Friday, November 02, 2012
1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived; “Evil company corrupts good habits.”
The Amplified Bible records his verse as: Do not be so deceived and misled! Evil companionships (communion, associations) corrupt and deprave good manners and morals and character.
Are your friends building you up or dragging you down? Regardless of what you endeavor to do in life, whether it be in your personal goals, the workplace, business partnerships or church affiliations, you need people around you who will encourage you in the right decisions for you to be successful. People who are supportive are very important to us in whatever we are trying to do. When my children were growing up if there was someone they thought they wanted to be friends with and they didn't think I would approve of that association they would always try to tell me that they could help that person by witnessing of their faith to them. But in reality that is harder done than said and God's word always rings true....as one translations says “bad company corrupts good morals”. (NAS)
Paul encourages us to make friendships that will lift us up and not drag us down. The people that we associate with will always have some kind of an impact on our lives. We are instructed by Jesus to be light in the darkness and salt to the world, but when the world becomes our best friends we will see them pull us down to their way of thinking instead of us pulling them up to a better life. It is important in the life of a believer to be a light to those who are walking around in darkness, but not to let our light be put out by their darkness. When we make friendships with those who do not believe and they become our bosom buddies we will have a problem in standing strong in the midst of storms, influencing people for Jesus Christ, and encouraging ourselves in the way of the Lord.
The world is described by Paul in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 as this:
But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come; For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!
Paul said to “turn away” from people that have the character and nature of the world! There is a whole list of character traits listed in that portion of scripture that we are warned to stay away from. Do you know people who exhibit this type of character? Are they among your “best friends”? Jesus prayed for those who would follow after them that even though they would be in the world that they would not be of the world, but that His Father would keep them from the evil one because they would be living in and among the world that is caught up in the sway of the wicked prince of the power of the air. (John 17:9-17)
Peter called people like himself in 2 Peter 1:1 as people of “like precious faith”. These are the people that will encourage you to stand firm in your faith during seasons of difficulties. People of “like precious faith” will be those who will gather around you and hold your arms up when you are struggling through a trial. These are the types of people who will speak the truth in love instead of letting you wallow in self-pity and discouragement. They will always encourage you to look up unto God instead of focusing on the problems in life! You will be encouraged to believe God instead of the negativity that is going on around you by people of “like precious faith”!
2 Corinthians 6:11-18 O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections. Now in return for the same (I speak as to children), you also be open. Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said? “I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people.” Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean. And I will receive you.” “I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty.”
You can be restricted in your walk with the Lord through the affections that you have for those that you embrace as friends. If you are in close communion with unbelievers it will affect your spiritual life. We are commanded to share God's love and salvation with those around us, but if unbelievers are your best friends then there will be a problem with your ability to lead them to Christ. Eventually the character and nature of those that we “hang around with” will rub off on us. Of course, if you are married to an unbeliever I encourage you to be the salt and light to that person and love unconditionally so he/she will see that God is real and have a desire for the same relationship with the Lord that you have. The point I am trying to make today is that our close associations, outside of marriage and family, will either lift us up to new heights in our relationship with the Lord, or pull us down to the lows of the world. The Message Bible says it this way: “Don't link up with those who will pollute you. I want you all for myself.” The term “link up” shows that this is more than just a casual friendship. When you “link up” with someone you are joining with them. A casual acquaintance is one that you know and speak to when you see them, but when you “link up” with someone you have made them a friend that you commune with on a regular basis.
Father, I come before You this morning lifting up those who may be discouraged by what is going on around them. I ask You to help them see that their relationships affect their quality of life. I pray that they will seek You for good, healthy relationships. Bring them into right relationship with both You and those around them. If they are into associations that will bring them down then help them to see that and to make the changes in their lives that will encourage good, solid, like precious faith friendships. Thank You, Father, for showing us the way that we are to take in our relationships. May we be the light shining into the darkness around us that leads people to Jesus. May He be seen in our lives so that others will know that the difference in us is You. I pray that as we go about our daily lives that those in the world will be drawn to Jesus through us. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Thursday, November 01, 2012
Isaiah 35:3, 4 Strengthen the weak hands, And make firm the feeble knees, Say to those who are fearful-hearted, “Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, With the recompense of God; He will come and save you.”
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.
