May 21, 2015
“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”
Hold Fast to Your Relationship
Have you ever exercised, ran a race or just lived life and you came to the place where you thought you couldn’t or didn’t want to go any further. You were tired, exhausted, maybe even discouraged and felt defeated. There are times as we walk through life trying to hold fast the faith that we get tired. We just want to let ourselves drift back into the flesh and quit the daily effort of living a life of faith and righteousness. Perhaps we have a friend or loved one who is always pressuring us to go out and have fun with them or do the things we know would be displeasing to the Lord. There are times we get weak, we get discouraged and we want to give up trying and fighting the good fight of our faith. “After all, God still loves me and maybe He is not all that interested in what I do and don’t do.”
I can tell you from experience that when we step through that door, we step out of our place of fellowship and relationship with the Lord that we have cultivated through our walk and prayer time with Him. Often we don’t even realize what we do have and what His fellowship means to us until we lose it. When we walk away from it, that ground is so much harder to gain back the second time. The Lord knows our heart and our feelings, but we must be careful not to allow the enemy to come in and rob us of that confidence and relationship we have in Him. It is often so subtle and many times perpetrated through the ones we like and love.
The Lord says in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” The pressures and the trials of life often weigh heavy upon us and we sometimes want to give up, but the Word says, “don’t throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.” Stay the course, don’t give up and don’t give in. Find your rest and your strength day by day in the Good Shepherds arms. “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”
May 20, 2015
Love the LORD your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always.
See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse- 27 the blessing if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today; 28 the curse if you disobey the commands of the LORD your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known.
Blessing and a Curse
Love is obedience to those things we might not other wise choose. Love is, yes Lord, not my will, but thine be done. The Lord set before us two laws and principles, blessing and cursing. The Word reveals here that blessing is the fruit of obedience and the curse is the fruit of disobedience and unfaithfulness to God. What are we pursuing and what are we incurring today?
The prophet Haggai speaks this from the Lord in Haggai 1:2-11, “This is what the LORD Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come for the LORD’s house to be built.’ ”
3 Then the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai: 4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”
5 Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 6 You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”
7 This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 8 Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the LORD. 9 “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the LORD Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house. 10 Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. 11 I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the oil and whatever the ground produces, on men and cattle, and on the labor of your hands.”” Does our blessing not come because we are too busy in pursuit of building our own house, success, dreams and ambitions while the Lord’s house lies in ruins within us. The Lord says, “Take a look, how’s that working out for you as you pursue your things and neglect mine? Doesn’t seem to be much blessing in it does there?”
The Word of the Lord comes again through Haggai in Haggai 2:15-19, “” ‘Now give careful thought to this from this day on —consider how things were before one stone was laid on another in the LORD’s temple. 16 When anyone came to a heap of twenty measures, there were only ten. When anyone went to a wine vat to draw fifty measures, there were only twenty. 17 I struck all the work of your hands with blight, mildew and hail, yet you did not turn to me,’ declares the LORD. 18 ‘From this day on, from this twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, give careful thought to the day when the foundation of the LORD’s temple was laid. Give careful thought: 19 Is there yet any seed left in the barn? Until now, the vine and the fig tree, the pomegranate and the olive tree have not borne fruit.
” ‘From this day on I will bless you.’ ” The Lord is giving the call to our hearts and lives because the foundation of the apostles and the prophets has been laid and Jesus, the Chief Cornerstone, has been set. Now is the time to come build His temple both corporately and individually. Now is the time for us to turn from our ways to His. In our own ways, pursuing our own interest we have only experienced lack and coming up short. If we will set our hearts to His work in obedience and faithfulness, we will experience His blessing. Let us prove God’s Word to know the blessing of obedience by casting off the curse of our own selfishness and self-will.
May 18, 2015
And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, 40yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
Always Learning, Never Knowing
There are those among us that may know the Word of God better than you and I do, but does that mean they are of God and know Him who is truth? 2 Timothy 3:7 says, “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” It is interesting that both Jesus and the apostle Paul address these who often come in a spirit of religion and piety. They have great knowledge, but they have no revelation of the truth of what they know. In fact these are often the greatest enemies of the cross. Because of what they know they seek to undermine the faith of believers and discredit the finished work of Christ.
