Friday, March 30, 2018

The Gatekeeper

Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it flow the springs of life.
Proverbs 4:23

I want you to know, the most precious possession you have is your heart. Every day there are messages seeking to get root and ground in your life. 

Your mind is the gatekeeper of your heart. Lust, for make a choice when you let that into your life. 

We must all choose whether or not thoughts of anger, resentment or jealousy, are allowed to run through our minds and even guide our decisions. 

When the gatekeeper is defending your heart you will take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. As those thoughts come into your head you can respond with, “I don’t receive it.” Then stop thinking about it, like changing the channel on your television set. You can replace the negative thoughts with an encouraging scripture. 

Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 1st Peter 1:4

   One little private thought, a resentment against someone who really did wrong you and before you realize it, you’re chained to years of bitterness. One day you find yourself physically ill from a stronghold of refusing to forgive. 

  Or maybe you ignore an inner nudge telling you not to share some gossip about someone. In a moment you speak careless words that divide friends or break up relationships. You find yourself bound up in guilt, regret and shame for using careless words.

  Maybe the enemy speaks words of self condemnation or discouragement and you receive those thoughts as your own. Suddenly you are critical of yourself and depressed because you are receiving lies about yourself and others. These thoughts change the course of your day and even affect your interaction with God and with those around you.

All of a sudden the enemy brings a lustful image into your mind and a voice says, “it’s okay, it’s just a thought...” but what it doesn’t tell you, is that it wants to control your life. 

Once you give place to the enemy, these thoughts won’t stop showing up on the view screen of your mind. I can’t tell you how many men have told me that they thought getting married would deal with the lusts of their minds. They find themselves stuck in pornography even though they’re married to good women who love them. 

The powers of darkness start off by saying, “Just give me a little place in your life,” and then all of a sudden they say, “Now I’m here and I’m not leaving.”

 That’s why Jesus said, “Guard your heart,” because you’ve got to become active, engaged in the battle of life. 

You’ve got to cry out, “Lord help me! Because the thoughts of my mind have gone over my head.” 
Ask him to help you to turn away from the lies and to change. Spend time with the Lord in intimate communion and renew your mind with His Word. There’s going to be falling down and getting up but God will teach you to fight the good fight of faith. 

He will teach you how to resist these wrong thoughts and avoid temptations. 

  As you keep your mind stayed upon the Lord He will cause you to think upon good things and to not allow evil thoughts in your mind. 

The end result will be the true pleasures of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. There will be a priceless change for the better in your life as your mind is renewed and your conscience made clean.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. 
Romans 12:2

For further study, consider our podcast. You can stream it here-

Friday, March 23, 2018

Moving Forward

   I remember many years ago,    when we first started off in prison ministry we would hold three to four day seminars. We held open meetings in the big sanctuary and then we would break up into groups in the classrooms and have smaller meetings. In one such meeting I can recall seeing a guy who looked different. He didn’t seem to fit in there. As he gave his testimony we found out that he was actually a fighter pilot. He was stationed in Hawaii and went on leave to see his family for his birthday. 

  When his plane landed back in the states he was surprised to see that his family was not waiting for him as they usually would be. Someone came up to him and told him his family had been in an accident and he needed to get to the hospital immediately. When he got there, his wife and his oldest daughter had already died and his youngest daughter died in his arms. 

   Basically what had happened was that a local judge had been drinking and driving and ran a stop sign and hit his family. So the pilot went through the normal legal proceedings but the judge received a slap on the wrist and nothing really happened to him.

  He couldn’t believe such a miscarriage of justice and bitterness began to work within him. So he found out where the judge was, at a golf course and put on his dress whites and confronted him. He looked him in the eye and told him, “I am the man whose family you killed.” 

The judge was shocked at the confrontation and became enraged, cursing at the pilot and telling him to leave immediately. All he wanted was a sincere apology from the judge but when that didn’t happen, he went to his Jeep and got his gun. He shot the judge three times and although he didn’t kill him, he caused him to be paralyzed from the waist down. 

 The pilot ended up in prison and several years into his sentence the judge wrote him a sincere letter of apology, explaining that he had become a christian. He asked the pilot to please forgive him for what he did to his family. The pilot had such bitterness of heart that he set the letter aside and couldn’t write him back. He kept putting it off and putting it off. 

  At that time, the seminar we were having was about forgiveness and I could tell the whole time that he was wrestling with something in his heart. 

As the meetings progressed he stood up and shared his story and said that he had chosen to forgive the judge as hard as it was. He said he had written him a letter the night before telling him he had forgiven him. At that moment, a new journey opened up in his life. He obeyed God’s call to forgive as difficult as it was for him and left that place of bitterness of soul. He took the first step to freedom from the bondage of resentment.

The key is obedience to God’s word!

  What is it that God is dealing with in your life? Maybe it’s an issue of forgiveness and you know it’s in your heart. Maybe you’re wondering why your life is so dry. Perhaps you’re questioning why God isn’t moving in your life like He is in the lives of others. 

Get quiet before the Lord and cry out for His guidance and direction. Faith will happen as you obey what God is saying to you. Your faith will continue to grow as you take that first step and move forward. When you move from hearing the word to being a doer of the word, you will be walking in liberty and freedom. 

as for you, son of man, your fellow citizens who talk about you by the walls and in the doorways of the houses, speak to one another, each to his brother, saying, ‘Come now and hear what the message is which comes forth from the Lord.’ They come to you as people come, and sit before you as My people and hear your words, but they do not do them, for they do the lustful desires expressed by their mouth, and their heart goes after their gain.

