Friday, August 17, 2012
Matthew 7:24-27 “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, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: “And the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”
The rain and the floods come to all of us, both the saved and the unsaved. Jesus gives an illustration here of two people, both encountering rain and floods, but one stood and one fell. He is using this illustration to show us the importance of the foundation we have in our lives. One house was built on sand and when the flood came, it fell and great was it's fall! The other house was built on hearing and doing God's word. When the floods came to that house, it stood because it had a firm foundation!
Folks, the time to win over a storm is not when it comes but before it happens, in the preparation for it! The promises that God gives us in His word are to help us win the battles of life. He has given us the equipment that we need for victory, but many times we are not prepared for the battle when it comes. Hearing and doing the word of God during the good times will strengthen you for the difficult days ahead. If you are not able to trust God for provision for the little things you will not be able to believe that He will give you what you need when the storm comes.
If you want to have the right words come out of your heart when you are squeezed then you must put the right words in your heart in preparation for the times of pressure. Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:3:
You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
How does a soldier prepare for battle? He first makes sure he has the proper dress and equipment. The armor of God gives us the proper dress. We go into battle as we are suited up for it!
Ephesians 6:10, 11 Finally, my brethren be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
Our strength for the battle comes not from our own abilities, but from the Lord. He is the One who enables us to win. But we have a part to play in it. He provides the suit of armor, but we have to put it on. He gives us the weapons to use, but we have to be the ones to use them. His word will equip us to win, but we must be the ones to put it into our heart and act on it.
2 Timothy 1:13 Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.
What are you holding fast to? What anchor are you using to anchor yourself in the storms of life? Paul told Timothy to hold fast to a pattern that he had seen and heard in him. Paul preached the full gospel of Jesus Christ, nothing left out, without compromise; the truth in it's fullness. That is a pattern for us to follow. What ministers are you listening to? Are they teaching you the full gospel of Jesus Christ or are they giving only an inspirational message that makes you feel good at the moment? Jesus said the anchor or firm foundation that you would need is hearing and doing His word. That takes a day by day devotion to the word of God, putting it into your heart and obeying what it says. The victory for battle is won before you ever go into battle.
2 Timothy 4:3-5 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
Paul told Timothy that the time is coming when people will hop from one teacher to the next, looking for someone who will tickle their ears, or tell them what they want to hear. But the truth is what counts. Beware that you are not lulled away through fables or simply motivational speakers. Keep your focus on what is right and true and fulfill what God has called you to do. Live your life by the truth regardless of what is going on around you and you will be prepared to win in the stormy times.
2 Timothy 3:14-17 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Man or woman of God, child of God, you must rely on the word of God! You must use the Word as your anchor! It is able to make you wise, to show you the right way to live, to give you the equipment you need to complete you, to make you ready to win and to give you what you need to pass on to others so they can live a successful life as well. It is as you search out the Scriptures for the truth that you need in your life to give you the victory that you will be strengthened for the battle. Faith will arise in your heart as you learn the word and live it! Jesus prepared for the battle of the cross through prayer, before He went to Calvary.
Matthew 26:41 “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Jesus was saying here to watch, keep awake, be spiritually alert and pray. Your spirit knows what is needed to win the battle, but your flesh will want to cave in.
The way to prepare for the battle of sickness is before it hits. Proper nourishment, exercise and sleep patterns help keep the physical man prepared to win the battle against sickness and disease. The spirit man needs the nourishment of the word of God regarding healing and physical wholeness.
The way to prepare for marriage issues is to study the word and apply it before you're on the rocky road. Get the word of God into your heart about how He expects a husband and wife to respond to each other and put into practice the unconditional love and acceptance that is required to nurture love and respect. Then when the battle comes your marriage will be solid enough to endure the storm.
When fear comes against you, concentrate on the scriptures that will build faith. Faith counteracts fear. You can't be in faith and fear at the same time. Look at people in the Word that have overcome great obstacles and pattern your life after them. If you have godly leadership in your life, watch them and pattern your lives after theirs. Make sure to remember that they are simply human, like you, and are subject to moral and ethical failures. But as they obey God and walk by faith, allow them to lead you in the way you should go as well.
