Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Hebrews 12:25-28 See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” Now this, “Yet, once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.
We look around us today and we see all kinds of shaking going on. Shaking in the nations of the world, shaking in economies, shaking in relationships, shaking in our government and shaking in people's personal lives. As we look back through history at God's people, the Israelites, we see that they would go through periods of strife and war and difficulties and then God would send a deliverer and they would experience years of peace before the cycle would start all over again. Time and time again their difficulties would bring them to a place where they would turn back to the Lord and serve Him whole-heartedly, after finding out that they couldn't live by their own standards and ways and have peace. It is the same today.
God is shaking those things around us and in our own lives that are not of Him so that what is of Him will remain. God's kingdom is UNSHAKEABLE! Only what is of Him is lasting. All else will fall away. It is at those times when we are shaken that we realize that we can't make it without Him. Often it is through times of difficulty that people seek the Lord and turn to Him.
As we look into God's word we see that there are principles and laws that God has established for us that if we will build our lives on them we will have the stability that we need to not be shaken when things start falling around us. Psalm 119 talks about these principles as being God's testimonies, precepts, statutes, commandments, righteous judgments, and laws. God has set in place spiritual laws that will never change and if we will live according to them when the winds of adversity blow we will still be able to stand strong.
Paul describes times in his life where he suffered a shaking in 2 Corinthians 4:8, 9:
We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed--
And he says in Acts 20:24 “But none of these things move me; not do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
Paul experienced many winds of adversity in his life but he allowed them to strengthen him, not defeat him; to the point that when adversity came he could say, “but none of these things moved me.”
Through the years I have experienced many times of shaking and the Lord would speak to me about strengthening me and hardening me to difficulties from this scripture in Isaiah.
Isaiah 41:10 AMP Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice.
I used to hate it when God would speak to me about this scripture because He would always say “I will strengthen you and harden you to difficulties”, and I knew when He said that that there was a major shaking coming my way. And yet He was right there beside me to help me through it.
It is as we face the difficult times that we dig our heels in and stand strong. It's like a little sapling that when first planted and encounters the winds and rain of a storm that causes it to bend clear over to touch the ground, but as that little tree's roots grow down deeper into the soul and it is nourished and strengthen that it becomes strong enough to withstand the storms and then when the wind and rain comes it eventually just sways back and forth, not bent clear over any longer.
Jesus said in Matthew 7:24-25 that we should build our lives on the solid rock of His word and then the winds of the storms will not shake our foundations.
“Therefore, whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock; “and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.”
What are you building your house on? Are the winds of adversity ripping through your life? The things that can be shaken will be shaken so that the things that are of the Lord will remain. There is a whole lot of shaking going on, but if we will build our houses on the solid rock of God's word we will stand when all is falling around us.
Father, I thank You that Your word stands true throughout the ages and nothing can shake us when we build our lives on Your word. Thank You, Father, for being close to us when we go through difficulties! Thank You for taking us by the hand and walking us through them. Father, I know that as we near the time of Jesus' return that there will be more and more shaking going on around us. Help us to develop now our relationships with You that will stand through the shaking that is to come. Help us to live our lives according to Your unshakeable kingdom principles so we can withstand the adversity that comes in our lives. Thank You, Father, for giving us an anchor that we can attach ourselves to that will hold us in the right place when the storms come. I pray for my friends this morning that they will prepare ahead of time for the shaking that is to come. I ask You, Father, to show them the importance of building a firm foundation upon which they can stand through the difficulties. Help them, Father, to look to You as their source, not other people, their jobs or any material possessions for these things are all subject to the shaking. Only what we build on in You will stand strong. Thank You, Father. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Monday, June 18, 2012
Mark 9:23 Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”
Last week Gerald and I watched Nik Wallenda walk a tight-wire over Niagara Falls. It had never been done at that particular place by anyone before and as he walked we heard him praying and giving glory to God for giving him the ability to do that brave feat. He definitely stepped out in faith believing that God had given him this ability and that God rewards those who faithfully step out to fulfill what they believe God has called them to do. Now, whether we agree or not about his belief that this is his calling from God, is not the issue here. He believes and that is what matters. He sees his acts of tight-rope walking as his calling from God, the continuation of the profession of his family. To me this illustration simply shows the level of achievement a person can arrive at through acting on the faith that they have in God's ability to bring into manifestation what they believe about Him. Nik Wallenda trusted that God was leading him to this adventure in his life and that he could do it empowered by the Holy Spirit as he walked. He wanted to instill within people all over the world that dreams can be achieved through faith in God.
