1 John 2:1-2 – “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” NKJV
I have a preacher friend who adds, “If we sin?No, when we sin…” He then usually says, “Some hold varying doctrinal views regarding grace, salvation, eternal security, etc. We believe in backsliding as evidenced by how frequently we practice it.” He was serious yet attempting to add some levity and call attention to the humanness of mankind. I would tend to agree it is more likely, “When” rather than “If” for most of us of today.
The truth presented by John was not focused on “if” or “when” but the Hope of an Advocate. We have the one who paid the price for our sin standing before Heaven’s Throne having poured out His sacrificial blood interceding for us. If you can have a lawyer you want one that has influence, authority, and knowledge. You want an advocate who has standing with the court and in this case, the legitimate right to plea for leniency and mercy. He died to obtain it and “if” or “when” we miss the mark and fall short He is there to plead our case for us. Not to justify our sin but to identify our repentance and therefore extend the olive branch of mercy offering His blood to cover our failure.
I believe it is biblical to strive for a sinless life. I also understand that we are flawed vessels and although we should be and are maturing in grace, we still have the potential of missing the mark. I had someone tell me once, “If you sin after you claimed to be saved it is evidence you were never truly saved.” They believe that once you have accepted Christ as your Savior there is no longer the possibility of sinning in your nature for you have been transformed and as a transformed being, you are now incapable of sin. If that were the case this passage would not exist.
I long to be righteous at all times and in all things. Yet we can take heart the words of the apostle Paul in his address to the Philippian church in 3:12-14 where he informed them of his humanity. He revealed that he recognized he had not reached a state of perfection but had turned his back on the past and continually reaching for the Hope in Christ. He was pressing toward the mark or goal, the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Although he missed the mark, at times, his ambition was spiritual perfection, and when he failed, he did not justify it but pressed toward that which was afforded by the Cross.
I am not perfect. I’m sure that is no shock to anyone and while I refuse to justify my imperfections spiritually with, “I’m only human” I also recognize that “if” or “when” I fail it is not final for I have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous. In Him, I live and move and have my being. I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him against that day. I am incredibly comforted with the knowledge that I have an Advocate with the Father.
Proverbs 3:5-8 – “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil. 8 It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones.” NKJV
When we know the Will of God for our lives and are convinced of that will we, can give thanks in all things! That is a powerful place spiritually and affords us such peace that people will often wonder about us and possibly seek to know our secret.
In Colossians 1:12-13, the apostle Paul speaks of “giving thanks unto the Father who has… made us FIT [capable] to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the Kingdom of His dear Son.” Paul is not saying maybe, he is saying God has already made us capable or fit, in Jesus, to be partakers of our inheritance.
That is not a promise to be realized after we die and go to heaven It Is NOW! In Colossians 4:12, Paul instructed, “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ salutes you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand PERFECT and COMPLETE in ALL the Will of God.” [Emphasis mine]. Paul’s prayer was for them and us to KNOW and DO the Will of God for our lives. Clearly, it is possible to Know the Will of God else why pray such a prayer?
In Romans 12:1-2, an often-quoted passage, we read, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Transformed by the renewing of our minds is a powerful image and is the same word used to describe what happened to Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. God remolds our minds from within.
When God transforms us in our minds, we think differently than we have ever thought. I heard an illustration that fits in illustrating this truth and reality. Imagine a little boy looking through a knothole in a fence at a parade going by on the street. He can see only a small portion of the parade at any given time. If he sees a clown, he is full of laughter and joy but if he sees a lion he is filled with trepidation and fear. If there is a space between the band and the acrobats, he may think the parade is over. It would or could be a very frustrating experience attempting to evaluate a parade only based on what he can or cannot see at any given moment.
Then suppose his big brother invites him to the top of the fence where he can see the entire parade, not just small segments, his view would be completely different. Sadly, too often we are viewing life through a knothole and our elder brother Jesus is inviting us to rise to the top of the fence and see what He sees. Ephesians 2:6, “And (He) has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
Someone said to me, “Keep looking up!” I said, “No, I need to keep looking down because I am sitting with Jesus in heavenly places and am not under the circumstances but looking down on them from God’s perspective.” Isaiah 55:8-9, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Sometimes people see a promise in Scripture and claim it only to find that those they love, and respect do not respond positively. Then, over time, they lose heart and begin to complain, “Ever since I began to claim God’s Promise, things have gotten worse.” Well, Praise the Lord! I had a preacher tell me once, “The man who is angry is nearer to God than the man who is indifferent.”Romans 12:2 gives a practical outline for mind renewal. Do not let the world squeeze you into its mold and embrace the changing of your mind by the Spirit of God. Romans 12:1, tells us exactly how to do that. We do so by deliberately giving our bodies as a living sacrifice to God, we open the door for God’s transformation to sweep through our entire beings.