Hebrews 13:7-9 AMP Remember your leaders and superiors in authority [for it was they] who brought to you the Word of God. Observe attentively and consider their manner of living (the outcome of their well-spent lives) and imitate their faith (their conviction that God exists and is the Creator and Ruler of all things, the Provider and Bestower of eternal salvation through Christ, and their leaning of the entire human personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness). Jesus Christ (the Messiah) is [always] the same, yesterday, today, [yes] and forever (to the ages). Do not be carried away by different and varied and alien teachings; for it is good for the heart to be established and ennobled and strengthened by means of grace (God's favor and spiritual blessing) and not [to be devoted to] foods [rules of diet and ritualistic meals], which bring no [spiritual] benefit or profit to those who observe them.
Notice that there are some things that you are to look for in leaders before you follow them:
They bring you the Word of God; not a watered down version, but the Word that Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever.
They are men and women of integrity, living their lives as well-spent, productive in their Christian walk.
They are people of faith, living out their belief in God and leaning their whole personality on him in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom and goodness.
They teach the truth, not a flaky, legalistic rules-based teaching, but one that is based on the Word of God that teaches grace and relationship with the Lord, instead of simply rule keeping, which doesn't profit you spiritually, but only puts you into bondage to a performance based lifestyle.
All of these different approaches to life will place you on a solid foundation and prepare you to weather the storms of life with strength. Depend on the Lord to lead you and guide you in the way you should go, not relying on your own understanding but always acknowledging Him in all that you do. He will direct you and enable you to win! Put the word into your heart and then when the time comes that you need it the Holy Spirit will bring it back to your remembrance so you can act on it!
The one thing that Jesus told Peter about the storm that was about to come into his life in Luke 22:31, 32 was that even though Satan had asked to sift Peter as wheat through the storm, that Jesus had prayed for him that his faith would not fail. And then he told him that after he had endured the storm and come back to Him, that he should strengthen his brethren. The storm is designed to get you to give up your faith; to suffer defeat and to pull you away from the Lord. But after every test comes a testimony! Through every mess comes a message. You, after you have stood firm through the storm, will have something to share with others! God does not waste your sorrows and trials.
2 Corinthians 1:3, 4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
Through the difficulties that I have endured in life has come the ability to comfort those who are suffering those same things. God comforts us so we can comfort and help others. He brings us out of bondage to the storms of life so we can encourage those who might be going through a storm.
This song has meant so much to me because it speaks of how God prepares us to help those around us who may be suffering as we have suffered. He takes our pain and turns it into something of meaning, of purpose, so we do not feel as if we suffered for nothing.
Father, I pray for those who may be going through the storm right now. I ask You, Lord, to give them the scriptures that they need to pray and to stand firmly upon until they come out of the storm victorious. For those who may be experiencing peaceful times right now, I pray that You would impress upon them the need to prepare for the storms that may come. Help us all to stand on Your word, to put it deeply into our hearts so it will take root and grow and prepare within us that firm foundation that we need to build our lives upon. Help us to not just be hearers of the word but doers also, that we might exhibit the strength that comes through a foundation built on You, on Your word and by Your Spirit. Thank You, Father, for hearing and answering my prayer offered up in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
Matthew 15:17-20 “Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. “There are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”
Orthodox Judaism had many rules and regulations that people were to follow to be acceptable according to the Law. One of these was ritual hand washing. It dated back to Exodus 30:17-21 where God instructed Moses to put a laver in the Tabernacle of meeting for Aaron and his sons to wash their hands and feet before going into the Tabernacle or when they would come near the altar to minister. When the Temple was destroyed, the table in a home came to represent the Temple alter. The bread placed on it symbolized the offerings that were once brought to the Priests. The Sages, who believed that the Temple and the Priesthood would be restored, did not want the practice of washing hands before handling an offering or performing a ritual to be forgotten, and so washing the hands before a meal was strictly enforced. At mealtime there were two ritual washings that were done; one before the meal known as “first waters” and one after the meal known as “last waters”. The scribes and Pharisees expected all Jews to adhere to the Law. When Jesus' disciples didn't wash their hands they questioned Jesus as to why. Jesus' response to the Pharisees and scribes was that it wasn't what entered the mouth that defiled a person, but it was what was in their hearts that came out that defiled them. The Pharisees and scribes placed more importance on the performance of the ritual of God's Laws than the heart relationship to God. They were always trying to force people into ritualistic ways of keeping the Law so they could appear to be religious. This was just another way to try to prove that Jesus wasn't who He said He was, the Son of God because He didn't adhere to the Law.
