Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Armor of God: The HELMET of Salvation

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will REJOICE and be glad in it!
We started looking yesterday at the importance of putting on the Armor of God, every single day. We must pick up the shield of faith to quench ALL of the fiery darts of the enemy. Today, let's look at the HELMET of Salvation.

"Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Ephesians 6:17 NIV

The importance of the mind

Since man's beginning, Satan has focused his attacks on people's minds. Satan cannot force us to sin, but rather, he must persuade us to commit sin. The mind is the control center which decides if we will sin or not. If we sin, we place ourselves under the power of sin and become slaves to it (the degree will vary). Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin" (John 8:34 NIV). If we choose to live as slaves to sin, we are mastered not only by our evil desires (Titus 3:3), but also the devil, who temporarily rules the world (I John 5:19). The devil seeks to persuade us to sin because it will increase his own power and influence in the world.

Jesus authors our faith, while our minds form it and put into action. Faith based on God's word is the most powerful kind of faith. That's why I feel so strongly the need for all of us to read the Word of God through this year. Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you" (Matthew 17:20 NIV). When our shield of faith is rooted in this kind of faith, the devil cannot penetrate our defenses because all of his "flaming arrows" are quenched by the shield (Ephesians 6:16). However, if Satan can corrupt our faith, bringing it away from God's word or tainting it with doubt, our shield will be compromised.

We should be aware that the power of faith can be used for sinful purposes and Satan seeks to harness that power. Jesus' statement in Matthew 17:20 guaranteed the power of faith regardless of the bearer's intentions. Satan therefore wants to persuade us to misuse our faith to further his purposes.

Satan's tactics against the mind

Satan uses a variety of tactics against our minds. These are designed to weaken our faith, ruin our discernment and corrupt our thoughts. If successful, these "spiritual head wounds" will make it easier for Satan to captivate our minds to do his will (2 Timothy 2:26). Here are some examples of typical tactics Satan uses against our minds:

1. Deceive with false doctrine: False doctrine leads people astray from their devotion to Christ. For example, Paul was worried that false teachers may have led the Corinthians astray from their devotion to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:3). False doctrine ultimately brings us into bondage under lies. Examples:

· Smooth talk and flattery to deceive minds (Romans 16:18)
· Deceitful scheming through the cunning and craftiness (Ephesians 4:14)
· Trivial doctrinal disputes (2 Peter 1:16; 1 Timothy 1:3-7;1 Timothy 4:7-8)
· Demons teaching false doctrines (1 Timothy 4:1-2)

2. Distract with carnal interests: Satan tempted Eve by appealing to her carnal interests (Genesis 3:4-6) and he continues to tempt people today through combinations of pride, lust of the eyes and lust of the flesh (I John 2:15-17). The more we yield to the temptations, the more our minds become set on earthly things instead of godly things.

An earthly mindset weakens our devotion to God and causes us to be unfruitful for God's kingdom. It could even cause us to become hostile toward God. Paul wrote, "Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so" (Romans 8:5-7 NIV). Examples of carnal distractions:

· Pride (Matthew 16:23; Luke 4:3-13)
· Cares of the world (Philippians 3:19; Colossians 3:1-2; Matthew 13:22)
· Money (Matthew 13:22; 1 Timothy 6:5,10; John 12:2-8; Acts 5:1-11)
· Sexual temptations (Proverbs 6:23-29; Proverbs 7:6-27;1 Corinthians 5; 1 Corinthians 6:12-20; Revelation 2:20-23, 2 Timothy 2:22)

3. Poison the mind/ Blind to the truth: Well-timed or well-placed lies can quickly find a home in our minds if we are not firmly rooted in the truth. We are especially vulnerable when we have issues like unforgiveness and roots of rejection. If we believe what the devil says to us, we are in danger of a partial or total blinding of the truth. As with the false doctrine tactic, believing such lies places us in bondage because we are unable to receive the truth that would set us free (John 8:31-32). Examples:

  • Poison the mind against other Christians (Acts 14:2)
  • Blind the minds of non-Christians to the truth (2 Corinthians 4:4)
  • Corrupt the mind and conscience (Titus 1:15)
  • Sear the conscience via false doctrines (I Timothy 4:2)

The long term effects of these untreated "spiritual head wounds" can be devastating. Paul described a group of people in Romans 1:18-32 who turned completely away from God. They followed a path of increasing rebellion resulting in total abandonment to evil. Key changes occurred in their minds along the way. Their thinking became "futile" and their "foolish hearts were darkened" (v. 21). They exchanged the truth of God for a lie (v. 25) and committed sexual sin. Eventually God gave them over to a "depraved mind" (v. 28) and they were filled with every form of evil (v. 29-31). (Another example: Ephesians 4:17-19)

How the helmet of salvation protects our minds

Considering the strategic value of our minds, God has given us the helmet of salvation to protect us from the enemy. This helmet functions by the peace of God, which is engaged when our minds are focused on God and trusting in him. Consider these verses that link God's peace to our minds:

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7 NIV

3You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You." Isaiah 26:3 NKJV

The helmet, like the other pieces of armor, is dependent on our faith in God and his promises. Salvation comes ONLY through Jesus, (Acts 4:12) and the enemy will do everything he can DAILY to cause us to doubt our salvation. He attacks us through our minds and thought processes. That is why we have to put on the helmet of salvation DAILY to overcome the doubts that slyly infiltrate our minds, especially during difficult, and trying times.

How to put the helmet on:

  • Speak it on by faith, believing that you truly have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16): We can stand on God's promise that he has written his laws on our minds. Hebrews 10:16 NIV says, "This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds." This can be as simple as saying:

"I put on the helmet of salvation, which protects my mind from the enemy's attacks. I have the mind of Christ."

  • Focus our thoughts on God instead of sinful things: Paul wrote in Colossians 3:2 NIV, "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." This discipline will likely be the most challenging part of walking in purity. The more we do it, the easier it will become. It basically involves redirecting our thoughts toward God and/or Godly things whenever we are being tempted. In my own practice of this I have found that speaking Bible verses, singing praise & worship songs, picturing Jesus on the cross and speaking "the blood of Jesus covers me" and "I plead the blood of Jesus" are all helpful in shifting my thoughts heavenward.

As we practice this "thought shifting," the Holy Spirit will help us improve our recognition of the times when our thoughts are going awry. It's important that we take action at the moment of recognition to redirect our thoughts heavenward. Any delay could lead to sin.

Our obedience in controlling our thoughts will reflect our love for God. In doing so, we will fulfill Jesus' command in Matthew 22:37 NIV to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind."

  • Direct our requests to God through prayer: Situations will come our way that will tempt us to get anxious and take matters into our own hands instead of taking them to God. By taking our requests to God, we enable God's perfect peace to protect our mind and hearts (Philippians 4:6-7). Our prayers should always include thanking God for who he is and what he has done in our lives.

"O GOD the Lord, the strength of my salvation, You have covered my head in the day of battle." Psalm 140:7 NKJV

Blessings to you today, and I pray you have a victorious day in the Lord! Remember WHO you are in Christ, and WHOSE you are!

Pastor Rusty

Today's "Through the Bible in a year" reading: January 31, 2008 Numbers 10:11-14:45

This week's Memory Verse: Psalm 19:14

(KJVR) Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

(MSG) These are the words in my mouth; these are what I chew on and pray. Accept them when I place them on the morning altar, O God, my Altar-Rock, God, Priest-of-My-Altar.

TOMORROW'S BLOG: The Breastplate of Righteousness

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Armor of God: The Shield of Faith

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will REJOICE and be glad in it. Every morning when I wake up, I remind myself, that it really is MY CHOICE to REJOICE! When we make that choice, it turns our focus upward to the God who blesses us with all blessings! We truly are a blessed people.

