Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Psalm 42:4-6 NLT My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks—it was the sound of a great celebration! Why am I discouraged? Why so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again—my Savior and my God! Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember Your kindness—from Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan, from the land of Mount Mizar.
Do you ever wish things could be as they once were? Sometimes we get caught up in thinking like the Israelites when God brought them out of the land of bondage and as they were traveling to the Promised Land and encountered difficulties they would wish they could go back to Egypt. They became discouraged when obstacles entered their path. They would cry and grumble about their current circumstances and want to go back to the bondage of the past. The Psalmist here is talking about a similar situation in his life. Looking back sometimes looks good because we only think about the good things of the past, not the difficulties that we encountered there. But each season in life has it's own set of challenges and going back doesn't solve anything. Here the Psalmist recognized his depression and what he needed to do to free himself from the anguish that he was experiencing. He said “now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember Your kindness”. Even in the midst of difficulties we need to remember God's kindness and place our hope in Him! He knows exactly where we are at each stage of our lives and has something good planned for us in the future; but we must trust Him to see us through and bring us out to enjoy the good things of our future! Without faith and trust in Him we will never see the goodness He has in store for us!
Paul talked about his difficulties in this way in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NLT: We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we don't give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going.
Paul had a determination that the problems that he experienced in this life would not get the best of him. He would not succumb to the temptation to let depression overtake him. He was determined to get up and go again. We see why he felt this way in verse 13: "But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, and so I speak.” We know that the same God who raised our Lord Jesus will also raise us with Jesus and present us to Himself along with you." Paul was saying the reason he could look at life and overcome the problems that he had was because of his faith in God. He believed in God and that changed his attitude and affected the way he spoke about his problems. He knew that the same God who raised Christ Jesus from the dead was going to raise him up also! He went on to say in 2 Corinthians 4:17: “For our present troubles are quite small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever! So we don't look at the troubles we can see right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.” He looked at his present troubles in view of eternal joys and realized that the things that were happening in his life right at that moment were subject to change—temporary, a light momentary affliction as the NKJV says.
That's the way it is for us. The things that may be discouraging you in life right now are temporary, subject to change! Nothing stays the same in this world for very long. It will not always be as it is today! Tomorrow is a new day and when we believe in God we can view our lives in light of His word knowing that in His word He promises that better times are yet to come! In Jeremiah 29 the Israelites had been in bondage and God sent word through Jeremiah that better days were coming for them.
Jeremiah 29:10-11 NLT “The truth is that you will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
Today God is saying not to be discouraged by the things in your life that may be going wrong, but look to Him and trust Him for the good things that He has planned for your future. He has a good plan for your life full of hope and blessing. The things that you may be experiencing today are temporary, they will not last forever.
Father, I thank You for bringing us out of depression and despair into the good future that You have prepared for us. Thank You for giving us hope for a better tomorrow. I know, Father, that the difficulties that may be in our lives today will not last forever. Please help us to keep our focus on You, Lord, and the good that You have planned for our lives. Thank You for dispelling the darkness today so that Your light can shine brightly in our lives. Thank You for giving us hope, for You are good and Your mercy endures forever. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Monday, May 28, 2012
1 Corinthians 2:9-12 But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.
Maybe you are like me, having heard that it's impossible to know the things of God because “no eye has seen, nor ear hear, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him”. Many times I have heard that scripture preached and then been told that we just don't know what God has in store for us. But wait, what does the very next scripture and those following say in context with the first one? It says that God's Spirit reveals those things to us because He knows the heart of God and when we are born of the spirit we receive the Spirit of God that we might know the things that God has freely given us! Now that's good news! The Holy Spirit is my teacher and guide when it comes to knowing the things that God has prepared for me. Here are a couple of scriptures that describe His role in our lives:
John 14:26 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”
John 16:13 “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.”
