PAUL’S FOUR ARGUMENTS IN FREEDOM…


2 Corinthians 1:24 – “Not that we have dominion over your faith, but are fellow workers for your joy; for by faith you stand.” NKJV

1 Corinthians 7:17-24 – “But as God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk. And so I ordain in all the churches. 18 Was anyone called while circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Was anyone called while uncircumcised? Let him not be circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters.  20 Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called. 21 Were you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it; but if you can be made free, rather use it.  22 For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ’s slave. 23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. 24 Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called.”  NKJV

As I mentioned last devotional, Paul presented four arguments that we should remain as we are and let God make the changes from within.  Let us consider them briefly.

  • We Are Called by God.

Verse 17 – “As the Lord has called each one…”  That idea is repeated in (verses 18, 20, 21, and 24).  He used the words ‘called’ and ‘calling’ nine times.  He concluded with (verse 24) – “Brethren, let each one remain with God in the state in which he was called.”  Please understand that does not mean if we are offered a promotion, we are to automatically turn it down.  It simply means that you do not immediately make radical changes, but you allow God to change things from within.  God has called us; therefore, we allow Him to open the doors and make the changes.  He can and He will!

  • We Have Been Assigned by God.

Verse 17 – “AS God has distributed to every man…”  Our place in society, on our job, our spiritual gifts, and abilities are assignments from God.  God knows exactly what He is doing and when He desires to make changes He will.  If we arbitrarily make radical changes, we will royally mess everything up.  Most of us have been guilty in some areas.  Please understand that does not mean we are not to seek to better our condition.  Nobody wants to remain in a difficult situation, but we must also learn to make the most of where we are and rest in God, trusting Him completely.

  • We Belong to God.

Verse 23 – “You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.”  You belong to God!  The value of any object is the price paid for it.  It is amazing the price some people will pay for various things.  Jesus Christ shed His blood for us and that reveals the value God places on each of us.  “You are bought with a price…”  You and I belong to God, therefore, “do not become slaves of men.”

  • We Should Abide with Him.

Verse 24 – “Let every man… abide with God.”  If you are where God has placed you, doing the job God has given you to do – You Are Abiding With God!  If you rebel against His will, you will not Abide with or in God!  If we do not Abide, we cannot bear spiritual fruit!

Therefore, it is imperative that we Abide where He has planted us and stay planted until He transplants us.  We have an Assignment from the LORD and until we complete that assignment, we are not likely to be given another.  The saying, “Bloom where you are planted” is applicable.

God, bless you richly is my prayer and desire!

FREEDOM FROM MAN…


2 Corinthians 1:24 – “Not that we have dominion over your faith, but are fellow workers for your joy; for by faith, you stand.” NKJV

1 Corinthians 7:17-24 – “But as God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk. And so, I ordain in all the churches. 18 Was anyone called while circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Was anyone called while uncircumcised? Let him not be circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing but keeping the commandments of God is what matters.  20 Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called. 21 Were you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it; but if you can be made free, rather use it.  22 For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise, he who is called while free is Christ’s slave. 23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. 24 Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called.”  NKJV

Most people understand that Freedom is an incredibly valuable and often rare commodity. Well, hopefully, most people know that.  It is important to understand what Freedom is, what False Freedom is, and what it means to be Free from Law, and Free from Sin.  Those are incredibly important topics, but there is one Freedom that must be addressed – “Freedom from Man.”  When men become spiritual dictators, it creates an incredibly dangerous and undesirable condition.   In 1 Corinthians 7, listed above, the apostle Paul lays down a basic principle that we should not be blindly subject to people, but that we should be subject to God in everything!

That makes the setting of this passage beyond important, it is critical.  If we fail to grasp the setting, we will arrive at some false conclusions and develop some false interpretations.  As I read and study this passage, I realize that the battles Paul was facing were due to some of the Corinthians abusing their Freedom in Jesus.  The Corinthian Church was made up of people who, by and large, had lived in gross sin.  Many of them had been involved in extreme wickedness and now they had Freedom in Jesus. 

Galatians 3:28 advises us, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  That is important!  The Corinthian believers knew this truth, but they were taking it to the extreme.  Simply, they were making use of their freedom to the point of license.

They took that passage and argued that marriage was abolished in Christ, nationality was being erased, those in slavery were no longer to obey their earthly masters, etc.  When we come to Christ our gender, nationality, ethnicity, as well as our social and economic status does not immediately change.  Salvation affords us the potential to make the most out of every situation.  Salvation is a spiritual change!  It can and should bring about change in the home, on the job, and in society and should.  The crucial point to remember is that God does not work from the outside in, He works from the inside out.  He changes us and that change results in a changed attitude and actions and that results in changes around us.

Paul offered a foundational principle, “Allow God to make the changes.”  As you consider verses 7, 17, 20, and 24we understand that we are to learn to make the most of our present condition and situation.  As we allow the changes to come from within, we find that God’s incredible miracle of change comes.  Remember we are Free, not Independent. 