We can fear the Will of God or embrace it and in embracing it we will find that it requires a Complete Overhaul or Transformation of us from the inside out.
God bless you as you embark on the rest of your life’s journey beginning with this beautiful day in Jesus!
Proverbs 3:5-8 – “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil. 8 It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones.” NKJV
Let me make a bold statement and hopefully not lose anyone at the outset. Most Christians major in minors. We pray: “Lord, help me make this payment, find a new job, get a new car, etc.” Those should be minor concerns but often are at the top of our lists. Before you reject my statement and challenge me. I suggest we consider how the apostle Paul viewed and approached daily life. I find this revealed in a powerful way in his prayer for the new church at Colossae in Colossians 1:9, “…we…don’t cease to pray for you, and to desire that you might be filled with the knowledge of His Will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.” [Emphasis mine].
I believe that the basic underlying premise for all Divine Guidance is that it is possible to know the will of God. If it is possible to know God’s will then that knowing should be at the top of our prayer list. Remember the prayer when Jesus responded to the disciple’s request, “Lord teach us to pray.” Do the words, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done” resonate in your spirit. THY WILL BE DONE! We are not likely to do the will of God unless we know the will of God, therefore the pursuit of knowing should be a top priority.
Man was created to have communion and fellowship with God. God created man with the ability to know God and in knowing God, man would also know the Will of GOD. Rebellion disrupted the channels of communication in the Garden. But through the Last Adam, Jesus, those lines have been restored affording us the intimacy of fellowship with God. If we are to know the Will of God, we must learn to walk in intimate fellowship with Him. Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.” First is God, His kingdom, and righteousness in which we find the will of God, and then those things we put at the top of our prayer lists become secondary items because they fall within the “AND SHALL BE ADDED TO YOU.”
The apostle Paul understood what transpired in a person’s life when that individual came to Know the Will of God. In Colossians 1:10-12, he lists seven (7) expected results and I will highlight them in the passage for your consideration.
Colossians 1:10-12 – “That you might WALK WORTHY of the Lord UNTO ALL PLEASING, being FRUITFUL in every good work, and INCREASING IN THE KNOWLEDGE of God; STRENGTHENED with all might, according to His glorious power, unto all PATIENCE and LONGSUFFERING with JOYFULNESS; giving thanks unto the Father, who has made us FIT TO BE PARTAKERS of the inheritance of the saints in light…” [Emphasis mine].
If we are to Walk Worthy of the Lord, we must know what He wants from us, right? Jesus walked unto All Pleasing. He was a Father Pleaser! That should be our daily prayer, “Father, I want to be a son/daughter who pleases you.” However, many people are self-pleasers, others are man-pleasers but until we mature and come to the place that the overwhelming drive and desire of our heart are to be GOD-Pleaser we will never fully understand the will of God in our lives.
Let me insert, it is only by doing the will of God that our lives truly become Fruitful. Imagine an apple tree praying, “Lord, please bring forth apples from my life.” NO! An apple tree would not pray to bear apples that are what it is and does. It has to bring forth the Life that is in it, that is what it was created for. It does not have to strain or struggle to bear apples, fruit should come naturally as a result of the life that is in the apple tree. The same is true of our lives!
As we know the Will of God and we increase in the knowledge of God and are strengthened with all might according to His glorious power. That is real strength! Too often we focus on our weaknesses rather than God’s strength. I have had people on numerous occasions ask me to pray that they would have more strength, joy, victory, etc. That is not necessarily bad or wrong. I would suggest that as we seek to know the Will of God for our lives, we should remember that one of Paul’s requests was to be strengthened with all might according to God’s glorious power unto all patience and longsuffering with joy.
