Seek ye first the kingdom of God (Las Tablas Global SA Ministries – Daily Devotion)

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Devotions by Dennis Burke Ministries

Sunday, December 17, 2018

Are You Hot, Cold, Or In Between?

In Revelation 3:15-16, Jesus said, “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!” (NLT).

The church of Laodicea had been weakened by the prevailing attitudes of the city. Jesus was calling the Laodicean believers back to their reason for existing and to the covenant He had given them. He wanted them to be either hot or cold; but not lukewarm.

What Jesus meant by this idea of being either hot or cold has largely been lost over the centuries. Typically this verse has been interpreted to mean that God wants His people hot—completely sold out to Him, but that He’d rather they be cold than somewhere in between—lukewarm in their commitment to Him. But there is a problem with that interpretation. After all, being a little warm seemed better than being completely cold (at least that’s true in the shower!).

Jesus was actually giving that church a much more powerful message.

Directly to the north and across the Lycos Valley from Laodicea is the city of Hierapolis, famous for its hot mineral pools. For centuries these hot springs attracted people to come and soak away various ailments. In ancient times, many aqueducts were built to carry those hot, healing waters six miles across the valley to the city of Laodicea. However, by the time the water reached Laodicea, it had become lukewarm instead of hot. And instead of possessing healing properties, the water carried a bad taste that made those who drank it feel nauseous.

Not far to the south on the other side of Laodicea are beautiful snowcapped mountains. Even in the late spring and summer, these majestic mountains provided streams of cold water that flowed into the valley and nourished the nearby city of Colossae.

By traveling only a few miles, the Laodicean residents had access both to healing hot waters in one direction and to refreshing cold waters in another direction. However, Laodiceans could also choose to partake only of the waters that flowed into their city. In that case, they drank lukewarm water that smelled bad and made them feel sick.

The picture Jesus paints for us is that He wants both His healing waters and refreshing streams to flow into and through every believer.

We are created in Christ to receive all the healing, restoration, and refreshing He has provided. We are also created in Christ to be His hands of healing and His voice of hope and refreshing.

This is the heart of Jesus’ message to the church in this ancient city: “You’re not looking to the waters I have provided for you, neither to the healing in My covenant nor to the refreshing of My Spirit. Instead, you’re looking only to yourself, to your own ‘local’ waters that nauseate both you and Me.”

We cannot be like the Laodicean believers who had slipped back into the error of relying on their own ability and becoming their own source. We cannot stop living in expectation of receiving the supernatural flow of God’s Spirit.

Revelation Chapter 3

King James Version (KJV)

3 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.

2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.

3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

4 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.

5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.

6 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;

8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.

9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.

10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.

12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.

13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;

15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Saturday, December 16, 2018

Faith In What’s Been Done

The finished work of Jesus has completely resolved the sin problem. When we come to Christ, we are no longer separated from God; now we are indwelt by Him. When we step out of sin and the sinner’s way of thinking, we step into God’s blessing.

Colossians 2:9-10 tells us the result of our redemption: “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power” (NKJV).

In Colossians 1:12, we see further what redemption has done for us: “Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light” (NKJV).

God has not only made us complete in Him, but He has also qualified us to partake of all the inheritance He has provided for any of His people. What He has done for one, He has done for all!

Our part is to believe we receive. Abraham was counted righteous because he believed (Galatians 3:6). Jesus told Jairus, “…Do not be afraid, only believe…” (Luke 8:50).

Notice what Jesus said in John 5:17: “…My Father has been working until now, and I have been working” (NKJV). During Jesus’ earthly ministry, we see that He was restoring to us what sin had stolen from us. He and His Father were continually at work to forever establish the plan of redemption.

Although God rested on the seventh day of creation, He didn’t rest for long. Once sin entered Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden, God went back to work, working His plan until Jesus finished the work. As a result, Jesus is now seated at the right hand of the Father, and we are seated with Him, having entered His finished work by believing.

When we accept the idea that we have to do enough to become worthy of Jesus’ finished work, we put faith in ourselves above Him. But the truth is, we are forgiven; sin is no longer imputed. Our repentance doesn’t cause God to forgive us; it brings His forgiveness, freedom, and power into our lives.

With all the work being done by Jesus, what must we do? Does this mean we can do nothing at all and still enjoy the fullness of His blessing?

If we miss this next point, we will miss it all!

Faith and believing are not passive in nature, but instead active and alive. God has given all of us specific assignments and callings. Every one of us is assigned to active duty. We don’t fulfill our divine assignments to obtain a right place or blessing from God; rather, we do so to reveal the blessing and righteousness that is already ours. God wants His righteousness and His goodness to be seen by people as we reflect His nature in our lives.

The more we receive a revelation of that truth, the more we will rest in God as we fulfill His assignments and plans. We cannot attain what Jesus did for us by what we do. We can only receive what’s been done for us by faith. Only then can we possess our promised land as we rest in God’s great love and provision for us!

Galatians Chapter 1

King James Version (KJV)

1 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)

2 And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia:

3 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,

4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:

5 To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:

7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.

8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

9 As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.

12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.

13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:

14 And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.

15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,

16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:

17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.

18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.

19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.

20 Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.

21 Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia;

22 And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ:

23 But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.

24 And they glorified God in me.

Friday, December 15, 2018

You Are Able To Possess It

A nagging question lingers in the minds of many Christians: Am I doing enough right things for God to experience His blessings and to have Him get personally involved in my life?

We often feel more like wishful thinkers than confident followers when it comes to receiving the promises found in God’s Word. But by looking back to the people who obeyed God as He blessed them, we can discover one of the greatest truths in the Bible: because we are children of the Most High, we ARE blessed, and the work needed to achieve that blessing is already finished!

It was never God’s idea for Israel to wander in the wilderness for forty years. The distance from Egypt to the border of the Promise Land could have been covered in weeks rather than years.

The Israelites’ own willingness to walk with God determined how far they would enter into the victories He was ready to provide. They were following God, yet they weren’t completely willing to trust Him. Instead of obeying with willing hearts, they often complained instead.

When Moses sent twelve men of Israel to spy out the land of Canaan, they all saw a land of abundance, the rich fruit that the land produced, and the people who lived there. Yet ten of the twelve spies came back with a report of the dangers and the giants. The bad report of these ten men swayed the rest, melting any courage they might have had in their hearts.

Only two of the twelve men, Joshua and Caleb, returned with a bold report of faith, declaring that they were all able to enter the Promised Land and successfully take possession of it. These two men had seen the same challenges in the land that the ten spies had seen, but they didn’t perceive those challenges the same way. Joshua and Caleb saw the obstacles in light of what God had said they were able to do.

In the same way, God expects us to see the benefits He has provided and recognize that any obstacle we may be facing cannot stop us. But to do this, we must develop more confidence in His way of getting things done than in our own efforts to change things.

This is where real trust in God begins. Trust that is aggressive rather than passive will press into God’s blessing and provision rather than waiting for it to come. We’re not waiting for God to do something, anything, to change our current situation. Instead, we’re applying God’s Word to the specific situation we’re facing. We choose to make it truth to us, even in the face of contradicting evidence.

Think of how the land appeared to those twelve men sent to spy it out. Certainly there were problems ahead if the Israelites entered the land to possess it, yet from God’s perspective, the problems Israel would face paled when compared to the supernatural provision He had planned for them.

What kind of report would the spies’ have had if all twelve had mixed faith with what they had heard from God? All of the spies would have said the same thing: that Israel was well able to take the land. We must become convinced that we are well able to possess what God has promised us.

Matthew Chapter 2

King James Version (KJV)

2 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.

5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,

6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.

8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.

12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.

14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:

15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.

16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.

17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying,

18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

19 But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,

20 Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child’s life.

21 And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel.

22 But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee:

23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.

Thursday, December 14, 2018

God Will Not Give Up On Us

Whenever we fail or stumble in our walk with God, Jesus doesn’t quit loving us or believing in us. He knows that His love has the power to overcome everything we are struggling with.

The Old Testament is filled with examples of God continuing to show His love and believe in people even after they ran from Him and compromised. For instance, God told the prophet Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh and declare His words of warning, but Jonah ran the other direction. He had no intention of doing what the Lord had told him to do. It was only after Jonah called out to God in repentance from the belly of that great fish that everything started to turn around.

Then in Jonah 3:1-3, we read one of the truly great statements about God:

“Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.’ So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord” (Jonah 3:1-3 NKJV).

Did you see it? God spoke to Jonah a second time. Just as God did with Jonah, He also continues to give us new opportunities to get it right.

God will always give us a second chance to obey Him and do it right. In fact, He will give us a third, a fourth, and a fifth chance—and He won’t stop there because He will not give up on us.

Romans 8:1-4 makes a clear case for staying free from the nagging voice of the accuser:

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (NKJV).

I like the way the New Century Version of verse 1 reads: “So now, those who are in Christ Jesus are not judged guilty.” We have been judged, but not judged guilty! We are judged with Jesus’ righteous judgment. We are now in Christ, free of guilt and every last trace of condemnation. We have been made the righteousness of God. Old things have passed away, and we are a new creation in Him. Death and condemnation have given way to life, love, forgiveness, and rightstanding with God.

There is now no more condemnation. Our sins are under the eternal and unchanging blood sacrifice of Jesus! So we must confess our sins to the Father, and be done with them. As we receive the freedom that is ours in Jesus, we will close the door on condemnation and allow the depth of His love to restore us and make us whole.

Galatians Chapter 4

King James Version (KJV)

4 Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;

2 But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.

3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:

4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,

5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

8 Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.

9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?

10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.

11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.

12 Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am; for I am as ye are: ye have not injured me at all.

13 Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first.

14 And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.

15 Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.

16 Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?

17 They zealously affect you, but not well; yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them.

18 But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you.

19 My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,

20 I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you.

21 Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?

22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.

23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.

24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.

25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.

26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.

27 For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.

28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.

29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.

30 Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.

31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Close the Door on Condemnation

Confidence in any relationship grows when people are able to trust each other and realize that each one has the other’s best interests at heart. In the same way, confident Christians must learn to trust that God loves them.

One of the most self-defeating beliefs many Christians maintain is that they are nothing more than forgiven sinners. But according to Scripture, that isn’t even possible. A person is either one or the other: forgiven or a sinner.

Once we have received forgiveness, we are free from sin and no longer sinners. We have been made saints in Christ. We are also made free from the nagging voice of condemnation—or at least, it is now possible for us to be free.

Sadly, for too many, the Christian life is filled with feelings of condemnation and a nagging sense that God is disappointed with them in some way. A condemned person has been found guilty and sentenced to punishment for a crime. Thus, to be condemned specifically means to pronounce a person guilty.

Because we know that Jesus took our punishment for sin, we also know that we are without guilt. Therefore, if we choose to live with condemnation, we are also choosing to ignore the depth of the work Jesus has done for us.

We see one example of how deep God’s love runs in the account of the woman who was brought to Jesus after being caught in the very act of adultery (John 8:3-12). But Jesus refused to condemn the woman. In fact, He told the accusing, self-righteous scribes and Pharisees that they could condemn her only if they had no sin. Of course, not one of them would go so far as to claim himself sinless, as a result, the woman’s accusers dispersed.

Then in verses 10 and 11, Jesus gives us a very powerful insight:

“When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, ‘Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more'” (NKJV).

Although the Law demanded that this woman be taken outside the city walls and stoned to death, Jesus didn’t hold her to the Law. Instead, He revealed a higher law: the royal law of God’s perfect love.

Religion had made those accusers harsh and heartless, and it does the same thing today. When someone is caught in sin as this woman was, the religiously calloused will immediately write that person off. And if any trouble comes to that person, the religious just dismiss it as an example of someone getting what he or she deserved.

Jesus didn’t condemn the woman caught in adultery, nor does He condemn any sinner or saint who is caught in sin. Instead, Jesus forgives and empowers them to live above sin. He isn’t soft on sin or its consequences. Jesus is, however, committed to unconditional love that will see anyone through tough times.

In John 3:17, Jesus reveals His true assignment:

“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

If God doesn’t condemn us, we need not accept the condemnation of others or even of ourselves. Nor can we allow ourselves to condemn others who may be caught in a snare or trap of sin. We are not guilty!

Acts Chapter 13

King James Version (KJV)

13 Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.

3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

4 So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.

5 And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister.

6 And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus:

7 Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God.

8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith.

9 Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him.

10 And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?

11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.

12 Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.

13 Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem.

14 But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down.

15 And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.

16 Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience.

17 The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm brought he them out of it.

18 And about the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness.

19 And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Chanaan, he divided their land to them by lot.

20 And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet.

21 And afterward they desired a king: and God gave unto them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years.

22 And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave their testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.

23 Of this man’s seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus:

24 When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.

25 And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not he. But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose.

26 Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent.

27 For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him.

28 And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain.

29 And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre.

30 But God raised him from the dead:

31 And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people.

32 And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers,

33 God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.

34 And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David.

35 Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

36 For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption:

37 But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.

38 Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:

39 And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.

40 Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets;

41 Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.

42 And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath.

43 Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.

44 And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.

45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.

46 Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.

47 For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.

48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.

49 And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.

50 But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts.

51 But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium.

52 And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

God’s Divine, Limitless Love

Jesus is the revelation of God’s divine, limitless love. Living by faith becomes a powerful reality in our lives only when we learn that God’s love and blessing are unconditional.

Once we repent of our sins, God no longer remembers them.

“I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins. Put Me in remembrance; Let us contend together; State your case, that you may be acquitted” (Isaiah 43:25,26 NKJV).

Notice that it is for God’s sake that He will not remember our sins. He wants a relationship based on His love, not our failures. He won’t bring up our sins.

There is a very big distinction between sin and sins. Sin is the condition or the spiritual prison wherein mankind has been bound. The condition of sin separates people from a relationship with God and blinds them to His love for them.

On the other hand, sins are wrong behaviors and actions. Such actions are common to the sinner, but even people who are translated out of the kingdom of darkness behave sinfully at times.

The condition of sin prevents people from obtaining a position of rightstanding and fellowship with God. When a person receives Jesus as his Savior, he is redeemed from that spiritual prison of sin and is made the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). That person can still commit sins that violate his righteous conscience. However, those sins don’t change what the Father has done to translate that believer into His kingdom.

“The Father has delivered and drawn us to Himself out of the control and the dominion of darkness and has transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in Whom we have our redemption through His blood, which means, the forgiveness of our sins” (Colossians 1:13,14 AMP).

Jesus’ blood sacrifice removed us from the control and dominion of the kingdom of darkness. We are now in a new Kingdom: the Kingdom of the Son of His love.

Does our wrongdoing remove us from God’s Kingdom and place us back under the control of Satan’s wicked kingdom? Do we become a sinner again? Are we transferred out of the Kingdom of God’s love back into the kingdom of darkness?

No, the sacrifice of Jesus has changed us forever. We are a new creation. We live within a new system and kingdom. When Jesus came to the earth, He offered a perfect sacrifice once for all: one that is good for all eternity. No other sacrifice will ever be required. All He said is that we must believe.

The message of God’s good news is that we’re not blessed and accepted because we do everything right, keep all the rules, know all the right things to say, or always act just like everyone thinks we should act. We are blessed and accepted because we believe God and His Word!

The freedom we receive the moment we believe clears the way for us to enjoy intimate fellowship with God and to learn His way of doing things. Our right position with God relieves the pressure to only “do” things and frees us to “become” who He has made us to be. We are created to live as children of the living God, enjoying a life of faith, of complete freedom, and of unconditional acceptance before Him!

Colossians Chapter 1

King James Version (KJV)

1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,

2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

3 We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,

4 Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints,

5 For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;

6 Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:

7 As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ;

8 Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.

9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;

10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;

11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;

12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:

13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;

20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled

22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:

23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:

25 Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;

26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:

27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:

29 Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Love Without Conditions

When Adam sinned, the ruler of sin and death was authorized to bring his evil power into the earth for the first time. Adam’s authority and influence to dominate and multiply on the earth according to God’s instructions was now subjected to Satan: the one Adam had chosen to obey.

God’s desire to ultimately free mankind from the rule of this rebel spirit required that the Law be given to people. They had to know what it would take to live in God’s system in order to receive His blessings.

Yet the Law didn’t empower people to live by its requirements. As a result, it only revealed their inability in themselves to obtain God’s acceptance and approval. The Law of God was true and right, but it was weak in a crucial respect: It did not bring the ultimate answer that would free people from the sin that bound them.

Then Jesus came to earth and destroyed the works of the devil. Nailed to the Cross, Jesus bore the punishment and paid the price for man’s sin, taking upon Himself all of its consequences. Sin had separated man from God, but on the Cross, the sinless One took that separation upon Himself so man could know rightstanding with God.

Jesus didn’t deserve the consequences of sin. Yet He took sin upon Himself and was made sin in order that you and I could be made His righteousness. We don’t deserve His righteousness. Yet, just as Jesus received what He did not deserve, we now receive what we do not deserve. His love has made it freely available. We are now made His righteousness: blameless and pure by faith in Him.

None of this is the result of our doing what is right. Rather, it’s the result of our receiving God’s free gift of righteousness. Paul tells us what then follows in Romans 5:17 (CEB):

“Death ruled like a king because Adam had sinned. But that cannot compare with what Jesus Christ has done. God has been so kind to us, and he has accepted us because of Jesus. And so we will live and rule like kings.”

We now rule like kings over our own lives based on our believing and receiving.

The way of the worlds system is to be rewarded for what we do. If we act right and do right, we will get ahead. This is the way it is in business, on the job, and in personal relationships. We will experience the best only if we do it right.

God’s way is to bless first; not because we act right or do right, but because we believe right.

God’s system is not based on works or personal effort, but on faith. This is contrary to our common way of thinking. God is the first to give, first to bless, first to forgive, and first to love.

The message of the Gospel is that God has blessed those who believe. The Law of the Old Covenant could not bring the blessing of God’s love without conditions. But the Father desired a way to express without limits His love toward man. Jesus was the revelation of that divine, limitless love. You are loved without limits!

Romans Chapter 5

King James Version (KJV)

5 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;

4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.

8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.

15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.

16 And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.

17 For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)

18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Love Without Limits

The stain of sin has given birth to every major religion in the history of the world. The deep yearning to be accepted by God is a core desire shared by every person born on this earth. In countless ways, people have worked to feel that they are in some way worthy to be blessed by God or at least that they are able to fall on His mercy in their unworthiness.

But God took it upon Himself to deal with the problem sin created. Knowing that people would never be able to solve the sin problem themselves, He provided a foolproof plan that would bring anyone who received His provision by faith into a new life of complete liberty.

This divine plan for our total freedom was one of the biggest issues the Apostle Paul dealt with in his letters to the early churches. In the book of Romans, he devotes more to this subject than to any other. Romans 1:16-17 reveals the foundation for what will follow in Paul’s letter to the Romans:

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.'”

“The just shall live by faith.” This statement from Habakkuk is repeated in Galatians and again in Hebrews.

The Contemporary English Bible translates verse 17 this way:

“The good news tells how God accepts everyone who has faith, but only those who have faith. It is just as the Scriptures say, ‘The people God accepts because of their faith will live.'”

When we are justified and accepted by God, we are free to live by faith in God and His Word. So why is it that people continue to live distant from God and with a nagging sense of condemnation? Why are so many true Christians still struggling to grow in faith?

When people are more in tune to their own failures than they are to God’s love for them, they focus on the wrong thing. They don’t realize that the finished work of Jesus has completely delivered them from all that sin has done to keep them distant from Him.

The good news of Jesus reveals God’s plan to bring everyone into a position of rightstanding with Him: accepted, clean, and forgiven. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, the Father revealed that sin’s power to rule over people has been destroyed.

Did Jesus deserve the consequences of sin? No, He did not. Yet He took sin upon Himself and was made sin in order that we could be made His righteousness. Do we deserve His righteousness? No, we did nothing to deserve it. Just as Jesus received what He did not deserve, we now receive what we do not deserve. His love has made it freely available. We are now made His righteousness; blameless and pure by faith in Him.

God’s system is based on faith, not on works or personal effort. God is the first to give, first to bless, first to forgive, and first to love. All of these benefits come to us for no other reason but that we turn to Him and believe.

Romans Chapter 1

King James Version (KJV)

1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,

2 (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,)

3 Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;

4 And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:

5 By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:

6 Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ:

7 To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.

9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;

10 Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.

11 For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;

12 That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.

13 Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.

14 I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.

15 So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:

25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,

30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

No More Nagging Voice

As believers, when we stand before the Heavenly Court of our Father, we are found innocent. Jesus bore our guilt and paid the price we would have paid. As a result, God said He would remember our sin no more (Hebrews 10:17).

There is no more record of our sins and our transgressions of God’s Law. We are acquitted and free!

“You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ. He forgave all our sins. He canceled the record that contained the charges against us. He took it and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ’s cross” (Colossians 2:13-14 NLT).

In a natural court, once a defendant has been found innocent, orders are sent throughout the judicial system requiring all charges against this person be expunged. This means that all accusations against the defendant are to be permanently removed from his or her record.

The same thing happened in the Father’s Heavenly Court when we were found innocent by virtue of the blood of Jesus. There is now no condemnation or accusation held against us, nor is there even a record in Heaven that were ever accused of anything! It’s just as if we had never sinned or missed the will of God even once in our entire life. The Father sees us in the light of Jesus’ perfect and complete work of redemption.

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:1 NKJV).

The Ben Campbell Johnson paraphrase of this verse is very powerful: “Now there is no accusing voice nagging those who are united to Jesus Christ.” Once we have put on the new life in Christ, we are acquitted; our sins are expunged; and the voice that accuses us is silenced!

God is not holding our sin against us. He has freed us from living condemned by sin. Of course, knowing that we’re going to be forgiven doesn’t give us a license to continue in sin. It is actually our license to receive God’s unconditional love, to live in His victories, and to walk in the liberty of His finished work.

God’s laws are now written in our hearts, and with those laws we receive the power of the Holy Spirit to live free from sin.

In conclusion, in Romans 7:6 the Apostle Paul describes the Christian life as it now relates to the Law:

“But now we have been released from the law, for we died with Christ, and we are no longer captive to its power. Now we can really serve God, not in the old way by obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way, by the Spirit” (NLT).

We are dead to sin, to the Law, and to all condemnation over sin. We are now alive in Christ and have received rightstanding in the presence of our holy God.

All of this has been done to bring us back to the place where God’s blessing would freely reside on us and in us. We must grasp this truth, then enter into the rest of faith where we are accepted, acquitted, and blessed in all realms of life by the redemptive work Jesus finished for us.

Second Timothy Chapter 4

King James Version (KJV)

4 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;

2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.

3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.

7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

9 Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me:

10 For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.

11 Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.

12 And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus.

13 The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.

14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works:

15 Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words.

16 At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.

17 Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.

18 And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

19 Salute Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.

20 Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick.

21 Do thy diligence to come before winter. Eubulus greeteth thee, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia, and all the brethren.

22 The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. Amen.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Dead Man Walking

From a lonely, cold prison cell, they begin the walk. A prisoner, accompanied by the warden and several guards, walks toward the end of his life. A condemned man, he is minutes away from his just punishment. He was found guilty, and now his crime is about to cost him everything, including his entire future.

“Dead man walking!” The cry is heard through the halls, announcing the inevitable. The prisoner is alive, but that is soon to change.