We see in today’s passage that Jesus is addressing the religious leaders, who supposedly know God and teach His ways. They hated this Jesus. He was unconventional. He didn’t adhere to the laws and traditions of the fathers the way they thought he should. He even did miracles on the Sabbath and proclaims God to be His Father. How blasphemous! Who does this guy think He is, “The Messiah”? These religious leaders and zealous Jews grew up learning the Tora and the letter of the law, but they had no revelation of the Spirit of the Word. Here was the Word Himself speaking to them and they discerned it not. Does our spiritual credibility come from our theological background or our degrees? Spiritual men can have great education, but great education doesn’t make spiritual men. It is not what you know, but whom you know. It is not what you can intellectually relate, but who you are in relationship with that gives you credibility and spiritual endorsement.
Paul was a man of tremendous religious education. He was a pupil of Gameleal, a foremost teacher of the law in His time. He speaks of himself in Acts 22:3, “Then Paul said: “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. Under Gamaliel I was thoroughly trained in the law of our fathers and was just as zealous for God as any of you are today.” That was His credentials as a religious man. Later, Paul speaks in contrast to this in 2 Corinthians 3:4-6 when he says, “Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. 5Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. 6He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” It is not just what you know, but who you know.
In this day and age, we also need to be aware of the religious spirit that has a form of godliness, but denies the power thereof. Let’s go back to 2 Timothy 3:3-9 and listen again to the warning that Paul brings. “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.
6They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. 8Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth—men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. 9But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.”
It is a day in which we must be discerning and not just blindly trusting of other men and women, just because they have a knowledge of the Word. The fruit of their lives will tell you more about their character than what they know and can recite. Never get your eyes on any person, even if he or she is spiritual, because in man you will always be disappointed and hurt. Always set your eyes only on Jesus, for He alone is the author and finisher of your faith. The church is full of people who are wounded and hurt from what so-called spiritual people have done to them. When you have your eyes and trust wholly upon Jesus, then your faith is not shaken when others fail you.
May 15, 2015
Who areYou Seeking?
2 Chronicles 26:3-5
Sixteen years old [was] Uzziah when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and two years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name also [was] Jecoliah of Jerusalem. And he did [that which was] right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah did And he sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God: and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him to prosper.
What is our business plan for life? The goal that most of us have is to have a life that contains prosperity and blessing. We want a life where we have safety and security and where we have sufficiency of earthly goods to sustain and meet our needs. Most of us enjoy a lot of these basic needs of life, but the question is do you want God to make you prosper? Uzziah found the secret, “He sought the Lord.” The key to our prosperity and success is in following this same principle.
We can go to a lot of sources and get council from many directions, but there is none that can exceed the counsel that we can receive from the Lord. Usually our greatest source of counsel and wisdom is our own opinion and thinking. We may even experience some success and prosperity from our self-reliance, but self-reliance will not bring us into the prosperity and blessing of eternal life that only a relationship with our Lord can provide.
Proverbs is a book that is filled with exhortation to seek wisdom, understanding and wise counsel. It tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of all of that. If we truly want to prosper in the things that really matter in life then we had better follow Uzziah’s example. The one thing that the Word shows us and teaches us is that many men started off well with their faith and reliance in God, but as God prospered them they became full of themselves and they forgot the Lord. We must learn from their mistakes. The race is not to him who starts it, but to him who finishes it and stays the course.
In the wilderness when the Israelites were lead out of captivity they followed the cloud of the Lord. They had to learn that they didn’t move till it moved rather that was every day or not for months at a time. We need a relationship where we are in tune with the Lord’s moving in our lives. Often we would grow impatient and run ahead of Him.
Who are we seeking in our lives today? What are we pursuing to be successful? There are many things we can learn and understand in the world, but our true prosperity and blessing comes from the Lord for He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. It is the wisdom of the Lord and His counsel that we must covet and pursue. When our eyes and hearts are fixed on Him, He will cause our ways to prosper.
May 14, 2015
1 John 1: 9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Most all us of carry regrets of choices we did or didn’t make.
There isn’t any way we can change the past or from our history take,
the memories and consequences of regrets we carry within.
But forgive ourselves we must, of our past regrets and sins.
