Monday, December 29, 2014


When I pondered to understand this,
it was troublesome in my sight
until I came into the sanctuary of God;
Then I perceived their end.
Psalm 73:16-17

The psalmist is in turmoil, trying to understand why things were going so well for the wicked. He admits he almost stumbled because he became envious of them. He saw their prosperity, even though they mocked God. He felt as though it was useless for him to try and keep his heart and actions pure because in spite of his efforts he was "stricken all day long and chastened every morning." (vs.14). He couldn't figure it out. When he tried to understand why the wicked seemed to be so blessed and yet he was going through all that he was, it troubled him. He couldn't make any sense out of why God allowed things to go the way they were going. In the same way, how many times have we said, "God it's not fair! I don't get it!" 

To try and explain this, people often say that God has His own reasons and we just need to trust Him. Although this is true that God's ways are higher than ours and we do need to trust Him. We need to fear Him and not question His right to do whatever He pleases. It's also true that the Lord chastens those He loves. He refines us, and thank God He does. However, in this psalm we get a little more insight. The psalmist says he was troubled in trying to understand all this UNTIL... "until I came into the sanctuary of God, Then I perceived their end." 

When this psalmist came into the sanctuary, into the presence of the Lord, then He understood. He perceived what would happen to the wicked in the end. He saw it all from God's perspective. As long as we are trying to figure things out and make sense of God outside of His presence, in our own mind and reasoning, we will remain troubled, frustrated, and may even stumble. But when we enter His presence then it all makes sense. We see things how He does, we gain His understanding and perception. 

When we are outside of the presence of God and look at the wicked, questions will arise. We say, Why? This will become a weight of doubt upon us that slows us down and causes our zeal for the Lord to waver. Yet in His presence, we see clearly. The doubt falls off. The questions are resolved and our faith is strengthened. Not only do we see the end of the wicked, but we see the reward of the righteous. This reveals the goodness of God as well as His justice, which is necessary to maintain the atmosphere of His presence. You can enter into His presence wherever you are. If Jesus is your Lord, He is always with you. Close your eyes, pray, seek Him, until you become aware of His presence within.

If you are troubled and confused trying to figure out why the wicked seem to be doing well and things are going in your life the way they are, then don't turn your back on God thinking that His actions or inaction make no sense. Don't envy the wicked and begin to think that your righteousness is worthless. Instead, get closer to the Lord and you will understand His ways. You will see things from His perspective and be assured that He is good and right and just and worthy of all of your trust and praise! The psalmist goes on to say:

I am continually with You;
You have taken hold of my right hand.
With Your counsel You will guide me,
and afterward receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
Psalm 73:23-26

May we say the same. In the end it is worth it all.

Isaiah 55:8-9; Hebrews 12:4-8; Jeremiah 17:10; Malachi 3:3; Hebrews 13:5; Psalm 92:7

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Your Kingdom Come

"But the saints of the Highest One
will receive the kingdom
and possess the kingdom forever,
for all ages to come."
Daniel 7:18

God has a kingdom. Jesus proclaimed the good news of this kingdom when He was here in the earth. The religious people of Jesus' day couldn't see His kingdom and questioned Him about it. "Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, "The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, 'Look, here it is!' or, 'There it is!' For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst." (Luke 17:20-21). They were looking for outward signs of the kingdom. They didn't recognize that the kingdom Jesus displayed as He walked the earth was the kingdom of God. While demonstrating this kingdom, Jesus revealed the salvation of God--forgiveness of sin, healing and deliverance. He revealed His authority over the earth. Yet not everyone could see it. Jesus said to Pilate that His kingdom is not of this world, not of this realm, and that He came to the earth to testify to the truth. He said that everyone who is of the truth hears His voice. The kingdom of God is revealed to those whose eyes, ears and hearts are open and seeking the truth. 

Jesus said to pray in this way, "...Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven..." (Matthew 6:10). The kingdom of God is all around us. Yet even though God owns the earth and everything in it, He will not inhabit the entire territory. In this age, the righteous and the wicked are sharing the same earth. We must each personally invite Him to sit on the throne of our inner "kingdom." This inner throne is our will. "Your kingdom come, Your will be done." His kingdom comes into the hearts of those who seek His will. When we pray this way, we let Him know we are willingly inviting His kingdom--His will--to rule in our lives. Once He rules within us, then He will be able to rule from us in the earth. 

The Bible tells us, "as He is, so also are we in this world." (1 John 4:17). We are the light of the world, we are to proclaim the good news of the kingdom, just as Jesus did. Sinner and saint alike enjoy, to a certain extent, the benefit of kingdom living. The saints are the salt of the earth. As long as we are here we are preserving the earth. However, the time will come when the sons of the evil one are removed from His kingdom. "Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father." (see Matthew 13:36-43). Until that happens, we are to display His kingdom here in the earth even while darkness is among us.

In the book of Isaiah we read, "Thus says the Lord, "Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being," declares the Lord." Since God has created all the things that we see, what could we possibly do for Him that He hasn't already done? Is there any way for us to create a resting place suitable for Him? He goes on to say, "But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word." (Isaiah 66:1-2). There is a place with one who has a humble and contrite spirit, the one who trembles at His word, understands His authority and power and submits to Him. With this one the Lord will look to rest. He rests with those who humbly follow His ways, saying, "Your will be done." The King is what makes the kingdom of God so great, and there is no greater joy than to have the presence of the King in our midst! 