When Jesus ascended back to Heaven, the Father sent His very own Spirit to live within believers. The Holy Spirit is the member of the Godhead that is in the world today. He is the one who convicts unbelievers of their need to accept Jesus as Savior and Lord and He is the One who lives within believers to teach them, to lead and guide them, and to tell them of future happenings. He is the One who anoints us to do the work of ministry and comforts us when we are going through difficult times. We need the Holy Spirit every day to live our lives the way God wants us to live.
John the Baptist said this about Jesus in Matthew 3:11: “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Jesus baptizes us with the Holy Spirit and fire! Jesus lived on the earth, walked among men, paid the penalty for our sin, was crucified, buried and rose again! He is alive today, sitting at the right hand of the Father interceding for us. But when He went back to Heaven the Father sent the Holy Spirit to take His place on earth! We have the Holy Spirit now to be “Jesus with us”, because He is the Spirit of Christ! The Holy Spirit provides the power and anointing that we need to carry out the work that Jesus has given us to do. Without Him we are powerless!
Yesterday was Pentecost Sunday, a time to remember that the Holy Spirit was given to the church after Jesus went back to Heaven. We see His arrival recorded in the book of Acts:
Acts 1:8 “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Acts 2:1-4 When the day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
When we receive the Holy Spirit our lives are forever changed. We have the power to witness, to speak in other tongues and to know the heart of God! He fills us to overflowing with His very own Spirit. I'm so thankful that I have the Spirit of God living within me. I don't think I could face life today without His indwelling presence! If you've invited Jesus into your heart to be your Savior and Lord, the Holy Spirit is living within you! But does it seem that you lack the power that you need to witness and to speak in other tongues? Maybe you have not received the next step in your walk with the Lord; the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father, the Holy Spirit. He told them in Acts 1:5:
“for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
Water baptism is important in that it shows on the outside what has been done on the inside of our hearts. It is a witness to those around us that we have asked Jesus into our hearts to be our Savior and Lord. But there is more available than just receiving the Lord and being water baptized. There is the baptism of the Holy Spirit that Jesus was telling His disciples about. It is as you are baptized in the Holy Spirit that you receive the power that He was referring to in Acts 1:8. It is through the baptism of the Holy Spirit that you are given a supernatural prayer language that you can use to fight the devil and communicate directly with God, spirit to Spirit. It is through praying in the Spirit, in that heavenly prayer language that you are edified, built up, and strengthened for upcoming battles with the enemy.
1 Corinthians 14:2 For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.
Thank You, Father, for baptizing me in Your Spirit. I thank You, Lord, for giving me the power to be your witness to those around me and for enabling me to know the things that You have prepared for me. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for living within me, guiding me and showing me the things that are yet to come. Thank You, Lord, for giving me a supernatural prayer language that confuses the enemy, that builds me up and strengthens me for battle. Thank You, Lord, for the fullness of Your Spirit within me. I pray this morning for my Spark Friends that may not have the power of the Spirit in their lives. I ask You, Father, to show them that this is a valid experience and that they can have everything that You have for them spiritually through the baptism of Your Spirit in their lives. Thank You, Father, for giving us all of You, Father, Son and Holy Spirit to do in our lives what You want to do! We need the fullness of the Godhead within us to live supernaturally in a natural, fallen world! Thank You, Father, for preparing us to win the war that we fight supernaturally through Your Spirit! In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Sunday, May 27, 2012
Psalm 118:24 This is the day the LORD has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.
Good Morning, Sparkers! This is a new day! Yesterday is gone and today is before us. It is a beautiful day because it is the day the LORD has made! It is our choice as to how we live it. I choose to worship the Lord and rejoice in the day He has given me!
I'm so thankful that God has awakened me this morning to be able to get up, see a beautiful sunrise and know that He created this day with His children in mind. He gives us a description of the heavens and all their radiance in Psalm 19:1-6
NLT: The heavens tell of the glory of God. The skies display His marvelous craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make Him known. They speak without a sound or a word; their voice is silent in the skies; yet their message has gone out to all the earth, and their words to all the world. The sun lives in the heavens where God placed it. It bursts forth like a radiant bridegroom after his wedding. It rejoices like a great athlete eager to run the race. The sun rises at one end of the heavens and follows its course to the other end. Nothing can hide from its heat.