What does that suggest to you? It should convey the understanding that in the Will of God and our walk we will face times where those are needed. That means it will not always be smooth sailing and instant answers. The biblical promise is that when we KNOW we are in the Will of God we can withstand any hardship and do so with a quiet confidence and joy! It is when we do not know for certain that confusion comes through the front door and patience heads out the back door. Patience (hupomone) means to remain standing when everyone else has collapsed. It is when you know that you know that you know you can give THANKS IN ALL THINGS!
I cannot simply end here for there is another thought or two that I feel needs to be inserted so I will pause and pray that God grant you knowledge of His will in all things and at all times in your journey.
John 5:1-7 – “After this, there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. 3 In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. 4 For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. 5 Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” 7 The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” NKJV
This is a powerful story and I’ve preached and taught from it often. I have found it applicable in numerous situations and conditions. However, I want to address an issue that is too often the situation in life – “Answering the Question Asked.” Here is a man that has been lame for 38 years and his life relegated to hoping an impossible hope and compelled to beg for his existence. I can only imagine what his mindset was after this long a time watching others receive their healing and he continued day after day, year after year in his lameness.
I am convinced, in reading and studying this account, that this man, like many, had developed a woe is me attitude. Understand I do not want to be overly critical of him for after that long a time many of us would be in the same condition. He is brought to the pool by the Sheep Gate called Bethesda daily where the sick, blind, lame, paralyzed, and suffering other issues waited for an angel to stir the water, and then the first one in the water received healing. It happened repeatedly and he was left in his hopelessness. It must have weighed on his mind.
I believe that this is exactly the case, for when Jesus came to the pool, many were there but focused on this man. That in itself is interesting for our Lord does nothing without a purpose and He was continually using the opportunities of life to teach truths that are invaluable for every person and generation. Jesus came to the man and asked an obvious question: “Do you want to be made well?” What? What a Question? I can imagine the response in the man’s mind, “I’m here every day what do you think?”
One would have thought that he would have shouted “YES!” However, that was not his answer. He said, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another, steps down before me.” His answer spoke to his mindset and suggested that very mindset was the major reason that Jesus approached him. He was hopeless, even probably blamed God and others for his condition and his answer justified his continuing in that state. His answer identified the absence of hope or faith and the focus on the problem. He did not realize that Jesus was the solution and might have been offended by the question since the answer should be obvious to anyone.
How many times has the Lord come to us and asked a similar question regarding some condition or situation in our lives and we focused on all the reasons why it was not or could not be a reality? How many? I wonder! One of his problems was that he only saw one solution and since that was a virtual impossibility, he had resigned himself to the continuation of his problem.
When the Lord comes to us and challenges us with a question like this, He is not looking for our excuses, justifications or explanations as to why it is not and cannot be He is looking for a simple response that receives what He brings. He is asking us to roll our cares upon Him and trust Him. Therefore, when you face a problem of long-standing instead of focusing on the problem and reasons why it must continue lift up your eyes to Jesus for, He is greater than our problems and HE CAN!
Genesis 11:1-9 – “Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words. 2 It came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3 They said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly.” And they used brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar. 4 They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” 5 The LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. 6 The LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. 7 “Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city. 9 Therefore its name was called Babel because there the LORD confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth.” NASB
This desire on the part of man was not new to Nimrod and the people in Babel. It actually began in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve, as far as humans are concerned. However, Isaiah identified that it went much farther back when Lucifer was one of God’s Archangels and rebelled against THE MOST HIGH! He decided to rebel and convinced one-third of the angelic creation to go along with him in attempting to dethrone God.
He convinced Adam and Eve that God was hiding something good from them and that if they ‘voted God out of office’ and became the center of their universes all would be wonderful. It cost them the Garden and introduced death to the race. Here in Babel the attempt to virtually ‘dethrone’ God and elevate man to a place that God will never allow brought about the inability to communicate, the various languages, and ethnicities that were scattered across the globe. It has been the source of incredible confrontations and complications in man’s ability to live with man on planet earth.
Sadly, many do the same thing in their personal lives by ignoring the clear directives of both the Word of God and the Spirit of God. We refuse to forgive and thereby close the door to forgiveness for ourselves, alienate another human being who could be useful in our journey, and bring injury to them and our bitterness that results in others being defiled and their spirits marred. God’s directive is for us to ‘go into all the world and preach the gospel’ as we seek to bring the Good News to everyone so that none be lost. Sadly, we have difficulty communicating not just because of differences in spoken languages or dialects but in differences of beliefs we do not all speak the same language either naturally or spiritually.
