Sunday, April 22, 2012
Psalm 34:1-3 I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the LORD; The humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His name together.
I was complaining to the Lord about a situation in my life one day and I asked Him what He thought about it and immediately Psalm 34:1 popped into my mind: “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth”. It was at that moment that I realized that God expected me to praise Him in place of my complaining and grumbling!
What happens when we praise instead of grumbling? I think the key is found in verse three: “Oh, magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together”. What you magnify becomes the biggest in your mind. You can't grumble and complain and magnify the Lord at the same time. One will be larger than the other. If the problem you are experiencing is magnified it will become bigger than the picture of God in your mind. But when you magnify the Lord everything else becomes small. He is God over all the universe. There is nothing too difficult for Him. He spoke everything into being! He is the great I AM; the Alpha and the Omega; the beginning and the end! He always was and always will be! There is no end to His infinite power! Is He not bigger than the problems we have and worthy to be praised?
The Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 10 that what happened to the Israelites in the wilderness was relayed to us as examples that we might not do the things that they did that got them into trouble. One of the things mentioned there was complaining.
1 Corinthians 10:10 “nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer.”
Complaining opens the door to the enemy to come in and destroy your life. The Word tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:5 that God was not pleased with the Israelites because of the things that they did in the wilderness. They spent 40 years wandering around because they didn't trust God to care for them and lead them into the Promised Land that He had given them as their inheritance. When we complain what we are actually saying is “I don't trust You, Lord, to care for me and do what's best for me”.
In Numbers 14:27, 28 the Word gives a record of God's feelings about the Israelites complaining: “How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who complain against Me? I have heard the complaints which the children of Israel make against Me. “Say to them, 'As I live,' says the LORD, 'just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will do to you: 'The carcasses of you who have complained against Me shall fall in this wilderness, all of you who were numbered, according to your entire number, from twenty years old and above.”
God took their complaining as a direct complaint against Him. What about us? How does He view our complaining? I wouldn't want to be counted as those Israelites and have to die in my complaints. Do we actually want what we complain about to become a reality in our lives or would we rather praise the Lord and open the door for Him to work a miracle in our situations?
God then went on to say that the only two people of that generation who would make it out of the wilderness and inherit their Promised Land was Caleb and Joshua. God said the reason Caleb and Joshua were allowed into the Promised Land was because they “wholly followed the Lord their God”. (Deuteronomy 1:36-38)
We see the Psalmists in the book of Psalms over and over again praising the Lord. Many times they will begin the psalm with praise and then offer up to God the prayer that is on their heart and then close the psalm with praise again. God is not displeased with us when we openly share our feelings with Him. He is displeased when we complain about how bad things are and see them as being bigger than Him. There is a difference between openly crying out to the Lord about a situation and just grumbling and complaining about how bad it is.
When we praise God in the midst of the storm we are strengthened in our inner man and the enemy is silenced and no longer able to convince us that our God will not deliver us from destruction.
Psalm 8:2 Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength, Because of Your enemies, That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.”
Father, I thank You today that You are bigger than any problem that might be taking place in my life! You are the Greater One who lives within me and You are worthy of all praise! Thank You for strengthening me through praise! Thank You for silencing the enemy who speaks destruction and defeat! Thank You for delivering me from darkness and shining the light of Your love into my life. I pray for my Spark Friends today that You would reveal Your magnificent power to them in their life's situations that they might see Your glory manifested in their lives. Help us all to remember to praise You even in the midst of the storm. Thank You, Father! In Jesus' name. Amen.
Saturday, April 21, 2012
Hebrews 4:15, 16 AMP For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but One Who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning. Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God's unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it].
Hebrews 2:18 AMP For because He Himself [in His humanity] has suffered in being tempted (tested and tried), He is able [immediately] to run to the cry of (assist, relieve) those who are being tempted and tested and tried [and who therefore are being exposed to suffering.]
Jesus is our High Priest! He was tempted, tested and tried in everything just like we are, yet He didn't sin. Because of His suffering in those areas He is able to help us when we are going through temptations. Praise the Lord, we have someone Who wants to help us in our time of need that understands what we are are going through and has the power to give us the help that we need.
There are two times that we especially need His help: 1) when we are tempted to sin, that we might overcome the temptation and 2) after we have sinned that we might receive forgiveness for the sin.