It is said that in the Bible there are 365 “fear nots”; that's one for every day of the year. I haven't checked that out for accuracy, but I know this: God has said in His word that He has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7) Fear is a spirit that comes to torment people so they can't exercise their faith in God. If fear hangs around long enough a person will become comfortable with it and that will be the first thing that comes into their minds when adversity appears. Paul cautioned Timothy about entertaining the spirit of fear. He told him that God had given him three things to counteract the fear that would come against him. We would be wise to use these three weapons against fear as well.
Power – dunamis – means miraculous power, ability, abundance, meaning, might, miracle power, strength, violence, mighty (wonderful) work.
This word for power is the root word from which we get our word “dynamite”. We, as believers, have the dynamic power of God within us. That same power of the Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead resides within us. It is that power that is available to us to give us the ability to overcome the spirit of fear that comes against us.
Love – agape – a love of choice; God's kind of love that expresses itself unconditionally. This love chooses to love regardless of what the other person has done.
We have God's kind of love within us to fight fear because the God of love inhabits His people through His Spirit who is within us. God is love – agape – according to 1 John 4:8. When the Holy Spirit comes to reside within a person who is born again, He brings His fruit with Him. Love is the first fruit of the Spirit that is mentioned in Galatians 5:22 characterizing the nature of God within a believer. This love, God's kind of love, casts out fear because fear brings torment and God does not want His people to be tormented by the spirit of fear.
1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.
The word for fear here is the word phobos and it means that which causes flight; hence, fear, terror, dread. The spirit of fear causes people to want to flee from the situation. It tries to instill terror and dread in the hearts of God's people.
The third word that describes what God has given us in 2 Timothy 1:7 to counteract fear is a “sound mind”. How important is it to have a sound mind? Well, this word describes a “sound mind” as having safe-thinking. The word denotes good judgment, disciplined thought patterns, and the ability to understand, and make right decisions. It includes the qualities of self-control and self-discipline. Have you ever seen someone who was so afraid that they couldn't think straight? They were running around not knowing which way to go. A person like this will often make wrong decisions about their lives, their situations and what they should and shouldn't do. Their thinking is clouded by the fear that has attacked them. God has given us His Spirit of soundness; His ability to judge accurately about the situation and His strength to control and discipline our actions so we are not tossed about by the wind of fear.
So, how do we apply these power points that God has given us to dispel the fear that comes against us? It all begins in the mind. That's where the ability to think clearly starts. We have to control what we think about.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down stronghold, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.
It is our responsibility to stop wrong thoughts, thoughts of fear and discouragement from taking up residence in our minds. We are the only ones that can put up the guard over our minds that keeps fear from taking root and building a stronghold in our minds. The word says we are to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. That means we judge every thought that comes to us to see if it is good or bad. If it is bad we throw it out! The question we need to ask ourselves about these thoughts are: What does the word say about what I am thinking?. If the thought doesn't line up with the word of God then pitch it out! We are responsible for what we are thinking. The things that are to take up residence in our minds, according to Philippians 4:8 are these:
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
It's the good, positive thoughts that we are to meditate on, not the fearful ones. What we think on we will become. If we think on fearful thoughts we will become fearful people. But if we focus on God's ability to overcome the fear and what it can do to us then He becomes bigger within us and our thoughts will be of His ability to defeat whatever it is that comes against us.
Paul told Timothy this in 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.
Who are you listening to? The words that people around you or on television or in the newspaper will have an effect on you, either for good or for evil. If you constantly feed on negativity then you will have a negative attitude, but if you are feeding on the Word of God then you will see that God is bigger than anything the devil can throw at you and you will have a positive attitude. Don't feed on the “what ifs” that come with fear, but feed on the “God is greater” that comes with faith.
2 Timothy 2:1 You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
God's grace, His ability within you to do what you are unable to do in and of yourself, is greater than anything the devil would bring against you. God's grace is there for you to access in your time of need. Draw from His grace to withstand the fear that you are feeling.
2 Timothy :16-18 But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some.
The message of those who do not believe will spread like cancer. Stay away from them! Connect with people of faith, people who believe that God is greater than he who is in the world; people who will encourage you and stand with you through troubling times. Do not allow your faith to be overthrown by negative, fearful people!
