of the entire Bible? We are saved not by works but by trusting in Jesus Christ. As saved persons, however, we are called to good works.
Just as with the Israelites, God promises that blessings will flow from obedience. “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” And disobedience brings heartaches. It can be no other way (Deut. 11).
Obeying involves worshiping the way God has told us to worship. He showed the Israelites how to worship and how not to worship (Deut. 12). We too must worship God from the heart, responding to the way in which he has graciously dealt with us in his Son Jesus Christ. Obeying is also a matter of daily living. Things go wrong for individuals, for families, and for nations when everyone does “whatever is right in his own eyes” (v. 8). God has given us not minute rules, but great principles of love and justice which we are to obey. We must recognize the danger of others trying to lead us astray (Deut. 13). The section ends with the words “doing what is right in the sight of the LORD your God” (v. 18). We must make our goal not to please ourselves, not to please others, but to please God. The result will be that we will be richly blessed.
Father, give us grace to obey you. We know O Lord that David said that Obedience was better than Sacrifice, So I believe that. Let us strive ( I did not say that we are perfect yet, for there was only one perfect man and that was Jesus) but we are to strive. Let us try to be obedient to the cross, when we find ourselves failing, let us go back to the altar and let's make it right. I don't want anything to keep me out of heaven and I know you do not either. Praise God forever More.
Your Destiny is Above
God’s Everlasting Love. The Scripture says in Romans 8:31(NKJV) What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Don't let your heredity stop your destiny. Don't let the way somebody treated you, or what they did or didn't give you keep you from pressing forward and becoming all that God has created you to be. The people who raised you may have had addictions, but that doesn't have to be your future. You can be the one to break that negative cycle. Your parents may have had anger issues or never amounted to much, but you don't have to keep letting that curse be passed from generation to generation. You can be the one to say, "No more. This is a new day. I may have had an unfair past, but I'm not going to have an unfair future. I know that God put a blessing on me before anybody could put a curse, and I'm not going to let my heredity stop my destiny.
Today, know that God is for you. When you choose to put Him first place in your life, then nothing can stop your destiny. Seek Him with a humble heart and break free from the bondage of the past. Let's focus on how a positive mind-set can help us overcome life's challenges for God wants you to be positive always. If you can not get past the negative and start looking at the positive, than you will never be able to achieve your goals.
FAITH IS OUR HEAVENLY
The scripture says, “And whatever you ask for in prayer, having faith and [really] believing, you will receive. ”(Matthew 21:22, AMP)
In the natural realm, we exchange money for the things we want and need. But in the spiritual realm, faith is what we exchange. The Bible tells us that when you pray, have faith, and you will receive it. Faith moves mountains. Faith pleases God. Faith opens doors. What is faith? It’s believing in God and His goodness. It’s knowing that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Faith is believing that the promises of God are true. It’s obeying His Word. It’s what causes you to act.
Where does faith come from? Scripture tells us that everyone is given a measure of faith, faith grows by hearing the Word of God. The more you hear the Word of God, the more real it becomes in your life and the easier it is to believe His promises.
It doesn’t matter how much faith you have today, begin to grow your faith by choosing to obey God’s Word. As you hear and obey the Word, your faith will strengthen, and you will receive what you’ve been believing for.
HE HAS NOT FINISHED
“It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. ”(Philippians 2:13, ESV)
You’ve got to let God do the work in you. In other words, be kind to the people who are not treating you right. Keep being your best even though you’re not getting the credit. Have a good attitude even though you’re in an apartment and all your friends are in a nice house. Pass those tests.
Paul prayed in Colossians 3 that the people would have the strength to endure whatever come their way. He didn’t pray that God would deliver them instantly or remove the difficulty. He prayed that they would have the strength to go through it with a good attitude. Paul understood this principle that God uses the tough times to get us prepared for the next level.
Today, if you are in a difficult situation, God wants to do a work in you. Surrender to Him. Surrender to His process. Obey His commands, and He’ll see you through to victory.
God is bringing you
to a place of unprecedented success.
Make this declaration a part of your daily life:
I am blessed for success. I am in it to win it. I will not let what
somebody said about me affect me, this rejection, this breakup, this
closed door, this disappointment, or this sickness cause me to get sour.
God has strategically placed me here. I will succeed because God is for
me, and He will provide everything I need.
