Jeremiah 1:4-7 (MSG) This is what GOD said: (5) "Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you: A prophet to the nations-- that's what I had in mind for you." (6) But I said, "Hold it, Master GOD! Look at me. I don't know anything. I'm only a boy!" (7) GOD told me, "Don't say, 'I'm only a boy.' I'll tell you where to go and you'll go there. I'll tell you what to say and you'll say it.
Jeremiah 1:5 (NIV) "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."
1. "I formed you" (Jer 1:5). Our earthbound little minds imagine conception as only a biological event. Yet here we are forced to think again concerning the origins of human life. The psalmist cries out, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth" (Psa 139:14, Psa 139:15).
This ought to shock today's culture whose abortion clinics have taken the lives of millions of unborn children since the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. If God is present in the process of conception, then the value of human life takes on the implications of eternity. The weight of our glory as humans comes through these words to Jeremiah. Just as they must have shocked him, so must they shock us. We are infinitely more than children of humankind. Our birth is not our real beginning nor will our death be the end. Yet how we live the span between the two will count forever.
2. "I knew you" (Jer 1:5). This second mind-boggling claim stretches the prophet's origins beyond the walls of Anathoth, beyond the day of his birth, even beyond the day of his conception. In all of those "beyonds" God had a plan for his life. His mother first cradled him proudly, innocently in her arms, never knowing that larger arms than hers were wrapped around her child and holding him fast in a relentless purpose that was destined to touch all the power structures of the world. God had a plan for his life.
3. "I sanctified you" (Jer 1:5). Because Jeremiah was first known and then, at a point in time, formed in his mother's womb, this third condition becomes possible. He was then set apart for something sacred. When we argue against the sanctity of human life we must come up against this passage. Jeremiah was about to be sent headlong into a culture that had lost all reverence for human life. They were debauching themselves in the most flagrant disregard for the dignity to which they had been called as the people of God. They had lost every trace of their ordination. Are we not a society very much like that one? All manner of obscenities have penetrated our culture-our airwaves, our telephones, our music, even our communities and families. The four realities of humanity as God sees it and as He uttered to the prophet should arouse us to action. It has been said that "all that is required for the triumph of evil is that good men and women do nothing."
4. "I ordained you a prophet to the nations" (Jer 1:5). The particular form our life is to take on earth is wrapped up in the purposes and foreknowledge of God. We cannot "find" ourselves until we first find Him. I cannot ultimately know who I am until I know whose I am.
God knew you, as he knew Jeremiah, long before you were born or even conceived. He thought about you and planned for you. When you feel discouraged or inadequate, remember that God has always thought of you as valuable and that he has a purpose in mind for you. Jeremiah was "appointed" by God as his "prophet to the nations." God has a purpose for each Christian, but some people are appointed by God for specific kinds of work. Samson (Jdg 13:3-5), David (1Sa 16:12-13) John the Baptist (Luk 1:13-17), and Paul (Gal 1:15-16) were also called to do particular jobs for God. Whatever work you do should be done for the glory of God (Php 1:11). If God gives you a specific task, accept it cheerfully and do it with diligence. If God has not given you a specific call or assignment, then seek to fulfill the mission common to all believers-to love, obey, and serve God-until his guidance becomes more clear.
Often people struggle with new challenges because they lack self-confidence, feeling that they have inadequate ability, training, or experience. Jeremiah thought he was "too young" and inexperienced to be God's prophet to the nations. But God promised to be with him. We should not allow feelings of inadequacy to keep us from obeying God. He will always be with us. If God gives you a job to do, he will provide all you need to do it.
God promised to be with Jeremiah and take care of him, but not to keep trouble from coming. God did not insulate him from imprisonment, deportation, or insults. God does not keep us from encountering life's storms, but he will see us through them. In fact, God walks through these storms with us and rescues us. Remember that, like Jeremiah, God formed you, knows you, sanctified you, and ordained you for a purpose and a plan in this life. Your life really does have purpose, which is why the enemy is fighting you so hard today.
"Lord, I am overwhelmed today to think that you formed me, know me, sanctified me, and ordained me! That makes me feel pretty special. I realize today that you really do not make any "junk". I am valuable to you. I have purpose. Forgive me for the times I have allowed my world and culture to take that purpose and value away. I choose today to make life decisions based on that value and purpose. In Jesus' name, amen!"
Friday, November 19, 2010
Posted by Rusty L. Blann at 8:09 AM
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Psalm 17:3 Go ahead, examine me from inside out, surprise me in the middle of the night-- You'll find I'm just what I say I am. My words don't run loose.
Was David saying he was sinless? Far from a proud assumption of purity, David's claim was an understanding of his relationship with God. In Psalms 32 and 51, David freely acknowledged his own sins. Nevertheless his relationship with God was one of close fellowship and constant repentance and forgiveness. His claim to goodness, therefore, was based on his continual seeking after God. H e was asking God to search him from the inside out. His statement, "My words don't run loose" is a claim that every child of God should strive to be able to make.
As I read our verse this morning, I prayed, "Lord please forgive me for the times my words HAVE run loose, which is too often. I get frustrated or aggravated and run off with my mouth. I don't DIE to my flesh, I yield to my flesh and allow my words to run loose. The Holy Spirit brought the following verses to my mind this morning:
Ephesians 4:29-32 Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. (30) Don't grieve God. Don't break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don't take such a gift for granted. (31) Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. (32) Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.
We can bring sorrow to the Holy Spirit by the way we live. Paul warns us against unwholesome language, bitterness, improper use of anger, harsh words, slander, and bad attitudes toward others. Instead of acting that way, we should be forgiving, just as God has forgiven us. Are you bringing sorrow or pleasing God with your attitudes and actions? Act in love toward your brothers and sisters in Christ, just as God acted in love by sending his Son to die for your sins. Do I allow my words to "run loose"? I'm afraid way too often, I do.
When I allow my words to "run loose" I am breaking the heart of the Holy Spirit, I am grieving Him. I need to remember today that "the Holy Spirit, moving and breathing" in me is the most intimate part of my life. As He convicts me of the angry, frustrated, agitated words that I speak, I must repent of them because God is making me "fit for Himself" according to the verse above. Today...I choose to reign my words in by dying to my flesh, in Jesus' name!
"Lord, I ask you to forgive me for allowing my words to run loose and grieving Your Holy Spirit. Today, I want to please you and allow YOU to have control of my life today. This cannot happen if I do not make a conscious effort to "crucify my flesh." I refuse to allow my words to run rampant in my life. They hurt you and those who are around. I want my words to edify and encourage not tear down and discourage. In Jesus' name, amen!"