Let's look at these two instances in a little more depth. The first one: when we are tempted to sin that we might overcome the temptation. In Hebrews 4:15 the Word says that God understands our weaknesses and sympathizes with us because Jesus has been tempted in every way such as us. Wow, that means Jesus was tempted to eat things that would be harmful to His body just as I am. That means that Jesus was tempted with thoughts of failure and defeat, just as I am. Yes, every temptation that you and I are faced with Jesus has already suffered through and won the victory that He might give us the help we need in overcoming our own temptations! The Amplified Bible says that when we come to Him He gives us His grace to help in good time for EVERY need! That help is appropriate for the temptation and well-timed, coming just when we need it! How could we fail with help like that? So, why, then, do we often fail to win over temptation? Many times we do not do our part in overcoming and that is taking the strength that we get from the Lord and standing against or resisting the temptation. Jesus gives the help that we need, but we must apply it to our own situation. You see, He has a part to play and we have a part to play. He is always faithful to supply the help that we need, but we must put it into action. He gives us the weapons to fight the battle, but we must do the fighting. We will always win if we go out in the strength of the Lord!
The second time we especially need His help is after we have sinned, to receive forgiveness. The Word says in 4:16 that we can come boldly to the throne of grace to receive mercy for our failures!
Mercy – according to Webster's 1828 dictionary – that benevolence, mildness or tenderness of heart which disposes a person to overlook injuries, or to treat an offender better than he deserves; the disposition that tempers justice, and induces an injured person to forgive trespasses and injuries, and to forbear punishment, or inflict less than law or justice will warrant.
God gives us mercy for our failures! He treats us better than we deserve; He doesn't hold the offense against us but freely forgives! What good news! I can come boldly into God's presence even when I've sinned because He is waiting to forgive me and restore me into right fellowship with Him! And yet after we have sinned we sometimes feel like we should run from Him because we are not worthy to come into His presence to ask for forgiveness. That is such a misconception! It is brought on by the Father of lies who tells us that we are unworthy of the Lord and have no right to ask Him for forgiveness. It is at that time that we have to stand up to the devil and push aside his lies so we can run to Jesus! God loves us and doesn't hold our sins against us! He wants us to tell Him about the mistakes that we make so He can help us to overcome the next time we are presented with that same situation! God is for us; not against us!
Hebrews chapter 5 goes on to tell us that Jesus is that High Priest who makes sacrifices for the sins of the people. He suffered that we might not have to suffer. He won the victory over sin and its consequences that we might experience the victory! He is waiting for us to come to Him to receive help and forgiveness!
Thank You, Father, for making the way through the sacrifice of Your Son for me to have a great High Priest to help me through the difficulties of my life. I thank You for giving me the well-timed help that I need to overcome the temptations of life and when I fail, the forgiveness that I need to restore me back to You. Thank You, Lord, for making a way when there seems to be no way! You are my High Priest, Lord Jesus, and I look to You for all that I need in this life. I pray for my Spark Friends this morning, Father, that You will reveal to each one of them Your mighty power to overcome temptation. Thank You for providing forgiveness for them when they fail and for helping them to realize that You love them and don't hold their weaknesses against them. You are a merciful High Priest, Lord Jesus, and I praise You today! In Jesus' name. Amen.
Friday, April 20, 2012
Matthew 16:13-20 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. “And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ.
Jesus asked His disciples who others were saying that He was, but then He got down to the real question that was on His heart. “But who do you say that I am?” He knew that they couldn't live off the revelation that someone else had. They had to know Him for themselves. He is still asking that question of people today and each of us has to come to the revelation knowledge of who Jesus is to us for our lives to be complete and fulfilled. When we need forgiveness of sins, He asks us “Who do you say that I am?” He then reveals Himself to us as Savior. When we need physical healing in our bodies, He will ask us “Who do you say that I am?” And once again revelation knowledge comes in knowing that He took stripes upon His back that we might experience healing in our bodies and we see Him as Healer. When we need financial provision He asks us, “Who do you say that I am?” and then He reveals Himself to us through that provision. Whatever crisis we find ourselves in He will reveal Himself as the answer to that need.
Jesus praised Simon Bar-Jonah for realizing that the answer didn't come through man, but from the revelation from his Father in heaven. We can't explain Jesus; He simply “IS”. HE IS Savior, Healer, Deliverer, Provider! Notice that Jesus called Peter by his given name “Simon Bar-Jonah”. Simon means “hearing” and Bar-Jonah means “son of Johanon or John”. These are both references to Peter's humanity showing that revelation doesn't come through human understanding, but is only attained as we spend time with the Lord and He reveals Himself to us. “Peter” is the name that Jesus gave him and means “a rock or stone”. It is representative of the transformation that comes as we are strengthened through having a personal relationship with the Savior, Jesus Christ. It is then that we become strong like a rock or stone that is immovable, strong and able to stand against the wiles of the devil. That strength cannot come through humanity and is only available to us as we lean on the Lord.