Most importantly we learned, so as to never regret again.
God forgets past sins when we repent and ask Him to forgive.
So we now must forgive ourselves and move on to better live.
Sometime the hardest people to forgive in life is ourselves. Some of us are still carrying guilt and condemnation from past decisions and choices. They may have been horrendous decisions with devastating consequences, but God still forgives and has forgiven you of that sin, the first time you ask Him. It may be you that is grieving the Holy Spirit by not having the faith to not only believe that God has forgiven you, but that you must also forgive yourself and set yourself free from the guilt and condemnation that you have been carrying.
One thing that isn’t acceptable to God is our unforgiveness, but that doesn’t just apply to others; it also applies to our forgiving ourselves. You can’t change your past, but you can change your future by ‘forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.’ You have a purpose and it isn’t bemoaning your mistakes. Don’t allow your past regrets to define you, but motivate you to be that better person. Who I was may be who I no longer am, but only my life and actions can define the difference. Forgive yourself and move on.
May 13, 2015
2I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? 4Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? 5Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?
Legalism Seeks to Nullify Faith
The law is a static force, which is good in itself, but serves only to show man his weakness outside of God. The law in and of itself doesn’t stand as our salvation, but rather our condemnation. Instead, it is faith that is the dynamic force in union with the Spirit of God that produces life changing events and substance. ‘Without faith we know that it is impossible to please God.’
Most of us aren’t steeped in Judaism, but we might be surprised how much we try to please and earn God’s favor by our works rather than by our faith. We allow others to impound us or we put ourselves under bondage, rituals, ceremonial and dietary restrictions, the keeping of days and numerous other legal restrictions that allow us to feel somehow more superior and holy than those that do not observe and keep such things. The Word plainly tells us that righteousness is not of the law. Galatians 3:21-24 says, “Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. 22But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.
23Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. 24So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. 25Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.” The Law then was but an instrument and a tool to prepare us for Christ, who is our righteousness by faith. The Law was not an end in itself. Verses 26-29 goes on to say, “26You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Our position in God is not about who we are, where we came from, what sex we are or what race or background we come from. Our position in God is “Sonship” through faith in Jesus Christ. Our position is in Christ and He in us. It is out of this position that we will move into our full inheritance in Christ. This is why we must put on Christ by faith and no longer live out of the mentality of our natural minds that perceive us as separate and away from God. We are united with Him and it is our faith that lays hold of this truth and lives it out to produce victory and overcoming in our lives. This is the place we must learn to abide; the place of living out of His Spirit and His Life. This is the truth that declares we are the seed of Abraham and heirs according to promise. It is no longer the identification with the flesh and our goodness. That is legalism. It is our identification with “Christ in us” that will set us free and lead us into the expression of righteousness and justification that is by faith alone and no longer by works. Our works will be the fruit and expression of our faith and no longer the means of obtaining our goodness and righteousness.
May 12, 2015
More than all Burnt Offerings and Sacrifices
“Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
While we no longer literally offer burnt offerings and sacrifices we still do it in type. Many times I might rather love my neighbor, whoever that might be, from a distance rather than up close and personal. Just allow me donate some money for their cause, or pray for them, anything, but don’t make me become personally involved in their lives. Most of us like our own space and some of us like to be around friends and family, but even that has its limitations. How much time do I have for my neighbor, those people that I encounter in my daily life, business or work? Many times we might think to ourselves, “You know, I have enough problems of my own, I don’t need to get involved with someone else’s.” If we love ourselves enough to care about our problems, our needs, our wants, desires and goals in life, then aren’t we mandated to care about the similar needs of others as well?
