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.
Thursday, May 24, 2012
1 Samuel 30:6 Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.
To whom do you run when the difficulties of life seem to be closing in on you? David was in a tight spot, so to speak, what we would call as being between a rock and a hard spot. His people were grieved over losing their families and they blamed David. They were turning against him. He had no place to run and hide.
But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God!
David knew His safe place was in the Lord. He knew if he could get into the presence of the Lord he would find strength; he would be safe.
The word for strengthened in this verse means “encouraged”. David encouraged himself in the Lord. He prayed and sought the Lord for direction. He was tired, weary from battle and it seemed that life had come to an end. But anytime we get down to nothing that's when God is up to something. When we get to the place where we can no longer handle life ourselves it is a perfect opportunity for God to step in and take over. Sometimes we have to get to the place where we see no way out in order for us to turn to the Lord and allow Him to work in our situations. David was at this place—the place of total surrender.
This morning as I got up I didn't feel the best. Some days I seem to have a lower energy level and it takes a while to get started. I know that for myself in times like this it helps if I encourage myself in the Lord. So, one way that I encourage myself in the Lord is by putting on a CD with praise and worship music and I sing along with it.....”How great is our God, sing with me how great is our God, and all will see how great, how great is our God!” I pray and worship the Lord and I am energized. It's amazing to me how different I feel when I actively participate in praising and worshiping the God of all creation! He is amazing; awesome; magnificent and mighty! He flows new strength into my body as I praise Him! I can feel a difference in my spirit as I rise up new and refreshed from His infusion of strength; new life flowing into my being! This is the day that the Lord has made and I will rejoice and be glad in it!
Now, I could sit here and complain about how bad I feel. Or I could focus on things that might not be going right in my life. I've tried that and found that when I focus on the negative things in life that I feel really bad. It has an effect on me that I don't like. I feel worse the more I muse on the negative! So, daily I have a choice to rejoice in the Lord and enjoy my day or focus on the negative and feel bad all day. It's kind of like when I exercise and eat right I feel good, but when I eat a lot of empty-calorie carbs and sit around all day I feel yucky! The more time I spend praising the Lord and recounting His goodness to me, the better I feel. I like feeling good so I will make the conscious choice to rejoice in the Lord every day!
How about you, my friend? Do you feel bad today; physically, mentally or emotionally? Have you allowed the difficulties or failures of life to overwhelm you? If so, you can turn that around by running to the Lord. There is a safe place in Him. Psalm 91 refers to it as the “secret place” of the Most High! It is under the shadow of His wings that you will find refuge! Pray and ask Him to refresh you; to heal the broken places in your life. Worship Him for Who He is! He wants to bring freedom from life's difficulties; healing to your body and soul. He is the answer to all life's questions and problems. He wants to be your best friend forever!
Father, I thank You that in You I find refuge when I am tired and weary. Thank You for refreshing me and giving me the energy that I need to live this day to the fullest. You are great and mighty and I know that it's in You that I am strengthened! Thank You for giving me new energy for this day. I pray for my Spark Friends today that You will be their everything. That You will be their God! I thank You for bringing newness of life to them and refreshing them, giving them strength for the journey ahead. Thank You, Father, for being the God who saves us. You are worthy of all our praises! I welcome You here in this place in my life today, Lord Jesus! In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Sometimes I get a little frustrated with working on making lifestyle changes. I seem to do really well on some days with making healthy food choices and getting in all my exercise and then when I go to bed and get up the next morning I realize that it has to be done all over again! My Fitbit helps me to know whether or not I'm getting enough physical exercise and how many calories I need to eat to stay within “the zone” for focused weight loss, but the ultimate responsibility falls on me to carry it out. And that means a disciplined lifestyle every day. It seems somewhat like housework or laundry; it never stays done!
I can imagine the Israelietes' frustration when gathering the manna that God had provided for them to eat every day while traveling through the wilderness. It wouldn't last until the next day; they had to go out every morning and gather that day's supply. So it is with our relationship with the Lord. In order to have a living and vital relationship with Him we must seek Him for fresh “manna” every day! We need to hear the living Word of God on a regular basis to live our lives successfully!
John 6:27-29 “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.” Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “this is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”
Jesus said the spiritual sustenance that we need on a daily basis is more important than our physical sustenance. We concentrate so hard on the food which perishes and often forget the spiritual part of man that needs to be fed on a regular basis also! And then when we think about our spiritual lives we get caught up thinking that we must “do” something to please God, when all He asks us to do is believe in Jesus, the One whom He sent to save mankind from their sins.
