GOOD MEDICINE…


Proverbs 17:22 – “A joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones.”  NASB

There are scientifically documented studies regarding laughter and its benefits.  We are told that laughter causes the blood to flow more readily and that enhances the cardiovascular system in a positive manner.  Good-humored people generally have blood vessels that expand and contract easily and are more elastic.  Laughter increases the heart rate, oxygen consumption, and works the muscles of the face reducing wrinkles. 

It has been documented by medical researchers such as Dr. William Fry a psychiatrist and professor emeritus at Stanford University’s School of Medicine tell us that laughter, like physical exercise, once it has been engaged in will result in a reduction of the heart rate and blood pressure.  Some fitness experts compare laughter to a mild workout because of the connection to the muscles when one has a good belly laugh. 

Laughter reduces stress, causes endorphins to flow allows the adrenal glands to function at peak levels.  It has been documented that people who laugh often and deeply have an increase in their immune system, higher levels of antibodies and natural killer cells.  One research showed that those levels remained up for up to twelve hours after hearty laughter.  Laughter reduces pain, lowers blood sugar levels improves sleep, relaxation, and breathing.  Laughter is not just good medicine it is powerful medicine.

If you contrast that to the negative health results of a broken, depressed, sad, gloomy, cynical attitude and spirit you will be amazed.  Does that mean that anyone who doesn’t laugh is going to be sick and one who does won’t, NO!  It means that overall you are healthier and certainly happier if you can and do laugh and laugh often. 

I love having fun.  I joke a lot but am also very serious.  I find that it is far better to laugh at and during bad times than to allow them to dominate my thinking, ruin my day, and control my life.  I find that when I have a good belly laugh, I am relaxed more than I could be in any other activity.  I have laughed loudly in times of utter exhaustion and found that after the laughter subsided, I was renewed in my strength and ability to continue one rested as though I had gotten a good nap.

Not only those things but people who are joyful and laugh are much more pleasant to be around than a sourpuss who is always scowling, grumpy, and cynical.  I try to avoid people like that in the flesh as much as possible because I like to laugh and people who don’t, really don’t want me around anyway and their attitude is sometimes infectious, and I don’t need that disease.  I had someone tell me once in a major crisis that they could not believe that I could tell jokes and laugh during the situation. 

I know that God gave me a sense of humor and I will see funny things in many events of life that enable me to get past the direness of it and often find solutions as a result of laughter.  No, I do not make light of everything and do not consider frivolity to be appropriate for every situation, but I do find that being able to laugh is of immeasurable value.

May God help you to laugh, love, and enjoy life today and every day!  BLESSINGS!

THE VALUE OF VISION – – (Conclusion)


Proverbs 29:18 – Where there is no vision [no revelation of God and His word], the people are unrestrained; But happy and blessed is he who keeps the law [of God].”  Amplified

It is an indisputable reality that everybody has a vision.  No, everyone cannot see in the natural but in life, we all have a vision.  We either have a Kingdom Vision or a Survival Vision spiritually.  It is either a God-directed vision or a self-centered vision.  Where there is no clear corporate vision, people are unrestrained, cast off restraint, become demoralized, and run wild.  It becomes like a stampede of horses running wildly in all directions.  The result is discouragement and disagreement.  It is an invitation to discord and disunity.  Without Vision, we cannot stay on course.

In Matthew 6:33 we are instructed to “seek first the Kingdom…”  That requires and demands Vision.  I must see the Kingdom, have an understanding of the Purpose of the Kingdom, be Planted in the Kingdom, and allow the Master Builders to ‘fitly frame’ me into place for function.  That is Vision!

At that point, it is no longer me but Him.  It is not longer, what can you do for me but what does the Kingdom need?  I am convinced that no person will ever rise above the level of their Vision.  With Vision, you can throw your hook over a higher ledge and climb to new heights in life.  It will bind you to your destiny!

Please hear me carefully:  Without an understanding of God’s Overall Purpose, His end-time agenda, His eternal purpose, and how we fit into it the pressures of life will overcome us.  We will move in circles and cycles of going from depression and dejection to victory and back again.  We will make laps around the mountain time and again, learning the same lessons repeatedly.  A victory will be followed by a sense of frustration, lack of direction and purpose.  Vision is Vital if we are going to move forward and upward into His Purposes and become Who He says we are!

