EXPOSING THE DEVIL – (Part II)


2 Corinthians 2:11 – “…lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.”  NKJV

Joshua 9:3-4a – “But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, 4 they worked craftily, and went and pretended to be ambassadors.”  NKJV

Paul declared in Corinthians that we are not ignorant of the devices of the devil so let’s study to show ourselves approved unto God workmen capable of exposing his tactics and possessing our promise.

First, I would like for us to take note that the victories of Israel brought about a combined, concentrated, and concerted attack of enemy forces.  In verse 1 of Joshua 9, we find the idea that the tribal warfare existing among the Canaanites had been laid aside as they joined forces against Israel.  Their petty squabbles and secondary issues were placed on the back burner as they joined forces against a common foe, and they amassed an all-out effort to turn back Israel’s advance. 

It is important to remember that with every victory as a Christian in your personal life you just sent out an engraved invitation for a full-scale assault by the forces of hell.  Every time you experience blessing you are one step away from another attack from hell.  I do not say that to discourage but to enlighten you. The devil may be a defeated foe, but he has not quit the fight.  Blessing and battle go hand in hand and instead of allowing fear to grip your heart rejoice!  It should be a joy to know that if we are pressed on every side we are in the heart of the battle and moving in the right direction spiritually.  If you are finding temptation almost more than you can bear, then rejoice.  Remember the words of James, “Count it all joy when…”

I said that in a church once and had a person come to me afterward seeking to set me straight and said, “I don’t know what you are talking about, I haven’t been tempted in years!”  If that is, you then I suggest that you run to the altar and ask Him to let you see yourself as the devil sees you and as He sees you.  The devil does not mess with what is not a threat to him.  Maybe you have matured to the place that you immediately resist temptation and it is almost as though it does not exist for you but if you are moving forward as a threat to the devil he tempts and sees to destroy.

The need for every believer and every church is to lay aside the secondary issues and launch a full-scale attack on the enemy repossessing and possessing that which he has stolen.  Unfortunately, the church world is frequently engaged in tribal warfare, too busy settling petty squabbles and splitting doctrinal hairs to engage the real enemy.  There must be jubilation in hell when the church becomes sectarianism protecting the place while the world plunges into darkness.  May God help us to never forget that nothing short of a full-scale united assault by all the people of God (Church) is needed.  It is time to pull down strongholds and set at liberty those who are bruised.  It is time to possess the promise and move into and onto our Canaan.

We are going to pause again and take this up next time as we look at the devil’s deception tactics.  

May the Lord bless you richly as you go through this day!

EXPOSING THE DEVIL…


2 Corinthians 2:11 – “…lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.”  NKJV

Joshua 9:3-4a – “But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, 4 they worked craftily, and went and pretended to be ambassadors.”  NKJV

I believe, without a doubt, that God’s greatest desire for us that we be saved!   He has no desire for mankind greater than full salvation and complete deliverance.   He wants us to become what He has already declared us – Overcomers!   Most have realized or will that this Christian walk is not a bed of roses and there are battles to be fought.  Most have realized that a battle won is not a war won nor a battle lost is a war lost. 

As long as sin lasts, and Satan is loosed from the pit there will be conflict.  As long as we live in these fleshly bodies there will be temptation.  However, it is important to remember no one sin can be regarded paramount nor can any sin be lightly regarded.  Any attempt or temptation to compromise with the devil is to invite certain disaster and court sure destruction.

If we can hold it in our hearts and minds that there will be battles lost and times of retreat, we can more readily maintain our hope.   However, I firmly believe that if or when we lose a battle and are forced into a temporary retreat it is imperative that we find out the true cause of the setback.  How?  Through prayer!  If we come before God in repentance and prayer, He will open the curtain and allow us to look beyond the veil and see.   Prayer will give us understanding but it takes more than prayer to regain or reclaim the lost ground.  We do not render the devil totally defeated in a moment of victory for the process of deliverance is gradual and often slow.

The Law or Plan of God given to believers that brings peace, joy, happiness, life, and health is not given for the purpose of admiration but obedience.  We are in a spiritual war and that war pits God’s forces against the devil’s legions.  The secret to winning any war lies in strategy.  If you fail to plan you plan to fail.  Joshua had planned the war against the inhabitants of Canaan carefully.  He had taken his forces and driven a wedge westward from Jericho into the heart of the land dividing the forces of the enemy.  He then quickly turned south and destroyed the forces there before coming back North to finish the job. He had a plan, God’s plan!