I have found in my opportunities to minister around this nation and world that when I carefully seek to make sure that God is supreme in my heart, mind, life, and thinking He has used some unique ways to help me communicate to others. God’s Love is a language that is universally understood even when our words are not. The Spirit’s drawing power is universally felt even when our words fall short of an explanation. It is when we allow something to dethrone God in our lives that we find the confusion sets in and, in that state, we are unable to communicate and cooperate with our fellow human travelers through this thing we call life.
Psalm 51:10-11 – “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.11 Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.” NKJV
I have had people challenge me when I say that David was a man after God’s own heart with all the kinks in his armor, the flaws in his character, and some of the incredibly wrong courses he took in life. I always remind them that God did not say David was perfect but focused on David’s heart and this prayer is a window into the soul of David and his prayer is one that each of us should make our own daily.
David committed wrong and often paid for it dearly. I have often told congregations that considering the lives of some of the notable biblical characters we should take heart that if God could and would accept them when they came in repentance therefore, we have hope. I always hesitate in making that statement fearing some will begin to ‘compare’ themselves to others and come to a ‘false justification’ for their lives, actions, and attitudes. That is not what I’m saying only that God is incredibly merciful while at the same time incredibly holy and just.
But back to the prayer here and the incredible depth and importance, it holds for our lives. Consider it in a multi-step process with me if you will:
Create in me a CLEAN HEART. If the heart is not cleansed by the Blood of Jesus and our spiritual transformation does not take place where we are transferred from darkness into God’s marvelous light, we have nothing to build on. The first place to begin our spiritual journey is The Heart. He cries to God for the transformation of the heart to become a heart acceptable to God that would allow interaction and communion with the divine.
RENEW in me a steadfast (right) spirit. If my heart is right then my mind, attitude, and spirit can be conducive to fellowship with God. I will find that conditions and circumstances do not dictate my standing for I am Steadfast. I am not ‘double-minded’ and driven by changing circumstances, attitudes, opinions, or events for my Heart is rooted in the foundation of truth and my spirit is Steadfast anchored in that truth.
Do not cast me away from Your PRESENCE and do not take your HOLY SPIRIT from me. He recognized that only with a clean heart and a steadfast spirit could he be in a place where the presence of the Holy One would dwell and the Holy Spirit would come alongside teach and guide. This is recognition not only of the need for grace and the power of perseverance but the importance of God’s personal presence and the invaluable ministry of the Holy Spirit in our spiritual walk.
How we need to guard our hearts in our troubled world. The Bible says that ‘if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart.’ But if He creates in us Clean Hearts and renews in us Right and Steadfast Spirits while communing with us personally and extending to us the ministry and person of the Holy Spirit we will stand and having done all to stand we will stand!
2 Timothy 2:3-4 – “You, therefore, must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.” NKJV
My experience in life and ministry has taught me that Endurance is a grossly misunderstood topic but one that needs to be fully comprehended by the Body of Christ if we are to become all God has designed and desired of us. When you face a crisis, are on the front lines in a war zone, and are stressed out not knowing if you can survive another minute much less another day you have just become a candidate for Endurance. Once in this race (Christianity), you must finish the course, and once in this fight (Christianity), you must continue. You cannot quit for to quit is to lose all.
There is a crisis in the Body of Christ with regard to our ‘wounded warriors’ of faith. Sadly they are sometimes wounded by other members of the Body. Some are filled with the infection of bitterness, walking under the dominion of rejection and abandonment, and filled with fear to the point they cannot trust God or man. They feel betrayed, let down, failed, disappointed, and are Deeply Wounded and as a result have become hard, skeptical, sarcastic, and cynical.
If you were to accidentally run your arm through a plate glass window it would, in all likelihood, hurt. If you saw that it was cut badly, you’d rush to the emergency room for help, right? They would treat you cleaning out the wound, giving you things to help keep down infection, and put in stitches to close the wound. Just because they’ve done that and released you do not mean you are ready to use that arm again. However, when someone is wounded in a relationship or some situation in life, they need an emergency room to treat them they do not need Thirty Years of recovery time. What am I saying? Stop pandering to the problem, holding grudges, hurts, and resentments. Release it to the Lord so healing can begin. It is quite likely you will be hurt again but this is not a sprint it is a marathon and you must Endure!