For a few minutes, it’s as though this man is suspended between life and death. Although he’s still alive, he has been condemned to die. He is a walking dead man.

In many ways, the Bible describes the Christian experience in similar terms. Paul said it this way: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 KJV).

“Crucified.” The word signifies the cruel execution of a condemned life. Paul had joined himself to the death of a condemned Man: Jesus. Paul had received divine justice by faith. It was a justice that condemned him to death for his sins, and by faith he had died the death of the Cross.

Paul confidently accepted his sentence and, by virtue of Christ’s death, satisfied divine justice, finding his own place of freedom. It is as though Paul announced, “I am dead, the Law has killed me, and I am now free from its power. In my virtual death, I have borne the curse, and by faith in my Substitute, all that the Law required of me has been executed upon me.”

Think about it, death is liberating! It frees a person from every debt, from all physical weakness and disease. In Christ, the believer can also be liberated from all feelings of guilt and emotional pain attached to past issues. Spiritual death frees us from all that sin has done to us.

The old corrupt nature was buried and, with it, all that has kept us from God’s presence and fullness. Paul went on to say, “Nevertheless I live.” Although he was clearly dead, he was more alive than he’d ever been. Dead, yet very alive! We have been crucified, yet at the same time we are risen with Christ into a new resurrected life.

The accuser will try to fill us with guilt from all the things we have or have not done. But how can we be guilty if the price has been fully paid by accepting the sacrifice of the One who gave Himself for us?

In the eyes of God, we are not guilty. We cannot allow the weight of the enemy’s accusations to become a burden that paralyzes our Christian walk. There is no more record of our sins and our transgressions of God’s Law. We are acquitted and free! God is not holding our sin against us. He has freed us from living condemned by any sin. We are now alive in Christ and have received rightstanding in the presence of our holy God.

Galatians Chapter 2

King James Version (KJV)

2 Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.

2 And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.

3 But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised:

4 And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:

5 To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.

6 But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me:

7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;

8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)

9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.

10 Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.

11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.

12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.

13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.

14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?

15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,

16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.

18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.

19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.

20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

The Path to Your Divine Assignment

The Apostle Paul had received instructions from the Holy Spirit to go to Rome and stand before Caesar. The only thing he knew was that prison and suffering awaited him. But that didn’t stop the Apostle Paul. All he wanted to hear at the end of his race were the words, “Well done” spoken by the Lord.

The crew sailing the ship that carried Paul to Rome had experienced many days of dangerous sailing. Paul warned them: “Men, I perceive that this voyage will end with disaster and much loss, not only of the cargo and ship, but also our lives” (Acts 27:10 NKJV). And just like Paul warned, a typhoon strength wind caught the ship and blew it out to sea until they couldn’t turn the ship into the wind, so they gave up.

The people on board the ship carrying Paul to Rome hadn’t seen the sun or the stars for weeks. But the day after the angel spoke to Paul, an island came into view. Look how the circumstances changed, overnight! Things can get better in a hurry when God is on our side!

After they landed on the island, Paul was gathering sticks for a fire when a poisonous snake bit him on the hand. The local residents saw the snake hanging from his hand and said to each other, “A murderer, no doubt! Though he escaped the sea, justice will not permit him to live” (Acts 28:3 NLT). Notice how the circumstances caused these people to jump to conclusions as they reasoned, Obviously he is a murderer.

But Paul was not moved. He shook off the snake into the fire and was unharmed. His divine appointment grew closer with every passing moment. Paul had learned to live his life by his God-given assignment, not by circumstances.

The people waited for Paul to swell up or to suddenly drop dead, but when they had waited a long time and saw that he was unharmed, they changed their minds and decided he was a god. People are so fickle! One moment they were convinced by circumstances that Paul was a murderer, and the next moment when the circumstances changed, he was a god. This is what happens when people form their opinions by what they see.

Paul had an advantage over everyone on board the ship, not because he was an apostle, but because the Holy Spirit lived within him. Paul responded to the perceptions of the Spirit; he obeyed the message from the angel and all their lives were spared. “And so it was that they all escaped safely to land” (v. 44).

We are living in dangerous days in which it is critical to be led by the Holy Spirit as we fulfill our God-given assignments, just as Paul was led by the Spirit on that perilous voyage to fulfill what God had called him to do. As we call upon our Divine Helper, He will be there to assist and to guide us through every situation we face in life.

Acts Chapter 26

King James Version (KJV)

26 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself:

2 I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews:

3 Especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently.

4 My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews;

5 Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.

6 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God, unto our fathers:

7 Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope’s sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews.

8 Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?

9 I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.

10 Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.

11 And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.

12 Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests,

13 At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me.

14 And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

15 And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.

16 But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;

17 Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,

18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.

19 Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:

20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.

21 For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me.

22 Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come:

23 That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.

24 And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.

25 But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.

26 For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner.

27 King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.

28 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.

29 And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.

30 And when he had thus spoken, the king rose up, and the governor, and Bernice, and they that sat with them:

31 And when they were gone aside, they talked between themselves, saying, This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds.

32 Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

God Will Move Heaven and Earth

Jesus warned us that “the gate to destruction is wide, and the road that leads there is easy to follow. A lot of people go through that gate” (Matt. 7:14 CEV). Why is the road so wide? To accommodate the vast number of people who walk that way. We always make a mistake when we follow the crowd! But that’s what happened on board Paul’s ship when “…most of the crew wanted to go to Phoenix…” (Acts 27:12 NLT).

The crew was also led by circumstances. Verse 13 says: “When the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their desire, putting out to sea, they sailed close by Crete” (NKJV). The south wind blowing softly sounds so inviting. But circumstances are unreliable and can change without warning.

As Christians, we must know from the Holy Spirit what to do instead of following unreliable circumstances! Look what happened after the soft blowing wind lured the crew of that ship out to sea: “But the weather changed abruptly, and a wind of typhoon strength (a “northeaster,” they called it) caught the ship and blew it out to sea. They couldn’t turn the ship into the wind, so they gave up…” (vv. 14-15).

When we are led by our reasoning, circumstances, or anything other than the Holy Spirit, we can get ourselves so far off center that the devil will try to convince us that it’s hopeless; that we’re too far gone to get back on track. If we continue to think like that, we will continue to be carried further off course.

Sometimes it appears that things can get out of control rather quickly and seem impossible to turn around. That’s when people become hopeless. Notice how desperate the circumstances looked to those on board this ship: “Then, when for several days neither sun or stars were seen and the terrific gale still harassed us, the last ray of hope was now vanishing” (v. 20 Weymouth).

Paul informed the crew that an angel had stood before him and guaranteed their lives would be saved. That was encouraging, but not because the circumstances looked any better. There was no physical evidence that anything had changed. But an angel of God had spoken to Paul. Now the apostle had the crew’s attention! Doubt was replaced by hope! Notice what the angel told Paul: “Don’t be afraid, Paul, for you will surely stand trial before Caesar!…” (v. 24).

Paul had a God-given assignment that he knew he must fulfill. Nothing could stop him, not human reasoning, not the crowd, not circumstances, not even the experts. It was clear to Paul that he had a divine appointment in Rome and nothing would deter him.

The same is true for us. When we know our God-given assignment, nothing will detour us. Knowing our assignment gives us confidence that God will move Heaven and earth to make sure our divine appointment is kept. Human reasoning won’t stop us; circumstances won’t hinder us; and the opinions of others, even the experts, won’t influence us, as long as we know what God has assigned us to do.

Matthew Chapter 7

King James Version (KJV)

7 Judge not, that ye be not judged.

2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?

10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:

25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:

27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

28 And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine:

29 For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

The Best Path For Your Life

Psalm 32:8 says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you” (NLT). The Lord promises not only to guide us on the best path for our lives, but also to advise us all along the way.

Although Romans 8:14 says, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God,” many Christians make decisions based on a variety of other factors besides the leading of the Spirit.

Some pursue their self-made plans without even consulting the Lord. Others are led by their feelings and emotions, even though the Bible never says we are to be led by how we feel. Still others make decisions based on an unstable economy, current government policies, or other external circumstances. But the devil can govern and influence these natural areas because he is the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). When we make our decisions based on these natural indicators, we invariably come to wrong conclusions.

The Apostle Paul tapped into the All-knowing One for wisdom in his everyday life. Paul had received few details after the Holy Spirit compelled him to go to Rome and stand before Caesar; only that prison and suffering lay ahead. But that didn’t matter, he only wanted to hear the Lord say, “Well done.”

The ship carrying Paul to Rome had docked after many days of dangerous sailing. As the crew prepared to continue the voyage, Paul warned them: “Men, I perceive that this voyage will end with disaster and much loss, not only of the cargo and ship, but also our lives” (Acts 27:10 NKJV).

Paul’s warning wasn’t heeded. In that journey to Rome, the crew responsible for the voyage were led by a variety of sense-ruled means: their own natural reasoning, the crowd, others’ expert advice, and circumstances — and they all suffered the consequences for their wrong decision.

First, Julius, the centurion responsible for taking Paul safely to Rome, was persuaded by the helmsman’s opinion rather than making the decision for Paul’s safety himself. He was influenced by the so-called expert helmsman and ignored Paul’s warning.

However, experts don’t always know what lies ahead, but the Holy Spirit does, so be wary of following experts! Remember, Bernie Madoff was considered an expert in the investment world, and when he failed, everyone who had followed his expert advice suffered.

Second, they reasoned, “Fair Havens was an exposed harbor, a poor place to spend the winter” (v. 12). It seemed reasonable to the crew to sail on to a harbor with less exposure from the winter. Their failure to listen to Paul, however, exposed them to greater danger.

It’s just as dangerous for us to allow our intellect, reasoning, or natural understanding to lead us. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take” (NLT). If we want to know the right path to take in every situation, we cannot lean on our own knowledge, instead we must look to the Lord for guidance and direction.

Romans Chapter 8

King James Version (KJV)

8 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.

6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.

13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

15 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.

16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.

20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,

21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?

25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.

34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Breaking the Pain Cycle

As a result of his hunger for God, Jabez prayed five of the most powerful prayers recorded in the Bible (see 1 Chronicles 4:9-10). Jabez looked to God for help in breaking the pain cycle. He was about to step out of the past and into a new future.

First, Jabez prayed, “Oh, that You would bless me.” He knew that God’s blessing was obtainable. Although his environment would have left anyone feeling undeserving and unworthy, Jabez lifted his sights to see God’s heart.

God has always wanted to bless and empower people. Religion has taught people that He is demanding and difficult, requiring self-abasement. But God is love.

Second, Jabez prayed, “Enlarge my territory.” In his decision to redefine his path, he saw that God would expand his life and his influence.

Third, Jabez prayed, “That Your hand would be with me.” When God’s hand is with us, we are following His lead, taking His directions, and yielding to His influence. We are like a young child walking down the sidewalk with his hand securely in the hand of his father, knowing everything will be all right.

Fourth, Jabez prayed, “That You would keep me from evil.” The kingdom of darkness has no right to any part of our life. God is our Protector, and if we will stay in His loving care, He will keep evil from us and will keep us from evil.

Finally, Jabez asks, “That I may not cause pain!” He was drawing a line in the sand and settling the matter of his redefined life before God. It was as if Jabez was saying, “I will not be the person my environment created. I have been told all of my life I brought only pain, but no more! I am now a blessed person. I am someone with influence, empowered to follow God’s destiny and leadership for my life and free from the threats of the kingdom of darkness.”

And remember how this passage of Scripture ends: “So God granted him what he requested” (v. 10). God was pleased with Jabez.

We can only assume what Jabez’ life became. We have no further insight into this brave man from Scripture. But we do know what God did: He granted Jabez everything he had asked for.

We are not destined to repeat past mistakes of our parents’ negative patterns. Anyone can become free from the wrong ways of thinking, habits, or weaknesses. A person must simply know where to look for help, just as Jabez did. Somehow he knew to look to God.

It was important that Jabez identified the real issue — that he was being defined by the wrong thoughts. He discovered the key to leaving his limits behind: He had to redefine himself through a new relationship with God. As a result, Jabez’ faith forever changed what would define his life.

Today it is faith in God’s Word that will redefine us forever. Faith will say what God says about who we are and what our future can become. We truly can crush the lifelong negative patterns that have defined us in the past. We can think, feel, believe, and live life like we are in Christ and He is in us. We have taken God at His Word, and we are leaving all limits behind!

Romans Chapter 12

King James Version (KJV)

12 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:

5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;

7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;

8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.

10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;

11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.

14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.

15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.

18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.

21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Change Your Life For Good

Jabez is an example of someone who redefined his entire life by looking to God for change. There are only two verses in the entire Bible devoted to him, yet in these two verses is an abundance of life-changing truth. Jabez discovered how to redefine himself and change his life for good.

“Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, ‘Because I bore him in pain.’ And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!’ So God granted him what he requested” (1 Chronicles 4:9-10 NKJV).

To his credit, Jabez followed his heart beyond the words of his own family and turned toward God to boldly receive blessing, increase, and freedom. And as a result, God granted him everything he requested.

The only limits that prevent us from stepping into greater blessing, increase, and freedom are those we continue to allow.

Jabez’ prayer demonstrates this very principle. This young man changed everything about who he was and created a new future and destiny for himself.

To understand how powerful his prayer is, we must notice some important insights.

First, there seems to be no father in the picture. In Hebrew society during biblical times, the father would always give a child his name, yet Jabez was named by his mother. When a mother gave the name to a child born into the family, it usually meant the father was absent.

Second, the name Jabez’ mother gave him reveals something about this mother. The name Jabez means misery, pain, or sorrow. Who names their child “Misery”? Some parents look into their newborn’s face, and from the joy they feel, they name their baby Joy. By giving Jabez the name Misery, she reminded him every day what he had brought into his family: misery and pain.

This kind of rejection would have a painful impact on anyone. In such an environment, a child’s personality can be stifled, causing him to be handicapped for life. Words like these can also tend to be self-fulfilling prophecies. Jabez could have grown up to become a man who actually did bring a great deal of misery.

The sins of mothers and fathers continue for generations when they pass on negative ways of thinking, attitudes, unbelief, and fears that have contributed to their problems and failure. The patterns that surround children as they grow up and the environment they live in can affect the way they make their decisions and can even influence how freely and deeply they are able to love people.

Jabez faced the challenge of breaking free from the pain his mother’s passed on to him, and he made a decision to choose a very different path from the one being thrust upon him. He faced the problem and replaced it with a better way.

In the end, every one of us must make the decision that Jabez did. No matter what anyone else around us chooses to do, we must stand in our resolve to break free from the defining issues that have held us captive.

Romans Chapter 10

King James Version (KJV)

10 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.

2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.

3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

5 For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.

6 But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:)

7 Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)

8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;

9 That 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.

10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.

13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?

17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

18 But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.

19 But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.

20 But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.

21 But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Unlocking the Power to Redefine Your Life

We are in Christ; now we must discover what that means. James 1:22-25 says,

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does” (NKJV).

God intends for us to observe ourselves in the mirror of His Word and see who we really are. Then as we allow His Word to define us, we begin to walk in His perfect law of liberty.

The limitations we face as believers come only from forgetting who we are and what God has promised us. But through conscious, consistent application of the Word, we can change the negative patterns we learned in our past outside of Christ and create lasting victories.

James 1:21 tells us how to begin the process: “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (NKJV). There are going to be some things we must lay aside.

Does this mean a person who receives Jesus as his Savior may not have his soul saved? This may surprise you, but the answer is yes! James indicated that even though a believer has Jesus in his heart, he must still receive the Word in order for the power of his salvation to save his soul.

A person can be a Christian and still live his life with his soul unrenewed by the Word of God. Of course, this doesn’t mean he won’t go to Heaven, but it does mean that the saving power of God must be received into his mind, will, and emotions if he is ever to live free from the limits of his past.

The Word implanted in our heart at the new birth must be received for our soul to be saved. It is this soulish part of our makeup that can keep us tied to our past. If we fail to receive the Word, not allowing it to change our habits and thinking patterns, we will remain weak. This failure to grasp the word of God’s grace will cause the wholeness of salvation to remain limited in our life.

If we think back to the time when we first received Jesus as Lord of our life, we knew He had changed us and forgiven us of our sins, yet there remained so many things in our lives that were still not pleasing to God. But the process that would change our way of thinking and of responding to situations had begun.

The Word of God and the work of His Holy Spirit began to show us a much better way: Jesus’ way. We started to allow His love to get bigger inside us and to diminish our fears. Forgiveness took the place of bitterness and hardness of heart. From that time forward, God began to show us sins, habits, and negative thinking patterns He wanted us free from, and we began to reach out to Him for help to change.

The renewing of the mind is an ongoing and continual process that makes us stronger with every step. The more we are changed, the more our soul leans toward the strength of God in our spirit rather than toward the lusts and desires of the flesh.

Romans 12:2 clearly describes this process: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think” (NLT). Lasting and sustainable transformation comes from letting God’s Word change the way we think about ourselves. The more we apply His Word to who we have been, the more we will become the person He has made us to be.

Romans Chapter 11

King James Version (KJV)

11 I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.

2 God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel saying,

3 Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.

4 But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.

5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.

6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.

8 (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.

9 And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them:

10 Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.

11 I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.

12 Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?

13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:

14 If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.

15 For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?

16 For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.

17 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;

18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.

19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.

20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:

21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.

22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again.

24 For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?

25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:

27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.

28 As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the father’s sakes.

29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.

30 For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief:

31 Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.

32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?

35 Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?

36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Leaving Your Past Behind

The Gospel of God’s grace is designed to completely redefine our lives. The limits we have lived with all our lives can be changed, and everything can be turned into a testimony of God’s goodness and of His power to reshape our lives.

Whether we realize it or not, every one of us are in the process of being redefined by God’s grace. We are no longer destined to be defined by our past, problems, failures, or weaknesses. We have received Christ, and our destiny has now changed. We are in Him and have been made into newly defined people.

But why do some people see very dramatic changes in their lives, while others struggle with the same problems they’ve always faced year after year? Quite often it’s a matter of what a person has come to believe. If there are truths about who he is now in the light of God’s grace and power that he doesn’t seek to grasp by faith, that person may continue to struggle the rest of his life.

Lasting and redefining change first begins deep within our hearts at the core of our belief system. Our new birth in Christ changes everything between us and God. From that point on, it’s our individual grasp of His finished work that makes available to us every other kind of change that leads to more freedom.

For many years, Dennis and I have seen God’s grace empower people to experience victory over the limitations they have lived with in the past. However, we have also seen many others who, after gaining spiritual ground, fail to keep themselves in the new life of freedom they have discovered.

The Apostle Paul points to the power of God’s grace to redefine our lives many times in his letters. For example, He said of himself, “But by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Corinthians 15:10 NKJV).

In another epistle, Paul said of us all: “Now we have not received the spirit [that belongs to] the world, but the [Holy] Spirit Who is from God, [given to us] that we might realize and comprehend and appreciate the gifts [of divine favor and blessing so freely and lavishly] bestowed on us by God” (1 Corinthians 2:12 AMP).

In yet another reference, Paul said, “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).

These statements underscore the truth that our faith in Jesus as Lord of our lives gives us a new identity. We are not who we once were. But we are dealing with Satan, the ultimate identity thief who continually seeks to steal from us our identity in Christ.

Every one of us can experience freedom from the negative things that have defined us in our past — problems, failures, or weaknesses, but only as we discover the power of our new identity in Christ. The New Testament reveals who we are. God’s Word defines us in Christ outside the limits that once contained us.

Each one of us is destined to step into greater blessing, increase, and freedom. The only limits that remain are those we continue to allow.

2 Corinthians Chapter 5

King James Version (KJV)

5 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:

3 If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.

4 For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.

5 Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.

6 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:

7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

9 Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.

10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

11 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.

12 For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart.

13 For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause.

14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:

15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.

17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Making Progress But Going Nowhere

Wisdom from above creates a sense of direction and opportunity in our lives. It continually points us to the path that will bring us the greatest results and the deepest sense of fulfillment. Without this godly wisdom, everything in life begins to seem vague and pointless. We may be making progress, but we still don’t know where we’re going.

Inner strength to stay the course of God’s plan for us comes when we receive His wisdom and then apply that wisdom to maintain a clear future goal. The inner strength comes from the Holy Spirit as He supplies all we need to rise above the clamor of the conditions or conflicts we may be facing and to continue our forward progress on the path God has laid out before us.

We can see an example of this in Jesus’ life. When Peter first heard Jesus describe that He would be arrested and killed, Peter declared, “We won’t let that happen to You, Lord!” (see Matthew 16:21-23).

Of course, Peter spoke first and thought later. He certainly spoke out of his deep love for Jesus and his desire to protect Him. Yet Peter’s feelings ran completely opposite to God’s ultimate plan. Jesus was to die for all of mankind. Peter saw only from his own limited point of view and not from God’s perspective at all.

Peter’s words were a temptation to Jesus, so Jesus quickly rebuked Satan. Then Jesus said in response to Peter’s words: “…You stand right in my path when you see things from man’s point of view and not from God’s” (Matthew 16:23 Phillips).

Notice how James describes this godly wisdom: “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:17,18 NKJV).

Isaiah 33:6 describes God’s wisdom this way: “Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times, and the strength of salvation; the fear of the Lord is His treasure” (NKJV).

There can be a wellspring of wisdom deep within us that brings peace. That is all we need. When we lock in to God’s plan, we will have His wisdom to see all the other paths presented to us from His perspective. For Dennis and I, only one path radiated with His light. The other good possibilities have no attraction. We could see that they were only distractions. We knew that we knew God had given us His wisdom and knowledge about the matter. We were stable and sure-footed on His path for our lives.

Job sums it up this way: “You will also declare a thing, and it will be established for you; so light will shine on your ways” (Job 22:28 NKJV). This is the way God defines true success for us as believers. As we discover and then declare God’s wisdom, we establish His will in us, allowing His light to illumine our path and keep us moving toward His destiny for our lives.

Matthew Chapter 16

King James Version (KJV)

16 The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven.

2 He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red.

3 And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?

4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.

5 And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread.

6 Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

7 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread.

8 Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?

9 Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?

10 Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?

11 How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?

12 Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

20 Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.

21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.

23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

28 Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Wisdom That Will Define Your Future

Godly wisdom brings us a biblical perspective about issues we’re facing or deciding in our lives. It’s by God’s wisdom that we can see how to apply the knowledge we have. Knowledge alone isn’t enough to make decisions. We may know a lot about the issue at hand but don’t have the perspective we need. It takes godly wisdom to see through the issues and find the right path.

Solomon is the primary author of the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes and is considered to be the wisest man in history. His writings provide us with wisdom for life.

As a young man who was about to become king in Israel, God spoke to Solomon in a dream, saying, “Ask! What shall I give you?” (2 Chronicles 1:7 NKJV).

Solomon’s answer was amazing, and it pleased God. Solomon didn’t ask for wealth, for victory over his enemies, or for personal health. He asked for wisdom to lead God’s people. Notice God’s response to Solomon’s request:

“Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked riches or wealth or honor or the life of your enemies, nor have you asked long life — but have asked wisdom and knowledge for yourself, that you may judge My people over whom I have made you king — wisdom and knowledge are granted to you; and I will give you riches and wealth and honor, such as none of the kings have had who were before you, nor shall any after you have the like” (2 Chronicles 1:11,12 NKJV).