Remember that God has a great plan for your life and He will never leave you or forsake you. He wants to make you an example of His goodness.
“Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.” ~ PSALM 37:5
We want the Lord’s Life, but we also want to retain a little something of our life. That will never work. This is why you have such ups and downs, simply because you still love your life, and only trust in His Life for the really difficult moments. In a bad situation you will throw yourself upon His Life and it will carry you on through, but in the normal everyday situations you live according to your own life.
Instead, let us learn to trust in His Life for every moment of every day. If we will surrender everything His Life will reproduce in us more effectively, gradually transforming, renewing, invigorating, and sustaining us from the inside out.
Losing Your Temper
Numbers 19-21 - What a great man Moses was! How much he had to put up with in leading Israel through the wilderness. How often he interceded for the people when God was ready to destroy them. Once he lost his temper, with tragic results. The people needed water and God told Moses to speak to the rock. Instead, in anger, he struck it with his rod. The result was that in losing his temper, he lost the opportunity of entering the promised land.
That doesn’t seem fair, does it? But the fact is that a person may
live as he should, yet one burst of temper can have irreparable results.
What permanent damage can be done if we lose our temper just once with a
spouse or a child or an employee. Let us ask for God’s grace always to
be in control of ourselves. Self- control is one of the fruits of the
After his mistake, it was necessary for Moses to go on dealing with the problems of life. The damage was done, but he still had responsibilities. When we fail, we ask for God’s forgiveness and go on. Moses had to lead the people as they fought the enemies around them. He had to deal with the fiery serpents and make a bronze serpent to which the people needed to look in order to be healed, even as we need to look to Christ in faith in order to be saved. Father, fill us with the fruit of the Spirit, self-control, and where we fail, forgive us and help us to continue serving You. In Jesus Name we pray.
Not all guilt is bad. God uses appropriate doses of guilt to awaken us to sin! We know guilt is God-given when it causes “indignation…alarm…longing…concern…readiness to see justice done” (2 Corinthians 7:11 NIV). God’s guilt brings enough regret to change us. Satan’s guilt, on the other hand, brings enough regret to enslave us. Don’t let him get his shackles on you!
Remember “your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). When he looks at you, he sees Jesus first. In the Chinese language the word for righteousness is a combination of two characters, the figure of a lamb and a person. The lamb is on top, covering the person. Whenever God looks down at you, this is what he sees– the perfect Lamb of God covering you. Do you trust your Advocate or your Accuser?
A Few Thoughts On Why
Prayer Is So Important
Prayer is, communication with God. It is the following:
1. Praise: We should praise the Lord, which means to thank Him for what He has done for us
2. Communion: Prayer is one of the greatest ways to communicate with God. We can talk directly to our Heavenly Father, as well as the Lord will also speak to your heart, giving you leading & direction.
3. Petition: We are admonished to ask the Lord for things that we need. As His children, it pleases Him to do good things for us. We must always remember it is His WILL we seek & not our personal will.
THIS MANNER OF LOVE
I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” ~ Galatians 2:21
A democratic republic, such as the United States, inevitably finds itself in a precarious position. While the founding documents declare certain freedoms, those who want to fundamentally change such a nation will pass laws that undermine those freedoms. Then, those who fight to regain those freedoms must pass more laws that reclaim those freedoms that originally had been given them. The result is an endless bureaucratic battle of convoluted laws.
The purpose of the Law given through Moses was never meant to bring
ultimate salvation and freedom. “Therefore, no one will be declared
righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the
law we become conscious of our sin” (Romans 2:30). Every detail of the
Levitical law was screaming, “A Savior is coming!” Speaking of this,
Paul declared, “These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the
reality, however, is found in Christ” (Colossians 2:17). Therefore,
Jesus proposes the ultimate, redefined freedom: “So if the Son sets you
free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). Then, there is “no law”
against the Spirit-bred freedom and the Spirit-bred fruit (Galatians
Is Your Heart Right
Beloved, God is ready to change your heart and give you a new heart. He wants to make you his own child and give you a clean heart. Aren’t you tired of your ungodly lifestyle that is void of God? Aren’t you tired of church membership without Jesus?
In Jeremiah 17:9 we read, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. who can know it.” There is nothing so false and deceitful as the heart of man. The gravest danger that we all face is that our hearts can deceive us into believing we are righteous and we are holy when in fact, we are headed straight for a devil’s hell. Is your heart right with God? Meditate on this Word and if need be, Change your life by receiving Christ who died for you and me.
