STRONG IN GRACE…


2 Timothy 2:1, 11-13 – “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus…..11 It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; 12 If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; 13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” NASB

How about you, do you want to be “Strong in Grace?”  I believe that I can answer that for you without violating your right to make the decision for yourself and say YES!  Paul identified in verses 11-13 some truths regarding our walk, in Christ in this life by saying:

  1. If we have died in Him, we will also live in Him.
  2. If we endure, we will reign.
  3. If we deny Him, He will deny us.
  4. If we are faithless, He will remain faithful
  5. God cannot deny Himself.

We are dead in Christ through the “new birth” and have been made a new creation through the gift of Salvation and one day we will live with Him eternally.  Jesus never hid the fact that we would face difficulties in life and in the Christian walk and neither does Paul.  He tells us the end of that enduring is reigning with Jesus.  He warns that if we deny the Lord, God will deny us on that day and that is not something that any of us desires.  He tells us that we may be less than faithful, but God will always be faithful because He cannot deny Himself and He is faithful.

So, to be “Strong in Grace” is to embrace the faith that is in Jesus Himself.  It is to allow the Holy Spirit to guide our thoughts, words, and deeds. It is to allow the Holy Spirit to shed the Love of God abroad in our hearts and to teach us all things that Jesus said.  It is to allow the Holy Spirit to quicken our mortal bodies so that we shake off the shackles of carnality and move into the realm of the spiritual.  It is to become focused on the King and the Kingdom of God as paramount and supreme above all else.  It is to Totally Surrender our life, all of it to GOD!

It is in that condition and position that we become “Strong in Grace” and no matter what comes we come out the other side In Christ and therefore Victorious! 

May God be with you as you go through your day!

MOUTH AND HEART CHRISTIANS…


Psalm 19:14 – “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.” NASB

There have been times in my life, Christian walk, and ministry that I have either found myself out of harmony with these two or have encountered others who were so conditioned.  What does it mean to be out of harmony between the “mouth” and the “heart”?  It means that what you are saying is not what you really believe or living and that would fall under the definition of “hypocrisy”.  None of us wants to be a hypocrite.

David’s prayer is one that I pray regularly and with earnest because I recognize that if “my talking the talk” does not line up with “my walking the walk” then it is like “rain on a tin barn” and is only noise but no substance.  There will be no impact on lives for the good and God only repulsion and rejection of both the message and messenger. 

But it goes deeper than that because if my “words” are not in harmony with the “meditation” of my heart then I lose out in my relationship with God and do not develop or enjoy the bountiful benefits of walking with Him.  I am, at best, out of fellowship with my Lord and at worst in a rebellious state and in danger of being spewed out of His mouth.

I want my words to Please the Lord as well as my thoughts and heart.  I want my actions, which spring out of my heart, to be pleasing to God and productive for the cause of the Kingdom of God.  I believe that the vast majority of believers desire the same thing All the Time. 

Therefore, the question arises – “How Do We Ensure That Is the Case?”  I believe that Jesus said it best in Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Paul echoed that in a different fashion in 2 Corinthians 10:5-6 – “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, 6 and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.”

Therefore, if we are to have our “words” and “meditation” or our Mouth and Heart be in harmony with the pleasure of the Lord, we must make Him first above everything.  We must take proactive steps to ensure that no thought that is out of harmony with His Word is allowed lodging in our hearts or minds.  We must become people of Prayer, Praise, and the Pursuit of God.  If we do that, I am convinced that God will step into our situations and maneuver our “words” and “meditations” so that they are in full harmony and pleasing to the Father!

May God be with you and guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus our Lord as you go through your day!

SOMETHING THE WICKED CANNOT HAVE…


Isaiah 57:19-21 – “I create the fruit of the lips: Peace, peace to him who is far off and to him who is near,” Says the LORD, “And I will heal him.”  20 But the wicked are like the troubled sea, When it cannot rest, Whose waters cast up mire and dirt. 21 “There is no peace,” Says my God, “for the wicked.”  NKJV

Jesus said in John 14:27-28 “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” NASB. Paul later wrote in Philippians 4:7 – “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” NASB.

The Lord, through Isaiah, declares that He creates the fruit of the lips and grants peace to the one who is near and the one who is far off.  God promises to bring healing to those, and I personally believe that means physically, mentally, socially, spiritually, and economically.  Then He says something that should catch our attention if the first part did not.

God identified that there is something that the wicked cannot have or possess – Peace!  The wicked will toss and turn on his bed at night troubled by shadows of things they fear whether real or imagined.  The wicked will always be looking over his shoulder because of the vileness of his heart and the corruption that proceeds from it. 