The heavens speak without a word! They don't have to say anything and yet they speak volumes. Everyone hears their voice. Isn't that magnificent. God speaks to us through His creation! There is nothing that escapes the sun's voice. The heaven's declare God's glory to all the earth! It can't do anything but what it has been created to do.
Now, think about man. God created man in His image and likeness! God gave man the breath of life and placed him in a beautiful garden where everything was at his disposal. He gave him dominion and authority over all His creation. And he gave man a free will that he might make choices about his life. God gave man the freedom to choice to live for him or to live selfishly for himself. God loved His man so much that He didn't want him to feel forced like a robot to live the way God wanted him to live. We have a choice today. We can rejoice in the day that God has made and live it to the fullest, or we can live it selfishly for our own fleshly desires.
Rejoice – Webster's 1828 dictionary gives this definition: To make joyful; to gladden; to animate with lively pleasurable sensations; to exhilarate.
To rejoice—to animate with lively pleasurable sensations! That's Webster's take on the word.
Now, let's look at God's description of rejoicing. He tells us in Zephaniah 3:17 that He rejoices over the man that He created.
Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.
Two times in this verse it says that God will rejoice over you! There are two Hebrew words for rejoice in this verse:
Sus – the first word describing rejoice means to rejoice, be glad, be greatly happy. This word describes a rejoicing that is the complete antithesis of mourning; it is a pervasive, irresistible joy.
Gil – The second word describing rejoice means to joy, rejoice, be glad, be joyful, “to spin around with intense motion”. This word contains the suggestion of “dancing for joy”, or “leaping for joy”.
The first time God says that He rejoices over you it is with a pervasive, irresistible joy. He can't help but be joyful about His people. The second time He says He rejoices over you it is with uncontainable joy, singing, jumping, leaping and spinning around with joy! What a display of excitement and happiness He has for the ones He has created! He loves us, He saves us and He rejoices over us with uncontainable happiness!
Now, which Hebrew word for “rejoice” do you think it is that describes our joy over the day that the Lord has made in Psalm 118:24?
It is “Gil” the second word used for rejoice in Zephaniah that describes how God rejoices over us! It is with uncontainable joy, singing, dancing, leaping and spinning around with joy! When we see the heavens declaring the glory of the Lord the Psalmist says it should cause us to leap and dance and spin around with joy at being able to experience a new day created by God just for his people! Doesn't that give you a new perspective on this day?
Today, I choose to leap for joy that I have another day to worship my God! Today I will be joyful, singing and excitedly expecting to see the glory, the renown and visible splendor of my God displayed in the day ahead of me. This is not just another day! This is the day the LORD has made!
Father, thank You for this day! You know exactly what will transpire today even before it happens. You laid out this day before me with a full understanding of what would take place today. I choose to rejoice in this day, Father, because even though I don't know all of it's happenings I trust that You have created it for my enjoyment! Thank You, Father, for such a beautiful display of Your love for me. I pray for my Spark Friends today that they will see Your glory in this day; that they will enjoy it, be joyful in it and embrace it as the gift that You have given them to show them the splendor of Your great love for them. Thank You, Father, for loving us so much that You spin around with joy as You sing over us today! To You, Father, be all the glory for this wonderful day! Thank You, Lord! In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Saturday, May 26, 2012
“And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. “Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”
Jesus was giving his disciples some instructions about how to pray after He would be resurrected and ascend back to the Father. He told them that previously they had asked Him for things because He was in their presence; He was right there with them, but there was coming a time when He would no longer be there and then they would make requests of the Father in His name and the Father would answer them.