What Jesus was saying to them was that the attitudes of the heart when acted upon reveal where a person is spiritually. What is in abundance in the heart will come out through the actions of the person and when it is something bad that is what identifies where the person is; whether spiritual or carnal.
The Greek word for “thoughts” in that verse means inward reasonings, consideration and deliberation, turning thoughts over in the mind. You see, the things that defile a person such as murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness and blasphemies all start with the thoughts. It is as those thoughts are mulled over in the mind, reasoned out as the thing to do, considered and deliberated on that they then become actions. People usually don't just get up one morning and decide to go out and commit a murder, or some sexual act, or theft, or a false witness against someone, or a blasphemy against the Lord. They usually fantasize about them, justifying them in their minds before they actually commit them. It is as they grow in the mind, or the heart, that they eventually carry out what they've been thinking about.
Jesus said in Matthew 12:34 that it is “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” As things get bigger in the heart the mouth will speak them out and then the body follows with the action.
If the action of what is in abundance in the heart and spoken out the mouth can be viewed in the negative, it also can have a positive effect.
Yesterday we talked about abiding in the word and knowing the truth and being set free by that truth. If we put the word of God into our hearts in abundance then that is what will come out our mouths. It is as the word is developed in the heart and spoken out the mouth that the physical man will follow through in acting. The word of God brings freedom when mulled over in the mind, spoken of and acted on.
Joshua 1:8 “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
God told Joshua to not let the word of God depart from his mouth. In other words, Joshua, don't stop talking about God's word. Meditate on it day and night and do what it says. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
Meditate – Hebrew word hagah – Strong's #1897 – means to reflect; to moan, to mutter; to ponder; to make a quiet sound such as sighing; to meditate or contemplate something as one repeats the words. Hagah represents something quite unlike the English “meditation,” which may be a mental exercise only. In Hebrew thought, to meditate upon the Scriptures is to quietly repeat them in a soft, droning sound, while utterly abandoning outside distractions.
So, when we think of meditating on something, we are thinking about it, pondering over it and using our mind only in reflecting on it. But the Hebrew thought for meditation includes all of that plus speaking it out and repeating it over and over. Seeing, thinking and speaking the word would be the Hebrew thought for meditation. It is as you meditate on God's word, thinking of it, reflecting on it's meaning, and repeating it over and over that faith arises within your heart to believe what God has said in that particular portion of Scripture. This is the positive side of what Jesus was saying in Matthew 15:17-20. The evil thoughts in the person's heart when meditated upon brought out the actions that defiled the person, but when the good thoughts of God's word are meditated upon and acted upon the good that is within that Word becomes a reality for the positive in that person's life.
James says this about the word in James 1:21, 22:
Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
When you put away from you the filthiness and wickedness that defiles you and instead take into your hearts the word of God, it will bring salvation to your souls. The negative is then turned into a positive in your life and you become a doer of what you have heard instead of just a hearer. James encourages us to act on the word of God that we have heard. It strengthens your inner man!
Proverbs 4:20-22 My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their flesh.
When our focus is on the word of God and we take the time to deposit it into our hearts, that word becomes life and health to our flesh.
