SOMETHING BETTER THAN MONEY…


2 Timothy 2:15-19 – “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth. 16 But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and thus they upset the faith of some. 19 Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord abstain from wickedness.”  NASB

1 Corinthians 8:3b – “…if anyone loves God, he is known by Him.”  NASB

In today’s world, it means something to be known.  It opens doors that otherwise would be closed.  Being known can save tremendous hassle, confusion, and difficulty.  It helps to gain access and acquire privileges and considerations not afforded to others.  It is valuable but it is not money.

If the President knew me personally, I would be able to obtain considerations based on that acknowledgment.  If my earthly father had been a famous person, the consideration and recognition I would receive would be great.  There are times, in life when being known is more important than what you know, your socioeconomic status or experience.  People, in all walks of life, strive to be known by important and influential people.  It is frequently a prize to be desired.

The world craves recognition, but the most important recognition in existence is being Known of God.  Our text informs us that “God knows those that are His.”  That is powerful and afford credentials unattainable through our own abilities or efforts.  There are a number of ways that God knows those that are His.

He knows them by the need they have of Him.  He knows them by the love they have for Him.  He knows them by the trust they place in Him.  He knows them by their labors for His kingdom.  The Bible makes it clear that there is a record of every detail of our lives, so truly “God knows them that are His.”  This speaks of an intimacy with God and being known of God is far more valuable than silver or gold.  It is of infinite worth!

Being Known of God Affords Us God’s Protection.  In Psalm 34:7 we read, “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him, and rescues them.”  You cannot buy that kind of protection.  In 2 Chronicles 16:9 we discover, “For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him…”  In Psalms 125:2 we are encouraged by the words, “As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds His people from this time forward.”

God is our fortress, our hiding place, and our refuge and as Psalm 91 so articulately and eloquently declares, He protects us as a mother would her young.  I saw a story a few years back where a mother hen was burned in a fire, but under her wings were her chicks protected from the smoke and flames.  In WWII there is the story of a young Lieutenant that carried a Bible in His pocket.  He was shot and the bullet stopped at Psalm 91 saving his life.  “A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not approach you.”

I know from personal experience the divine protection of God.  I know it from my youth, Vietnam, my young adult life, and His protection from dangers and even cancer.  God’s Promise is to Protect Those Who Are His.  Does that mean that if you are a Child of God you cannot or will not suffer problems, danger, or even be killed in an untimely fashion?  No!  I am simply saying, that we can both expect and ask for His divine protection because we are His.

I want to address this a bit more and will do so in the next devotional but until then may the rich blessings of the LORD be yours!  

May God guide, keep and protect you as you enjoy this beautiful day in Him! 

PREVENTING GOD FROM RETURNING TO US…


Zechariah 1:3 – “Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, ” Return to Me,” declares the LORD of hosts, “that I may return to you,” says the LORD of hosts.”  NASB

What a sobering statement made by the prophet Zechariah.  As I read this I felt a chill run up and down my spine.  The Holy Spirit quickened my heart and mind with the question, “Can we prevent God from returning to us?”  As I contemplated that question I asked myself, “Do we truly have a role in our deliverance?” 

If this were the only place in Scripture where this kind of statement was made I might not be as certain of the answer as I am.  However, when I read the words of the prophet in Malachi 3:7, I become more convinced.  He said, “From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from My statutes and have not kept them.  Return to me, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts.  But you say, how shall we return?” 

I also turn to the Book of Joel and read in 2:13, “And rend your heart and not your garments.  Now return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and relenting of evil.”  The prophet Jeremiah cried out in Lamentations 3:40, “Let us examine and probe our ways, and let us return to the LORD.”  Also, Jeremiah 4:1, “If you will return, O Israel,” declares the LORD, “Then you should return to Me And if you will put away your detested things from My presence, and will not waver…” 

Jesus said, “Come unto me all you who are weak and heaven laden and I will give you rest.”  (Matthew 11:28).  When I consider the prayer of 2 Chronicles 7:14 this truth comes home powerfully.  When I consider the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:7 that if we seek Him we will find Him I realize that my part in the process is indispensable.  He will never violate my will and force me into compliance.  Oh, He may allow things to come into my life and to cross my path that powerfully remind me of the error of my ways but force me, that He will not do!