It is vital that we catch and embrace God’s vision for the Church and His Kingdom.  That enables us to become a House, a Building, a Habitation for God, fitly framed together not just a pile of lumber or bricks. 

Vision links us together.  I heard an illustration long ago that has never left me.  It is reported that one horse could pull 9,000 pounds.  It was assumed that two horses would then be able to pull double that or 18,000 pounds. However, when two horses were joined together in tandem, they pulled 27,000 pounds.  The two linked together gained the strength and benefit of a third invisible horse.  Unity provides that and as we join together in vision and work together in tandem, we have the added strength of another we do not see. 

I hope you are hearing this and understand that no matter how good, noble, right, or worthwhile your vision is, if it is not linked to the Vision of the Whole it will become a source of frustration and counterproductive.  Proverbs 24:10 warns, “If we faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.”

Vision keeps us moving forward in the face of incredible difficulties and seemingly impossible odds.  Vision links us together with others of like precious faith in a larger purpose than us and our limited vision. 

Pastors, it is your God-given responsibility to follow the directive of Habakkuk 2:2 – “Then the LORD answered me and said, “Record the vision And inscribe it on tablets, That the one who reads it may run.” 

We need Vision, God’s Vision and as we join in the pursuit of that vision, we will see the Restoration of that which was lost to the Church and we will pull down strongholds of the devil. 

God bless you as you learn to walk in His Vision!

THE VALUE OF VISION – – Part Three…


Proverbs 29:18 – Where there is no vision [no revelation of God and His word], the people are unrestrained; But happy and blessed is he who keeps the law [of God].”  Amplified

As we continue our consideration of The Value of Vision, we have discussed Who God says we are not what we manifest now.  It is a contrast of His reality and ours.  It is an embracing of His declaration rather than relegating ourselves to man’s view of reality. 

The Bible identifies the Church as a “House” which is a “Body”, which is an “Army” made up of “People.”  It is a many-membered body, and I believe that God is Restoring or Reestablishing a Glorious House in the world today. 

Natural Israel had a natural house, the Temple.  Peter declares that we, believers are a ‘spiritual house.’ (1 Peter 2:5).  We are the Lord’s House or His Habitation.  We know in 1 Corinthians 15:46 that God’s method is ‘first the natural, then the spiritual.’  The Psalmist gives a powerful revelation in Psalms 92:13-14 – That those who are “planted in the House of the LORD, will flourish in the Courts of our God.  They will yield fruit in old age; they will be full of sap and very green.”  They will flourish and produce fruit abundantly!

Tragically, the Church has too frequently become nothing more than a lumberyard or a brick pile filled with unconnected and unassembled pieces of lumber or bricks (living stones).  We have not been a House or the Building of the Lord.  Paul addressed that in Ephesians 2:21-22 – “In whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” 

Can I ask a silly question?  Have you ever seen a building in the natural grow? We have seen extensions or additions but the building itself did not grow, right?  Yet, the Bible tells us that this Building of the Lord will grow spiritually.  Can you imagine an Army where each soldier did his own thing?  Can you imagine the chaos in a family where every member did his or her own thing?  What about a business or a corporation?  That also applies to a society and a nation.  There must be order, direction, and purpose or failure is guaranteed. Disorder produces chaos and failure.

Acts Chapter Two is germane and important to this discussion.  It not only tells us about salvation but gives instructions as to how believers are to relate to each other and how God’s House is going to be constructed.  It teaches us how we come together to form God’s House. 

After Peter preached, they asked, “What must we do?”  Great question.  He told them to repent, be baptized, and receive the Holy Spirit.  That was the beginning, not the full revelation.  In verse 40 we discover, “and with many other words he did testify and exhort.”  He went on to show them how to be saved from the crooked generation in which they were living.  If we truly desire to avoid becoming nothing more than a solidarity piece of twisted lumber that is of no value, we need to hear Peter’s message.

That brings us to the Purpose of Vision.  Vision links and gives direction.  Nothing is ever accomplished without definitive vision.  NOTHING!  In our text verse Proverbs 29:19, we can read it from numerous translations and possibly gain an even greater understanding.