In the book of Revelation we read that when the seventh angel sounded the trumpet there were loud voices in heaven saying, "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever." (Rev. 11:15). Those who live for Jesus, the King of kings, are all a part of the same kingdom--God's kingdom. Together we possess the kingdom forever, for all ages to come! Let's pray for more people to open their eyes, ears and heart and seek the truth with a humble and repentant heart, honoring the Word of God. Let's make sure we are doing the same thing while we proclaim and display the good news of the kingdom throughout the earth!

For Yours is the kingdom
and the power
and the glory

John 18:36-37; Matthew 13:10-17; Psalm 16:11; Matthew 24:14; Matthew 6:13

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Influence of the Spirit of Truth

"But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, 
He will guide you into all the truth..." 
John 16:13

There is a cunning purpose behind lies. The devil, of course, is the father of lies and he has used them as a very effective tool. Lies are used to cause anger, rage and eventually hate. Whether they are spoken by someone who is intentionally lying to cause a problem, or by someone who is deceived and really believes what he/she is saying is the truth, it will plant a seed in the hearer that is meant to lead to hate--the opposite of God, who is love. Think about when someone lies to you, how does it make you feel? There may be other emotions, but the common one is anger. Our response is very important. And how we respond is determined by whether we yield to the Holy Spirit, our emotions, or the evil spirit that the enemy is trying to stir up.

This lying spirit causes religious wars, racial wars, family break-ups and all sorts of divisions. Sometimes there is partial truth in what is being said, but out of balance in a way that is deceptive. The only solution is truth--God's truth--which leads to love. Rick Joyner recently said, "anger will not cast out hatred." We must yield to the Spirit of God and His Truth in order to stop the fiery darts from injecting their poison. This doesn't mean we fire back Scriptures at someone who is under the influence of a lying spirit. It's not about debating with words to prove you are right, but following the Spirit of God--His love and wisdom--to release the life and truth that is needed at the moment. If we say anything at all, our words must be from the heart of God, not from a vengeful or arrogant spirit. The weapons of our warfare bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, speaking the truth in love. However, a person who is not of God will not hear God's words anyway. The blindness of their mind and heart won't accept them. We can't let that frustrate us and lead us off into anger, but into prayer.

These days, we need to stay in constant communion with the Lord. If we become careless and wander away, we may be caught off guard by an attack of the enemy. Be filled with the Spirit--stay filled with the Spirit--speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord. Gathering with fellow believers in this way will strengthen you. Instead of reacting to the lying influences going on all around you, determine in your heart that you will follow the leading of the Holy Spirit from within instead. This will lead to life and victory!

John 8:44-47; Ephesians 4:14-26; 6:10-18; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; 1 Corinthians 2:4-5; Ephesians 5:18-19

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Crown of Life

"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,
knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
And let endurance have its perfect result,
so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
James 1:2-4

James says to consider it all joy when we encounter trials knowing that the testing of our faith produces endurance, and when we let endurance come to completion we will not be lacking in anything. No lack! What does that mean--no lack? What will we be lacking if we do not endure through a trial? He tells us when we persevere under trial, and are approved, we will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 

"Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial;
for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life
which the Lord has promised to those who love Him."
James 1:12

So you could say, if we do not endure during difficult times we will end up lacking the crown of life. What is the crown of life? We know that it has been promised for those who love the Lord, but what else do we know about it? Revelation 2:10 says:

"Do not fear what you are about to suffer
Behold the devil is about to cast some of you into prison,
so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days.
Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life."

He goes on to say that he who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death. So the crown of life is the very salvation of those who love the Lord and are faithful to Him, whether under trouble, persecution or even death. Wow.

With that in mind, let's look again at the trials and testing James talks about. If you're persecuted and take a stand for the Lord until death, that is an obvious way to be faithful, but what about the everyday "normal" life of a Christian? What does endurance look like then? Let's say you encounter a situation which challenges your love and faith for the Lord--your commitment to Him. Are you going to stay true to Him and His ways or are you going to compromise in some way? This is a situation that requires you to make a choice that may be difficult. It's not easy, but this is why James says the testing of our faith produces endurance. It takes resistance to build endurance. it will take some effort--some perseverance--to come through this challenge and stay true to the Lord, but that's what makes your faith so valuable--it's been tried by fire and is more precious than gold, as it brings praise, glory and honor to the Lord. (1 Peter 1:7-9).

There may be some challenges to your faith in which the decision you are to make isn't obvious right away. You need the wisdom of God to show you what to do. James says if you lack wisdom to ask God and He will give it generously. This makes sense because you are on the path to receive the crown of life which He has promised to those who love Him, so this is your time to seek Him and reaffirm your love for Him and willingness to do His will. Instead of doing what you think is right, or what you feel like doing, you submit to the Lord's wisdom. Now here is an important key--James says to ask God for wisdom, but ask in faith. If you have doubt then you are like someone tossed back and forth on the sea, double minded and unstable in every way. Why is that? 

There is a difference between lacking wisdom and lacking faith. When you lack wisdom then you are determined to continue on the path, but you need the Lord to show you how to overcome the trial. When you lack faith, you begin to question whether you want to continue on this path. You may question or doubt God. You may decide the price to pay is too much. The good thing is, this trial will reveal your heart if you allow it. It will show your level of faithfulness to the Lord. If there is anything between you and the Lord, it will come to light. That's why we can count it all joy when we encounter these trials, because we are being perfected and approved so that we may receive the crown of life! This is your opportunity to affirm your love and faithfulness to Lord--above all else!