THE WILL OF GOD FOR
Inasmuch as you have become a Child of God, the Lord has a perfect Will for your life. In other words, you are very important in the Kingdom of God, and the Lord will treat you accordingly. Inasmuch as you have give your heart and life to Him, He will now open up the Kingdom of God to you, and your place in that Kingdom (John 3:3. In fact, one of the great works of the Holy Spirit in your heart and life, is to bring about "the Will of God" for you (Romans 8:27).
In other words, the idea is that you will be swallowed up in the Will of God, which is the most wonderful, fulfilling life there could ever be. If you allow the Holy Spirit to have His Way within you life, He will bring about the Will of God, and help you to walk in that walk in that Will, doing what the Lord wants you to do. Actually, the Lord has a perfect Will for every Believer and that means you. What He has for you, cannot be done by anyone else. So you are to seek the Will of God, and you will find beautifully and wondrously, the Holy Spirit making Jesus more and more real in your heart, and bringing you the place in which God desires that you be.
Isn't it wonderful to have such help, and above all, to have such leading and guidance (John 16: 13-15). Remember - "The Word of God and the Will of God are One and the Same".
BE BOLD AND
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9, NIV)
When you look out into your future, what do you see? What are the dreams and desires that you hold close to your heart? Many of us started with bold dreams, but then opposition comes in. Life doesn’t turn out the way we planned. We encounter difficulties we didn’t anticipate. Today, if that’s you, I want to remind you that the Creator of the universe designed you with specific gifts and talents that no one else has. He has you on this planet for a specific purpose. When you commit your life to Him, He promises to be with you wherever you go.
Even though some things in life may have caught you by surprise, they didn’t catch God by surprise. His good plan for your life remains. You can trust Him because He loves you with an everlasting love, and He doesn’t want to see you settling for anything less than His very best.
I want to encourage you to be bold, be strong and be courageous. Put aside the past and lift up your eyes to Jesus. He is the Author and Finisher of your faith. Live boldly and dream boldly so that you can embrace the good things He has in store for you.
DO YOU HAVE FAITH?
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. ”(Hebrews 11:6, NIV)
Notice this verse doesn’t say that God rewards those who “deserve” it, or those who have “earned” it. It doesn’t say that God rewards those who act perfectly and never make mistakes. No, God’s blessing isn’t based on our performance; it’s based on our faith — our belief in Him and His goodness. In fact, one verse says that He longs to be good to those who are looking for His goodness.
I encourage you today to spend some time meditating on His goodness and dwelling on His faithfulness. Look for Him and expect Him to act. Spend some time reading the Psalms and begin to praise and thank Him for all He is doing. Open your eyes of faith and see all of the wonderful things He has prepared for you. Let His Word shape your thoughts, and remember, He is a rewarder of those who persistently seek after Him. He wants to bless you today because you earnestly seek after Him.
When people are refused access to Christ by those closest to him, the result is empty, hollow religion. Ugly religion.
Hard to believe? Yet it happens—even in the church. It happens when a church spends more time discussing the style of its sanctuary than it does the needs of the hungry. It happens when a church is known more for its stance on an issue than its reliance upon God. It happens when we think Jesus has more important things to do than to be bothered by such insignificant people.
Christ thought otherwise. Jesus felt sorry for the blind men and touched their eyes, and at once they could see. In that moment, of all the people, it was the blind who really saw Jesus.
When you think of worship, what do you think of? Outdated songs poorly sung? Dramatic prayers egotistically offered? Irrelevant sermons carelessly delivered? What is worship? The essence of worship is simply this: giving God the honor he deserves; applauding the greatness of God! The definition in the book of Psalms 29:1-2 is this:
As Paul said in Colossians 3:17, “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Worship–it’s a lifestyle. It’s an Action. It’s an attitude. It’s everything!
People today are so unconcerned about their souls. What will it take to cause
them to wake up? They need an earth - shaking experience that will cause them to
seek God - one that will cause them to repent and dig deep into the Word.
This will happen when men and women of God get serious about Revival - now I am not talking about an ordinary revival, but one that is prayed down and with the Holy Ghost shaking the rafters, with Old Time Holy Ghost Power moving once again. People falling under the Power of the Holy Ghost, how about Holy Dancing in the Spirit. Yes, that is the Revival I am talking about all over the world.