The wicked will never trust anyone because he cannot be trusted.  He is like a troubled sea that dredges up filth and pollution and there is no Peace.  So, if your life is marked by the absence of peace you might want to examine your relationship with our Lord.  I am not saying you are wicked but suggesting that if you allow the Holy Spirit to develop your relationship with Jesus Peace will become a natural product of your life and its continued absence is a definite sign of a problem.  On the other hand, if you are engaged in wickedness then you cannot expect to experience true peace or continual peace it is not something that God will allow you to have.

I know the Peace of God that goes far beyond what the human mind can comprehend or imagine.  I know what it is to be completely calm, collected, and restful amid a situation that would cause any heart to be completely hysterical.  I know what the infusion of God’s Peace can bring to any situation and any heart in the most difficult of times.  That place of peace is a place that I desire as my permanent residence.

May God be with you as you go through your day!

BE A VOICE, NOT AN ECHO…


John 1:23 – “He said, “I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.”  NASB

As a preacher, it is the cry of my heart to be a “voice” for God, not an “echo” simply repeating what others have said.  The Christian Church has been saturated with preaching to the point that we are almost anesthetized and have built up an immunity to its effect.  We have heard it all so many times, it is commonplace to us and because it is too frequently without any demonstration of the Power of God it is just more words or theory to many.

When John the Baptist was asked who he was this was his response, “I am a voice…”  Years ago, in a time of frustration over the lack of visible results from the meetings in the church I cried out to the Lord in specific prayer.  I prayed, “LORD, help me be a voice, not an echo.” 

What I meant and mean by that is, I do not want to simply regurgitate what men before me, or my contemporaries are saying about God.  I wanted to ‘hear’ what God was saying to me and to the church and speak ‘for Him’ not simply ‘about Him.’  I want to be able to practically apply the biblical truths to life situations and see the presence and power of God manifest.  I want to ‘pull down strongholds.’  I want to see the fulfillment of Jesus’ words, “the works that I do you shall do…”  Forget, the greater works for the moment and simply focus on doing what He did and enforcing the Victory He won at the Cross.

It has long been the cry of my heart for Isaiah 61 to be a reality in my life.  I want that anointing.  I want to fulfill the declaration of Jesus in Luke 4 when He quoted this passage from Isaiah and declared, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me because He anointed me to…”  He then detailed what the Spirit of God had sent Him to do.  Preach the Gospel, release the captives, give sight to the blind (spiritual and natural), and to free the downtrodden proclaiming the acceptable year of the Lord or God’s Jubilee.

 We learn in Romans 10:17 that faith, that sometimes elusive mysterious thing in the minds of many Christians comes by hearing.  We learn that true hearing or spiritual hearing comes through the Word of Christ.  Earlier in that chapter, we are informed that salvation, deliverance, healing, and God’s redemptive power comes to those who hear. 

In Romans 10:14, the apostle asks, “How shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed?  And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?”  Those questions ignited a spark that has become a raging fire in my heart.  I want to be a VOICE so people can hear, believe, receive, and be set free!  Echoes do not set people free, but voices do!  Echoes repeat old clichés and doctrines, that are wonderful and powerful if believed and received, but voices become a ‘Rhema’ to the soul igniting the fire of faith.

I have no desire to simply talk ‘about’ God, I want to see the fulfillment of Jesus’ instruction regarding prayer.  I want to see, God’s Kingdom come into my world, my life, and my presence.  I want His will to be done on this earth as it is in heaven and to be the prevailing determination of everything I am, and I do. 

I pray that God will help all of us to become Voices for Him and say what we hear Him saying and do what we see Him doing.  Taking His Word and applying it to our lives and situations with expectation.

May the LORD bless you and keep you as you enjoy this wonderful day in Him!

IS GOD’S POWER LIMITED?


Numbers 11:23 – “And the LORD said to Moses, “Is the Lord’s power limited? Now you shall see whether My word will come true for you or not.”  NASB

Maybe a better way of asking that question would be, “Is there anything that can limit God’s power?”  Clearly from the overall teaching of Scripture, God is Omnipotent.  That would mean and does mean that His power is UNLIMITED!  He does not have Power, He is Power!  If God decides to do something, there is nothing that could prevent the fulfillment of His decision.  That, I believe is absolute and the clear message of the Bible.

