IT’S THE FINISH THAT COUNTS…


James 1:12-18 – “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. 18 In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.”  NASB

Through the years I’ve seen new believers take off like gangbusters and charge headlong into the battle with hell with a dagger when they needed a sword.  Their zeal was inspiring if not humorous at times.  Then I would see them encounter the full-scale battle fizzling and withering under the pressures of the intense warfare.  They had zeal, but not wisdom.  They had the desire but no experience.  They had superficial knowledge but were not deeply established in the truth. 

James tells us that it is the “blessed” man that perseveres under trial and that once he has completed the test the prize is great.  He warns us regarding temptation, to not attribute it to God because God tempts no person.  Instead, temptation comes from within as much as from without.  It comes from the condition of heart, immaturity, and undeveloped character.  It springs forth from the unseen and often unknown lust within the heart and when it is given birth to it brings forth sin and when sin grows to its full maturity brings forth death. 

If we recognize that temptation is an identification of an inside problem, we are better equipped to handle it because we know to run as fast as we can to the Cross and cry out for mercy and grace.  He tells us that every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father above who never changes but is consistent, steady, and steadfast. 

We find that God will guide us into real truth, and it will not be wishy-washy but solid and stable.  Then as we become established in His truth, we are able to walk out His will in our daily lives, facing and resisting temptation, enduring the tests and trials, and overcoming the onslaught of the enemy, and become fruits (examples) of righteousness for all to see, thus point to Christ by our lives not just our words.

Growing up is not instant in the natural or spiritual.  Wisdom is not gained by taking a pill or reading a book.  Experience is not achieved by hearing stories of victories.  Life is a matter of living and living is to be done hand in hand with the Lord Jesus Christ through the power of the Cross and under the covering of the blood of Jesus. 

By His Grace!  Remember, this trial, test, temptation, trouble, or tribulation is only momentary in the eternal scheme of things.  Hold on to what you have learned in Christ and you will walk out the other side in victory!  Blessings as you continue your week in the Lord. 

May God guide you, give you grace, and protect you in your pursuit of His purposes!

PITY PARTY vs VICTORY PARTY…


1 Kings 19:1-10 – “Now Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, ” So may the gods do to me and even more if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.” 3 And he was afraid and arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. 4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers.” 5 He lay down and slept under a juniper tree; and behold, there was an angel touching him, and he said to him, “Arise, eat.” 6 Then he looked and behold, there was at his head a bread cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. So, he ate and drank and lay down again. 7 The angel of the LORD came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise, eat, because the journey is too great for you.” 8 So he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mountain of God.  9 Then he came there to a cave and lodged there; and behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 He said, “I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.”  NASB

If you have just followed the directions of the Holy Spirit and won a miraculous victory in the Lord you dare not let, self and fear creep in and destroy your confidence.  That’s where Elijah was.  He “feared” Jezebel more than he rejoiced in the power of God and that is why he was standing in the cave, hiding, and saying, “Woe is me, I’m the ONLY ONE LEFT…” 

He should have been emboldened and ready for the next challenge, but he wasn’t.  He did what God said, saw the victory, then allowed “fear” to fill his heart and saw the devil bigger than God and ran to hide feeling sorry for himself, justifying it by saying, “I’m the Only One!”  That is not only self-righteous but also destructive thinking.  God made it clear that he was NOT the only one and that He (God) was still in control.

We are the messengers and God uses us to bring about His accomplishments on this earth.  We depend on His power and presence to stand against the enemy and therefore need to always remember that if He sends us, He will protect us, provide for us, empower us, and equip us for the job. 

Therefore, we have No Reason to Fear because if they kill us, we win and if they don’t, we win, but either way, We Win!  Our job is to do what He says, nothing more and nothing less.  We are to be where He wants us to be, when He wants us there, doing what He wants us to do, and leave the results in His hands. 

Rejoice that He has chosen you to do whatever it is that He has set before you No Matter What That Is, great or small.  It is for the Kingdom of God!  It is important and it is backed by the Omnipotence of Heaven!  As you begin your week, go, knowing that you are “led by the Spirit of God” and He will not guide you wrong. 