Having said that, there may be times that you aren't being unfaithful to the Lord, but you doubt whether or not the path you are on is His will for you. In those cases, you do the same thing--ask God for wisdom. If the wall you hit gets you to doubt whether you were on the right path and you turn around and go back, then you could end up going back and forth, stopping each time you hit the same wall. Now you're standing there wondering, doubting, if this is God's will or not. What do you do? Ask God for wisdom, in faith, without doubting. Don't give up, don't turn around and go back, (unless the Lord says to), don't let the obstacle overcome you, just ask the Lord what to do. 

Whatever the trial--and there are a variety of them--remember that they are opportunities for you to affirm your love and commitment to the Lord and His ways. We might say that Jesus Christ is our Lord, but trials are an opportunity for us to prove He really is. Don't get discouraged by challenging circumstances. Rejoice, because the crown of life is waiting for you as you come through these things victoriously!

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Snare

"The fear of man brings a snare,
But he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted."
Proverbs 29:25

When a person is overly concerned with what others think of him, he is caught in the trap of fear of man. That's just what it is too--a trap. It keeps you in bondage, restricting your thoughts to another person's beliefs. What happens is that you are bringing yourself under someone else's judgement. In effect, you are making them your lord and allowing them to dictate your opinions and actions. Yikes!

It's a dangerous thing to "people please" so why do we do it? We may do so because we don't trust the convictions of our own heart, or we are trying to be "politically correct," or the person in front of us seems so much more convincing than the Scripture we read three months ago. Whatever the case, we put other people's opinions above what we believe the Lord has shown us. We fear them more than we fear God and it's a trap. 

If we find ourselves in this situation we might ask ourselves what we are afraid of. Rejection? Ridicule? Confrontation? Physical harm? It could be a lot of different things, but whatever the reason, the solution is to bring ourselves out from under the judgement of people and put ourselves under the judgement of God. We can trust Him because His judgments are just, right and true. David knew this. When the Lord was displeased with David because of the Census he conducted, He gave him the opportunity to pick one of three things as the consequence. David chose the hand of the Lord and said, "please let me fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are very great. But do not let me fall into the hand of man." (1 Chronicles 21:13). David knew that God judges righteously and He is merciful.

Just because someone disagrees with you to your face and their opinion/judgment seems so convincing, (or intimidating) at the time, the judgement/opinion of God is much more real and much more accurate. The fear of the Lord does mean that we tremble at His greatness, in the end it will be the most fearful thing of all, yet if we embrace it now, it brings His goodness. Consider Psalm 33:18-22:

"Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him,
On those who hope for His lovingkindness,
To deliver their soul from death and to keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. 
For our heart rejoices in Him, because we trust in His holy name. 
Let Your lovingkindness, O Lord, be upon us, according as we have hoped in You."

Matthew 10:28-32; Mark 8:38; Psalm 118:6

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

What's In Your Atmosphere?

"And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them,
"Receive the Holy Spirit.""
John 20:22

Every one of us must breathe every day. In fact, we must breathe every moment of every day. We don't get to save up breaths for later on. If you don't like the smell of the atmosphere you are in, you can't decide not to breathe and catch up on your breaths later on. Every moment of every day, no matter where you are and what is around you, you must breathe. Of course I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. However, what we don't always remember is that there is a spiritual atmosphere around us all the time just like there is a physical, oxygen-filled atmosphere. 

What kind of spiritual atmospheres do you go through during the day? When you wake up in the morning is the atmosphere of your home a God-filled one where you are able to breathe in the breath of the Holy Spirit? When you go to work or school or wherever your day takes you, do you spend a good chunk of your day in an atmosphere where others are breathing out complaints and criticisms, or thanksgiving and encouragement? You breathe in the same air as them don't you, but do you breathe out the same air as them? Do you breathe out words of criticism or words of praise? 

It isn't always easy to breathe out words of life when you are breathing in everyone else's grumbling words. But Jesus gave us a clue here in this verse in John. The disciples were in the presence of Jesus after He was resurrected. He was talking to them--breathing out words of life. He said, "Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you." And after He said that He breathed on them and said, Receive the Holy Spirit. Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit--the very breath of God--into them. They had to breathe His breath in first before they could breathe out. You can't breathe out life until you breathe it in! As a believer in Jesus Christ, you can breathe in the very breath of God--His Holy Spirit--and as your spiritual lungs stay filled with His breath, you can breathe out words of life wherever you are! How do we do this?

When we receive His peace and stay in the presence of the Lord wherever we are, breathing in His Words and the breath of the Holy Spirit, then we will stay filled with His breath. As we walk and talk with Him wherever we are so we continually breathe in His Words, rather than the poisoned atmosphere of the complaints of others around us, then we will be able to breathe out His words into the atmosphere around us--filling it with life instead of death. Life overcomes death! Good overcomes evil! Light overcomes darkness!