We face a problem in today’s world. That problem is our failure to apply God’s Divine Strategy to our daily lives.  I have witnessed believers and churches develop a hold the fort mentality and in so doing offer little or no offensives.  So, it is legitimate to ask, how often do we apply God’s Divine Strategy to our daily activities or planned war against our souls?  Some live hit or miss and miss more than they hit resulting in being outmaneuvered by the enemy.  Satan is not only a roaring lion he is a subtle serpent and the roar of the lion is far less dangerous than the hiss of the snake spiritually.

Joshua 9 is a classic example of the subtility, trickery, and deception of the devil and exposes the gullibility of man, especially when he becomes overconfident through a few victories.  Thank God our God is Sovereign, Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent.  He overrules our mistakes and failures for His glory.  In this passage and account, we find a revelation of the wiliness of the devil and a lesson worthy of learning in today’s world.  In this account, we can learn things that will help us expose the devil and move into victory possessing the place of promise in God our Canaan.

In the interest of brevity, we will pause here and pick up next time and hopefully provide some valuable information and tools to use in our daily lives in defeating the devil daily.   

God bless you as you go through this wonderful day!

TROUBLE OR TROUBLED???


Psalm 46:1-3 – “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3 though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling.”  NKJV

Each of us has an option or options when we are faced with trouble.  We can, as many, become troubled and allow trouble to flood over us sapping us of our hope and rendering us impotent in its wake.  The other option is to follow the prescription David offers here and experience a revelation that will release the supernatural in our lives and situation.  There is always a choice!

Most of us have experienced times of deep trouble where we were not sure how we would or if we would come through it.  When we find ourselves in the face of imminent danger or threat we can allow the waves of fear to overcome us, or we can look outside our fears looking through the situation to the solution.  It is a choice but one that is rooted in relationship and anchored to experiential confidence.  I can have all the information about a matter that is available and know logically and rationally what could or should happen but my confidence in the outcome will be stronger after experience.

David declared, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”  The words present help seem to leap off the page at me when I read this.  Most will affirm that they believe God has promised to be our refuge and that He is our strength but too frequently we miss the PRESENTNESS of God!  Amid the difficulty, HE IS THERE!  He is in the immediate not the projected.  He is in the immediate not the theoretical.  He “IS” and because He “IS” David says, “we will not fear…”  The confidence of God’s promise of a provision of safety and His Omnipotence in the IMMEDIATE banishes fear.  Fear and God’s presence are not compatible except for our reverential fear of Him.  Fear that has torment is incompatible with the presence of God.

David described a condition where there are earthquakes either natural, emotional, social, economic, political, or spiritual and declares that because of GOD’s Presence fear was banished.  When he says we will not he declared that this is a cooperation between the heart of man and the power of God.  God provides the power and demonstrates His presence and man must make the choice to embrace God or fear. 

The question is always, “Do we trust?”  I suggest that knowing the promise is one thing.   Believing that God is Omnipotent is one thing.  Believing that God is Now Present in our situation is another.  Just knowing it with our heads does not always equivalent to receiving it in our hearts.  Knowing something theoretically without the experiential may leave one with doubt whereas having both knowledge and experience opens the door and makes it easier to enter into the Present Reality of God’s Presence, Purpose, Promise, and Provision.  Therefore, developing a relationship with Him is vital to our forward progress in life spiritually.

Rather than being troubled, I pray that God will help each one to see the trouble simply a condition unworthy of fear because of the PRESENTNESS of God.  Look beyond and through the troubles and trials to the solution and in Him rejoice and relax.  He is God and always will be God.

God bless you as you go through your day!

NO MORE QUACKING WITH THE CROWD…


Proverbs 23:7 – “…as he thinks in his heart, so is he.”  NKJV

Let me say at the outset that the context of this passage is about charity or the lack thereof of a greedy stingy person.  However, it can be applied much beyond that and that is what I wish to do at this time.