In the KJV – “Where there is no vision, the people perish…”

In the NASB – “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained…”

In the CSB – “Where there is no vision, the people run wild…”

In the ESV – “Where there is no vision, the people cast off restraint…”

Another – “Where there is no vision, the people are demoralized…”

Those are just a few of the ways this reality is translated.  Each of those renderings has an element of truth, but when linked together they give a clear picture of the Importance of Vision.  In simplicity – Vision is the Ability to See!

We will consider Vision more time in the next devotional but until then we will pause and allow you to prayerfully meditate upon what has been presented.  Hopefully, you will take each session and link them together as you ponder the Word.

God bless you as you enjoy this wonderful day in Him!

THE VALUE OF VISION – – Part Two…


Proverbs 29:18 – Where there is no vision [no revelation of God and His word], the people are unrestrained; But happy and blessed is he who keeps the law [of God].”  Amplified

Let’s continue in our pursuit of the unveiling of The Value of Vision in the Body of Christ and our individual lives.  I suggest that few would argue that the Church in the Book of Acts was not a powerful, dynamic, living organism that impacted its world in a very real way.  It was not a ritualistic religious organization, as the Sanhedrin had become.  It was a living organism that was leading people of the bondage of darkness and liberating them from the control of the devil, freeing them from legalism.

The Early Church, as it is called, was impacting its world with its message, ministry, and life.  It was a visible manifestation of the Life, Power, Purpose, and Ministry of Jesus.  Although its message was not embraced by all it was, Feared (Acts 5), Respected (Acts 17:6), Triumphant and had experienced the Authority and Power Jesus Promised. (Luke 19:10; Mark 16).  It had vision, revelation, and understanding.  They were able to see what needed to be done, where to go, and the power to do the works Jesus did.

It does not take great theological insight to know that that picture has not been the picture of the modern church for a very long time.  Far too much of the Church World has been little more than a fort holding, retreating, and often a frightened entity.  Too often churches and believers have, in their fragmentation lived in trepidation, not victory.  There has been the ritual, program, and form, but too often little power to truly overcome and pull-down strongholds.  That may offend some, but it is what I see and believe that God has more for His Glorious Church that Jesus declared He was building.

What does all that have to do with vision?  Everything!  We are instructed in Matthew 6:33 to “seek first, the Kingdom…”  We are also instructed to pray for the Kingdom to come on earth.

Let me ask some pertinent questions and hopefully, you will get on board this train as we pursue His purposes.  What good does it do to seek the Kingdom if we do not know what it is?  That would make us blind leaders of the blind. (Matthew 15:14).  How would we know if we have found the Kingdom if we don’t know what the Kingdom looks like, or how it operates?

Those questions are a significant part of my foundational basis for seeking to better understand Spiritual Vision.  In order for us to have Vision and have that Vision plugged into God’s Purposes enabling us to impact our world, we must open our hearts to the Big Picture and realize that Vision is mandatory.  Vision requires divine revelation!

We are directed in Scripture to Possess the Land.  The Land represents the Promise of Place of Promise.  I ask, “How can we accomplish that objective if we are in the dark as to – What the Promise is.  What the Purpose is.  What our Place is?”

The First Adam lost our inheritance and dominion, but the Last Adam (Jesus) won it back at the Cross.  The Bible reveals that our Victory, Power, Purpose, and Position was lost by man (Adam), regained by the man Jesus, and is to be enforced by man (The Church). 

Christ in us is the Hope of Glory.  We are told that “as He (Jesus) is, so are we in this world.” (1 John 4:17).  We are informed that “Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.” (John 14:12).  The Bible speaks of our Spiritual Weapons (2 Corinthians 10:4) and reminds us that we are “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37) and that we are ‘seated with Him in heavenly places.’ (Ephesians 2:6).  That is Who God says we are.  We must allow that Vision to explode in our hearts and minds if we are to become what He says we are!

I have only scratched the surface of what is in my heart and ask that you take the thoughts I have presented, study them, meditate upon them, and prayerfully join me again tomorrow as we continue this journey.

God bless you richly as you enjoy this wonderful day in Him!

THE VALUE OF VISION…


Proverbs 29:18 – Where there is no vision [no revelation of God and His word], the people are unrestrained; But happy and blessed is he who keeps the law [of God].”  Amplified

It is one of my passions to talk about spiritual vision, but an even greater passion to see it become a reality in individuals and churches.  As I begin this journey, I have many things on and in my heart and hopefully we can capture and capsulize them coherently.  I desire to offer something that is applicable and can be applied in our daily lives. 

