Monday, November 19, 2018

At thy Word

And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.
Luke 5:5

The Word of God is not just a mile marker to mark certain parts of your life, it's an intersection. Over and over again it will bring you to a place of choice. You'll have to choose between adhering to the Word or choose your own human reasoning.

  In Luke 5:3, Jesus got into a boat and began to speak to the multitudes. I believe that even though he had been working all night, Peter's heart was being touched by the word. Jesus turned to him and told him to take the boat back out and lower his nets. Peter told Jesus, "We've been working all night, but at your word, I'll do it." Peter had begun to recognize Jesus as the Son of God. Isn't it interesting how often God leads us in ways we do not understand. I remember as a young man in college the Lord spoke to me and said, "It's time for you to go." The decision to leave college was huge but I knew I had heard the Lord clearly. All I knew to say was, "Yes Lord." No one else agreed with me but I knew I had to obey the word the Lord was speaking to me.

  When was the last time the word of the Lord shed light upon your path? Do we still delight in the word of the Lord or do we want God on our own terms? I am reading through the book of Proverbs with one of my son's every day before he goes to school and today we read, "Cease from your pursuit of wealth and prize wisdom above gold and silver." When was the last time you heard that? If a preacher can use the word to manipulate you to give money to them,  they can take advantage of you. God wants you to delight in His word and let it teach you and counsel you and renew your mind. Why do you think John said in 1st John 2:27 that the anointing of the Holy One abides in you and you don't need anyone to teach you. The Holy Spirit wants to teach you and lead you into all truth. The five fold ministry was not set apart to be the mouthpiece of God for you. Their purpose is to cultivate within the body of Christ the ability to hear God and do what He says. When you are rightly related to the headship of Christ you can hear God and obey Him for yourself.

  Faith is not going to grow in your heart until you learn to obey Him. Peter heard the word of God and was transformed inside by it. When Jesus asked him to cast off and go out fishing again he didn't try to talk Jesus out of it, he obeyed and experienced a miracle. When God is speaking we want to hear His voice for ourselves and obey Him.

  Consider 1 Kings chapter 13 where a young prophet is sent by God to Bethel to speak a word of judgement. God gave Him specific instructions to speak the word and then to leave and go back home. He was told not to eat with or stay with anyone but to return immediately by a different way. An older prophet heard what had happened that day and he went and told that young prophet that an angel told him he should come and eat with him and stay with him. The young prophet did not listen to what God told him to do and instead listened to the old prophet that was lying to him. Because he didn't listen that young prophet was eaten by a lion. What a picture for us today!

  Jesus told us that in the last days their will be false teachers and many will be lead astray. It says because lawlessness has increased people will be deceived. They will be unwilling to die to self and false prophets will tell them it's okay to live lawlessly. If you listen to the counsel of this world it's not going to keep you! When the storm comes you can only stand on the truth of God's word.

I want to challenge you today to spend time in God's word. Even if you read just one scripture a day it can build you up in your faith. The Bible is not made just for colleges and seminaries. The Holy Spirit wants to break it open for YOU and provide direction for your life.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
Psalm 119:105

Friday, November 2, 2018

At the Cross

For You have smitten all my enemies on the cheek;
You have shattered the teeth of the wicked.
Salvation belongs to the Lord;
Your blessing be upon Your people! Selah.

Psalm 3:7-8

One of the great hopes that keeps us moving forward is Christ's victory at the cross.

The spiritual battle is going on all around us and the Lord is teaching us to fight and to walk victoriously.

I want to encourage you today that the Lord has shattered the teeth of our enemy at the cross!  As we look and keep our attention upon that cross we know that Jesus is able to do in us, that which we are incapable of doing ourselves. 

Our part is to continue to come to the light and agree with Christ.  We must trust the Lord and agree with Him as He teaches us how to overcome. He is faithful to help us to walk in freedom in every area of our lives.

 Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered?
 But thus saith the Lord, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children.
 And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine: and all flesh shall know that I the Lord am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob.
Isaiah 49:24-26

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Engaged in the Battle

        The Lord God said to the serpent,
Because you have done this,
Cursed are you more than all cattle,
And more than every beast of the field;
On your belly you will go,
And dust you will eat
All the days of your life;
And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed
Genesis 3:14-15

  Obviously we know what the word says about the temptation that took place with Satan in the Garden of Eden. We could go through a study of that temptation, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life. The part where Satan told them, "you shall be like God,"...and the tearing down of the nature of God, He doesn't love you...He's withholding something good from you and all those things...