I have had a few people recently share with me about the battles that they are facing in their lives. I have a cousin with whom I communicate regularly via email that is going through some personal struggles with her children, her health, and the health of her mother. As I was reading her latest email to me the other day, I felt the Holy Spirit prick my heart to spend a few days teaching on the WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD. So, I would like to talk with you about this all important truth from God's Word.

The Apostle Paul discussed the need for the armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-13 NKJV: "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. "

If we want to live for God, spiritual forces of evil will oppose us in "spiritual warfare." God gives us the whole armor of God for protection and survival. It enables us to reach our maximum endurance on the "spiritual battlefield" without becoming a casualty. We'll need to both wear the armor of God and know how to use it if we hope to be victorious.

The first piece of armor we take up is the shield of faith. The shield of faith quenches or extinguishes all of the fiery darts from the enemy. Consider these scriptures that reference the shield of faith:

"Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one." Ephesians 6:16 NKJV

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time." 1 Peter 1:3-5 NIV

To best understand what "faith" means, let's consider these definitions:

1. The Greek word for faith in the above verses is Pistis, which means: "Conviction of the truth of anything, belief; in the NT of a conviction or belief respecting man's relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervor born of faith and joined with it" (The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon for Strong's #4102)

2. Hebrews 11:1 provides further insight on the meaning of faith: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1 NKJV)

Putting these definitions together in practical terms, faith in God is:

  • Trusting in God's Word as truth
  • Trusting that God will provide for our needs
  • Trusting that God will protect us from the evil one
  • Believing that God is with us and lives in us, even though we may not see him
  • Believing that Christ's sacrifice paid the penalty for our sin, reconciling us to God
  • Believing that through faith we have Christ's authority over evil powers

In our human weakness, we may find it difficult to fully trust and believe God in the above ways. Since God is the author, "perfecter" and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), we can and should ask him for the completion of our faith. For example, Jesus told the man whose son had an evil spirit:

"Everything is possible for him who believes." 24Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" 25When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the evil spirit. "You deaf and mute spirit," he said, "I command you, come out of him and never enter him again." Mark 9:23-25 NIV

Just as the father asked Jesus for help in overcoming unbelief, we too can ask Jesus to help us overcome our doubt. As a result our shield of faith will operate at its maximum strength.

When we believe in something, our belief gives it power to manifest in our lives. Jesus said, "Everything is possible for him who believes" (Mark 9:23 NIV). Do you believe that? We must take care that we are believing God's word and not the devil's lies. If we believe the devil's lies, we're putting faith into them and opening a door for the devil to influence us. This is "negative faith," and irony of it is that we give it power through our own belief in the lies.

Our faith must be based on the truth of the word of God. Any other source is neither reliable nor trustworthy. The devil's primary tactic against our faith is to persuade us to believe lies so that our faith is not founded on truth. Once we believe lies, our shield of faith is basically deactivated, giving the enemy access to us.

I used to love to watch Star Trek. As a fan of the show, I love the analogy of a starship's electromagnetic shield and our faith. When the starship's shields were at 100%, the enemy torpedoes were unable to damage the ship. If the ship lost power, the shields failed and the torpedoes were free to wreak havoc on the disabled ship. When we start believing lies, our shield's power source is damaged, allowing the enemy's fiery darts to hit us.

The devil often entices people into sexual sin with the lie that God's plan for sex isn't sufficient and/or isn't worth the wait for marriage. He offers attractive counterfeits through prostitution, pornography, homosexuality, chat rooms, phone sex, fornication, etc. in attempt to persuade us to make our own sexual provision instead of trusting God for it. This "shift of faith" away from God weakens our shield of faith. As a result, we open ourselves up for further deception and destruction from the enemy.

How the shield quenches the fiery darts: Here is a possible explanation: The fiery darts (i.e. temptations) seek to inflame our sinful desires (lust of flesh, lust of the eyes, pride of life) by stirring up our thoughts of fulfilling those desires. If our faith is operating effectively, the enemy's temptations will not be able to inflame sinful desires in us, because we don't believe the lies behind them.

Actions to put up an effective shield: There are several things we can do to ensure that the proper operation of our shield of faith. They hinge upon the principle that we believe God and therefore speak what we believe (2 Corinthians 4:13-14). Our spoken words of faith set the shield into place. (I will go into deeper detail with this when we discuss the Sword of the Spirit)

  • Reaffirm your faith in God each day, as you extend the shield of faith over yourself and your family: This can be a simple statement such as: "Lord God, I believe that you are God and that there is no other God but you. I believe that you are Lord of heaven and earth and the creator of all things. I trust in you for my provision, protection and life today. I take up the shield of faith today and believe that quenches every fiery dart of the enemy."
  • Maintain daily intake of God's word in your quiet time.
  • Use God's word to destroy the incoming lies
    (John 8:31-32) behind the temptations you face
  • Ask God to strengthen and perfect your faith in any area that it is weak: "Heavenly Father, I believe that with you nothing is impossible. I believe, Lord, but please help me overcome any unbelief I have, especially in the areas of ___________(list as appropriate for you). I receive your perfection of my faith right now, in Jesus' name! Thank you, Father, Amen."

I hope and pray that you will take the time, right now, to pick up your SHIELD OF FAITH! I love you guys, and pray that you have a Faith-filled day today! Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Today's "Through the Bible in a year" reading: January 30, 2008 Numbers 5:1-10:10

This week's Memory Verse: Psalm 19:14

(KJVR) Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

(MSG) These are the words in my mouth; these are what I chew on and pray. Accept them when I place them on the morning altar, O God, my Altar-Rock, God, Priest-of-My-Altar.

TOMORROW'S BLOG: The Helmet of Salvation

Make the devil FLEE from you today!

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it! I make the choice today to REJOICE, regardless of my circumstance! How about you? I believe TODAY you will be victorious. I would like to share something with you today from James 4:7. I am going to use my "Sparkling Gems from the Greek" that I have told you about to share some powerful truth with you today.

Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7

When the devil tries to assault your mind, telling you that your God-given dream will never come to pass, how do you resist those assaults? Do you stand firm against those lies and command them to leave? Or do you allow the devil to mentally assail your mind with untrue allegations?

In James 4:7, the Bible tell us, "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." The word "resist" is from the Greek word anthistemi, which is a compound of the words anti and istimi. The word anti means against, as to oppose something. The word istimi means to stand. When placed into one word, thus forming the word anthistemi, it means to stand against or to stand in opposition. It is a word that demonstrates the attitude of one who is fiercely opposed to something and therefore determines that he will do everything within his power to resist it, to stand against it, and to defy its operation.

By using this word, James plainly lets us know that we must be aggressively determined to stand against the work of the devil. Just shutting our eyes and hoping the enemy will withdraw won't work. We must dig in our heels, brace ourselves for a fight, and put our full force forward to drive him back and out of our lives. Our stand against Satan must be firm, unyielding, and steadfast if we want to successfully resist his bombardment of lies against our minds and emotions.

Notice that James says we are to resist the "devil." The word "devil" is the translation of the word diabalos, which is more of a job description than it is a name. You see, if you understand the word "devil," you also know exactly how this sinister enemy works.

The word "devil" is a compound of the words dia and balos. The word dia has many meanings, depending on how it is used. However, in this particular case, it means through, as to pierce something from one side all the way through to the other side. The word balos means to throw, as when a person throws a ball, a rock, or some other object. When these two words are joined, it means to repetitiously throw something — striking again and again and again until the object being struck has finally been completely penetrated.

Now do you see why this word is a vivid job description for the devil? It tells us exactly how he operates. He comes to assault the mindnot once but many times. He strikes the mind and emotions again and again and again. He just keeps on striking until he wears down the resistance of one being assaulted. Then as soon as the victim lets down his mental resistance, the devil then gives one last firm punch that finally succeeds in penetrating his mind. Once the devil has gained access into that person's mind, he begins to deluge him with lies on top of lies. If the person listens to those lies and believes them, the devil can then successfully build a stronghold in his life from which he can begin to control and manipulate him.