No believer can be independent of other believers and no believer should be totally dependent on other believers.  Our dependency is on Christ, not man!  No human is to be a dictator in the lives of others.  That is true in politics, economics, marriage, and spirituality.  The slaves were still slaves, but they were free spiritually!  Paul’s view was not so much about the physical condition one found themself but the freedom of spirit, heart, and soul in Jesus. The masters were to be slaves to Christ but still masters.  You and I are free from the dominion and domination of people but that does not make us independent.  The change in our lives must begin on the inside. 

Paul presented four arguments for us to remain as we are and allow God to make the changes from within.  I will get to those, next time but for now, I pray that each of us realizes that we are to obey God rather than man when man’s decrees violate God’s.  We are not islands in life but connected to every other believer and although we are Free, we are not Independent.

God, bless you richly is my prayer and desire!

GOD’S NATURAL MEDICINE…


Proverbs 17:22 – “A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.”  NKJV

I enjoy laughter and because of that have been accused of not being serious, spiritual, or spiritual enough.  I personally cannot imagine anyone walking around like they are continually sucking on a sour pickle drawing many to Christ.  Likewise, I cannot imagine people being drawn to Christ by someone who is the Court Jester and Class Clown never being serious.  There is a balance to be achieved but it would be impossible to diminish the benefit of laughter and joy.  There is scientific documentation that validated the benefit of laughter in people who have dire physical maladies and I personally have experienced the healing power of laughter both physically and psychologically.

The contrast presented in this Proverb is incredible.  The imagery presented in having a ‘merry heart’ being medicinal and that of having a broken, defeated, sour spirit, producing depletion of the bone marrow which is needed for health and life cannot be missed.  If this is a choice, then it is no choice and I choose God’s medicine! 

That is why I use levity in much of what I say and look for things to make me and others smile. I like to have a good belly laugh.  I find that it is refreshing and therapeutic both for me and those around me.  Depression and despondency tend to wear away the defenses and if allowed to continue in a group of people it is like leaven and a little leaven leavens the entire lump.  In a profound sense, laughter and brokenness are both contagious or can be.

In Psalm 45:7 we read, of Jesus, “You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness.  Therefore God, your God, has anointed you will the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”  That is repeated in Hebrews 1:9. We read in Isaiah 61:3, “To grant to those who mourn in Zion – to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they might be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”  In Acts 13:52 we find, “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”

God has not purposed us to live in defeat, depression, dejection, and brokenness of spirit.  He has appointed us to Fullness of Joy and Abundance of Life in Christ Jesus.  Jesus was so anointed with gladness that the Bible says of Him in Hebrews 12 that when He looked at the Cross, he saw it as “joy” set before Him. 

JOY?  How could that be as we look back on those horrific times and the incredible suffering and abuse, He endured.  JOY?  The Joy was in what He knew it would mean to mankind and He rejoiced in what He knew.  That is why I believe that Christians can laugh in the face of difficulty and allow the Joy of the Lord and a Merry Heart that is like medicine to rise within us.  We Know What Is Ahead, at least in Jesus and through His Promises.  Thus, we can laugh in the face of adversity and laugh in the face of the devil because of Who Jesus is and Whose we are.

I have read some scientific medical research that suggests that laughter is good for your health.  It relaxes the entire body and boosts the immune system as it decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies thereby improving our disease resistance. 

Laughter triggers endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals which promote an overall sense of well-being and relieves pain.  Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow which helps protect against heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems.  Laughter, I am told, burns calories so it is helpful in weight control.  No, I did not say you could laugh your way to your ideal weight without diet and exercise, but it is beneficial. 

Laughter relieves stress, diffuses anger, and will likely help you live longer.  It has been suggested there is a correlation between laughter and good mental health and can strengthen relationships.  Laugh at yourself, do not ridicule yourself but laugh at yourself.  Learn to see the humor in situations rather than allow them to become weights too heavy to bear.  Remember funny things that happen and share them and Never go a day without laughing even if you have to manufacture a laugh. 

I would suggest you do some research and discover the benefits of laughter.  No, I am not suggesting that you abandon reason and responsibility and become a clown, but I am suggesting that you Lighten Up and allow stress to roll off you as you laugh your way to victory.  I cannot tell you how many times I have seen tense situations relax with the use of laughter.  It was like medicine and the results were amazing.  I cannot imagine Jesus not laughing at some situations. 

Let, Dr. Roy, give you a prescription for better health and well-being.  “Laugh three times a day.” Find something humorous about your situation and have a good belly laugh.  Try that for a week and see if it does not afford you much unexpected and appreciated benefit.  Remember a Merry Heart Does Good Like Medicine!

God, bless you as you enjoy this day.  Love, Life, Laugh life is too short to miss the fun of it.