The next thing we notice is that Jesus made the statement to Peter that , “on this rock I will build my church”. It is the rock of revelation of Who He is to believers upon which the church of Jesus Christ is established. And then He makes another statement of great importance; “the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” Satan has no strength over believers who know who they are in Christ Jesus and are depending on the strength that comes from Him to fight the battles that the enemy brings against them. Satan cannot prevail against a church of believers who are aware of their place in Christ Jesus and how to overcome by using the weapons that God has given them. What good news! God has made us over-comers through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus goes on to tell of a couple of weapons that He has given us to enable us to overcome; binding and loosing. He says, “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Jesus said these were keys; keys denote authority. Jesus is passing on to His church His authority to carry out His work on the earth. Jesus activated the provisions through His Cross; the church is then charged with implementation of what He has released through His life, death, and resurrection. If someone is bound by sin, the church can “loose” him by preaching the provision of freedom from sin in Christ Jesus. If someone is indwelt by a demon, the church can “bind” the demon by casting it out. We, as the church, have been given His authority to carry on the work that He started!
Where are you today in your walk with the Lord? Have you received the revelation of Who He is in the need that you have? God revealed Himself to the Israelites as what they had need of when they experienced that need. It is called “the principle of first mention”. When they had a need He would reveal Himself as the provision to that need and from that “first mention” of Who He was to them it was known that from then on He would be that provision when they needed it. So, we grow progressively according to our needs and according to whether or not we receive Him as the answer to that need.
Father, I thank You that You are the answer to all of our needs. Your desire is for us to come to You for that provision so You may reveal Yourself to us. I pray for my Spark Friends today who may be struggling with situations in their lives where they feel they have no provision. I know that You, Lord, are that provision and ask that You would reveal Yourself to them as You provide for that need in their lives. Thank You for meeting all our needs according to Your riches in glory by Christ Jesus. I know that Your riches never run out and You never experience lack so we can depend on You to make complete provision for every need that we have. Thank You, Lord, for meeting the needs of Your people! In Jesus' name. Amen.
Thursday, April 19, 2012
2 Corinthians 1;3-7 NLT All praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the source of every mercy and the God who comforts us. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. You can be sure that the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. So when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your benefit and salvation! For when God comforts us, it is so that we, in turn, can be an encouragement to you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in suffering, you will also share God's comfort.
I am so thankful that nothing is wasted in God's economy! The heartache that you may be experiencing today, if allowed to be ministered by God through your life, will be the comfort and life-line to God that someone needs tomorrow. God always comforts us if we will turn to Him. Then as we are comforted and strengthened we will be able to help others who are going through similar difficulties. You can't really give something away that you do not own yourself. It is much easier to identify with someone's problem if you have already experienced it yourself. You have much more compassion if you have already gone through what they are experiencing. God turns tests into testimonies and messes into messages!
Paul was telling the Corinthians about his difficulties when he started this letter to them. He told them how he had suffered and how they could overcome as he overcame.
2 Corinthians 1:8-11 I think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and completely overwhelmed, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we learned not to rely on ourselves, but on God who can raise the dead. And He did deliver us from mortal danger. And we are confident that He will continue to deliver us. He will rescue us because you are helping by praying for us. As a result, many will give thanks to God because so many people's prayers for our safety have been answered.
People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care. What you experience in life that identifies you to them will be the thing that God will use to show them how much He cares for them as He ministers through you. People are drawn to those who are like them; that understand what they are going through. The difficulties that I have experienced in life have opened many doors for me to minister God's love and comfort to others. He continues to use those things that the devil meant to harm me for my good and the good of others. The seeds of conflict and heartache are growing into a great harvest for the kingdom of God and I praise Him for bringing something good out of the bad.
Many of you have expressed your sympathies to me on the loss of my “first” husband. Thank you for expressing such kindness to me! I want to apologize for having given you the impression that he was my first husband. That was not my first marriage. I have experienced much heartache through abuse and marital unfaithfulness. As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 1:8, I, too, had been crushed and completely overwhelmed by years of heartache and didn't think I could live through it, but it taught me to rely on God instead of myself. That's why it was so important to me for God to orchestrate my marriage and then when He did and my husband died so early in the marriage I was devastated. As time goes by I will share with you some of the heartaches I've experienced simply because I want to give God the opportunity to use those situations to encourage others. If something I have experienced will help someone else I will be happy to share that with them. Until then, please know that I am aware of the mistakes I have made and wish I could go back and change things, but that is impossible, so all I can do is offer them up to God for Him to use to effect change in the hearts and lives of other people!
Thank You, Father, for using the mistakes that we make and the difficulties in our lives to help others. I pray for my Spark Friends this morning that as they go through difficult times they will seek You for comfort; not food or other people or material possessions. Thank You for working in all these situations to right the wrongs and turn the bad to good. May You be glorified in our lives as we yield our disappointments and heartaches to You. Thank You for being our stronghold in the time of trouble. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Ephesians 3:20, 21 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
This is one of my favorite portions of Scripture. I guess it is because I have seen the Lord work over and over again, to my amazement, to fulfill it in my life. He has done exceedingly abundantly above all that I could ever ask or think in so many situations in my life! I like the way the Amplified Bible says verse 20:
Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and ] do super-abundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts hopes, or dreams]--
There are three things that I see in this verse that God is able to do in our lives:
1) What He does is by His power working within us.