Through years of ministry, it has been my observation that a very significant portion of people say they want to soar with the eagles but often quack with the crowd.  Why?  It is far easier to become part of the crowd than it is to go against the grain.  It is easier to go downstream with the current than to swim or paddle against it.  Too often we are caught up in the clutter and distress of our present world and if we do not rise above the crowd and see it from a heavenly perspective, we will miss opportunities and solutions. 

I know some who truly desire to break free, but desire alone is not enough.  If we are to attain that lofty goal of soaring with the eagles, we will find there are some incredibly fierce battles and intense struggles in our future.  We will have to come to a clear understanding that what and how we think is important.  We will have to come to grips with the fact that what we think about is important.  We will find it mandatory that we gain control of our thought processes and bring them into captivity to Jesus Christ. 

It is absolutely necessary that we think clearly, ridding our minds of clutter.  That we think courageously filling our hearts and minds with faith and confidence.  We must learn to think confidently knowing that we can do all things through Christ our strength.  Simply, you do not soar with the eagles by simply deciding you no longer want to quack with the crowd.  It takes courage, determination, and work!

WE BECOME WHAT WE THINK…

We read in Romans 12 that we are not to be conformed (ducks, geese, turkeys) but transformed (eagles).  There is to be a renewal or reprogramming of our minds (thought processes).  2 Peter 2:22 is a most riveting passage which speaks to what I’m talking about.  Why do dogs and hogs go back?  I believe that the simplest explanation is that they think differently.  You can give Rolls Royce to a person who has no concept of its value or worth and they will appreciate it no more than a VW Dune Buggy.  That is true in all things.  We have to reprogram our thought process with the kind of information that will propel us toward our goal.  Sadly, many are entrenched in defeatist thinking and find soaring almost impossible.

SATAN’S NUMBER ONE TARGET IS OUR MINDS (Thoughts)…

He knows too well that if he can keep us bound in our thoughts, he can keep us from becoming what God desires us to be.  In Ephesians 6:10-11, we discover the wiles or the schemes of the devil. The Greek word is ‘methodia’ from which we get our word method.  The Amplified calls it the strategies of the devil.  In verse 12 we are told that our struggle is not with flesh and blood it is with spiritual powers of darkness.  In 2 Corinthians 4, we read that the devil is described as the god of this world and blinds minds.  In 2 Corinthians 10, we are instructed to take control through the Holy Spirit of our thoughts.  It is possible to be transformed from one who quacks with the crowd to one who soars with the eagles.

We need to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ Jesus.  Our thoughts are incredibly important in our spiritual development.  So, as you begin this day begin it with the commitment to think rightly. 

Blessings as you continue your journey!

LIFE IS TOUGH – Okay?


Job 14:1 – “Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.”  KJV

That is a mouthful Job, but incredibly true!  I don’t recall where I heard it but heard about a little boy leading his sister up a steep mountain path which was very difficult.  She complained and complained saying, “This isn’t a real path it’s all bumpy and rocky.”  He said, “Sure Sis, but the bumps are what you climb on.”  Great attitude!

Reflecting on Job’s statement and the many Bible references to difficulty in life would lead one to ask, “What do you do with the bumps on the path of life?”  How do you handle difficulty?  When I read some of the accounts in the Bible of the incredible difficulty many had to reach the Place of Promise in God, I find it nothing short of amazing and often feel shame in my own heart for my complaints.

Abraham did not become a great man of faith instantly he had to walk out some incredible paths to reach that place where his faith was accounted to him as righteousness.  Remember his life:

  • Upon arrival in Canaan, there is a famine. 
  • He has trouble with his nephew Lot.
  • War breaks out and he has to fight.
  • Received bad counsel from Sarah and Ishmael resulted.
  • Finally, he receives his ‘son of promise’ only to have God tell him to offer the boy up as a human sacrifice.

Obviously, it got better but those are some of the problems he encountered.  At what point would we have said ENOUGH!

How about Joseph and his rocky road to the place God ordained him to ascend.  Remember his life:

  • Pampered by his father.
  • Hated by his brothers.
  • Sold as a slave.
  • Falsely accused and then forgotten in prison.
  • Apparently forsaken by the Lord.

Finally, he was brought out of prison and promoted to 2nd in command in the most powerful nation on earth and used to preserve the Seed Line of the Savior in the nation of Israel.