IF I DIDN’T BELIEVE IN THE POWER OF PRAYER…


James 5:16 – So confess your offenses to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous person is immensely powerful.”  TLV

If I did not believe in prayer I would not pray!  It is that simple!  There are times when we want to keep everything close to the vest and not allow anyone to know what we are going through, the struggles, battles, or attacks upon us and that may be appropriate.  However, there are some things that scream loudly in my spirit when I think of battles in this life and how to respond.  Most of them trumps any desire to remain in the shadows and ‘go it alone.’

Obedience – – The Bible tells us in 1 Samuel 15:22-23, “…Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.  23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.”   I have on more occasions than I would like to acknowledge, either been slow in responding to the direction of the Holy Spirit or failed to properly respond.  In those cases, the difficulty that could have been avoided and victory that could have been realized was either delayed or denied.  It was not because of God’s reluctance or willingness to perform the needed action but my failure to swiftly obey and do what He directed. 

I have had times when I felt prompted to go see, call, or talk to someone and delayed and when I did respond I felt almost like Mary and Martha when Jesus finally arrived after their call to come to their brother’s aid.  I refuse to live my life in “what if” but failure to obey and sometimes instantly obey the prompting of the Holy Spirit can and does give the devil a needless advantage and room to do his dirt.  We need to resist the devil and one of the best ways I know is to pray and enlist the prayer support of a virtual army of believers who will pray in agreement and faith.

The Power of Prayer, according to the Bible is incredible and if we genuinely believe the words of James 5:16-18, “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.”  We will be diligent in Prayer and Pray Effectually, Fervently, Persistently, and Consistently.  

Our Lord instructed us to Pray, and Paul urged us to pray without ceasing.  Why would He do that? So, that we could engage in religious activity and appear pious?  Heavens No!  It was because Prayer has Power and is a vital part of our Spiritual Arsenal.  Paul told us in 2 Corinthians 10 that we have weapons, but they are not the weapons of this world, they are Spiritual Weapons.  No weapon is of any use if it is not used!  We are informed in Ephesians 6 to Pray in the Spirit, on all occasions, regarding every matter, with all kinds of prayers, and do so without fail and without ceasing.  Why?  Because of the recognized and realized Power of Prayer! 

The Promise of Jesus, as revealed in 1 John 5:14-15 is powerful.  “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”  If Prayer is something that can be delayed for a convenient time and not an act of Spiritual Warfare, then carrying the burden alone would be appropriate. 

However, if prayer brings us into the promise and brings about the realized victory of our Lord, then Immediate and incessant prayer is not only desirable but imperative.  Consider what John said through the Holy Spirit.  He spoke of confidence or settled assurance in Jesus’ Promises.  What is that confidence?  IF and I emphasize that word IF, we ask Anything!  I must ask, what does ANYTHING cover?  If anything does not mean anything it means nothing!  If we ask anything according to His will, that is the key, His Will. 

It is not just that He Promised it but also that we act in obedience to His directive and demonstrate confidence in His Process and Ways.  That means we Pray!  If we ask anything according to His will, He Hears Us!  That is important, especially considering the next word AND.  And what? If we are asking according to His will, His biblical revelation, and promise, He hears us, And if we Know that He Hears us, we have the assurance of the answer. 

Knowing that we know that we have gained an audience in the Throne Room of heaven is an incredible source of confidence and a faith builder and booster.  The result of asking according to His will that involves obedience is that He hears us and IF He hears us whatever we are praying, We Know.  There is that word of confidence and settled assurance again.  We know that we have the petitions we have asked of Him.  IF we Pray and do that according to His Will, we know that He Hears us and if He hears us, we know that He Grants our Requests.  That is beyond incredible!

With that in mind, I must ask, “Why would we ever give the devil even one second of opportunity when we can combat Him with God’s Word and Will in Prayer?”  Thus, my calling as a Watchman on the Wall demands that When I see danger, I sound the Alarm!  That is who and what I am.  My confidence in God and the Power of Prayer demands that when I see danger, I not only pray personally but I urge the intercessors to move into action.  If I believe that the prayer of the righteous is both effective and powerful, I Must Pray and Urge, the Army of Intercessors to move onto the Front Line and Pray!

No matter what the Battle or the Situation, if the Holy Spirit has made His Will Clear and most of the time He has through God’s Word, Immediate Action in Prayer should be our first response.  We are not islands and none of us live or die to ourselves.  We are part of the Body of Christ not individual members and if the hand needs help the head cannot ignore that need.  If one member of the Body is facing a crisis the rest of the Body needs to be mobilized to come to that part’s aid Immediately. 

Let me illustrate this way, if you saw a perp about to harm a child would you delay until you had notified everyone connected to that child Before calling for help and moving into action?  NO!  Likewise, if we believe in God and the Power of Prayer dare, we give the devil an advantage by not enlisting the Prayer Warriors?  I Can Not and Will Not Do That.  I cannot with a clear conscience.