Because Solomon chose to pursue what was most important, God blessed him not only with the wisdom and knowledge he had asked for, but also with the wealth and honor he could have pursued. Solomon had discovered what we all must come to realize: that wisdom is our primary need and can be found only in God’s Word. Everything else pales in the light of God’s wisdom for living.

This is why the pursuit of godly wisdom must be at the top of our priority list. Solomon stated this truth clearly in Proverbs 4:7-9 (TEV):

“Getting wisdom is the most important thing you can do. Whatever else you get, get insight. Love wisdom, and she will make you great. Embrace her, and she will bring you honor. She will be your crowning glory.”

In sharp contrast to godly wisdom is wisdom from the world’s point of view. We hear this type of wisdom touted all of the time, such as strategies for becoming a millionaire, beating the systems, building a successful business, or being an influential person. Although many people have certainly demonstrated that the world’s wisdom can bring successful results in areas such as money or status, that kind of wisdom will always fall short. The person seeking truth for godly living will be left feeling empty, still standing on the outside of God’s best for his life.

As believers, we have God’s Word and His wisdom that redefines true, lasting success. When God’s wisdom redefines our lives, we can see beyond human reasoning and recognize the bigger picture. This godly perspective helps us see how someone can have wealth or status in society and still fail at life. Thus, like Solomon, we are on a continual quest for more of God’s wisdom so we can experience true meaning and fulfillment in our walk with Him.

Revelation Chapter 18

King James Version (KJV)

18 And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.

2 And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.

3 For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.

4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

5 For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.

6 Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double.

7 How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.

8 Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.

9 And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning,

10 Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.

11 And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more:

12 The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble,

13 And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men.

14 And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all.

15 The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing,

16 And saying, Alas, alas that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls!

17 For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off,

18 And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city!

19 And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.

20 Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.

21 And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.

22 And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee;

23 And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.

24 And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

A New Way of Thinking

Jesus performed one of His greatest miracles when He fed the 5,000. There are several things in this account that are vital for us to understand to change our thinking and expand our capacity to receive from God.

First, Jesus directed His disciples to bring the loaves and fish to Him (Matthew 14:18).

In order to see great miracles, we must first give God something to work with. Time after time, God directed people to give first and then to watch Him work. For example, Elijah told the widow to make him a cake with her last little bit of meal. When she gave to the prophet, God released an abundant supply (see 1 Kings 17:9-16).

Second, Jesus had all the people sit down on the hillside (v. 19).

Sitting is a position of rest, and God wants us to enter a place of rest in Him. Faith rests in His presence, His promises, and His provision. There is an inner calmness that comes when we are resting in Him that puts us in a position to better receive.

Third, Jesus took what had been brought to Him and gave thanks (v. 19).

Our gratitude toward God keeps our heart right allowing us to receive more from Him. Thankfulness is a powerful force. We are to be thankful for all God has done and for the blessings He has promised, even if we don’t see them yet.

Fourth, Jesus distributed the loaves and fish to the disciples (Matthew 14:19). The disciples handled each loaf and each fish that God multiplied. Every bit of His supernatural provision passed through their hands.

Today God wants to use each of His disciples as distributors of His provision. We are made for abundant living and abundant giving. Provision was certainly abundant that day for the crowd who had come to hear Jesus. It was a feast for a multitude, and everyone left satisfied.

Finally, far more provision remained after the crowd had eaten their fill than the five loaves of bread and two small fish they had started with. God doesn’t think in terms of supplying just barely enough to meet a need. He thinks in terms of abundance, overflow, more than enough, and far beyond what is needed!

Jesus was teaching His disciples an important lesson that day. He wants to redefine our lives by creating in us a new way of thinking.

Are we defined by lack and need — or by God’s abundant supply? If we can’t answer that question the way we want to, we can make the decision from this point on to stop allowing ourselves to be defined by or identified with the world. We don’t have to stay confined within the limitations of lack, past failures, need, sin, weakness, or fear. Jesus is the One who defines us now!

No matter what problem we might be facing, we can give Jesus our own “five loaves and two fish,” and then keep our eyes and our faith focused on Him. As we do, we will release His supernatural power into our situation to bring us more than enough of the supply we need.

Genesis Chapter 2

King James Version (KJV)

2 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.

2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.

3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

4 These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,

5 And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.

6 But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.

7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

8 And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.

9 And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

10 And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.

11 The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold;

12 And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone.

13 And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia.

14 And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates.

15 And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.

16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:

17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

18 And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

19 And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.

20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.

21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;

22 And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

Monday, November 26, 2018

You Are Not Defined By The World

God’s thoughts about us can change everything we have believed about ourselves. His perspective is so important that it was part of Jesus’ prayer for us before His crucifixion. This prayer revealed that we can see ourselves in the same way He saw Himself as He walked on this earth.

In John 17:16 Jesus said, “They are no more defined by the world than I am defined by the world” (Message).

It is easy to believe that Jesus was not of the world’s system or confined within its limitations. Jesus revealed life as it could be lived outside the boundaries of typical experiences. Jesus wasn’t limited by lack, disease, or politics, nor did He react to threats or accusations from people. He lived above it all; and now He expects us to live above it all as well.

We rise to a higher level of living when we learn how to define ourselves now that we are in Christ. But first, what really does define us as people?

The dictionary’s meaning of the word “define” is to mark its limits; to set clear boundaries; or to identify it. Limits, boundaries, and identity are all aspects of defining ourselves.

Notice Jesus’ words again with these ideas in mind. We are not defined by the limits, boundaries, or identifying marks of the world. From God’s point of view, we are not of the world, nor are we governed by its limits and boundaries.

One day Jesus asked His disciples this question:

“‘Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?’ So they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God'” (Matthew 16:13-16 NKJV).

Peter’s answer was completely different from what other people said about Jesus. Jesus expected His disciples to have a different answer.

Jesus expects us to think and act differently, to have different experiences than the world and to expect different results. Why? Because we are different; we’re no longer living in the same system as the rest of the world. We are now living in God’s Kingdom, His system.

Another time, Jesus asked His disciples a question that revealed their limited thinking. This is the account where Jesus fed the 5,000. “Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, ‘Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?'” (John 6:5 NKJV).

Philip and Andrew answered Jesus’ question, and in both responses, their faith and expectations were defined by their limited thinking.

“Philip answered Him, ‘Don’t you know that it would take almost a year’s wages just to buy only a little bread for each of these people?'” (v. 7 CEV).

Philip’s response was defined by the need. He couldn’t see beyond the need. Philip didn’t answer Jesus’ actual question that asked where they could buy bread. Instead, Philip immediately became overwhelmed by the vast need.

Andrew replied to Jesus, saying, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?” (v.9). Andrew made the same mistake Philip did; he couldn’t see beyond his own limited thinking. Andrew saw the lack of adequate bread and couldn’t seem to imagine what else could be done.

When our thinking focuses on what we can do to solve a problem or meet a need, we can forget about how big God is. As a result, we risk missing out on what He wants to do to bring His supernatural provision into our situation.

Revelation Chapter 11

King James Version (KJV)

11 And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.

2 But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.

3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.

4 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.

5 And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.

6 These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.

7 And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.

8 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.

9 And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.

10 And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.

11 And after three days and an half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.

12 And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.

13 And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.

14 The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.

15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.

16 And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God,

17 Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.

18 And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.

19 And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

The Desires of Our Heart

The Lord has promised that He will give us the desires of our hearts. Consequently, He expects us to have desires.

A word of the Lord was spoken to King David through the prophet Nathan that provides great insight regarding this truth. This word came to David after he sinned by having Uriah killed to cover his own sin of adultery with Bathsheba. The Lord said to David:

“I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more!” (2 Samuel 12:8 NKJV).

Although David had already received a great deal from the Lord, He was willing to do far more for David than what He had already done. The Lord wanted David to know, just as He wants us to know, that He was ready to pour out abundance beyond measure upon him.

But David failed to receive the full measure of God’s blessing because he wanted what he could not have. David wasn’t content in the Lord, and his attempt to fulfill his wanton desires nearly cost him his life. Had David kept his eyes on God instead of letting them drift to young Bathsheba, he would have experienced God’s abundance in a far greater measure in his life.

In the same way, God is always at work to help us experience far more of His abundance than we currently have. As Third John 2 says, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in every way and [that your body] may keep well, even as [I know] your soul keeps well and prospers” (AMP).

Even in times of trouble when hardship surrounds us, we can remain satisfied. Psalm 37:18,19 proclaims this: “The Lord knows the days of the upright, and their inheritance shall be forever. They shall not be ashamed in the evil time, and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied” (NKJV).

In Psalm 81:13-16, the psalmist makes it clear that when we commit ourselves to seek God’s ways and listen to His counsel, we can stay above the conflict and the fate others experience as a result of their disobedience:

“Oh, that My people would listen to Me, that Israel would walk in My ways! I would soon subdue their enemies, and turn My hand against their adversaries. The haters of the Lord would pretend submission to Him, but their fate would endure forever. He would have fed them also with the finest of wheat; and with honey from the rock I would have satisfied you” (NKJV).

When we are uncluttered by competition or covetousness, we can hear God’s voice more easily. Peaceful contentment grows into a strong confidence in Him as both our Provider and our provision. Our hearts become single and focused on Him, and we are able to say as Paul did: “I have learned this secret, so that anywhere, at any time, I am content, whether I am full or hungry, whether I have too much or too little. I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me” (Philippians 4:12-13 TEV).

2 Thessalonians Chapter 3

King James Version (KJV)

3 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:

2 And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.

3 But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.

4 And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you.

5 And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.

6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.

7 For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you;

8 Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you:

9 Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.

10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.

11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.

12 Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.

13 But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.

14 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.

15 Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

16 Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all.

17 The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write.

18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Our Source of Immense Profit

The Apostle Paul states this clearly:

“…For I have learned to be satisfied with what I have. I know what it is to be in need and what it is to have more than enough. I have learned this secret, so that anywhere, at any time, I am content, whether I am full or hungry, whether I have too much or too little. I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me” (Philippians 4:11-13 TEV).

Paul indicates that to be satisfied with what we have is an attitude we learn. For example, children don’t ever seem to be content on their own. They want whatever they see. Marketing agencies understand this, so they place products that appeal to children on lower shelves, eye level with the target consumer. Children aren’t satisfied with what they have; they want what they don’t have.

For many people, this attitude doesn’t change much from childhood to adolescence. Teenagers yield to peer pressure, chasing after the latest fad in clothing because “everyone has it.” All too often, that same childish thinking continues into adulthood. Some people never outgrow a continual feeling of dissatisfaction because of the things they don’t have. And the proverbial pursuit to “keep up with the Joneses” is often as common in the Christian world as it is anywhere else in society. This dissatisfaction robs people’s joy and clouds their lives with discontentment.

Paul speaks of an attitude of contentment again in First Timothy 6:6: “[And it is, indeed, a source of immense profit, for] godliness accompanied with contentment (that contentment which is a sense of inward sufficiency) is great and abundant gain” (AMP). Paul describes contentment as a sense of inward sufficiency. It is to be our source of immense profit.

This same idea is found in Hebrews 13:5: “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you'” (NKJV).

When we’re content and at peace with God, we can be at peace with ourselves. His peace brings confidence, no matter who we’re with or how intimidating someone may seem.

Competition drives many people to compare themselves with others to determine if they’re really “okay.” Some can’t stand it if they see someone with a bigger diamond ring or a more expensive car than they have. For people who fit in this category, success is measured by a purely natural point of view rather than by the measure God uses. It could almost be called “the plague of discontentment.”

Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying here. We are expected to increase in our lives. Being satisfied in God doesn’t mean we are content to allow our lives to remain as they are today. The difference is that God wants His people to be continually growing on the inside and His Kingdom to be continually advancing.

Jesus is our perfect Example. Without question, He is completely satisfied. He has neither needs nor insecurities. Nevertheless, Jesus isn’t satisfied with the areas of our lives that don’t reflect His highest will for us. He therefore continues to work within us by His Spirit to help us walk more in line with His thinking, His abundance, and His values. Because He wants so much more for us, He stays intimately involved in our lives.

Hebrews Chapter 13

King James Version (KJV)

13 Let brotherly love continue.

2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

3 Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.

4 Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.

5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.

8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

9 Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.

10 We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.

11 For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp.

12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.

13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.

14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.

15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

16 But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

18 Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.

19 But I beseech you the rather to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner.

20 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,

21 Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

22 And I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation: for I have written a letter unto you in few words.

23 Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you.

24 Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints. They of Italy salute you.

25 Grace be with you all. Amen.

Friday, November 23, 2018

The Satisfied Life

What brings us true satisfaction and fulfillment in life? How do we find lasting contentment? So much meaningless work and activity can crowd into our lives that it’s easy to lose sight of the way God designed life to be lived. Life is meant to be enjoyable, fulfilling, and satisfying, much more than merely existing or struggling to survive.

Truly happy people have found that fulfillment finds its source deep within and is largely unaffected by external surroundings or material possessions. The world, however, is opposed to this view. Several years ago, a U.S. news magazine conducted a survey, questioning people in various income categories. People with an annual income of $25,000 were asked how much money it would take for them to live “the American Dream.” The average answer was $54,000 annually. The same question was asked of people making $100,000 annually; their average answer was $192,000.

What do the results of this survey tell us? Until a person understands that living satisfied is an inner condition and a mindset, he will always think he needs a little more than what he currently has to reach that goal. This was also demonstrated when one ultra-wealthy man was asked how much it takes to be rich. “Just a little more” was his reply. For most people, it will always take “just a little more.”

Benjamin Franklin brought some sense to this subject when he said, “To be content makes a poor man rich, and discontent makes a rich man poor.” To enjoy this kind of fulfilled life on a daily basis, it is important for us to look to the right source. Our friends and family are unable to give us what we truly crave. When we look to people to be our source of satisfaction in life, we will be disappointed. The same will be true if we seek the approval of others, material possessions, power, or prestige because none of these can create the kind of lasting satisfaction we’re really looking for. Of course, a superficial sense of satisfaction can come from many sources, but that kind of satisfaction is always fickle and fleeting.

To be “satisfied” can be defined as the sense of having enough or doing enough; to be content; or to experience fulfillment and gratification. The problem is that the typical person never feels like he has actually reached the point of having or doing enough. This is why our entire perspective in life must be revamped to grasp the source of real fulfillment and lasting satisfaction.

Think about how fulfilling life can be with Jesus’ love, joy, and peace abounding in us. Jesus doesn’t change; He is always the same. He is committed to our success and ready to encourage us every step of the way. When we center our lives in Him, we become healthier and happier. We have a better outlook on life, and because we feel fulfilled, our relationships are richer. In Christ we are at peace inside.

Of course, the key to lasting fulfillment is to become deeply connected with the riches of a relationship with God. The person who is satisfied in the Lord understands that He alone is the source of true fulfillment, abundant provision, and lasting security.

Satisfied living comes when we learn to live from the inside out. When we center ourselves in Him, we discover the depth of Jesus’ love for us, and this brings the fulfillment we long for. It is from this point that we discover the power and security of living a contented life.

1 Timothy Chapter 6

King James Version (KJV)

6 Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.

2 And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort.

3 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;

4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,

5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.

6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.

7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.

8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.

10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.

12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

13 I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession;

14 That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:

15 Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;

16 Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.

17 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;

18 That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;

19 Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

20 O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:

21 Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

I Will Say of the Lord

Psalm 91:2 says, “I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.'” If we will fix our eyes on God as our place to run for refuge and protection, He will surround us with His protection from threats and attacks of every kind.

The first epistle of John adds a very powerful promise in this regard: “The God-begotten are also the God-protected. The Evil One can’t lay a hand on them” (1 John 5:18 Message). The enemy can’t lay a hand on us as long as we stay in the “shade”!

The psalmist also gives us another important insight along this line. He makes it clear that this is something we say. It is more than a thought or something we know. God’s power is released by the words we speak: in our prayers, our declarations of faith, and our daily conversation.

God is our Refuge, our Fortress, and our Protector. He guides and keeps us, and we follow His lead.

There is something so powerful in saying just what God’s Word says about us. In the beginning of Scripture, God Himself created everything with His spoken words. Throughout the first chapter of Genesis, the Bible declares: “God said, let there be..and there was…” In fact, for each of the first six days of creation, everything that came into existence was the result of God’s spoken word.

Now we find the same principle in operation on our behalf. Our words set God’s power into action and become our means of abiding under the shade of His influence.

There is power in the words we speak when they come from a heart of faith in God’s Word. When our words totally agree with the promises God has given to us, we have taken the strongest position of faith possible: and faith moves God

Those words, “I will say of the Lord,” can be our declaration preceding every promise God has given to us in the entire Bible. We can declare with confidence: “I will say of the Lord that He is my Protector. He is my Provider. He is my Healer. He delivers me from the hand of my enemies. He is my righteousness, my shield, my joy.”

We can find out in the Word who God says He is and boldly declare that He is that to us. In fact, Jesus is to us only who we say He is. He is our Savior only when we declare that He is. He is our Healer only when we say He is. He is our Baptizer in the Holy Spirit only when we say He is. We are the ones who establish how much of Jesus’ influence He can bring into our lives.

Who is Jesus to us and what are we saying of the Lord? Are we consistent in what we say? Are we letting the problems we encounter in life dictate what we believe about God’s promises? The answers to these questions will unlock a great deal of understanding if we’re not receiving God’s blessing on the level we desire.

We must begin saying of the Lord who He is in our life. Then watch Him rise up within our heart and our life to be all we have declared!

1 John Chapter 5

King James Version (KJV)

5 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.

2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.

3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

6 This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.

7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

8 And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.

9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son.

10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.

11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:

15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

16 If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.

17 All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.

18 We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.

19 And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.

20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.

21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Stay in God’s Shade

It’s possible to enjoy a life filled with true contentment and freedom, one that is capable of withstanding and overcoming every storm that life may throw at us. Psalm 91:16 sets the target for us. God said of the person who will pursue Him: “With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation.”

God’s promise of long life isn’t merely referring to living a long time. Multitudes of people become disappointed with life and, as the years pass, grow old and bitter. They may have lived a long time, but they have also been miserable and most likely have made those around them miserable as well. In contrast, God’s promise is not only for a long life, but one that is full, peaceful, and contented as well.

There is an art to living contented, one that the Apostle Paul discovered in his walk with God. Paul could be rich or poor, living in comfort or in less-than-comfortable conditions, yet through it all, he remained content. He learned an important truth: Contentment isn’t a product of our surroundings, it’s a product of our position in Christ and our perspective.

Paul’s strength to maintain the right perspective was the result of keeping God’s promises in view every time things got tough. Paul said it this way: “I have learned the secret. I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me” (Philippians 4:12-13 TEV).

Contentment is a powerful force. On the other hand, so is discontentment, capable of robbing us of both energy and joy. So where will we live, in the tent of contentment or the tent of discontent? It’s our choice. True contentment is not the result of the conditions around us but of the condition within us, and the fruit of true contentment is joy, confidence, and strength.

The journey into lasting contentment begins right where we would think, in the presence of the Almighty God.

Psalm 91:1-2 describes it best:

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.'”

Dwelling “in the secret place of the Most High” is our invitation to intimacy with God Himself. In Christ we now have private access to God’s presence. Prayer time should therefore become a joy-filled time of true communion, fellowship, and conversation with the Lord. In the process, the “secret place of the Most High” becomes our ongoing dialogue with Him.

The psalmist provides a powerful picture of what this process accomplishes. He states that we will “abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” We must live every moment in such a close, intimate place with God that His influence will be felt and will affect us in every situation.

The picture of abiding under God’s shadow makes me think of standing under an umbrella. The umbrella was first designed to protect a person from the sun. The Latin word for “shade” is umbra, the word from which the umbrella derived its name.

Think about it, we are carrying around our own personal umbrella of God’s influence! Everywhere we go, we have His “shade” of influence surrounding us, as well as all the situations we’re involved in. Staying under His influence will empower us to stand strong in the face of conflicts, negative reports, threats to our well-being, or any other move Satan may make against us.

Philippians Chapter 4

King James Version (KJV)

4 Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.

2 I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.

3 And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.

4 Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.

5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.

6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.

11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

14 Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.

15 Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.

16 For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.

17 Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.

18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.

19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

20 Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

21 Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you.

22 All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household.

23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Equipped For Battle

Palm 91 uses the word deliver three times. The last instance of this word is found in verses 15-16.

“He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation.”

This is the third Hebrew word that is translated “deliver.” This word means to deliver by equipping for battle. God is saying here that not all deliverance comes by avoiding it or being snatched out of it. As we grow in God, we will find that much of the time, God expects us to go through the storm using the equipment He has provided for our deliverance.

God promised that He would be with us in trouble, but He did not promise that He would keep trouble from finding us. He equips and empowers us to stand up to times of adversity without being swayed or stopped.

Notice what Second Corinthians 10:4 says: “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds” (NKJV). Our fight is not with weapons of flesh and blood; rather, our weapons are found in the equipping that comes through the Word and prayer.

When our words and prayers are filled with God’s Words, we release His power. That’s when we use the Word like the sword it really is. We are to wield its power with skill, and impose God’s will and His Word on the circumstances that confront us. Our own words will become mighty tools and weapons in spiritual battles, launching an attack that darkness will not be able to withstand.

The following verses are powerful promises that we can use to conquer our enemy.

“But no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment you shall show to be in the wrong. This [peace, righteousness, security, triumph over opposition] is the heritage of the servants of the Lord [those in whom the ideal Servant of the Lord is reproduced]; this is the righteousness or the vindication which they obtain from Me [this is that which I impart to them as their justification], says the Lord” (Isaiah 54:17 AMP).

“And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand” (John 10:28-30 NKJV).

“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37 NKJV).

“Oh, love the Lord, all you His saints! For the Lord preserves the faithful, and fully repays the proud person” (Psalm 31:23 NKJV).

We must fill our words with God’s Words and declare that He is our Deliverer and no weapon or strategy formed against us can prosper!

Remember, we have God’s angels working diligently to surround us with all of His resources and protection. Isaiah 41:10 are His words to us no matter what situation we face in this life: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

2 Corinthians Chapter 10

King James Version (KJV)

10 Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you:

2 But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh.

3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:

4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.

7 Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? if any man trust to himself that he is Christ’s, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ’s, even so are we Christ’s.

8 For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed:

9 That I may not seem as if I would terrify you by letters.

10 For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.

11 Let such an one think this, that, such as we are in word by letters when we are absent, such will we be also in deed when we are present.

12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

13 But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you.

14 For we stretch not ourselves beyond our measure, as though we reached not unto you: for we are come as far as to you also in preaching the gospel of Christ:

15 Not boasting of things without our measure, that is, of other men’s labours; but having hope, when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly,

16 To preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man’s line of things made ready to our hand.

17 But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

18 For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Deliverance Will Come

Three times it is stated in Psalm 91 that God will deliver us. In each case, the way this deliverance comes is very different. It is important to know that His way of delivering us will vary. He will not always deliver us the way we think He should, but He will always be faithful to us and will never leave us on our own.

The second instance of God’s deliverance from Psalm 91 is found in verse 14: “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name” (NKJV).