Yes, it is easy to talk a good talk, but are you walking a good walk or have you decided to take on all of the world you can get & still try to be a Christian? Sisters & Brothers, it will not work. God does not want a small part of you, but he wants ALL of you. His Word tells us we must Abide in Him and HIS Word abide in us. We cannot walk with Him apart from His Word. Come on folks - Lets have a Holy Ghost Revival and see a Renewing of God's People!!!!
Let the people say yes and seek the Face of God for this.
“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for He is faithful that promised)” (Hebrews 10:23, KJV)
“Hold fast” is not a phrase we often use in this culture. But in the original Greek, hold fast means not only to embrace, but to embrace with force as if someone is trying to take something from you. In other words, you’ve got to have a firm grip or you’re going to lose out. And notice what we are supposed to hold fast to — our profession, our declaration of faith.
I like to think of it sort of like a tug of war. You’re on one end and the enemy is on the other. He’s trying to pull that rope out of your hand. He’s trying to steal your hope and get you to speak negative words of doubt and unbelief. But you’ve got to be determined and stand strong. You’ve got to persevere and hold fast. Don’t let the enemy pull the seed of faith out of your heart. You might need to dig your heals in and get a new grip, but don’t you dare let go. Keep speaking words of faith. Keep speaking words of hope. Keep declaring God's Word and keep holding fast to the profession of your faith. He that promised is faithful.
Wait With Confidence.
See how a farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crops and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm. (James 5:7-8, NIV).
The scripture tells us that we should wait for God’s promises like a farmer waits for his harvest. Now, I’ve never seen a farmer plant a crop and then worry night and day about whether or not it’s going to come up. He doesn’t lose sleep thinking, Oh, I hope that my corn is going to take root. Please God, let my corn bring a harvest. No, he waits with confidence, knowing that the harvest will come. He does his part, and he knows that seed will produce a good crop. In the same way, we should wait confidently for the promises of God. We have to stand firm on His Word. It’s not enough to just hope that your situation is going to turn around. Instead of the attitude “I hope I get well”, have the attitude of confidence and say, Thank You, Lord that I am getting well. Start waiting like the farmer. Wait with confidence. Be sure that as you put God’s Word into practice, just like the farmer, you will see that harvest of blessing in your own life in return. Pray, Father i thank You for Your faithfulness in my life. Today, I choose to stand firm on Your Word. I choose to follow Your commands and believe that I will see Your promises come to pass in my life. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Be devoted to one another!
"Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves" (Romans 12:10, NIV).
Many people today are devoted to certain restaurants, television programs and even their cell phones! There's nothing wrong with any of that, but we have to examine our own hearts and see if we are being devoted to the people God has placed in our lives. Are we honoring others above ourselves? The world's system says "look out for number one—yourself," but God's system says "look out for others, and I will look out for you."
Today, as you examine your own heart and life, ask the Lord to show you ways that you can honor others. One way is by simply being faithful to your word. Be a person of integrity and honor. As you live your life devoted to one another and honoring others, you are actually honoring God. He will repay you for your kindness and reward you in this life and in eternity!
Obedience and Worship
Exodus 23-25 - In these chapters, God concludes the giving of commandments that are to regulate daily life and begins to give instructions for constructing the tabernacle, Israel’s portable place of worship. So also in the Christian life, there are two aspects: living godly lives day by day and offering our worship to God. The two must go hand in hand. Neither one ought to be neglected. What we do on Sunday should affect what we do on Monday through Saturday.
Among the commandments for daily living are those that tell how we are to treat the poor. We must not have just a personal piety; we must also have a concern for social justice. Because God cares how the poor are treated, so must we. We must not only say we care; we must do what we can to correct situations. - Connected to the call for obedience are promises of what God will do as a result of such obedience. God said to his people of old, “If you carefully obey” what I say, then I will bless you (23:22). God treats us, his New Testament people, according to the same principles he used in treating Israel. In chapter 25, we also find descriptions of some of the furniture that is to be built for the tabernacle. The ark is to symbolize the very presence of God in their midst. God dwells in our midst in a far more immediate way—the Holy Spirit is in our hearts. Father, may our Sunday worship affect how we treat people the rest of the week.