I am convinced, more and more, that God, our wonderful God, is up to something intriguing, exciting, liberating, revolutionary, and powerful.  I believe He is actively Restoring to the Church that which has been lost over the centuries and is Preparing His Bride for that ultimate union to be consummated throughout eternity.  That thought draws my heart as few things could.

In Ezekiel 37 we have the Vision of Dry Bones.  It is wonderfully interesting and many still wonder what the actual or full meaning of that vision is.  Some have questioned whether the Israel identified is natural national Israel or is the meaning spiritual.  Others suggest that it is likely both. 

At this juncture, I suggest that no matter which interpretation you ascribe to, you surely cannot miss some incredibly significant pictures portrayed in the prophecy.

  1. These bones once lived and were a part of real bodies.
  2. These bones are now scattered and divided without order, ability, or power.  They are not only dead but scattered over the landscape.
  3. They are being sovereignly and supernaturally pulled together by the Holy Spirit and joined or fitted together.  Each bone has its place.  (Ephesians 2:11-22; Ephesians 5)
  4. They are being restored to a former state or condition supernaturally.
  5. As they come together and live, they have purpose, direction, and significance.  Although they are many, they are “one” in a ‘compound unity.’

I have no desire to be exhaustive on the matter, but I believe that is, in a very significant measure, exactly what is happening in the Body of Christ today.  God’s Spirit has been crossing man-made barriers, divisions, sects, schisms, and denominational and doctrinal walls. He is calling His remnant to come out and follow His voice unhindered by the man-made barriers, dogmas, and doctrinal differences man has erected.  That is exciting, to this believer and preacher!

What I am seeing is movement in areas of the Church that has been somewhat lifeless, drifted into ritualism rather than a demonstration of power and purpose.  I am seeing a transformation shaping up in which there is a transformation that will produce a dynamic, authoritative organism and army in the arena of spiritual conflict.  The Bones are beginning to Live Again!

I began this devotional talking about “The Value of Vision” and shifted to talking about the Vision of Dry Bones.  Those are not unconnected or unrelated topics and one is simply a springboard into a more complete discussion of the other.  I want to continue this a bit more, so I pause here and ask that you prayerfully consider where you are spiritually and where God’s Word declares we are to be.

Have a fantastic day and we will embark on this journey again tomorrow!

THE KEY TO SERVICE IS THE HEART…


2 Timothy 2:1-2 – “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” NASB

In considering Spiritual Warfare’ and the preparation and the establishing of leaders in the Church we must look at the Heart.  In this passage especially if you take the full context you will find some incredibly powerful truths regarding leadership, service, and life.

It has been my observation that one of the best ways to test someone’s character and determine if they are truly a servant having Jesus’ Heart is to let them know you recognize the call of God on their lives and then give them a task such as Janitor, Chair set-up detail, Greeter, Usher, or something of the like.  Let him who would be the greatest among you be a servant of all.  Then watch them and listen to them.

THE KEY IS THE HEART:

Qualification is not enough!  Faithfulness is the critical element!  This message and ministry are to be committed to ‘faithful men’ who shall be able….  The word Able – [he-ka-nos] speaks of sufficiency.  ‘Who is sufficient…’  Simply, those faithful people who may not be qualified right now but because of their heart will become Sufficient. Whatever God has called you to do He will make you sufficient if you are faithful!

God does not come looking at our Qualifications, after all, they come from Him anyway!  He comes looking at our Hearts!  Ministry (real ministry) does not being in the pulpit or on the platform – – it begins in Service!  Faithful Service!

In truth, none of us are really qualified.  God does not call us because of our natural talents.  He calls us because of our Hearts!  If a person’s heart is right and willing to be taught, this ‘faithful’ person can become More Than He Now Is!

All of us have been burned or hurt in life.  All of us have a call on our lives. All of us need a close covenant of committed friends. All of us need to be a part of a covenant community.  All of Us! For you and me to stand in our commitment to Christ We Need, no We Must establish a Covenant Relationship with God.  For our families to stand and not become fragmented and destroyed we need to develop a Covenant Relationship in that family order.  For the Fellowship or local Church to stand and possess the land, there must be committed covenant relationships established within that body. 

We are facing a Spiritual War and to be prepared we much be Committed and Faithful! We have God’s Promises.  Now as we more fully understand His purposes and receive His power, we must be united in a Covenant Family and always stand Faithful!