I pray the blessings of God upon you as you encounter the events of this day!

THE GREAT QUESTION OF LIFE IN THESE COMING TIMES…


Matthew 16:24-27 – “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.  25 “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.  26 “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?  27 “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS. “NASB

Most of us have thought about the last days during these current days.  We look at the prophecies and declarations of the Bible and wonder how we cannot be living in the “last days” as spoken of by God’s Word.  In this simple passage, Jesus gives us some clear direction as to what it means to follow Him but asks one poignant question that too often, we read over and do not give thought to.  I want to address that question in this short writing.  The question, “What will a man give in exchange for his soul?”

Through the years, I have seen people sell their souls for money, power, fame, prestige, recognition, relationships, and many other things.  They have sacrificed their spiritual life to gain position, power, and money.  Yet, there will come a day, if the Bible is correct (and I fully believe it is) when we will be faced with answering that question in a very literal sense. 

Phrasing the question, a different way might be, “Is there anything for which you would give up your eternal destiny in Christ?”  “Would you truly be willing and capable of laying down your life for the Name of Jesus and the cause of the Kingdom?”  You well may be faced with that decision at some point in time.  I won’t go into the gruesome possibilities that could be used to coerce you into acquiescing and agreeing to the demands of the evil one, but they are most diabolical. 

The question must forever be settled, and the decision must forever be made that “Nothing is more valuable than your relationship with God – your eternal soul.”  You must live your life knowing that no matter what happens to you, family, friends, possessions, etc. in the final analysis – Eternity in His Presence is more important than physical comfort or even physical life itself.  I don’t mean saying it with head knowledge, I mean determining it to the point that it is a central and integral part of your being. 

I do not mean to become morbid, but we are in “perilous times” and we do not know how far the despots of the world, including this country, will go to take our liberties and attempt to suppress our faith and Christianity.  Your relationship with Jesus is more important than anything and your soul is worth more than life itself on this earth.  Therefore, it is vital that we “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness….” 

I pray the rich and bountiful blessings of the LORD upon you as you reach for the prize of the High Calling in Christ Jesus.  May you enjoy His abundant as you go through this day!

TRAPPED AND NEEDING HELP – – WILL YOU???


Galatians 6:1-5 – “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. 5 For each one will bear his own load.” NASB

I used to read this passage and the first thought in my mind was when someone was “caught” it meant being “exposed” or “found out.”  The more I read it I realized that it could also mean “entrapped” or “ensnared”. 

It is one thing to be found out, exposed and brought to the light but quite another to be trapped in a situation or condition that, at least in your mind, you see no way out.  There is a certain hopelessness there that produces desperation that leads to more and more, bad things, events, conditions, and situations.  The apostle Paul gives us something concrete here to help someone who is “trapped”, the only question is Will We Help?

If we are “spiritual” our objective as is God’s first objective should be Restoration!  Our objective is not to be judgmental, superior, or holier than thou in our attitude.  Tough love does not necessarily mean that we have to be mean or even rough but that we are firm enough, committed enough that we are willing to place everything into the hands of God even if it means the other person has to suffer for a time without our intervention.  Here the apostle gives us a simple process we can follow in our seeking to help the person trapped become free.

  1. We are to work toward restoration in a spirit of “gentleness”.  (Doing some introspection realizing that we too could be and might be tempted by the same thing or something similar)
  2. We are to bear one another’s burdens (often largely in prayer) whenever and however we can to help them get out from under the entrapment.
  3. We are to realize that in and of ourselves we are Nothing and our strength, significance, power, potential, and purpose is in Christ Jesus!
  4. What we do should not be for the purpose of advertising, bragging, boasting, or record-keeping but out of love and for restoration.
  5. We are seeking to help the entrapped person come to a point that, in Christ, they can not only walk free, but help others walk free, and carry their own load and not have to depend on us or anyone other than Jesus.

We have all been “caught” in something at some time, most likely, and the love, prayers, and help of a spiritual friend proved to be invaluable.  I know it has been in my life.  Therefore, as you go through your week allow the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to the needs that are around you that He wants you actively engaged in the process of restoration. 