2 timothy 3:1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come;
Yes, it's true, perilous times; times that are harsh, dangerous, difficult, painful, fierce, grievous and hard to deal with will come! We don't deny that we live in perilous times right now. But it's one thing to know that it's happening and feed on the negativity of it and it's another thing to be aware and prepared so we are able to help those around us to deal with the pressure of life as it is. Paul tells Timothy how to deal with the happenings of world events that would try to shake his faith:
2 Timothy 3:14-17 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, know 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.
Continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of! What do you know that has stood the test of time; that people have tried to destroy for thousands of years? The word of God! Continue in the word of God; continue feeding on God's word. It is able to make you wise and bring salvation and faith that is through Christ Jesus. All Scripture has a purpose: to complete you and to make you fully equipped for every good work. We can't give something away that we do not own ourselves. We can't help others if we are filled with fear ourselves.
Friends, God is with us! He will not leave us nor forsake us. He is the Greater One who lives on the inside of us. If God is for us, then who could possibly be against us? (Romans 8:31) We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us and nothing can separate us from His love! (Romans 8:37-39)
Father, I come before You this morning to say “thank You” for all that You have given us to overcome the spirit of fear that comes against us. I acknowledge that You are the Greater One who lives within me. Thank You for equipping me to win the battle against fear. I lift up to You those who may be struggling with fear in their lives this morning. I pray that Your love will dispel that fear that is trying to take up residence within them. Father, reveal to them how much You love them and what You have done to equip them to be victorious in the face of danger. Thank You for giving us Your Spirit to lead and guide us through the difficult times. I ask You, Lord, to strengthen the ones who are struggling today. Give them the assurance that You love them and are right there to help them overcome! Thank You, Father, for the victory is ours in Christ Jesus! These things I pray in Jesus' name. Amen.
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Deuteronomy 31:1-8 AMP AND MOSES went on speaking these words to all Israel: And he said to them, I am 120 years old this day; I can no more go out and come in. And the Lord has said to me, You shall not go over this Jordan. The Lord your God will Himself go over before you, and He will destroy these nations from before you, and you shall dispossess them. And Joshua shall go over before you, as the Lord has said. And the Lord will do to them as He did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, and to their land, when He destroyed them. And the Lord will give them over to you, and you shall do to them according to all the commandments which I have commanded you. Be strong, courageous, and firm; fear not nor be in terror before them, for it is the Lord your God Who goes with you; He will not fail you or forsake you. And Moses called to Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, Be strong, courageous, and firm, for you shall go with this people into the land which the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall cause them to possess it. It is the Lord Who goes before you; He will [march] with you; He will not fail you or let you go or forsake you; [let there be no cowardice or flinching, but] fear not, neither become broken [in spirit—depressed, dismayed, and unnerved with alarm].
The Israelites were getting ready to enter the Promised Land. They had wandered in the wilderness for 40 years and had become comfortable with wilderness living. It seemed as if they were to spend their lives in the wilderness. They knew that God had said they would stay there until all the generation that were 20 and above who had believed the evil report of the 10 spies that they could not conquer the giants in that land had died off. Moses had been their leader since they had left Egypt; they were used to the way he lead them. Now they being were challenged to break out of their complacency, to follow a new leader and to finally enter in and take the land that God had given them.
Many times we become “used” to life the way it is. We may have believed God to do something different, a promise that He had given us or a new thing that we felt that He said He was doing in our lives, but it seemed like it was taking forever for it to happen. We may have wondered if we really heard God correctly. I'm sure there were a lot of different thoughts going through the minds of the Israelities when God told them it was time to cross over and take the land. But notice that God only wanted them to think about two things: that He would go before them and cause them to possess the land, and that He would go with them as they marched through it. God didn't want them to be afraid. He said they should have no cowardice or flinching in fear. He cautioned them to not become broken in spirit, depressed, dismayed or unnerved with alarm. They were to have faith in His ability to cause them to be successful in fighting against their enemies.
This morning I feel that God is saying the same thing to His people. You may be facing giants in your land. You may feel as if you are so small in comparison with the things that you are dealing with. It seems as if there is no way that you could succeed with the enormity of the problems ahead of you. But God......
