THE OPERATIVE WORD IS – “IF” …


John 15:7 – “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”  NASB

What a powerful word “IF” is. What Jesus had to say in this passage is incredibly powerful and life-changing. In His discourse on being the Vine and the Father the vinedresser, Jesus informed those hearing that He expected His follower to “bear fruit” and if there was no “fruit-bearing” that branch would be taken away. 

He talked about the cleansing of the vine by pruning and told those listening that they were clean already because of His Word.  He identified that there could be no fruit except that which comes from the life of the vine and that since we are branches and He is the vine our fruit is the result of the life that exudes from the vine. 

Then in verse seven, He makes a statement that far too often is taken as a stand-alone passage but must be viewed in the context of the whole – “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask WHATEVER you wish, and it will be done for you.”  (Emphasis mine).

This doorway to the miraculous is conditioned not only upon the context of the whole but hinges on the small word – ‘IF.’  The two facets of the “if” are abiding in Him, and His words abiding in us.  It is in light of drawing life from the Vine and producing fruit that He identifies that we are recipients of life and as living branches, we produce fruit because we are Abiding in Him and His Words are Abiding in Us!  That is the flow to us and from us. We receive of His life and as a result of that reception we produce fruit which produces seed which produces more fruit, and the cycle is endless.  In that context, we can “Ask what we wish and receive answers to our prayers.”

Unfortunately, it would seem that too often we are not abiding in Him, and His words are not abiding in us to the level that He is our All-in-All and we are living in a relatively casual, relationship rather than a totally committed life in which we “seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness.”  

Too often we do not expect that whatever we wish or pray for will come to pass and develop a condition of the heart that does not rise to the level of faith to receive.  Conversely, if we are abiding in Him and His words are abiding in us His life will prod us to the level of life that we live in expectancy and become the fulfillment of His promise that “the Works that He did we will do and greater works because He has gone to the Father.”  We will exhibit in this life the life of Jesus and through the fruit of that relationship, others will be positively impacted for the Kingdom. 

The operative word is “IF.”  If we abide in Him.  If His words abide in us.  IF is the condition and the conduit through which the life that brings the faith for the miraculous is realized.  Lord help, me to change the “IF” to “I DO.” 

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

THE LIVING DEAD!!!


Romans 8:10-12 “If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. 12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh….”  NASB

We are the “Living Dead” and I not talking about Zombies as Hollywood seems to be obsessed with these days.  When I say the “Living Dead” I am talking about people who have “died to sin” and “risen to life” in Jesus Christ through the Power of the Blood.  It is a beautiful place to be – Living Dead!

Paul informs the Roman believers that “IF” the Spirit of God, that raised Jesus from the dead, lives in us that same Spirit will give us Life in our mortal bodies.  We are then Dead and Alive and that is because we are not controlled by the “flesh” but by the “spirit.”  As a result, we are no longer under Obligation to Live According to the Flesh.  That leads me to my next question – “Why do we?” 

Why do we allow the Flesh to have so much power in our daily lives?  Why do we allow the Flesh to be such a dominant force in our lives?  WHY?  There can only be one of a few possibilities.

  • We are uninformed as to our position and condition in Christ.
  • We are willing participants with the Flesh.
  • We are so underdeveloped spiritually that the devil easily sways and overcomes us.

None of those conditions are required or that we are Obligated to.  When Jesus came, lived a sinless life, died sacrificially on the Cross, rose on the third day, and is now ascended to the Right Hand of the Father – the devil was defeated.  That is not a maybe or someday, somehow when we all get to heaven he will be – He is Defeated Now! 

Jesus said that All Power or Authority in heaven was given to Him, and He gave that to us.  Therefore, we have authority and power over the devil which would mean that the Flesh is to be subject to the Spirit of God, not vice versa. We are under No Obligation to succumb to the temptations or whims of the flesh.  We are More Than Conquerors through Jesus and We Can do all things through Christ!  That is our Covenant, Heritage, and Promise from the Lord Himself so why not employ it and enjoy it?

Therefore, as you go through this day go in the strength of the Power of the Spirit of God and walk in Victory!  

God bless you richly is my prayer!