Grace is a Gift and like any gift, it must be received to be enjoyed.  Knowing there is a gift does me no good unless I accept it, open it, and incorporate it into my life in the appropriate manner.  Tragically, too many are sitting like birds in the wilderness of life waiting to be fed when God is saying, “The table is spread, come and eat.”  A banquet or a feast provides no nourishment by looking at the table of food.  Only as we dine do we receive the benefit of that meal.  That’s the way it is in God.  If we do not seek Him or return to Him, we block Him from returning to us. 

No, I am not saying He will abandon us, that is contrary to His promise and He never fails to keep his promises.  I am saying, that He is standing at the door, knocking and waiting for us to invite Him in.  That, to me, make the prayer of Matthew 6 even more powerful, important, and pressing.  We are to praise the Name of God, submit to His lordship and pray for His Kingdom and Will to be done on earth the same as it is done in heaven.  In the latter part of that chapter, we are told that our seeking of Him must be more important than anything else in life.  And we are reminded that if we seek Him we will find Him and if we open the door He will come in. 

How many of us have the power to make it on our own?  I need thee, Lord, I need thee.  Every hour I need thee.  I cannot walk without Jesus and I don’t want to talk without Jesus. I want to return to my first love and enjoy the intimacy of His transforming power, spirit, and character to mold and shape me into a man after His own heart.  My prayer, “Lord, help me return to you and love, serve, and worship you with my body, soul and spirit.”  Can we block or prevent God from returning to us?  Yes, but why would we want to do that? 

God bless you as you seek Him and find Him on this beautiful day He has made!

KNOWING THE WILL OF GOD – (Part Four)…


Ephesians 5:17-18 – “So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”  NASB

In hopes that I have not labored too long on this discussion, I will conclude today with a few more elements involved in the process of Knowing the Will of God for our lives.  We have considered the importance and necessity of being willing to do the will of God when we discover it.  We have considered the importance of presenting our total selves to God as living sacrifices.  We have discovered that God’s Will can be known through His Word.

Now a Fourth Element in this process we need to consider is Knowing the Will of God through Circumstances or Open Doors.  Some will equate that to chance but in God, chance and luck play no role.  Every circumstance is not revelatory of the Will of God, but some are.  Open Doors and Circumstances coupled with the Word of God and the nudging of the Spirit of God may be incredibly beneficial in discovering the Will of God for the moment.

The Fifth Element in this process is Submission to the Holy Spirit.  Remember we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus identified Him as our guide into all truth.  If we do not develop a personal relationship with Him, we will not recognize His voice or His leading. That involves a total submission of our lives to God and an openness to being led by His Spirit into Truth, All Truth!

The Sixth and Final Element I will mention is we will know the Will of God when we Truly Know God.  I suggest that you examine the biblical use of the word “know.”  Remember when the angel came to Mary to announce that she would give birth to Jesus?  She said, “How can this be seeing I Know Not a man?”  The Bible says that “Adam knew his wife Eve and she conceived.”  The same meaning is used in Philippians 3:10 when Paul said, “That I might know Him, and the power of His resurrection.” 

This is speaking of becoming one with God and His Word.  To know someone, anyone you must spend time with them.  If we know God in that deep abiding relationship desired by the Father, we can and will know his will because He is eager to make it known to us.  If you are having difficulty knowing God’s will then run to the Cross and present, yourself anew to God as a Living Sacrifice in Complete Surrender. 

I ask you to remind yourself that it is more beneficial to God and His Purpose for you and me to know His will than for us to be in the dark about it.  The knowledge of God’s will produces peace, although that knowledge and that peace may not be instantaneous.  It is in our total and complete willingness to do whatever He wills that frees our hearts from the hindrances to knowing and enables us to pray more freely and effectively.  The Will of God will always be in harmony with the Word of God.  Our desire should be to know God’s will for the purpose of being the greatest asset we can to His Kingdom and Purpose on Earth. 

I suggest that you always ask, “Will what I do be spiritually beneficial?  Will it help to promote the Kingdom of God and the Cause of Christ?  Will, it better me and those I influence?  What are the long-range effects and benefits of what I plan to do?”

            Then pray, “LORD, whatever You desire, I want and am willing to do.”  I believe if you pray that from your heart, God will make His will perfectly clear to you.  Let me add one small addendum and ask, “What is it that tugs at your heart the most in life?”  I believe that as you discover that, providing it is wholesome and godly, will help reveal God’s purpose and call for you.

Have a great day in Him!

