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