MY GRACE IS SUFFICIENT FOR
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9(NKJV)
There are days when you feel weak or times when you feel overwhelmed. But God has given us His grace to carry us through these difficult times and empower us to move forward in victory. Scripture says God’s grace is sufficient. The word sufficient simply means competent, enough or qualified. That means you always have whatever you need by His grace. You will never face anything that God’s grace cannot empower you to move through. We serve a God that is more than enough, and His grace is more than enough too. Today, remember, no matter what you may be facing, you’re not facing it alone. You are not without hope, you are not without resources, and you are not without answers because His grace is sufficient for you. His grace is all you need to move forward into His victory. Pray. Abba Father, I thank You for Your sufficient grace. I thank You for empowering me and equipping me no matter what I may be facing. Today, I lift my eyes to You for You are my help. I receive Your grace for everything I need. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Be bold to face the future.
For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.
As a child of God. You are anointed and giving the power to achieve whatever you ask. God’s anointing makes things easier. People will go out of their way to be good to you for no reason. You’re going to have creativity, wisdom and good ideas. God’s anointing on your life will cause the right doors to open. It will bring the right people across your path. It will make things go smoother. And the good news is, all you have to do is ask Him for it. Remember, He longs to be good to you. You can trust that His anointing will make things easier, and He will lead you into the abundant life He has in store for you. Be strong and courageous, and face your future with boldness. You are a winner.
THE BLESSED BELIEF
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen Me but still have believed.” ~ John 20:29
This is the resurrected Christ speaking to “doubting Thomas,” who had said, “First I must see the nail marks in His hands. I must put my finger where the nails were. I must put my hand into His side. Only then will I believe” and who went from that to saying “My Lord and my God,” maybe the most powerful testimony of Jesus as He really is. We may think that this is uniquely blessed faith, but look at our text: Jesus says that there is a prevailing blessed faith.
The unknown author of Hebrews slightly elaborated, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (11:1). We err if we think that this faith functions apart from anything else. Our faith gift (Ephesians 2:8) is vitally connected to God’s Word: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” The “hoped for”-and-“not seen” things are found in God’s Word. I’ve heard Christians say, for example, that they don’t read the book of Revelation because it is too hard to understand. This is a statement of weak-to-no faith, for they do not believe in the power of God’s Word, the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17), to do its work in our minds, spirits, and souls (Hebrews 4:12).
We have not seen Jesus in His resurrected body, but we believe not only in Him but also in all that He has said. The reality of Hebrews 11:1 occurs when living-faith arises as the Spirit and the Word spark hope and assurance in our hearts, for Jesus’s Spirit is Holy Spirit, and He is the Word (John 1:1-5, 14).
Run Your Own Endurance Race.
let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2, NKJ).
It's easy to be tempted to go through life competing with everyone around us. When we see someone who's more talented, better looking or has more gifts, instead of running our race and being comfortable with who we are, oftentimes we feel inferior and think, "I've got to catch up with them." The problem with this unhealthy competition is that it's a never-ending cycle.
There will always be someone ahead of us. But, it's a very freeing thing when you realize, that "I'm not competing with you. I don't have to have as big house as my neighbor to feel good about myself. I don't have to keep up with my co-worker. I don't have to be a certain size. No, I understand that I'm not in competition with my friend, my neighbor or my co-worker. Instead, I'm going to be the best me that I can possibly be." Friend, that's an attitude God can work with. When you focus on being who God made you to be, that's when you'll rise up higher and position yourself for every spiritual blessing He has in store for you.
Mouth Confession; Heart
If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. (Romans 10:9)
There must be confession with the mouth. Have I made it? Have I openly avowed
my faith in Jesus as the Savior whom God has raised from the dead, and have I
done it in God's way! Let me honestly answer this question.
If I can truly claim that I have both confessed Christ and believed in Him, then I am saved. The text does not say it may be so, but it is plain as a pikestaff and clear as the sun in the heavens: "Thou shalt be saved." As a believer and a confessor, I may lay my hand on this promise and plead it before the Lord God at this moment, and throughout life, and in the hour of death, and at the Day of Judgment.
I must be saved from the guilt of sin, the power of sin, the punishment of sin, and ultimately from the very being of sin. God hath said it—"Thou shalt be saved." I believe it. I shall be saved. I am saved. Glory be to God forever and ever!