This is my call to action in prayer.  Our nation needs prayer.  Our churches need prayer.  Our ministers need prayer.  Those facing dire situations in life need our prayer.  If you believe in God and believe in prayer, I ask that you join me in praying for every need that we become aware of, when we become aware of it, and determine to persist Until the answer comes!

God, bless you is my prayer and desire!

PRAISE CAN NOT BE OVEREMPHASIZED… (Continued)


Psalm 138:1-3 – “I will praise You with my whole heart; before the gods I will sing praises to You. 2 I will worship toward Your holy temple, and praise Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth; for You have magnified Your word above all Your name. 3 In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul.”  NKJV

Another dimension of Praise is that it opens a channel for God to speak and be heard.  I find that awesome and encouraging!  I do believe that God is a speaking God and if He is the same yesterday, today, and forever then if He ever spoke, He speaks today and wants to communicate with His people personally and individually.  It is one thing to say, “My praise brings God pleasure” but that does not necessarily bring change to my situation.  

Psalm 29:1-2, “Ascribe to the LORD, O sons of the mighty, Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. 2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due to His name; Worship the LORD in holy array.”  As we take note of verses 3-9, we find The Voice of the LORD is mentioned.  In Psalm 68:32-3, “Sing to God… Sing praises to the Lord… Behold He speaks forth with His voice, a mighty voice…”

Sometimes in Prayer, we do not hear God because we have locked on the ‘talk button.’  We are in the ‘transmit mode’ and that is okay but in Praise when coupled with Prayer we release the ‘talk button’ and bridge the gap giving access and opportunity for God to speak to us.  Proverbs 27:21, “As the refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold: so is a man for praise.” 

It is normal, in times of Praise to have our spirits heated as we are touched by His Presence and ‘hidden thoughts, motives, and desires’ rise to the surface.  As we become broken in His Presence those foreign impure elements are separated from the precious metal of our spirits.  THEN, we are able to take them to the Cross and be cleansed, washed, purified, and delivered.  Hallelujah! 

God wants to skim away all that defiles so that we can see His Face in the molten metal of our hearts.  Psalm 29:4 – The voice of the Lord is Powerful and full of majesty.  Psalm 29:5 The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars (Royal Trees).  Psalm 29:7 – The voice of the Lord divides the flames of fire (Fiery darts).  Psalm 29:8 – The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness. (Place of testing).  Psalm 29:9 – The voice of the Lord makes hinds to calve (life) and in His temple, everyone speaks of HIS Glory!  Praise!

Isaiah 30:31 tells us that the Voice of the Lord defeats enemies.  In Isaiah 66:6 we find that the Voice of the Lord brings recompense to our enemies.  I encourage you to read the powerful declaration of Jeremiah 33:11-14and then Joel 2:11 we find that the Lord utters His voice before His army and 3:16, “The Lord roars from Zion and utters His voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth tremble…”  In Psalm 46:6we discover that the Voice of the Lord causes kingdoms to be moved.  Praise releases the Voice of God and opens the door for God to tabernacle in the midst of His people.  Hallelujah!

Psalm 22:3 declares that God is enthroned upon the Praise of His People.  Psalm 148:14, we find that through Praise God exalts the Horn (Authority) of His People.  Psalm 8:2 gives us the revelation that “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings God has ordained strength” and Matthew 21:16 renders that as Perfected Praise.  In Psalm 149 we are told to sing to the LORD a “new song.”  I hope this is resonating with you that Praise is not just expressing words, songs, dance, etc. 

It is when we offer up Praise from the heart and our spirits get heated up in His Presence that His voice is released, and He tabernacles in us!  It is there that we experience His Presence.  It is there that His Person comes into full view.  It is there that His voice can be heard.  It is there that His power is manifest. 


I encourage you to read and recall the account in 2 Chronicles 20 of Jehoshaphat and Israel.  They are under siege by much more powerful and numerous enemies.  We learn that Jehoshaphat was serving and walking with God as 17:3 reveals that “God was with him.”  Three powerful enemies were attacking, and Jehoshaphat reacted as most humans would, “Fear gripped his heart.”  Then in 2 Chronicles 20:3 the key came into focus, “He set himself to seek the Lord.”  Notice that his prayer is not one of question and desperation but of victory and praise. 

Consider his prayer. 

  • Are you not God in heaven!  (An affirmation not a question)
  • Do you not rule over the kingdoms of the heathen!  (Affirmation not a question).
  • Is not power and might in your hand so that none can stand against you!  (Affirmation not a question).
  • Are you not our God who drove out the inhabitants of the land and gave it to the Seed of Abraham, Your friend, FOREVER!  (Affirmation not a question).
  • If evil comes on us and we stand before this house IN YOUR PRESENCE and cry to you, You hear and help!  (Affirmation not a question).
  • NOW, we do not know what to do, BUT our eyes are upon you!  (That opens the door).