Jesus gave us another clue when He continued His conversation with the disciples and said, "If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained." If we hold on to the hurtful words of others and take offense then we succumb to that atmosphere of death, which is contrary to the Spirit of God who is loving and forgiving. Quit struggling and beating yourself up for giving in to the atmosphere around you and instead breathe in His peace, His breath, His words, and His Spirit. Stay in communion with Him throughout your day, and watch the atmosphere around you change!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

"And He Gave Gifts to Men"

Right after midnight, the night of the election in the United States, I woke up with Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke on my mind. I had a very strong longing for him to begin ministering in America. I had heard he was coming to America, however I felt an intense desire for him to begin. I was trying to remember if I had heard he would begin meetings in 2015 or 2016. As these thoughts were going through my mind, the Lord began to show me some things.

First I saw that it's good for us to cry out for the ministry gifts the Lord gives, at that moment I felt the evangelist was especially important. I believe He wants us to understand how valuable these gifts are to the body of Christ--the evangelist, the prophet, the teacher, the apostle and of course the pastor. I saw how important it is for us to value these gifts and to cry out for God to raise up these ministers throughout our land. It's important to have godly politicians, but we must not ignore the value of His ministers, and in some cases they may be one and the same.

Next, I saw as important as it is for us to appreciate ministers of the Lord, it is equally important for us not to become impatient or compromise and settle for false gifts because we grow tired of waiting for the true gifts to be released. Immediately I thought of Aaron and the golden calf. Moses had gone to the mountain to meet with the Lord and the people grew impatient waiting for him to return. They ended up giving all their gold to Aaron who made the golden calf to be their new god and leader. Their impatience in waiting for the man of God to return with the Lord's instructions caused them to turn from the Lord who had miraculously freed them from slavery, bringing them out of Egypt.

After I saw these things, I became hopeful. My feeling was that God was answering the prayers of His people. He will raise up His ministers, but it will be in His timing. In the meantime, we need to continue to pray that He releases these powerful anointed gifts to us. We also need to take time to grow in our understanding of these gifts and realize just how much we need them. In Ephesians 4 we are told that these ministry gifts are given for the equipping, building up, unification and maturing of the body of Christ. However, we must not let impatience get the best of us and cause us to compromise and be deceived by the false.

Jesus said in the last days of this age that there would be many false prophets that would come and deceive many. We need the prophets and ministers of God, however we need the ones truly sent and anointed by Him. Those filled with the Holy Spirit will bear the fruit of the Spirit. This is not to imply that the ministers who are currently ministering are not true, anointed ministers of God, but that there is a greater anointing--a greater depth--to come on these ministry gifts that the body of Christ needs right now. It may be that those who "go to the mountain" to meet with the Lord as Moses did, will be the ones who receive this gift.

Exodus 32, Ephesians 4:11-16, Matthew 24:5, 11, 23-24

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Victory After the Battle

The other day I heard these words, "Quit praying for peace, instead pray for victory!" I believe it was the Lord trying to make a very important point. It shows that there is a battle to be fought. Instead of praying for conflict to be avoided and for peace to come without a fight, we need to pray that we win the battle we are faced with. We are faced with unavoidable conflict. We can be victorious in the battle, but not if we ignore that the battle is there. If we stick our head in the sand, that won't make it go away. Peace comes after a victory, but victory comes after a battle! 

"While they are saying, "Peace and safety!
then destruction will come upon them suddenly..."
1 Thessalonians 5:3

Paul is talking about those who walk in darkness and are not aware of the signs of the times regarding the day of the Lord. The Lord doesn't want His people to be ignorant regarding what's going on in the world and how it relates to His Kingdom. He wants us to see what is going on through His eyes and from His perspective. When we do, we have time to prepare for tough times. 
"The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but victory belongs to the Lord."
Proverbs 21:31
We must not think that our own preparations and strength will win the battle for us, however we are still to prepare. The horse is prepared, so go ahead and prepare for the battle, but  it is the Lord who gives the victory. The best way to prepare is to be on His side and as close to Him as possible so you can hear His instructions. Remember that we are not fighting against flesh and blood, our weapons are not of the flesh. We bring our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ.
"The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet."
Romans 16:20

God is in control. We don't need to be afraid. Our victory comes from Him, yet we need to recognize that we are in His army. We're told to fight the good fight of faith. We're told to put on the full armor of God so we can stand against the schemes of the devil. We're told to resist the devil who prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. These are fighting words, but we're also told that He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world. Put on your armor, pray, and prepare for the battle, but remember that victory is from the Lord and will follow the battle!

1 Peter 5:8-9; 2 Timothy 2:3-7; 1 Timothy 6:12; Ephesians 6:10-17; 1 John 4:4; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

America's Grief Cycle

Whether we realize it or not, America is suffering loss. We have been losing the American lifestyle slowly and subtly for several years. Our freedom is under attack. When an individual suffers loss there is a grieving process he or she goes through. The same thing is happening in America. We may not be aware of it, but a grieving process has begun.

First there's been denial. Many have been unable or unwilling to admit that anything has been lost. They might see the country today as making many advances--more freedom--when in reality this is not the case. Our economy and our defense has taken a very large hit. We have gotten so distracted in trying to bring fairness to every single situation, that we have not noticed the looming threat building up against everyone. 

It's been very subtle, just as an aging parent or loved one slowly declines into ill health. When you see them every day you don't notice the decline as much as when you compare their quality of life to 30, 40 or 50 years ago. As Americans begin to wake up to the losses she's been suffering--through restrictive laws, violence or threats and fears of violence--some may choose to stay in denial because if they admit the reality of what is going on, it's just too uncertain and fearful for them. Denial feels better, but of course is a dangerous place to be.