The Hebrew word for “health” there is “marpe” and it means restoration of health, remedy, cure, medicine, tranquility, deliverance, and refreshing. The Word of God when meditated upon, spoken out of the mouth and acted upon brings health to your physical man. You want to get well from sickness and disease that has attacked your body? Then start taking the Word of God just like you would a prescription medication. Deposit into your heart the scriptures that speak of healing and wholeness, speak them out your mouth and then walk out your healing. Begin to see yourself well, speak the solution instead of the problem and act like a healed person. As you meditate on the scriptures you will find faith rising up within you and the word of God will become more real to you. When it becomes real in your heart you will begin to speak what the word says instead of what your symptoms are or what your doctor's report says. I'm not saying that you deny the illness; but the diagnosis takes a back seat to what the word of God says. I'm not advising you to quit taking your medication, but instead begin to pray over it declaring that it will do what it is designed to do in making you well and that God's word says you are the healed of the Lord. Your focus changes from seeing how big the problem is to seeing how big your God is.
This same principle applies to whatever need you have. If it is financial lack you begin to deposit within your heart the scriptures on God's provision for your finances. Dwell or meditate on them, speak them, and then act on them, making good financial decisions and watch your finances change. God is for you, not against you. He brings healing and wholeness into people's finances all the time. Word with Him to bring healing to the area of your life where it is needed.
God's word will work for you if you will work with it! There are scriptures to meet every need that you will ever have.
Father, I thank You for Your word! I pray today that You will show my friends the word of God that they need to meet the need in their lives. Father, You have equipped us for success through Your word. May we take it like a prescription medication so it will have the effect of healing in our lives. Thank You, for revealing Your word to us so we can be set free. May we abide in it until it becomes the life that we need right now to meet our needs. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
John 8:31, 32 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
How many times have you heard the phrase, “the truth will set you free”? Does the truth really set people free or is it contingent upon something else? I think in order to understand how the truth sets a person free you must go back to the verse prior to John 8:32 and put into practice what it says:
John 8:31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.
The conjunction “And” at the beginning of verse 32 ties that verse to verse 31 making it a by-product of what verse 31 says to do. Jesus said those who believed Him would be His disciples and something would be evident in their lives as they believed.....they would know the truth and the truth would set them free.
What does it mean to believe Him? We sometimes think it means to believe in Him, but that is different than believing Him. To believe “in Him” is to put our trust in Him, but to “believe Him” is not only to put our trust in Him, but to act upon what He has said.
Jesus said “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.”
Let's take this one phrase at a time and dissect it to where we understand what He really is saying.
If – a conjunction meaning that the end result is dependent upon something that you do. In order to be His disciples you must abide in His word.
What is a disciple? According to Strong's concordance the Greek word for “disciple” is mathetes and it means “one who follows one's teaching”. A “disciple” was not only a pupil, but an adherent; hence they are spoken of as imitators of their teacher.
So, what Jesus is saying is that if you abide, or live in His word, and follow His teaching, you will be one who imitates Him. And when you are becoming as Him in following and imitating Him you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. You see, Jesus said that He didn't do anything He didn't see His Father doing and He didn't say anything He didn't hear from His Father. He was an imitator of His Father, God, just like He is saying we should be an imitator of Him.
John 5:19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.
John 5:30 “I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.
It is as we see, hear and do what the Word of God says, imitating Jesus, that we become imitators and followers of Him. It is then that we will know the truth and that truth that we know will set us free.
Know – Greek word “ginosko” according to Strong's concordance it means to perceive, understand, recognize, gain knowledge, realize, come to know. It is the knowledge that has an inception, a progress, and an attainment. It is the recognition of truth by personal experience.
So as we spend time in God's word and see, hear, and do what Jesus did we will come to perceive and understand through a progressive knowledge of the truth and what we then are coming to know will set us free.
Jesus talks about the truth being what sets us free. Let's look into that word “truth” and see what He is trying to tell us about knowing it.
Truth – Greek word aletheia – according to Strong's concordance it means “the reality lying at the basis of an appearance; the manifested, veritable essence of a matter”.
Truth, the reality lying at the basis of an appearance. Now, let's look at John 8:32 from a little different angle. The Amplified Bible capitalizes truth in John 8:32 signifying that the “Truth” is not just the conformity to fact or reality, but it is the reality of that fact! Jesus said in John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” And in John 8:36 He says, “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed,” which leads me to believe that the truth that He is talking about in Romans 8:31, 32 is really Him. You can come to know Him through the word, through prayer and through the revelation of the Holy Spirit. All three persons of the God-head are involved in you coming to know the Truth and being set free by what you know.