Endure hardness as a good soldier. We have little comprehension of this in most of our western world. Hardness for many would be driving an older car not a new one, having the same carpet 5-6 years, not getting new wardrobes annually, and having to mow our own lawns. Some would expand that to being not enough money to pay the bills, not enough food, personal attacks, family divisions, and delays in God’s promises. Those may be difficult but are not hardness as in the life of a soldier.
We do not like hardness and frankly we don’t care much for those who preach about it. I don’t like hardness or difficulty. I like blessing! The early church was a people more committed to the cause of Christ than the opposition was to their cause. They Knew their mission and King and defied ten Roman emperors who had them slaughtered and outlasted them all. This thing we are in is War, spiritual war!
Hardness – (sun-kako-pa-theo): Three different words are compounded to form this word. (Sun Kakos Pathos). There are three ideas I want you to see. SUN means connection or partnership it is a connection to someone or something as in 1 Corinthians 6:1 where we learn we are ‘workers together with Him.’ KAKOS conveys the idea of something wicked or evil and if we only had the first two words it would seem that we were in partnership with evil but we have PATHOS and this normally describes suffering but has more to do with mental suffering than physical so Paul is telling Timothy that he must become disciplined and tough mentally.
Just because you suffer does not mean you are spiritual so do not look for ways to suffer. Hebrews 12:11 tells us that chastening is not joyous in the present but the fruit of it is powerful. The soldier was disciplined, committed, trained, and skillful in the use of his weapons.
Matthew 24:13 – “…he who endures to the end, the same shall be saved…”
We have a commission and a promise and need to become committed to run the race that is set before us unwilling to quit. He promises that He is with us, will not forsake us, and will be with us to the end.
Revelation 12:11 – “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” NKJV
1 Samuel 17:45-47 – “Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. 47 Then all this assembly shall know that the LORD does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD’s, and He will give you into our hands.” NKJV
In Proverbs 18:21 we read, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” That has been taken many directions by some in the Body of Christ. My objective is to focus on the ‘faith-filled words’ that were uttered in this encounter of David and Goliath and hopefully link that to our daily lives in Christ. There is a difference between calling those things that are not as though they were and calling those things that are as though they are not. But lest I get into hair-splitting let us move on.
In this account, we have the Philistine army on one mountain and the army of Israel on the other with a valley between. Every morning for 40 days the Philistine champion Goliath would come out and taunt Israel, “Send out a man so we can fight. If he wins, we will be your servants but if I win you will be ours.” We know how it was affecting Israel for in verse 11 –“When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.”
Fear was on the throne in the hearts of Saul and the army of Israel because of the imposing intimidating figure standing before them and had dismantled their Faith. Now instead of the Joy of the Lord, they were filled with Gloom for they believed they were defeated and saw the problem as an impossible obstacle. Sadly, too frequently that is how we face many situations in life. Some seem to view the devil as co-equal with God. He is not, he is a created being. There are reports that Goliath was over 9’ tall with a coat of armor that weighed over 150 pounds and a spear that was about 20 pounds. In the natural that would cause great trepidation of heart. It was not just one occurrence but Daily for 40 days, he had taunted these men of the Most High God.
Saul’s response was that if anyone would volunteer and defeat the enemy that man would gain riches, the hand of the king’s daughter in marriage, and his family would be set free. No Takers Stepped Forward! What good is a promise of reward if there is no hope of living to claim it? Then we find David coming on the scene and upsetting the status quo.
Then along comes this kid, David, and he asks, “Why aren’t you men doing something about this?” His brothers were irritated and I’m quite sure so were the others standing around trembling in fear. Quickly word got to Saul that someone was willing to fight and Saul observed, “Why you are not even a man yet!” David reminded Saul of his previous encounters with danger and fear will always allow someone else to take the risk for it. Saul attempted to equip David with his armor, but Faith said no, I’ll go with what brought me thus far. Saul (the system/flesh) said here, you take what I equip you with and you will be qualified but David (the Spirit) said no God will qualify me.
He picked up five smooth stones from the brook and while there are many possibilities as to the significance of ‘five stones’ I will leave it for speculation. Some have suggested it was one for Goliath and each of his brothers. Others insist it is representative of the ‘five-fold ministry’. They were ‘smooth stones’ and I suggest that speaks of being fully developed with the rough edges polished off by being in the stream of what God is doing.