Does this kind of mental attack sound familiar? Well, let me ask you a question: Instead of giving the devil the pleasure of filling your head with a barrage of lies, why don't you start to resist him? That's right —just tell the devil to shut up and to stop dropping those dim-witted religious thoughts of nonsense into your head! Tell him to hit the road!

It's time for you to resist the enemy of your soul. Let him know that you're not going to bite that bait anymore, so he may as well go fishing somewhere else. You have just been informed that there is a deadly hook inside that bait that is designed to hook you, pull you into the devil's net, and turn you into dead meat for the devil to chomp on for a long time. But he has hooked you with that bait for the last time!

James 4:7 has good news for you. It says that if you will resist the devil, he will "flee" from you. The word "flee" in Greek is so exciting! It is from the word pheugo, which from the earliest times of Greek literature meant to flee or to take flight. The reason he flees so quickly is that he wants to escape the prosecution process. Remaining in the nation would most assuredly mean judgment; so rather than stay and face the consequences, the lawbreaker flees for his life.

This means the devil knows that he is a lawbreaker! He also knows that if a believer stands against him — in other words, if the believer resists the enemy by using his God-given authority in the name of Jesus and with the Word of God —it won't be long until that believer begins to rule and dominate the devil. Rather than allow this to happen, the devil begins to withdraw and look for a way to escape the prosecution process. Instead of sticking around and trying hopelessly to defend himself against the name of Jesus and the Word of God, the devil tucks his tail and runs! That is precisely what James means when he says that the devil will "flee."

An expanded and more contemporary interpretation of James 4:7 could read:

"Stand firmly against the devil! That's right — be unbending and unyielding in the way you resist him so that he knows he is up against a serious contender. If you'll take this kind of stand against him, he will tuck his tail and run like a criminal who knows the day of prosecution is upon him. Once you start resisting him, he'll flee from you in terror!"

Friend, the devil wants to make your life less-than- gratifying, unhappy, and uneventful. That's why he attacks your mind and tries to convince you that God's dream for your life will never come to pass. He desperately wants to convince you to settle for less than God's best in life. That's exactly why you shouldn't settle for anything less than God's best! God has given you the name of Jesus and the promises of His Word, so it's time for you to close your ears to the devil's lies and start quoting the Word and commanding the devil to leave in Jesus' name. If you'll take this approach, the devil will not only shut up and stop telling you his lies, but he'll run from you in terror! Don't you think it would be a good idea for you to get started quoting the Word of God and using the name of Jesus today?


Lord, because You have given me the promises of Your Word and the right to use Your name, I refuse to let the devil bombard my mind any longer. Right now I stand up to resist him, oppose him, and put him on the run. Devil, you will no longer have free access to my mind and emotions, for I am standing up to resist you. You better put on your running shoes, because if you stick around me, I intend to prosecute you with the full authority of God's Word! I tell you to GO in Jesus' name! And, Heavenly Father, I thank You so much for giving me the great privilege of using Your Word and the authority of Jesus' name!
I pray this in Jesus' name!

I pray that you have a Faith-filled day today! Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Today's "Through the Bible in a year" reading: January 29, 2008 Numbers 1:1-4:49
This week's Memory Verse: Psalm 19:14

(KJVR) Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

(MSG) These are the words in my mouth; these are what I chew on and pray. Accept them when I place them on the morning altar, O God, my Altar-Rock, God, Priest-of-My-Altar.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Ten Plagues: Punishing the gods of Egypt

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it! I hope you are starting off this Monday with REJOICING in your heart as well. God is GOOD and FAITHFUL…ALL THE TIME.

We had a great day yesterday at First Assembly. God moved in a great way. We discussed the PASSOVER and the ten plagues that God sent to Egypt. I told everyone that I would post on my blog today how each of the plagues was an attack against one of the Egyptian gods. Let me share this powerful information with you today:

For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. Nowthe blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. (Exodus 12:12-13)  

Why did God send the ten plagues to Egypt?

In the Contemporary English Version of Exodus 12:12, it was clearly written: "I am the LORD, and I will punish the gods of Egypt."

By attacking the gods of Egypt, God broke the spiritual powers and principalities over the land of Egypt, which were established by the Egyptian gods. These ten plagues also dethroned Pharaoh, who was claimed to be the divine king bearing the name "Son of Ra."

Pharaoh's arrogance in questioning God: "Who is the LORD, that I should heed His voice" (Exodus 5:2) - was answered by the very "hand of God," an idiom meaning in ancient Egyptian language, "a plague."

In fact, the magicians said to Pharaoh, "This is the finger of God." But Pharaoh's heart was hard and he would not listen, just as the LORD had said. (Exodus 8:19)



1. Blood

the god of River Nile, Hapi

2. Frogs

the toad goddess, Heka

3. Lice

the god of the earth, Geb

4. Flies

the god of insects, Khepfi

5. Livestock

the bull god, Apis

6. Boils

the god of medicine, Thoth

7. Hail & Fire

the sky goddess, Nut

8. Locusts

the god of the fields, Anubis

9. Darkness

the sun god, Ra

10. Death of Firstborn

the god-king, Pharaoh

1.     The First Plague: Blood (Exodus 7:14-24)

This was an attack on Hapi, the father of the gods, who was the god of the Nile. The Nile's waters nourished the land, and determined the welfare of all the people. Hapi was worshipped as the one who brought water to all Egypt for life. He was responsible for watering the meadows, and for bringing the dew. But most importantly, he brought floods through the rising of the Nile. As a fertility god, he was associated with Osiris.

The Nile was considered the link from this life to the next. The waters of the Nile was considered the blood of Osiris. The Egyptians thirsted after blood when they slaughtered the Hebrews children, and now God gave them blood to drink. 

Now the source that brought the Egyptians life brought death instead. The Egyptians worshipped their sacred river. But when its waters turned to blood, the Egyptians became terrified. This first plague caused them much confusion. It also brought great shame to their god, Hapi. Other deities connected with the Nile were Amon, and Khnum who was the guardian of the Nile.

2.    The Second Plague: Frogs (Exodus 8:1-15)

This was a direct attack on Heka, the toad goddess, the wife of Khnum. She had the head of a toad. She was the goddess of the land, and was also the goddess of the resurrection and procreative power.

Frogs were consecrated to Osiris, and were the symbol of inspiration. As frogs came out of the sacred Nile, they were being worshipped. They were held as sacred objects in Egypt, much like cows in India today. They could not be killed or interfered with. This was a real problem for the Egyptians. If someone killed a frog, even unintentionally, the person was punishable by death.

3.    The Third Plague: Lice (Exodus 8:16-19)

This was an attack on Geb, the god of the earth or vegetation, as well as the guide to heaven. He was the father of Osiris, and was married to Nut, who was the goddess of the daytime sky, a place where the clouds were formed.

When the dust of the earth became lice, it brought great embarrassment to those Egyptians who gave offerings or paid tribute to their god of the earth.

4.    The Fourth Plague: Flies (Exodus 8:20-32)

This was an attack on Khepfi, the god of insects and dung beetles. These dung beetles were called scarabs. They were symbols of Amon-Ra, who had the head of a dung beetle. He was therefore called "lord of the flies - prince of dung." These swarms of scarabs were again sacred to the Egyptians, and were not to be interfered with.

The scarabs (representing the lust of the eyes) became an embarrassment to the Egyptians as they watched them chewing and destroying everything they had worked for. These hungry insects couldn't be satisfied.

5.    The Fifth Plague: Livestock (Exodus 9:1-7)

This was an attack on Apis, who was the bull god. He was the god of fertility, and his counterpart, the cow-headed goddess Hathor was the goddess of love, happiness, dance, music and protector of women.

The Egyptians held many beasts as their idols of worship. The lion, wolf, dog, cat and ape were sacred to them. They especially held the bull as well as the goat, ram and cow as very sacred since the souls of their gods were believed to reside in these animals. The soul of their god Osiris was believed to reside in the body of the bull, Apis.