All of these scriptures when put together seem to say that Jesus is the Truth that we come to know as we see, hear and do God's Word and as we are progressively growing in our knowledge of Him we will be set free from sin, and live a lifestyle of imitating the Father, just as Jesus did.
Hebrews 4:12 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 living and when you read a scripture one time it may speak to you one way and then another time that you read it you may get something totally different from it. That's because it addresses the need in your heart at that very moment. God knows exactly what you need to hear and because the word is living and powerful it goes into your heart and does supernatural surgery where it is needed. I have shown you two different ways the scripture of John 8:31, 32 can be seen this morning. That's how the word works. Two different people can read the same verse and it will speak to both of them differently. It has a powerful effect on each one of them at their point of need.
This blog may seem a little deep and challenging, but it is food for thought this morning and, as always, I welcome your interaction, comments and questions! We grow through being stretched, so maybe this blog will get you to thinking and praying!
Father, I thank You for Your Word! I thank You for the written Word, the Living Word, Jesus, and the spoken Word as the Holy Spirit reveals it to me. I long to get to know You in all Your fullness through whichever means You desire to teach me. I ask You, Father, to help us to know the Truth and to be set free as we grow in our knowledge of that reality! You, Lord, know how to reach each one of us and reveal Yourself to us in ways that we will understand. I pray for my friends this morning that they may seek You with their whole hearts, live their lives as imitators of Jesus and walk in freedom from sin and all it's effects. Father, keep them from the evil one and protect them from the wiles that he uses to deceive people. Show them the way to freedom today, Lord! In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Jeremiah 29:11 is a favorite scripture for so many people. It gives us the assurance that God has something good in store for us and that no matter what we are going through right now it will someday be over and we will experience good things in our lives.
When you look into the context of the scripture in which this was written we see that Jeremiah was actually writing to people who had been exiled and were being held in captivity. They were in bondage to their enemies. Jeremiah was offering them hope that it would end and that God had good planned for their future. He gave them some instructions for success in their captivity that I think are often overlooked, but that give us some keys to having a smooth transition from where we are now, sometimes in sorrow or pain, to where we will someday be at the culmination of what God has planned.
Jeremiah begins his letter acknowledging that the exiles are in a rough spot right now; they are in captivity.
Jeremiah 29:1 Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the remainder of the elders who were carried away captive—to the priests, the prophets, and all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon.
That may be where you are in your life at this very moment. You may be struggling with something, going through a trial or tribulation, and maybe feeling like it may never end! You feel like you are in captivity to life!
Jeremiah goes on to tell them that they should not give up living just because they are in captivity. Sometimes we put off living our lives to the fullest until something “great” happens, or we achieve some unrealistic goal. But success in life is not in attaining some great prestigious position or receiving a large amount of money or even finding that one special someone to live out the rest of your life with. Success is in the journey! It is learning to live above the distractions of life; being satisfied with who you are where you are right now! God, through the prophet Jeremiah, tells them how to accomplish that feat:
Jeremiah 29:4-9 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all who were carried away captive, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters—that you may be increased there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the LORD for it; for in its peace you will have peace.
What God is saying to them is that they need to recognize where they are at that particular point in their lives, but not to the extent that it causes them to be paralyzed in life so that they don't go on living. He tells them to go ahead and build houses and live their lives by planting gardens and cultivating crops; to marry and have children so that their families continue with their lineage. And then He gave them a very important instruction: “And seek the peace of the city.....and pray to the LORD for it; for in its peace you will have peace.”
Many times we fret about the problems we have or the state of the nation and how bad things are with the economy, when we really should be praying for the situation, for it's through prayer that we will have peace in the midst of the storm. God understood that they were in a turmoil where they were, but they had forgotten that He is the God of the storm as well as the God of the peaceful times. We often get so caught up in what we are going through that we forget that God is able to deliver us in a nano-second! He is able to change things in the twinkling of any eye! He is a miracle-working God! And He knows when the trial will end.....there is an end coming. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and it isn't that of the train coming to hit us! God has a good future planned for us all!