Goliath was livid that Israel would insult him sending out a boy to do a man’s job, but David declared his faith. “You come with a sword and spear, but I come in the Name of the Lord.” Then he charged the giant! David proclaimed God’s promise and declared his commitment and with Goliath’s own sword David removed his head and the problem facing Israel.
In God, we have sure promises, and we can stand and declare WHAT GOD HAS PROMISED confident that God will honor His word! It just might be time to take God at His word and boldly say to our mountain BE REMOVED!
Jeremiah 33:3 – “Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’ NASB
In this life all of us are faced with ‘limitations’ and sometimes they are incredibly trying. The strides of science, medicine, and technology in the past few decades, are nothing short of phenomenal but limited. Children of today observe things with such a passive nonchalance that would have sent our forefathers into hiding.
Think about it! We have pierced the invisible wall of outer space, landed on the moon, sent machines to faraway places, and shrunk the world so that any destination is hours away. We have created gadgets that almost rule our lives and the computer has revolutionized how many operate, communicate, and lives. The future is even more promising as technology is outdated by the time it is marketed and knowledge is expanding exponentially at an almost alarming rate but LIMITED!
Someone said, “We have become whales in machinery and technology and minnows in morality” and that often appears to be the truth. We are ‘better off’ but not always ‘better’. We seem to have an unlimited ability to communicate and often nothing to say. In a reals sense, we are observing the ‘failure’ of ‘success.”
LIMITED is a term that aptly describes mankind. Scientists tell us that man uses only a minuscule portion of his brain and when we consider what he has accomplished using such a small portion, what are the possibilities? He is still LIMITED! There is one activity that man has been invited to that moves beyond the limitations of our humanness and into the infiniteness of God’s eternalness. God has given man something LIMITLESS!
PRAYER is without limitation. Time and space do not affect it. Prayer touches three worlds (heaven, earth, hell) simultaneously and instantaneously. It influences and touches like no other activity and concerns hell more than most anything we can do as humans. It can be launched in an instant and hit its target at the speed of thought and is never confined to the laws of time or space. IT IS LIMITLESS!
The only question is why we do not practice it more! God extended to us the ‘invitation’ to pray. It is a simple invitation where He says, “Call to Me…” Everyone can do it. There is no special education or training required to participate. Even those who cannot speak can pray for the directive is YOU call. It is personal as well as corporate. It is audacious in that the King of Kings has instructed us to CALL upon Him.
Imagine that! It is immense as there are no conditions or limitations placed on it. We can pray about anything! It is dynamic for He says, “And I will answer you…” Can you fathom that God is listening? He said YOU call, and I WILL answer you. That is a promise of the highest order He not only said He would ANSWER but that He would SHOW us things we did not know. So, it is not only a time of petition but instruction! The magnitude of that is mind-boggling!
Prayer is an invitation to experience the Boundlessness and Limitlessness of God. If that does not cock your pistol your hammer is broken. Prayer breaks across the borders of time and stands firmly in eternity. Prayers have outlasted nations and dynasties and no king, president, or potentate can nullify prayer. They may make it illegal to pray publicly but they cannot cancel the efficacy of prayer!
Someone said: “If Grace is the river, Prayer is the riverbed through which it flows. If Grace is the water of life, Prayer is the pipeline through which the water comes. If Grace is the content, Prayer is the container from which it is poured.” The LIVING GOD of all Creation has invited you and me to PRAY! He has invited us to engage in the LIMITELESSNESS of Him!
Shall we pray? God be with you as you go through this day!
James 1:27 –“This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” NASB
I want to express my appreciation to David Barton and Wall Builders for some of the information that I will use in this devotional. As I read what David Barton wrote I was convicted and inspired. I hope it elicits must the same response in your heart. If so, then it is worth my time in writing and yours in reading.
The declaration of James in this passage could not be clearer or simpler. It distills the Christian religion and walk to its very essence and provides a clear target, objective, and goal for each of us. Pure religion includes genuine care about other people, especially those who are unable to take care of themselves. It includes a refusal to be captured and enslaved by the enticements of lesser things due to an uncompromising passion for the One who truly matters – Jesus!
The first part, genuine concern, and care for others is at the heart of the message and ministry of Jesus. His message always contrasted that of the Pharisees. His words to the guests at one of the Sabbath meals hosted by one of the leading Pharisees of that day are powerful.