The prophecy that came forth in verse twenty gave the instruction, “Trust God and be established.  Trust His prophets and succeed.”  Jehoshaphat took action and in verse twenty-one, he appointed singers and praisers and set them in front of the army.  (The Lord utters His voice before His army).  In verse twenty-two, When they began singing and praising God set an ambush and defeated the enemy. Confusion fell on the enemy camp, and they turned on each other and it took three days to gather the spoils.  They returned with Joy and God gave them Peace.  It could not and would not have happened had they not been obedient and Praised God in the midst of danger and potential disaster. Praise released the Power of God in their midst.

If you are battling an impossible situation in your life – Take the Time to Praise God! 

May the Lord bless you richly is my prayer and desire!

PRAISE CAN NOT BE OVEREMPHASIZED…


Psalm 138:1-3 – “I will praise You with my whole heart; before the gods, I will sing praises to You. 2 I will worship toward Your holy temple, and praise Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth; for You have magnified Your word above all Your name. 3 In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul.”  NKJV

I have long believed Praise is a practice that is invaluable for the Church and the individual believer.  I recognize that Praise, like many other things in life is something that everybody responds to differently and engages in differently.  Praise can be affected by singing Scripture Choruses and it can also be achieved by simply lifting our voices to God and expressing our love, respect, and appreciation.  One Chorus that I dearly love is “We Worship and Adore You.” 

            “We worship and adore you, bowing before you, Songs of Praise singing,

              Hallelujahs ringing, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah! Amen.

              We worship and adore You, bowing down before you, Songs of Praise singing,

              Hallelujahs ringing, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah! Amen.

              Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah!  Amen.”

Praise is both a natural and normal part of life.  It is experienced and practiced beyond the four walls of the Church building.  Some seem to think that the only place that praise is abnormal or needs restriction is in religious gatherings.  How can that be?  If you think about the advertisements, we are bombarded with we find that manufacturers praise their products.  If you are around doting parents long you realize that parents praise their children.  Men will praise their automobiles and women will praise hairdressers, wardrobes, etc.  Children praise, sportswriters and coaches praise, politicians praise, and preachers praise.  Life is filled with praise!  It is normal, natural, and proper praise is healthy.

It is ingrained in our nature to spontaneously give praise to whatever we deem of value.  Therefore, if God is among those things we value, it is normal to release our inner being as we engage in Praise to Him.  Please understand, that God does not need our praise, but we need to offer it.  We need to hear it from our lips because in Praise there is a release that is incredibly powerful and liberating.

If you have gone to a sporting event, you have observed and possibly participated in the virtual insanity and eruption of praise and expression as your team scores or prevents the other team from scoring.  The team did not need the praise in order to score, they scored Before the crowd began praising.  It was the spectators who benefitted from the clapping, yelling, standing, waving their hands, hats, and banners, and going berserk. 

Have you ever noticed that it is often the humblest and yet most balanced and open-minded that Praise the most and those who are cranky, cynical malcontented, and angry Praise the least?  Praise could be viewed as “Inner Health made Audible.”  There is a genuine tragedy in religious circles that teaches people to repress praise. 

I held a revival years ago, and a crowd of young people came forward for salvation.  Some of them began to get excited when they experienced salvation and the burden of sin was lifted.  They began to become demonstrative, and the pastor went to them and said, “We live the shouting at the football game, this is church.”  What?  Are we supposed to get more excited and demonstrative over a football game than over God?  Praise cries for release.

The word Hallelujah broken down is ‘Hallel’ – praise.  “Oou’ – Our.  ‘Jah’ – God.  Thus, the word means Praise our God!  Praise, in my understanding and belief, is an expression of Inner Health.  But it was not inner health alone that caused the crowd to praise at the ball game.  There was an external stimulus that invoked it.  The response of the crowd was in direct proportion to the stimuli.  That is why the more we talk about Jesus, focus on Him, His person, and work the easier it is to engage in the activity of Praise!

Spiritual Praise for many, if not most, does not just flow naturally and spontaneously.  It is something that many have to press into. Why?  Most people who come to church do so from an Outer Court condition.  The temporal is so large in our lives, thinking, and living that it requires an act of the will to move beyond it into Praise unto God. 

When we determine that we are going to Praise God we are virtually telling the flesh, “Come to attention, we are going to Praise God.”  We have to bridge the gap between the heavenly and earthly realm, and this is accomplished through Praise.  Praise affects the thinking and according to the Bible brings pleasure to the heart of God.  

Psalm 149:4,” For the Lord takes pleasure in His people.”  

Psalm 104:1, “Bless the Lord, O my soul…”  Bless Who?  

Revelation 4:11, “Thou art worthy, O Lord to receive glory, and honor, and power: For thou hast created all things, AND for Thy pleasure they are and were created.” 