However, what I really what to talk about is Genesis 3:14-15, this war against the church. There is a spiritual battle between the Spirit of Life and the spirit of darkness and the enemy. We are facing a "war against the church," and I ask you, why would God use that terminology if it was not happening? The more you actually see it in the word, the more you will be able to see it everywhere in the scriptures, all the way through. 

  Today as you read this I hope you will become more aware to waking back up and spiritually engaging in the battle. Lord help us to spiritually engage today. The enemies goals are to divide our hearts, (through idolatry,) and break up our relationships. If you are not engaging in the battle you are losing it.

    In second Corinthians 10 we are encouraged to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Whether it's thoughts of anger or resentment, fear, lust or self pity, when we begin to listen to those lying thoughts we begin to give them place. We begin to listen and agree with lies and the only thing real about lies is the credibility we give them. 

Satan is the father of lies, there is no truth in him and we have to recognize and take those, "fiery dart thoughts," captive to what God's word says. You can't be free until you recognize the battle and then God can show you how to overcome it. 

Let me clarify, there is no battle in the heavens, God versus Satan because the word says in Colossians that Jesus made a public display of the enemy, triumphing over him. 

It's when we believe the lies of the enemy that it begins to change the course of our lives. The enemy lies that our lives are out of control but I lift the shield of faith that says, "All things are working together according to the counsel of His will." Remember, God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and a of a sound mind!

  Our mind must be renewed by the word of God and we must answer the enemies lies with the truth of the word of God.

 Engage in the battle with your eyes upon the Lord. He is faithful and wants to show you how to take thoughts captive as you spend time with Him. There are two voices out there, which one will you listen to today?

Wisdom has built her house,
She has hewn out her seven pillars;
 She has prepared her food, she has mixed her wine;
She has also set her table;
 She has sent out her maidens, she calls
From the tops of the heights of the city:

Whoever is naive, let him turn in here!”

To him who lacks understanding she says,
 “Come, eat of my food
And drink of the wine I have mixed.
 “Forsake your folly and live,
And proceed in the way of understanding.”
Proverbs 9:1-8

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Let Him Who Thinks He Stands...

For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea;  and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea;  and all ate the same spiritual food;  and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.
 Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play.”  Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents.  Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer.Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.  
1 Corinthians 10:1-12

As I began to think about this, there are times in your life when you become aware that your life is a vapor. I know that I want to finish well and pleasing to the Lord. 
For the prodigal son, the pig trough was a place that he had ended up where he realized he had wasted his life. That journey to the pig trough didn't happen overnight. It started with discontent in his heart about his situation. That discontent was the first step toward the pig trough. Satan is crafty and subtle in leading us off of the path of life. Paul told the Corinthian church...
But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. 
2 Corinthians 11:3
Paul points out here that the serpent is crafty! He doesn't say, "Hey, today I'm going to deceive you!" It's subtle over time that you can be led astray as you run from work to home and hurdle to hurdle. We are so busy that we miss the signs as we leave the path and begin the journey to the pig trough.
If you find yourself in this place today, begin to cry out, "I want to finish well, so Lord help me to start by dealing with the seed of discontent." Begin to cry out to the Lord in thanksgiving and for grace to help you stand. 

 Listen folks, you don't have to go to the pig trough. You don't have to come to the place of public exposure and humiliation. You can deal with discontent and sin one on one with the Father before it brings destruction to your life. 

The prodigal didn't realize how good he had it until he was at the pig trough and had lost everything. If you already find yourself there, return to the Father in repentance and you will find He is rich in mercy.  

 Lord help us submit to our trials and let them have their work in us. Let us love you with all our heart and love our neighbor as ourselves. Help us to cast aside discontentment and begin anew with a grateful heart of thanksgiving. Lord this life is just a vanishing vapor, help us to finish well. In Jesus name, Amen.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Trials Are Working For You

For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,  while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:17-18

    Pain is the precursor to change. We can stubbornly resist pain or we can ask God, what are you trying to teach me through this? I don't want to stiffen my neck Lord, what are you wanting to show me? When we submit to our trials  they can have their perfect work in our lives and achieve their divine purpose.

  The father of lies tells us God is not for us and we've made a mistake that has caused these trials, or afflictions. What are these momentary light afflictions? Walking through a painful marriage? Having to trust God with our kids? Financial problems crushing in on us? An unexpected illness? We are all going through the same trials but in different ways.