FIGHTING FOR UNITY AND
Jesus, praying to the Father: “I have given them the glory that You gave Me, that they may be one as We are one—I in them and You in Me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.” ~ John 17:22-23
All this is from God, Who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation…. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:18
God is all about unity—of soul, of family, of friends, of community, of the universe, and, of course, of Him and His greatest creation. Therefore, Satan’s strategy is disunity—of soul, of family, of friends, of community, of the universe, and of God and mankind. I don’t believe that the world has ever seen such an attack on unity as we see today. Secular culture, unwittingly doing the enemy’s bidding, casts doubt on what unity the world has experienced in the past.
Unity brings peace; disunity brings chaos. Unity promotes love; disunity promotes conflict. Only when we—yes, even Christians—recognize this and battle it, will we begin fighting for that which God desires: unity. Unredeemed souls are as blind to the antichrist spirit as they are to the Christ’s Spirit (2 Corinthians 4:3-4), so they fall-in with every whimsical wind of cultural change that has a spark of rebellion against the old, tried-and-true godly ways (Jeremiah 6:16).
Be heroic! Fight for unity! Fight the sacred fight for the individual, families, friends, communities! Yes, fight for the greatest, most important unity between God and man. This is the very reason Jesus Christ came—to reconcile God with man—and He’s given us the ministry of reconciliation.
Rest Is a Gift
Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)
We who are saved find rest in Jesus. Those who are not saved will receive rest if they come to Him, for here He promises to "give" it. Nothing can be freer than a gift; let us gladly accept what He gladly gives. You are not to buy it, nor to borrow it, but to receive it as a gift. You labor under the lash of ambition, covetousness, lust, or anxiety: He will set you free from this iron bondage and give you rest. You are "laden," yes, "heavy laden" with sin, fear, care, remorse, fear of death; but if you come to Him He will unload you. He carried the crushing mass of our sin that we might no longer carry it. He made Himself the great Burden-bearer, that every laden one might cease from bowing down under the enormous pressure.
Jesus gives rest. It is so. Will you believe it? Will you put it to the test? Will you do so at once? Come to Jesus by quitting every other hope, by thinking of Him, believing God's testimony about Him, and trusting everything with Him. If you thus come to Him the rest which He will give you will be deep, safe, holy, and everlasting. He gives a rest which develops into heaven, and He gives it this day to all who come to Him.
GOD'S WORD IS FOR PEOPLE IN
EVERY NATION, KINDRED, TRIBE AND TONGUE
“Now while Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen
meant, behold, the men who had been sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for
Simon’s house, and stood before the gate. And they called and asked whether
Simon, whose surname was Peter, was lodging there. While Peter thought about the
vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are seeking you. Arise
therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.”
Then Peter went down to the men who had been sent to him from Cornelius, and
said, “Yes, I am he whom you seek. For what reason have you come?” And they
said, “Cornelius the centurion, a just man, one who fears God and has a good
reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely instructed by a holy
angel to summon you to his house, and to hear words from you.” Then he invited
them in and lodged them. On the next day Peter went away with them, and some
brethren from Joppa accompanied him. And the following day they entered
Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his
relatives and close friends. As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell
down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up;
I myself am also a man.” And as he talked with him, he went in and found many
who had come together. Then he said to them, “You know how unlawful it is for a
Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has
shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Therefore I came
without objection as soon as I was sent for. I ask, then, for what reason have
you sent for me?” So Cornelius said, “Four days ago I was fasting until this
hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before
me in bright clothing, and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and
your alms are remembered in the sight of God. Send therefore to Joppa and call
Simon here, whose surname is Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a
tanner, by the sea. When he comes, he will speak to you.’ So I sent to you
immediately, and you have done well to come. Now therefore, we are all present
before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God.” Then Peter opened his
mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every
nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.” (Acts
Peter representing the Word of God is for Cornelius and God's people as to what God wants us to know. See verse 33.
There is nothing more we need to know from God other than what is in this Book, His Word, testified by those who presented and wrote the inerrant Word as God spoke it! “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. (John 5:39 NKJV)
These are they who testify of Me. Truth is in this Book, God's Word and Plan for His people, everywhere...to grow in grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, our Lord and The Messiah. “Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.”, verse 34.
Our God sent the Word and prepared the audiences. He knows who are His. God's people in the audience are prepared for His message as stated in verse 35...“But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.”
In summary, there are in every nation, kindred, tribe and tongue, those people who are God's and cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. Good news! We heard! We are accepted!!