These animals and livestock were beasts of burdens. The plague was a contagious disease upon them. This indicated that God was against their soulish and burdensome acts, the lust of the flesh.

6.    The Sixth Plague: Boils (Exodus 9:8-12)

This was an attack on Thoth, the god of medicine and wisdom.

The Egyptians had several medical deities, to whom, on special occasions, they sacrificed humans. They were burnt alive on a high altar, and their ashes were cast into the air. With every scattered ash, a blessing might descend upon the people.

But Moses took ashes from the furnace, and cast them into the air. The ashes were scattered by the wind descending upon all the priests, people, and beasts as boils, thus shaming their god Thoth.

Instead of blessings, they received boils. Instead of being wise, they were actually fools in the sight of God. Their pride of life was shattered.

7.    The Seventh Plague: Hail And Fire (Exodus 9:13-35)

This was an attack on Nut, who was the sky goddess. She was the one who gave the Egyptians their harvest time, the time of plenty.

God attacked and destroyed her crops, the same way He did to her husband, Geb. She was the mother of Osiris. Thus, this was also an attack on Isis, the goddess of life, and Seth, the protector of crops.

This plague was also against the Egyptian god Shu, who was the god of the wind, storm and violence from the sky or any natural phenomenon. He held the ladder to heaven.

This was a battle between gods and God! The One Who answered by fire is God!

"Then you call on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD; and the God Who answers by fire, He is God." (1 Kings 18:24)

8.    The Eighth Plague: Locusts (Exodus 10:1-20)

This was an attack on Anubis, who was the god of the fields, especially cemeteries. This plague finished up the work that was done by the hail and fire. They devoured every herb of the land and fruit of the trees.

Again, this plague was an attack on Isis, the protector against locusts, and Seth, the protector of crops.

"Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" (1 Corinthians 15:55)

9.    The Ninth Plague: Darkness (Exodus 10:21-29)

This was an attack on Ra, the sun god. Darkness was considered a creation of Seth, the evil principle destroyer of Osiris. This plague would seem to the Egyptians that Ra, their sun god, was dead; and that Seth had killed him.

This plague was so terrible that the darkness could actually be felt! While the Egyptians were suffering darkness, the Israelites were enjoying light.

Ra was believed to be the physical father of all Pharaohs. And Pharaoh was the king of all gods.

10.    The Tenth Plague: Death Of The Firstborn (Exodus 11, 12)

This was an attack on Pharaoh, who was the god-king. Pharaoh was considered a god, and so was his firstborn son, who would succeed him on the throne.

In fact, first-born people and animals were often worshipped. Pharaoh was considered an incarnation of Ra, the sun god, and Osiris, the giver of life. Because Pharaoh's son was considered a god, a god of Egypt actually died.

In this last plague, God humbled the Egyptians for the cruel ways that they had treated His people. The Egyptians had enslaved the Jews, and had murdered their male children, their firstborns.

God stroke back with an awful vengeance. His righteous anger was made known upon every house that was not covered with the blood of the lamb. When God saw the blood on the doorpost, He passed over.  

What a MIGHTY GOD we serve! My prayer today is that we will truly have "no other gods before Him." Why would we? I love you guys, and pray you have a blessed, God-Centered week! Please continue READING THROUGH THE BIBLE with my family and me. Also, hiding God's Word in your heart! Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Today's "Through the Bible in a Year" reading: January 28, 2008 (Monday)-Leviticus 26:1-27:34

This week's Memory Verse: Psalm 19:14

(KJVR) Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.


(MSG) These are the words in my mouth; these are what I chew on and pray. Accept them when I place them on the morning altar, O God, my Altar-Rock, God, Priest-of-My-Altar.



Friday, January 25, 2008

The Mercy and Grace of God

This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it. We have much to rejoice about, but on this Friday, let me give you the number one reason that we have to rejoice.

God loves you just as you are, but He loves you too much to let you stay that way! Do you think God's love for you would be stronger, if your faith was stronger? No. You're confusing God's love with human love. Human love increases with performance and decreases with mistakes. But not God's love; He loves you just as you are right now.

Do you have trouble accepting that? Listen to how God introduces himself, "I am the Lord, the merciful and gracious God. I am slow to anger and rich in unfailing love and faithfulness" (Exodus 34:6 NLT). Awesome!

In spite of his terrible failures, David could say, "I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever. With my mouth will I make known Thy faithfulness to all generations" (Psalm 89). And if you need more to convince you, Paul writes, "God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners" (Romans 5:8 NLT).

You were redeemed… with the precious blood of Christ. (I Peter 1:18-10 NIV)

Your Bible has a crimson core. It begins with God Himself, shedding the blood of the first sacrificial lamb to cover Adam's sin, and ends with a multi-national chorus singing, "You… have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every… nation" (Revelation 5:9 NKJV). At Calvary you see two things:

(1) The cost of your sin. Rolled on His shoulders was the weight of your every misdeed from the womb to the tomb. Next time you're tempted to break God's law and do your own thing, keep that in mind.
(2) The cure for your sin. Your salvation wasn't a joint-effort. You didn't contribute a cent, because you were spiritually bankrupt. The truth is, you were redeemed (bought out of slavery) by the crimson cash of Jesus' blood. (1 Peter 1:18-19).

The blood will always offend those with sins to hide, a rebellious will to protect or a Gospel that offers salvation through good works or social evolution. The blood not only saves the repentant, it condemns the defiant, for "Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness" (Hebrews 9:22 NIV).

Plagues and apocalyptic hail could not redeem God's people from the enemy's iron grip. What did? The blood. Nothing but the blood!

The blood of Jesus can: (a) heal your painful memories; (b) cleanse the sin you dare not speak of; (c) put a canopy of protection over you and your loved ones; (d) draw a line in the sand over which the enemy dare not step. Today, thank God for the blood!

I love you guys, and hope you have a GRACE-filled weekend! Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

This weekend's "Through the Bible in a Year" Bible Reading:

Friday January 25, 2008: Leviticus 11:1-17:16
Saturday January 26, 2008: Leviticus 18:1-22:33
Sunday January 27, 2008: Leviticus 23:1-25:55

This week's "Hide in your heart" memory verse:

2 Corinthians 6:17 (KJVR) Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.

(MSG) So leave the corruption and compromise; leave it for good," says God. "Don't link up with those who will pollute you. I want you all for myself.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Did you put your SHOES on this morning?

This is the day that the Lord has made! I will REJOICE and be glad in it. I hope you will join me in doing so.

I believe that God wants us to walk in PEACE. God's Word gives us direction on how we can do just that. Let me share something that I read from Rick Renner's "Sparkling Gems from the Greek" this morning.

Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Ephesians 6:14,15

If you had seen the shoes of a Roman soldier, you'd have wanted to make sure you didn't fall in front of him or get in his way where he might accidentally step on you. Those weren't normal shoes — they were killer shoes!

Paul refers to these killer shoes in Ephesians 6:15 as he talks about the spiritual weapons God has given to the Church. Just as God has given each believer a sword, He has also clothed every believer with the shoes of peace.

Now, I realize that these shoes may sound like a passive, peaceful part of our spiritual armor. However, these are actually killer shoes, such as those worn by a Roman soldier.

The shoes of a Roman soldier were vicious weapons. They began at the top of the legs near the knees and extended down to the feet. The portions that covered the knees to the feet were called the "greaves." They were made of metal and were specially shaped to wrap around the calves of a soldier's legs. The greaves were uncomfortable but essential for the safekeeping of a soldier's legs.

The shoe itself was made of heavy pieces of leather or metal, tied together with leather straps that were intermingled with bits of metal. The bottoms were manufactured of heavy leather or pieces of metal. The bottom of the shoes were affixed with sharp, dangerous, protruding spikes. These spikes had several purposes, which we will get to in just a moment. In addition, two sharply pointed spikes extended beyond the front of each shoe.