Then there's anger. Many are awakening, coming out of denial and getting angry. They see how far our defense has fallen as we begin to experience, not only threats, but actual attacks of violence and greater frequency of less noticeable attacks like fraud and identity theft. This is where many people are right now--some in denial, some in anger. What comes next?

Once a person wakes up out of denial, the anger needs to be dealt with. Some anger is felt towards lawmakers and some towards the violent, the lawless and the intimidating. Some may be directed inwardly, for example if we have not voted or voted without being informed, resulting in lawmakers who do not have the country's best interests at heart. However, when we allow the anger to change into energy for prayer and, if necessary, repentance, then we will gain the humility and wisdom that is necessary to put us on the right path to recovery. Proverbs 11:2 says that with the humble is wisdom. Humility will open our hearts for the wisdom of God to be revealed to us. 

We need wisdom so we don't act impulsively and let our anger take us in the wrong direction. Yes, it may be that the government has gotten the country into a mess, but who is the government?--We the people. We don't want our anger to lead us to do impulsive and foolish things, yet, we are not to cower in fear either. A fearful heart is in panic, is impatient, impulsive and irrational. None of these are from the Spirit of God which He promises to those who believe in the Lord Jesus. We must make our decisions while influenced by the Spirit of God--from a heart of faith, peace, patience and love. This is a trustworthy, stable path. When we truly understand the love that God has for His people, we will be able to trust Him and follow wherever He leads us. We will understand that He is the only one who can truly lead to green pastures and still waters.

Take a look at what is going on in America and in the world today, but don't get overwhelmed and stick your head back in the sand as you begin to see it. Humble yourself before the Lord and pray, seek His wisdom and get going on the path He has for you. Do it confidently knowing that the safest and most productive path to be on is the path of His will for you.

Ecclesiastes 9:14-18: There was a small city with few men in it and a great king came to it, surrounded it and constructed large siegeworks against it. But there was found in it a poor wise man and he delivered the city by his wisdom. Yet no one remembered that poor man. So I said, "Wisdom is better than strength." But the wisdom of the poor man is despised and his words are not heeded. The words of the wise heard in quietness are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Lift Up Your Heads!

"But when these things being to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads,
because your redemption is drawing near." 
Luke 21:28

Jesus said when things begin to take place that indicate He is coming soon, to lift up your head because your redemption is drawing near. Jesus is physically returning to the earth and we are to prepare for that. We will physically lift up our heads to see Him. This indicates our spiritual condition and frame of mind as well. We will be lifting up our heads spiritually because we see Him and know Him, before we lift up our heads to see Him physically. 

The church is not to be in a position, when Jesus returns, where we are hanging our heads low, walking with a slouch in defeat or shame. No! We are to lift up our heads having the confidence that He is our redemption. We are not defeated in shame or cowering in fear, because the blood of Jesus Christ has purchased our salvation and redemption. Our trust is in Him, not in our own abilities to justify or defend ourselves.

Jesus said we are to be the light of the world. However we don't shine our lights in such a way that we are glorified, but so He is glorified. What we do is not for our own glory or for people to think highly of us. Our purpose is to glorify the Lord in everything. As long as we have learned to walk humbly with our God and our desire is to honor and glorify Him in all we do, then we can walk as Jesus did in the earth revealing the Scripture and the power of God. We walk in His love, which brings confidence in the day of judgment, because as He is, so are we in this world.

What is your spiritual posture? Are you feeling defeated by guilt and shame? There is a posturing of repentance and humility that we all must do. But remember that your redemption comes from Jesus. Remember that He suffered so you could be free from all that. You can never be good enough to free yourself from guilt and shame, you must trust the Lord. We must take the postures of both humility and confidence. We can be confident because our trust is in the Lord, not in ourselves. If we remain only in a posture of repentance, that indicates we don't recognize the power of the blood of Jesus to cleanse our sin. His blood is more powerful than your sin!

Lift up your head! Lift up your hands! Do it now! Imagine the washing and cleansing of the Lord Jesus. Imagine Him washing off all that which would defile and dim your light. Rejoice in that and let your light shine in such a way that He is glorified! Worship Him! He is your hope, your strength, your confidence and your deliverance!

Psalm 24:7-9; Daniel 11:32; Micah 6:8; Matthew 5:14-16; 1 John 4:17; 1 John 3:2-3; Hebrews 2:1-4; Hebrews 9:14

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Remembering The Rainbow, The Trumpet and The Tassel

"He has made His wonders to be remembered..."
Psalm 111:4

What does a rainbow, a trumpet and a tassel all have in common? All of them are spoken of in the Bible to remind someone of something. Specifically in three different ways--God remembered certain things, people prayed for God to remember certain things and we are told to remember certain things. 

The Rainbow--God's Reminder
God remembered Noah in the ark and sent a wind to dry the land. Afterwards, He made the rainbow to remind Himself of His covenant with the living things on the earth. Yes, God actually made the rainbow for Him to look at it and remember something. This is not the only place in the Bible that talks about God remembering. He remembered Abraham when He was destroying Sodom and Gomorrah, and sent Lot out of the city to save him. He remembered things like His covenant, His word and His lovingkindness. He remembers the sins of some but chooses not to remember the sins of His people.

The Trumpet--Our Cry for God to Remember
We also read in the Bible that people prayed for God to remember them in times of need. In fact, God told the Israelites when they went to war against enemies who attacked them, that they were to blow the trumpets so He would remember them and save them from their enemies. When He heard the sound, He would remember. At other times, people prayed for Him to remember them--Samson, Hannah, Hezekiah, David, Nehemiah, Job and Jeremiah for example.