IDLE, CARELESS, EMPTY, OR EVIL WORDS…


Matthew 12:33-37 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit.  34 ” You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.  35 ” The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil.  36 “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the Day of Judgment.  37 “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words, you will be condemned.”  NASB

I have heard so many interpretations of verses 36-37 that I approach this with great caution and careful thought.  I have had people tell me that this means that if you are not talking about God all the time you are uttering idle or careless words and will be judged for it.  That would seem quite legalistic and be quite a prison for all of us.  I am not sure how you would conduct business, develop a social life, find a mate, or train your children in all aspects of life under that interpretation but if that is your view so be it.  I would ask that you restrain yourself in seeking to impose it on the rest of us. 

I have studied this troubling and seemingly difficult translation to find what our Lord was truly saying to those in his audience then and now.  I refer you to two notable commentators on Scripture:

Adam Clarke suggested:

 [Every idle word] – Reema (NT:4487) argon (NT:692), a word that does nothing, that neither ministers grace nor instruction to them who hear it.  The word argon (NT:692) corresponds to the Hebrew shaaw’ (OT:7723), which signifies not only vain or empty but also wicked and injurious, such as a false testimony against a neighbor, compare this to Deut 5:11 and 20.


Add to this, that Symmachus translates piguwl (OT:6292), polluted, Lev 19:7, by the very Greek word in the text. It was to explain this ambiguous meaning of the word, that ten MSS, have changed argon (NT:692), into poneeron (NT:4190), evil. Our Lord must be understood here as condemning all false and injurious words: the scope of the place necessarily requires this meaning.

In looking at verse 37 we realize that – [By thy words thou shalt be justified] That is, the whole tenor of thy conversation will be an evidence for or against thee, in the great day.  How many are there who count words for nothing! and yet eternity often depends on them. Lord, put a watch before the door of my lips! is a prayer proper for all men.

Barnes Notes suggested:

[But I say unto you …] Christ closes this address to his malignant and wicked hearers by a solemn declaration that for these things God would bring them into judgment. Therefore. They who had spoken so malignantly against him, could not escape.

[Idle word] This literally means a vain, thoughtless, useless word; a word that accomplishes no good. Here it means, evidently, “wicked, injurious, false, malicious, for such” were the words which they had spoken.

[By thy words thou shalt be justified …] That is, “words” are the indication of the true principles of the heart; by “words” the heart shall be known, as the tree is by its fruit. If they are true, proper, chaste, instructive, and pious, they will prove that the heart is right. If false, envious, malignant, and impious, they will prove that the heart is wrong, and will therefore be among the causes of condemnation. It is not meant that words will be the only thing that will condemn man, but that they will be an important part of the things for which he shall be condemned. See James 3:3-12.

I would suggest that Jesus is referring to words that are “without value,” words that are “harmful,” and words that are “untrue.”  I would also suggest that He is identifying the condition of the heart referring to the utterance of words and is telling all who will hear that it is a Wholesome, God-FearingLife that is to be prized and that will be acceptable to God on that day. 

To suggest that simply constructing our language and conversation in a particular way would be enough to gain entrance into Heaven would be to trample under-foot the Blood of Jesus and slander the Grace of God.  It would make Grace something earned and Salvation something we can become worthy of by our actions or words, and we know that is not according to Scripture. 

Therefore, this cannot be interpreted in that manner so understanding that it is not just talking about a particular dogma that our Lord is focused on but the Whole of Our Lives and instructing us to understand that “Words Have Meaning” and are “Powerful.”   I too pray that God places a guard at my mouth and my heart.

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

CONSIDER ANOTHER HE MIGHT BE A WEAKER BROTHER…


1 Corinthians 8:9-13 – “But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become an obstacle to those who are weak. 10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols? 11 And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? 12 But when you thus sin against the brethren and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.”

The matter of personal liberty has always been and will always be an issue of importance and contention in the Church.  The conscience of a weaker brother or sister is a topic of importance.  How far do we press our liberty before we become a stumbling block for a “weaker brother”?  Is there a time to say, “Grow up and realize that different people have different convictions?” Before you answer that and insist there is I ask that you ask, “Is exercising our liberty worth causing another to stumble?”  How you answer those questions will determine how you relate to those around you.  Everything must be done with grace!

There was a time in my Christian walk when I felt that everyone should hold the same convictions that I held. If they did not, I felt that they were “carnal” at best and “backslidden” at worst.  Most of them both and I was a Pharisee of Pharisees! 