God goes on to say, in Jeremiah 29:8, 9: For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are in your midst deceive you, nor listen to your dreams which you cause to be dreamed. For they prophesy falsely in My name: I have not sent them, says the LORD.
There are a lot of things going around the world through the internet. I get emails every day of things that are “prophesied” for our future. They may not say that they are prophecies, but they simply speak of a negative outlook regarding our future. They breed fear in the hearts of people. The Lord says not to listen to false prophets and not to think about the dreams that negative thoughts bring into your night's sleep. Sometimes we dwell so much on the negative that it spills over into our sleeping hours. The subconscious takes over and brings dreams that are more nightmares than dreams. Look at what Jeremiah says after those two verses.
Jeremiah 29:10 For thus says the LORD: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
He said all of that to let them know that all the heartache they were experiencing would come to an end. And that His plans for them were good, not bad. Sometimes we go through things and feel that God has abandoned us, but He is right there with them, helping them to see that “this, too, shall pass”, just like He is right there with you, in the midst of your storm, offering words of encouragement and comfort in knowing that He has a good plan for your life and even though things are not going well now, they will change. The key to all of it is keeping your eyes on the Lord, watching for His hand to move, praying and following His directions for living life to the fullest. Speak confidently and positively about the hope that is within you, for God is always working; He never sleeps or slumbers and is always working for your good.
Paul said in Philippians 4:11-13 AMP: Not that I am implying that I was in any personal want, for I have learned how to be content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted) in whatever state I am. I know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want. I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ's sufficiency].
Paul said he had learned the secret of how to face every situation. That secret was in drawing his strength from the Lord Jesus. It gave him the ability to stand in Christ Jesus through the storms of life. When we experience difficulties in life, what do we do? Usually, we begin to complain about how bad things are. Instead, we need to be positive about the situation, speaking the solution and not the problem. God is bigger than anything the world or the devil can throw at us! Look unto Jesus! He is the author and finisher of our faith. Paul said it is the secret of facing every situation having that inner strength that comes from Christ Jesus that got him through the difficult times. He became self-sufficient through Christ's sufficiency. In other words, he didn't depend on his own strength and abilities to see him through the rough times, but He drew on Christ's strength and ability and lived his life through His supernatural sufficiency.
I love the Amplified translation of this portion of scripture because it talks about Christ Jesus infusing us with inner strength. I often get a picture of this portrayed as a huge funnel placed above my head with Jesus pouring His strength through that funnel into me. It helps me understand what it meas to be “infused” with His strength.
Friends, regardless of what you are going through today, it will come to an end and there are better days ahead of you. When I lost my husband I was grieving one Sunday morning at church and the Pastor's message was “the best is yet to come”. After the service my late husband's doctor walked up to me and said “don't forget, the best is yet to come”. At that time it was very difficult for me to see anything good in my future as I had just lost my husband through a massive stroke. But God brought me out of bondage into a glorious future as He introduced me, within the next year, to my present husband. What I saw as devastation with no good in sight, He saw as a transition into the good plan that He had for my future. He knew that my husband would die and I would not get to live out my future with him, and He already had a plan put in motion for me to experience His goodness in my life. My friend, if God will do that for me, He will do the same for you! He is no respecter of persons according to Acts 10:34:
Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.”
Don't waste the days of your life grieving over where you are at this very moment! It just takes one word from God to change your life forever!
Hebrews 10:35, 36 Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:
Keep holding on to your faith in God; be confident that He is working on your behalf to bring you into the good plan that He has for your future. Endure to the end so you can receive the promise! God is faithful to do as He has promised!
Father, I thank You for Your great love for each one of us. I know that You have a good plan for our lives. I pray for my friends today who may be caught up in the problems of life. Father, give them a renewed vision of what You are doing in their lives. Fill them with expectation of the great future that You have for them. Show them, Father, that You are bringing them out of bondage to experience a good future. Thank You for giving them strength to endure to the end that they may receive the promised blessing that You have for them. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Monday, August 13, 2012
Many times we overlook the introduction to the books of the Bible as the writer introduces to whom he is writing. We have a tendency to think that it is not important to us because it was written to a people in a different time period and place. But there is a lot of valuable information in the introduction of the book that will give us a better understanding of how we should view ourselves in relation to our status as children of God.