In this verse, the word translated “deliver” comes from a different Hebrew word than in verse 3. The Hebrew word in verse 14 means to lift and carry to safety. This meaning is distinct from the earlier word, for it refers to something that happens before we are entangled in trouble, not after we are already caught in a snare.

God will lift us up and carry us through difficult times to help us avoid the snares set in our path. He will create a safe harbor for us so we can remain in calm waters even though the storms of life rage.

When the Apostle Paul was a prisoner on a Roman ship bound for Rome to stand before Caesar, the ship was caught in a terrible storm. Ultimately, the ship was destroyed in the raging sea, and Paul was marooned on the island of Malta. Yet in the midst of the stormy tumult, God spoke words of hope and protection to Paul, which the apostle then declared to all those on board:

“And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me. However, we must run aground on a certain island” (Acts 27:22-26 NKJV).

This may not sound as if Paul avoided the trouble, but in reality, it is a clear description of God providing safety and calm in the midst of trouble, even life-threatening trouble.

In this instance, God revealed to Paul that there was trouble ahead (v. 10). Paul then told those in charge of the ship what God had revealed to him, but they would not listen to a prisoner. Instead, they sailed right into the trouble and paid the price, losing all their cargo.

Yet because of Paul’s faith, none of those on the doomed ship would lose their lives. In the belly of that prison ship, chained to the hull, Paul had a visitation from an angel of the Lord. This angel came in answer to Paul’s prayer for those who held him in captivity. God granted Paul what he had asked for: the lives of those on board.

Paul remained safe in the storm because he was looking to God, calling on Him rather than focusing on the storm and sea. That storm came to kill the man of God. But God and Paul had other plans, and no storm or raging sea would stop them.

Acts Chapter 27

King James Version (KJV)

27 And when it was determined that we should sail into Italy, they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners unto one named Julius, a centurion of Augustus’ band.

2 And entering into a ship of Adramyttium, we launched, meaning to sail by the coasts of Asia; one Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, being with us.

3 And the next day we touched at Sidon. And Julius courteously entreated Paul, and gave him liberty to go unto his friends to refresh himself.

4 And when we had launched from thence, we sailed under Cyprus, because the winds were contrary.

5 And when we had sailed over the sea of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia.

6 And there the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing into Italy; and he put us therein.

7 And when we had sailed slowly many days, and scarce were come over against Cnidus, the wind not suffering us, we sailed under Crete, over against Salmone;

8 And, hardly passing it, came unto a place which is called The fair havens; nigh whereunto was the city of Lasea.

9 Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them,

10 And said unto them, Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives.

11 Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul.

12 And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter; which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the south west and north west.

13 And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete.

14 But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon.

15 And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive.

16 And running under a certain island which is called Clauda, we had much work to come by the boat:

17 Which when they had taken up, they used helps, undergirding the ship; and, fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands, strake sail, and so were driven.

18 And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship;

19 And the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship.

20 And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away.

21 But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss.

22 And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship.

23 For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve,

24 Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.

25 Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.

26 Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island.

27 But when the fourteenth night was come, as we were driven up and down in Adria, about midnight the shipmen deemed that they drew near to some country;

28 And sounded, and found it twenty fathoms: and when they had gone a little further, they sounded again, and found it fifteen fathoms.

29 Then fearing lest we should have fallen upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day.

30 And as the shipmen were about to flee out of the ship, when they had let down the boat into the sea, under colour as though they would have cast anchors out of the foreship,

31 Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.

32 Then the soldiers cut off the ropes of the boat, and let her fall off.

33 And while the day was coming on, Paul besought them all to take meat, saying, This day is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried and continued fasting, having taken nothing.

34 Wherefore I pray you to take some meat: for this is for your health: for there shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you.

35 And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat.

36 Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some meat.

37 And we were in all in the ship two hundred threescore and sixteen souls.

38 And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, and cast out the wheat into the sea.

39 And when it was day, they knew not the land: but they discovered a certain creek with a shore, into the which they were minded, if it were possible, to thrust in the ship.

40 And when they had taken up the anchors, they committed themselves unto the sea, and loosed the rudder bands, and hoised up the mainsail to the wind, and made toward shore.

41 And falling into a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the forepart stuck fast, and remained unmoveable, but the hinder part was broken with the violence of the waves.

42 And the soldiers’ counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape.

43 But the centurion, willing to save Paul, kept them from their purpose; and commanded that they which could swim should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land:

44 And the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

God Will Protect and Deliver You

When trouble of any kind is staring us in the face, it is good to know that God is on our side.

Psalm 91 is filled with magnificent promises of God’s deliverance for anyone who will look to Him. This psalm is the most concise, descriptive passage in the entire Word for helping us understand how to receive God’s protection.

God is seen here as our Refuge, our Fortress, and our Covering. His Word is our shield that protects us from the arrows and missiles of our enemy. In this psalm, God tells us that His angels are available and continually working on our behalf to keep us safe in every step we take.

Three times it is stated that God will deliver us. In each case, the way this deliverance comes is very different. It is important to know that His way of delivering us will vary. He will not always deliver us the way we think He should, but He will always be faithful to us and will never leave us on our own.

Let’s focus on the first time in Psalm 91 where God tells us that He will deliver us found in verse 3: “Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence.”

The word for “deliver” in this verse means to pluck up or snatch up out of trouble. When an animal is in the wild, it will roam where it wills. It will spend its day looking for food and staying away from other predator animals. But when a skilled trapper correctly lays out his trap, his prey will be caught, never seeing the deadly snare until it is too late.

Had the animal been watching more closely, it would have seen the danger and avoided it, but once it is caught, it cannot get away. It has been stopped in its tracks. There it waits for the trapper to come and finish the job.

In the same way, many Christians are ensnared by their enemy, Satan. He lays out his traps and then waits patiently for his prey to walk into the snare and become helpless in his grip. These Christians should have been more aware of the potential problems that awaited them in their path. Yet now they are caught, and there seems to be no escape.

Had these Christians been more attentive to their walk with God, they could have missed the trap that the devil laid out for them. They should have seen it coming. Nevertheless, God is still on their side, and they still have a Deliverer! He will take hold of those who look to Him for help and snatch them right out of the snare that entraps them.

Psalm 124:7-8 says, “Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (NKJV).

Just as the bird caught in the snare must have help in order to escape, so do we need help from Heaven to set us free from Satan’s grasp. That help is ever available to us, and it is found in the name of Jesus. We can call on Him even when we are in the midst of desperate times, and He will answer us, plucking us up out of trouble and placing us under the shadow of His wings where His peace reigns.

Proverbs 30

King James Version (KJV)

30 The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, even the prophecy: the man spake unto Ithiel, even unto Ithiel and Ucal,

2 Surely I am more brutish than any man, and have not the understanding of a man.

3 I neither learned wisdom, nor have the knowledge of the holy.

4 Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell?

5 Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.

6 Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.

7 Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die:

8 Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:

9 Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.

10 Accuse not a servant unto his master, lest he curse thee, and thou be found guilty.

11 There is a generation that curseth their father, and doth not bless their mother.

12 There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness.

13 There is a generation, O how lofty are their eyes! and their eyelids are lifted up.

14 There is a generation, whose teeth are as swords, and their jaw teeth as knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men.

15 The horseleach hath two daughters, crying, Give, give. There are three things that are never satisfied, yea, four things say not, It is enough:

16 The grave; and the barren womb; the earth that is not filled with water; and the fire that saith not, It is enough.

17 The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.

18 There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not:

19 The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.

20 Such is the way of an adulterous woman; she eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness.

21 For three things the earth is disquieted, and for four which it cannot bear:

22 For a servant when he reigneth; and a fool when he is filled with meat;

23 For an odious woman when she is married; and an handmaid that is heir to her mistress.

24 There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise:

25 The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer;

26 The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks;

27 The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands;

28 The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings’ palaces.

29 There be three things which go well, yea, four are comely in going:

30 A lion which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any;

31 A greyhound; an he goat also; and a king, against whom there is no rising up.

32 If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself, or if thou hast thought evil, lay thine hand upon thy mouth.

33 Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter, and the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood: so the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

The Untouchables

The Exodus from Egypt brought Israel into a new life of God’s grace and fellowship. They walked out of Egypt with good health, ample provision, and the wealth of the Egyptian people. God had not only delivered them; He had also positioned them to succeed.

The power of that event has become the picture of deliverance for every man, woman, and child throughout the course of human history. Jesus became the Passover Lamb, sacrificed for every person’s deliverance.

Now Jesus’ sacrifice applied to the doorposts of our heart will bring the power of the Passover to us. There is protection from danger and death in the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 10:22 gives us confidence that we can receive all the protection and provision that God provides: “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (NKJV). Because Jesus’ blood was sprinkled for our deliverance from sin, we now have confidence in God that we are delivered, spirit, soul, and body, from the grip of our enemy, the devil.

Satan cannot cross the line of the blood sacrifice of Jesus. That divine line puts an end to the works of darkness. When we accept Jesus’ sacrifice and embrace His life, we have walked out of bondage and stepped across that blood line into a new life in God. There we take on a new identity as one of God’s special and holy people. We have been separated from the spirit of the world and come under the cover of the Spirit of God.

The Passover Lamb has become the mighty Lion of the tribe of Judah. He has risen to the highest place of power, and He has set us free to stand with Him confident and secure.

God has promised to deliver us from the attacks of our enemy and has given us supernatural peace and security. When He is on our side, we never have to fear what our enemies can do to us.

From Satan’s point of view, we have become untouchable, as long as we keep our soul washed by the water of God’s Word. As First John 5:18 in the Message Bible states:

“We know that none of the God-begotten makes a practice of sin—fatal sin. The God-begotten are also the God-protected. The Evil One can’t lay a hand on them.”

We are untouchable and God-protected. Satan cannot lay a hand on us. From God’s point of view, we are covered with His love and His light because Jesus’ blood has cleansed us. We are protected by the blood on the doorposts of our life. We can walk out of any bondage, just as Israel walked out of Egypt, and we can walk into a life full of His protection and provision. The Lamb of God has brought us under the umbrella of His protection, cleansed our heart, and given us the strength to overcome any strategy of the devil.

The wicked one has no right to touch us, our family, our health, our money, or our life. We have been bought with the price of Jesus’ own blood. So we must take our stand in that place of divine protection by faith in His sacrifice, and become one of God’s untouchables in the eyes of our enemy!

Hebrews Chapter 10

King James Version (KJV)

10 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.

2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.

3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.

4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:

6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.

7 Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.

8 Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law;

9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.

10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:

12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;

13 From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.

14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

15 Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before,

16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;

17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.

19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,

20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;

21 And having an high priest over the house of God;

22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)

24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,

27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

28 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:

29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.

31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

32 But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;

33 Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.

34 For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.

35 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.

36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.

37 For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.

38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.

39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Will Destruction Pass Over You

It has been said many times that God doesn’t show favoritism. But actually, nothing could be further from the truth! Although it is true that God loves all equally, He does favor certain people. The Bible is clear that His eyes are looking across the earth for someone, anyone, whose heart is loyal to Him so He can show Himself strong on his or her behalf (2 Chronicles 16:9).

God longs to show Himself strong on behalf of His own family members. Nevertheless, some people are left to deal with their problems while others find His help. Some are passed over while others are visited by His supernatural provision and blessing.

Of course, God’s blessings and benefits are meant to be enjoyed by everyone. What makes the difference is a matter of faith and obedience. God favors those who will live by His Word and yield to His authority.

The same principle applies to the kingdom of darkness. The destructive fruit of Satan’s wicked plans will pass over some and land on others. Even good people fall prey to terrible things that could have been avoided if they had only followed God’s plans and received His promises.

The book of Exodus relates one of the most dramatic events in history, the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt, and that event depicts this very principle. The Passover that has been celebrated for thousands of years began with Israel facing a dark night of terror as death fell on Egypt and on all who would ignore God’s demand.

On that dark night, thousands of people fell. Yet on that same night, millions of people were delivered from death. Why did some die and others live? God instructed His people to mark the doorposts of their houses with the blood of an animal sacrifice. Those who followed God’s command were the ones who were delivered.

God instituted the first Passover while Israel was still living in the dangerous and hostile land of Egypt. On that Passover night, every person in the nation of Israel was to remain indoors and prepare the Passover meal just as God described, sprinkling the doorposts of the house with the blood of a sacrificial lamb.

While the Israelites were eating their meal of the Passover lamb and unleavened bread with bitter herbs, the world around them paid the price of their resistance to God. Deep meaning permeated every aspect of that night’s events. The lamb, of course, pointed to Him whose blood would one day be sprinkled on the heavenly mercy seat for the protection, safety, and deliverance of God’s people.

It was on this Passover night that God separated Israel as His own special people and they truly embraced their identity as His nation. The Passover meal sealed their new consecration. Their outward separation from Egypt would be accompanied by an inward separation from everything Egyptian or contrary to God.

The blood of the Passover lamb provided the substitute for the shedding of their own blood in consecration to God. The life found in the blood had to be given to defeat death. Thus, each Israelite family sacrificed an animal to bring the entire household under the cover of the life that was in that blood.

Of course, all of this was a prelude to Jesus’ giving His blood to defeat sin and death once and for all. As a result, His sacrifice demands that the power of death, disease, and destruction pass over us.

John Chapter 1

King James Version (KJV)

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

2 The same was in the beginning with God.

3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.

8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.

9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.

11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

15 John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.

16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.

17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

18 No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

19 And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?

20 And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.

21 And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.

22 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?

23 He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.

24 And they which were sent were of the Pharisees.

25 And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?

26 John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not;

27 He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose.

28 These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing.

29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me.

31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.

32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.

33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.

34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.

35 Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples;

36 And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!

37 And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.

38 Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou?

39 He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour.

40 One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.

41 He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.

42 And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.

43 The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me.

44 Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.

45 Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.

46 And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.

47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!

48 Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.

49 Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.

50 Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these.

51 And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Assignment Driven

In April 2010, Dennis was scheduled to preach in France and Moscow. On the flight to France, the captain announced that they were being diverted around Iceland. Thinking nothing of it until he arrived in France, he soon found out the delay was more than a slight problem. Nearly the entire European continent had been grounded after a volcano erupted in Iceland.

The ash from the volcano filled the air causing air traffic to come to an abrupt halt. For five days, the skies in most European cities were silent, and Dennis’ assignment in Moscow was at risk. Only God could clear the skies to get air travel moving again.

As I began to pray over this situation, I heard myself say, “I command the wind from the east and the south to blow the ash back to its source.” Suddenly I realized the words “the wind from the east and the south” sounded very familiar. So I picked up my Bible and began thumbing through the pages. I discovered that two weeks prior to this event Psalm 78:26 was part of my morning devotion. This psalm records how God parted the Red Sea so the children of Israel could cross on dry ground: “He released the east wind in the heavens and guided the south wind by his mighty power” (NLT). So I prayed that the Lord would once again release the east wind and guide the south wind to blow the ash back to it’s source so Dennis’ flight could depart for Moscow as scheduled.

That’s exactly what happened. While thousands remained stranded, Dennis flew to Moscow just as he had planned and fulfilled his assignment. God’s Word will always accomplish what we send it to do (Isaiah 55:11).

He taped five days of television with Rick Renner, taught in the Bible school, and finished his ministry trip with a full day of teaching at the church on Sunday. It was reported several days after Dennis returned home that 30,000 people remained stranded all over Europe, but his schedule hadn’t been disrupted at all.

A few days later, I read an article about the volcano in a news magazine. An aerial photograph showed the pattern of the ash that had only migrated east and south of Iceland. God knew exactly what needed to happen to control the situation and clear the entire continent of the dangerous ash so Dennis could complete his assignment. The wind needed to blow from the east and south, sending the ash back in the direction it came.

These are the days in which God is demonstrating His power through believers who will use their God-given authority. But first, we must be confident that disaster is never God’s will. It is His goodness that leads men to repentance, not disaster. Second, we must be confident in the integrity of God’s Word. He will always do what He has promised. Third, we must become skillful in using the authority God has entrusted us with. Fourth, we must keep our hearts and minds free from “static” that would prevent us from discerning the voice of the Holy Spirit. And finally, we must know our God-given assignment and remain on task.

When we continually feed on God’s Word, we strengthen our spirits. Instead of talking about problems when threatened with disaster, we will speak the solution. When we feed on God’s Word, walk in the Word, and listen to the Word, the Word will increase and strengthen our spirits. Our foundation will be built solid and strong, and our lives won’t collapse, even “though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house…” (Matthew 7:25). Instead, we’ll stand boldly on the Rock of Jesus Christ in the midst of the storm, holding back disaster with the power of His Word.

Matthew Chapter 7

King James Version (KJV)

7 Judge not, that ye be not judged.

2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?

10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:

25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:

27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

28 And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine:

29 For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

God Can Turn It Around

Life’s distractions can fill our minds with what I call “static.” This static can hinder us from hearing the Holy Spirit. It’s similar to what happens when we’re listening to a radio station while driving our cars. If we travel too far from the source transmitting the broadcast, static will interfere with what we want to hear. And if we keep driving away from the source, before long we won’t hear anything but static.

However, all we have to do to solve the problem is get closer to the source; then the broadcast will come in loud and clear. Much like the static that interferes with a radio broadcast, the “static” from the world can interfere with our ability to hear the Holy Spirit. But when we draw closer to the Source of truth, we will hear what He is saying loud and clear.

When the Holy Spirit warns us of an upcoming or potential disaster, He fully intends for us to pray and use our God-given authority to control the situation. Jesus said, “Believe me, whatever you forbid upon earth will be what is forbidden in Heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be what is permitted in Heaven” (Matthew 18:18 Phillips).

We can forbid disaster and change what the devil has planned. Or we can do nothing and, by our lack of action, permit the devil to have his way. God gave us the assignment to have dominion and subdue the earth (see Genesis 1:28). We won’t be fearful when the Holy Spirit warns us of adverse things to come when we know how to exercise the authority God has given us to change circumstances and live as overcomers in the midst of every situation.

A well-known prophet delivered this message in 1998 under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit:

“You will begin to hold back disasters that the devil had planned, not only in weather, not only in money, but also in politics and in the affairs of nations, for God Almighty is Ruler in the affairs of men. And when My Word is strong in your spirit and strong in your mouth, I will use you as a control point. And when disasters are planned, you will stand up and say, ‘No!'”

There has never been a more appropriate time to exercise our authority than this hour we’re living in right now.

When the enemy came against Joseph for the dream God gave him, Joseph didn’t collapse under the pressure of the mistreatment he experienced. Instead, he kept his focus on the dream and kept his heart right toward those who abused him. As a result, he worked with God to make the dream a reality. When Joseph finally met his treasonous brothers face to face, he said, “As far as I am concerned, God turned into good what you meant for evil, for He brought me to this high position I have today so that I could save the lives of many people” (Genesis 50:20 TLB).

No matter what the devil plans against us, God can turn it around and bring good out of what the enemy meant for evil.

John Chapter 17

King James Version (KJV)

17 These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:

2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.

3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.

5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.

7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.

8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.

9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.

10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.

11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.

12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.

13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.

14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.

16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.

19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.

20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.

25 O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.

26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Holding Back Disaster

In an instant, I was awakened out of a deep sleep. As my eyes opened, I heard these words: “What would you do if a tsunami hit Hawaii?” Undisturbed, I answered, “I would go to higher ground, but You hold me safe beyond the reach of my enemies. You save me from violent opponents.”

The Lord had given me this scripture from Psalm 18:48 a few days after Dennis left for a two-week trip to New Zealand, and I had declared it daily. I assumed the Lord had given it to me to pray for Dennis’ protection during his trip. But God had another reason for planting that scripture in my heart; He knew what was to come. Throughout the two weeks I declared this verse, I had thought a great deal about this place “beyond the reach of my enemies,” which is, of course, the secret place of the Most High God referred to in Psalm 91:1.

You might think that this unusual experience caused me to be restless or fearful. Instead, I was in such peace that after answering the question I instantly fell back to sleep. The next morning, I didn’t remember being awakened or the Lord asking me a question, not at that time anyway. I flew out early that morning for meetings in Hawaii, where Dennis and I had planned to reunite after his meetings in New Zealand. We wanted to rest Saturday before beginning our meetings Sunday morning.

But on Saturday at 5:00 a.m., the pastor of the church called and informed Dennis that an earthquake, registering 8.8 on the Richter scale, had just struck off the coast of Chile, sending a tsunami bearing down on the Hawaiian Islands. A mandatory evacuation to “higher ground” was in effect.

Immediately I remembered being awakened the night before and related my experience to Dennis. We prayed, forbidding the tsunami to come near any of the Pacific Islands. We prayed that the tsunami would hit the words we had prayed and bounce back in the direction it had come.

The hotel staff moved us to a room on a higher level. After moving our luggage, we enjoyed a peaceful breakfast while others rushed to the airport, trying to get on a flight before the tsunami hit. But the Holy Spirit had already warned me of what was to come. He had given me the scripture to stand on two weeks before the earthquake struck, and we were at peace. The tsunami never reached Hawaii; instead, it bounced back and struck the coast of Chili.

What an advantage those of us who are believers have because of our relationship with the Holy Spirit! John 16:13 says, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not be presenting his own ideas; he will be telling you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future” (NLT).

The Spirit of God will warn us before disaster happens so we can either pray to influence those events or avoid them altogether. But we must pay attention and avoid being too busy with other things to hear His voice or we will miss His warning.

John Chapter 16

King James Version (KJV)

16 These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended.

2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.

3 And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.

4 But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you.

5 But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou?

6 But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.

7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.

8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

9 Of sin, because they believe not on me;

10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;

11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.

13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

16 A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father.

17 Then said some of his disciples among themselves, What is this that he saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me: and, Because I go to the Father?

18 They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while? we cannot tell what he saith.

19 Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them, Do ye enquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me?

20 Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.

21 A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.

22 And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.

23 And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.

24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.

25 These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father.

26 At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you:

27 For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.

28 I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.

29 His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb.

30 Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God.

31 Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe?

32 Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.

33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Angelic Forces Are With You

God has said that He would place a hedge around us to protect us from all evil. He has even said He would protect our coming in and going out. Day and night God is our guard; He will not sleep or slumber as He surrounds us with His care.

Never forget: We may feel like we are being surrounded by the forces of our enemy, but in reality we are surrounded by Almighty God.

When the old prophet Elisha and his assistant Gehazi were surrounded by the armies of the king of Syria, Gehazi was filled with fear when he saw the hosts of the Syrian army. He cried out to Elisha, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” (2 Kings 6:15 NKJV).

But God had been informing Elisha for some time of the battle plans that the Syrian king had been plotting against Israel. Elisha knew that these soldiers were coming, so with calm confidence, he answered his fearful assistant, Gehazi.

“So he [Elisha] answered, ‘Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ And Elisha prayed, and said, ‘Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. So when the Syrians came down to him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, and said, ‘Strike this people, I pray, with blindness.’ And He struck them with blindness according to the word of Elisha” (vv. 16-18).

We don’t know if Elisha actually saw the powerful army of Heaven’s warriors that surrounded the city, but he knew they were there. After God opened Gehazi eyes to see the angelic forces He had sent to protect and deliver them, he knew they were there as well.

So in perilous times, when we feel surrounded and there seems to be no way out, here’s what we must do: Lift up our heads, raise our hands in praise, and look to the Source of our deliverance. We can be confident in the promise God has made to us: He has us surrounded!