Ephesians 1:12 tell us that we are to be the Praise of His Glory! 

God derives pleasure, gratification, and enjoyment out of our Praises.  Imagine that!  You and I can engage in an activity that brings genuine pleasure to God.  Hallelujah!  I want to say more about Praise, its purpose, and power but will wait for the next devotional. 

God, bless you richly is my desire and prayer!

THE POWER OF PEACE…


Proverbs 14:30 – A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”  NIV

Depending on the translation we find this rendered “sound, peaceful, and tranquil.”  We can look at it in the natural and the spiritual and glean benefits from both views.  In the natural, a ‘sound, tranquil, and peaceful’ heart identifies a heart that is functioning properly circulating blood throughout the body which is essential for life, health, and healing in the natural.  A heart that is not stressed with labor or worry is a strong benefit in natural longevity but if the heart is diseased and weak life will not be long experienced and the life experience, in the natural, will be limited and restricted.

But when we consider the entire sentence, we realize that although this can be applied to the natural heart it goes far beyond that to the spiritual condition or core of man identified as the Heart.  I have long been convinced that if our spiritual hearts are not whole and healthy resting in the Peace of God that passes human comprehension the natural man suffers as well.  I find the correlation between natural health and spiritual health taught in the Bible unmistakable and powerful both as a caution and a promise or a hope.

A “heart at peace” gives life to the body.  The Shalom of God strips the devil of his power to cause us to ‘fret’ and ‘worry’ over circumstances of life and helps us to ‘rest’ confidently in the Lord.  It enables us to become people who not only can but actually Wait on the LORD.

Paul identifies this kind of heart when he declared, Philippians 4:11-13, “…I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things, I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  This is the heart that is not in turmoil but is content and confident that God is God, and He Will Not Fail!  That heart pumps life into the body both naturally and spiritually.

The contrast to a heart of peace is the heart filled with Envy which leads to Covetousness and rots the bones.  I have been told that there are two kinds of Envy.  There is the benign and there is the malicious.  I am not sure that I can accept that in total, but they argued that “Benign Envy” was healthy and productive for it motivated the individual to perform at a higher level and seek the coveted position desired. 

On the other hand, they contended that “Malicious Envy” was destructive for it prompted and prodded the one envying to attempt to destroy the one they envy.  It seeks to level the playing field by ‘tearing down’ rather than building up self.  It is cancerous in its nature and spreads not only throughout the body with destructive chemical releases in the brain and body but infects others and becomes a root that defiles. 

The Bible offers several passages about the malignancy or rotting effect of iniquity and the absence of peace in a heart.  Leviticus 26:39 speaks of “rotting because of iniquity.” Proverbs 10:7 reveals that “The memory of the righteous will be blessed, but the name of the wicked will rot.”  Envy is rooted in Covetousness and Covetousness is the root of virtually every sin man commits. 

The Ten Commandments can be understood in the last commandment, “Thou Shalt Not Covet.”  Adam and Eve coveted God’s position based on the inference and lies of the serpent.  They wanted to “be as God” and in their disobedience, they “Fired God” or “Voted Him Out” as the Sovereign of the Universe and installed themselves as the center of their universe.  That separated them from God and resulted in the decay of their flesh and they began the process of decay. 

Rottenness in the bones and as Psalm 112:10 states is revealed when the Righteous Prosper the Wicked see it.  They become envious or grieved in their hearts and it causes such anxiety of heart that they waste away physically and spiritually. 

Let me ask the question that Paul asked that, in my view, ties this up in a neat package and affords freedom powerfully.  He asked in 1 Corinthians 4:7, “…What do you have that you did not receive?”  Every Good and Perfect Gift comes from God and if we have nothing that we did not receive from Him, why are we envious of others?  That envy is misplaced anger toward God.  We are jealous and envious of others which is an expression that we believe God either blew it or is not just and either produces rottenness in our hearts and bones and eats away at our peace leaving us destitute and hopeless.

God, bless you richly as you enjoy what He has placed in your hands and I urge you to be faithful in a few things and He will, in His time, grant you many things.  Blessings!

WE ARE DEBTORS…


Romans 8:12 – “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors — not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.”  NKJV

We often blame Adam for our sin, but I want to suggest to you that it is not Adam’s sin but ours that separates us from God.  Adam opened the door for human depravity and the dominion of the devil, but no person will go to hell for Adam’s sin.  Only Adam will be judged for what he did, and we will be judged for what we do.  This was addressed in Exodus 18:20, “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son.  The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.”  You will not go to heaven or hell based on what your parents or anyone else have done.  You will be responsible for your life and actions.

In Romans 8:1 we read, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”  When we come to Jesus we are governed by a new law, Spirit not Flesh.  We are governed by the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus and that liberates and trumps the Law of Sin and Death.  The Spirit triumphs over the flesh. 