How about men like Moses, Paul, David, Daniel, and others?  They refused to complain about the road and roughness.  They accepted the trials and difficulties as steppingstones to the Promise, not signs of being forsaken and that is a significant difference!

Many have or feel like quitting thinking that there is no help or hope, so why continue?  Why doesn’t God just remove the stones and make it easy for us?  Frankly, I am convinced if He did most would never climb to the top for truly the bumps are what we climb on and at least a motivation for us to press on and in. 

In Psalms 91 there are eleven kinds of dangers listed such as war, snakes, sickness, terror by night, arrows by day, and more, and God promises Protection from them All…  God has given His angels charge over us to keep us from bruising our feet on the bumps or stones.  They are stepping stones not stumbling stones!  So, lift up your heads and rejoice for GOD IS IN CONTROL!

May the Lord be with you and bless you as you go through this day!

LIFE’S PRISON OF PAIN – – Part Three…


Isaiah 53:1-6 – “Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? 2 For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. 3 He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.  4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.  5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.  6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.” NASB

Revelation 21:3-4 – “”Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”  NASB

We have considered two of the four categories of PAIN the Physical and the Emotional.  Now I would like to consider the other two and hope that these brief words will become catalyst launching you into your own discovery of remedies in God for your pain or that of someone you know and love.

Mental Pain is so closely akin to Emotional Pain that it is difficult to differentiate and separate and may be the old ‘chicken’ and ‘egg’ argument.  Does emotional pain cause mental pain or vice versa or both?  There is no question that they are closely linked and virtually inseparable. 

Mental pain could logically fall into two categories:  The thoughts and sanity or lack thereof.  The pain referred to is from the troubling or tormenting thoughts which refuse to dissipate.  They are present night and day, 24/7, and may be the result of guilt, shame, anger, resentment, or wounds.

Tragically the one suffering, in this case, plays the video over and over in their minds and continually debates with themselves – “Could I, should I, would I???”  It is as we allow thoughts to conjure up scenarios that are beyond reason and so twist our psyche that we reach an emotional and mental state where rational thought is impossible.  The pain that results is one of the most diabolical that a person can experience.  If this state is allowed to continue long term the individual will become emotionally and mentally paralyzed unable to enjoy even a semblance of a normal life.  The paranoia will become so acute spiraling into phobias and rendering the individual a danger to themselves and others.  This is a horrendous torturous prison and ONLY GOD can relieve one from those chains.

We now come to Spiritual Pain and I see this very differently from the other three although often very closely connected to the Emotional and Mental.  Spiritual pain comes almost directly from Guilt, a Lack of Purpose, and being void of a Sense of Worth! The person has believed The Lie of the devil that God does not value them, love them, or care about them.  When I view the Cross, I find it impossible to not understand that God values me greatly as He does you. 

John 3:16 makes it virtually impossible to miss that truth.  Still, the human mind will follow human reason and come up with a myriad of explanations and justifications as to why God should not or could not love them.  Before my conversion, I was one of those and had the list of why God could not or should not love me. I was under conviction and miserable but convinced that I could not be forgiven.  Thank God He used some loving and praying people to penetrate that wall.  Proverbs 3:5-6 was the catalyst that opened my eyes and opened the door to forgiveness and freedom from my Prison of Pain Spiritually. 

If you have physical pain, I do not suggest that you fail to get a proper diagnosis and treatment.  If your pain is emotional, mental, or spiritual I believe fully that there is a definitive answer for you in God’s Word. I also believe that about the physical but the spiritual has eternal consequences. God wants to free you from Pain’s Prison and allow you to walk into the light of the Fullness of His Love, Light, and Glory.

God bless you as you go through your day!

LIFE’S PRISON OF PAIN – – Part Two…


Isaiah 53:1-6 – “Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? 2 For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. 3 He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.  4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.  5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.  6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.” NASB

Revelation 21:3-4 – “”Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”  NASB

For the most part, PAIN can be grouped into four categories – – Physical, Emotional, Mental, and Spiritual. Each category can involve other categories and overlap but most of the time we can identify them in one of the four spectrums.