Faith is not simply acting on a presumptuous thought or feeling. Faith is developed by hearing the word of God.
Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. The Amplified Bible says it this way:
So faith comes by hearing [what is told], and what is heard comes by the preaching [of the message that came from the lips] of Christ (the Messiah Himself).
So we see that in order to develop faith we have to hear the Word of God. Hearing and hearing and hearing! Faith comes as we hear what God has to say about our lives, what He has given us in our covenant with Him that was purchased through the blood of Jesus. Faith begins small and is developed over time.
Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.
We don't see ourselves in a position of presumption in acting out what faith has not already developed within us, but we act on the measure that God has given us, developing it in time, and acting on it as it arises within us. Nik Wallenda prepared for his tight-rope walk across Niagara Falls as he grew in faith to believe for bigger things that God would bring into his life. He did not just get up one day and say “I think I'll walk across Niagara Falls on a tight-rope today” and then go out and try to accomplish it. He had the dream planted in his heart when he was six years old and then he developed faith to believe for it as he accomplished smaller feats of faith-walking. Faith is like a muscle; it begins small and develops as we act on it.
God prepared David's faith to kill Goliath as he trained him to defeat smaller enemies like the bear and the lion while he was tending his father's sheep.
1 Samuel 17:34-37 But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep his father's sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, “I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it. “Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Phillistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.” Moreover David said, “The LORD, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Phillistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you!”
David had developed his faith in God to be able to fight Goliath by having trusted in his God to deliver him from the bear and the lion. He knew that God would enable him to win in his fight against Goliath because He had shown Himself faithful to David already in the other fights. Confidence in God was instilled within David as he prepared his measure of faith to be developed over time and through exercise. He did not act in presumption when it came to fighting Goliath, he acted in faith.
Mark 11:22 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God.”
Faith has to have a foundation, a beginning place. That foundation has to be God; what He says, not what we think, feel or see with our mind, will or emotions. Faith is not a trick or confession of a formula, but it is a spoken expression that springs from the conviction of our hearts. It is as faith grows in our hearts that it can be spoken from our mouths and acted out through our actions. Jesus goes on to say in verse 24 that “whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them”. Faith builds the conviction that, when developed, arises within us to empower our actions. It is faith, not presumption that brings into being what we believe.
Jesus told His disciples in Luke 17:6 when they asked Him to increase their faith that it wasn't the size of their faith that mattered, it was what they did with it that determined the outcome.
Luke 17:5, 6 And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith”. So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,' and it would obey you.
What we do with our faith is what matters to God. He has given us all the measure of faith, but we must develop it. He does His part in giving by grace, and we do our part in receiving by faith. You cannot trust God for the money to fund a million dollar ministry if you haven't exercised your faith to believe Him to provide for your monthly bills. You will not have faith to believe for healing from a terminal illness if you haven't believed God for healing from a headache. We go from faith to faith and glory to glory.
Father, I thank You for instilling faith within me. Thank You for enabling me to exercise the measure of faith that you have given me to see it grow to believe for the bigger things that You want to do through me. I pray for my friends today that You will instill within them the desire to step out in faith to believe that You will accomplish through them the good plan that You have for their lives. Help them to grasp, by faith, the things that You want to give them. Father, may they grow in their faith as they exercise it for small things and then develop it for the bigger things. Thank You, Father! In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Sunday, June 17, 2012
Ephesians 2:8, 9 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
All of us come to salvation by the same avenue—by grace, through faith! We receive all things from God the same way—by grace, through faith!