It took God rattling my cage in a major way to cause me to rethink everything. In that shaking, I developed an understanding which enabled me to realize that I was not God’s Fruit Inspector. I realized that He could handle that job just fine without my input.  Likewise, I had to learn, although in my heart I knew, that most of what I called “convictions” were simply “opinions” and did not have the weight of Scripture.  

An opinion is just that – opinion! It is something that may and should change if new light is revealed.  If God “convicts” your heart regarding an action, belief, or anything you should follow what God says implicitly and explicitly.  Yet you must always remember that what God “convicts” you of He may not convict another.  Many times, the roots of that conviction stem from something within you or the geographic region in which you live and the mindset of those around you.  God will bring conviction to your heart for your benefit not so you can attempt to impose it on everyone else that would be what a Pharisee does.

There have been times that I could have done something but knew that there were those around me who would be hindered in their Christian walk if they saw me so doing.  Therefore, in the interest of another, I choose to abstain.  In traveling to other parts of the country and world I have found that there are many differing views on various things that Christians do or do not do and sometimes the dogmatism is so strong that no amount of reason or biblical teaching can break it.  

Unless God brings light to the heart, that person or those people will remain as they are.  Attempting to legislate to them a particular mindset or lifestyle would be futile and brings to mind the old saying: “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”  They may yield to your insistence, but their hearts and minds have not profoundly changed.  You are not God, so why try to be?

As you go through your day realize that what you do and say will have an impact on others so choose your words and deeds carefully considering another for your liberty is not worth hindering another in their pursuit of GOD and His Grace!

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

WANTED – – Truth Tellers…


Ephesians 4:25 “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another.” NASB

I do not want to get political or go on an all-out attack on religious hypocrisy but will say that what we need in this present world is men and women of The Truth!  Paul tells the Ephesian church that they are to “lay aside” Falsehood and “speak the truth.”  He reminds them and us that we are not isolated from each other but as members of both the human race and the family of God we are part of the same fabric and while we sometimes are guilty of lying to ourselves or distorting reality in our minds, we do not practice that regularly, at least I hope we do not.

My grandfather and father always told me, “Tell the truth it is easier to remember than a lie.”  They usually told me that when I attempted to pull the wool over on their eyes and they saw through it with amazing clarity and regularity.  Neither would tolerate laziness or dishonesty and were truthful to a fault and even if telling the truth brought them personal or financial difficulty. 

They believed and so do I that “honesty” is not just the best policy it is the “only policy.”  If we are truthful then we do not have to worry about being exposed and that in itself brings a certain sense of peace and security to the heart and mind.  We have all known people who it seems would climb a tree to tell a lie when they could have stood on the ground and told the truth.

My children know that I told them, “If you lie to me and I catch you it will be far worse than if you tell me the truth.”  If they remember they can recall sometimes when they told me the truth and escaped punishment and times when they did not, and the punishment or correction was stepped up a notch. 

If we encounter someone who tells us untruths on a regular basis, no matter how hard we try not to label or characterize them as being a liar we still do so, at least in the back of our minds and it affects our relationship or prevents us developing one that is positive.  No one wants to do business with a person that distorts the truth or facts. 

No one would want to sit under a preacher who tells fabrications.  As a friend of mine had a member of his congregation asked him, “Pastor was that story you told the truth, or were you just preaching?”  What a statement and while she may not have meant it as it came across that she would even entertain it is a tragedy. 

You do not want anyone to tell you anything but the truth so why practice telling others something that is not truthful?  You would not want your doctor to tell you something that was not true regarding your health because that could cost you your life.  You would not want your banker or financial adviser to misrepresent your finances which might cost you your possessions.  In life (all of it) let us be People of the Truth!

May God bless you as you go through your day!

SLAVES NO MORE…


Galatians 4:1-7 – “Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything, 2 but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father. 3 So also, we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. 4 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, 5 so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. 6 Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ” Abba! Father!” 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.” NASB

Paul’s way of explaining our relationship with God is powerful.  He brings to mind that a child, although a member of the family and ultimately owner of all the family fortunes and worth is very little different from a slave because the child is under the authority of his/her parents or those whom the parents have placed over them.  They are not allowed the privilege of operating as an “owner” until it is deemed by the father that they are ready. Owner of all but the authority of a slave is the condition described.

Then he declares to us that we are sons (a non-gender term as used here) and because of that truth God has sent the Spirit of God into our hearts crying Abba! Father!  As a result, we are no longer slaves but sons and daughters and if we are sons and daughters, we are Heirs of God! 