Paul continues reminding them and us that IN Christ we do not have to be governed by carnal passions or evil desires, but we have access to the Spirit of Life in Jesus and the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  He identifies that this is a faith choice and involves self-discipline and even an element of willpower, but we are not to be and do not have to walk according to the flesh.  We have a new dimension open to us and the plea is for us to walk after the Spirit rather than the flesh.

Notice Romans 8:9-11, “But you are not in the flesh, IF indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.  NOW if anyone does not have Christ, he is not His. AND if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. BUT if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead gives life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”  AMAZING! 

You are living in a body, a tabernacle of clay but the flesh is dead because of sin but in your spirit, you are alive because of Christ.  Hallelujah! The Spirit of Christ is what is sustaining your mortal body and giving you life, naturally and spiritually.  You are indwelt by deity and alive by the Spirit.  That makes you a debtor.

You are in debt because of sin.  Jesus paid the purchase price for your redemption, a price you could never pay so you are indebted to Him for your salvation.  The flesh did not give us life even though we were born and breathed the breath of the oxygen of the earthly atmosphere and called that life.  The flesh cannot save our eternal souls. The flesh leads us away from God and life not toward and into it.  We are debtors but not to the flesh and therefore are under no obligation to live according to the lusts of the flesh or the dictates of the flesh.  

Our debt is to GOD.  Our debt is to Jesus.  Our debt is to the Spirit and if we commit ourselves to God and determine to Walk after the Spirit of God, we find that He enables us to ‘bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.’  He enables us to have the ‘mind of Christ’ in our daily lives.  He enables us to live free of sin and walk in righteousness.  No, we are not perfect, but we are forgiven and in our state of forgiveness we are able to reject the flesh and embrace the Spirit.

Live Free, in bondage you do not have to be!  Jesus lives in me, and I am set free.  May we all learn to you live by the Spirit not by the Flesh.  You are a Debtor and will ever be for you can never pay the debt you owe.  It is by grace you are saved, not of works.  It cannot be earned, bought, or even deserved it is Given out of God’s Great Love! 

God, bless you as you learn to LIVE FREE in Jesus!

THE FRUIT OF YOUR MOUTH…


Proverbs 12:14 – “A man will be satisfied with good by the fruit of his mouth, and the recompense of a man’s hands will be rendered to him.”  NKJV

As I read and study the words of Proverbs 12, I find some wonderfully exciting thoughts as well as some troubling declarations that are not always easily reconciled in our lives.  We all have opinions, even convictions, and fixed beliefs about God’s Truth or our understanding of our little facet of His incalculable truth. 

Truly His ways are beyond our finding out and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts.  Paul taught, “know in part and see through the glass dimly.”  We have not attained perfect knowledge and that may never be a possibility even in our glorified state in eternity.  God is God and we are and will ever be the creature or the created.

The Book of Proverbs offers incredible insight into life and human nature. It gives some valuable prescriptions for advancing in the Kingdom of God or in our personal relationships with Him Who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  In this chapter, the emphasis is ‘righteousness’ and offers insight into why we do not have it and how we can have it.  If we understand Righteousness as “Right Standing” rather than simply acts or activities, we will benefit greatly in consideration of many truths in God’s word.  I find it interesting that he begins his comments with “knowledge” and “correction.” 

When I consider the second part of that first sentence, I am immediately drawn to the idea that “loving instruction and knowledge” indicates a willingness to receive correction, rebuke, and/or chastisement because we understand the purpose of those in our lives.  If we reject correction, the writer says we are stupid.  I am always cautious about using that term because of the offense it conveys but when we consider the ways and words of God, we must remember the words of Psalm 14:1, “…the fool says in His heart, there is no God.”  Therefore, using that term in this context is not only appropriate but necessary.

When the writer speaks of a good man, the words of Jesus immediately come to mind when He asked in Mark 10:18, “Why do you call me good?… there is none good but one, that is, God.”  I ponder the reality that the only way any man becomes good is through God. We know from Romans 3:10, “As it is written:  There is no one righteous, not even one…”  We also know that our righteousness is as filthy rags before God.  It is His Righteousness that makes us Righteous and His Grace that enables us to walk in Right Standing with Him.

In verse three we discover an incredible truth, simple but powerful.  Wickedness will fail but righteousness will help us become like trees planted by refreshing water and like houses built on a firm foundation.  If we ‘seek first God and His kingdom’ we will find that we are able to ‘think the thoughts of Christ’ and bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ thus making our thoughts right, wholesome, and productive. 

Deceit is in the heart and mind of the wicked. The wicked are devious and treacherous in their interpersonal dealings with others.  What happens to them?   According to verse seven, they are overthrown and cease to exist contrasted to those who ‘seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness’ and walk uprightly before God.  The wicked’s house falls but the house of the righteous is firmly fixed in God’s truth and stands against all storms.