Most of us would agree that in a world where every time you turn around someone wants to sell you something or ask you to contribute something we begin to become rather cold and callused. We build these walls to try and keep these people out. It is true, we can’t be everything to everybody and we do only have so many resources, still, are we loving our neighbor as ourselves? All of the things that I do for me, am I willing to do them for someone else? Personally, I am not a real people person and the majority of the time I am quite content and comfortable to be by myself, doing my own thing, but can I really love my neighbor as myself from that position. Loving others is always stretching us. It causes us to move out of our comfort zone. It causes us to come out of the place of just making the token efforts of the burnt offerings and sacrifices and requires me to get involved. Jesus was involved with those around him and not just with the upper crust, the easy to get along with, the likeable or the ones that could benefit Him. He was relating to humanity at all levels, classes, sexes and races. He would relate with children and adults alike, to the whole and the broken, rich and the poor and to the sinner and the righteous. Jesus was not a respecter of persons and He was sensitive to the heart cry of people. There are a lot of people out there that just want to take advantage and use others. This tends to make us wary and cynical, but the Lord wants us to tune into the heart cry of others. Listen, by the Spirit to the real need in people. It often isn’t what we see being portrayed on the outside or in their actions. We need a spirit of sensitivity, not to be duped by everyone that comes along, but to see into the heart need of others.
As the ambassadors and representatives of Christ in this earth we are the channels of God’s blessing, healing, restoration and reconciliation. If we don’t take the time and make the time for the needs of others, then who will. If I want someone to love me, be sensitive to my needs and to just care then that is the love I need to be extending to others in whatever capacity I have to give it. It isn’t the religious gestures that I make and the token giving that the Lord is looking for. He is looking for my heart to be one with His heart in me. He desires me to love Him through the way I love others, through a heart that is really caring and concerned for the needs of others. So often we are like the Scribe, the Pharisee, “the Christian”, who walks to the other side of the road when we see our neighbor in need. We don’t want the inconvenience and the investment of our time and resources to get involved. If my neighbor is important to the Lord, then they have to become my priority also. We have to remember that our mission in the earth is not about us, it is about Him through the way that we serve others. Loving God and loving our neighbor are all part of the same pie.
“Lord, give us sensitive hearts and eyes to see into the real needs of others and to make ourselves available and willing to minister to those needs in what ever way we can. Give us your heart to really love others as we would love ourselves, not from a distance, but up close and personal. Help us to truly be the extension of your compassion, love and grace. May the world truly know us by our love and not just by our name and religion. Allow us to be willing to pay the price of the personal sacrifice required in the giving of ourselves and that which cost us personally to love You with all of our hearts; to love our neighbors as ourselves, no matter who they may be.”
May 11, 2015
So put on sackcloth, lament and wail, for the fierce anger of the LORD has not turned away from us.
9 “In that day,” declares the LORD, “the king and the officials will lose heart, the priests will be horrified, and the prophets will be appalled.”
Word of the Lord to Press In!
Press in! Press in! Press in!
You are being taken from faith to faith and from glory to glory, but this is not through the mountaintop, it is through the valley. It is not through the blessings, but through the fire. It is not in life to self, but it is through the death of the cross.
My people that are called by my name repent in your sackcloth and ashes. Come and wail before the altar, for the skies grow dark and the storm is brewing in the heavens that will come to pass upon the earth. It is not a day for taking your ease as you have in the past, but a day for pressing in. Your time is short before you will face true adversity and trial, as you have not yet known. You will need all of your faith and you will need your relationship with Me to take you through. Your safety and well being is in none other than Me. I alone will see you through says the Lord. I alone will order your step in the way of safety. My people know my voice, but how can they know it if they have not been intimately with me and walked with me that they may discern and know?
Season the pan as you season your hearts. Put within your heart my words seasoned with faith and faithfulness. Many will cry out in that day, because they do not know their God. Many will forsake their faith for a seemingly easier and better way, but it is a way of destruction and death. In that way they will not only lose their lives, but their souls. Cleave to Me, You who are my own. Come under the shadow of My wing, for there you will find your shelter and that which will preserve you in the coming days.
You are as raisins in the sun. To the world you look dried up and of no value or substance. The world is looking to the sweet grapes of the vine. They glean them, but they perish in a day for they have not stood the test, nor been dried in the sun, having been seasoned and tested. Drink of the new wine of My covenant that you may live and not die, for my remnant will hear my voice and know the way. My ways are not for the casual traveler, but for those who will press into Me in this hour. Your provision and your salvation are not in this world, but they are in your God,
Former things are passing away and a new day is pressing upon you. It is the day of the Lord. It is a day of reckoning and anguish for the world, but great is the salvation that will be revealed through My people that are walking in Me. I have prepared you for such a time as this, so do not be complacent, but press in!