Posted by Rusty L. Blann at 7:20 AM
Monday, October 18, 2010
Posted by Rusty L. Blann at 8:38 AM
Friday, October 15, 2010
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
This "huge crowd of witnesses" is composed of the people described in chapter 11. Their faithfulness is a constant encouragement to us. We do not struggle alone, and we are not the first to struggle with the problems we face. Others have run the race and won, and their witness stirs us to run and win also. What an inspiring heritage we have!
Long-distance runners work hard to build endurance and strength. On race day, their clothes are lightweight and their bodies lean. To run the race that God has set before us, we must also strip off the excess weight that slows us down. How can we do that? (1) Choose friends who are also committed to the race. Wrong friends will have values and activities that may deter you from the course. Much of your own weight may result from the crowd you run with. Make wise choices. (2) Drop certain activities. That is, for you at this time these may be weight. Try dropping them for a while; then check the results in your life. (3) Get help for addictions that disable you. If you have a secret "weight" such as pornography, gambling, or alcohol, admit your need and get help today.
Achilles, the Greek hero of the Trojan War, was invulnerable, with one exception: his heel. Shoot him there and he'd go down. Guess what? He died from an arrow to the heel! We all have our Achilles' heel - the 'sin that so easily trips us up'. Here, blindness, indifference or denial sets us up for failure.
So how do we overcome our Achilles' heel? Author John Piper offers us a solution in the form of an acronym: ANTHEM.
A: avoid sights and situations that arouse unfitting desires. Prevent what fuels your appetite for sin.
N: say no to every lustful thought within five seconds. In the first two seconds shout 'No, get out of my head!' In the next two, cry out, 'Oh God, in the name of Jesus, help me. Save me now. I am yours.' Say it out loud. The Puritan writer John Owen said, 'Be killing sin, or it will be killing you.'
T: turn the mind forcefully towards Christ. Attack sin with the promises of Christ.
H: hold the promise and pleasure of Christ firmly in mind. For how long? Until it pushes other images out. Hold it. Don't let it go. Hold it until you win!
E: enjoy a superior satisfaction, namely, pleasure in Christ. If you have little taste for Jesus, competing pleasures will triumph.
M: move into useful activity, away from idleness and other vulnerable behaviours. Abound in the work of the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58).
Replace deceitful lusts with a passion for good deeds. Today, using this simple acronym, you can move from vulnerability to victory by drawing on the power of God's Spirit within you (Galatians 5:25):
"Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit."
"Lord, help me to be aware of my spiritual 'Achilles heel', blind spots in my life that will set me up for failure if I do not keep in step with the Spirit. Help me today to memorize and live by this 'ANTHEM' acrostic. I thank You for the victory. In Jesus' name!"
Posted by Rusty L. Blann at 7:20 AM
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Leviticus 26:1 "Don't make idols for yourselves; don't set up an image or a sacred pillar for yourselves, and don't place a carved stone in your land that you can bow down to in worship. I am GOD, your God.
Twice as much space is devoted to warning as to blessing in this chapter. The people of the Old Testament were warned over and over against worshiping idols. Adversity, the promised fruit of disobedience, is a tool which God uses, not to inflict revenge but to lead His people to repentance (vv. 40-42). National chastisement would be increasingly severe until the people confessed their iniquity. Notice the progression in verses 14, 18, 21, 24, and 28.
After warnings against idolatry (v. 1), sabbath-breaking, and irreverence (v. 2), the Lord promised the following blessings to the nation if it would keep His commandments: rain, fertility (v. 4), productivity, security (v. 5), peace, safety (v. 6), victory over enemies (vv. 7, 8), fruitfulness, and the presence of the Lord (vv. 9-13).
How does this apply to me? We wonder how they could deceive themselves with these objects of wood and stone. Yet God could well give us the same warning, for we are prone to put idols before him. Idolatry is making anything more important than God, and our lives are full of that temptation. Money, looks, success, reputation, security-these are today's idols.
Idols made by our own hands:
Isaiah 2:8 (AMP) Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, what their own fingers have made.
God's people have also had a propensity to worship God's blessings. Judges 8:27 Gideon made the gold (the spoils from the battle with Midian) into a sacred ephod and put it on display in his hometown, Ophrah. All Israel prostituted itself there. Gideon and his family, too, were seduced by it. The Children of Israel were "seduced" by the blessings of God. Even Gideon committed "spiritual prostitution" by giving worship to the things that God blessed him with, instead of giving worship to God. I need to examine myself to make sure I am not being seduced to worship the blessings of God instead of the God of all blessings. Idolatry has a seductive side to it. It is constantly calling out for your attention and worship. That is why it is so important to daily spend time in praise, worship and thanksgiving to the one and only True God!
As you look at these false gods that seductively promise everything you want but nothing you need, does idolatry seem so far removed from your experience? The cry of my heart is, "Help me Lord!"
"Lord, please forgive me for allowing myself to be seduced by the very things that you have blessed me with. Every where I turn I see your blessing. Too often, I give more attention to the blessing than to the "Blessor." I truly repent of this, and ask you to forgive me. I want to daily recognize your blessings and give you heartfelt thanks! You are such a good God, and full of compassion and mercy. You pour out so much grace into my life, and yet I often forget to stop and say "Thank you, Lord!" Today, I will be more aware of the seduction that blessings can be in my life. I have made up my mind today, to give more praise to the Giver than the gift. I love you Jesus, and thank you for the process of holiness that you are bringing into my life as I daily strive to be the man of God that you want me to be. In Jesus' name, amen!"
Posted by Rusty L. Blann at 8:10 AM
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Numbers 2:9 The total number of men assigned to Judah, troop by troop, is 186,400. They will lead the march.
Numbers 2 gives the specific arrangement and disposition of the tribes, and lists the number of each tribe and where they were to be positioned. It is seen from this arrangement that the vanguard and rear guard of the host had the strongest forces-186,400 and 157,600 respectively-with the smaller tribal groupings within them and the tabernacle in the center.
To each tribe, then, there was given a specific place and function, and each was to be in his divinely appointed place. It is not difficult to see shadows of New Testament patterns here. The apostle Paul says, "Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called" (1 Corinthians 7:20), and "You are the body of Christ, and members individually" (I Corinthians 12:27). The words in verse Numbers 2:17, "everyone in his place," provide the direct link with these New Testament references. The Danites, for example, were behind the others in most of the march; yet they were good fighting men, and therefore particularly fit for that position. They were needed there to ward off surprise attacks from the rear. The tribe of Judah was to lead the march into battle. In every battle, Judah was to go first.
How does this apply to me?
Judah, in Hebrew, means: "the praise of the Lord." When you understand this meaning, we get a clear picture of what God is telling His Children. "Praise" should always go first into every battle. It doesn't matter how great the struggle or the storm, go into the storm with praise in your heart that flows out of your mouth. God is giving His complaining, whining, belly aching children an alternative. Praise and thanksgiving! Their tendency was to go into battle complaining about "not enough food" or "no beds" and how they "needed a new leader". God knew that they would never be who God created them to be if they didn't start sending Praise (Judah) first into battle.