However, I must ask again, “Is there anything that can limit God’s power?”  Maybe we should rephrase that again and ask, “Is there anything that we can do that would cause God to withhold His power?”  Obviously, that is an entirely different question and presents totally new parameters in the equation or question.

There are two distinct passages that address this in the New Testament.  One is in Matthew 13:58 where it speaks of Jesus’ lack of miracles in His home town due to unbelief.  Then in Mark 6:5 referring to the same situation worded it differently saying, “Now He could do no mighty work there, except He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them.”  The next verse tells us that Jesus marveled because of their unbelief.

The Bible teaches plainly that with God all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26; Luke 1:37; Luke 18:27; Jeremiah 32:17; Job 42:2; Genesis 18:14).  We are also taught that if we believe and have the expectation that God will fulfill His promises all things are possible to us. (Philippians 4:13; Mark 10:27; Mark 9:23; Mark 11:24).  These are not the only passages we could use but are sufficient to establish that with God all things are possible and with those who exercise faith all things are possible.

We are taught in Hebrews 13:8 that Jesus is eternally the same.  He is the same today as He was yesterday and will be the same tomorrow as He is today.  He is the Omnipresent, Omniscient, and Omnipotent Creator of all things.  He is “The Living God.” (Deuteronomy 5:26; Joshua 3:10; 1 Samuel 17:26, 36; 2 Kings 19:4; Psalms 42:2; Romans 9:26). 

If God is The Living God and nothing is impossible with Him, then why would we doubt Him?  I am convinced that the only thing that stops God from moving on our behalf is us.  If we doubt Him and live our lives without expectation, we will live beneath the place He desires.  If Jesus is the Son of the Living God, and if God is Omnipotent, righteous, holy, just, and loving, why do we doubt His willingness to fulfill His promises and provisions?

Let me offer one possible reason.  We, humans, are prone to earn things and want to feel we deserve them.  That is foreign to Grace and because we love and think as humans we tend to think of God as we think of ourselves.  We feel unworthy of His favor, grace, and blessings and therefore question God because we question ourselves. 

Another is, we have been taught limitations to God.  We have been taught dispensational ideas that relegate certain attributes and demonstrations of God to certain eras.  We have been taught, contrary to the Word of God that what God did He no longer does.  Yet, the Bible teaches that He is the same, past, present, and future.  That is why Jesus would respond with almost shock when someone said, “If you are willing?”  He responded, “If I am willing!”  Indicating that He was amazed that they would question His willingness to do good.

Therefore, rather than questioning whether God is Limited or not we should encourage ourselves that He is Limitless in Power, Limitless in Love, Limitless in Willingness, and become open vessels to receive His Promises, Provision, and Power.

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

NEED A DOCTOR?


Luke 5:31 – “And Jesus answered and said to them, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick.”  NASB

I preached from this passage many years ago and had a man come to me afterward and say, “Preacher you missed it completely today, we are not sick.”  I understood his view but was somewhat surprised since we have a very powerful time of ministering to people who came forward for prayer.  God healed bodies, hearts, and relationships in that service.  So, this man’s view of the condition of the church was different than those who came for prayer and ministry.

He considered himself a religious man, and he was.  However, simply being religious is not necessarily without the need for ministry.  Jesus was addressing the self-righteous Pharisees and Scribes in His statement.  Recognizing the need for ministry is somewhat like being lost if you don’t know you have a need you will seek no help. 

There is a key principle taught in the Bible regarding ministering to others.  Jesus illustrated who our neighbor is in the Parable of the Good Samaritan.  He addressed the need of serving others in His washing the disciples’ feet.  Paul brings this into focus powerfully in Galatians 6:1 as he spoke of discovering a brother or sister entrapped in a spiritual or moral failure.  What is the right biblical response?  Restoration!  Restoration with ourselves in mind, realizing that we could easily be in their shoes.

God’s purpose is always Restoration!  God’s purpose is not condemnation, judgment, and punishment, but restoration.  That should be our view as well.  I ask that you call to mind the declaration of Jesus in Matthew 7 as He spoke about dealing with others who have issues.  His instruction was that we are to ‘seek healing for our own sins’ before trying to correct others.  In that declaration, He made it clear that, from time to time, we all need a doctor, spiritually.

I remember as a young Christian and a fledgling preacher developing a sense of personal piety and falling into the trap of comparing myself to others.  I would look at people who did not look right, talk right, dress right, or, in my view, live right and would piously think, “Thank God I’m not like that.”  One day the Holy Spirit rattled my cage and said, “No, you are worse.”  That shook me more than I can describe.