Ezekiel 33:30-31 NASB

For further study consider this audio message on YouTube:

Saturday, March 17, 2018

The Mystery of Leaven

            Thus says the Lord of hosts,Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you.They are leading you into futility;They speak a vision of their own imagination,Not from the mouth of the Lord. “They keep saying to those who despise Me,‘The Lord has said, “You will have peace”'; and as for everyone who walks in the stubbornness of his own heart, they say,'Calamity will not come upon you.'

                                                                                                  Jeremiah 23:16-17

        The Prophet Jeremiah, in this verse, is warning the people that the priests among them are giving people a message of peace, while they are walking in the stubbornness of their own hearts. It's amazing to me that over the years I have talked to people within the church who are literally practicing fornication or other immorality, who say to me, "I have peace."

Jeremiah was telling the people not to listen to people in leadership who say you can live immorally and have peace with God. He said, "Don't heed them," and "Don't give attention to them." Why would he say that? So many today are preaching sermons and messages by the thousands that tell us it's okay to live as we please, why listen to Jeremiah? It's simple friends....Jeremiah knew there is a judgement to come and every man will stand before God and give an account of his life. Stop and think about that for a moment. "Yeah, I have heard all that stuff Andy but how do we know that?" 


Ecclesiastes 11 says...

   Yet know that God will bring you to judgment for all these things. 

Enjoy your life but keep in mind you will give an account to God.

Chapter twelve of the same book says;

be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body.13 The conclusion, when all has been heard, isfear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. 14 For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.

    Believe me, i'm for you as you read this, when I tell you the truth, that every one of us will give account of their lives to God. In this day and age there are messages preached on every subject but many of them do not give attention to the state of your heart. The Bible says, "a little leaven will leaven the whole lump." Using the analogy of making bread, the word is telling us that a little sin can permeate our lives until it destroys us. 

   We can see this example clearly in the life of David the Psalmist, the man after God's own heart. In 2nd Samuel, chapter eleven, there came one moment in David's life where he decided not to go into battle with his armies. Then the next moment when he looked from the rooftop of his palace and saw a woman bathing. Then the next moment when he had her brought to his chambers. Then in the next moment he stepped across the line and accomplished his lust for her. 
      Then the next moment he had to find a way to hide that act so he brought her husband Uriah, a righteous and Godly man, to his palace. The next moment he decides he has to find a way to have Uriah killed. In the next moment, he kills the man by having him sent to the front lines of the battle, unprotected by the other soldiers. There came a moment in David's life where what seemed like the smallest thought, the smallest piece of leaven permeated his life and consumed him. All of a sudden, Nathan the prophet comes with a loud strong word to wake up David's dull conscience. 

    I want to encourage you today to examine your heart and be true to yourself. WAKE UP, and deal with the sin in your life before it takes over. Today, don't harden your heart, God wants to get your attention! It's not about who you are in the church service or Bible study it's about what you are when your guard is down and you are being who you really are. When you're at work or leisure time when the Pastor and your Christian friends aren't around. Jesus said to believers, it just takes a little leaven to affect your whole lives! You have to deal with it today or one day what's in your heart will come out and be exposed to the whole congregation. How do you deal with it? Repent. Cry out to God for help and take steps to protect your life from it. Eliminate habits and patterns from your life that bring compromise or expose you to areas of temptation. If David had been engaged in the battle with his armies he would not have been on that roof top and exposed himself to temptation. 
      I want to remind you when the Word is talking about leaven, it's talking about in the church. Our hearts are born with the nature of sin, no one had to teach us to lie, steal, take advantage or manipulate. Those things are natural to our hearts. When we become believers, when we surrender all to Him, God is bringing about change in our lives. He's trying to cut the umbilical cord that ties us to this world. You can't be changed as long as you entertain the leaven of this world in your heart. That's what God is bringing attention to. WE must purge wickedness and malice from our hearts by getting a hold of God's word and letting it bear good fruit in our lives.

 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough?  Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.  Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.     
1st Corinthians 5:6-8

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Friday, March 9, 2018

The Hem of His Garment

       I can't speak for everyone else but I can speak of this for me, I know that God is good. I'm convinced of it. When circumstances change in our lives many pray a prayer of spiritual warfare against the enemy. Over the years having read the book of Jeremiah many times, Jeremiah asserts that God is in control.

It is God who sent enemies because they are the servants of His indignation. So our problem is never with the enemy, oftentimes it's with God. The Lord is able to speak a word and change everything for the better in our situation. So the first thing we can do is examine our hearts to see if there is sin going on in our lives.

If in fact God is chastising us, repent. Cry out to God for forgiveness and to give you clean hands and a pure heart.

If not and you are experiencing a season of difficulty or sorrow, If you put your eyes upon Him you'll find in every tragedy, the fingerprint of God. The times when righteousness was perfected in my life was always in the time of tears. I've had to grab hold of the hem of His garment.

Whether you like it or not, it is through suffering that we learn righteousness! Our prayer in those times is for God to be gracious to us. Years ago I was was talking with a good friend whose wife was stricken with cancer and I'll never forget he said to me, "Andy, I know that God is able to heal my wife, But whether he does or not, we still belong to Him."

That reminded me of the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who were to be cast into the fiery furnace. They acknowledged that God was able to deliver them but even if He did not, they still belonged to Him. They would not bow to the king's golden statue. If you find yourself today in a difficult place and it seems like God has forgotten you, know that He hasn't. Put your eyes upon Him like a servant with their eyes upon their master. In the place of prayer, take hold of the hem of His garment and trust in Him.

The LORD is Good, A strong hold in the day of trouble; And He knoweth them that trust in Him. Nahum 1:7 (KJV)