The Tassel--Our Reminder
Not only does God remember, but we are to remember things as well. The Israelites were constantly told to remember God's commands. They were told to remember the Sabbath, to remember Him, His Name, His deeds and wonders, all He had done for them and so on. When they remembered the fish and the cucumbers and all the food they had in Egypt instead of appreciating the manna He provided along with their freedom, the Lord became angry at them. He told them later on to remember how they provoked Him to wrath, so they wouldn't do it again. He gave them something to help them remember. He told them to put tassels on the corners of their garments to remind them of His commandments and be holy to Him.

There are other "reminders" in the Bible--Rahab's scarlet thread, and the memorial stones on the side of the Jordan River for example. The best one of all, of course, is remembering the body and blood of Jesus Christ which was broken and shed for us, so we may receive salvation. We remember Jesus every time we take communion.

Why is there so much talk about remembering? Why does God use objects and signs to remind us? Why does He remind Himself? It's not that He is in danger of forgetting, but that He stays true to who He is. The rainbow is a sign of God's faithfulness to remain true to His Word. The trumpet is a reminder of God's promise of deliverance. The reminders for us are for the same purpose. Jesus said that after a woman has a child she forgets the pain because of the joy of the birth. This is good, or no one would ever have more than one child! However there are moments when we need to remember the tough times. He told them to remember when they were slaves and to remember when they provoked Him. In Revelation He said to remember and repent. In the same way, we need to remember the battles we go through, along with the victories the Lord gives us, so we too will remain faithful to Him. We sometimes forget just how bad it is when we wander away from the Lord. All of these reminders are for a consistent declaration of His goodness, His faithfulness and our faithfulness to Him in return. 

Another thing happens when you remember the Lord. By remembering Him you are keeping the memory of Him current in your life today. But its more than just the memory of Him. Keeping Him current, keeps His current--like an electrical current--flowing through you. God is eternal, He's not bound by time like we are. Our spirits are eternal as well, and when we keep Him current in our thoughts His life is active within us. We all know that our words are powerful, however our thoughts are powerful too. We're told to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. This is considered a weapon against that which wars against us. Keeping our thoughts on the Lord is a powerful thing. So when the Lord gives a token to remind you of Him or something He's done, it's not that there is a special power in that token, it's not to become an idol, but it's to remind you of Him, empowering you to keep Him alive in your thoughts and as a result, keep His life flowing through you. There is power in remembering! Don't forget to remember!

Genesis 8:1, Genesis 9:16, Genesis 19:29, Exodus 6:5, Psalm 105:8, Psalm 98:3, Jeremiah 14:10, Isaiah 43:25, Numbers 10:9, Judges 16:28, 1 Samuel 1:11, 2 Kings 20:3, Psalm 132:1, Nehemiah 13:14, Job 10:9, Jeremiah 15:15, Deuteronomy 8, Numbers 11:5, Deuteronomy 9:7, Numbers 15:38-40, Joshua 2:18, Joshua 4, 1 Corinthians 11:23-24, John 16:21, 2 Corinthians 10:5, Revelation 2:5, Revelation 3:3

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Greater is He Who is in You!

When praying about what is going on in the world today, and the evil that seems to be running rampant, the Lord reminded me that the Spirit of God in His people is greater than the evil that is in the world. The Spirit of God within you, is more powerful than the evil in the world!

every spirit that does not confess Jesus
is not from God;
this is the spirit of the antichrist,
of which you have heard that it is coming,
and now it is already in the world.
You are from God, little children,
and have overcome them;
because greater is He who is in you
than he who is in the world.
1 John 4:3-4

I was reminded to put more faith in the Spirit of God living through me, than evil spirits living through others. Our faith is not in what we can do for God, but what He can do through us. The blood of Jesus is powerful enough to wipe out every sin from our life. This is the basis of our faith. Do we think our sin, faults and shortcomings are too much for the blood of Jesus? Do we think that what He did on the cross wasn't enough to change our hearts into one that can receive the Spirit of God? Absolutely not! No more false humility! It's time to rise up with courage and confidence in what our God can do through us. If you believe in Jesus Christ, you have the Greater One living in you!

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; 
Who is the one who overcomes the world,
but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
1 John 5:4-5

Not long ago Psalm 93:7 seemed to jump off the page at me:

when the wicked sprouted up like grass 
And all who did iniquity flourished, 
It was only that they might be destroyed forevermore.

When evil seems to prevail, it's only so that it can be dealt with. God will take care of wickedness in the earth. His heart is open towards those who love Him and call upon Him as David said...

The Lord is near to all who call upon Him,
To all who call upon Him in truth.
He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him;
He will also hear their cry
and will save them.
The Lord keeps all who love Him,
But all the wicked He will destroy.
My mouth will speak the 
praise of the Lord,
And all flesh will bless His holy name forever
and ever.
Psalm 145:18-21

Sunday, August 31, 2014

You Be The One

"You give them something to eat!"
Mark 6:37

In Mark 6 we read an interesting story which I think carries a significant message for the body of Christ. Mark tells of a time when Jesus was trying to give His disciples an opportunity to get away to a quiet place and rest. They had been so busy with people coming and going that they hadn't even had a chance to eat. So they got in a boat and were heading off to a secluded place by themselves. However, the crowd saw them going and got there ahead of them. When Jesus saw the crowd, He had compassion on them and began to teach them many things. Now here is where Jesus tries to get His disciples to learn an important message about how they see themselves.