The Bible is God's love letter to His people, so all of it, even the “Greeting” is written, not only to the ones that it was addressing in that day and age, but also to us. Paul starts a lot of his writings “to the saints” in the church. He doesn't remind the people that they were once sinners, but he addresses them as who they are in Christ Jesus, because they “were” sinners, but they are now “saints”. Do you see yourself as an old sinner saved by grace, or a saint who occasionally sins? Well, you were a sinner and if you've invited Jesus into your heart you are now a saint, but God is not in the business of reminding people of how bad they were in the past. He encourages people to be who they are in Christ Jesus and to see themselves as that “saint” that they have now become. Here are some of the New Testament “Greetings”:
1 Corinthians 1:2 To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:
2 Corinthians 1:1 PAUL, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in all Achaia:
Ephesians 1:1 PAUL, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus:
Philippians 1:1 PAUL and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:
Colossians 1:1, 2 PAUL, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse:
Romans 1:7 To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints:
Paul even identifies himself as what God has made him to be, an apostle, not what he used to be as a persecutor of the church of Jesus Christ. He knew that he was a new creation in Christ Jesus, and as such, he identified himself as what he was as that new person, not what he had been. It is important for us to see ourselves as the person that God has made us and not the sinner that we used to be. If we constantly see ourselves as an old sinner saved by grace we will live with a defeatist attitude.
If you have been born again through the blood of Jesus and received Him as your Savior and Lord, then you are beloved of God, called to be saints just as much as the Romans were, or the people of Philippi or Colosse or Ephesus or Corinth! We all have to go through the blood of Jesus to become a saint of God! It is true that we have not been perfected, but God has begun a good work in each of us and He will bring it to completion at the day of Christ's return. (Philippians 1:6)
Ephesians 1:3-6 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.
Have you ever thought about the fact that God chose you before the foundation of the world to be His and that through the shed blood of His Son you have been placed and accepted into the Beloved; His family? Do you understand that you are a child of the King; a royal priesthood, a holy people? And that He has blessed you with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places through your relationship with Christ Jesus? You are a VIP, very important person!
1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.
You are God's own special person! He has a plan for your life, to proclaim His praises! He has delivered you out of darkness and into His marvelous light and you are now a part of His family; His own people. He has given you mercy when you didn't have it before. He has a good plan for your life!
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
God has a plan for your life that is full of hope, peace and goodness! It is as we see ourselves the way that God sees us that we will live up to the standards that He has placed before us. We strive to be what is expected of us. If you have a child that is constantly belittled and criticized he will grow up with a negative attitude thinking he can't do anything right. But if you constantly praise and encourage that same child he will grow up with a positive attitude thinking he can conquer the world! We are the same way in our spiritual journeys. We live up to what we are told about ourselves. Our spirits need spiritual truth to flourish and grow. Our emotions and actions will follow what comes out of our spirits. It is important to feed your spirit man daily on the word of God to assure proper spiritual nourishment for growth.
In my younger years I suffered from low self-esteem that stemmed from an emotionally abusive past. As a part of my deliverance God had me create a list of positive confessions from His word that I used to counter the negative thoughts that would come against me. They are powerful confessions for practical living. I would like to share them with you because I feel there are others that may be suffering from that same “spiritual illness”. Please feel free to take them as you would any prescription medication; with regularity! It will help if you read them out loud to yourself so your eyes see the words and your hears hear them. That multiplies the effectiveness of the confessions.