All of us know and maybe have experienced Physical Pain of the kind and quality that debilitates.  I know, have known, and experience physical pain to the point that putting one foot in front of another was an excruciating experience and required all the will-power that could be mustered.  A person in that kind of pain, long term is certainly a target for Pain’s Prison. 

We are told by medical science and research that there are some sources or roots of physical pain that are directly connected to one’s mental, emotional, and/or spiritual state.  There is an often-quoted but seldom heeded passage regarding emotional anger. 

Ephesians 4:26 – “Be angry, and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.”  Assuredly this has to do with our spiritual relationship with God, but could there be another reason for this prohibition or warning?  Modern discoveries say yes!  We find that harboring the emotion of anger, fear, bitterness, and other distressful emotions will adversely affect one’s physical health.  It has been estimated that two-thirds of the people who see General Practitioners are stress-related.  We also find that 25% of people in the USA miss work 16 or more days per year due to stress and that over 50% acknowledged that they are stressed.  

The human body releases chemicals into the bloodstream when either positive or negative emotions are experienced.  The long-term result of negative emotions represses the immune system and makes a person far more susceptible to disease and/or pain. 

Emotional Pain is a diabolical enemy of health and happiness.  Virtually all dictionaries define emotion – – “a strong feeling or state such as excitement, happiness, sadness, love, hate, fear, or anger.”  We call this a person’s mood. Emotional pain surfaces when a person is antagonized or traumatized by their emotions.  It can come from a wound, a harsh word, or some form of embarrassment experienced.  Emotional pain can come through the loss of a loved one or possession.  It could be the result of a breakup, a business failure, a church split where you internalize the anger or the hurt and allow it to fester in your heart to the point that you are debilitated in your emotions. 

Just as in physical pain those dastardly chemicals are released in your bloodstream as a result of the emotions and transported throughout the body affecting your heart, stomach, muscles, lungs, liver, brain, kidneys, and immune system.  It is your daily dose of Poison and becomes a vicious cycle that literally imprisons a person.  The pain never goes away, and the by-products continue to exist and become enlarged to the point that you could not only be an emotional prisoner but literally sick as a result.

God does not want you to live in a PRISON OF PAIN and has provided an escape for you through the Blood of Jesus Christ and the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  I pray now that God so touch your heart that you can release any negative emotions and being to see the healing come.

God bless you as you go through your day!

LIFE’S PRISON OF PAIN…


Isaiah 53:1-6 – “Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? 2 For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. 3 He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.  4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.  5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging, we are healed.  6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.” NASB

Revelation 21:3-4 – “”Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”  NASB

In 2010 the Lord enabled me to have a book published titled, “Prison of Pain”.  In that book, the focus is on the often-self-imposed prison that pain can place us and offers the solutions for much of the imprisonment that people experience.  Since I am not a medical practitioner and totally unqualified to make a medical diagnosis I say much because there may be some cases that only God and your medical doctor can resolve.  The solutions that I suggest are cures afforded by the Word of God through the power of the Holy Spirit with your cooperation and participation.  It goes far beyond the symptom to the root of the problem and I believe that true medicine does that as well.

But before I discuss any of this, I want to call attention to the basis upon which I write in more specifics.  When I turn to the above passage in Isaiah, I immediately realize that our LORD truly does understand what we are going through and has experienced PAIN the kind that imprisons.  I have categorized pain into three listings for our discussion purposes:

  • Ache

The word is a noun with the associated words:  hurt, soreness, sting, tenderness, hurting, and twinge, throbbing, or smarting.  None of those remotely express the depth or degree of pain that is referenced in the Title – “Prison of Pain.”

  • Nuisance

A noun with the associated words:  bother, drag, bind, pest, or menace.  Again, all minor irritants are associated with daily life.  Clearly, these are not what we are referring to in our Title and Topic and will not bring one to the point of desperation in life.

  • Grief

A noun with the associated words; sorrow, anguish, torture, or agony.  This is more readily identifiable with that on which we are focusing.  In Webster’s New World Dictionary, Second Edition by Prentiss Hall Press GRIEF is defined as: ‘intense emotional suffering caused by loss, disaster, misfortune, etc.:  acute sorry; deep sadness 2. A cause of the subject of suffering; 3. 20 hardship, suffering, or pain b) a cause of any of these: SYN. See SORROW – come to grief to fail or be ruined.”