John 6:30-35 Therefore they said to Him, “What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do? “Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'” Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. “For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” Then they said to Him, “Lord, give us this bread always.” And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”
Jesus came down from the Father in heaven to give life to mankind! When we have a living and vital relationship with Him we have the spiritual “manna” that our spirits need to flourish with life every day! When our spirits are rightly related to the Lord we have life that never ends; eternal life! Jesus said in John 17:3:
“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”
Do you KNOW Jesus today? Have you placed your trust in Him for eternity? He longs to live in you; to lead you and guide you through this worldly life that we live. He is the bread of life that, when we partake of a living relationship with Him, causes us to flourish spiritually. Getting daily “manna” from the living bread of life enables us to be spiritually whole! We need daily communion with the Father through Jesus Christ. We need the infilling of the Holy Spirit so we can fellowship with Him.
Jesus also referred to Himself as the living water. In John 7:37-39 He tells us that when we are thirsty if we will come to Him He will give us living water and when we partake of that water we will never thirst again.
John 7:37-39 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
When we drink of the living water that Jesus provides the Holy Spirit wells up within us and flows out like rivers of living water. He fills us to overflowing with His very own life. That life gives life not only to us but to everyone around us that comes into contact with us. We become spiritual wells that water the dry ground of our lives and those that we share Him with. But we need to be filled every day. We need living water and the bread of life every day. Yesterday's manna will not carry us through today!
Thank You, Father, for giving Jesus, the living water and the bread of life, that we might have the spiritual nourishment that we need to sustain our spirits. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for laying down Your life for us that we might have life! We need You in our lives for this day. We are thirsty and hungry for a living and vital relationship with You. Come and fill us anew and afresh today! Fill to overflowing those areas of our lives that are dry and barren. Come and wash over us, refresh us and make us spiritually fit to share You with those who are hungry and thirsty for new life! Thank You, Lord! In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Proverbs 6:2 You are snared by the words of your mouth; You are taken by the words of your mouth.
Have you ever been snared by your words?
One definition of “snare” is a trap that is set to catch an animal. If you have been snared by your words you have been trapped by something that you've said. Proverbs talks a lot about our words and the effect they have on our lives. Here's a few:
Proverbs 10:19 In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise.
Proverbs 13:3 He who guards his mouth preserves his life, But he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction.
Proverbs 15:4 A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, But perverseness in it breaks the spirit.
Proverbs 15:23 A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, And a word spoken in due season, how good it is!
Proverbs 16:24 Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.
Proverbs 17:27, 28 He who has knowledge spares his words. And a man of understanding is of a calm spirit. Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; When he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive.
Proverbs 18:6,7 A fool's lips enter into contention, And his mouth calls for blows. A fool's mouth is his destruction, And his lips are the snare of his soul.
Proverbs 18:20, 21 A man's stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth; From the produce of his lips he shall be filled. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.
How many times have you said things such as these: “Things are never going to be any different”? Or “I'm just fat; it runs in my family”? How about this one: “I can't do anything about it; that's just the way it is”?
Sometimes we discover that we can't achieve our goals because we've said things that tie up our expectations for success. We've made inner vows that cause us to believe that we will always have a weight problem or it's impossible to change our situations. We must be cautious about speaking negatively about ourselves. Jesus said the reason people say wrong things is because they have an abundance of negativity or “evil”, as He puts it, in their hearts.
Matthew 12:34 “Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”
The negativity that often resides in our hearts is due to believing the lies of the enemy. The devil comes only to do one thing: kill, steal and destroy! He will do it however he can. Many times we cooperate with him by believing and acting on his lies. One of the things that I've heard myself saying is that it's harder for me to lose weight because I'm older and my metabolism has slowed down. Another one is that it won't do any good to exercise because I'm too old and my muscles have lost the strength and ability to be firm.
So, how can we change what we say to reflect success? Well, the first thing we must do is come into agreement with what God says about us instead of what the enemy speaks to us. God says that we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. (Romans 8:37) He says that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. (Philippians 4:13) 1 John 4:4 says that He is the greater One who lives within us. And Romans 8:31 tells us that if God is for us, who can be against us? We have the power of God resident within us if we have accepted Jesus as our Savior. There is nothing that can stand in our way if God is for us! Jesus said in Mark 9:23 that all things are possible to him who believes. The next thing we must do to change is to begin to speak the truth instead of the lies. The key lies in what we believe because what a person believes is what they will act on. If we change our belief system we can change our speech and if we change our speech our bodies will follow through with the actions.
Father, I thank You for making me more than a conqueror through You. There is nothing that can stand in my way with You on my side. Thank You for living within me and enabling me to succeed in living a healthy lifestyle. I ask You to forgive me for the times I have sabotaged my success by speaking negatively about my situation. Please help me to come into agreement with Your word and know that all things are possible to me when I believe in You. Father, I pray for my Spark Friends this morning who may have been snared by the words of their mouths. Please help them, Father, to reverse this curse that they've brought upon themselves through the negativity of their speech. Help them to see that You love them and are for them and will enable them to achieve their goals. Thank You,
Father! In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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