It was getting late and the disciples wanted Jesus to send the crowd away so the people could go buy themselves something to eat. However, Jesus said, "You give them something to eat!" Of course we know the rest of the story, He multiplied the loaves and fishes from a little boy's lunch and fed the crowd of five thousand. The point is, Jesus knew His disciples needed to begin to see themselves as ones who could access heaven for others, and not just watch Jesus meet everyone's needs all the time. He told them 'you meet the need!'

There are times we need the comfort and ministering from others in the body of Christ, but there are also times that we need to get past what we are going through and see ourselves as the ones with the answers for others. If you know how to pray for yourself, then you know how to pray for others. If you know what it's like to feel hungry, as the disciples were at that moment, then you can have compassion on others going through the same thing. This compassion leads the way to the miraculous. Sometimes we just need to stop focusing on our own stuff, and ask the Lord what He would have us do to help other people.

The Lord doesn't want you to fall into the trap of seeing yourself as a powerless Christian who has too many faults, shortcomings, or problems to be able to help anyone else. You have the Greater One living in you and He has the answers to everything! Don't think that you have to be perfect before God can use you to minister to others. Nothing would ever get done if that were the case! You can do, as David did, and strengthen yourself in the Lord. (1 Samuel 30:6). Let's not be like those who leech off our pastors, friends and others we esteem in the Lord, by looking for them to counsel us, pray with us, or encourage us all the time. Instead let's be like Jesus and minister life wherever we go. Let's free up our pastor's time so he can minister to those who are in a more desperate situation than we are at the moment. In fact, maybe we can pray for our pastor, send him an encouraging note, say something that brings a breath of fresh air to him, rather than another complaint or problem. You know when you do, the Lord will take care of your needs very well. If you need help, by all means ask for it, but just get ready for the times when the Lord smiles at you and says, "you be the one."

Friday, August 29, 2014

Border Patrol

Like a city that is broken into and without walls
is a man who has no control over his spirit.
Proverbs 25:28

We're living in a moment where borders are becoming blurred. Currently, there is an invasion going in in Iraq causing the disintegration of some of their geographic border. Of course this is what wars are usually fought over--land, and as in this case, religion. This war brings out a point of what happens in a spiritual war. All Christians are involved in a war against the enemy of our souls. He would try and infiltrate 'lands' that are not geographic. The most basic of these being the human spirit. He will attempt to gain control by trying to penetrate the borders of our thoughts and minds.

If a person does not guard the border of his mind and thoughts, every deceptive thought that comes along will affect his spirit. He is not protected and eventually loses ground. The Scripture above says if you have no control over your own spirit then you are like a city that is broken into and without walls. Losing control of your own spirit can be prevented by guarding your thoughts. By not guarding your thoughts and protecting what you allow into your mind, you end up suffering invasion and all that invasion brings, such as loss and violence. We suffer loss when our hopes, dreams and provision are lost. We suffer violence when we're invaded with sickness and other calamities. And on and on it goes because the enemy will take as much ground as he is allowed to. So how do we stop this invasion?

Borders are defined lines--points which are not to be moved. These borders are established already for us. They were set by the Creator. They are natural standards of truth set by God. The Word of God defines these borders for us. We're not to move them. Proverbs 22:28 says not to move the ancient boundary which your fathers have set. These are truths that are meant to be passed down from generation to generation. We're to live our lives according to these truths. We're to guard our borders, our thoughts, by keeping them in line with this truth, and as a result we retain control of our spirit, our lives. Once we regain control over our own spirit, we can willingly yield to God and His commands. 

There are many thoughts that come to you that sound so good. However the Bible tells us to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. This is a weapon of ours! Thoughts contrary to the knowledge of God and Christ are invasive weeds that want to gain ground in your life. How much clutter is in your time, your home, and your finances? What has invaded your life and robbed you of your land, keeping you from fulfilling your dreams and your call? What has stolen your provision, your time, your space and your peace? Identity the invaders! Weed out those things that are trying to steal from you. This is an ongoing thing we always need to be aware of. It's not a one-time weeding. Make room for the seed of God's Word instead of invasive, cluttering thoughts so your destiny can spring up in the fullness of God!

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

Let the I AM replace your AM I!

God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM"; 
and He said, "Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, 
"I AM has sent me to you."
Exodus 3:14

Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was born, "I am."
John 8:58

When trying to live a "good christian life" people often fall into the am I crisis. Not I Am, but Am I. This is the conflict that occurs when we try to live how we think we should, but don't feel like we are doing very well. We're not exactly sure how to judge how we're doing. We ask ourselves, am I doing this right? Am I doing enough for the kingdom? Am I loving like I should? Am I fulfilling the purpose the Lord has for me? Am I, am I, am I! 

We might ask ourselves, "Who am I?" What is my title in God's kingdom? What job do I have? What is my place and position? We might even compare ourselves with those that seem to be doing so much for the Lord and feel that we don't measure up, and can't see how we ever could. This is the am I crisis and God has a solution for it!

When God spoke to Moses to go tell His people that God was sending him to deliver them from their slavery, Moses asked God who should he say is sending him? God said to tell them I AM has sent you. So God called Himself, I AM. God is. He doesn't struggle to be God, He is God. Jesus also said, "before Abraham was born, I am." 