Many times I find myself going into a battle not with praise, but with complaining, and words of fear, or doubt. God is showing me today, through His Word that I need to have His praise in my mouth, at all times, but especially heading into a battle.
The whole pattern in Numbers 2 presents a vital picture:
Here are the people of God on the move, with the ark of the covenant in their midst, the Word of the living God at the heart of everything, as it were, directing all the operations and sending forth its influence in grace and power.
And a church with the Word of God at the heart of its life is a church that will advance purposefully, because it is one that has life and influence. It is certainly no accident that, later in the ongoing story of Israel (Joshua 2:10-11), when the Canaanite tribes heard of the advancing host of Israel, their strength was turned to water within them because they knew that in the midst of these Israelites was a real and living God, a mighty God who did exploits for His people.
What a blessed people we are! God's Word in our midst and hearts, and praise to our God going before us. I can't help but be victorious with that combination! Amen?
"Dear Lord, I am so thankful for your Word today. I am so challenged with the thought of entering each battle, struggle or storm with 'Praise' and not complaining. Please forgive me for the times that I have allowed a wrong spirit to develop within me. Also, for the times that I have been more of a complainer than a praiser. You deserve my praise. Today, I choose to emphasize praise and thanksgiving. I will also continue to hide your Word in my heart, and declare it victoriously while praising. When I enter a battle with praise and thanksgiving, I am declaring to the enemy that 'the battle is not mine, but it is Gods!' I love you Lord, and thank you for the blessing of today. In Jesus' name, amen!"
Posted by Rusty L. Blann at 7:19 AM
Friday, October 8, 2010
Mark 4:37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.
The "lake" is the Sea of Galilee, a body of water 680 feet below sea level and surrounded by hills. Winds blowing across the land intensify close to the sea, often causing violent and unexpected storms. The disciples were seasoned fishermen, who had spent their lives fishing on this huge lake, but during this squall they panicked.
The Christian life may have more stormy weather than calm seas. The disciples needed rest, but they encountered a terrible storm. As Christ's follower, be prepared for the storms that will surely come. Do not surrender to the stress, but remain resilient and recover from setbacks. With faith in Christ, you can pray, trust, and move ahead. When a squall approaches, lean into the wind and trust God.
I would like to share with you some thoughts from Max Lucado on this subject:
When the restaurant waiter brings you a cold hamburger and a hot soda, you want to know who is in charge. When a young fellow wants to impress his girlfriend, he takes her down to the convenience store where he works and boasts, "Every night from five to ten o’clock, I’m in charge." We know what it means to be in charge of a restaurant or a store, but to be in charge of the universe? This is the claim of Jesus.
There are many examples of Jesus’ authority, but I’ll just mention one of my favorites. Jesus and the disciples are in a boat crossing the Sea of Galilee. A storm arises suddenly, and what was placid becomes violent—monstrous waves rise out of the sea and slap the boat. Mark describes it clearly: "A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped" (Mark 4:37 NIV).
It’s very important that you get an accurate picture, so I’m going to ask you to imagine yourself in the boat. It’s a sturdy vessel but no match for these ten-foot waves. It plunges nose first into the wall of water. The force of the waves dangerously tips the boat until the bow seems to be pointing straight at the sky, and just when you fear flipping over backward, the vessel pitches forward into the valley of another wave. A dozen sets of hands join yours in clutching the mast. All your shipmates have wet heads and wide eyes. You tune your ear for a calming voice, but all you hear are screams and prayers. All of a sudden it hits you—someone is missing. Where is Jesus? He’s not at the mast. He’s not grabbing the edge. Where is he? Then you hear something—a noise … a displaced sound … as if someone is snoring. You turn and look, and there curled in the stern of the boat is Jesus, sleeping!
You don’t know whether to be amazed or angry, so you’re both. How can he sleep at a time like this? Or as the disciples asked, "Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?" (Mark 4:38 NIV).
The very storm that made the disciples panic made him drowsy. What put fear in their eyes put him to sleep. The boat was a tomb to the followers and a cradle to Christ. How could he sleep through the storm? Simple—he was in charge of it.
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" (Mark 4:39–40 NIV)
Incredible…Is it any wonder the disciples were willing to die for Jesus? Never had they seen such power; never had they seen such glory. It was like, well, like the whole universe was his kingdom.
It’s only right that they declare his authority. It’s only right that we do the same. And when we do, we state without question: The ruler of the universe rules our hearts. He truly is the Master of not only the wind, but of the universe!
"Lord, I am so thankful that You are not only the Master of the wind, but of every situation that I face. I choose to stay close to You today through prayer, Bible study, and meditation. Help me to remember this Word and story as I face whatever this day holds. In Jesus' name, amen!"
Posted by Rusty L. Blann at 8:14 AM
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Leviticus 26:36-37 "'As for those of you who are left, I will make their hearts so fearful in the lands of their enemies that the sound of a windblown leaf will put them to flight. They will run as though fleeing from the sword, and they will fall, even though no one is pursuing them.
The list of curses for disobedience (Leviticus 26:14-15) is more than three times as long as the blessings for obedience. In a fallen and broken world, our proclivity toward disobedience seems to exceed our bent to obedience. Persistence in disobedience and violation of the covenant will be met with emotional and physical disease and the loss of their crops to their enemies who will conquer them (Leviticus 26:16-17). In contrast to the promised blessing, they will flee even when no one is pursuing them.
Our verse today shows one of the things that will happen as a consequence of disobedience. They would be so fearful that "sound of a windblown LEAF will put them to flight..." That's being pretty nervous isn't it? A rustling leaf will send them running as if they are fleeing from the sword, even though NO ONE is pursuing them. Paranoia is rampant in our great country. Everybody thinks someone is out to get them. We here "rustling leaf's" all the time. Constant fear, and very little of God's peace. That needs to change! That is not how God intended for us to live our lives!
Are you feeling afraid today? If so, listen to these words from the God who loves you beyond expression, protects you around the clock, and blesses everything you put your hand to.
When there seems to be no way out, He says to you, "… fear not: stand still [firm, confident, undismayed] and see the salvation [deliverance] of the Lord, which He will work for you today… (Exodus 14:13 AMP).
When the problem looks too big, He says to you, "Be strong, courageous, and firm; fear not nor be in terror before them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you; He will not fail you or forsake you" (Deuteronomy 31:6 AMP).
When you feel like you just can't cope anymore, He says to you, "… do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with my [victorious] right hand… (Isaiah 41:10 AMP).
When you long for peace of mind, He says to you, "Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance… continue to make your wants known to God. And God's peace… which transcends all understanding, shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds… (Philippians 4:6-7 AMP).