In Psalm 32:7, we find a description of the same truth with a slightly different emphasis: “You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance” (NKJV).

The “song of deliverance” this verse talks about is actually a shout. God has surrounded us with His own words and shouted them out for all to hear: “You are delivered from every enemy and every attack!”

Now it’s up to us to put this same shout in our mouth. We can declare in the face of the devil and everything he has used against us: “Devil, I am delivered from the power of your kingdom and from every attack you could ever throw at me!”

The hedge that keeps and preserves us is built with the words of God’s promises. We can reinforce the strength of that divine hedge with our own shout of deliverance. So we must guard our thoughts and our mouth to make sure that our words and God’s Word agree; then we can rest assured that we are safe and secure. The evil one cannot lay a hand on us, for we are surrounded by God’s own hedge of protection!

Psalm 32

King James Version (KJV)

32 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

2 Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.

3 When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.

4 For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah.

5 I acknowledge my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.

6 For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him.

7 Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.

8 I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.

9 Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.

10 Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about.

11 Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

The God-begotten Are The God-protected

The dangers we face actually go beyond those reported to us in the news. Paul warns that attacks will come against us from sources that seem less dangerous but are just as debilitating. He says:

“For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” (2 Timothy 3:2-5 NKJV).

Paul points out that there are people who will make these times perilous by their ungodly and twisted ways. For instance, an attack might come through a trusted friend or loved one who strikes out at us in anger or with false accusations and cuts us to the core.

First John 5:18 gives us a powerful promise for these perilous times: “The God-begotten are also the God-protected. The Evil One can’t lay a hand on them” (Message).

We are God-protected! He has taken us under His own personal care to protect us from the attacks that have been designed against us. And if attacks do come, God has promised that they will not harm us. The enemy cannot lay a hand on us!

We must keep that in mind the next time we hear a bad report that tries to strike fear in us. We are protected by God Himself. He will protect us from every attack, whether it comes from the outside or from the inside. We are in His care.

King David experienced this divine protection time after time and in many different ways. In Psalm 121, David gives a powerful picture of God’s commitment to protect and guard His family. “I will lift up my eyes to the hills—from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1,2 NKJV).

The hills and mountains surrounding Jerusalem do not protect the city; rather, the God of the city is the One who protects. In the same way, our help does not come from our natural surroundings, but from the One who continually surrounds us with His love and power.

The remainder of this psalm centers around a word that describes God’s protection. This same word is translated two different ways: keep and preserve.

“He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night” (vv. 3-6 NKJV).

“The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore” (vv. 7-8 NKJV).

Six times we are told that God will “keep” or “preserve” us. This word describes a guard or a hedge that is built around something. It is also used in Genesis 2:15, where it says God put man in the Garden of Eden to dress and to keep it. God has charged mankind with the responsibility of guarding and protecting our garden from intrusion. We do that by proclaiming His Word over our lives.

John Chapter 5

King James Version (KJV)

5 After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

2 Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.

3 In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.

4 For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.

5 And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.

6 When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?

7 The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.

8 Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.

9 And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.

10 The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.

11 He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk.

12 Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk?

13 And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place.

14 Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.

15 The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.

16 And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.

17 But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.

18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.

19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.

20 For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.

21 For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.

22 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:

23 That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.

24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.

26 For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;

27 And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.

28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,

29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

31 If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.

32 There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true.

33 Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth.

34 But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved.

35 He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light.

36 But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.

37 And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.

38 And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.

39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.

41 I receive not honour from men.

42 But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you.

43 I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.

44 How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?

45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust.

46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me.

47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Become Fearless

In times of danger or disaster, fear tries to seize us. It’s fear that gives Satan power in our lives. Notice Hebrews 2:15: “…through death he [Jesus] might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (KJV). Fear opens us to bondage, even though Jesus broke the power of death over our lives.

It’s critical to build our faith and confidence in God’s ability to protect and deliver us before we are faced with a life-threatening situation. Then whenever we are confronted with danger, we will be fully equipped to fight the good fight of faith and win!

Our responsibility is to become fearless. Even though our minds might be racing, our knees might be knocking, and our hearts might be pounding, we must never let the devil see us sweat!

The Apostle Paul knew that maintaining a poker face while under attack confuses the enemy. Philippians 1:28 says, “And do not [for a moment] be frightened or intimidated in anything by your opponents and adversaries, for such [constancy and fearlessness] will be a clear sign (proof and seal) to them of [their impending] destruction, but [a sure token and evidence] of your deliverance and salvation, and that from God” (AMP).

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego showed this kind of fearlessness at King Nebuchadnezzar’s rage after they refused to worship the statue he built. They answered the king, saying, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty” (Daniel 3:17 NLT).

Nebuchadnezzar became so irate that he ordered the furnace to be made seven times hotter than usual. This fire was so hot that it killed the men who had to come near it – but the fire didn’t harm God’s men! Their hair wasn’t singed; their clothing wasn’t scorched; and they didn’t even smell like smoke!

Whatever the danger, we can have the assurance that we are safe, because God has promised: “A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not come near you. Only a spectator shall you be [yourself inaccessible in the secret place of the Most High] as you witness the reward of the wicked” (Psalm 91:7,8 AMP). As long as we refuse to give place to fear, death cannot get a grip on us.

Notice what God promises us:

“For he orders his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you with their hands to keep you from striking your foot on a stone. You will trample down lions and poisonous snakes; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet! The Lord says, ‘I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue them and honor them. I will satisfy them with a long life and give them my salvation'” (vv.11-16 NLT).

Make a fresh commitment to dwell in the secret place of the Most High God and abide under His shadow. Then start saying what the Lord says, and refuse to give in to fear!

Hebrews Chapter 2

King James Version (KJV)

2 Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.

2 For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward;

3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;

4 God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?

5 For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.

6 But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man that thou visitest him?

7 Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands:

8 Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him.

9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

10 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

11 For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,

12 Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.

13 And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me.

14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;

15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

16 For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.

17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.

18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.

Friday, November 9, 2018

God Will Rescue You

God has a part in protecting us as well. Psalm 91:3,4 says, “Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler” (NKJV).

When we speak the promise from Psalm 91 over our lives, then God goes into action to deliver us from every trap of the devil! He will cover us with His wings like a mother hen covers her chicks when danger is near. He will be our shield from every fiery dart of the enemy.

The word “deliver” in Psalm 91:3 means to snatch away; to pluck up; to escape; or to rescue. We can walk through life oblivious to the calamity that the enemy has planned for us as God snatches us out of every snare. We don’t have to fear deadly diseases because the Lord has promised to protect us from every deadly plague. We can be as safe as Daniel in the midst of hungry lions, as long as we consistently confess that the Lord as our refuge and our fortress! He will deliver us!

Even though an enemy threatens to use chemical warfare against us, God has promised that no deadly thing will harm us! As Jesus declared in Mark 16:18, “They [believers] will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them….”

When Paul was bitten by a poisonous snake, everyone’s eyes were fixed on him. The people fully expected Paul to drop over dead. But he shocked them when he shook off the snake and went about his business (Acts 28:3-6). The venom in that snake was a deadly toxin, yet it was deprived of its ability to harm Paul. God can supernaturally counteract or neutralize poison in any way He desires—that’s His part.

Our next responsibility is made clear in verse 5: “You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.”

Our responsibility is to fear not! That is not a suggestion; it’s a divine order. Our confession should be, “I will not fear sickness, disease, or plagues. I will not fear destruction or evil. I will not fear anything, for God is my refuge and my fortress, and He will deliver me!”

Acts Chapter 19

King James Version (KJV)

19 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,

2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.

3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism.

4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.

5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.

7 And all the men were about twelve.

8 And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God.

9 But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus.

10 And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.

11 And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul:

12 So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.

13 Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.

14 And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so.

15 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?

16 And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

17 And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.

18 And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds.

19 Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.

20 So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.

21 After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome.

22 So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season.

23 And the same time there arose no small stir about that way.

24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen;

25 Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth.

26 Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands:

27 So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.

28 And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.

29 And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul’s companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre.

30 And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not.

31 And certain of the chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theatre.

32 Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused: and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.

33 And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made his defence unto the people.

34 But when they knew that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.

35 And when the townclerk had appeased the people, he said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter?

36 Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly.

37 For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess.

38 Wherefore if Demetrius, and the craftsmen which are with him, have a matter against any man, the law is open, and there are deputies: let them implead one another.

39 But if ye enquire any thing concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly.

40 For we are in danger to be called in question for this day’s uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse.

41 And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly.

Thursday, November 8, 2019

What’s Required for God’s Protection

The Bible tells us that the last days, the very days in which we live, will be perilous or dangerous (2 Timothy 3:1). Yet in the midst of it all, God has promised us protection and safety.

But just as is true about all of God’s promises, His promise of divine protection doesn’t happen automatically just because we’re Christians. Salvation isn’t automatic. Healing isn’t automatic. The infilling of the Holy Spirit isn’t automatic. Not one of God’s promises is automatic.

The truth is, there are two sides to all of God’s promises. We must do something to activate His promises before they begin functioning in our lives.

For instance, according to Romans 10:9,10 in order to be born again, we must confess (or say) with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our heart that God has raised Him from the dead. Once we have done our part, God’s Spirit does His part to recreate our spirit.

Confessing God’s promise doesn’t only apply to being born again, it is the way we receive everything else from God, including supernatural protection. We have a part to play in our own protection and safety.

Psalm 91:1 demonstrates this principle from the very first verse. It says: “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty” (NKJV). The opening words of this Psalm establish what we must do before we can expect divine protection. Our part is to dwell in the secret place of the Most High God and abide under His shadow.

A person can be born again and live his entire life without abiding in the secret place of the Most High God, and as a result, miss out on God’s provision for safety and protection here on earth.

Verse 2 continues saying, “I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust'” (NKJV). Notice we must say something in order to receive protection: “I will say…” No matter what we receive from God, we will always be required to speak God’s promise out loud! In order to receive protection, we must say, “He is my refuge, my fortress. In Him alone will I trust!”

Although Psalm 91 tells us what to say, too often some make unscriptural statements such as: “We never know what God’s going to do. After all, God is in control. If it’s our time to go…”

Speaking against God’s Word hinders God’s protective power! Those words give the kingdom of darkness an open door into our lives. Disaster and calamity aren’t accidents; they are the result of well-planned strategies of the kingdom of darkness. And when we refuse to speak what God’s Word promises, we open ourselves up to be caught in the enemy’s snare. Watch what you say!

Romans Chapter 10

King James Version (KJV)

10 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.

2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.

3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

5 For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.

6 But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:)

7 Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)

8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;

9 That 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.

10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.

13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?

17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

18 But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.

19 But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.

20 But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.

21 But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

God’s Personal Protection

Jude 24 says, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy” (NAS). God is able to keep, carefully attend to, preserve, and guard that which we commit to Him. The secret is that we must commit the concerns of our lives to Him and refuse to remove them from His care.

What type of things are we suppose to commit to Him? First, we commit our life. Then our heath, our finances, our marriage, our children and our safety, we are to commit everything that concerns us to God. If God were unable to keep and protect us, then Jesus would have prayed very differently than He did. But notice a few of His prayers:

“I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one” (John 17:15 NKJV).

“Holy Father, keep through Your name, those whom You have given Me, that they may be one, even as We are” (John 17:11 NKJV).

“And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day” (John 6:39 NAS).

These are powerful prayers of intercession that Jesus prayed for you and me. They all have to do with God keeping and guarding us against harm, protected and safe, right up to the end! Hebrews 7:25 expresses for whom and through whom this protection is offered: “He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (NAS). He rescues “those who draw near to God” through the “intercessory” prayers of Jesus.

Even though Jesus no longer walks on the earth, He still prays that His resurrection power will keep and guard His own from evil. One reason Jesus gave up His life was to equip us with the keeping power of God. Galatians 1:4 says, “Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father” (KJV).

The same type of powerful prayer to keep and guard from harm was prayed by Jabez, and what a miraculous transformation he experienced: “Jabez prayed to the God of Israel: ‘Bless me, O bless me! Give me land, large tracts of land. And provide your personal protection, don’t let evil hurt me.’ God gave him what he asked.” (1 Chronicles 4:10 Message).

God will grant the requests of anyone who will ask in faith for His protection from harm. He did it for Jabez, Timothy and Paul. And He will do the same for you and me!

Hebrews Chapter 7

King James Version (KJV)

7 For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him;

2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;

3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.

4 Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.

5 And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham:

6 But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises.

7 And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.

8 And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.

9 And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham.

10 For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him.

11 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?

12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

13 For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar.

14 For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.

15 And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest,

16 Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.

17 For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

18 For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.

19 For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.

20 And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest:

21 (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:)

22 By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.

23 And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death:

24 But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.

25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

26 For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;

27 Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.

28 For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Hope Despite Adverse Circumstances

The Apostle Paul experienced more calamity and disaster in his life than we can begin to imagine. He was shipwrecked three times, once having to spend a day and a half in the sea. He was beaten three times. He faced danger not only in the city, but also in the country. He was attacked by robbers, went without food and water, and suffered from exposure.

But none of these disasters was able to persuade Paul that God would not deliver him; nor were they able to affect his confidence in God’s unconditional love for him. No, he was convinced and boldly declared that nothing is able to separate him from God’s unconditional love.

Abram, like Paul, was also fully persuaded of God’s ability to fulfill His promise. At the age of 75, not only was Abram beyond childbearing age, but also his wife was barren. Despite the impossibility of the situation, Abram believed that God was able and willing to perform a miracle on his behalf.

The Bible records this amazing statement about Abraham: “he hoped against hope.” It says that when he looked directly at his feeble body, its weakness didn’t cause him to waver in what he believed. Instead, it served to make him stronger in his faith, knowing that only Almighty God could accomplish such an impossible feat! Then, at the ripe old age of 99, Abraham had a son, experiencing first hand God’s faithfulness to His promise.

How did Abraham look at this impossible situation square in the face and remain unmoved? Romans 4:21 tells us: “And being fully persuaded that, what he (God) had promised, he was also able to perform” (KJV). Abraham was completely persuaded that God could do what man believed impossible!

Mary was also persuaded in God’s ability to do the impossible. The angel of the Lord told her that she would bare a son even though she had never known a man. Wondering how this would happen, Mary asked the angel. He answered, “For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37 NAS).

The New Testament provides countless reports in which impossible, desperate situations existed. But keep in mind, impossibility doesn’t move God, faith does! In times of impossibility, disaster, and calamity, we can remain persuaded that God will miraculously protect, rescue, and deliver those who believe!

Jesus encountered many impossible situations during His ministry. In every situation faith was the key to receiving a miracle. When two blind men asked Jesus to heal them, instead of praying for them, He asked them a question: “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.” Then Jesus revealed what moves Him into action when He said, “Be it done to you according to your faith” (Matthew 9:28-29 NAS). It was not a desperate need, but faith, that moved Him.

At another time, the disciples found themselves unable to help a boy who was vexed by a demon. When they questioned Jesus as to their inability, He characterized their problem as the littleness of their faith, saying, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to here,’ and it shall move; and nothing shall be impossible to you” (Matthew 17:20 NAS).

When we put our faith in God’s ability to do the impossible, we will not be disappointed or ashamed.

Matthew Chapter 9

King James Version (KJV)

9 And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city.

2 And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.

3 And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth.

4 And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?

5 For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?

6 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.

7 And he arose, and departed to his house.

8 But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.

9 And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him.

10 And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.

11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?

12 But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.

13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

14 Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?

15 And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.

16 No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse.

17 Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.

18 While he spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live.

19 And Jesus arose, and followed him, and so did his disciples.

20 And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment:

21 For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.

22 But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.

23 And when Jesus came into the ruler’s house, and saw the minstrels and the people making a noise,

24 He said unto them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn.

25 But when the people were put forth, he went in, and took her by the hand, and the maid arose.

26 And the fame hereof went abroad into all that land.

27 And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou son of David, have mercy on us.

28 And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord.

29 Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you.

30 And their eyes were opened; and Jesus straitly charged them, saying, See that no man know it.

31 But they, when they were departed, spread abroad his fame in all that country.

32 As they went out, behold, they brought to him a dumb man possessed with a devil.

33 And when the devil was cast out, the dumb spake: and the multitudes marvelled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel.

34 But the Pharisees said, He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils.

35 And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.

36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.

37 Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;

38 Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Trust in Gods Unending Love

Isaiah 40:11 demonstrates just how tenderhearted the Lord is toward His children: “He shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom” (NASV). Why does He carry His lambs in His bosom? Because our weakness melts His heart. He has bound Himself by a covenant to care for each lamb—He will not lose even one.

This scripture characterizes God’s endless, limitless affection toward His children. He would not put us in His bosom if He did not love us dearly. In His bosom there is perfect safety—who can harm us there? What comfort and security that provides!

There is a phrase in Genesis 7:16 that gives us a tremendous sense of safety and comfort. After the animals and Noah’s family entered the ark as God had commanded, “…the Lord shut him in” (NKJ).

Noah lived in an age in which “…the wickedness of man was great in the earth and every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5 NKJV). It sounds much like the condition of the earth today. But Noah was shut in away from danger by God’s divine protection.

Although we live in this world, we are not of the world. Consequently we can expect to ride above the dangerous waters that attack the world, just like Noah.

Noah was shut in so that when the earth was flooded with water no harm could reach him. What a place to be! The rising water only served to lift him heavenward, above the danger that threatened others. Outside the ark was destruction, but inside there was peace, safety and provision.

Proverbs 1:33 says, “But all who listen to me will live in peace and safety, unafraid of harm” (NLT). The safety spoken of in this verse includes physical, financial, mental and emotional well-being. In fact, it encompasses every aspect of life! Those who turn their ear to the voice of wisdom will inhabit safety itself; they will be completely safe and secure and be free from the fear of evil. What the world would pay to be free from fear! But it cannot be purchased; it’s free to anyone who will make Jesus the Lord of his or her life.

Psalm 61:2 says, “From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (KJV). We can never stray so far as to remove ourselves from God’s protective care! His safety reaches to the most remote ends of the earth.

The word overwhelm in the original language actually means “to shroud in darkness, cover over, fail, faint, feebler, collapse.” That sounds like depression coming over a person.

However, when darkness seems to encompass us, when we feel like we could physically collapse, when we feel like we could pull the covers over our head and stay in bed, we must look to the One Who is higher than we are, and He will put us over. When we hide under the shelter of this mighty Rock, we can stand secure in the midst of any storm. All is calm in the cleft of the Rock! We cannot put our trust in anything else!

Acts Chapter 11

King James Version (KJV)

11 And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.

2 And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him,

3 Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.

4 But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them, saying,

5 I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me:

6 Upon the which when I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.

7 And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat.

8 But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth.

9 But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.

10 And this was done three times: and all were drawn up again into heaven.

11 And, behold, immediately there were three men already come unto the house where I was, sent from Caesarea unto me.

12 And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man’s house:

13 And he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter;

14 Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.

15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.

16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.

17 Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?

18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.

19 Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.

20 And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus.

21 And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.

22 Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch.

23 Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.

24 For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.

25 Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul:

26 And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.

27 And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch.

28 And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.

29 Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea:

30 Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Danger Lurks But Nothing Hurts

Jeremiah declared God’s undeniable ability to protect us when he said: “Ah Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You” (Jeremiah 32:17 NASU).

Who could possibly dispute God’s ability to guard and keep safe what He has created? Notice what the Lord says about His ability from verse 27, “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?” (NASU). By His great power He brought Israel out of Egypt—not only unharmed but loaded down with rewards. Nothing is too difficult for Him!

Jesus made this promise to believers, “…and nothing shall by any means hurt you” (Luke 10:19 KJV). No matter what danger lurks in this world, when we trust God’s promise to keep us, nothing shall hurt us! Recession can’t hurt us. Insulting words can’t hurt us. Demon forces can’t hurt us. Sickness and disease can’t hurt us. Terrorists can’t hurt us! Chemical warfare can’t hurt us! Nothing, absolutely nothing, can harm us.

When we turn the concerns of our lives over to God, He is well able to guard what we entrust to Him! Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all you heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (NKJV).

The Apostle Paul lived his life by that kind of trust. Paul found that not only was God willing but He was also able to guard everything he committed to Him: “For I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day” (2 Timothy 1:12 NAS).

“I know whom I have believed.” What confidence! What boldness! What amazing assurance Paul demonstrates with his statement! This is not merely a lofty statement. It’s a narrative of Paul’s personal experience.

Paul expressed trust and confidence in God that the world simply does not have. But we who, like Paul, have a personal and enduring relationship with the Lord are well acquainted with His goodness, His love, His power, His mercy and His faithfulness. Because of this relationship, we are confident that as we trust in Him, He will not fail us. We have become convinced that He is not only able, but also entirely willing to care for and protect His own.

Daniel 11:32 says, “But the people who know their God shall be strong and do great things” (TLB). The key to experiencing greater works is found in two words: believe and know God. It is not in knowing how He will protect or deliver us; but rather, in believing and knowing that He will that is important.

Romans 8:38-39 says, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (NAS).

2 Timothy Chapter 1

King James Version (KJV)

1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus,

2 To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

3 I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day;

4 Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy;

5 When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.

6 Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.

7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;

9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:

11 Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.

12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

13 Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

14 That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.

15 This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.

16 The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain:

17 But, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me.

18 The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day: and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou knowest very well.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Difficulty Turned to Opportunity

“Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you” (Psalm 37:3-5 NLT).

When the pleasures of our heart are focused on the Lord, we have great confidence in His promise of safety, help, and prosperity. It’s not difficult to entrust Him with our deepest concerns and our most precious possessions, because He has proven Himself trustworthy. Darkness may be enveloping the earth, but we have assurance that the promise of His glory will shine on us (see Isaiah 60:2). Because our trust is complete in Him, we always expect things to turn in our favor.

Life’s difficulties can literally become the Lord’s opportunities. Paul said it this way: “I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10 NASV).

Although none of us look forward to difficulties, insults, or persecution, we can be confident that when we are at our weakest, He will demonstrate His mighty strength on our behalf! When problems come into our lives, we can look to the Word of God and be assured that He will turn every situation to our advantage.

Romans 8:28 promises, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (NLT). What the enemy meant for evil, God will turn to our advantage.

When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow down to the gold statue, King Nebuchadnezzar had fashion in his own likeness, he flew into a rage and ordered them to be thrown into a fiery furnace. But Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego said:

“O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty” (Daniel 3:16-17 NLT).

We may feel as if we are in a fiery furnace like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. But just like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego we can experience supernatural victory when we trust in the Living God as our safety and protector. Notice what the king said after God delivered them:

“Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel to rescue his servants who trusted in him. They defied the king’s command and were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god except their own God” (v. 28 NLT).

What a testimony we become to the world when we make bold statements of trust in God no matter what threatens us. Like the psalmist we can declare: “This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him” (Psalm 91:1 NLT).

2 Corinthians 12

King James Version (KJV)

12 It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.

2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.

3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)

4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

5 Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.

6 For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.

7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

11 I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing.

12 Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.

13 For what is it wherein ye were inferior to other churches, except it be that I myself was not burdensome to you? forgive me this wrong.

14 Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.