  John the Baptist ended up alone in a prison after preparing the way for Jesus and he sent word to Jesus asking if He is the one we have been looking for or not? The trials he was walking through and I believe, the voice of the enemy,(Where is your God?), had challenged his faith. Jesus sent word back about all the wonderful things that were happening and told John, "Blessed is the man who is not offended in me."

We get offended in the way God runs his business. We are suddenly in a humbled place, unnoticed and disregarded and we begin to question God's plan.

When we let go and serve others and don't try to exalt ourselves but submit to God in our trials, then Christ will be glorified in us and have his way in our hearts. Then we will find peace in the midst of our trials and will be conformed to God's image and nature. That should be our ultimate be like our heavenly Father. Think about that as you begin your day, meditating on the fact that your trials are working for you and God is not playing games with your life.

 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.  But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.
James 3:16-17

Saturday, September 29, 2018

This Word Is Not For You

Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves.  Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification.  For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.”  For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
Romans 15:1-4

The enemy, the father of lies is speaking to many of our lives saying, "You can't understand the Bible. It's not for you. Well I'm here to tell you that even Satan uses the word of God to try to condemn the saints. I remember reading the verse, 2nd Corinthians 4 which says...

 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing,  in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 

...and I used to think that must be me because I read the Bible and I can't understand it. I used to believe the lies that the enemy was speaking to my mind. The only power Satan has is when we listen to his lies and give them credibility. During those days when I was struggling with understanding the word, like Peter I would cry out in prayer to Jesus, "Where else can I go Lord? Only you have the words of eternal life." 

I encourage you today to do what I did back then and commit to reading just one verse a day. As I did that, God was faithful to open the word up to me and give understanding to me. 

If you get nothing else from this blog entry, I hope you get this....

The Bible is NOT an intellectual book. Its a spiritual book and Jesus said it's meaning is hidden to those who trust in their intellect. It's revealed to the tender in heart who humble themselves and cry to God to understand it's meaning.

In this coming year, God wants to speak to you. Are you willing in the privacy of your own life to commit to know Jesus and to seek Him? Commit to understanding His word and obeying what light He gives you. Just start with one verse a day, like I did and God is faithful to counsel you and bring understanding. His word and His Holy Spirit are our counselors and He wants you to walk in liberty and freedom.

How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,
Whose sin is covered!
 How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity,
And in whose spirit there is no deceit!
 When I kept silent about my sinmy body wasted away
Through my groaning all day long.
 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summerSelah.
 acknowledged my sin to You,
And my iniquity I did not hide;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”;
And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah.
 Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to You in a time when You may be found;
Surely in a flood of great waters they will not reach him.
 You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble;
You surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah.
 I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go;
I will counsel you with My eye upon you.
Psalm 32:1-8

For further study consider this podcast;

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Breaking the Chains

Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and with the seed of beast.  As I have watched over them to pluck up, to break down, to overthrow, to destroy and to bring disaster, so I will watch over them to build and to plant,” declares the Lord.
“In those days they will not say again,
The fathers have eaten sour grapes,
And the children’s teeth are set on edge.’
 But everyone will die for his own iniquity; each man who eats the sour grapes, his teeth will be set on edge.
 Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord.  “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.  They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
Jeremiah 31:27-34 NASB

The quote from this passage, "The fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children's teeth are set on edge," is something they would say back in those days that is similar to what many of us say today. How many of us have heard, "You're going to be just like your dad!" or "You're acting just like your mother did!" "The things they did are going to come upon you!" Sometimes even your spouse may say it and it usually really gets to you because no one wants to be like the worst parts of their parents. Our parents may be great people but there is always attributes or things they did that we do not want to repeat in our own lives. 
There are in all of our families certain things that are passed down like, some people can have a glass of wine and their families do so socially but other families have addictions to alcohol that almost destroy them. One family may get angry but they are able to control it and other families are controlled by the anger. 
  Teaching in the prisons has been an opportunity for God to use obvious things to reveal subtle truths to me. I remember one time a dear friend told me he was in prison for incest and that it had been passed down in their family for generations.
In my own life and relatives I have seen a fear or inferiority in some that keeps us distant from people and I wrestle with some of those same things, having to press through them. There are conversations that come into our minds and those negative thoughts must be recognized and "taken captive" to what God's word tells us is true. 