According to Author Bob Gass: Worry is something you permit; peace is something you pursue. Jesus said in John 14:27, "Do not permit yourselves to be fearful." That means you can take control of what goes on in your mind. How? By doing three things:
(1) By filling it with God's Word. Not just the Word you read casually, but the Word you process mentally, apply to each circumstance, and stand on in times of crisis.
(2) By placing each situation into God's hands, and leaving it there with confidence.
(3) By allowing the "Soldier of peace" to stand at guard of your heart and mind.
Phippians 4:7 And God's peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
"Lord, everything's in a panic! Even the sound of a LEAF will cause me to run in terror. There's far too much to do and never enough hours to do it. My head is clogged with all kinds of junk and my heart is ready to break. Lord, where are You? I feel like the disciples when the storm came up and the winds and waves rocked their boat. My cry is the same as theirs, 'Somebody go get Jesus - I'm about to drown out here!' The storms of my life have all but sunk my boat - I can't take much more. Prince of Peace I need You. Father, who never slumbers nor sleeps, take charge. I need the comfort and courage that comes from Your Spirit. Speak Lord, for the wind still remembers the sound of Your voice. Let me find in You a quiet place, a place where I can pillow my head on Your breast, hear Your heartbeat, and feel secure. In Jesus name, Amen."
Posted by Rusty L. Blann at 7:36 AM
Friday, October 1, 2010
2 Corinthians 7:5-6 When we arrived in Macedonia province, we couldn't settle down. The fights in the church and the fears in our hearts kept us on pins and needles. We couldn't relax because we didn't know how it would turn out. (6) Then the God who lifts up the downcast lifted our heads and our hearts with the arrival of Titus.
Think about what Paul wrote. He was facing trouble on the outside, as well as internally. His heart was full of dread and fear, then God sent a great gift! What was the gift? Titus. The name Titus means "nurse." A Nurse is a great help and assistance to a doctor. He/she many times are the hands, words, and care of the doctor extended. The nurse represents the doctor.
Some of the people around you, even successful ones, are dying on the vine for lack of encouragement. Solomon writes, "How delightful is a timely word." (Proverbs 15:23) Isn't that true? It's delightful to receive a timely word. The Message says, "The right word at the right time - beautiful!"
Encouragement brings emotional healing, restores hope by putting the problem into perspective, and makes the day more bearable. Is there someone you know who needs encouragement? A prisoner trying to stay strong in a hostile environment while repaying his debt to society? A divorcee trying to rebuild his or her life? A breadwinner who's out of work, worried about their family? A widow who needs companionship? A servant of God labouring in an obscure and difficult ministry? Everyone is struggling with something - so everyone needs encouragement.
William Barclay writes, "One of the highest of human duties is the duty of encouragement… it is easy to laugh at men's ideals; it is easy to pour cold water on their enthusiasm; it is easy to discourage others. The world is full of such discouragers. But we have a duty to encourage one another. Many a time a word of praise or thanks or appreciation or cheer has kept a man on his feet. Blessed is the man who speaks such a word."
Paul writes: "Outside, trouble was on every hand… within us, our hearts were full of dread and fear. Then God who cheers those who are discouraged refreshed us by the arrival of Titus. Not only was his presence a joy, but also the news that he brought" (2 Corinthians 7:5-7 TLB).
Mark 2:17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
Jesus is the great physician, the doctor. Every doctor needs a Nurse. God is looking for "Titus’" to step into situations and bring joy, cheer, encouragement, refreshment, and good news to those who are down trodden and feel like giving up. So many people are battling deep pits of despair, discouragement and depression. There is a great need for Titus’. There is a great need for Nurses in the kingdom of God.
The question that I asked myself after reading these verses was, "when I arrive at a place, do I bring encouragement? Do I bring joy? Good news? Do I refresh those who I come in contact with?" Or, am I messenger of bad news, discouragement, and do people avoid me because of my negativity?
I hope and pray that I am a nurse (Titus) for the great physician. God knows in my heart, that is what I desire! But desire left alone, isn’t effective. I must allow it to drive me to action!
So, be a Titus - encourage someone today. Amen?
"Lord, as I said above, my heart's desire is to encourage someone today. I believe that you will bring people in my path, divine appointments, that need some help because they are battling discouragment. May I be ready and willing. In Jesus name, amen!"
Posted by Rusty L. Blann at 8:54 AM
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Galatians 5:7-8 You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? (8) This persuasion is not from him who calls you.
Who did hinder you – literally means, "Drive you back." The Greek word used here (anakoptō) means to beat or drive back. Hence, it means to hinder, check, or slow down. Dr. Doddridge remarks that this is "an Olympic expression, and properly signifies coming across the course while a person is running in it, in such a manner as to jostle, and throw him out of the way."
Paul asks, with emphasis, who it could have been that slowed them down in their Christian course, implying that it could have been done only by their own consent, or that there was really no cause why they should not have continued as they began.
I believe the answer is found in the next verse when Paul states, "This persuasion is not from the One who calls you." I am so thankful for the persuasion and influence of the Holy Spirit in my life, but there is another persuasion that is at work to hinder me (and you) in my progression of becoming more like Christ. This persuasion is from satan himself. He will do anything and everything that he can to persuade you that there are more important things in your life than following and trusting Jesus.
This persuasion has been at work in this world from the beginning of time. Let me share just a few examples:
Adam and Eve had it made, but allowed this persuasion to convince them that they couldn’t trust the goodness and fairness of God, and that God’s Word wasn’t valid.
Then there is Esau who traded the blessing of his birthright for a moment of satisfaction. He was hungry, and was persuaded that the pleasure of the moment was more important than the blessings of the future.
How about Demas (2 Timothy 4) who was persuaded that this present world was more important than his eternal one.
Then there is Samson who was persuaded to compromise God’s Word and paid a horrible price for it, before being restored.
How about Simon Peter who was persuaded that he should fear man instead of standing up for Jesus.
And King David who was persuaded to have an affair with Bathsheba.
Lot’s wife lingered back from Sodom and Gomorrah as it was being destroyed and died a brutal death. The "call from Sodom" was so great that she felt that she had to look back.
The Israelites left Egypt, the land of bondage and heartache, but when faced with difficulty, they began to feel the "pull of Egypt" and desired to return there even though it was a place of great misery.
I could go on and on with examples. Paul warns us that we can be hindered, or "driven back" by this persuasion so we must be careful. Every one of us has to battle that "call from Sodom" in our lives. It is where the enemy tries to persuade us away from being zealous in our walk with Christ. If we aren’t careful we can be persuaded that going to church isn’t important, that reading God’s Word doesn’t really matter, that giving to the work of God isn't that big of a deal, and that prayer isn’t effective.
There are some reading this blog today that "were running so well" in your walk with Jesus, but this persuasion has driven you back. It is time for you to get up and get back after it. God has given you everything that you need to fight and defeat this persuasion from hell. You have God’s Word, you have His Spirit, and you have His people. You are more than capable through Christ, and "more than a conqueror."