My friends, how often do we, as children of the Most-High, live beneath our privilege?  How frequently do we live as slaves rather than sons and daughters?  It is time that we assess who we are and whose we are.  It is time to reread the Bible and determine what this New Covenant that is established upon Better Promises is all about and what it affords.  It is time that we reevaluate our relationship with the Lord and that we have the authority and power to not only overcome the enemy of our souls but the grace to live The Abundant Life that Jesus promised.  You are not a Slave you are a Child of God and an Heir according to His Promise!

Let us move from a slave mentality to a son and daughter mentality.  Let us move from timidity to boldness in our relationship, heritage, and covenant.  Let us begin to live as Heirs and bring real hope to this hopeless world outside of Christ.  It is as we move into that mentality that we find ourselves filled with the desire to be totally His. Remember 1 John 4:17 – “By this, is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, we also are in this world.”

God bless and keep you as you go through your day!

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 with 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 in 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 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, my Christian walk, and ministry that I have either found myself out of harmony with these or have encountered others who were so conditioned or predisposed.  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 earnestly 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, 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.  The vast majority of believers desire the same thing All the Time! 

Therefore, the question arises – “How Do We Ensure That Is the Case?”  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.” NASB 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.” NASB

If we are to have our words and meditation or our Mouth, Heart, and Will be in harmony with the precepts and purposes 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 to lodge in our hearts or minds.  We must become people of prayer, praise, and 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 complete 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 CAN NOT 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. That something is 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.  He 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! 

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. I am suggesting that if you allow the Holy Spirit to develop and strengthen your relationship with Jesus, Peace will become a natural product of your life. I am suggesting that the continual absence of peace could be an indication of a problem or deficiency. 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 in the midst of 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!

CAN I GET A WITNESS?


Romans 8:16-17 – “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” NASB

The title question “Can I Get a Witness?” is a fitting catalyst to launch us into this discussion.  A witness, okay, here it is in plain sight in the Bible!  When the Holy Spirit witnesses to your human spirit that you are a Child of God rejoice!  That means as a child of God you are an ‘heir’ and beyond that, you are a ‘fellow heir’ with Christ.  We will not only suffer with Him, but we will be glorified with Him. 

Fellow believers, there is a better day coming!  There is a day of triumph coming for those who are faithful until the end.  There is a day of glory coming for those who endure to the end.  There is an Eternal Day coming for those who are washed in the blood of Jesus and have their sins forgiven.  What more do you need to give you the courage to stand firm and stand true than the witness of the Holy Spirit that you are indeed a child of God?  Rejoice and again I say REJOICE!

In the early days of my entering the ministry, I attended a meeting in Tyler, Texas conducted by the Church of God In Christ organization.  There were probably a couple of thousand people in attendance and the speaker was a pastor from Houston.  The elders were sitting at a table in the front on the floor level directly in front of the pulpit and the Evangelist was charged with receiving the offering. 

After well over an hour of testifying, mini preaching episodes, offerings, singing, and motivating the congregation to give, the congregation did almost to a person.  They came down the aisles and stood in front of the elders as they put their offerings on the table.  The elders recorded each offering in their books.  The Evangelist turned to the choir and instructed them to bring their offerings. They were seated on the floor level and as they began to come forward, he stopped them saying, “Unh Unh honey, some of you women are too dressed up to be puttin’ them quarters on the table.”  Then he turned to the preachers on the platform and yelled, “Can I get a witness?”  The place erupted with clapping and shouting. 

I left the meeting at almost 11 PM that night and they had just finished taking the offering.  I do not know what time the service was over, but I had a ball.  I left only because I had to go to work the next morning so I could not stay.  I was preaching and working a secular job as well as going to college, so my time was precious, but I would not trade that night for anything.  I learned something about enthusiasm for worship and willingness to be open and direct with regard to what people were doing.  It was refreshing then and is now when I see it and experience it.

The only real witness we need concerning our spiritual condition is not the testimony or accolades of men it is the witness of the Holy Spirit!  If our hearts condemn us then we need to take stock, but if the Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirits that we are children of God, then stop fretting, doubting, and worrying, and REJOICE!  Your name is in the Book of Life and that is the most important thing.

As you go through your day go in the witness, comfort, and encouragement of the Holy Spirit.  God bless you richly is my prayer!