Dear Reader, read Romans chapter 11, again.
“For I know that my Redeemer lives,
THE PERSON IN THE HALLWAY
Jesus: “And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” ~ Matthew 22:39, NKJV
We must keep proper perspective. We know we have diverted from the true path when we see people as irritating diversions or secondary considerations to our personal (even ecclesiastical) agenda. As C. S. Lewis said, “Next to the Sacrament, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.” Indeed, humans—not institutions, programs, laws, or ideals—are God’s greatest creation and are dearest to His heart.
Remember that person you passed in the hallway, the one to whom you gave a cursory glance and maybe a superficial greeting? He or she was created to exist forever. After this life, the person will either live with God and everything that is good or separated from God and anything that is good. You may be the difference-maker in that person’s destiny by showing them Christ. Taking the time to make a small effort may blossom into your influencing that person for Jesus’ sake. “For who has despised the day of small things?” (Zechariah 4:10).
True, we may go mad if we continually and conscientiously think of this; but, in the main, we must always consider it. My former pastor said that he found it hard to attend a football game because he was always wondering who was saved and who wasn’t saved. He knew he could not make a difference in everyone’s life there, but his prayerful concern was appropriate.
Be alert. Don’t lose the passion. Don’t stop caring. Witness when you can. Be the letter from Christ. Pray with intensive focus. It is gloriously painful at times, but Jesus’ passion was also gloriously painful—and still is. Consider it: The Lord must be, at once, in continual joy for those who come to Him for salvation daily and in continual grief for those who die apart from His costly salvation. In this world, we provide Him the flesh-and-blood and the voice; He provides the Spirit and the outcome. He is the vine; we are the branches (John 15:5).
Genesis 24-25 - If the Christian faith is to be passed on to the next generation, strong family life must be developed. This can only occur when both husband and wife are believers. Likewise, Abraham in his day was rightly concerned that his son should marry someone who believed in the one true God. He therefore took steps to do what he could to cause this to happen. What an important lesson for us.
The servant Abraham sends to find a wife for Isaac is a great illustration of how faith is caught through observing someone else’s life. What a wonderful prayer for guidance the servant prays. And God answers that prayer in a remarkable way.
One is also impressed with Rebekah’s willingness to agree to what is obviously God’s will by leaving her family behind to go to an unknown place and to become the wife of a man she has never met. Oh that all believing young people would seek God’s will carefully in the choice of a marriage partner. How much happier they would be. How much stronger would family life be.
But we also see mistakes in family living. Abraham lives among pagans who practice polygamy. And Rebekah, having twins, plays favorites between them. That is something parents should be careful to avoid. We should strive to love all our children equally but not the same, for love responds according to each one’s need. Father, guide Christian young people to choose fellow Christians to marry and with whom to build solid Christian homes. Help them to be wise parents.
Preparing a Place
God’s purpose from all eternity is to prepare a family to indwell the kingdom of God. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11).
God’s plotting for our good. In all the setbacks, He is ordaining the best for our future. Every event of our day is designed to draw us toward our God and our destiny. When people junk you in the pit, God can use it for good. When family members sell you out, God will recycle the pain. Falsely accused? Utterly abandoned? You may stumble but you will not fall. You will get through this!
Not because you are strong, but because God is. Not because you are big, but because God is. Not because you’re good, but because God is. He has a place prepared for you!
“'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future'.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11
Today your life is going to be packed full of little details that, unbeknownst to you, are parts of a big plan. Whose? God's, of course. Think about that! He holds your future in His hand! Praise Him!
A real Christian is an odd number, anyway. He feels supreme love for One whom he has never seen; talks familiarly every day to Someone he cannot see; expects to go to Heaven on the virtue of Another; empties himself in order to be full; admits he is wrong so he can be declared right; goes down in order to get up; is strongest when he is weakest, richest when he is poorest, and happiest when he feels the worst. He dies so he can live; forsakes in order to have; gives away so he can keep; sees the invisible; hears the inaudible; and knows that which passeth knowledge. ~ A. W. Tozer
I wish you:
Health enough to make work a pleasure.
Wealth enough to support your needs.
Strength to battle with difficulties and overcome them.
Grace enough to confess your sins and forsake them.
Patience enough to toil until some good is accomplished.
Charity enough to see some good in your neighbour.