Instead of allowing this persuasion to influence you, you can become persuaded in God’s goodness and love:
Romans 8:38-39 For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, (39) Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
"Lord, I am aware today of 'this persuasion' from hell that would love to hinder my walk with You. Today, I choose to allow Your Holy Spirit to persuade and influence my life. I will live by the influence of your precious Holy Spirit this day. In Jesus' name, amen!"
Posted by Rusty L. Blann at 6:51 AM
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Number 13:27-31 Then they told the story of their trip: "We went to the land to which you sent us and, oh! It does flow with milk and honey! Just look at this fruit! (28) The only thing is that the people who live there are fierce, their cities are huge and well fortified. Worse yet, we saw descendants of the giant Anak. (30) Caleb interrupted, called for silence before Moses and said, "Let's go up and take the land--now. We can do it." (31) But the others said, "We can't attack those people; they're way stronger than we are."
Moses sent the spies into the promised land to spy it out. Now think about what I just said. They went to spy out the "Promised Land." Who promised the land to them? God! If He promised the land to them, then they could certainly possess it, because God would go before them. Anyway, the ten spies reported back to Moses, and they all said it was GREAT land, flowing with milk and honey, and wonderful fruit. They seemed to be excited about the land God was giving them.
However, at the beginning of verse 28, the ten spies speak FOUR words that eventually brought them defeat. Because of these FOUR WORDS they wandered in the wilderness until they died, never seeing the Promised Land in their lifetimes. What were the words? THE ONLY THING IS. They processed the wrong data.
This was God’s promise to them that they would possess the land. It was God’s inheritance to them. God would MAKE IT HAPPEN. He would create a way where there seemed to be NO WAY. They limited what God wanted to do through them because of these four words.
Verse 30 shows that Caleb tried his best to get God’s people PAST these words, but he couldn’t do it. "THE ONLY THING IS" was like a cancer that began to spread throughout the faith of God’s people. Notice the difference between words of FEAR and words of FAITH. The ten fearful spies said, "THE ONLY THING IS…" and they went on to explain the reasons why God COULD NOT or WOULD NOT be faithful enough for them to possess the land. Wow!
However, listen to Caleb’s words of FAITH… "Let’s go up and take the land—NOW. We CAN DO IT." Caleb refused to allow the WRONG DATA to change his faith in God. As is the case so many times, FEAR won out. They didn’t possess the land until forty years later, AFTER they had wandered in the wilderness and everyone of that generation had died out. God wanted to bring them into this wonderful land but they couldn’t get past ‘THE ONLY THING IS…"
My friends, do you have a "THE ONLY THING IS" in your life? Do you have faith that God can do anything, except that one THING? Does it seem too big for God because you have been praying for some time and haven’t seen the answer yet? These four words are very dangerous and serious. God’s will and purpose for the Children of Israel was not accomplished for forty years because of FEAR. They forgot the miracles that God had very openly displayed before the world to see.
In fact, if you read this story to its completion, you will see that the world had more faith in God (they were fearful of what Jehovah God was doing to His enemies) than His own people did. That is why it is so important that when we are making decisions that we ask ourselves the question, "Am I walking in FEAR or FAITH?"
Many times we make decisions without properly consulting God. The Children of Israel failed to ask God what He thought. Obviously Caleb and Joshua did, but the others did not. So, again, do you have a "THE ONLY THING IS" in your life?
What about the situation with your family? What about your finances? What about your stubborn spouse? What about the problems at your job? Do you have more FAITH than FEAR? Do you truly believe that God can do ANYTHING? Or is there a "THE ONLY THING IS" that you can’t seem to have faith for. If you are being dominated by this ONLY THING, then you have processed the wrong data.
The ten spies said that the people of the promised land looked at the Israelites like they were grasshoppers. In other words, they had no fear of them or their God. That WRONG DATA kept the Children of Israel from going forward.
Listen to what Rahab, who lived in Jericho which was part of the Promised Land, told some Israelites spies: Joshua 2:8-11 Before the spies were down for the night, the woman came up to them on the roof (9) and said, "I know that GOD has given you the land. We're all afraid. Everyone in the country feels hopeless. (10) We heard how GOD dried up the waters of the Red Sea before you when you left Egypt, and what he did to the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you put under a holy curse and destroyed. (11) We heard it and our hearts sank. We all had the wind knocked out of us. And all because of you, you and GOD, your God, God of the heavens above and God of the earth below. She said, "I KNOW that God has given you the land (that was more faith than God's own people had) "We’re all afraid. Everyone in the country feels hopeless. We heard how God…"
This is what I was talking about earlier. The world that didn’t know God, had more faith in Him than the ones that He had performed miracles for. Why is that? Because of the FEAR that "THE ONLY THING IS" brought into their lives. My prayer for you today is that you will no longer be dominated by these four words. You know what God says about your ONLY THING that seems impossible? Mark 9:23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
All THINGS are possible to him that believes. All things includes your, "THE ONLY THING IS." It is all about being very careful of the DATA that you allow to be processed in your mind. I would like to leave you with an acrostic that I pray will help you process the correct DATA in your mind today:
Daily place God’s Word in your mind to MEDITATE on
How do you meditate? You just simply dwell on or think on something until it becomes cemented in your mind. We do that with worries, frustrations and hurts to name only a few. If we would ever get to the point where we daily mediate on God’s goodness and faithfulness and His Word, then we would be able to get past FEAR and move over into the FAITH realm where all things are possible.
Attack FEAR with PRAISE
When fear attacks your faith, and that is what fear does, then you re-focus on God by praising Him. When the enemy speaks to you through FEAR, then you turn the table on him by allowing that to be a reminder to stop whatever you are doing and just begin to give God thanksgiving and praise. Name the blessings of God in your life, and just begin to thank God for them. Begin to think about God’s goodness and mercy and verbalize them, either through the spoken word, or by typing them into a journal.
Train your mind to think within the boundaries of Philippians 4:8
Philippians 4:8 (MSG) Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious--the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.
If what you are dwelling on doesn’t fit within the boundaries mentined in this verse, then get it out of your mind immediately. Do like David did, and what Caleb tried to do, and that is get your FOCUS off of "THE ONLY THING IS" which represents your storm, giant, or problem, and re-focus your thoughts on God and His faithfulness.
Attach yourself to some godly people with the Spirit of Caleb
Numbers 14:24 (MSG) "But my servant Caleb--this is a different story. He has a different spirit; he follows me passionately. I'll bring him into the land that he scouted and his children will inherit it.
I Corinthians 15:33 (NLT) Don't be fooled by those who say such things, for "bad company corrupts good character."
"Lord, like Caleb, I want to develop a 'different spirit' than what I have. For too long I have had the attitude of 'the only thing is' and it has hindered my faith walk with You. Today, I trust You completely in every area of my life. In Jesus' name, amen!"