Then we skip down to verses 13-14 and the message there is, in my view, not only powerful but desperately needed in our daily lives.  We need to not only hear but also heed this truth and incorporate it into our lives.  We are told that the wicked are ensnared by the transgression of their lips.  As a friend in East Texas used to say, “They let their elephant mouths overload their peanut behinds.”  Their mouths write checks they cannot cover and thus they are ‘ensnared,’ and God holds us accountable for every word that we speak.  The contrast is that the Righteous will ‘come through trouble.’ 

The Bible never teaches that there will be no difficulty encountered by godly people. Rather it teaches that ‘through it all’ we will come forth and like Job. We need to be careful that we do ‘not sin or charge God foolishly.’  We need to seek for the Holy Spirit to set a guard at our lips and our minds so that we say the right things and agree with God’s declaration and assessment of any and every situation.  Isaiah 57:19 speaks of God creating the ‘fruit of the lips’ and Hebrews 13:15 brings that into our lives, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that openly profess His name.”

The writer declares that the ‘fruit of our mouth’ will bring satisfaction.  Remember what Jesus did when He endured the Temptation in the Wilderness with the devil?  He continually said and I emphasize SAID, “It is written…”  He quoted Scripture.  He rehearsed what God had said.  He declared God’s truth with His mouth, and it defeated the devil. 

If our words match our works, we will enjoy the fruit of verse fourteen and not only be satisfied we will have the recompense of God for our labors. We will demonstrate Faith and Works and the words of our mouth, and the meditation of our hearts will be acceptable in His sight.

May the Lord help each of us carefully guard our words and have our words match our walk, work, and warfare.  We can agree with God and realize the harvest of the fruit of His Promises in our lives.  

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

GOD’S REAL RESCUE MISSION…


Colossians 1:13-14 – “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”  NASB

The NKJV renders this, “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His Love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”  I like both renderings and consider them both incredibly accurate and revealing. 

I know believers for whom the picture of their spiritual life is found in the old song, “Hold the Fort.”  They are waiting on Jesus to come on the Grand Rescue Mission and take them out of this troubled world where the devil is on the loose and they are barely hanging on.  Not, all feel that way, but some do. 

Therefore, I want to address what I believe is God’s Real Rescue Mission and it is described in the text above.  Whether you identify Salvation as being ‘rescued’ or ‘delivered’ it is clearly a divine act of the Holy Spirit to bring us into a personal encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ.  Through Grace and Faith, we are BORN AGAIN and that experience ‘transfers’ or ‘conveys’ us out of the devil’s dominion, authority, or power into God’s kingdom.  It is through the NEW BIRTH that we are transferred, transformed, or translated from one kingdom and rule to another.  Redemption through the forgiveness of sin.

From the time of Adam, in the Garden, until Jesus Christ man was under the dominion of the devil who had legal standing to dominate the lives of men.  Adam’s sin, the one who had been given dominion over the earth, transferred that authority or dominion to the devil.  Adam and Eve’s disobedience, and their choice to disobey God brought about the depravity of the race. 

Until Jesus and His work on the Cross, we were subject to the devil.  But, at the Cross Jesus cried, IT IS FINISHED!  That signified that He had broken the power of the devil and in a great sense completed His True Rescue Mission for mankind.  He purchased our salvation with His own blood and truly ‘bought us back’ allowing Him to legally transfer us from one kingdom to another.  HE RESCUED US!  He has opened the door for us to enter if we will.

Later in Colossians Paul gives us a clear description of what Jesus did and what happens in our redemption experience.  In Jesus, we are ‘made alive’ together with Him through the forgiveness of our sin.  His work on the Cross took God’s divine eraser and wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us.  He dismissed all the charges.  He expunged the record through His blood.  At the Cross, He took all that away and nailed it to the Cross.  His sacrificial death ‘disarmed’ the devil, his principalities, and his powers. 

But it goes beyond that, as Paul uses the imagery of a Roman General being awarded a Triumph. He would be placed in a special chariot and parade through the city with the spoils of his victory on display and his conquered enemies in chains walking behind him.  They were made a public spectacle as he triumphed over them.  That is what Jesus has done to the devil.  We must get that image in our minds.  He fully defeated the devil, broke his claim over man, and rescued us. 

If we understand the Victory of Calvary, we will quickly realize the power of the words, “We are more than conquerors through Jesus.”  We will quickly realize that it is now incumbent on us to Enforce the Victory of Calvary.  The devil can only intimidate he has no authority over us.  WE HAVE BEEN RESCUED if we have accepted Jesus as our Savior!

In that light, why are we simply “holding the fort?”  Why are we simply trying to ‘endure to the end?’  Why are we not living Rescued and Delivered?  Why are we not enjoying the fullness of His Promises?  Why are we allowing the devil to continue to operate as though he were still in charge?  Why?  You have to answer that for yourself, but I pray that each of us determines in our heart that since we have been Rescued and Transferred, we will now live Delivered and Free!

God, bless you richly is my prayer and desire!