Love enough to move you to be useful and helpful to others.
Faith enough to make real the things of God.
Hope enough to remove all anxious fears concerning the future.
THE HARVEST OF GIVING
Jesus: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” ~ Luke 6:38
In the Old World, one of the first considerations for people settlement was water. If by a river, houses would be built on a rise above the water, so that flooding would not swamp the homes. However, during flood season, the people discovered a way to turn the episode to their advantage. They would take pieces of their grainy bread and cast them into the rising water. The result was that, when the waters receded, the soaked bread would plant itself in the softened soil. After many days, the seeds of grain sprouted a random crop.
Solomon, wise man that he was, must have had this in mind when he penned the following: “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days” (Ecclesiastes 11:1, NKJV). Of course, the riverside dwellers had to give before it was given back to them, just as Jesus said in our text. It was an act of faith.
Some people say that we are never more like God as when we give. After all, there’s that John 3:16 verse. Maybe it is true, but I do know that “giving” is a hallmark of Christians. When Christ was buried, it was more of the Seed being planted. Ever since, the world has sprouted a harvest of Spirit-bred believers that, corporately and quantitatively, fulfill Jesus’ prophecy: “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in Me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12).
Yes, Lord, We Need The Book
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: - I Peter 2: 1-9
In just a single chapter & a few verses Peter has already drawn deeply from Deuteronomy, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Daniel & of course the Psalms. And this reliance on Scripture as his binding authority is also reflected in the sermon he preached at Pentecost, the one in response to which 3,000 believed & were baptized. In a sermon that was little more than 500 words long as we have it in Acts 2, some 222 words are taken directly from the Scriptures. Peter quotes something from the prophecy Joel & from two places in the Psalms. He relies on the authority of the Bible. Should we do the same?
We hear yes from the pen of John Calvin as well as from the great evangelist John Wesley. In his Preface to the Sermons, Wesley waxed positively lyrical about the Bible when he said, "I want to know one thing—the way to heaven . . . God himself has condescended to teach me the way . . . He hath written it down in a book. At any price, give me the book of God! I have it: "here is knowledge enough for me". Peter would wholeheartedly agree with Wesley & together they turn to us, urging us to pick up our Bibles & read! Lord, may your Word be our rule, your Spirit our teacher & the glory of Jesus Christ our single concern.
NEW YEAR, NEW POSSIBILITIES!
God has planned new possibilities for you in this brand new year. He will help you accomplish your dreams when you put Him first and have faith in Him. Move forward in faith and forget the past because it is like water under the bridge. There are several things that we should do to better ourselves in the new year. First, we must avoid having a prideful attitude. For example, God used the Apostle Paul to write half of the new testament in the Bible. However, Paul did not become conceited. He realized that he had more to learn and could still grow in his walk with the Lord. We need to remember that we do not know everything and continue to pursue knowledge from others.
Another key to excelling in the new year is to forget your past and leave it with God. It is human nature to remember our failures and mistakes. Satan wants us to remember all our mistakes so that we feel like failures in life. However, we must remember that our past cannot hurt us. If we have confessed our sins to God, He has already forgiven us completely. We need to strive to please God in all we do during both joyful times and difficult times. You are blessed this year 2017 in Jesus Name, Amen.
Creation and Fall
Genesis 1-3 - Scripture begins with God. “In the beginning God.” This should be our starting point—in all the endeavors of life. Life today is in trouble because it is human-centered, but we can determine, by God’s grace, to live God-centered lives in such a world. God created the whole world out of nothing. With one word of power he brought it into being. And he created us. Therefore we belong to him. He made us for his good purposes, and it is for us to discover those purposes and to fulfill them. The rest of the Bible reveals those purposes to us. When God finished the creation it was very good. All of the evil in the world is not his doing, but rather the devil’s and ours.
How tragic that the human race at the very beginning fell away from God. Adam and Eve chose their own way rather than God’s way, and as a result, the good creation was spoiled. We have inherited that rebellious nature and therefore continue to seek our own way instead of God’s way. But there is hope. Immediately after the fall, God confronts Adam and Eve and the serpent, which represents the devil, and speaks of One who will be of the seed of Eve and will conquer the devil. This is the first hint of a gracious plan that climaxes in the coming of Jesus Christ. Father, we praise you for your creation and for your re-creation through your Son, Jesus Christ.