Let me explain to you the reasons for all this gear on a soldier's legs and feet.

Thus, the greaves gave the soldier protection so he could keep walking, regardless of the obstacles he encountered. The metal barriers also gave him defensive protection in those moments when an adversary kicked him in the shins, trying to break his legs. Because the soldier's calves were covered with these greaves, his legs could not be broken and the enemy's attacks were in vain.

When Paul writes about these shoes in Ephesians 6:15, he says, "And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace." Notice that he connects peace with these killer weapons! In just a moment, you'll understand why.

The word "shod" is derived from the word hupodeomai — a compound of the words hupo and deo. The word hupo means under, and deo means to bind. Taken together as one word, it conveys the idea of binding something very tightly on the bottom of one's feet. Therefore, this is not the picture of a loosely fitting shoe but of a shoe that has been tied onto the bottom of the foot extremely tightly.

Just as the greaves of a Roman soldier protected him from the environment and from the blows of his enemy, the peace of God — when it is operating in your life — protects and defends you from the hassles and assaults of the devil. The enemy may try to disrupt you, distract you, and steal your attention by causing negative events to whirl all around you, but his attempts will fail because the peace of God, like a protective greave, stops you from being hurt and enables you to keep marching forward!

Just as those spikes held a Roman soldier securely in place when his enemy tried to push him around, the peace of God will hold you in place when the devil tries to push you around! And as the soldier used those spikes to kick and to kill his opponent, there is no need for you to ever stop moving ahead just because the devil tries to block your path. If he is foolish enough to try to get in front of you, just keep walking! Stomp all along the way! By the time you're finished using your shoes of peace, you won't have much of a devil problem to deal with anymore!

Paul uses this illustration to tell us that we must firmly tie God's peace onto our lives. If we only give peace a loosely fitting position in our lives, it won't be long before the affairs of life knock our peace out of place. Hence, we must bind peace onto our minds and emotions in the same way Roman soldiers made sure to bind their shoes very tightly onto their feet.

But wait — there's one more important point. Paul continued, "And your feet shod with the preparation." The word "preparation" is the Greek word etoimasin, and it presents the idea of readiness or preparation. When used in connection with Roman soldiers, the word etoimasin portrayed men of war who had their shoes tied on very tightly to ensure a firm footing. Once they had the assurance that their shoes were going to stay in place, they were ready to march out onto the battlefield and confront the enemy.

When peace is in place in your life, it gives you the assurance you need to step out in faith and make the moves God is leading you to make. But before you take those steps, you need to be sure His peace is operating in your life. This mighty and powerful piece of your spiritual weaponry is essential because, without it, the devil can try to kick, punch, pull, and distract you. But with that conquering peace firmly tied to your mind and emotions, you will be empowered to keep marching ahead, impervious to the devil's attempts to take you down!


Lord, I thank You for the peace You have placed in my life. This powerful spiritual weapon protects me from the assaults of life, enabling me to stand fixed, even in the face of the occasional storms that try to blow into my life, my family, my church, my friendships, and my business. How can I ever express how much I need this peace or how grateful I am to You for covering me with this protective shield that fortifies me and makes me strong? When adverse situations arise against me, help me remember to immediately release this divine force to safeguard my life. I pray this in Jesus' name!


1. Have there been some very difficult times in your life when the peace of God protected you from the turmoil that was happening around you?

2. Do you recall how you felt when you were enveloped in this supernatural peace? Think about it.

3. If the devil is trying to shove you around emotionally right now, what can you do to stay in the peace of God?

I love you guys, and pray that you have a PEACE-filled and directed day! Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Today's "Through the Bible in a Year" reading-January 24, 2008: Leviticus 8:1-10:20

This week's "Hide in your heart" memory verse:

2 Corinthians 6:17 (KJVR) Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.

(MSG) So leave the corruption and compromise; leave it for good," says God. "Don't link up with those who will pollute you. I want you all for myself.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The RICHNESS of God’s Word

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will REJOICE and be glad in it. I am making the CHOICE to REJOICE today, even right now as I type this. I pray that you are as well.

One of my favorite books in my library is Rick Renner's "Sparkling Gems from the Greek." It is a devotional book that takes a verse in the Bible to explain more thoroughly by taking words from that verse and sharing "Gems" from the Greek with the reader. Probably one of my favorite devotions from the book is when he breaks down the following verse:

Colossians 3:16 (AMP) Let the word [spoken by] Christ (the Messiah) have its home [in your hearts and minds] and dwell in you in [all its] richness, as you teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom [in spiritual things, and as you sing] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with [His] grace in your hearts.

(KJVR) Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

(MSG) Let the Word of Christ--the Message--have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God!

Notice the way the KJV puts verse 16, Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. (Colossians 3:16)

Let me share with you what Rick says about this verse:

When I was growing up, I spent a lot of time at my grandparents' house. Grandpa was an immigrant fresh from Germany. Before his life in America, he had always known poverty. Grandma had also known many hardships and had always had to scrape by to survive financially.

Every afternoon, Grandpa and Grandma would go into their living room, turn on the television, and take their seats; then with great pleasure, they would watch the television program called "Let's Make a Deal!" When the program concluded, they would always spend a few minutes daydreaming about what they'd do if they suddenly struck it rich and inherited a large amount of money.

I loved to listen to my grandparents as they fantasized about paying off all their bills, purchasing a new house, contributing huge sums of money to the church, and bequeathing money their children and grandchildren. They'd also talk about how they would show extraordinary generosity toward people who were disadvantaged in life. For Grandpa and Grandma, the supreme dream was what life would be like if they suddenly struck it rich!

If you are also among those who dream of striking it rich someday, I want to tell you that you don't have to fantasize about being rich anymore! If you are a child of God, you've already struck rich! You have been given a treasure that will make boundless wealth accessible to you for the rest your life. You are already a spiritual billionaire; however, for you to derive benefit from what God has provided, you have to learn how to tap into these vast resources.

In Colossians 3:16, the apostle Paul wrote, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly." Today I want us to look at the word "richly" in this verse. It comes from the Greek word plousios, a very old Greek word that describes:

  • incredible abundance
  • extreme wealth
  • enormous affluence
  • great prosperity
  • immense riches
  • magnificent opulence
  • extravagant lavishness

Paul uses the word plousios in Colossians 3:16 to let us know that if we will receive the Word of God in the right way — if we give it a warm reception and make it feel at home in our lives — it will enrich us spiritually. Thus, the word plousios means that the Word of God can make us spiritual "billionaires"!

Colossians 3:16 conveys the following idea:

"Let the Word of God dwell in you richly! Throw open the doors, roll out the red carpet, and give it a grand reception! If you'll let the Word dwell in you in this way, it will produce an amazing amount of spiritual wealth in your life."

You may ask, "How can the Word make us spiritually rich?" Paul continues to tell us what the Word can produce in us if we allow it to do so. He says, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord" (Colossians 3:16).

These words describe people so full of the Word of God that their entire being is affected. Their hearts are full of joy; their minds are flooded with wisdom and understanding; and their mouths are singing songs to the Lord. This describes people who have struck it rich spiritually ! That is why we have been strongly encouraging everyone to read the Word of God all the way through this year. Remember, it only takes 15 MINUTES A DAY!

It is a fact that when the Word of God really comes to feel at home in you, dwelling lavishly inside your heart, it enriches you with the wisdom, the gifts, and the power you need for today. You become so filled with the riches of God that you automatically find yourself admonishing and encouraging other people in their faith. When the Word dwells in you richly, there's always a song of rejoicing in your heart! When you are filled with the Word to this extent, those inward spiritual riches will easily flow out of you to bring life to everyone around you.