Colossians 2:6,7 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.
Grace has several different definitions. But the one that best describes grace in Ephesians 2:8 is the Greek word “charis” meaning unmerited favor, undeserved blessing, a free gift.
God's grace is given simply because of His goodness. It is a free gift as stated in Ephesians 2:9 so that we can't boast that we earned it or take credit for its goodness. God places each one of us on the same level playing field when we come to Him. He gives what we need by His grace, His unmerited favor and we receive it through our faith.
Faith – Greek word “pistis” meaning conviction, confidence, trust, belief, reliance, trustworthiness, and persuasion. In the New Testament setting, pistis is the divinely implanted principle of inward confidence, assurance, trust,and reliance in God and all that He says.
Author Paul E. Billheimer in his book “Destined To Overcome” describes a working definition of faith as this: “Faith is the acceptance of a fact which already exists in reality but which has not yet been manifested to the senses.” Hebrews 11:1 says that “Faith is the evidence of things not seen”-- things which already exist in reality. It is this confident trust in God's goodness and provision that causes us to step out believing that what He has said He will do for us that is already a reality in the spirit realm and we bring it to us through receiving what we can't yet see and standing firm until it becomes a material reality. Faith—the substance, or confidence of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
Example—Peter had to step out of the boat at Jesus' word that he would be able to walk on the water. The water was not stabilized to hold his weight until his feet hit it. Peter believed what Jesus said and acted in faith to receive it.
Matthew 14:28, 29 And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.
Example—In Joshua 3 God tells the Israelites to cross the Jordan river and that He would part the river for their crossing so they could cross safely on dry ground. But the Priests had to go before them and step into the Jordan river before He would part it. The Jordan river was at flood stage at this time, but God required the exercise of faith before they could receive His provision from Him.
Joshua 3:13-17 “And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, that the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off, the waters that come down from upstream, and they shall stand as a heap.” So it was, when the people set out from their camp to cross over the Jordan, with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, and as those who bore the ark came to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests who bore the ark dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks during the whole time of harvest), that the waters which came down from upstream stood still, and rose in a heap very far away at Adam, the city that is beside Zaretan. So the waters that went down into the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, failed, and were cut off; and the people crossed over opposite Jericho. Then the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan; and all Israel crossed over on dry ground, until all the people had crossed completely over the Jordan.
Can you imagine the fear that came against them as they got to an overflowing, raging river at flood stage? Fear will always try to over-power faith! But fear and faith cannot co-exist. It is impossible to have both at the same time. In order to receive from God you will have to say “no” to fear and “yes” to faith. Fear is simply, as Joyce Meyer has so often stated, “False Evidence Appearing Real”. Fear is a spirit that God says He has not given us.
2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Is fear hindering you from receiving from God today? Does it cause you to stay within a walled box that keeps you from achieving your dreams? How about your weight loss journey? Or your desire to live pain and illness free? Do you see God moving in your life as you exercise your faith to receive from Him?
Mark 9:23 Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”
God doesn't limit us to what we can achieve when we come to Him in faith. He says, “all things”, not “some things”, not “a few things”, but ALL things! The limitations that we place are only on ourselves. He is ready and willing to give of His grace, but are we ready to receive by exercising our faith?