The Bible tells us in Colossians 3:3, "For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God." As a believer in Jesus Christ, you are dead to your own life and hidden with Christ in God. This is your identity--dead to self, hidden in Christ. Your identity is found in the I AM. It's not found in the 'I should be, or I want to be."' The 'shoulds' and want-to's' are not who you are! You are hidden in the I AM. So what does this mean?

It means first of all, not to judge yourself according to what you think you should be doing in order to be a "good" Christian. You are in Christ and you are where you are in your life today for a reason. Don't struggle to be something you are not, but rather live out your identity in Christ right where you are. Start today. Look at your job, your family, your position in life as the high calling that it is. Hide yourself in the I AM today as you go through your day.

Next, trust Him to guide your path. As it says in Proverbs 3:5-6, trust in the Lord with all your heart, don't try to figure things out, acknowledge Him in all your ways and He will make your paths straight. When you quit feeling guilty for not doing what you think you should be doing, but let the I AM live through you, acknowledging Him in everything, then your path will lead to where you need to go. 

Today, look at your day with joy, not drudgery, and keep your thoughts on the I AM, shining Him into every place you go and everything you do!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Cobblestone Roads

"If you want to do something for your country then rebuild the cobblestone roads."

I had a dream the other night that someone said those words to me. If you want to do something for your country then rebuild the cobblestone roads. I know. I thought the same thing--what does that mean? So, of course, I did a little research on cobblestone roads. This is what I found.

Cobblestones are smooth round stones that have been rounded by the flow of water. They are typically set in sand to make roads and sometimes bound together with mortar. Cobblestone roads are durable enough that they allow a road to be used for heavy traffic all year round. The design helps prevent the ruts so typically found in dirt roads, yet doesn't get muddy in wet weather or dusty in dry weather. They move with the ground and therefore don't crack when the ground moves due to weather changes.

The first thing that stood out to me are the smooth, round stones. The Bible talks about five smooth stones in the story of David and Goliath. David had gathered five smooth stones from the brook to use against the enemy of God's people. He refused to wear the armor that was offered to him, but chose instead that which he was familiar with--faith in God. God had delivered him before from both the lion and the bear and David knew God would deliver him this time as well. He said, "For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?" David wasn't trusting in himself, his skill, or his stones, but in God.

Another thing about cobblestone roads is that they move and therefore do not crack when the ground shifts. When we try and build a road that is too rigid, too strict, or too defined it will crack under the pressure. As we allow room for the stones to move and breathe it will hold up under much stress. We must remain flexible enough to sense the shifting of the seasons and move with the Lord as He does.

What does this have to do with our country? When a country is built with faith in God as a foundation and is flexible enough to allow people to worship the Lord and follow Him as they sense His leading, it will hold up under much stress and pressure for many years to come., retrieved 8/9/2014; 1 Samuel 17:26

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Temple and the Altar

Which is more important, the gold or the temple that sanctified the gold?
Matthew 23:17

Jesus rebuked the scribes and Pharisees because they thought that the gold which made up the temple was more important than the temple itself. His point was that the temple sanctifies the gold, not the other way around. In the same way, He said it is not the offering on the altar that sanctifies the altar, but the other way around. The holy altar is what makes man's offering holy and the holy temple is what makes the gold of the temple holy. Yet both the temple and the altar are only holy because they have been touched, anointed, or inhabited by God. Paul said that we are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in us. His presence within sanctifies us, and our work!

What this tells us is that who we are, and what we build, apart from the Lord, is never good and holy enough for Him. The work that we do and what we offer to Him, are not worthy to be presented to Him. (Just ask Cain!) The thing that makes our lives and our efforts holy are the anointing of the Lord--His presence inside, the cleansing from the blood of Jesus and the anointing of His Holy Spirit. This is what sanctifies us and makes not only us, but all that we do, holy and acceptable to Him. 

Just as when the people who built the tower of Babel decided they would build something that would reach the heavens, what we try and build apart from His sanctioning will be nothing more than an idol. The Lord had not chosen that place to put His Name, that was not the place He wanted His temple built. Our desire should be for our work to be gold, silver or precious stone that becomes purified by fire, instead of wood, hay and straw, which burns up in the fire. The difference is, are we building something for ourselves as the tower of Babel, or are we seeking to become a dwelling place for the Lord, building His kingdom?

Our work is meant to be an offering to the Lord, so our work only becomes holy when it is anointed by Him and offered to Him as an act of worship. Our worship of the Lord is only valuable because its directed to the Most High, the Excellent One. His majesty, His glory--He Himself--makes our worship something holy and excellent, which it could never be if directed to something other than Him.

We can find encouragement in Isaiah 66:1-2:

Thus says the Lord, 
"Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. 
Where then is a house you could build for Me? 
And where is a place that I may rest? 
For My hand made all these things, 
Thus all these things came into being," declares the Lord. 
"But to this one I will look, 
To him who is humble and contrite of spirit,
and who trembles at My word." 

The Lord is looking for a temple, a place to rest, to dwell. Of all the places He could choose, He is looking for a humble heart, submissive to Him and His commands. Will you be His temple?

Matthew 23:15-22; Exodus 29 & 30; Genesis 4:3-5; Genesis 9, Deuteronomy 12:5-6; 1 Corinthians 3:10-17; Isaiah 66:1-3