Luke 14:12-14 – “And He also went on to say to the one who had invited Him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and repayment comes to you. 13 “But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” NASB
I love the simplicity Jesus managed to use in addressing issues. Basically, He says, “When you throw a party, invite people who could never reciprocate. Celebrate and honor those who can offer you nothing in return – no quid pro quo.” Imagine that, in a day and world where prestige and status. The Kingdom of God is not about earthly status or quid pro quo, it is about Love, Commitment, and Surrender to God.
When I study American history, I am often amazed as I discover individuals and acts that I did not know. The more I study those of bygone eras especially in the time of our founding I realize that America and Christian leaders understood and taught the simplicity of the message of Christ.
One such figure was the Reverend Frederick Douglas (a leading civil rights leader, before, during, and after the Civil War). The aforementioned characteristic of Christianity was one of the key things that excited him the most. He said, “I love the religion of our blessed Savior! I love that religion that comes from above! I love that religion that sends its votaries to bind up the wounds of him that have fallen among thieves! I love that religion that makes it the duty of its disciples to visit the fatherless and the widow in their affliction! I love that religion that is based upon the glorious principle of love to God and love to man [Matthew 22:38-39] – which makes its followers do unto others as they themselves would be done by [Matthew 7:12]!” That is powerful.
Benjamin Banneker, a black American hired by Thomas Jefferson to help lay out the original city of Washington, D.C., affirmed a similar sentiment regarding true Christianity. He said, “It is the indispensable duty of those who profess the obligation of Christianity to extend their powers and influence to the relief of every part of the human race from whatever burden or oppression they may unjustly labor under.”
I would suggest that we carefully consider the words “duty” and “obligation” in considering the sentiments mentioned. Those words often carry a negative connotation in today’s world as does the idea of religion. That was not the case in the era of our founding. Those were celebrated as noble ideals fueled by a sense of passion and gratitude. The Founders were keenly aware of the remarkable society they were building. They clearly understood where our true liberty and inalienable rights came from. Everything they sought to establish was with that clear understanding and acknowledgment of God and our responsibility to Him.
The Reverend Richard Allen, the founder of America’s first black denomination and a wagon driver during the American revolution emphasized that message in his generation. He said, “Our Savior’s first and great work was that of the salvation of men’s souls; yet we find that of the multitudes who came or were brought to Him laboring under sickness and disorders, He never omitted one opportunity to do good to their bodies, or sent away one that applied to Him. Christian charity is pure and disinterested, remote from all hopes of worldly recompense from the persons we relieve. We are to do good and lend, hoping for nothing again [Luke 6:35]. In its extent, it is unlimited and universal… [it] is confined to no persons, countries, or places but takes in all mankind, strangers as well as relations or acquaintances, enemies as well as friends, the evil and unthankful as well as the good and grateful. It has no other measure than the love of God to us. The absolute necessity of practicing this duty is the very same as that of being Christians. By doing acts of mercy and charity, we acknowledge our dependence upon God, and His absolute right to whatever we possess through His bounty and goodness.”
The emphasis of Richard Allen was the Love of God, first to us, then genuinely through us to a needy and hurting world. America, as seen by our founders and the Christian leaders of history was to be “a city set on a hill.” It was to be a light to the nations. If we want to see that light shining brightly, we need to reconsider the promise of God through Isaiah.
The nation of Israel sought God, humbling themselves in daily fasting and prayer. They wondered why they were not seeing an answer to their prayers. God responded saying, “Is this not the fast which I choose…to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh?” [Isaiah 58:6-7]. God promised that if they would do that, He would make their “light break out like the dawn, and their recovery would speedily spring forth. The Glory of Heaven would be their rear guard. They would call upon the LORD and He would answer them. They would cry out to God and He would say, “Here I Am.” [Isaiah 58:8-10]. Hallelujah!
On the Day of Reckoning, God will take note of every act of kindness and every cup of cold water that is given in His name. He waits with an excited longing to repay us in kind. Jesus promised, saying that if we would do that, “You will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
You cannot buy your way to heaven, but your reward is tied to what you do not just what you believe. I am not, nor were those mean suggesting that we reward laziness and feed a sense of entitlement. They were and I am suggesting that we show the Love of God in allowing the Love, Mercy, Care, Concern, and Compassion of Jesus to be demonstrated in us.
God bless you as you muse upon this thought. God bless you as you enjoy this wonderful day in Him!