Posted by Rusty L. Blann at 7:04 AM
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Numbers 11:21-23 Moses said, "I'm standing here surrounded by 600,000 men on foot and you say, 'I'll give them meat, meat every day for a month.' (22) So where's it coming from? Even if all the flocks and herds were butchered, would that be enough? Even if all the fish in the sea were caught, would that be enough?" (23) GOD answered Moses, "So, do you think I can't take care of you? You'll see soon enough whether what I say happens for you or not."
When Moses expressed his amazement at the promise of God to provide flesh for 600,000 men for a whole month long even to weariness, and said, in the King James Version, "Shall flocks and herds be slain for them, to suffice them? or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, to suffice them?" he was answered by the words, "Is the arm of Jehovah too short (i.e., does it not reach far enough; is it too weak and powerless)? Thou shalt see now whether My word shall come to pass unto thee or not."
Moses had witnessed God's power in spectacular miracles, yet at this time he questioned God's ability to feed the wandering Israelites. If Moses doubted God's power, how much easier it is for us to do the same. But completely depending upon God is essential, regardless of our level of spiritual maturity. When we begin to rely on our own understanding, we are in danger of ignoring God's assessment of the situation. By remembering his past works and his present power, we can be sure that we are not cutting off his potential help.
How does this apply to me?
How strong is God? It is easy to trust God when we see his mighty acts (the Israelites saw many), but after a while, in the routine of daily life, his strength may appear to diminish. God doesn't change, but our view of him often does. The monotony of day-by-day living lulls us into forgetting how powerful God can be. As Moses learned, God's strength is always available.
Too often I find myself focusing on the problem instead of the Provider. Moses couldn't get past the fact that he had 600,000 men on foot, not counting the women and children, and God asked him to stand in front of this group of 2 million or so and say, "God is going to provide meat for you for one month." That was impossible. In the natural, it couldn't happen. There were not enough flocks or herds to butcher to make it happen. Moses didn't have enough of resources to see it happen, or to MAKE it happen. There are times that I look at my situation and say, "Lord, I don't have enough to see this happen, or to make this happen." And that is the very thing that God is trying to get me to see. He is the provider. He will create a way where there isn't a way in the natural realm. That is called a miracle.
Just like Moses, I wonder at times, "can God really make this happen? I know He has been faithful, but this is probably the most difficult of all of my struggles." And God's question to me is, ""So, do you think I can't take care of you? You'll see soon enough whether what I say happens for you or not." "Is the arm of Jehovah too short, does it not reach far enough, is it to weak or powerless to help you in this situation?" My friend, Jehovah God's arm has not lost any power, nor has it lost any length. He can still reach out in my situation, and make a way. And I hear God's Spirit whispering to me even now as I right this, "you will see soon enough that I am still all powerful!"
"Lord, I am facing a difficult situation. It is larger than me or my resources. I can't see how it can work out. However, you poured this Word into my Spirit today and once again, you have encouraged and strengthened my faith. Thank you Lord, that you are so faithful. Thank you that you are still omnipotent, all powerful. Thank you that you are still omnipresent! Thank you that you still perform miracles. You can still create order in the midst of havoc. You can still speak to the wind and it has to calm. You can still take limited resources like fish and bread and multiply it to miraculously go further than it naturally can. Please forgive for my lack of faith and trust. I receive your Word today, as well as the gift of faith that I feel flooding my soul at this time. When I am tempted to wonder, "is God's arm to short for this situation" I am thankful that, if I listen, I will hear you say, "you will see soon enough!" In Jesus' name, amen!"
Posted by Rusty L. Blann at 7:01 AM
Monday, September 27, 2010
Hebrews 10:25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
We have significant privileges associated with our new life in Christ: (1) We have personal access to God through Christ and can draw near to him without an elaborate system (v. 22); (2) we may grow in faith, overcome doubts and questions, and deepen our relationship with God (v. 23); (3) we may enjoy motivation from one another (v. 24) (4) we may worship together (v. 25) To neglect worshipping together through Christian meetings is to give up the encouragement and help of other Christians. We gather together to share our faith and to strengthen one another in the Lord. As we get closer to the day when Christ will return, we will face many spiritual struggles, and even times of persecution. Anti-Christian forces will grow in strength. Difficulties should never be excuses for missing church services. Rather, as difficulties arise, we should make an even greater effort to be faithful in attendance.
Addressing the student body at Virginia Tech after a shooting rampage that left 33 people dead and dozens more wounded, Philip Yancey said: "Peter once said to Jesus… 'Lord, to whom can we go?'… You've heard, 'Things will get better. You'll get past this.'… Those who offer such comfort mean well, and it's true what you feel now you won't always feel. Yet… you're a different person because of that day… When three of my friends died I came across these lines: 'Grief melts away like snow in May, as if there were no such thing as cold.' I clung to that hope, even as grief smothered me like an avalanche. It did melt away, but like snow it came back in fierce, unexpected ways, triggered by a sound, a smell, a fragment of memory."
Yancey continued, "Pain is a sign of life and love. I'm wearing a neck brace because I broke my neck in an accident. Initially medical workers refused to give me medication because they needed my response. The doctor kept asking, 'Does this hurt? Can you feel that?' The answer he desperately wanted was, 'Yes, it hurts, I can feel it,' proof that my spinal cord hadn't been severed. Pain offers proof of life, of connection. In deep wounds two kinds of tissue must heal: connective tissue, plus the outer protective tissue. If the outer protective tissue heals too quickly the inner connective tissue won't heal properly, leading to complications later."
There are some reading today’s blog that desperately need healing. You need restoration. You need peace in your emotions and mind. You need hope that things are going to get better, that this thing "came to pass." You are looking for answers, for any sign of relief, but so far you haven’t found any.
My friend, Don't attempt healing alone. Real healing takes time. It takes place where God's presence, God's peace, and God's people are. The enemy of your soul always tries to remove you from godly influences. He has no problem with you being around folks that will tell you to "just curse God and die" like Job’s wife told him. Job lost everything in his life except for the one person that would tell him to curse God. Again, satan tries very hard to separate you from the things that will encourage you. That is why so many people in America just quit going to church. They are so easily offended anyway because they are hurting, and the enemy exacerbates the offense even more. His purpose…to divide and conquer.
Just like the Wildebeest that you see on the Discovery channel. The lion goes after the animal that separates himself from the pack. He doesn’t often go into the pack, because there is strength in numbers. But he will prowl, and wait for separation to take place. That is exactly how satan goes around… "as a roaring lion" seeking whom he may devour. He is seeking the one who separates himself from his friends, church and family because of a misunderstanding.
Are you hurting today? Turn to God. His promise to you is "I will… heal your wounds" (Jeremiah 30:17 NIV).