15 And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.

16 But be it so, I did not burden you: nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile.

17 Did I make a gain of you by any of them whom I sent unto you?

18 I desired Titus, and with him I sent a brother. Did Titus make a gain of you? walked we not in the same spirit? walked we not in the same steps?

19 Again, think ye that we excuse ourselves unto you? we speak before God in Christ: but we do all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying.

20 For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults:

21 And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Beginning To Sink

After Peter stepped out of the boat to walk on the water, he began to consider the danger of the wind and waves. The scripture says, “Beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, Lord, save me” (Matthew 14:30 NKJ). Dangerous times are often accompanied by a sinking feeling.

At one time or another we can all relate to the sinking feeling that Peter experienced. But when our trust is firmly established in the Lord’s promise of protection, we can remain calm in spite of the wind and waves.

Peter’s prayer was short, but long enough to save him. It’s wonderful to know that it’s not the length but strength of our prayer that’s important. When we feel engulfed by fierce waters of difficulty, we can be confident that God has promised to save us and protect us. When we can do nothing, be assured, Jesus can do all things!

Psalm 20:7-8 says, “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God. They are brought down and fallen: but we are risen, and stand upright” (KJV).

Today many people trust in riches, power, intelligence, even medicine or insurance. But as children of the Most High God, we are to put our trust in Him alone! Verse 8 from The New International Version says, “They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.”

Faith sees not only the triumph of the godly, but also the defeat of its enemies. The King of heaven cannot help but hear us when we call, for His kingdom is at stake. Psalms 34:17 assures us, “The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles” (NLT).

“Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from the Lord. For he will be like a bush in the desert and will not see when prosperity comes, but will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, a land of salt without inhabitant” (Jeremiah 17:5-8 NASV).

Putting trust in the power, ability, strength, or wisdom of man brings the curse. This trust belongs to God alone, for He is the only One Who can deliver to the uttermost.

On the other hand, those who trust in the Lord will flourish:

“For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit” (v. 8).

These people are protected from the dangerous consequences of the relentless, scorching heat. While others wither and fail, they enjoy safety and protection under the shelter of the Most High. They draw their strength from the Lord and continue to bear fruit.

While unbelievers will not see even when good comes, the believer shall not see when heat, or fiery trials come. The Bible says trials come upon the just and the unjust alike but the just shall not weaken under them, because the Lord is his strength and protection.

Matthew Chapter 14

King James Version (KJV)

14 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus,

2 And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him.

3 For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife.

4 For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her.

5 And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet.

6 But when Herod’s birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod.

7 Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask.

8 And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist’s head in a charger.

9 And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath’s sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her.

10 And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison.

11 And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother.

12 And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus.

13 When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities.

14 And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.

15 And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals.

16 But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat.

17 And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes.

18 He said, Bring them hither to me.

19 And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.

20 And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.

21 And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.

22 And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.

23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.

24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.

25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.

26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.

27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.

28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.

29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.

30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.

31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

32 And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.

33 Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.

34 And when they were gone over, they came into the land of Gennesaret.

35 And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased;

36 And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Divine Protection for Dangerous Days

The times in which we live were described in the Bible two thousand years ago as dangerous, troublesome, savage, and hard to bear? Each evening the news is filled with reports of atrocities and violence that would have been inconceivable fifty years ago.

Actually, these words that define our generation come from the original Greek word translated perilous in 2 Timothy 3:1: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come” (KJV). Other translations of this passage use terms such as “difficult or stressful” times.

Certainly, we can all agree that we are living in the perilous, dangerous, stressful times described in 2 Timothy. Evidence of this fills news broadcasts daily. Dangerous events reported in the past few months include students shooting fellow students, husbands murdering their pregnant wives, mothers murdering their children, vicious hate crimes, employee rage, drive-by shootings, senseless and brutal terrorist attacks, race-related killings, rapes, identity theft and deadly food contamination.

That’s enough to put fear in anyone, unless of course they are believers!

Although the times in which we live are stressful and dangerous, those who place their trust and confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ have a covenant that includes safety and protection from the fierce, savage dangers that are in the world. Psalm 91:7 promises: “A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you” (NKJ). Regardless of what happens to those around us, we can rest assured knowing it shall not come near us!

In his last will and testament, David reflected on his experience with his covenant with God. He said, “Yes, God has made an everlasting covenant with me; His agreement is eternal, final, sealed. He will constantly look after my safety and success” (2 Samuel 23:5 TLB).

David was a man well acquainted with danger and stress, yet he testified that this covenant of safety is eternal, final and sealed! It will not fail! It cannot fail! These words are a chronicle of David’s life that he passes to everyone who will enter that covenant. God has called each of us to leave a legacy that bears the testimony of God’s faithful promises just like David, Abraham and Moses did. A testimony that declares: “I do not fear, for He constantly looks after my safety and success!”

“Constantly” means that He is looking after us when we cannot look after ourselves, even when we are asleep. David had so completely learned to trust the Lord that even when his own son, Absalom, was attempting to overthrow his throne he wrote: “I will lie down in peace, and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe” (Psalm 4:8, NLT). We don’t need to lose another night of rest for our Shepherd is affectionately watching over us.

1 Thessalonians Chapter 2

King James Version (KJV)

2 For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain:

2 But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.

3 For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile:

4 But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.

5 For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness:

6 Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.

7 But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children:

8 So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.

9 For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.

10 Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:

11 As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children,

12 That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.

13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

14 For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews:

15 Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men:

16 Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.

17 But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire.

18 Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.

19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?

20 For ye are our glory and joy.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Avoid Satan’s Trap

After being grilled with questions by the Pharisees and Sadducees, Jesus taught His disciples how Satan lures us into his traps.

“Later, after they crossed to the other side of the lake, the disciples discovered they had forgotten to bring any food. ‘Watch out!’ Jesus warned them. ‘Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees'” (Matthew 16:5,6 NLT).

The disciples thought Jesus said this because they had forgotten to bring bread on the trip. Evidently they didn’t remember that Jesus had fed 5,000 people with five loaves of bread just a few days prior to this trip.

No, Jesus wasn’t talking about food at all. There was a much greater purpose behind this statement. Jesus was about to expose one of Satan’s methods of trapping people. His point was revealed in the meaning of the word “yeast.” This word means something that agitates or causes fermentation; leaven (rising).”

“Fermentation” refers to a substance causing a state of excitement, commotion, unrest, boiling up, or agitation. The warning Jesus gave the disciples exposed Satan’s plan to use people or situations to agitate us, to bring us to the boiling point, or cause tension in our lives.

Satan will use any opportunity to agitate us in hopes of getting a rise out of us emotionally so we’ll lose our cool. The moment we allow that to happen, we have stepped out of the realm of the Spirit into the realm of the flesh where Satan rules.

The legal meaning of “entrapment” refers to a situation where a person is induced or persuaded to commit an act he had no previous intention of committing. The yeast, or the agitation, is meant to entrap us so we’ll yield to the flesh and say something foolish. That’s when the trap is sprung as Satan gleefully hangs us with our own words.

One characteristic of yeast is that it makes the object appear much larger than it actually is. Think back to the last time we were agitated by someone until we lost our cool. Maybe it was something as simple as a car cutting in front of us. Or perhaps the clerk at the grocery store was rude or extremely slow. One thing is certain, when we live in the flesh it only takes a small amount of yeast to get a big rise!

Yet when we realize that we’re in the midst of a conflict between kingdoms, we’ll become more skillful at recognizing the traps set for us and simply refuse to take the bait. We can ask the Holy Spirit to help us recognize the yeast before it has its agitating effect on us. Then the next time a situation arises that would normally push our button, we can resist the temptation to get agitated.

Instead, draw on the fruit of the spirit, such as longsuffering, patience, and gentleness. Soon those petty irritants won’t be able to agitate us the way they once did. And it won’t be long before we will be able to declare with confidence, “The devil has nothing on me!”

Matthew Chapter 16

King James Version (KJV)

16 The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven.

2 He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red.

3 And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?

4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.

5 And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread.

6 Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

7 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread.

8 Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?

9 Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?

10 Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?

11 How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?

12 Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

20 Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.

21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.

23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

28 Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Words Can Ensnare You

Revelation 12:10 tells us that Satan is the relentless accuser, accusing us day and night. Knowing this, can’t we simply ignore Satan’s accusations and go on with our lives? Not when we understand what a trap is actually designed to do. Matthew 22:15 says, “The Pharisees met together to think of a way to trap Jesus into saying something for which they could accuse him” (NLT). The Greek word “trap” means to ensnare or to fasten a noose.

Jesus was able to sidestep the booby traps that were set for Him because He knew what Satan would use to lure Him into a snare.

Satan couldn’t lay a finger on Jesus without legal access to Him. What gives Satan that access? Proverbs 18:21 says that death and life are in the power of the tongue. Furthermore, Proverbs 6:2 says, “You are taken as in a net by the words of your mouth; the sayings of your lips have overcome you” (BBE). If Jesus were to speak death-filled words it would give Satan the ability to bring those words to pass. That’s why every word Jesus spoke agreed with what God said in His Word.

This is Satan’s hidden agenda behind every harassing accusation spoken against us and every hurtful deed done to us. Each of these fiery darts is designed to get us to say something that will give Satan access to our lives. But once we become aware of how important our words are, we can pray as David did: “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3 NIV). As long as we keep a watch over our mouths, Satan doesn’t have a noose to tighten around our neck.

Yet Satan doesn’t give up just because we’ve become aware of his strategies. Instead, the fight becomes more antagonistic.

Notice how the simple questions the Pharisee’s asked Jesus soon escalated into an intense interrogation: “They grilled him with many hostile questions, trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him” (Luke 11:53-54 NLT). Again, the purpose of the Pharisees’ questions was to trap Jesus into saying words filled with death so Satan could put the noose around His neck and hang Him with it.

Notice that when Satan wasn’t successful in trapping Jesus with one line of questioning, he resorted to a variety of subjects. Once again, the devil hoped to provoke Jesus into a response he could use to hang Him. Satan pressed Jesus to give His opinion about divorce, taxes, the importance of keeping tradition, adultery, the most important commandment, and the way to get to Heaven, yet Jesus never took Satan’s bait. With each question, Jesus never got upset or gave His opinion. Instead, He pointed them to God’s Word rather than engaging in their debate.

When we know the purpose of Satan’s accusations then we can sidestep every booby trap that is set for us. We no longer have to be drawn and lured into Satan’s snares.

Matthew Chapter 22

King James Version (KJV)

22 And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said,

2 The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son,

3 And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.

4 Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage.

5 But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise:

6 And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.

7 But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.

8 Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy.

9 Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.

10 So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.

11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:

12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.

13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

14 For many are called, but few are chosen.

15 Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk.

16 And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men.

17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?

18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?

19 Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny.

20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?

21 They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.

22 When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.

23 The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him,

24 Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.

25 Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother:

26 Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh.

27 And last of all the woman died also.

28 Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her.

29 Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.

30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.

31 But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying,

32 I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.

33 And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at his doctrine.

34 But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together.

35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,

36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

38 This is the first and great commandment.

39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them,

42 Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The son of David.

43 He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying,

44 The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?

45 If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?

46 And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Entrapment

Have you ever wondered how Jesus was able to sidestep the booby traps that were set for Him? What kept Him from being drawn and lured into Satan’s snares?

Religious leaders frequently ambushed Jesus with an onslaught of hostile questions, yet He skillfully dodged each one. No matter what others did He remained in complete control of every situation.

If we could identify the secrets that kept Jesus from getting ensnared in the traps set for Him, then we could apply those principles and sidestep the traps set for us. One thing is certain: Jesus never allowed human opinion to affect Him. Proverbs 29:25 warns, “Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but to trust the Lord means safety.” I like the way The Message states it: “The fear of human opinion disables.”

If fear disables, then fearlessness must enable. We see this principle continually operating in Jesus’ life. Human opinion didn’t affect Him at all. Again, speaking to powerful leaders, He said, “Your approval or disapproval means nothing to me…” (John 5:41 NLT). That’s fearlessness!

Because Jesus was mindful of the spiritual climate and culture of this present world, He was able to look beyond human actions or opinions and identify their source. In other words, He followed the fruit to the root.

Jesus understood that although people harassed and attacked Him, they were not His enemy. He dealt with the root: the kingdom of darkness. Jesus knew full well that He was in a spiritual battle against spiritual opponents. He recognized the evil author and its kingdom that was behind each attack. Aware of this unseen conflict with the powers of darkness, Jesus never retaliated when people attacked or insulted Him. He understood that the enemy often used people as bait to ensnare Him.

“Fighting fruit” is a waste of time, yet too often we spend all our time trying to deal with problems at this level. But if we want to permanently affect fruit, such as opposition, criticism, or personal attacks through other people, we must follow Jesus’ example and deal with the root.

This knowledge equipped Jesus to sidestep every trap the enemy set for Him. And His life wasn’t trouble-free as many suppose. Jesus was despised and rejected, a man of sorrow and familiar with grief (see Isaiah 53:3). He faced angry mobs, accusations from powerful leaders, beatings, and ultimately crucifixion. Yet He never defended Himself or retaliated against people. Consequently, when His life was over, Jesus could honestly say that the prince of this world had no claim on Him (see John 14:30).

Jesus had to navigate through dangerous, mine-infested waters in order to avoid Satan’s booby traps. An example of one of these traps set for Jesus is found in Matthew 22:15: “Then the Pharisees met together to think of a way to trap Jesus into saying something for which they could accuse him.”

Although the Pharisees were responsible for setting a trap for Jesus, Satan was the mastermind behind the strategy. The Pharisees were merely Satan’s pawns used to get Jesus to say something contrary to God’s Word, and then the devil could accuse Him. He will use the same strategy on us unless we recognize he is behind the attacks and insults.

John Chapter 4

King James Version (KJV)

5 After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

2 Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.

3 In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.

4 For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.

5 And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.

6 When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?

7 The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.

8 Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.

9 And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.

10 The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.

11 He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk.

12 Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk?

13 And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place.

14 Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.

15 The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.

16 And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.

17 But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.

18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.

19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.

20 For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.

21 For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.

22 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:

23 That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.

24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.

26 For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;

27 And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.

28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,

29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

31 If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.

32 There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true.

33 Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth.

34 But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved.

35 He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light.

36 But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.

37 And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.

38 And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.

39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.

41 I receive not honour from men.

42 But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you.

43 I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.

44 How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?

45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust.

46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me.

47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Becoming One With Him

Jesus revealed the power available when as few as two people are determined to remain in unity: “If two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 18:19 KJV). According to Jesus when we make the decision to live in harmony our power and ability are multiplied.

This isn’t referring to our unity in our doctrine. Our doctrine won’t come into harmony until we’re in Heaven because Paul said, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12 KJV). We only know part of the whole picture.

Jesus said, “My prayer for all of them is that they will be one, just as you and I are one, Father—that just as you are in me and I am in you, so they will be in us, and the world will believe you sent me” (John 17:21 NLT). We may never have the same opinion or doctrine but that’s not our goal. Our goal is to become one with Jesus, just as He was one with the Father. When we become one with Jesus, living in harmony with others will result.

In Matthew 12:25, Jesus made this powerful statement: “…Any kingdom at war with itself is doomed. A city or home divided against itself is doomed” (NLT). If we are to enjoy the good life—a life of increased power and the supernatural blessing of God—then we must be committed to living in unity. But be forewarned: The enemy will come immediately to bring division and strife to steal this truth (see Mark 4:15). And if we yield to division, we are doomed. But James 4:7 says, “…humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (NLT).

Jesus goes on to say, “…You can’t enter a strong man’s house and rob him without first trying him up. Only then can his house be robbed!” (Matthew 12:29 NLT). This means that as long as we stay free of the enemy’s traps he cannot rob any of God’s promises from us.

Galatians 5:1 confirms this: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (NIV). If we allow ourselves to get “tied up” by the devil’s yoke of slavery he will be able to steal what rightfully belongs to us.

If difficult people continually ensnare us, we must adopt the same attitude that Jesus had toward people. He said, “Your approval or disapproval means nothing to me” (John 5:41 NLT). We can become immune to the attacks of others by making the commitment to live in peace and harmony, no matter what others do, what they say, or how they act. After all, our destiny is at risk!

Galations Chapter 5

King James Version (KJV)

5 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

2 Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.

3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.

4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

5 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.

6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

7 Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?

8 This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you.

9 A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.

10 I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be.

11 And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.

12 I would they were even cut off which trouble you.

13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.

16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Living in Peace and Unity

People who know their God-given purpose are determined to hit the target God has set for them. This point reminds me of a Peanuts cartoon in which Charlie Brown was practicing his archery. In addition to his bow and arrow, Charlie Brown took a paintbrush and a bucket of paint along.

Pulling an arrow from his quiver, he drew the string back firmly and let it slide from his fingers, hurling the arrow toward its destination. Approaching the target with his bucket of paint in tow, Charlie Brown drew a bull’s eye around the arrow.

Frustrated by this nonsense, Lucy asked Charlie what he was doing. Charlie Brown answered, “This way I ensure I always hit my target.”

Sadly, this is the way many Christians live their lives. Wherever the arrows of life happen to land, they claim, was their destination all along!

Jesus knew what His purpose was, and as a result, He could not be distracted, detoured, or offended. Nevertheless, He still had to keep His attitude right when dealing with difficult people.

Psalm 34:14 says, “…work hard at living in peace with others.” Jesus kept peace with challenging people even though they didn’t return that peace. He knew their actions weren’t His responsibility. He also knew that His response determined destiny, and it was this knowledge was one ingredient that empowered Jesus to resist attacks.

One thing is certain: Our actions and our attitude toward attacks and insults have a great deal to do with whether or not we reach our God-given destination. The questions we must ask ourselves are these:

How badly do we want the blessings of God in our lives?
How committed are we to reaching our God-given destination?
To what degree do we want to enjoy “the good life” that God has promised us?
How badly do we want the blessings of God in our lives? How committed are we to reaching our God-given destination? To what degree do we want to enjoy “the good life” that God has promised us?

Psalm 133:1-3 holds one of the keys to achieving the good life:

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; as the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore” (KJV).

Notice that something is required of us if we want to enjoy a good and pleasant life. We must become committed to living in unity and peace.

Psalm 132

King James Version (KJV)

132 Lord, remember David, and all his afflictions:

2 How he sware unto the Lord, and vowed unto the mighty God of Jacob;

3 Surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed;

4 I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids,

5 Until I find out a place for the Lord, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob.

6 Lo, we heard of it at Ephratah: we found it in the fields of the wood.

7 We will go into his tabernacles: we will worship at his footstool.

8 Arise, O Lord, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength.

9 Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let thy saints shout for joy.

10 For thy servant David’s sake turn not away the face of thine anointed.

11 The Lord hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne.

12 If thy children will keep my covenant and my testimony that I shall teach them, their children shall also sit upon thy throne for evermore.

13 For the Lord hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation.

14 This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it.

15 I will abundantly bless her provision: I will satisfy her poor with bread.

16 I will also clothe her priests with salvation: and her saints shall shout aloud for joy.

17 There will I make the horn of David to bud: I have ordained a lamp for mine anointed.

18 His enemies will I clothe with shame: but upon himself shall his crown flourish.

Friday, October 26, 2018

People of Purpose

Once we know our purpose in life we won’t be so easily sidetracked. When something comes our way that doesn’t serve our purpose, it will be easily recognized for what it is: a distraction to be avoided.

This very thing happened to me when a friend of mine asked me to represent the home-school community on an advisory committee the mayor was developing in our city. Since I had home schooled my daughter for years, this appointment seemed to be a logical match.

Although I was extremely honored to be asked, I immediately realized that this responsibility didn’t have anything to do with what God has called me to do. Home schooling helped me do what I was called to do, not the other way around. I thanked my friend for the offer, but I explained that it wasn’t what I was supposed to do. If I had agreed to fill that position, my decision would have taken away from what God intended for someone else.

People who know their purpose aren’t easily detoured. A detour in life can be very costly, taking us the long way to reach our destination or, even worse, causing us to miss our destination altogether.

The path of the purposeful is clearly defined and carefully charted. Every detail might not be known, but the direction is clear.

It was an eleven-day journey from Mount Sinai to where the children of Israel were going but because of their unbelief and rebellion, it took them forty years to reach their destination. Wouldn’t it be horrible to realize that we had caused a forty-year delay in reaching our destination?

People who know their purpose in life aren’t easily offended or hurt by others. Psalm 119:165 says, “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them” (KJV).

When God’s ways are first and foremost in our lives, we refuse to allow the actions or words of other people to hurt or offend us. Because our eyes are fixed on our destination and the prize that awaits us, people may say or do unkind things to us but we refuse to be offended. We are immune to their attacks because our hearts are fixed on the prize.

The Apostle Paul was a man who knew what God had called him to do with his life. He kept himself on track by focusing his energy on one thing: Forgetting the past (whether successes or failures) and looking forward to what was ahead as he strained to reach the end of his race and receive his eternal prize (see Philippians 3:13,14).

This is exactly what is required of each one of us if we want to be winners in life. We can’t change the past, so we might as well let it go and get on with the future! It is vitally important that we look ahead to what God has for us and put all our efforts and energy into fulfilling His purpose for our lives.

Philippians Chapter 3

King James Version (KJV)

3 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.

2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.

3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:

5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;

6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.

8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.

13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.

16 Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.

17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.

18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:

19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)

20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:

21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Become Immune to Attacks

Isaiah 53:3 is a prophetic word speaking of the rejections and abuse that Jesus would endure from humanity. It says, “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (NIV).

Have you ever wondered what gave Jesus the strength to resist the insults and attacks He endured from humanity throughout His ministry? At one time His preaching made the crowd so angry that they jumped up, took Him to the edge of a cliff, and tried to push Him over. But Jesus simply turned and walked away from them. How was He able to do that? What kept Him from retaliating against the people’s anger and insults?

The Bible says Jesus was tempted in every way we are, yet He never lost His cool (Hebrews 4:15). Why? It was His attitude toward this harassment that empowered Him to experience such success in life. If we can discover how He dealt with human attacks and insults, we can then become as successful in responding to harassment as He was.

One key to Jesus’ success is that He was focused solely on fulfilling God’s purpose for His life. He didn’t allow anything to draw Him away from what He had been sent to this earth to accomplish.

The truth is, attacks are meant to distract and detour us from fulfilling our God-given purpose and calling. Philippians 2:5 says, “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” If we will adopt Christ’s attitude we can become immune to the attacks just like Jesus was, and then we will be able to run our race and finish our course with success.

The promise in Jeremiah 1:18,19 will help us resist any attacks we might encounter in life.

“…Today I have made you immune to their attacks. You are strong like a fortified city that cannot be captured, like an iron pillar or a bronze wall. None of the kings, officials, priests, or people of Judah will be able to stand against you. They will try, but they will fail. For I am with you, and I will take care of you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” (NLT).

Imagine being a fortified city that cannot be conquered. Even though the attacks don’t stop, we are fortified and strong so every attack fails. Wouldn’t that kind of life be like a dream come true? It can be true for us if we will focus on the purpose God has for our lives instead of allowing other things to capture our attention.

Hebrews Chapter 4

King James Version (KJV)

4 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.

2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.

4 For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.

5 And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.

6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:

7 Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

8 For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.

9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.

10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.

11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.