I really like the ending part of that verse where Jesus says, “Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” Why do you think He added the phrase, “that your joy may be full”? The Lord Jesus knew that that His disciples and those who would follow after them would need strength to overcome the difficulties of life. In Nehemiah 8:10 the word says that “the joy of the Lord is your strength”. Joy in the heart of a believer gives strength that overcomes obstacles and works like medicine to a sick body.
Proverbs 17:22 A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones.
Proverbs 12:25 Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, But a good word makes it glad.
Proverbs 15:13 A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, But by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.
Joy and laughter in our daily lives brings a refreshing within us that paves the way for healing and wholeness in our lives. Scientists have learned that laughing releases endorphins into our bodies that naturally combat stress. Laughter is good medicine!
Jesus said that when we come to the Father in His name the Father would answer our requests so that we could have fullness of joy in our lives. Psalm 16:11 says “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” You see, there's more involved here than just getting our prayers answered. When we come to the Father in the name of Jesus to present our requests to Him we are coming into His presence. We enter into the Presence of the Lord where there is fullness of joy! This is a key to successful, healthy living. We need to come into the Presence of the Lord, to bask in His love! Our spirit man needs the fullness of joy that we receive in His presence. When things are right with us spiritually, things go much better with us in the natural! Our ability to be strong in the times of trouble is strengthened. We become prepared for the battles ahead of us.
Jesus said in John 16:32, 33 “Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
When we are “in Him”, meaning we've come to the place where we receive Jesus as Savior and Lord, we have a strength that the world doesn't have. We have His presence within us, through His Spirit who indwells us, to take us through the battles of life; a joy and peace that passes all understanding, that we can draw from to carry us through the difficult times. Jesus said in verse 33 that as we live in the world we will have difficulties, tribulation, but that we could be happy, cheerful even in those times because He has overcome the world. When we are “in Him' we can be joyful even in difficulties because He has already won the battles for us. He has made His power available to us. He has given us joy through His presence that carries us through the difficulties! Those difficulties that Jesus was referring to are things in life that would pressure us, oppress us, bring stress and anxiety, and squeeze us with distress. Living daily in a fallen world can be stressful to say the least! But Jesus said that when we are “in Him”, living in His presence, that we could pray and ask the Father for what we have need of, in His name, and the Father would answer so that we would have fullness of joy! Hallelujah! Jesus paid the price that we could be free from oppression, depression, stress and anxiety! The answer to life's difficulties is in His presence! We are never alone because the Spirit of Christ Jesus lives within us! When His Spirit came to live within us He brought His fruit, or His character and nature, with Him. One of the fruit of the Spirit is joy! His joy resides within us! We have access to all that we need through the Spirit of Christ within us. When we pray; when we worship the Lord, we are able to draw from the Spirit to receive His joy for the journey!
Father, thank You for filling us with Your joy today! Thank You for making it possible for us through prayer and worship to come into Your presence and receive joy for our journey! You have made it possible for us to be cheerful in the midst of life's problems. You have given us everything that we have need of through Your Spirit who lives within us. Thank You for the victory! Thank You for enabling us to be strengthened through the joy of the Lord! I pray this morning for my Spark Friends who may need joy in their lives. They may be experiencing things today, Father, that are heart-breaking. I pray that they might be strengthened through time spent in Your Presence, Lord! Give them joy for their journey today, Father. Fill them to over-flowing with a new sense of Your presence with them. Give them calmness in their souls and peace in their spirits. Thank You, Father. I ask these things in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Friday, May 25, 2012
Psalm 18:29 For by You I can run against a troop, By my God I can leap over a wall.