The same dictionary defines grievous as: “1. causing grief 2. Showing or characterized by grief (a grievous cry) 3. Causing suffering; hard to bear; severe [grievous pain] 4. Deplorable; heinous [a grievous crime].”  Therefore, by definition, this PAIN that we are speaking of is grievous, hard to bear, severe, and can be described as deplorable and even heinous!  That is the PAIN that we are talking about!  A PAIN that imprisons and steals life from you and it does not have to be and often is not PHYSICAL PAIN!

As we begin our New Year, I am convinced in my spirit that many who read what I am writing have either been in or are facing this type of PAIN and the Imprisonment that comes with it.  I hope in a few short devotionals to give you Hope and point you to the True Help and Helper!

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

WHEN LIFE HANDS YOU A LEMON…


Philippians 1:12-20 – “Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, 13 so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, 14 and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear. 15 Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; 16 the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; 17 the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this, I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.”  NASB

Long text short devotional!  Years ago, I had an elderly preacher tell me that if you use a long text preach a short sermon, and if you use a short text preach a long sermon.  He did not explain why but probably had more to do with the ability of people to stay focused on the matter at hand. 

Paul says something here that reminded me of the adage, “When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade.”  This adage is directed at the idea that you can choose to make of life what you will, and you can opt to turn your circumstances into opportunities.  Here Paul tells the Philippians that his difficulties had been turned by the Spirit of God into opportunities to further the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.  It was a source of encouragement to others facing trials and difficulties to stay strong and faithful.  He even said that some who were coming against him were preaching out of envy or strife, but he rejoiced because the Gospel was being preached.  I guess if God can use a donkey to speak in the animal kingdom surely, he can use a jack*** in men to speak His word.

Paul’s heart and focus were to see the Word of God spread throughout the world and as many won into the Kingdom of God as possible.  He wanted all men to HEAR!  He wanted to encourage those who were in the battle to NEVER give up but to stay strong and faithful.  Sometimes when life hands us lemon after lemon it is hard to make lemonade and not become despondent and discourage to the point of despair, but we have a choice and if we choose God HE WILL NOT FAIL!

So, whatever you are facing or will face in this upcoming year know that God will NEVER leave you nor will He forsake you so STAY STRONG! Take those lemons that the devil brings to you and allow the Holy Spirit to transform them into lemonade.  Remember the promise that “All things work TOGETHER for your good….”

Blessings as you go through your day!

THE NEW YEAR IS UPON US……


Jeremiah 29:11-14 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”  NIV

The context of this passage was the LORD speaking to Israel about their return from Babylonian captivity. After 70 years there would be an awakening and God’s plan would be put into play.  Israel would seek Him and find Him as they sought Him with their whole heart.  As we come to the last day of 2020 my heart cries out for us to Look Forward rather than Backward.

God has plans for us individually and collectively and those plans include a Hope and a Future!  In any situation or time when people truly begin to seek the LORD with a whole heart, He demonstrates His power and reveals Himself to them.  He has promised that if we Seek Him, we will Find Him.  He is not trying to hide from us or make knowing His will, plan, or purpose difficult or impossible to discern.  It is in God’s interest for us to Know what He wants and then to do what He directsHiding that from us would not serve the purposes of the Kingdom.

Rather than looking back on the disappointments of 2020 let’s look toward the possibilities of 2021.  Rather than lamenting over the failures of the past let’s look toward the victories of the future.  Tomorrow or tonight at 12:01 AM the year 2021 will have fully begun and God will still be God and His plan and purpose for our lives will still be real and possible.  Nothing anyone or any power can do will change that!  The devil may try and will try to get you to lose focus on the prime objective and discourage you but resist his temptations. Fix your focus squarely on the Throne of Heaven and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Take these words in Jeremiah as your personal word from the Lord for 2021 and enter this New Year with HOPE, FAITH, ENTHUSIASM, and CONFIDENCE!

None of us saw, in totality, what we wanted to see in 2020, although we may have seen some significant and wonderful things.  The New Year affords us somewhat of a clean slate and we have the opportunity to begin on January 1, 2021, a journey of faith that will be the most exciting and productive year of our lives.

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