God bless you as you go through your day!

CAN THIS BE THE WILL OF GOD? – – Part Three…


James 1:2-4 – “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  NASB

It is powerful and troubling that James constantly instructs us to Rejoice (vv 1-2;8-9).  That gives us a good barometer as to how we are doing in the midst of all.  Are we having a Blue Monday (depressed), totally despondent on Tuesday wanting to give up and throw in the towel?  Are we ready to kick down the walls and throw something in rage?  If we are following what the Holy Spirit is directing, we are Rejoicing and filled with Joy.  Ouch!

The question becomes, “How is this even possible?”  Look at verse three and he says, “Knowing this…”  How is it possible?  It is possible, only when we know that the trial of our faith is working something in us for God and good!  That produces Hope!

What is the evidence that this is transpiring in us?  Consider verses 3-4 and we realize that there is Endurance in Testing.  We either grow to the place in our confidence and trust of God that we rejoice and are filled with joy or we cave in, to the pressure and depression reigns.  We either relax and trust Him or we become despondent, angry, jealous, etc.  Those are carnal reactions and reactions that these tests and trials are seeking to help us overcome.

There is a Key Word that we dare not miss and it is used 7 times in the Book of James. (1:3-4; 5:7,8,10,11).  That demands we define this word “Patience.”  The Greek conveys the idea of enduring rather than giving in.  It is more than a calm resignation to what seems inevitable.  It does not mean to sit back with a bowed head and let things descend upon us and say, “I’ll just tough it out.”  It is not sitting passively until the storm passes over.  It is not adopting a “Trying to hang on mentality.”  That is ‘toleration’ not ‘patience’ as used here.  There is a dramatic difference and we are talking about having Divine Patience not Coping or Caving.

I hear Christians ask, “How are you coping?”  My response is, “I am not simply trying to cope.  I am not simply trying to hang on.”  That is a worldly mentality, not a biblical one.  I believe we can live above all that.  Patience is not grimly waiting for the end.  Patience (Hoop-o-mo-nay) is an active aggressive working in us.  It is a spirit that bears all things with a blazing hope and a flaming joy.  It is enduring with a victorious spirit that has Joy as its chief characteristic. That is far more than coping!

The word Patience is illustrated as the ability of a small plant to survive, flourish, and come to fruitfulness under unfavorable circumstances barraged by the tempest and storm.  We are tender plants planted in the House of our Lord.  His purpose is never to blow over us and destroy us but to bring us to fruitfulness and enable us to develop endurance that does not fail and never gives up.  He is bringing us to fruitfulness not defeat.

It is in that condition that we can do the works of genuine faith so that people will be drawn to the Living God.  We can demonstrate our faith, even in the face of severe tests and trials.  It is here that we manifest an active faith and people see Jesus in our character and our works.

Then, he says, “Wanting nothing” (v 4).  If you find yourself filled with frustration and unfulfilled desires and expectations and you are striving for this or that, then there is an area in which God needs and wants to work to bring you to victory.  He wants us to reach a state of Divine Contentment.  Remember the words of Paul in Timothy, “Contentment with godliness is great gain”?

His purpose is to bring us to a place of security in our relationship with Him and bolster our trust and confidence in Him and His promises.  In that condition, no storm will overcome us because we know Who He is and Who We Are in Him.  We grasp the reality of His Blood Covenant and His inability to fail.  Therefore, the Goal is Perfected Character, enabling us to Rejoice in the times of trial and bring us to full maturity where we lack nothing.

The question is, “Where Are We?”  I suggest these closing thoughts for our meditation:

Acknowledge – Your lack and need.

Repent – For being offended.

Realize – You cannot, in your own strength, do this, it requires the Holy Spirit.

Request – The Holy Spirit to come and help.

Renew – Your covenant commitment to God.

Honesty is an absolute requirement.  Allow the Holy Spirit the total freedom to fully expose any deficiency in your thinking or character.  Allow Him to point you in the right direction and as you do, you will discover the ability, through inner strength, to rejoice and become like a little lamb skipping and dancing in the face of trials.  As He reveals what He wants, do it.  If you fail don’t quit but get up and try again.  This is a process not a one-time infusion of His strength into your life.  You Grow in Grace!

God bless you as you enjoy this day in Him!