"Dear Lord, you know the pain of my life. You know the thing(s) that I am struggling with. I am very much aware that the enemy goes around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. I believe that he has his sights on me. I have been so tempted to separate myself from the ones that I love and that I know love me, as well as to remove from my life the positive, godly influences. I make a decision right now Lord to ask you to heal my wounds. I also make a choice to allow you to heal my wounds. I thank you for my church family, for my godly friends, and my godly family members. With Your help, and theirs, I will be healed. I REFUSE to be like the Wildabeest. In Jesus’ name, amen!"
Posted by Rusty L. Blann at 9:01 AM
Friday, September 24, 2010
2 Corinthians 13:14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
The "grace of our Lord Jesus Christ" takes us back to Bethlehem, where He became poor for us (2 Co 8:9); "the love of God" takes us to Calvary, where God the Father gave His Son (Luke 23:33); and "the communion of the Holy Spirit" takes us to Pentecost, where the Spirit was poured out for all believers. (Acts 2:1-4)
As we take a closer look at this wonderful verse, I want us to begin to see that it is a picture, a snapshot if you will, of the spiritual development God desires for every Christian. The verse can be divided into three distinct parts:
1. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ
The first phrase is "the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ." This points us to Bethlehem where the "Word (Jesus) became flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14) Those who are sure of their salvation know that their spiritual journey began with the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Without this marvelous grace we could not be born again and know God. Hence, the first part of this verse should be a picture of our first experience with the Lord. Paul refers to this first experience with the grace of God in Ephesians 2-8 when he says, "For by grace are ye saved."
2. The love of God
Once this grace touches our lives, we are hurled forward to the second part of 2 Corinthians 13:14, which is indicative of our second phase of spiritual growth as a Christian -"the love of God." This points us to Calvary where "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son (Jesus) that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16)
There is nothing with which to compare the love of God that a new believer experiences when he or she has just been saved. At that glorious moment when the burden of sin rolls away, you really know you are loved by God. I have often heard new believers say that when they were born again they felt as if they had been baptized in divine love It seemed so real at the moment that they were nearly able to reach out into the air and scoop it up with their hands.
This is one reason why it is such a joy to lead people to Christ. When brand-new Christians lift their heads and open their eyes, the look on their faces is worth more than all the money the world has to offer. Their faces gleam with joy because they know they are forgiven, cleansed, and that they are new creatures. Most of all, they know they are loved.
The problem is that this wonderful sense of love is so real and so life-changing that new and immature believers often try to reproduce that same feeling over and over again throughout the years to come. Rather than move forward in their spiritual growth, they get stuck on past emotions.
While we must never lose "the wonder of it all," neither must we seek to relive past experiences which were never intended to be relived over and over again. We must not stop our growth because we want to recapture the feelings we had when we were born again. God wants to move us from "feelings" to walking by FAITH.
If you find yourself in this rut, it is probably past time for you to press ahead into another realm of spiritual development - "the communion of the Holy Spirit" (2 Corinthians 13:14).
3. The communion of the Holy Spirit
In this third phase you will come to know new power, new strength, new ability, new discernment and, yes, new and more mature spiritual emotions. This points us to Pentecost, where the Holy Spirit was poured out for all believers. (Acts 2:1-4)
This spiritual maturity is the very thing for which your heart is yearning. In this third realm, you learn how to walk in the Spirit, move in the power of God, know the voice of God, have the mind of Christ, pray effectively, receive direction, be sensitive to Him and much more. This third realm is where spiritual maturity begins - and it is available to everyone. That is why Paul prayed for the communion of the Holy Spirit to "be with you all."
The grace of God is where all this begins, and the realization of God's love is the foundation for everything we do. But this communion with the Holy Spirit is a launching pad for a life of supernatural power and consistency of godly character. Without this daily communion with the Holy Spirit it is impossible to live a victorious Christian life.
"Lord, I am so thankful for the Grace of Jesus, the Love of the Father, and the Communion of the Holy Spirit. I want more in my walk with You. May I desire a deeper relationship with Your precious Holy Spirit today. In Jesus' name, amen!"
Posted by Rusty L. Blann at 6:43 AM
Thursday, September 23, 2010
2 Corinthians 12:10 So for the sake of Christ, I am well pleased and take pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities and distresses; for when I am weak [in human strength], then am I [truly] strong (able, powerful in divine strength).
When we are strong in abilities or resources, we are tempted to do God's work on our own, and that can lead to pride. When we are weak, allowing God to fill us with his power, then we are stronger than we could ever be on our own. God does not intend for us to be weak, passive, or ineffective—life provides enough hindrances and setbacks without us creating them. When those obstacles come, we must depend on God. Only his power will make us effective for him and will help us do work that has lasting value.
We do not know what this thorn was, but the best suggestion is an eye ailment. Galatians 4:15 and Galatians 6:11 ("with what large letters") suggest eye trouble. This would have been a trial to Paul both physically and emotionally, and could honestly be called a thorn (stake) in the flesh. (Sometimes prisoners were impaled on stakes and left to die a horrible death.) Whatever the thorn was, it was a burden to him, and it brought pain. He asked to have it removed.
Commentator Warrer Wiersbe shares several very practical lessons to be learned from Paul’s experience with the thorn:
(1) Spiritual blessings are more important than physical ones. Paul thought he could be a better Christian if he were relieved of his weakness, but just the opposite was true.
(2) Unanswered prayer does not always mean the need is not met. Sometimes we get a greater blessing when God does not answer our prayers! God always answers the need even though it seems He is not answering the prayer.
(3) Weakness is strength if Christ is in it. Remember Gideon’s pitchers, David’s sling, and Moses’ rod.
(4) There is grace to meet every need. Grace enabled Paul to accept his weakness, glory in it, and take pleasure in it! Paul knew that his weakness would bring glory to Christ, and that is all that mattered.
Author Bob Gass says, that at first this verse doesn't seem to make sense. We want to be freed from our weaknesses, not boast about them!
But Paul gives us several reasons you may not have considered:
(1) Your weakness prevents arrogance. Paul writes, "So I wouldn't get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations" (2 Corinthians 12:7 TM). You'll often find a major weakness attached to a major strength, acting as a governor to keep us from getting exalted, or running ahead of God. Gideon chose 32,000 men to fight the Midianites. But God reduced his numbers to 300, making the odds 450 to 1. Why? So that Israel would know that it was God's power and not their own that saved them.
(2) Your weakness produces fellowship. While strength can breed an independent spirit ("I don't need anybody else"), our weakness shows us how much we need each other. When we weave the weak strands of our lives together, a rope of great strength is created. Vance Havner said, "Christians, like snowflakes, are frail, but when they stick together they can stop traffic."