  Sometimes we have fears of becoming the worst parts of others that we see in our lives. Now I will tell you that you do become like that which you judge. If you look at others and say in your heart, "I'll never become like them and do the things that they do," you will do the very things that you have judged them for.

All of us have a heritage of sin, no one had to teach you how to lie. It's passed down from the fallen nature and some specific things are passed down through certain families lives. 

What are the things that prepare the soil for God breaking those ungodly ties and starting a, "new DNA?" A new bloodline? 

Look with me at Ruth chapter one in verse four....

They took for themselves Moabite women as wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. And they lived there about ten years.

In this book we see a man from Bethlehem take his family to Moab because of a famine in the land and he wanted to preserve their lives. 

Now if you recall the origin of the land of Moab was when Lot fled from the city of Sodom and Gomorrah. The angel told Lot to go to a nearby city but Lot was afraid and asked to go to a nearby mountain. 

Now God was instructing them to go to the city and if God tells us to do something we can trust Him to keep us safe. However, Lot chose to trust his own thoughts of self preservation and asked to go to a cave in the mountain. You may know the story, how it was Lot and his two daughters and daughters began to worry that they would have no descendants, so they got their father drunk and slept with him. One of the resulting offspring was the nation of Moab. 

In the Bible in the book of Isaiah its tells us that Moab was a nation of perversion and idolatry. They were children of wrath separated from the promises of God.

  So here this man in Ruth chapter one, takes his family to Moab and his sons marry Moabite women. The sons Mahlon and Chilion names meant "sickness" and "wasting away," which I believe was a picture of where their hearts were. 

So now we have these Moabite wives that have married the man's sons so we have this new family.  However, these two Moabite daughter-in-laws have a mother-in-law named Naomi. Now this is my own opinion but I think that mother-in-law while living in Moab talked about the God of her youth. 

That is the only reason I could think of that would persuade these two daughter-in-laws to want to follow her when she was heading back to her homeland. I think that is the place where Naomi found herself after having traveled to this strange land. She knew she was not in the place she was supposed to be and she remembered the God of her youth. 

  I believe as Ruth and Orpah heard Naomi talk about her God, they longed for the liberty and freedom she spoke of. There came a day when Naomi's husband and two sons died and she heard that her God had visited His people in Israel by giving them bread. I want you to know, God will always visit the people that wait upon Him. How long? I don't know but a scripture Rebecca and I were talking about from Psalms is, "Those who trust in Him will not be ashamed." Sometimes you find yourself waiting a long time but God is always faithful.
When the two daughter-in-laws saw Naomi ready to depart to her homeland something in them compelled them to follow. They wanted what Naomi had. Naomi told them if they follow her she had no more sons for them to marry. So the two Moabite women found themselves in that place of the cross. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law affectionately and turned back to Moab and to her gods. Orpah was unwilling to let go of her life and what was familiar to her. She is never mentioned again. 

 Then there was Ruth who was, "at the cross," of possibly never getting married and never having children. She clung to her mother-in-law and said, "Where you go I will go, where you lodge I will lodge, your people will be my people and your God will be my God. May nothing but death separate us."  Naomi saw that Ruth was steadfastly minded....

What are you steadfastly minded about? Most people just want prayer but don't want to commit to change, to read and pray God's promises in the word daily, to pray and spend time with the Lord. They aren't willing to turn off the television and spend time with Jesus.

Orpah wanted what her mother-in-law had but wasn't willing to walk that way. Ruth said, "I'm going with you and I have set my heart, whatever it takes."

I'm sure that people told her she was going to be just like her mother but as she went forward, God's sovereignty moved her into the field of Boaz. 

  I won't tell all the details of the story but she married Boaz and became the great grandmother of King David and was included in the lineage of Jesus!

 It doesn't matter who your mom and dad were or what they did because the book of Jeremiah tells us that every person is responsible for their own actions.

God's new covenant is that He will write His laws upon your heart and give you a new heritage. Spend some time meditating on that this morning and remember to give thanks for the precious blood of Christ that has broken every chain. You have the ability to choose your direction and future and as you spend time with Jesus He wants to bring you to a place of liberty and freedom.

“If you will return, O Israel,” declares the Lord,

Then you should return to Me.  And if you will put away your detested things from My presence,

And will not waver,

Jeremiah 4:1

For further reflections today, you can stream this podcast;