When I got up yesterday morning I didn't feel very well. I immediately realized that to pull out of a slump I would have to change my mindset. I could think and talk about how bad I felt; how I didn't have any energy and how difficult it would be to make it through my exercise routine......or, I could make the choice to do what I could to re-focus my attention on the greater One who lives within me and His ability to strengthen me and enable me to do everything that needed to be done for my good health. Some time ago when confronted with a day like yesterday I would have said “I don't feel good, I think I'll skip the exercise for today”, and I would have starting eating things that would “comfort” my tired feelings. But yesterday was different. When I approached the Lord in prayer about the situation the first thing He spoke to me was about how David “strengthened himself in the Lord” when he had a really bad day. (1 Samuel 30:6)
So, I put on a praise and worship CD and began to sing along with it. I prayed and worshiped the Lord as I usually do each morning. Then I went about my daily routine as if there was no difference. I ate my green smoothie for breakfast, took all my vitamins, made my bed, got dressed for my exercise routine and started walking on the treadmill. As I was walking this scripture kept floating through my mind: For by You I can run against a troop, By my God I can leap over a wall. Well, I certainly didn't feel like running through a troop or leaping over a wall! I felt like quitting! I didn't have the energy I physically needed to really do a bang-up job of walking. I felt quite the opposite of what that scripture was saying! But I know my God well enough to know that if He speaks a “rhema” word from His word to me that I can apply it to my life for my situation right now. It will work to change my situation. So I kept walking and I started speaking, “For by You I can run against a troop, By my God I can leap over a wall”! It took about 40 minutes of pushing through the exhaustion I was feeling before I began to feel different. I began to feel energized and refreshed! I noticed that I wasn't feeling as tired as I had when I got up. I kept walking and talking.....out loud! “For by You I can run against a troop, By my God I can leap over a wall”! I did my usual 1 hour of treadmill and started on the calisthenics; did 15 minutes of those exercises and started on the stairs. I have a routine to my stairs where I walk up the flight to the second story of my house, then around the second story and back down the stairs, around the living room and start the cycle all over again. Well, I climbed 13 stories doing that routine before I was finished with my workout! And to cinch my renewed sense of energy when I came back downstairs to log my exercise I decided to drink a “Spark” energy drink to help revitalize myself for the rest of the day. I felt great! The exhaustion was gone; new energy had taken it's place!
The course that I am currently taking for my college degree is called “War In The Spirit” and it is about spiritual warfare. The first thing that we must do to fight any spiritual battle is go to God; ask Him for the scriptures to fight the battle; get His plan or strategy to win and then follow His plan to the “T”. I think yesterday's battle with fatigue was a lesson for me to learn in applying my course material. Of course, it re-iterated all that I am learning from my books, but it's different when you read something and then have to apply it to your life. A life-lesson, when put to practice, will confirm what you've learned! Yesterday God gave me a personal application that brought home the principles He was teaching me from my course. And it showed me the changes that I've made over the last few months. It showed me that I've grown in stamina, in tenacity, in being able to say “no” to fleshly desires in order to put into action the “right” thing. My determination to win yesterday was stronger than my fleshly desire to comfort myself when I didn't feel well. God helped me to win over my flesh by speaking to me the scripture to apply to my life for that particular battle!
There is a battle plan in God's word for every battle that we, as believers, will encounter. God has a plan to defeat the enemy in our lives. He will give us the plan that will work if we will go to Him in prayer asking for help and then following through in carrying out what He tells us.
God says in Hebrews 4:1 “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” God's word is powerful! The Amplified Bible says it this way: “For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective];....” When God, the Holy Spirit, speaks His word to you that is needed to change your situation it is active, operative, energizing, and effective to change your situation right now! It is that word that we speak out as said in Ephesians 6:17 like a sword, that slices the enemy into pieces! God's word works when we speak it at His direction.
Thank You, Father, for the life lesson that you gave me yesterday. Thank You for the word that You gave me to change my energy level. Thank You for equipping me to win the battle! You are my God and I praise You for Your great power! Father, today I pray that my Spark Friends will hear Your voice clearly as You direct them to live an over-coming life! May they live the abundant life that You, Lord Jesus, died to give them. I thank You for leading us and guiding us by Your Spirit and Your word. To You be all the glory for the success that we have in our lives today! In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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