God is mightier than your enemies. He is bigger than sickness and disease; poverty or lack. And He will go before you into those situations that you face. He goes before you into every situation to prepare the way for you to be successful in it and then He comes and takes you by the hand to walk with you through it. God gave Joshua some specific instructions in Joshua 1:9 about going into the Promised Land:
Joshua 1:9 AMP Have not I commanded you? Be strong, vigorous, and very courageous. Be not afraid, neither be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
God is always with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He doesn't leave His children to face difficulties alone. But He does ask us to be strong, to be courageous, to not fear because fear and faith cannot work together. Fear is faith that the enemy is bigger and will do you more harm than God can do you good. Fear empowers the enemy to steal, kill and destroy your life. But faith is what moves the hand of God. Faith is trust in the Lord that He is able and will do what He has promised. Faith believes God before it sees God move. Without faith it's impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6) God simply asks that you put fear out of your life and that you believe Him to go before you and walk with you through whatever it is that you are facing.
New things always seem frightening, but when we realize that God has already walked there; that He has gone before us into it we gain courage knowing that He will be right there with us. It is easier to scale the mountain when you know you have a seasoned guide with you who has done it many, many times before. There are many this morning who are facing new things in their lives. So many people have experienced loss over the last few days. They are beginning again, facing what may seem to be insurmountable obstacles. And yet God will go before them and He will walk with them through the difficult days ahead; He will be right beside them as they undertake the new things, the days of putting their lives back together again.
If you are facing a giant in your land today, know that God has already defeated your enemies. He has equipped you to be successful and victorious in taking the land before you. Trust Him to walk with you through those days when it seems like you won't make it. Give Him your faith and ask Him to develop it so that you can face the future with courage and strength. He will not leave you to fend for yourself.
Father, I come before You this morning and I thank You for going before us into the days of uncertainty that lie ahead of us. I thank You for equipping us to succeed and live above the storms of life. Thank You for Your strength that gives us the ability to continue walking into the unknown. Father, I pray for those this morning who are facing giants in their lives. You have already defeated the giants, Father, so I ask You to give them the assurance that they can fight the good fight of faith and win when they fight it with You beside them. I ask You to fill them with the courage that they need to face today with it's problems and to be able to see that You are working in their lives to change those situations and make them victorious in the battles of life. Thank You, Father, for giving them a vision of the good that You have planned for their lives. Thank You for helping them to see the victory instead of defeat. Thank You for calming their inner beings and giving them peace in the midst of the storms. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Monday, October 29, 2012
When the ocean waves are crashing around us let's remember that God is bigger than the waves of the sea!
Psalm 107:28, 29 Then they cry out to the LORD in their trouble, And He brings them out of their distresses. He calms the storm, So that its waves are still.
Let's proclaim that the waves of the sea are being stilled because He is LORD!
Father, I pray for all those affected by the hurricane, Sandy. I ask You, Lord, to still the waves, to calm the storm. I speak peace to the storm in the name of Jesus. Father, I ask You to restore what has been stolen from Your people. I pray for those who have lost loved ones, that You will comfort them and reveal Yourself to them in a way that they have never known. Give them peace in their hearts. Father, for those who are afraid I ask that You will let Your presence be felt by them so that they can know that You are with them and You will take care of them. For those who have lost property I ask that You would restore all that the devil has stolen from them through this monster storm. Father, You are LORD over all! May You be glorified even in the works of the enemy. Thank You for saving, healing, delivering and restoring people who are sick, hurting, oppressed and in despair. You reign supreme! You are able to deliver and restore! Thank You for being a stronghold in the time of trouble and a refuge from the storm. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Monday, October 29, 2012
Joshua 14:6-13 NLT A delegation from the tribe of Judah, led by Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite, came to Joshua at Gilgal. Caleb said to Joshua, “Remember what the LORD said to Moses, the man of God, about you and me when we were at Kadesh-barnea. I was forty years old when Moses, the servant of the LORD, sent me from Kadesh-barnea to explore the land of Canaan. I returned and gave from my heart a good report, but my brothers who went with me frightened the people and discouraged them from entering the Promised Land. For my part, I followed the LORD my God completely. So that day Moses promised me, 'The land of Canaan on which you were just walking will be your special possession and that of your descendants forever, because you wholeheartedly followed the LORD my God. Now, as you can see, the LORD has kept me alive and well as He promised for all these forty-five years since Moses made this promise—even while Israel wandered in the wilderness. Today I am eighty-five years old. I am as strong now as I was when Moses sent me on that journey, and I can still travel and fight as well as I could then. So I'm asking you to give me the hill country that the LORD promised me. You will remember that as scouts we found the Anakites living there in great, walled cities. But if the LORD is with me, I will drive them out of the land, just as the LORD said.” So Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave Hebron to him as an interitance. Hebron still belongs to the descendants of Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite because he wholeheartedly followed the LORD, the God of Israel.