15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Press for More than Enough

During the 12 years that Nehemiah was Governor of Judah, he refused to draw on the food allowance provided for governors. Many people who struggle financially often think that asking the Lord to bless them financially sounds selfish or greedy. Many of these same people think it sounds more godly and humble to be poor. But this kind of thinking isn’t humble. In fact, it’s actually very selfish.

When all a person wants is enough money to meet the needs of their family, they are unable to help others even if the Lord instructed them to. But if a person has more than what it takes to run their household, they could actually become a channel of the Lord’s provision to others in need. Their family could actually become known as a “distribution center” for the Kingdom of God. Now, that sounds like the person who is discontent with the status quo!

God needs people who will be bold enough to possess more than just enough to meet their own needs, people who desire to become distribution centers for the Lord, ready and able to help wherever He calls on them. As Romans 12:13 says, “When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality” (NLT). That’s exactly what Nehemiah did.

When Nehemiah finally finished rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem, he reflected on the goodness of God and how often He’d had mercy on the children of Israel. “For forty years you sustained them in the wilderness, and they lacked nothing. Their clothes did not wear out, and their feet did not swell!” (Nehemiah 9:21 NLT).

Yet despite God’s goodness, His people had repeated a cycle of disobedience, misery, and repentance over and over again. As a result of Israel’s continued disobedience, Nehemiah said: “So now today we are slaves here in the land of plenty that you gave to our ancestors! We are slaves among all this abundance” (v. 36).

Doesn’t this sound all too familiar? Nehemiah’s statement could be a commentary on the condition of God’s people today! Even though God has promised to bless His people with abundance, many still live as slaves to lack among all this abundance. What a tragedy!

But we don’t have to count ourselves among that number. Instead, we can follow Nehemiah’s example. Regardless of our own natural limitations, we can choose to see our situation from God’s perspective and to rise above a lifestyle of mediocrity and lack. As we press beyond our own need into a life of abundance, there is no limit to what we can do to bless others and impact God’s Kingdom!

Make the decision to become a distribution center for God today!

Romans Chapter 12

King James Version (KJV)

12 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:

5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;

7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;

8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.

10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;

11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.

14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.

15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.

18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.

21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

A Distribution Center

During the 12 years that Nehemiah was Governor of Judah, he refused to draw on the food allowance provided for governors. The former governors laid heavy burdens on the people by demanding food, wine, and silver from them. Even the governor’s assistants took advantage of the people. But Nehemiah refused what every other governor received, using his own financial supply to feed the Jewish leaders and notable visitors who sat at his table while he worked on the wall!

It was no small task for Nehemiah to feed everyone from his own personal wealth for the 52 days it took to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. That means, for nearly two months, Nehemiah fed 150 officers and their guests at his own personal expense!

These are not the actions of someone content with the status quo. Nehemiah was more interested in the work of God and the burden that had been placed on the people than his own bank account!

The Church of Jesus Christ could benefit from a lot more men and women like Nehemiah! God needs more believers who are so in touch with the condition of His people that they are willing to fast and pray, repent on behalf of the sins of others, and spend whatever amount of money necessary to meet the need!

Of course, there are many who share Nehemiah’s desire but lack the finances. They earn just enough to help their family “get by” but have nothing left over.

That’s why it’s so vitally important to hear biblical prosperity preached on a regular basis. So often those with financial problems are the ones who claim that prosperity is emphasized too much. These voices of cynicism accuse those who teach on prosperity of trying to get their money.

But faith for financial prosperity only comes by hearing what God says about it. Instead of complaining, we can join the ranks of the men and women who refuse to live in lack and press into God’s promise to bless them abundantly.

It took Nehemiah a great deal of money to feed more than 150 people for 52 days. Notice what it required: “The provisions I paid for each day included one ox, six choice sheep or goats, and a large number of poultry. And every ten days we needed a large supply of all kinds of wine” (Nehemiah 5:18 NLT). He was able to do this only because he had plenty to share with others.

Nehemiah wasn’t the only one in the Bible who had that testimony. The Good Samaritan was another wealthy man the Lord used to help restore someone in need. When the Good Samaritan came across an injured man lying along the road, he first bandaged the man’s wounds; then he placed the unconscious man on his donkey and took him to an inn. The next day the Samaritan paid the innkeeper and said, “…Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here” (Luke 10:35 NLT).

Obviously, the innkeeper knew that the Good Samaritan was financially able to fulfill his commitment. For one thing, this Samaritan rode a donkey at a time when most people walked. But what if the Good Samaritan had been living from paycheck to paycheck? Regardless of his desire to help the injured man, his desire would have gone unfulfilled.

We must begin to prosper in order to finance the work of God.

Luke Chapter 10

King James Version (KJV)

10 After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.

2 Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.

3 Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.

4 Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way.

5 And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house.

6 And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again.

7 And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house.

8 And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you:

9 And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.

10 But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say,

11 Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.

12 But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city.

13 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.

14 But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you.

15 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell.

16 He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.

17 And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.

18 And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.

19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.

20 Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.

21 In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.

22 All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.

23 And he turned him unto his disciples, and said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see:

24 For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.

25 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?

27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.

28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.

29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?

30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.

32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.

33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,

34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.

36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?

37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

38 Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.

39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.

40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.

41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:

42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

Monday, October 22, 2018

An Attempt to Intimidate You

When Nehemiah began to restore the walls of Jerusalem, his enemies didn’t sit in silence. In fact, they flew into a rage, mocking and accusing Nehemiah as they tried to hinder the work. They jeered, “…What does this bunch of poor, feeble Jews think they are doing? Do they think they can build the wall in a single day if they offer enough sacrifices? Look at those charred stone they are pulling out of the rubbish and using again!” (Nehemiah 4:2 NLT).

Does that mocking attitude sound vaguely familiar? Give these words a slightly different twist to fit our particular situation, and we’ll recognize these familiar words of intimidation often spoken toward God’s people.

What did Nehemiah do in response to this intimidation? He simply prayed and continued to oversee the rebuilding of the city walls. Then, when Nehemiah’s enemies threatened those working on the wall, he told them, “…You know you are lying. There is no truth in any part of your story” (Nehemiah 6:8 NLT). Nehemiah explained, “They were just trying to intimidate us, imagining that they could break our resolve and stop the work. So I prayed for strength to continue the work” (v. 9).

Nehemiah didn’t allow anything to discourage or stop him, but those who worked with him to rebuild the walls were another story. These people weren’t cut out of the same mold as Nehemiah. When they got tired, they complained. When they heard the threats of the enemy, they were gripped with fear.

But Nehemiah refused to consider his weariness or the threats of his enemies’ as long as the work was unfinished. He never brought up the fact that he lacked the qualifications for rebuilding the wall. Nehemiah had been a governor, not a carpenter. Although he lacked the natural building skills it didn’t stop him from stepping out of his natural ability and into the supernatural ability of God!

Instead of becoming tired and fearful, Nehemiah was driven by his own inner passion to correct the heartbreaking condition of God’s city. This burning passion ignited a fire within him that could not be quenched by weariness, mockery, or threats.

Too many Christians complain about the condition of our nation’s government, schools, or whatever else they feel like criticizing. But instead of complaining, they could follow Nehemiah’s example by choosing to do their part to change the situation through the power and favor of God even if they lack the natural ability to bring the needed change.

If Nehemiah’s passion isn’t challenging enough wait until we see what he did next!

For the 12 years that Nehemiah was Governor of Judah, he refused to draw on the food allowance provided for governors. The former governors laid heavy burdens on the people by demanding food, wine, and silver from them. Even the governor’s assistants took advantage of the people. But Nehemiah refused what every other governor received, using his own financial supply to feed the Jewish leaders and notable visitors who sat at his table while he worked on the wall!

“I asked for nothing, even though I regularly fed 150 Jewish officials at my table, besides all the visitors from other lands! The provisions I paid for each day included one ox, six choice sheep or goats, and a large number of poultry. And every ten days we needed a large supply of all kinds of wine. Yet I refused to claim the governor’s food allowance because the people already carried a heavy burden” (Nehemiah 5:17,18 NLT).

What a man! Although Nehemiah was granted personal provisions to sustain him while he worked to restore Jerusalem’s wall, he refused to use that provision. Instead, he fed everyone from his own personal wealth for the duration of the rebuilding project. We need more Nehemiah’s in the body of Christ!

Proverbs Chapter 6

King James Version (KJV)

6 My son, if thou be surety for thy friend, if thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger,

2 Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth.

3 Do this now, my son, and deliver thyself, when thou art come into the hand of thy friend; go, humble thyself, and make sure thy friend.

4 Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids.

5 Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler.

6 Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:

7 Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,

8 Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.

9 How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?

10 Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:

11 So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.

12 A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with a froward mouth.

13 He winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet, he teacheth with his fingers;

14 Frowardness is in his heart, he deviseth mischief continually; he soweth discord.

15 Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; suddenly shall he be broken without remedy.

16 These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:

17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,

18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,

19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

20 My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother:

21 Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck.

22 When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee.

23 For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:

24 To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman.

25 Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids.

26 For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adultress will hunt for the precious life.

27 Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?

28 Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned?

29 So he that goeth in to his neighbour’s wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent.

30 Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry;

31 But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house.

32 But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul.

33 A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away.

34 For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance.

35 He will not regard any ransom; neither will he rest content, though thou givest many gifts.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Dare To Look From God’s Perspective

Throughout history, there have been men and women who, in the face of impossible situations, have stood head and shoulders above others by accomplishing amazing feats when the odds were against them. Invariably, those who fit this description were people who resisted the status quo and achieved what everyone else said was impossible, who stood against mediocrity and defied its limitations. The Bible is filled with testimonies of men and women of this caliber.

Think about Moses’ mother, who hid her son when the king ordered all newborn Hebrew boys to be thrown into the Nile to prevent the Hebrew population from outnumbering the Egyptians.

Then there was Moses, who wasn’t satisfied to see the miracles God performed for the children of Israel; instead, Moses yearned to know the ways of God personally.

What about the seventeen-year-old shepherd boy David, who killed both a lion and a bear when the beasts attacked his flock?

Consider the courage of Rahab, who provided a safe haven to Hebrew spies, a risk that would have brought certain death if she’d been caught by the authorities.

And what inner strength Joseph revealed when he refused to retaliate against those who had betrayed him, even though he had the power and authority to do so!
Our faith is strengthened as we study these outstanding men and women who, despite all opposition, confronted impossibilities and resisted difficulties.

Their testimonies encourage us to join the ranks of those who refuse to accept anything less than what God has promised. They dare us to look at our own situations from a totally different perspective, from God’s perspective.

Whenever we limit ourselves to our own point of view, we become a hindrance to God’s plan. Nehemiah is a great example of a man who didn’t look at things from man’s standpoint. When Nehemiah heard that the walls of Jerusalem were broken down, he wept. His heart was so troubled that he prayed and fasted over the condition of God’s beloved city. He took the situation so seriously that he repented on behalf of the sins of God’s people.

Then Nehemiah reminded God of His promise to them. As this man of God prayed, a desire to rebuild Jerusalem’s neglected walls captured his heart.

But if Nehemiah were to carry out this mission, the king would have to grant him a leave of absence from his service. Nehemiah prayed, “O Lord, please hear my prayer! Listen to the prayers of those of us who delight in honoring you. Please grant me success now as I go to ask the king for a great favor. Put it into his heart to be kind to me” (Nehemiah 1:11 NLT). And guess what? The king granted Nehemiah’s request because the hand of the Lord was upon this man whom He had called to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls.

God needs more believers like Nehemiah who are so in touch with the condition of His people that they are willing to fast and pray, repent on behalf of the sins of others, and do whatever is necessary to see the situation changed!

2 Peter

King James Version (KJV)

1 Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:

2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,

3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;

6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;

7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.

10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:

11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

12 Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.

13 Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance;

14 Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me.

15 Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.

16 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

17 For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

18 And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Voice Activated

Why did Zechariah and Mary experience completely different results based solely on their response to God’s promise? Because without a voice in agreement with God’s plan, nothing happens. This is a spiritual law that God established from the beginning. In Genesis 1:2 the scripture says: “The earth was empty, a formless mass cloaked in darkness. And the Spirit of God was hovering over its surface” (NLT).

Although the Holy Spirit hovered over the darkness, nothing happened until God said, “…Let there be light…” (v. 3). At that moment, the Holy Spirit released creative power that would bring to pass what was spoken—light was released and darkness fled.

The supernatural power of God is voice-activated! Without our voices speaking in agreement with what God has already promised, there can be no lasting change in our lives. Our voices either “open the way” or “get in the way” of God’s plan—depending on how we use them. Our words either advance the plan of God in our lives or hinder it.

God needs our voices to clear the path for His plan from our house, to the church house, to the courthouse, to the White House. It’s our voices that will clear the way for God’s plan to unfold in our lives. It’s not our pastors’ responsibility or some prophet’s job—the responsibility rests upon us alone.

The question is, are we hungry enough to do whatever it takes to walk fully in God’s plan?

We can’t watch hours of bad news and expect to remain uncontaminated from man’s perspective. Spending 15 to 30 minutes with God cannot neutralize the effect of so much bad news. If we hear enough bad news (and the media is sure to make it available 24/7!), we will soon begin to believe the negative reports we hear, for Romans 10:17 tells us that faith is built by what we hear. Then we’ll start talking about the bad news we’ve heard with friends, coworkers, or family members. As a result, we will activate the spiritual law and experience the negative harvest of what we’ve given voice to.

But there is good news! We can alter that outcome by using our voice to speak what God has promised instead of what the media predicts!

Our faith is fed and grows strong as we continually hear God’s Word, filling our minds and our mouths with His voice as it is spoken through His Word. We can announce loud and clear the truth that will move us in the direction of God’s promises.

Psalms 65:11 says, “You crown the year with Your goodness, and Your paths drip with abundance” (NKJV). We can experience the best years of our lives as we begin activating our voices by faith. So let’s determine to use our voices each day to declare God’s Words of life. As we do, we will set our feet squarely in the middle of His good plan for our lives!

Romans Chapter 10

King James Version (KJV)

10 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.

2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.

3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

5 For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.

6 But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:)

7 Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)

8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;

9 That 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.

10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.

13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?

17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

18 But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.

19 But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.

20 But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.

21 But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Ask and Believe

John the Baptist demonstrated the power of the spoken word when he cried, “Clear the way through the wilderness for the Lord! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God!” (Isaiah 40:3 NLT). The good news is that you and I also have voices that can open divine pathways and allow God’s plan to unfold in our lives, our church, and our nation!

Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father, teaches us another powerful lesson about our voice. Before John’s birth, an angel appeared to Zechariah as he performed his priestly duties. The angel said to him, “…Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! For God has heard your prayer, and your wife, Elizabeth, will bear you a son! And you are to name him John” (Luke 1:13 NLT).

The angel continued to give Zechariah many details regarding John’s life and ministry. But notice Zechariah’s response to the angel’s message: “…Do you expect me to believe this? I’m an old man and my wife is an old woman” (v. 18 Message).

This was definitely not the way Zachariah should have answered the angel! In fact, it is always a bad idea to question what God says.

Doesn’t it seem as though the appearance of an angel would have been enough to cause Zachariah to believe? Well, it wasn’t. The angel answered Zechariah,

“…I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news! And now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you won’t be able to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly come true at the proper time” (vv. 19,20 NLT).

Gabriel was utterly aghast that a man would question God. Gabriel stood before Almighty God, who had sent Zechariah good news in answer to his prayer. How could this mere human being question God?

Clearly Zachariah could not be trusted with God’s plan. So because of Zachariah’s words of unbelief, Gabriel had no alternative except to close his mouth until after God’s plan was fulfilled. There was too much at risk to allow Zechariah to jeopardize God’s master plan with the words of his mouth. With Zachariah’s voice silenced, God’s plan was executed, and Elizabeth conceived a child in her latter days.

Not long after Elizabeth conceived, Gabriel appeared to a young virgin named Mary with a similar message: “‘Don’t be afraid, Mary,’ the angel told her, ‘for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus'” (vv. 30,31 NLT). Although Mary was engaged, she had not yet been with a man. So upon hearing this news, she, too, asked Gabriel a question, saying, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin” (v. 34).

Mary asked a question, but it was very different in nature to Zechariah’s. Zechariah’s question doubted God’s ability to do such an impossible thing, but Mary simply asked how it would be accomplished since she was a virgin. Obviously, it’s okay to ask God how He will accomplish what He has promised us—as long as we believe what He says, no matter how impossible it seems.

We never want to question God’s ability to do the impossible. Instead, we can adopt the attitude that Mary had toward: “…May everything you have said come true…” (v. 38).

Isaiah Chapter 40

King James Version (KJV)

40 Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.

2 Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.

3 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

4 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:

5 And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

6 The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field:

7 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass.

8 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.

9 O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!

10 Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.

11 He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.

12 Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?

13 Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being his counsellor hath taught him?

14 With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding?

15 Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing.

16 And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering.

17 All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity.

18 To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?

19 The workman melteth a graven image, and the goldsmith spreadeth it over with gold, and casteth silver chains.

20 He that is so impoverished that he hath no oblation chooseth a tree that will not rot; he seeketh unto him a cunning workman to prepare a graven image, that shall not be moved.

21 Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth?

22 It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:

23 That bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity.

24 Yea, they shall not be planted; yea, they shall not be sown: yea, their stock shall not take root in the earth: and he shall also blow upon them, and they shall wither, and the whirlwind shall take them away as stubble.

25 To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One.

26 Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.

27 Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God?

28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.

29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.

30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:

31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Power Of Your Voice 

There was a great deal involved in order to get Jesus from Heaven to the manger, into His earthly ministry, and back to the Throne again. Even though this was all part of God’s plan, it didn’t automatically happen—nothing does. For example, Matthew 18:14 says that it’s not the Father’s will that any should perish, but people die and go to hell every day. If we want to receive the benefits that God promises then we must activate them.

God’s plans were established before the foundation of the world. But with the help of the serpent, Adam and Eve strayed from God’s plan, and the groundwork for bringing Jesus to earth to redeem mankind and restore God’s plan began.

Notice what God said to the serpent as punishment for his part in hindering His plan: “And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel” (Genesis 3:15 NLT). This announcement was the first indication to the kingdom of darkness of the Messiah’s coming.

But God’s pronouncement in the Garden was not the only time He spoke about this future event. For hundreds of years, the Spirit of God moved upon men like David, Isaiah, Zachariah, and Daniel to speak about the Messiah yet to come. The voice of God echoed through these prophets, defining the anointing that would rest upon the Messiah and what He would accomplish for all of humanity. It was the God-inspired voices of these prophets that would summon Jesus to the manger—and then into His ministry on this earth.

Notice the Holy Spirit’s specific wording through the prophet Isaiah: “Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting, ‘Clear the way through the wilderness for the Lord! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God!'” (Isaiah 40:3 NLT).

Many years later, the Holy Spirit used the voice of John the Baptist to clear the way for the Lord. John the Baptist’s voice opened the pathway or the entrance for the Word to become flesh and dwell among men (see John 1:1,14).

Jesus said that of everyone born of a woman, none was greater than John the Baptist (Matthew 11:11), yet many great prophets lived before John. For example, consider the ministry of these prophets:

Elijah called down fire from Heaven and successfully challenged demon spirits.
Elisha raised a boy from the dead and multiplied a widow woman’s last meal, thereby preventing her and her son from starving.
Moses pronounced plagues of blood, flies, boils, and finally death upon an entire nation of people who refused to obey God.
How could John be greater than these when he didn’t perform any miracles? What caused Jesus to rank John above these prophets?

It was John’s voice. The words John spoke built the path from which Jesus launched a revolution of righteousness that would forever change the world. John’s voice opened and cleared the way for God’s plan to unfold. Our voice can clear the way for God’s plan to unfold in our lives also.

Matthew Chapter 11

King James Version (KJV)

11 And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities.

2 Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples,

3 And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?

4 Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see:

5 The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.

6 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.

7 And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?

8 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.

9 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.

10 For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.

11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.

13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.

14 And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.

15 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

16 But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows,

17 And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil.

19 The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.

20 Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not:

21 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.

22 But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.

23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.

24 But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.

25 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.

26 Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.

27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.

28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

God Is On Your Side

Jesus said, “Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven” (Matthew 18:18 Phillips). We can no longer take a fearful, beggarly attitude toward the enemy hoping he will allow us to have what God has already promised. When we have that kind of attitude he will weigh us down with an unbearable burden—hoping to silence us forever! God has never told us to consult the enemy, He said to make a demand of him.

We need to stop acting like God is not on our side and the devil is doing us a favor. It does absolutely no good at all to ask the devil, “Please leave me alone.” We need to stomp our foot and make the kingdom of darkness obey God’s Word! Because Pharaoh refused to obey God, Egypt suffered one dreadful plague after another. But notice what God said about His people: “But it will be very different in the land of Goshen where the Israelites live… I will make a distinction between your people and my people…” (Exodus 8:22,23 NLT).

God has always intended that there would be a clear distinction between His people and others. While things get darker in the world, the light should shine on God’s people, just like it did in the land of Goshen!

With each of the ten plagues that Egypt suffered, the people of God were spared. While plagues of flies, boils, hail, and death were widespread in Egypt, God promised, “But among the Israelites it will be so peaceful that not even a dog will bark. Then you will know that the Lord makes a distinction between the Egyptians and the Israelites” (Exodus 11:7 NLT).

In the most distressful situations—even life-threatening situations—the Lord will give His people peace and protection. Psalm 91:7 promises, “Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you” (NLT). Even when the threat of death is at hand, we can use our God-given authority to change the situation.

Too often Christians resist the kingdom of darkness only until the pressure is removed, allowing the attack to return. David wasn’t that way! Notice his attitude:

“I chased my enemies and caught them; I did not stop until they were conquered. I struck them down so they could not get up; they fell beneath my feet. You have armed me with strength for the battle; you have subdued my enemies under my feet. You placed my foot on their necks… I ground them as fine as dust in the wind. I swept them into the gutter like dirt” (Psalm 18:37-40,42 NLT).

This is the attitude of someone who knows that God is on his side! It’s the tone of someone who knows when he speaks, it sounds like God to the enemy. It’s the posture of someone who is confident that God’s Word will not return without accomplishing what it intends!

This is the life of a Christian!

Matthew Chapter 18

King James Version (KJV)

18 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,

3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.

6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

7 Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!

8 Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.

9 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.

10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.

11 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.

12 How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?

13 And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.

14 Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.

15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.

20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?

22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.

24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.

25 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.

26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.

27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.

28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.

29 And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.

30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.

31 So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.

32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:

33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?

34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.

35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

You Will Be Like God Unto Them

When the Syrians were at war with Israel, the Lord would reveal their plans to the prophet. Time and again, Elisha warned Israel’s king of the Syrians’ strategies, thereby avoiding attack. So accurate was this information that the king of Syria assumed there was a secret informant among them. When the king discovered it was Elisha warning Israel, he sent his army to seize the prophet.

One morning when Elisha’s servant, Gehazi, went outside, he saw troops, horses, and chariots everywhere. Panic hit Gehazi as he related the desperate scene to Elisha. The prophet merely prayed that Gehazi’s eyes would be opened to see—and when Gehazi looked up, he saw that the hillside was filled with horses and chariots of fire. Elisha viewed spiritual resistance through the eye of faith!