By using the word "richly" in this verse, Paul is painting a picture of what the Word of God will produce for you if you allow it to take up residency in you and become a vital part of your life. So if you're tired of striving with no results — if you're tired of feeling spiritually weak and worn out with nothing to offer — stop right where you are today. Don't take another step without making the decision to let God's Word play a more important role in your life. After you read today's "reading" (at the bottom of this blog) then spend a few moments MEDITATING on what you have read. That is how you DIGEST God's Word. Meditating is simply thinking about what you have read, and thinking of ways you will apply God's Word TODAY in your life.

As you do, the Word of God will enrich you with spiritual wisdom and insight. It will put victory in your heart and a song in your mouth! It will turn you into a spiritual billionaire! It will enrich your life so much that you'll always have something spiritually to donate, to bequeath, or to freely share with someone else!


Lord, I ask You to help me become so full of the Word of God that my entire being is affected by its life-giving truth. As I dwell on Your Word and let it live inside me, my heart will be filled with joy, my mind will be flooded with wisdom and understanding, and my mouth will be filled with songs. Lord, I know that Your Word will take me to the richest spiritual place I've ever known in my life. So help me make Your Word feel at home in my heart so I can start living each day like I've struck it spiritually rich! I pray this in Jesus' name!


1. How can you roll out the red carpet and give God's Word a grand reception today?

2. Do you want the wisdom, gifts, and power of God to be more active in your life so you can minister more effectively to those around you?

3. What can you do differently in your private times with the Lord to "let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly"?

Please take the time to read today's Bible reading, and then spend a few moments memorizing this week's memory verse. As we hide God's Word in our hearts, it will keep us from sinning against God! As Pastor Bill always says, "That's what the Bible says." I love you guys, and pray that you have a blessed, Word-Filled day! Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Today's "Through the Bible in a Year" Bible Reading-January 23, 2008: Leviticus 1:1-7:38

This week's "Hide in your heart" memory verse:

2 Corinthians 6:17 (KJVR) Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.

(MSG) So leave the corruption and compromise; leave it for good," says God. "Don't link up with those who will pollute you. I want you all for myself.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Boundary Living

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will REJOICE and be glad in it. Regardless of how difficult it may be for you today, why don't you take the time to rejoice in God's faithfulness and goodness!

Thank you to everyone that has prayed for my dad, and asked about him. He is on the mend and doing much better. He has a ways to go, but is steadily improving. Please continue to pray for him.

As I was praying and meditating on God's Word this morning, God began to speak with me about BOUNDARY LIVING. What do I mean by that? Let me share a couple of thoughts with you. Let's start off with Paul. He is talking with the Ephesians about how he is SUFFERING for them. He has been imprisoned, beaten and left for dead, abused by many…YET after talking with them about some of his hardships he says,

Eph 3:14-21 My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, (15) this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. (16) I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit--not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength-- (17) that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, (18) you'll be able to take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! (19) Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. (20) God can do anything, you know--far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. (21) Glory to God in the church! Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus! Glory down all the generations! Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!

What a prayer. What is Paul responding to? Verse 13 gives us the answer to that question: "trouble" In the midst of trouble his RESPONSE was to PRAY FOR OTHERS. Wow! I want to be like that. When trouble strikes, where ever it comes from...I want my response to be, "TO GET DOWN ON MY KNEES before the Father" and pray for other's regardless of the pain in my life. That is SELFLESS living. Actually, another way to put it is that is CHRISTLIKE living! Even if the people I'm praying for brought the trouble upon me. Isn't that what Jesus taught us to do? Yes, it is a difficult teaching, but it is GOD'S WORD AND GOD'S WAY. He expects us to be SEPARATE from the World in the way that we set BOUNDARIES in our lives! We are to BE different from the world, from those that are not Christians. Again, listen to Paul as he writes under the influence of the Holy Spirit:

2 Corinthians 6:17 (AMP) So, come out from among [unbelievers], and separate (sever) yourselves from them, says the Lord, and touch not [any] unclean thing; then I will receive you kindly and treat you with favor, [Isa. 52:11.]

(MSG) So leave the corruption and compromise; leave it for good," says God. "Don't link up with those who will pollute you. I want you all for myself.

Separation from the world involves more than keeping our distance from sinful practices; it means staying close to God. It involves more than avoiding worldly entertainment; it extends to how we spend our time and money. There is no way to separate ourselves totally from all sinful influences. Nevertheless, we are to resist the sin around us, without either giving up or giving in. When you know what God wants you to do, make a clean break with sinful practices. In fact, Jesus said:

John 17:15 (AMP) I do not ask that You will take them out of the world, but that You will keep and protect them from the evil one.

(MSG) Just as I didn't join the world's ways. I'm not asking that you take them out of the world But that you guard them from the Evil One.

I did an interesting word study this morning. In the scripture above (2 Corinthians 6:17) God tells us to be SEPARATE. What exactly does that mean? The Greek word is aphorizō and it means:

to mark off from others by boundaries, to limit, to separate

So, according to this definition, when God tells us to "be ye SEPARATE" He is telling us to live lives that are marked off from others by BOUNDARIES. What God wants and expects from us is to have BOUNDARIES that mark us off from the world that we live in. As Christians, we are to TALK, WALK, ACT, LIVE, WORK, PLAY, DO BUSINESS, RESPOND, COMMUNICATE in ways that are different from the way those who are not Christians live. Jesus RAISED THE STANDARD with His TEACHING. We are to be different, New Creatures in Christ. The world should see a difference in us. How will they see this difference? They will see it through the BOUNDARIES that we live by. This is not popular teaching anymore, but it doesn't change the TRUTH of the teaching. We have some things that we WILL NOT DO. As Christians we have some places that we WILL NOT GO. We have some things that we WILL NOT SAY. We have some clothes that we WILL NOT WEAR. We have some attitudes that we WILL NOT ALLOW TO STAY IN OUR HEARTS. We have some people in our lives that we WILL NOT HATE. God is telling us to live by BOUNDARIES. Our lives should be marked off, limited, separated to the point that the world sees Jesus in us! How? We are DIFFERENT. Remember that the Word of God says that we are "new creatures in Christ" and that the "old has passed away". We MUST live a CHANGED LIFE if we want to see CHANGED LIVES! Listen to how Jesus raised the standard, and instructed us on BOUNDARY LIVING:

Matthew 5:38-48 "Here's another old saying that deserves a second look: 'Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.' (39) Is that going to get us anywhere? Here's what I propose: 'Don't hit back at all.' If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. (40) If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. (41) And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. (42) No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously. (43) "You're familiar with the old written law, 'Love your friend,' and its unwritten companion, 'Hate your enemy.' (44) I'm challenging that. I'm telling you to love your enemies.
Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, (45) for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best--the sun to warm and the rain to nourish--to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. (46) If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. (47) If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. (48) "In a word, what I'm saying is, Grow up. You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.

What a challenge for me today! LIVE differently. Set up boundaries that allow folks to see that I am different! And THE DIFFERENCE is because Jesus has CHANGED MY LIFE!

The world MUST see change in us before they see the need to CHANGE! Over and over in the New Testament, people would see the change that Jesus brought into people's lives, and it got their attention and led them to ultimately find out about this JESUS! It must happen again in our time. Where people see Jesus in us...HOW? CHANGED LIVES!

Let me give you an example. In Luke 8:27-40 the Bible talks about a demon possessed man who lived in a cemetery. No one could control him with chains or anything else. He would roam the cemetery without any clothes in terrible bondage. When he comes in contact with Jesus, something happens. Jesus sets the man FREE from the demon possession. I mean TOTALLY and COMPLETELY free! Well, people went running into town to tell everyone, and many came to see what had happened with the formerly possessed man. Please notice the following verses:

Luke 8:35-40 People went out to see what had happened. They came to Jesus and found the man, from whom the demons had been sent, sitting there at Jesus' feet,
wearing decent clothes and making sense. It was a holy moment, and for a short time they were more reverent than curious. (36) Then those who had seen it happen told how the demoniac had been saved. (37) Later, a great many people from the Gerasene countryside got together and asked Jesus to leave--too much change, too fast, and they were scared. So Jesus got back in the boat and set off. (38) The man whom he had delivered from the demons asked to go with him, but he sent him back, saying, (39) "Go home and tell everything God did in you." So he went back and preached all over town everything Jesus had done in him. (40) On his return, Jesus was welcomed by a crowd. They were all there expecting him.