KNOWING THE WILL OF GOD – Part Three…


Ephesians 5:17-18 – “So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”  NASB

We have asked the question, “Can we know the will of God?”  We have asserted that the answer is Yes.  We have considered the first element in the process of discovering the will of God is allowing the Holy Spirit to develop in us a Willingness to do that will once discovered.  Now, let’s move to other elements involved in the process.

The Second Element lies in the Hidden and Frequently used revelation found in Romans 12:1-2.  It involves giving God All of Ourselves! That is more than walking down the aisle in church and professing Jesus is LORD it is Total Surrender of the Total Person to God.  It is the process of preparing the kind of vessel that God and will use.  It is to become a choice vessel for His Purposes. 

This passage speaks of Separation and Consecration.  It also speaks of the Physical Body.  The major focus of Romans 12:1-2 is presenting God a sacrificial body.  It is receiving the revelation that our bodies are the Temple of God, the Temple of the Holy Spirit and as Paul declared in 1 Corinthians 9:27, we are to “keep our body.”  We do not defile the physical or spiritual man, we give God the very best we can and give it to Him completely.

I won’t meddle in talking about a healthy diet, we all know that is good and should be our normal pattern.  I don’t want to venture into the realm of physical exercise and keep our bodies flexible and strong, that is something everyone knows.  I do want to talk about training our minds to be sharp and alert and attuned to the Spirit of God and the Word of God. I do want to address the ‘taming of the tongue’ and the benefit of ‘right words’ and ‘soft answers.’  I do want to discuss what we allow through our Eye Gates and our Hearing.  We are to do all we can to give God the best we can give Him and to bring glory to Him in everything. 

God is not interested in you becoming a supermodel or a Mr. Atlas, but he wants you to be wise and diligent in your commitment to Him.  In the second part of that passage, it speaks of “be not conformed to this world…”  It is impossible to be careless and have a worldly mind and know the keener things of God.  We need to permit our hearts and minds to be frequent visitors into the corridors of His Presence and expose ourselves to the Deep Things of God!  “Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done, On Earth as it is in Heaven!”  That’s the objective and goal.

The Third Element lies in the Reality that We Can Know the Will of God Through the Word of God.  In 2 Timothy 3:16 we read, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”  It is the unalterable Word of God.  It is God-breathed! 

The Bible is not simply a Book of Laws and Rules.  However, where there are laws and rules detailed, they are to be observed and obeyed.  God’s word never changes!  The Bible is a Book of Principles!  In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said that adultery was a sin.  He did not alter that but added the addendum that impure thoughts were equally sinful and objectionable to His Holiness. 

Moral Purity is a bible Principle and Precept.  In Matthew 5:21-22, Jesus informed us that murder was wrong and the penalty great, but that hate in the heart that produces murder was equally sinful. The Bible does not say, “Thou shalt not ingest certain specific things into your body that are deadly and harmful” (I won’t name them) but it does teach that we are to care for our bodies, they belong to Him. 

We need to remember that God’s Word Never Changes.  Some want to pray about things that God has already declared His Will in His Word.  I suppose they are hoping that somehow, He will change His mind, rather than submitting to His revealed will.  God will not change!

No matter what you believe regarding tithing I insert the story of the farmer that went to his pastor and asked the pastor to pray about whether he should tithe or not.  The pastor said, “I will not! God has already told us several thousand years ago that we are to give Him one day of seven and one dollar out of ten and He won’t tell us something different today.”  What I’m trying to convey is that if God has revealed something in His Word it will not change!  If He has promised something, that promise is eternally valid.  If he has requested or required something that is etched in stone.  If He says it, That’s the Way it is!

I have a couple more things I want to discuss in discovering the will of God but will hold them until the next devotional. 

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

KNOWING THE WILL OF GOD – Part Two…


Ephesians 5:17-18 – “So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”  NASB

Can we know the will of God?  I believe, as we discussed yesterday, that the answer is Absolutely!  If that is true, then is there a process or elements involved in discerning and deciphering the will of God for our lives?  Again, the answer is Yes!  With that in mind, let’s embark on this journey of discovery.

The First Step in Knowing the Will of God lies in being willing to do His will when we know it.  That is a very important element.  Jesus said in John 7:17, “If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God or whether I speak of Myself.” 