2) It is according to, or in the same measure as, His purpose for our lives.
3) It is far above or beyond anything that we could ask, think, hope or dream.
When I think about my life and how He has worked in me I remember a couple of things that I will quickly recount to you that He has done that is exceedingly above all that I could ask, think, hope or dream.
When my husband passed away after only 7 ½ weeks of marriage I was very despondent, not wanting to do anything but curl up in a ball and stay in bed. My heart's desire was to have a marriage that would glorify God and fulfill the desire within my heart to be able to be united to a godly mate that I would be able to help achieve all that God called him to do and be and, vice verse, who would help me do and be all that God planned for me. I was ready to give up, quit and live the rest of my life as a single person, but God had another plan. Before I married Larry the Lord had given me some scriptures to stand on, to build my faith and help me to persevere until I would meet the man He had planned for me. I had done that and when Larry and I were married I felt I had fulfilled what God had asked of me in persevering until the promise could be manifested. Then when he had a massive stroke and died I didn't want to go back to standing in faith believing for another mate. I just wanted to give up. But God had a different plan. He instructed me to take that stand of faith again because He still had a plan for me to be married to a godly mate. It wasn't long until He brought Gerald into my life and shortly thereafter we were married. He saved me from destruction by encouraging me to get back up in life and continue to believe Him for what He had promised. My marriage to Gerald has been a blessing from God to me. He is everything that I could have asked or hoped for and more. I praise God for doing what I saw as an impossibility in me and for me. To God be the glory!
The other thing that I immediately remember is this: In December of 2009, shortly after Gerald and I were married my job with Capital One Home Loans came to abrupt halt when they closed the office in Overland Park, Kansas, where I was working. All 320 employees were phased out over a period of approximately six months. Since I had been living in the Kansas City area when Gerald and I met and he was in Tennessee, we had planned to move me to Tennessee after my town house sold, but we had to reverse the order and move me when my job ended and leave the town house to sell after I moved. So we moved and I began searching for a job in Tennessee, to no avail. My employer had put in my severance package some re-training assistance funds but due to fear and unbelief I put off trying to see if I could use the funds. However, I had seen some others make some different career moves so the possibility of using those funds stayed in the back of my mind as I searched for employment. In August of 2010 I finally decided to try to use the funds on some college courses that I wanted to take in Christian Counseling. The only problem was that I had to complete the courses by January of 2011 for me to meet the eligibility requirements from the company for use of the funds. I needed to complete 10 courses to receive a certificate in Christian Counseling. They said it was not humanly possible to complete 10 courses in that period of time as each course was designed to last for 12 weeks and would require approximately 5 hours of course work per week. But God had another plan! When I started the courses my instructor said I would need to complete each course in about 2 weeks time in order to stay on course to complete them by the deadline of the end of January, 2011. I prayed and asked the Lord for His super-natural anointing to accomplish it! I applied myself with all that I had humanly available, worked long hours each day, some 12 or 13 hour days, and prayed that He would help me get it done. Gerald encouraged me and helped me study for tests. My instructor prayed with me and promptly responded every time I needed help and other students prayed and encouraged to do the impossible. I worked as if it all depended on me and prayed as if it all depended on God. He worked a miracle in me and for me by enabling me to complete all the courses in record time, 2 weeks before the deadline! And with amazing scores on all courses....straight A's. He had done in me by His power what I could never have done on my own! He continues to bless me with excellent test scores as I move on towards my degree in Christian Counseling. I have about 8 more courses to finish!
God has done exceedingly abundantly above all that I could have asked or imagined in my life and I give Him all the glory! He constantly amazes me with His goodness to me!
What do you see in your life today that is an impossibility? The Bible says in Acts 10:34 that God shows no partiality. He is no respecter of persons; what He has done for one He will do for another. Do you believe that He will do for you what He has done for me? It may not be the same exact situation but everything that you see as impossible is possible with God! He is the God of impossibilities!
Father, I thank You once again for all that You have done for me and in me! You truly have exceeded my highest expectations and I thank You! I know that You will work in others as You have done for me. I ask You to give them eyes to see what You are doing, and hearts to believe for the impossible! Thank You, Father, for fulfilling the desires of their hearts! You are great and greatly to be praised and I praise You this morning for Your unfailing love, mercy and grace! Thank You for hearing and answering my prayers! In Jesus' name. Amen.
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