May the rich and bountiful blessings of the LORD be yours this wonderful day in Him!

HANDLE STRESS OR IT WILL HANDLE YOU…


1 Peter 5:6-11 – “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. 8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. 10 After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. 11 To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.”  NASB

Who today is not under “stress” or “pressure” of some kind?  Oh, I know that some will put on the “super-spiritual mask” and say – “I trust God, so that does not apply to me.”  However, if that were true then Peter would not have been inspired by the Holy Spirit to pen these words of instruction for believers regarding how to handle LIFE! 

So, let’s take the masks off and get real – – We all face Stress, Pressure, Anxiety, Troubles, Difficulties, and Problems from time to time.  I am not saying all the time but from time to time. So how do we deal with them?  The key in this passage is the difference between Life and Death; between Victory and Defeat; between Being a Help and Needing Help!  As in everything in life, we are always presented with choices, this is no exception.

He tells us several simple things that will save our lives, mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually:

  1. Humble yourselves under the Mighty Hand of God – – (You day will come when He will raise you up above the fray).
  2. Cast – “throw (literally or figuratively).  This comes from a root word that means to “fling with a quick and deliberate hurl” and means to “deposit or place” something.  This something is your cares, troubles, anxieties, fears, frustrations, difficulties, problems, etc.  They are to be placed or deposited in the hands of God.  They are to be hurled, flung, or tossed upon Him – You Don’t Get to Keep Them!
  3. In the process stay Alert, Prayerful, and Conscious of God and His Person, Power, Presence, and Promise.  Why?  The devil wants to distract you.  He cannot stop God and if you follow the prescription, he cannot stop you.  He can only Distract you.
  4. Know that you are not alone – Multiplied millions of others are going through the same (not exactly the same but difficulties) experiences too.
  5. IT IS TEMPORARY – Providing we follow the prescription.  We can perpetuate the problem by continuing to focus on it, keep it to ourselves, try to handle it in our own strength, and fail to Give it to God!

Therefore, the choice is yours – – You can do what Peter prescribes when you face stress, pressure, problems, anxieties, difficulties, calamities, etc. or you can continue to do what you have done far too long and try to handle it and find that it Only Gets Worse and Handles You! So, you can Handle it (by giving it to God) or get Handled by it (by doing it yourself).  What do you choose? 

May the Lord bless you as you go through your wonderful day!  Blessings!

HOW TO SURVIVE IN TROUBLED TIMES…


Luke 21:10-19 – “Then He said to them, “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom.  11 And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.  12 But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake.  13 But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony.

14 Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist.  16 You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives, and friends; and they will put some of you to death.  17 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake.  18 But not a hair of your head shall be lost.  19 By your patience possess your souls.”  NKJV

Luke 21:19 – “By your endurance, you will gain your lives.” NASB

Most acknowledge that if we are not living in what the Bible calls “The End of Days”, we are most assuredly living in “Perilous Times”.  We are seeing before our eyes the latter stages of the implementation of a movement to form a World Order and have a singular government controlling the world.  We are seeing the move to create a “world without borders”. 

That will not be good news for the followers of Christ in a natural sense and will result in the genocide of millions in an effort for population control and “Sustainable Development” of the world as those in charge see it.  We have been warned repeatedly in the Bible that there will come a time when we will be delivered up before the authorities for our beliefs or our unwillingness to bow before the idol of their manmade god as did the three Hebrew children.  We are warned that even those of our own households will be complicit in the betrayal. 

Yet in the midst of all that Jesus promised that through “patience” or as the New American Standard translates “endurance” we will gain our lives and not a hair of our head will be lost.  We may lose our lives (naturally) but that will simply mean we moved on to our eternal destiny a bit earlier than others. 

We may have to have ravens bring us food as they did Elijah, but God is a God of miracles.  Water may come out of the rock in the wilderness but He’s done that before to sustain His children.  No matter what has to transpire, when we speak, they will know that we are not speaking of our own power or wisdom but as with the disciples, they will “know that we have been with Jesus.” 