A great crowd gathered to see Jesus, why? Because of the CHANGE they saw in the man. In the King James Version it says they saw him, "clothed and in his RIGHT mind." My friends, this is how we will see change in America: By America seeing CHANGE in God's people. The CHANGE that comes from meeting Jesus, and living the way He instructs us…SEPARATE…BOUNDARY LIVING. If you haven't been living this way, why don't you RIGHT NOW call out to Jesus, and allow Him to set you free, forgive you, restore you, and put an excitement and HOPE back into your heart. He wants to…RIGHT NOW! Don't let anything, or anyone, hold you back! You didn't just stumble onto this blog today. God's Spirit directed you here! So allow Him to bring LIFE, LOVE and LIGHT back into your present and future! If you would like to discuss this further with me, please email me at:

I love you guys, and pray you have a blessed BOUNDARY-filled day! Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Today's "Through the Bible in a year" reading (January 22, 2008): Exodus 35:1-40:38

Monday, January 21, 2008

Making it THROUGH the Storm without Shipwreck

This is THE day that the Lord has made, I will REJOICE and be glad in it. I pray that you make the choice to rejoice right now! Right now, I choose to rejoice over my salvation! I am so thankful that Jesus CONVERTED me from a lost soul on my way to hell, to a person who is full of joy and on my way to heaven! That is SHOUTIN' GROUND!

We had a great day in the Lord yesterday. Thank you to everyone who was able to attend. God is taking us places, and it is exciting to be a part of it!

I want to share with you today on how to prepare for STORMS and how to avoid SHIPWRECK when you go through a storm. Let's look together at Acts 27:10-15 in the Message version:

Acts 27:10-15 "I see only disaster ahead for cargo and ship--to say nothing of our lives!--if we put out to sea now." (11) The centurion set Paul's warning aside and let the ship captain and the shipowner talk him into trying for the next harbor. (12) But it was not the best harbor for staying the winter. Phoenix, a few miles further on, was more suitable. (13) When a gentle southerly breeze came up, they weighed anchor, thinking it would be smooth sailing. (14) But they were no sooner out to sea than a gale-force wind, the infamous nor'easter, struck. (15) They lost all control of the ship. It was a cork in the storm.

I. Three things to remember if you want to get out of the storm without losing everything:

(A) Prepare for the storm before you get into it!
The wise man built his house upon a rock because he believed in storms (Matthew 7:24). It's impossible to go through life without them. Where did we ever get the idea that we wouldn't have problems?

"For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for Him" (Philippians 1:29 NIV). This is warfare - not welfare!

(B) Stay calm! Panic kills more pilots than bad weather because it clouds their ability to think clearly. In the storm Jesus said to His disciples, "It is I; do not be afraid " (Mark 6:50). Get your eyes on Jesus and keep them there, otherwise your fear will hurt you more than your circumstances. Paul knew that God's plan will always prevail so he announced in the midst of a storm, "Keep up your courage… for I have faith in God that it will happen just as He told me" (Acts 27:25 NIV).

Also, declare the Word of God with CONFIDENCE: In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. Romans 8:37 NIV

(C) Never abandon your purpose! They threw their cargo - the purpose for their journey - overboard. Don't do it! Never let go of the purpose for which God called you for it will sustain you through the hard times. Later Paul would write, "We know that all things work together for good… to those who are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).

So be strong; the storm doesn't control your destiny, God does. He's still in charge. Stand up and announce, "In all these things we are more than conquerors."

II. Four things to remember to avoid SHIPWRECK in the midst of a storm:

Your life is like a voyage. We will go through storms. You DO NOT have to shipwreck in the midst of the storm. To avoid shipwreck, notice the following four things from our text:

(A) They were dissatisfied with where they were.
"Since the harbour was unsuitable… the majority decided that we should sail on."
God doesn't guide us by dissatisfaction or by opinion polls; He guides us by His Spirit. When things get difficult we're called to overcome them, not try to escape them.

(B) They were impatient to get to where they were going. There's not a single verse in the Bible (that I can recall) that tells us to hurry up or we'll miss God! In the wilderness Israel learned that when the cloud moves, you move; when the cloud stops, stay where you are and wait on God.

(C) They failed to heed God's Word.
"But the centurion, instead of listening to what Paul said, followed the advice of the pilot." Be careful, if you look hard enough you'll find someone whose opinion confirms what you want to do. And that will get you into trouble.

(D) They looked to the circumstances instead of God to guide them. "When a gentle south wind began to blow, they thought they had obtained what they wanted; so they… sailed. Before very long… The ship was caught by the storm."
The idea that circumstances will always line up favorably with God's guidance is not Scriptural. Sometimes God leads you through the wilderness. And He'll never lead you anywhere that doesn't require His provision and protection. If you can get there without God – you probably need to question whether it is Him that sent you or not.

So if you want to avoid shipwreck ask God to show you the right way - which is His way!

My prayer for you today is that you will follow the leading of His Spirit in everything that you do. Remember, Revelation 3:22:

(KJVR) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

(MSG) "Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches."

The Spirit of God is speaking to you even in the midst of your storm…are you LISTENING! I love you guys! Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Today's "Through the Bible in a Year" Bible reading (ONLY 15 MINUTES A DAY)

January 21, 2008 Exodus 32:1-34:35

Friday, January 18, 2008

Serving God with a LIMP

Have you ever heard the story of John Stephen Akhwari and the 1968 Olympics in Mexico? It was on the 20th day of October when the marathon took place. The race had finished and all the medals were awarded. Only a few spectators were left as the stadium was shutting down when a lone runner, John Stephen Akhwari, limped onto the track wearing the colors of Tanzania. Although John was last in the race, the few remaining spectators applauded him. He limped off to the side with his leg bandaged from a severe fall early on in the race. He was told he would not be able to run the race, but he intended to finish, even if he had to limp his way to the end. When asked why he refused to ride in the ambulance, John Stephen Akhwari replied, "My country did not send me 7,000 miles to start the race. They sent me 7,000 miles to finish it. And that, I shall do."

Believe it or not, most of our victories don't come with silver linings. They usually come with limps. Champions take home victories in less than ideal circumstances. God's greatest men and women finished with limps. Abraham had a barren life, yet God promised he would be the father of many nations. David, promised to be king, was running from Saul, who wanted to kill him. Then, when he did become king, his own son, Absalom, went against him. His whole family was trying to steal his throne, yet he stood strong as the king. Gideon's family was idol worshippers, but God called him to serve and he ran with obedience, even with a limp.

Then, there was Jacob, who was one of the patriarchs God speaks of when he says that Jesus is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. As it was, Jacob was alone when a certain event came upon him in Genesis 32:24. It says that Jacob was left alone and a man, who was really an angel, wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he could not defeat Jacob, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip and put it out of joint. But, Jacob kept wresting with him, so he told Jacob to let him go because daybreak was arriving. Jacob said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." Then, the angel replied:

"'What is your name?' the man asked. He replied, 'Jacob.' 'Your name will no longer be Jacob,' the man told him. 'It is now Israel, because you have struggled with both God and men and have won'"(Genesis 32:27-28).

Even with his hip out of joint, Jacob kept struggling with the angel because he did not want to let go of God's blessing. Even with this limp, he held on and would not give up until he won. John Stephen Akhwari was also a winner in that 1968 Olympic marathon. Although he came in dead last, I will remember him more than any of the other runners. I don't remember who came in first or second, but I will always remember John Stephen Akhwari.