Our LORD spent three years trying to convince the Jews that He was the Son of God, the Messiah.  Finally, He told them that the reason they did not know whether or not He was the Messiah was two-fold: They were not doing the will of God and they would not admit that He was God’s son even if they were convinced that He was.  They were demonstrating a deadly unwillingness to accept Him.  If they accepted Him, their world of religious rules would be decimated and that was beyond their ability to embrace.  They suffered from the stranglehold of Religious Legalism.

God will never force the revelation of Himself or His will on anyone.  If we are not willing to do His will, we probably will never truly discover it.  There is a vast difference between saying or praying, “If it by Thy will” and “Thy will be done.”  One questions and the other submits.  If we know the will of God we do not need to pray, “if it be Thy will” we need to pray “Thy will be done.”  We are, submissive regardless of the outcome!

We must develop or allow the Holy Spirit to develop in us a Willing Mind and Heart.  Total surrender and total submission!  Seek first His Kingdom and His Righteousness!  He must increase and we must decrease.  Sadly, too many attempt to tell God what they want and then try to fit His will into their plans rather than shaping their plans around His will.  I had a person say, “Pray for me that I will know God’s will for my life so I can see if it is something I want to do.”  What?  I don’t want to bring that kind of condemnation on anyone and refused to pray that prayer.  I prayed that God would open their minds and hearts to do His will not give them a spiritual buffet line.

I heard a seasoned minister say, “It is easy for me to find the will of God in my life because I have come to the place that, in everything, I can say; for better or worse, richer or poorer, missionary, pastor, evangelist, big church or small, I have  no desire for my life but to fully do the will of God!”  If that is more than words, it is powerful.  If you are willing to do His will, you will discover it clearly and if you are unwilling you probably will never know for sure.

So, the first step is being willing to do His will once you have discovered or discerned it.  If that is not your heart, then please pray that the LORD will change your heart and help you become submissive.   I want to address this further but will pause for now and pray that the LORD will help each of us press into His presence and discover His purpose for our lives.

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

KNOWING THE WILL OF GOD…


Ephesians 5:17-18 – “So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”  NASB

One of the most asked question among church people is, “How can I know the Lord’s will?”  I have been asked, “How can I know that what I plan to do is what God would have me do?”  Those are not idle or unimportant questions.  Many are perplexed wondering what the will of God is for them and how they can discover the Will of God for their lives. To many it is often like traversing a complex labyrinth.  Some go through their entire life still asking when they die, “What is God’s will for my life?”  That should never be! 

I’ve had people, even preachers insist that it is impossible to know God’s will all the time.  I usually ask for ‘chapter and verse’ because I do not believe and have not found where God said that.  I fully concur that sometimes it may be like mining for gold and we have to dig and search but knowing His will is possible. 

If it is as difficult as many believe, God has severely limited Himself regarding our service.  As a parent, do you make it difficult or easy for your children to know your will?  I always wanted them to know beyond doubt and made it as easy as possible for them to discover.  What would make us think God is somehow different?

What advantage would it be for God to hide His will from His children?  That would be like asking someone to run a race but give leave them clueless as to the route.  If God wants us to do or not do something, how would it benefit Him or His kingdom to hide that from us?  God never operates on chance but choice.  He has a will and His desire is for us to know that will and to do that will.  In fact, He has, for the most part, made that will known in His Word!

It is in the best interest of the Kingdom of God for us to know the will of God.  God never asks or commands us to do what we cannot do.  I am confident that God is doing everything possible to make us aware of His will, short of violating our own will.  He wants us to know in time to prepare unless He has already prepared us. 

God is not going to spring something on you at the last minute that you are totally unequipped to handle or do.  He is not a sadist that enjoys watching us flounder around in failure but wants us to achieve His purposes.  The Will of God may not always be pleasant and desirable at the beginning.  It will become that if we are serving Him out of genuine love.  It is wrong to assume that because something is unpleasant it is not the will of God. 

The refiner’s fire is not pleasant or desirable to the gold, but the result is desirable and good.  I am reminded of the words of the apostle Paul in Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, and to them who are the called according to His purpose.”  Tragically, we frequently place the emphasis on “all things” but God places it on “work together for good.”  It is the finished product, not the process that is the ultimate focus of God and should be for us.

I’ve used the illustration of baking a chocolate cake from scratch to emphasize this truth.  In that process, there is bitter chocolate, salty salt, and powerful baking soda.  Those would not be tasty as a stand-alone item.  The entire process required the ingredients to be blended together or ‘beaten’.  Once the blending is completed then the mix is placed in the oven and heated for a time before the finished product is produced.  That’s Life!  All of it ‘working together’ produces the finished product which is good. 