There is more going on in the unseen realm than we realize!

With that in mind, let’s go back to Moses and notice how he and Aaron are described in Exodus 6:27: “They are the ones who went to Pharaoh to ask permission to lead the people from the land of Egypt” (NLT). God didn’t tell Moses and Aaron to ask permission, He told them to demand it.

There is a huge difference in the attitude, posture, and tone of someone asking permission versus someone demanding it. Moses stood before Pharaoh with little or no confidence in what he asked. As a result, Pharaoh put an even greater burden on the Hebrews than before.

Although Moses didn’t see the Lord at work, he heard God’s response to his accusation that He had done nothing to rescue His people (Exodus 5:23 NLT): “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Pay close attention to this. I will make you seem like God to Pharaoh…'” (Exodus 7:1 NLT).

Moses’ focus on his own inability caused him to lack the confidence that God would do what He said. I can imagine God’s finger pointed in Moses’ face when He spoke those powerful words: “…I will make you seem like God to Pharaoh….” What a statement! Demonic forces are unable to tell the difference between our voice and God’s voice when we speak what He tells us to speak—so they must obey.

If we ask the enemy to give us what God has promised, he’ll slap us down with an unbearable burden, hoping to silence us forever! God didn’t tell us to ask permission, He said to demand.

Smith Wigglesworth tells about a woman whose dog followed her to the bus stop. Along the way she would turn to the dog saying, “Go home, little doggie,” but the dog would just wag its tail and keep following her. This happened several times until the bus arrived, at which time she turned to the dog, stomped her foot, and said: “Get!” At her command of authority, the dog immediately turned around and ran home.

We need to stop acting like that woman did before the bus ever arrived. It does absolutely no good at all to ask the devil, “Please leave me alone.” We need to stomp our feet and make the kingdom of darkness obey God’s Word!

John Chapter 3

King James Version (KJV)

3 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?

5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?

10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?

11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.

12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?

13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

22 After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized.

23 And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized.

24 For John was not yet cast into prison.

25 Then there arose a question between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purifying.

26 And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him.

27 John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.

28 Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him.

29 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.

30 He must increase, but I must decrease.

31 He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.

32 And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony.

33 He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true.

34 For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.

35 The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.

36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

Monday, October 15, 2018

While The Battle Rages

After Moses delivered the Lord’s message to Pharaoh demanding he let Israel go, notice his reaction: “Is that so?” retorted Pharaoh. “And who is the Lord? Why should I listen to him and let Israel go? I don’t know the Lord, and I will not let Israel go” (Exodus 5:2 NLT). Outraged at Moses’ request, Pharaoh punished the Hebrews by eliminating the straw needed to make bricks, only increasing their grueling burden. This then angered the Hebrews toward Moses, causing them to turn against him.

In his anguish, Moses cried out to God, saying, “…Why have you brought all this trouble on your own people, Lord? Why did you send me? Ever since I came to Pharaoh as your spokesman, he has been even more brutal to your people. And you have done nothing to rescue them!” (vv. 22,23). Yet the Lord had warned Moses that Pharaoh would not agree until the pressure had become unbearable.

The same thing happens today when people complain about how bad things are with the economy, the media, the government, and immorality. Yet Jesus warned us that the closer it gets to His return, the more this world would resemble the days of Noah and Lot.

Noah was the only righteous man alive in his generation, and there were only ten righteous people where Lot lived. Today’s difficult conditions aren’t nearly as desperate as theirs were. Jesus warned that in this dark world, there would be trouble. Yet He instructed us to remain untroubled because He has overcome the world (John 16:33)! How do we obey that divine command? By sinking our teeth into God’s promises like never before.

Moses was unwise to accuse God of doing “nothing” just because he didn’t see immediate results. In the same way, what we see or don’t see in the natural is never an indication of whether God is working. He always does what He promises.

“God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?” (Numbers 23:19 NLT).

God is always at work bringing to pass what He has declared, but the kingdom of darkness is resistant. Daniel provides us with insight into what is taking place when we don’t see immediate change:

“But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia” (Daniel 10:13 NLT).

We are in a spiritual battle that our natural eyes are unable to see. While the battle is raging, we must stand our ground in faith, believing God will do just what He promised.

“Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all the crisis demands, to stand [firmly in your place]” (Ephesians 6:13 AMP).

When we are equipped with God’s armor we are able to resist and stand our ground in the battles we face.

Acts Chapter 17

King James Version (KJV)

17 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews:

2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,

3 Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.

4 And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.

5 But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.

6 And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also;

7 Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.

8 And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things.

9 And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go.

10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.

11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

12 Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.

13 But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people.

14 And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still.

15 And they that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens: and receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed, they departed.

16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.

17 Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.

18 Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.

19 And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is?

20 For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean.

21 (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)

22 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.

23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, To The Unknown God. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.

24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;

25 Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;

26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;

27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:

28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.

30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:

31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.

33 So Paul departed from among them.

34 Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

No More Excuses

In order to stop the ever-increasing population of Hebrews living in Egypt, Pharaoh ordered his soldiers to throw every newborn Hebrew boy into the Nile River. Hearing the sound of agonizing screams draw closer as soldiers went from home to home, slaughtering children, one Jewish woman named Jochebed made a life-threatening decision: She would hide her newborn son from Pharaoh’s murderous decree.

But after three months, Jochebed realized she could no longer protect the growing infant. So she developed a plan that would not only guarantee her baby’s deliverance but would also guard him in the royal palace under the watchful eye of Pharaoh’s daughter. The child was found floating down the river in Jochebed’s carefully crafted basket and brought to Pharaoh’s daughter. She named the child Moses and decided to adopt him as her own.

Moses’ mother imparted to her son the extraordinary legacy of a deliverer. His heritage became evident when, many years after his adoption by Pharaoh’s daughter, he paid a visit to his people, the Hebrews. During this visit, Moses witnessed an Egyptian beating a Hebrew slave. Thinking that no one was watching, he killed the Egyptian and buried him. But someone did see what happened—and when Pharaoh heard what Moses had done, he ordered him to be killed, forcing Moses to flee to the land of Midian.

Although God had a plan to use Moses to deliver the Hebrews, Moses’ method was not God’s way. But after spending years in exile, Moses’ life was about to change!

As Moses was living the life of a lonely shepherd, the Lord appeared to him from a burning bush with His plan for deliverance. Moses would be God’s spokesman, demanding that Pharaoh let the Hebrews go free.

Making a demand of a king is an outrageous prospect for anyone. But the waters between Moses and Pharaoh ran deep, which made God’s instructions to Moses even more extreme. Needless to say, God had to convince Moses before he finally agreed to take this seemingly impossible assignment.

Moses’ first response was a familiar excuse—one that many of us use today. “Who am I?” he asked God (Exodus 3:11 NLT). Like Moses, we also have a tendency to focus on our weaknesses and inabilities. But to do so means we are more self-conscious than God-conscious—placing ourselves before God. It means we put more faith in our inability than in His ability.

Certainly making a demand of a king is an extreme measure, but God has a way of being extremely convincing.

The excuses Moses used ranged from “Who am I?” to “Who are You?” to “No one will believe me.” Despite everything God had done to convince him, Moses brought up one final issue: “…O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled” (Exodus 4:10 NLT).

The Lord ignored Moses’ shortcomings, inadequacies, and imperfections and simply responded, “Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say” (v. 12). The Lord will also ignore our inadequacies until we finally decide to obey, so we might as well obey from the start.

Ephesians Chapter 6

King James Version (KJV)

6 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.

2 Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise;

3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.

4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;

6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;

7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:

8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.

9 And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,

20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

21 But that ye also may know my affairs, and how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things:

22 Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts.

23 Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

24 Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Strength For The Task

The Lord told Gideon to sneak over to the Midianites’ camp and listen to what they were saying.

“The man said, ‘I had this dream, and in my dream a loaf of barley bread came tumbling down into the Midianite camp. It hit a tent, turned it over, and knocked it flat!’ His companion answered, ‘Your dream can mean only one thing—God has given Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite, victory over Midian and all its allies!'” (Judges 7:13,14 NLT).

The information Gideon received from this scouting trip encouraged him to immediately return to camp and prepare his men for battle. However, this wouldn’t be a typical battle using conventional weapons. Gideon’s army consisted of only 300 men armed with clay pots and horns!

Who ever heard of soldiers using clay pots and horns to fight against a mob of terrorists? But the battles fought by God’s people are “…not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord” (Zechariah 4:6). We do not wage war as mere humans, we use God’s mighty weapons (see 2 Corinthians 10:3,4).

God used what little strength these 300 men possessed and some harmless clay lanterns and horns to cause the enemy forces to fight against one another. Those who were not killed fled for their lives.

Clearly God isn’t looking for super strength, a multitude of people, or the perfect weapon to fulfill His purposes. He is looking for individuals like you and me who are willing to do whatever He asks despite our weaknesses—knowing that our weaknesses only gives the Anointed One an opportunity to work through us (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Remember, Jesus said that without Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5). That is sometimes difficult to comprehend when we have the natural ability to accomplish a certain goal. Perhaps that’s why God often gives us assignments that we cannot fulfill unless we tap into His unlimited resources. That’s also why Paul prayed that God would grant us an infusion of mighty inner strength from His infinite resources by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 3:16 BCJ).

God’s power will be activated in our lives when we say what He says about ourselves instead of saying what we have or can do in the natural. So the next time we lack the needed strength to complete an assignment the Lord has given us, keep in mind that He is only able to bless what we do (Deuteronomy 28:8).

Give God something to work with by declaring, “…Let the weak say, I am strong” (Joel 3:10)! Then we must begin to do whatever we can to move toward that goal, and God will bless all that we set our hand to. As we step out in obedience and trust, we will rise up in His strength, defeating the enemies that have tormented us for so long.

Remember, it’s all about perspective. Our part is to renew our minds with God’s Word so we can begin to see ourselves through His eyes. Then we’ll come to realize that, no matter what challenge we face or how big the assignment God gives us, we are a mighty man or woman of valor, strengthened with His power and well able to complete the task!

John Chapter 15

King James Version (KJV)

15 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.

2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.

4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.

10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.

11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.

12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

17 These things I command you, that ye love one another.

18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.

19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

21 But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.

22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.

23 He that hateth me hateth my Father also.

24 If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.

25 But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.

26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:

27 And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.


Monday, October 8, 2017

Financial Miracles

Abram is called the father of faith. He walked in the kind of faith that is a model to all generations—the faith that pleased God. He believed that his covenant with God would bring him increase, and for the rest of his life he saw that increase come to him.

In Genesis 17, God again spoke to Abram regarding His covenant with him. This time God changed his name from Abram to Abraham, established the way the covenant was to work, and declared that He would “multiply [him] exceedingly” (v. 2). The Lord would continue to increase Abraham in land, cattle, descendants, and wealth. In fact, God caused him to prosper in all aspects of his life.

When we grasp this relationship between God and Abraham, we can begin to better see our relationship with God today because we are the “seed of Abraham.” Galatians 3:29 says, “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Therefore, the better we know how God blessed Abraham, the better we will understand our own position in Him.

For too long, the Body of Christ has struggled with the realization that God wants to bring increase and even financial miracles into our lives. There seems to have been an underlying fear that to want God to bring any kind of material increase was to be materialistic. This fear of financial increase as a part of the blessing of God has been fed by people who have a misconception of God Himself.

To be materialistic means to endeavor to satisfy an emotional or spiritual need with a physical thing. No believer wants to have material things in a place of priority over God. Material increase is fine as long as we have the things we possess, but they do not have us.

When King David fell to his darkest moment through adultery and murder, God spoke to him and said,

“…I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more!” (2 Samuel 12:7-8 NKJV).

Notice God did not rebuke David by telling him he had too much. In fact, the Lord said He would have given David even more if he had wanted more and asked for it.

David had sinned, but it was not the wealth or power that was the problem. God was ready and willing to increase him even further if David had wanted it. God does not want to withhold His abundance from us, but we must walk with Him and honor His Word for the promise of increase to come to us.

Galatians Chapter 3

King James Version (KJV)

3 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?

2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.

5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.

7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.

8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.

9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.

10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.

12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.

13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

15 Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto.

16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.

17 And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.

18 For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.

19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.

20 Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.

21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.

22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.

24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

God’s Attitude Toward Abundance

We can understand God’s attitude toward abundance as demonstrated in the very first miracle Jesus performed: it was a miracle of abundance. It was during a wedding feast in Cana, and the host had run out of wine to serve his guests.

Jesus’ mother told Him about the problem and then instructed the servants of the host by saying, “Whatever He says to you, do it” (John 2:5 NKJV). Verse 11 further states, “This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.”

Jesus’ glory was revealed through a miracle that did not heal anyone nor did it deliver anyone from demonic power. It was a miracle of abundance. Jesus did what He saw His Father do, He provided abundant supply—increase!

It is significant that the first miracle was a miracle of abundance. God has made a clear case that blessing and increase are part of His plan for His people.

Just as Abraham believed those first words that God would bless him through His covenant, we also must receive His promise and His plan by faith and activate it in our lives.

Look closely at Psalm 115:16: “The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s; but the earth He has given to the children of men” (NKJV).

The wealth of the earth is not for those who are living for greed or lust or selfishness. It is for those who walk with God and have put Him first in their life. The world has misused wealth and its power for ungodly or personal gain, and not the purpose for which God gave it. Wealth and riches are given to us for the purpose of establishing the covenant of God. Deuteronomy 8:18 says,

“And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day” (NKJV).

God gives us the power to get wealth. His wisdom and anointing empower us to possess the wealth and riches for the purpose of establishing—to set up, ordain or to prove—His covenant.

God made a covenant with Abraham and established it again with Isaac and Jacob. In that covenant, He promised to bless and multiply them and their seed. He is bound to His Word, and therefore He is bound to bring that increase into our lives if we will walk by faith with Him.

It is time for the increase of the people of God to be, “…exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think…” (Ephesians 3:20 NKJV). It is the day for increase to come and the message of faith in God to flourish.

As we increase, we are able to use this wealth to further establish God’s covenant in others. The ultimate plan for our increase is that the message and power of His covenant may be brought to all people—worldwide.

We must lay hold on our covenant, and God will establish His covenant of increase in us.

John Chapter 2

King James Version (KJV)

2 And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there:

2 And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.

3 And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.

4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.

5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.

6 And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.

7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.

8 And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it.

9 When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,

10 And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.

11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.

12 After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days.

13 And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

14 And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:

15 And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables;

16 And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.

17 And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.

18 Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?

19 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.

20 Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?

21 But he spake of the temple of his body.

22 When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.

23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did.

24 But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men,

25 And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Go In The Strength You Have!

The champions recorded in the Bible experienced great difficulty, even impossible situations, yet they prevailed in the most difficult of times. These were ordinary men and women who, during hard times, triumphed over every obstacle when they obeyed the Lord’s instructions. Whether they encountered sickness, poverty, weakness, imprisonment, or hunger, God’s power was strong on their behalf—that is, as long as they obeyed Him. But if they ever turned away from the Lord, they opened the door for serious trouble.

On one occasion after Israel turned to other gods, they suffered seven years of terrorism at the hands of the Midianites (see Judges 6:1). The Midianites’ intense cruelty forced Israel to retreat to the mountains and hide in caves. Year after year, Israel would plant and cultivate their crops, but just before harvest time the Midianites would arrive in such overwhelming numbers that it looked like an invasion of locusts had swept over the land.

The invading forces would camp in the fields, destroying the crops and reducing Israel to severe poverty and despair. These outlaws didn’t raid Israel’s camp to bring back food to feed their own families. They destroyed Israel’s crops so the people would starve. The Midianites intimidated, violated, and brutalized the people of God.

But God had not forsaken His people. Even though their own disobedience had opened the door to suffering at the hands of their enemies, God still had a plan to deliver them. That deliverance would come through a most unlikely source—a young man from the tribe of Manasseh named Gideon.

The divine call came to Gideon after one of the Midianites’ assaults on Israel’s land. He was busy scraping together some leftover wheat to hide in a wine press, out of view from the Midianites, when suddenly he heard a voice say, “…The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour” (Judges 6:12 KJV).

At the sound of this voice, Gideon froze. Could it be the voice of a sneering Midianite who had returned to kill him? Perhaps it was Gideon’s neighbor who had seen him gathering food and had come to steal the wheat for his own family.

Then Gideon looked up and saw that it was an angel of the Lord who had spoken. “Sir,” Gideon replied, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about?…” (Judges 6:13 NLT).

Gideon’s immediate response to the angel revealed his own lack of strong faith. Instead of recognizing that the Lord had sent an angel in answer to Israel’s cries, Gideon immediately began accusing God, asking, “Why has this happened to us?” and “Where are the miracles?”

The Lord had already sent a prophet to warn the Israelites. However, they had refused to listen or obey the Lord (v. 10) and as a result, they were now being oppressed by their enemies. Yet rather than take responsibility for Israel’s rebellion, Gideon blamed God for the problems he and his people were suffering.

Gideon complained, “…Where are all the miracles…?” He was so focused on and overwhelmed by the problems his people faced that he didn’t even recognize the fact that the miracle they’d been crying out for was standing right in front of him!

We cannot allow ourselves to become like Gideon—so focused on our problems that we don’t recognize the answer when God sends it to us.

2 Corinthians Chapter 5

King James Version (KJV)

5 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:

3 If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.

4 For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.

5 Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.

6 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:

7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

9 Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.

10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

11 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.

12 For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart.

13 For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause.

14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:

15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.

17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

God Will Use What You Have

Jeremiah tells us what happens to those who trust in man and refuse to obey the Lord: “Thus says the Lord: ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when good comes…” (Jeremiah 17:5,6 NKJV).

What a tragedy! God is always faithful to send the answer. But too often we are like Gideon who was so busy complaining and trying to provide for himself that he didn’t even see when good came!

The angel completely ignored Gideon’s complaints and went on to say, “…’Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!'” (v. 14). What a remarkable statement!

Notice the angel didn’t say the Israelites would be rescued after their strength increased. He said, “Go with the strength you have.” Evidently, whatever strength Gideon possessed was all he needed. In himself, Gideon was weak, but God never expected him to fight in his own strength.

Like so many others have done through the ages when presented with their divine assignment, Gideon argued with God. “But Lord,” Gideon replied, “how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!” (v. 15). Gideon was persuaded that his family was weak and insignificant. And if his family wasn’t pitiful enough, Gideon claimed to be the weakest of them all!

But God doesn’t look at what we don’t have; He looks at what we do have. Gideon didn’t see himself as a mighty man of valor, but from God’s perspective, he was! The Lord knew that as He worked with Gideon, the young man’s strength would be matchless.

So the angel said to Gideon, “…I will be with you. And you will destroy the Midianites as if you were fighting against one man” (v. 16). Gideon’s small strength united with God’s matchless ability would empower him to defeat an entire nation as though it were a one-man army!

That’s the power available to us when we bind ourselves to God. The prophet Isaiah spoke of the availability of this strength: “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31 NKJV).

The word “wait” means to bind together by twisting. When we wrap ourselves around the Lord, His Word, and His Spirit, we take on His strength—a strength that is unmatched by any other.

Gideon spoke only about his weakness, but the angel spoke only about his strength. We can learn an important lesson from this account of Gideon’s life: God wants us to look at every situation we face from His perspective and not our own. As Jesus said to Peter, “…You stand right in My way when you look at things from man’s perspective and not God’s” (Matthew 16:23 BCJ).

What perspective are we looking from, ours or God’s? Do we look at what we don’t have, or what God does have? Perspective is everything.

Matthew Chapter 16

King James Version (KJV)

16 The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven.

2 He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red.

3 And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?

4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.

5 And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread.

6 Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

7 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread.

8 Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?

9 Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?

10 Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?

11 How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?

12 Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

20 Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.

21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.

23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

28 Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Unlimited Resources Available

It was a difference in perspective that caused the ten spies to return to Moses with an evil report that melted the hearts of the people, while Joshua and Caleb declared in faith, “Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it” (Numbers 13:30 NKJV).

The ten spies saw themselves as grasshoppers to be trampled under the enemy’s feet. Joshua and Caleb saw themselves well able to do what God had promised they could do. Notice that all the spies saw the same giants, but two of them viewed those giants from a very different perspective than the other ten.

Perspective is everything in the Kingdom of God. Recently I saw this principle hold true in the case of a friend who was going to be interviewed by a primetime investigative television broadcast. As I prayed about this interview, the Lord prompted me to tell him, “Be strong and very courageous, and no one will be able to stand against you.”

When I told my friend what the Lord said, he immediately answered, “Oh, I’m not afraid.” But up to that point, no one had mentioned fear—except him!

The Lord wanted to empower my friend with the same supernatural strength and courage that enabled Joshua to defeat 31 nations. Although this man might disagree, I believe his response revealed that fear, not faith, governed his heart. As Jesus said, “…For whatever is in your heart determines what you say” (Matthew 12:34).

But we have nothing to fear when God is on our side! Gideon learned this truth after he finally accepted the assignment God had given him. The Lord told him to sneak over to the Midianites’ camp and listen to what they were saying.

“Gideon crept up just as a man was telling his companion about a dream. The man said, ‘I had this dream, and in my dream a loaf of barley bread came tumbling down into the Midianite camp. It hit a tent, turned it over, and knocked it flat!’ His companion answered, ‘Your dream can mean only one thing—God has given Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite, victory over Midian and all its allies!'” (Judges 7:13,14 NLT).

If only God’s people could do what Gideon did—sneak into their enemies’ camp and listen to what they say about the power of our God! For instance, consider the time the city of Jericho heard that the Red Sea had opened as a walkway for God’s people but had destroyed all those who were pursuing them. The people of Jericho said: “We heard it and our hearts sank. We all had the wind knocked out of us. And all because of you, you and God, your God, God of the heavens above and God of the earth below” (Joshua 2:12 Message).

When will God’s people realize that the kingdom of darkness trembles at the thought of what their God can do?

Proverbs 21 

King James Version (KJV)

21 The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.

2 Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts.

3 To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

4 An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin.

5 The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want.

6 The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death.

7 The robbery of the wicked shall destroy them; because they refuse to do judgment.

8 The way of man is froward and strange: but as for the pure, his work is right.

9 It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.

10 The soul of the wicked desireth evil: his neighbour findeth no favour in his eyes.

11 When the scorner is punished, the simple is made wise: and when the wise is instructed, he receiveth knowledge.

12 The righteous man wisely considereth the house of the wicked: but God overthroweth the wicked for their wickedness.

13 Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.

14 A gift in secret pacifieth anger: and a reward in the bosom strong wrath.

15 It is joy to the just to do judgment: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity.

16 The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead.

17 He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich.

18 The wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous, and the transgressor for the upright.

19 It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.

20 There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up.

21 He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honour.

22 A wise man scaleth the city of the mighty, and casteth down the strength of the confidence thereof.

23 Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.

24 Proud and haughty scorner is his name, who dealeth in proud wrath.

25 The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour.

26 He coveteth greedily all the day long: but the righteous giveth and spareth not.

27 The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination: how much more, when he bringeth it with a wicked mind?

28 A false witness shall perish: but the man that heareth speaketh constantly.

29 A wicked man hardeneth his face: but as for the upright, he directeth his way.

30 There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the Lord.

31 The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the Lord.

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