We should also walk with a limp so as not to let go of what God has called us to do. Our lives will not become ideal once we accept God. You will not win the lottery. You will not have a standing ovation when you arrive at your job. You will not have a gourmet dinner with the children displaying perfect manners. And, they will not beg to wash the dishes instead of watching the TV. It doesn't happen that way. This is how it really happens:

"[They kept] strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, 'Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God'"(Acts 14:21-22).

Let me share a few things with you today about, "Walking with a LIMP"…


Once God is on our side, wouldn't it be great if everyone were nice to us on the Interstate in Memphis? Paul exhorts us…

"Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 2:3).

It is good to be able to serve the Lord, even if it is with a limp, so continue to follow Him. Continue, as Jacob did, until you are blessed. Even athletes continue to compete when injuries occur. They continue the race though conditions are less than perfect. In bull riding, there is a term called 'cowboy up'. It means the cowboy must ride, no matter if he is injured, or he won't get paid. These cowboys ride with broken arms and dislocated shoulders because they want to get paid. Then, there's the mother who continues to welcome people at church even though she has just received news of a sudden death in her family. There's a man who bears the embarrassment of a mistake in his past, while he continues to serve despite the fact that many know. Some may call him a hypocrite, but heaven calls him forgiven. They all serve with a limp, but they all win. You don't have to come in first to win. You just have to finish well.

The movie, Gladiator, is about Maximus, a great general fighting for Rome. The benevolent ruler secretly wants to hand his throne to Maximus rather than his son, Commodus, because he is devious and would ultimately commit political suicide. But, Commodus kills his father as well as the wife and son of Maximus. Maximus escapes, but is sold into slavery as a gladiator. By the time Commodus recognizes Maximus, he has already won the loyalty of the people as a great gladiator. So, Commodus must find a way to kill him in the arena. He purposely stabs Maximus before the battle to ensure his victory.

Sometimes, we feel like we have been stabbed in the back when we are trying to do our best. But, we keep going and never give up, though we walk with a limp. But, it is during those times of serving the Lord with a limp, when your trust in God is the greatest.

When David went back to Ziklag, he found that the Amalekites had taken their families and his men were angry with him for that. His men cried until they could cry no more. And then, they wanted to stone David. But David went out into the wilderness and did a most incredible thing. He prayed for strength to encourage himself in the Lord. We too, need to take time to encourage ourselves when conditions are far from ideal. Because there will be times when no one will visit when you are ill. Times when no one will be there to cheer you on. Learning to encourage yourself brings your faith to maturity because you have learned that your God is enough. We will all have pains in our life, but make sure those pains are in line with 1 Peter 4:15-16.

"Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name" (1 Peter 4:15-16).

So, if you must suffer, suffer for doing right, and not for doing wrong. Don't think that once you come to God, all suffering will be gone. If you are lazy, angry, or prideful you will suffer for it. Your relationships will be short-lived. You will struggle and you will have pain. On the other hand, even if you are good, you will suffer for it. For example, you may have to forgo spending time with your friends to train for a sport or to practice playing the piano. You have a choice to suffer for doing good or to suffer for being slothful or lazy. But, here is the difference: If you suffer for doing wrong, it is useless suffering. If you suffer for doing good, it has a purpose. This purpose has a design that will build your character as a man or woman of God, because…


"Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable" (1 Corinthians 9:25).

Discipline yourself for the purpose of Godliness. When we learn to live with a measure of pain for goodness, that pain works in wondrous ways. Like learning to let go of your ego when serving God. A bruised ego is painful, but it's good. Condition your ego to be silent and enjoy what is happening because it is pleasing to God. If you want to honor God with your morals, then let go of a relationship that compromises your values. You will suffer because you won't have that relationship anymore, but it is a good thing because it will build your faith. It has purpose. Pray in those times for strength from God, because those times will come, and when they do…


Don't be surprised that these challenges are upon you when you are serving the Lord. Those are the challenges we train for and when they come, remember…

"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you" (1 Peter 4:12).

When you get home from church, do you sometimes get into an argument over something you never expected to happen? Instead of arguing, let the word of God inspire you to respond with joy and reverence in working out the problem.

Let John 16:33 remind us that: "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

Many times, it seems an impossible task. Those fiery darts never seem to cease and so you just want to let go and be done with everything. But, let me encourage you with this:


When your boat capsizes and sharks surround you, stay steady!

"Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm!" (Ephesians 6:13).

Remember that it always darkest just before daylight. One time when I was fishing with my grandpa, a HUGE fish took my bait and took off with my line. I fought him for a while, but then he got my line tangled in brush. I got frustrated and CUT THE LINE and lost the fish. I have often wondered if I cut the line too early. What would have happened if I would have been patient? In life, when you want to cut the line and just let everything go, make sure that you are not doing it too soon. Now, there will be times that God wants you to cut the line. Just make sure it is God you are hearing and then, STAND STEADY. Hear him first when it involves priorities, like your marriage, children, ministry and especially, your faith. Stand steady because just when it gets dark, there is a light that is about to shine on you. Your greatest blessings might be ready to be experienced if you don't cut the line too quickly.

Some of God's best served Him with a limp. Jeremiah struggled with depression, but God used him as one of the greatest prophets of all time. There was John, an exile in Patmos, and Peter and Paul, who all had great struggles. They walked with a limp in less than ideal conditions. And, of course, Jesus struggled when he came for our redemption. On the Cross, Satan pierced his side and we then, pierced his body, yet he asked his Father to forgive all for they know not what they do. Jesus came across the finish line with his body pierced and people abusing him with jeers, because he chose to do what his Father asked of him. That is why Jesus is called our Savior. Stay steady, come to the Cross and look upon Jesus, who side was pierced, but he won for you and for me.

So, when you feel that you can't go on, ask God for the strength that was available on Calvary where Jesus won. Therefore, every knee shall bow; on the earth, above the earth and below the earth. And, every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God, the Father. Yes, we will walk with a limp. But, that's okay. Jesus did too, but he still won! So, we too, will not let go of you, God, until you bless us!

"…I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth" (1 Timothy 3:15).

After David failed God miserably, it brought CHAOS into his life, and from that point on he would walk with a LIMIP. However, David cried out to God, in the midst of the chaos, for God to give him a FRESH START…

God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life. Don't throw me out with the trash, or fail to breathe holiness in me. Bring me back from gray exile, put a fresh wind in my sails! (Psalm 51:10-12)

Keep on limping, and thanking God for the GENESIS that He is shaping in your life! I love you and pray that you have a wonderful weekend in the Lord! Blessings!

Meditation Items:

Q1: What was the condition or event that accounted for the greatest victory in your life?

Q2: How can a limp, much like a handicap, be seen as a source of strength rather than a weakness?

Q3: Name a time when you suffered for doing something good. Why was it so challenging for you?

Q4: How did you handle a surprising challenge and what did you learn from it?

Q5: What can you do to ensure that you are hearing God when you want to 'cut the line?' Is there a 'formula' you can follow?

Q6: Are you going through a struggle because you want to do what is right? What do you believe is the purpose for this hardship?

Pastor Rusty

This weekend's "THROUGH THE BIBLE IN A YEAR" reading:

January 18, 2008 (Friday) Exodus 12:31-18:27
January 19, 2008 (Saturday) Exodus 19:1-24:18
January 20, 2008 (Sunday) Exodus 25:1-31:18

THIS WEEKS VERSE TO "HIDE IN YOUR HEART": 2 Corinthians 1:4 (MESSAGE) He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.

2 Corinthians 1:4 (KJV) Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

Bible Study Tools online: (This has different versions of the Bible for you to read from, as well as Audio Bible for you to listen to) (Different Devotionals. Some you can have sent to your email daily) (Great study sight) (My favorite. You can download Bibles, dictionaries, commentaries to your computer. I use this daily) (International Bible Society. Different translation of Bibles for you to read from) (My wife's online Bible Study) (Daily Bible reading, prayer request, etc. Laurie Adams (Associate Pastor Wife) developed and maintains)