I hope I have whetted your appetite and sparked your interest.  Can we know the will of God?  I believe the answer is, Yes!  I want to talk about some steps or elements involved in knowing that will and hopefully help each of us become more comfortable with the will of God.  We will continue the journey in the next devotional.

God bless you and I pray that your day will be peaceful and rewarding!

GOD’S FORMULA FOR VICTORY…


Galatians 6:9 – “And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.”  NASB

I don’t like my title because I don’t believe in formulas in spiritual things.  That being said, it is germane to the discussion of spiritual victory in today’s world.  The apostle Paul charged us in 1 Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”  That is a big hill to climb for many people who are followers of our LORD.

It is not always easy to keep from being discouraged when things do not go well.  That is especially true when the floods of difficulty come.  We’ve all said, “Well, when it rains it pours” in referring to difficulty.  Problems seem to come on top of problems in life.  When that happens, faith may sag to a low ebb at the very time you need it the most.  It is in times like that we want to throw in the towel, give up, and quit or slack up and run for cover. 

In this passage, we find God’s prescription for victorious living.  He gives us Instruction, a Promise, and a Condition.  All three are incredibly important to understand.  I ask that you embark on a brief journey with me into the realm of the supernatural and God’s Abundant Life.

First, we consider The Instruction.  In the KJV it reads, “let us not be weary in well-doing…”  The word weary implies a total emptiness of focus and energy.  It could be said, “to be spiritless.”  This directive or instruction is not easy to pursue when we have tried, and no visible result has transpired.  We have tried, but conditions have worsened.  Imagine the plight of the apostle Paul as recorded in 2 Corinthians 11.  I urge you to read verses 24-28 again and meditate on his situation. 

Once you have done that, I ask that you join me in considering our own ministries and motives.  We can keep going if…  If what?  We can endure incredible difficult if our motive for doing what we do is for God’s Glory, not personal gain or ease.  Years ago, when the church I was leading saw dozens of souls born into the kingdom.  One man opposed me and was influential enough in the church that, despite the budding revival, some wanted to oust me.  This man was motivated by jealousy and even threatened me physically.  I met with him, recognized his ministry publicly, prayed for him and with him and he persisted.  I wanted to walk away but God opened a door of ministry that I could not ignore.  Had I given up the church would have suffered, and some souls would not have been won for Jesus. 

Why do you do what you do?  No matter your job, calling, vocation, task, position or condition, the Why is incredibly important and will determine whether or not you persist with faith.  If you are doing what you do, “as unto the LORD,” take heart and refuse to give up for God will not fail.  He has the answer to your predicament or trial.

Second, we need to consider The Promise.  “…for in due season, we shall reap…”  In the Book of Ecclesiastes, we find in 3:1 a powerful statement, “To every this there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” 

Tragically for many, God’s timing does not fit their preconceived notion of how things should be.  I have found in my 50 years of ministry that God’s timing is perfect.  It may seem late to me but in the scheme of things, He is always right on time.  He may be working on people or conditions that you were totally unaware and needed the time to bring it all together for His Glory and the best good of all concerned. 

The time of reaping is coming if we refuse to give up.  There is going to be a harvest.  What we sow we reap.  If we have been sowing in ‘well-doing’ that harvest will be good.  Due season is provisional, but it comes.

Finally, we need to consider The Condition.  “if we faint not…”  It is the one who finishes the course or the race that gets the prize.  This is the place in the process where we can void the Promise of God and abort our harvest of good.  Our receiving the Promise is conditional upon this provision – We Must Not Faint.  We Must Not Give Up.  We Must Not Quit.  Live every day of your life with the end in view.

I read a poem early in my ministry and have used it many times.  I want to share it with you as I conclude.  It is entitled “Made of Right Stuff.”   

“A little brown cork fell into the path of a whale who lashed it down with his angry tail. 

But in spite of its blows, it quickly arose and floated serenely before his nose.

Said the cork to the whale, ‘You may flap, sputter, and frown, but you will never, never keep me down. 

For I’m made of the stuff that is buoyant enough to float instead of drown.” 

What are you made of?  In Jesus, you are made of the stuff that is buoyant enough to float instead of drown!  God bless you as you persevere in His Promises and Presence. 

Have a Great Day!