So, this morning I feel compelled to say to all my friends, “do not despair, God has not, will not, and cannot fail.”  Lift up your eyes to Him and rejoice our redemption draws near! 

Blessings as you prepare for your weekend of rest in His Love!

JESUS DIDN’T SAY LIFE WOULD BE EASY, He Said…


Matthew 11:28-30 – “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  29 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.  30 “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  NASB

I sat in a revival service years ago and heard the young minister waxing eloquent and describing life after you receive Christ in the most glowing of terms.  He told the audience that if they accepted Christ their troubles would be over and life would no longer be the difficult struggle that it had been but God would solve all their problems.  He went so far as to tell them that God would remove the thorns from the roses in their lives and life would be easy.  I was troubled by his imaging of the Christian Life because it gave false expectations to the audience.

I had not been a Christian long but had already learned that that statement might be a little exuberant and an overstatement of the Christian life, based on what I had already experienced and what I knew of the Word of God.  I appreciated His enthusiasm and well-meaning but was saddened by the thought of someone coming to Christ only to find that sometimes “Life is hard” and “all the thorns have not been removed from the roses” in life.

What Jesus did say is that if you are worn out, struggling, finding life difficult, and are finding the walk to be a heavy burden you can come to Him and He will give rest.  He will renew our strength like the eagles.  He will be with us and never leave us nor forsake us.  He will provide a door of escape if temptation becomes more than we can handle.  His statement to “take my yoke upon you” suggests that Life and this Christian life is not just a casual stroll through the daffodils of life but is labor. 

A yoke carries the image of oxen pulling a plow.  He also said, “learn from Me.”  In taking His yoke upon ourselves the learning from Him indicates that there is a process.  In that process, we are taught to handle life’s difficulties and not be overwhelmed by them rather than a pathway to “ease”.  

He described His character and demeanor as being gentle and humble in heart and that’s where He wants to take us and in so doing that is where we find “REST FOR OUR SOULS.”  It is in pulling the load, with Him, going through the struggles of life, with Him, and facing life’s temptations, trials, tests, and pitfalls, with Him that we find that “His strength is made perfect in weakness”. 

It is there that we find that we are “more than conquerors through Him.”  It is there that we find that “there is peace in the midst of the storm.”  It is not that we won’t have any problems face any difficulties, experience, any sadness, or tragedy but that we won’t face them alone!  Becoming a Christian doesn’t automatically remove all life’s problems it gives you strength, grace, power, a person to turn to who will walk you through each one of them with His tender hand of love, grace, and mercy. 

May the Lord bless you as you begin your day!

GOD MAKES IT SIMPLE – -WE MAKE IT COMPLICATED…


Galatians 6:7-10 – “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. “NKJV

As in most things in the Kingdom, God makes it simple, and man complicates it.  We over-analyze, over-think, over-examine, and over-explain many of the simple truths, realities, and facts of scripture. 

The Law of Sowing & Reaping is not a difficult one to understand and it is a principle that works in the natural and spiritual.  We reap WHAT we sow.  If you sow corn you get corn.  If you sow wheat you get wheat.  If you sow sin you get sin.  If you sow discord you get discord.  If you sow love you get love.  It really is simple. 

If you sow to the flesh and you reap corruption.  If you sow to the spirit and you get life.  Therefore, if we have the opportunity to walk in the spirit and follow the pattern of our Lord we are to do so and as a result, we will reap the benefits of that lifestyle, mindset, and attitude. 

You really don’t have to go around looking for something to do to earn points with God, that would be a doctrine of works and eliminate faith.  However, there is a balance in the Kingdom, and because we have faith we work, and we work because we have faith.  Because of my love for the Lord, I DESIRE to do good to all men and I understand the principle of farming.  In farming:

  1. You reap WHAT you sow.
  2. You reap LATER than you sow.
  3. You reap MORE than you sow.
  4. But you always reap IN KIND.  (You don’t sow watermelons and get apples).

So, allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in what you do and place God at the center of your universe and everything else will fall into place.  Try it you might like it! 