Father, I thank You for making the way possible for us to receive “all things” from You that You have planned for our lives. You are the all-sufficient One; the great I AM, holding all things together by the word of Your power and You say that “all things are possible” to us when we believe. Father, this morning I believe in You. I believe that You will enable me to walk in the fullness of Your plan for my life. I believe that You are willing and ready to empower me by Your Spirit to do all that You have called me to do. Father, I pray for my friends this morning that fear will not stop them from achieving their dreams that You have given them. I pray that they will step out in faith to receive from You and not allow fear to hinder them. I speak to the spirit of fear right now in the name of Jesus Christ and command fear to leave them right now! I lose the Spirit of freedom in Christ Jesus to them to work in them all that You desire to do, Father. And I thank You for fulfilling Your plan in their lives! In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Saturday, June 16, 2012
Psalm 81:10 I am the LORD your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt; Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.
This verse has been running through my mind for a couple of days now. I often pray and remind the Lord of this verse when I am preparing to stand before a group of people to share God's Word. I remind the Lord that He has promised that if I will open my mouth wide He will fill it with His words. I have a short tithe and offering message to give tomorrow that I need His direction on and I am praying that when I stand before the congregation tomorrow that He will fill my mouth with the very words from His heart that they need to hear. I will be prepared to speak what I feel He is directing me to speak but the end result has to come from the anointing of the Holy Spirit or the words that I speak will have no power to change their lives.
When I look at this verse the first thing that I see is God's statement about who He is to His people. Have you ever wondered why in the Old Testament the word “Lord” is sometimes in all capital letters “LORD” and other times is written as “Lord”? Well, it is because they have two different meanings. The word “LORD” is translated from the name “Jehovah” and speaks of God's being or essence. He is the self-existent One, the One who in Himself possesses essential life, permanent existence. The word “Lord” is translated from the word “Adonai” and it means Lord and Master.
Let's talk about the word “LORD” for just a minute. Jehovah (LORD) is the self-existent One. He is the “I AM WHO I AM”; the eternal “I AM”, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He never changes. All life is contained in Him. The word “Jehovah” (LORD) to me means that He is always with me, ready to save and to act, just as He has always been. It implies His personal, intimate presence, unchangeable, forever in the “now”.
So to me, in this verse, God starts out reminding His people that He is always the same, all life resides in Him, and if He brought them out of Egypt He is ready and willing to deliver them again whenever they need it. The word “Egypt” always represents bondage because the Israelites were held in bondage in Egypt for 490 years. It also speaks as representative of the world and the bondages that Satan uses from this world system to hold people in its power. When I look at this verse I see that the eternal I AM, the God who contains all of life within His existence is willing and able to deliver us from the bondage of the world and the devil and He is all that we will ever need, contained in His very existence. God, the ”I AM” is all we will ever need or want in life!
It is this self-existent One, the God of all creation, who brings people out of bondage and slavery to the devil and the world system that is the One who will fill your mouth when you open it wide.
Now, when I think about this in relation to the filling of my mouth I picture a little baby bird, totally dependent upon its momma, waiting with mouth open wide for her to bring it's next meal. That little bird has no one but it's momma to depend on. She is the One who it sees as the great “I AM” and yet God tells us in Matthew 6:26 that He is the One who feeds the birds of the air. He just uses the little bird's momma as a delivery person.
This verse in Psalms gives me a picture of a person totally dependent upon God, the self-existent One, to bring whatever is needed for his/her life. The mouth is open, ready and willing to receive from Jehovah! And His promise is to fill our mouths! The definition of that word “fill” means “to fill up, be full; to fulfill. It is the Hebrew word “male'” and is the source of Hebrews words relating to fullness and fulfillment; filling something up tot he brim; causing something to be thoroughly saturated; fulfilling one's word, that is, to declare that one will do something and then to do it. It is the word in the Old Testament that is used to describe being filled with the Spirit of God. God is the One who fills us to overflowing with goodness; He causes us to be saturated in the anointing of His Spirit. He longs to fill us to the brim with all that He is; to bring satisfaction and contentment into our lives.
Are you empty and lonely this morning? Do you feel that your life is on the road to nowhere? God wants to fill you to overflowing with His very presence today. He is LIFE in all it's fulness! And He is waiting for you to open your mouth wide, or be hungry to receive from Him all that He has to give you. Do you have that kind of hunger for the Lord today?
Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.
When you are hungry and thirsty for what God has you can know that if you come to Him He will fill you and satisfy your hungry soul.
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.”
Jesus says “come to Me and drink”. He is waiting to give you living water that will deliver you from the bondage of the devil and satisfy your every longing. Won't you come to Him and drink?
Father, I thank You for being the self-existent One, the One in whom all life is contained. Thank You for Your willingness to fill us to overflowing with all that You have. Father, this morning, I pray that my friends will come to Jesus and drink of the living water that He is waiting to give them. I pray that Your Spirit will fill them to overflowing and be the life-giving power of God to them. Please draw them to Yourself, Father, and fill all the lonely, hurting places in their lives. Give them a reason to live, to continue fighting the good fight of faith, and a vision of the glory that you have awaiting them when this life is over. Thank You, Father, for hearing and answering my prayer this morning! In Jesus' name. Amen.
Friday, June 15, 2012
2 Corinthians 5:20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us; we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God.
As I reflect this morning on this scripture, I think about the awesome responsibility that the Father has given us as believers to be His ambassadors. When I think about an ambassador I think about him being a representative of a ruling authority. He speaks on behalf of another. Ambassadors were chosen from the rank of mature, experienced men. They were loyal to their ruling authority and could be trusted to always speak the right thing at the right time. What a privilege to think that God has entrusted us with His word to speak reconciliation to those who are separated from Him. The word says it is like He Himself is speaking to them through us.
Being an ambassador for Christ reminds me of the role of the High Priest in the Old Testament. The High Priest would go before God on behalf of the people and then take what God said back to them, standing before them on behalf of God. Jesus is our High Priest. He sits at the right hand of the Father interceding on our behalf and then the Holy Spirit brings back to us what the Father has said.
Hebrews 7:24, 25 But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
As I was praying and meditating on these verses this morning the Lord began to speak to me about being His ambassador. It is impossible to represent someone that you do not personally know and understand. In order to speak for another you must know the other person's heart. Jesus' disciples learned about Him and how to speak on His behalf by spending time with Him. As I prayed about this I heard the Lord so gently speaking to my heart:
“But a disciple learns what to do by being with the Master. You are changed into My likeness as you spend time with Me. You will look and act like the person that you are with the most. I am changing you as you come to Me and spend time in My presence. Nothing can take the place of our time together. I will share My heart with you as you share your heart with Me. I care about what you care about.”
This conversation with the Lord brings back memories of the old commercial that used to be on television of some people and their pets and how they actually looked alike. We reflect that which we behold. When we see the Lord high and lifted up and spend time under His influence we begin to look, act and speak like Him.
Psalm 32:8, 9 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. Do not be like the horse or like the mule, Which have no understanding, Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, Else they will not come near you.
God can't guide us with His eye if we are not close to Him. But many times we avoid spending time with Him because of busyness. We get caught up in so many of life's happenings that we just don't have the time to give to Him. If we are going to be ambassadors for Christ it is of utmost importance that we make time for Him!
The Psalmist said in Psalm 45:1: My heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King; My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
His heart was overflowing with the King's thoughts because he was used to being with the King. His tongue was ready to speak what was overflowing from his heart.
Father, this morning I want my heart to overflow with Your heart's desires. I want to be a good ambassador for Christ. Father, as I spend time with You, please fill my heart with Your thoughts, emotions, words and feelings. Cause me to be like You, Lord, in all that I say and do. Father, I pray for my friends this morning that they, too, will have a desire to be Your ambassador, to speak what You want to say to those around them. Teach us, Lord, to lay aside our own desires and to embrace Yours. Help us to hear clearly what You would have us to say to those who are around us that need You, Lord. Fill our hearts to overflowing with all that You are, Father, that You might spill out of us onto those around us! Thank You, Father, for hearing and answering my prayer. In Jesus' name. Amen.
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