Caleb was one of the twelve spies that Moses sent in to Canaan to spy out the Promised Land. He and Joshua came back with a good report that they could take the land, but the other 10 spies came back with an evil report that instilled fear in the people by telling them of the giants in the land and how they were so small in their sight. The people rebelled at the direction of the Lord because of the evil report and as a consequence had to spend 40 years wandering around in the wilderness until all the generation that didn't believe that God would go before them and enable them to conquer the land had died off.
Now they are ready, once again, to go in and take the Promised Land that God had given them. Caleb hasn't forgotten the promise that was made to him of his inheritance in the Promised Land. All these years, 45 in total, he has been waiting to receive his inheritance. He has been patiently occupying until this day when he would be able to go in and conquer the giants in his land. He is now 85 years old.
How many of us would stand strong waiting for our inheritance of God's promises for 45 years? Many times we get tired of standing in faith for just a few months waiting until God brings into manifestation the things that He has promised us. And here was Caleb, patiently continuing to stay strong so he could one day inherit God's blessing of his inheritance. We don't hear of him griping and complaining while he's waiting, he simply continued strengthening himself so he would be ready when that day came.
It would have been easy for Caleb to give up when the Israelites were told they would wander in the wilderness for 40 years. It would have been easy for him to blame his brothers and complain about their unbelief and how it was stopping him from receiving his inheritance but you don't hear of him doing that. He simply stood strong, knowing that what God had promised He would provide.
Are you waiting for a promise from God to be manifested in your life? Will you be ready to walk into your Promised Land when that time comes? Are you blaming someone else for you not being able to receive what God has promised? These are all questions that we need to ask ourselves when it seems that God is not doing anything; when our lives seem to be going nowhere and we are continuing to walk around that same mountain over and over again. Caleb knew that if he continued to follow the Lord his God wholeheartedly that eventually that which He had promised would happen.
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:
Endurance – Greek hupomone – means constancy, perseverance, continuance, bearing up, steadfastness, holding out, patient endurance. It describes the capacity to continue to bear up under difficult circumstances, not with a passive complacency, but with a hopeful fortitude that actively resists weariness and defeat.
When we look at Caleb's life we see the endurance that he exhibited during those 45 years while he was waiting to receive his inheritance. It was true that he was affected by the consequences of those around him who didn't believe that God would enable them to take their Promised Land. He spent 45 years in the wilderness with them because of their unbelief. Sometimes we suffer through things that are of no fault of our own. It is true that we are affected by those around us. Caleb could have had a really bad attitude by the time he had wandered around in that wilderness for 40 years. He could have allowed bitterness to grow in his heart because he suffered at the hands of someone else. But he didn't. He continued to stay strong; he continued to follow the Lord his God wholeheartedly.
This morning you may be growing weary of waiting on God to change something in your life. I want to encourage you to be like Caleb. Don't give in to feelings of discouragement. Don't succumb to a defeatist attitude that says, “why continue to stand in faith, it's just simply not going to happen”. Don't give up just before your breakthrough comes! God is always working on your behalf, even when you can't see it.
Hebrews 6:12 that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
Look at those who have gone before you and have stood in faith patiently waiting to receive their promises. Watch them and imitate them. We have all kinds of examples in God's word of ones who have waited years and years and finally after standing strong in faith received what God had promised them. Don't give up; the best is yet to come!
Father, I thank You for the promises that You have given each one of us. You have prepared a good plan for our lives. You have given us precious promises that we can count on You fulfilling when we stand strong in faith believing and not doubting. Father, I pray for those this morning who may be growing weary in waiting for those promises to come into manifestation. I pray that You will give them a glimpse of the good things ahead of them so they will be renewed in their faith and strengthened to continue to stand strong while they wait. Father, I pray that they will not grow weary, but will reap the promises in due season as Your word says. Grant them strength for their weariness and a renewed vision to give them hope. Thank You, Father, for Your faithfulness to bring what You have promised into our lives. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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