Blessings as you go through your day!

WHAT TO DO IN TROUBLE…


Isaiah 54:11-17 – “O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted, Behold, I will set your stones in antimony, And your foundations I will lay in sapphires. 12 “Moreover, I will make your battlements of rubies, And your gates of crystal, And your entire wall of precious stones. 13 ” All your sons will be taught of the LORD; And the well-being of your sons will be great. 14 “In righteousness you will be established; You will be far from oppression, for you will not fear; And from terror, for it will not come near you. 15 “If anyone fiercely assails you it will not be from Me.  Whoever assails you will fall because of you. 16 “Behold, I Myself have created the smith who blows the fire of coals  And brings out a weapon for its work; And I have created the destroyer to ruin. 17 “NO WEAPON THAT IS FORMED AGAINST YOU WILL PROSPER; AND EVERY TONGUE THAT ACCUSES YOU IN JUDGMENT YOU WILL CONDEMN. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their vindication is from Me,” declares the LORD.” NASB [Emphasis mine]

There is obviously far more here than I can deal with in a few short sentences, but I want to focus on a few things. 

First, I ask the question, “What do you do in times of trouble?”  You Remember!  But remember what?  You remember this promise from the Lord!  He is speaking to the person who is going through difficult times. 

The storms of life have rolled in and opposition is on every hand.  It is quite possible that you are in despair and maybe even depressed over the whole thing.  God has a Word for you.  He begins by telling us what he will do to establish us.  In (v. 15) – he debunks the idea that the attack is from Him.  He then gives us the solid rock promise to stand on in (v.17) and tells us that this is our heritage! 

Therefore, we can take it to the bank that when all hell assails us, heaven’s gates will not fail us.  God will unleash 12 legions of angels if necessary, to come to our defense and if we allow Him to establish us in righteousness and we maintain our integrity then we can Stand On (v.17) considering it not only a hope but a sure promise of GOD who Cannot Fail! 

Do not despair but lift up your heads and rejoice!  As in the old western movies, help is coming and it may be just in the nick of time, but It Is Coming!

Blessings as you begin your day!

DON’T JUST RECITE IT – PRAY IT, LIVE IT…


Matthew 6:9-13 – “’Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10′ Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. 11′ Give us this day our daily bread. 12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13’And do not lead us into temptation but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’] “NASB

We all learned this as children most likely and many can quote it but how many really stop and think about it and strive to put it into daily practice in their lives?  It is a simple, few, line prayer that will literally transform your thinking as well as your living. 

Consider what is being said:

  • It is recognition of God’s Sovereignty and Supremacy.
  • It is honoring God and giving Him due worship.
  • It is requesting His rule and reign on the Earth.
  • It is requesting daily provision.
  • It is a cry for forgiveness and the extension of forgiveness.
  • It is a plea for guidance and protection.
  • It is recognition, that EVERYTHING belongs to God and no matter what man does GOD’S KINGDOM WILL NEVER FAIL, HIS POWER NEVER DIMINISH, and HIS GLORY NEVER LESSEN.

Don’t just recite it as you do the 23rd Psalm or some other pet passage.  Think about each line and allow the Holy Spirit to write that portion upon the tablet of your heart and infuse it into your being so that you become one with it. 

We need to seek God first above and before everything every day of our lives.  We should make worship and expressions of gratitude a daily part of our lives and hopefully the first offering of our day.  We need to focus on what we can do to expedite the rule and reign of God on Earth.  I know, by making Him LORD of our lives. 

We need to pray for our daily provisions so that we will be able to pursue His purposes in our lives and complete our assignments on this earth.  We need to cry for His mercy for our sins and failures not forgetting that our forgiveness is rooted in our being forgivers of others.

We need to seek His guidance and protection and above all recognize that everything in existence is created by Him and belongs to Him.  If we believe in our hearts that He is LORD and that His Kingdom will never fail, and His promises are absolute we will learn to walk in His Power, Peace, Presence, and Protection.

Let’s make it our goal and ambition in this life to Live what we are praying and confessing.  He is LORD of all, or He is not LORD at all.

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