Father, I thank You for Your word that brings life into my spirit! I ask You, Father, to open the eyes of the blind and those who are oppressed to see the freedom that they have in Christ Jesus! Father, bring them out of darkness, whatever it might be. Deliver them from the evil one and set their spirits aflame with Your love and desire. Father, I ask You to deliver them from the oppression of low self-esteem and show them who they are in Christ Jesus! Bring them out of darkness into the light of Your word! Increase their desire to be free and give them the ability and courage to speak Your word over their lives every day until their spirit man is built up and nourished! Thank You, Father, for setting them free! In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
I am a new creation in Christ, old things have passed away and all things have become new. 2 Cor. 5:17
God made Jesus to be sin for me that I might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Cor. 5:21
I am working out my own salvation with fear and trembling because it is God who works in me both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Phil. 2:12, 13
I am confident of this very thing, that God has begun a good work in me and He will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. Phil. 1:6
I have the mind of Christ and He has not given me the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 1 Cor. 1:16; 2 Tim. 1:7
I have an anointing from the Holy One and I know all things. And the anointing which I have received from Him abides in me, and teaches me all things that are true and not a lie. 1 John 2:20, 27
The Holy Spirit is my teacher and He guides me into all truth; He does not speak on His own authority but whatever He hears He speaks to me and tells me things to come. John 16:13
Jesus is the good shepherd and I am His sheep. he speaks and I hear His voice and the voice of another I will not follow. John 10:6, 14, 27
The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want or lack for any good thing. Ps. 23:1
The Word of God is a lamp unto my feet and a light to my path. Ps. 119:105
God's Word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin against Him. Ps. 119:11
I delight myself in the Lord and He gives me the desires of my heart. Ps. 37:4
My steps are ordered of God because I am a good woman and the Lord delights in my way. Though I may fall, I shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds me with His hand. Ps. 37:23, 24
The Word of God is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword. It pierces my heart and divides between my soul and my spirit. It judges my thoughts and intentions and brings change into my life. Heb. 4:12
I can take authority over the thoughts that come into my mind because my weapons are not carnal but mighty in God to the pulling down of strongholds and God has given me authority over all the power of the enemy and He cannot harm me. 2 Cor. 10:3-5; Luke 10:19
God has delivered me from the power of darkness and conveyed me into the kingdom of the Son of His love. Col. 1:13
I can submit myself to God and resist the Devil and he must flee from me. Jas. 4:7
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Phil. 4:13
I thank God because He always leads me to triumph in Christ. 2 Cor. 2:14
I am the healed of the Lord because by His stripes I was healed. 1 Pet. 2:24
My God is my healer. He has sent His word and healed me and delivered me from all my destruction. Ex. 15:26; Ps. 107:20
I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD. Ps. 118:17
No weapon formed against me shall prosper and every tongue that raises up against me in judgment I shall condemn for this is my heritage as a servant of the LORD and He is my righteousness and vindication! Is. 54:17
All my children shall be taught of the LORD and great shall be their peace [their undisturbed composure]. Is. 54:13
My afflictions may be many, but the Lord delivers me out of them all. Ps. 34:19
Because I dwell in the secret place of the Most High and abide under the shadow of the Almighty, I can say of the LORD, "you are my refuge and my fortress. You are my God and it's in You that I trust. Ps. 91:1,2
Because I have made the LORD my refuge and my dwelling place, no evil shall befall me and no plague shall come near my dwelling. And He gives His angels charge over me to keep me in all my ways. They hold me in their hands so I won't stumble and fall on the rocks of life. Ps. 91:9-12
Because I have set my love upon God, He will deliver me. He sets me on high because I have known His name; I know Him personally and understand His character and nature. I call upon Him and He answers me. He is with me in trouble. He delivers me and honors me and satisfies me with long life. And He shows me His salvation. Ps. 91:14-16
When I am afraid, I trust in my God; I praise His word and trust in Him. I will not fear because my God is for me. When I cry out to Him my enemies turn back. Ps. 56:9
My soul trusts in my God and I hide in the shadow of His wings until the storm passes by. Ps. 57:1
Because my God will never leave me or forsake me, I can boldly say, "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear." Heb. 13:5,6
If my God is for me, who could possibly be against me? My God gave up His only Son for me and with Him He freely gives me all things. Rom. 8:31, 32
There is nothing that can separate me from God's love. And He has made me more than a conqueror through Him who loves me. Rom. 8:35, 37
My God is greater than anything the devil or the world can throw at me. He has overcome the world and He is the greater One living in me. Because I am in Him and He is in me I have overcome the world and have the victory through my faith in Him. 1 John 4:4; 5:4
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