I attempted to argue and present my good works and abstentions as qualifiers for my belief that I was somehow better than those I was looking down on.  The more I argued the more I realized that I was nothing but a Pharisee and had lost the view of God’s purpose for people.  I was elevating myself, thinking I was whole, when there was a hole in my heart that needed the loving attention of God’s balm of Grace. 

I wanted to please God more than I wanted anything.  I had my list and was checking all the right boxes.  However, in that process, my heart was growing cold toward my brothers and sisters.  I was not as compassionate as I thought I was.  I was not as loving as I envisioned myself.  I was judgmental although I would have argued that I was just inspecting the fruit not judging.  As, I realized my own deficiencies and need, in repentance, I was brought into the Emergency Room of God’s Love and the Healing Balm of God was applied.  I was transformed in a very real way. 

I could, once again, speak of sin with a broken heart.  I could, once again, speak of love out of a heart overflowing with love.  I needed a doctor and thank God the doctor was in the house and willing to treat me and bring me back to health.  In that experience, I discovered that it would not be the last time I needed a doctor, Doctor Jesus to come and address an area in my life.  Thank God, that I have learned that if I have a need, my heavenly doctor is always ready to minister healing.

God bless you as you reach out to Doctor Jesus in your time of need.

DO WE BELIEVE THE PROMISE?


Leviticus 26:3-4 – “If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments so as to carry them out, 4 then I shall give you rains in their season, so that the land will yield its produce and the trees of the field will bear their fruit.”  NASB

The Bible, both Old, and New Testaments give some of the most amazing promises from God that I sometimes think we read as though they were the promises of yesteryear or fables.  I do not mean that to be a railing indictment on anyone but an observation.  If I were to point the finger at anyone there would be four more pointing back at me.  Believing the Promises and appropriating them into our lives is of concern and interest to me.

For some time, the Holy Spirit has been dealing with my heart regarding ‘expectation.’  I have read the Bible from cover to cover many times and each time I take the journey of discovery in the Word of God, I keep hearing the gnawing question, “Do you believe that?”  When I answer in the affirmative, I hear the question, “Do you expect it to be a present reality?”  That question is not so easy to answer, because I believe that God knows our hearts and to answer without total honesty would be both foolish and detrimental.

Look at what the passage offers in the “if” and “then” portions of the Promise.  It is nothing short of amazing and although God is offering to do spectacular things for us regarding personal benefit, prosperity, and sustenance, He requires something of us.  Many years ago, the Holy Spirit impressed upon my heart and I have confirmed that in the Word, to my satisfaction, that God is unwilling to be our Candy Store.  By that I mean, He is unwilling to indiscriminately give us the bounty of heaven without a commitment of our hearts.

Before anyone assume that I am suggesting we can somehow earn God’s Grace, Mercy, or Blessings, let me affirm that I AM NOT!  However, the obedience factor is not inconsequential and when God details the “if” in order to receive the “then” He is serious. 

I am reminded of God’s declaration in Numbers 23:19 – “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?”  We make promises that we have not thought out or do not have the ability to fulfill.  God on the other hand, never makes an idle promise or one that He is incapable of fulfilling. (Luke 1:37).

We read in Isaiah 55:11 – “So shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”  Jesus echoed that in Matthew 5:18 – “For truly I say to you until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished.”  He also declared in Luke 1:37 – “For with God nothing will be impossible.” 

Therefore, if God says that we will have the needed rains for our crops to thrive and produce and that our fruit trees will have an abundance of fruit, which means His provisions for our personal benefit, He means it! He intends to provide exactly what He said! When He then adds the addendum or caveat that there is a requirement to receiving that, He is serious and not manipulative.  The requirement for having all that God promises is here declared to be walking in His statutes and keeping His commandments. 

The truth could not be more powerfully articulated than in the words of Jesus in John 15:7 – “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you.”  Imagine a life where there was no lack. Imagine a life where we had guaranteed answers to our prayers.  That is the Promise of God to those who fulfill the “if” clause in His Promises.

Let me caution each one that if we “ask” amiss or with wrong motives we are guaranteed nothing.  If our focus is on ourselves and our motivation is rooted in selfishness, we are promised nothing.  But, if we follow the prescription of Matthew 6:33 and make God first above all and seek Him first before all allowing His Kingdom to come and His will to be realized in our hearts and minds, we are in a position to receive the “then” portion of this and every promise because we will, from a pure heart, be fulfilling the “if” portion.

God bless you as you seek Him first and foremost and enjoy His bountiful provisions and blessings!