(3) Your weakness creates compassion and ministry to others. People actually find healing in your wounds. Your greatest message and your most effective ministry will usually come out of your most difficult experiences. The things you're most embarrassed about, most ashamed of, most reluctant to share, are the very tools God can use most powerfully to help others.
"Lord, I am so thankful for Your faithfulness in spite of my faithlessness at times. When I am facing a 'thorn in my flesh' you are teaching me to keep trusting You and know that some how, some way, You will make the situaiton beautiful in Your time. Thank You for what You are teaching me. In Jesus' name, amen!"
Posted by Rusty L. Blann at 7:17 AM
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Philippians 4:6 (AMP) Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.
(CEV) Don't worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God.
(MSG) Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.
(ESV) do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Worry, worry, worry! How many Christians lose their joy and peace because of worry! In Philippians 4, Paul tells us that the secure mind — the mind that is guarded by the peace of God — frees us from worry. Of course, the believer who does not have the single mind (Philippians 1:1-30), the submissive mind (Phillippians 2:1-30), and the spiritual mind (Philippians 3:1-21) can never have the secure mind. We must first live what Paul describes in the previous three chapters before we can claim the promises and provisions of this final chapter.
What is worry? Our English word “worry” comes from an Anglo-Saxon word that means “to strangle”; worry certainly does strangle people physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
The Bible term “be careful” or “be anxious” means literally “to be torn apart.” Worry comes when the thoughts in our mind and feelings in our heart pull in different directions and “tear us apart.” The mind thinks about problems, and these feelings weigh down the heart, creating a vicious circle that wrecks our emotional state. Our minds tell us we should not fret, but we often cannot control the anxiety in our hearts! We have to break this circle of worry before we can enjoy peace.
Do you ever have moments when anxiety tries to creep up on you and seize your heart? I'm talking about those times when you are thrown into a state of panic about things that concern you - such as your family, your friendships, your business, or your finances. Very often this state of panic is caused by the mere thought of a problem that doesn't even exist and is unlikely ever to come to pass. Nevertheless, the mere thought of this non-existent problem troubles you deeply. Soon you find yourself sinking into such a strong state of worry and anxiety that it literally takes you emotionally hostage!
Rick Renner in his book "Sparkling Gems from the Greek" gives some marvelous insight into Philippians 4:6. I would like to share his thoughts with you in today's blog:
Some people are so controlled by fear that they pray fretful prayers instead of faith-filled prayers. I must admit that I've had moments in my own life when I've prayed more out of fretfulness than out of faith. Have you ever had one of those times? Praying fretful prayers doesn't get you anything. It is non-productive praying. God does not respond to fretfulness; He responds to faith.
In Philippians 4:6, Paul says, "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." Do you see the word "careful" in this verse? It is the Greek word merimnao, which means to be troubled; to be anxious; to be fretful; or to be worried about something.
In New Testament times, this word was primarily used in connection with worry about finances, hunger, or some other basic provision of life. It pictured a person who is fretful about paying his bills; a person who is worried he won't have the money to purchase food and clothes for his family's needs or pay his house payment or apartment rent on time; or a person who is anxious about his ability to cope with the daily necessities of life.
This is the same word used in Matthew 6:25, when Jesus says, "Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink." The word "thought" is also the Greek word merimnao. But in this particular verse, the Greek New Testament also has the word me, which is a strong prohibition to stop something that is already in progress.
This strongly suggests that Jesus was speaking to worriers who were already filled with fret and anxiety. He was urging these people to stop worrying. The verse could be translated, "Stop worrying about your life." Then Jesus specifies that they were to stop worrying about "what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink." So again we see the word merimnao used to describe worry, fretfulness, and anxiety about obtaining the basic necessities of life.
We also find the word merimnao used in the parable of the sower and the seed. Matthew 13:22 says, "He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful." The word "care" is the Greek word merimnao, again connected to material worries and concerns.
Jesus says such worry "chokes" the Word. The word "choke" is the Greek word sumpnigo, which means to suffocate, to smother, to asphyxiate, to choke, or to throttle. You see, worry is so all-consuming in an individual's mind that it literally chokes him. It is a suffocating, smothering force that throttles his whole life to a standstill.
In Luke 21:34, Jesus gives a special warning to people who live in the last days. He said, "And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, so that day come upon you unawares."
When Jesus mentions the "cares of this life," the word "cares" is the Greek word merimna. This time, however, it is used in connection with the word "life," which is the Greek word biotikos. This comes from the root word bios, the Greek word for life. It is where we get the word biology. But when it becomes the word biotikos, it describes the things of life - pertaining primarily to the events, incidents, and episodes that occur in one's life.
Thus, this phrase could be understood to mean that we should not allow ourselves to worry and fret about the events, incidents, or episodes that occur in life. This is a particularly fitting message for people who live in the last days and who are confronted by the incidents and episodes that occur during this difficult time.
So when the apostle Paul writes in Philippians 4:6, "Be careful for nothing," he is pleading with us not to be worried about the basic needs and provisions required for life. Paul is also telling us not to let the events of life get to us and throw us into a state of anxiety or panic. To let us know how free of all worry we should be, Paul says we are to be "careful for nothing." The word "nothing" is the Greek word meden, and it means absolutely nothing!
So this phrase in Philippians 4:6 could be translated: "Don't be worried about anything - and that means nothing at all!"
So what is bothering you today, friend? What is stealing your peace and joy? Is there one particular thing Satan keeps using to strike your mind with fear? Can you think of a single time when worry and fretfulness ever helped make a situation better? Doesn't worry serve only to keep you emotionally torn up and in a state of panic?
I urge you to put an end to worry today, once and for all. If you let worry start operating in you even for a moment, it will try to become a habitual part of your thought life, turning you into a "worrier" who never knows a moment of peace.
Jesus is sitting at the right hand of the Father right now, interceding for you continually. Jesus understands every emotion, every frustration, and every temptation you could ever face (see Hebrews 2:18). So why not make a deliberate decision to turn over all your worries to Jesus today? Rather than try to manage those anxieties and needs all by yourself, go to Him and surrender everything into His loving, capable hands. Walk free of all those choking, paralyzing fears once and for all.
Jesus is waiting for you to cast all your cares upon Him, because He really does care for you (see 1 Peter 5:7). Then once you throw your worries and concerns on Him, He will help you experience the joy and peace He has designed for you to enjoy in life all along!
"Lord, I admit that I've allowed fear, worry, fretfulness, and anxiety to play a role in my life. When these negative emotions operate in me, I lose my peace and my joy. I am tired of living in this continual state of worry and fear about bad things that might happen. Jesus, today I am making the choice to turn all these destructive thoughts over to You. I don't want to live this way anymore. I know this isn't Your plan for my life, so by faith, I cast all my concerns on You. I release them into Your hands, Lord, and ask You to take them right now! I pray this in Jesus' name!"
Posted by Rusty L. Blann at 6:58 AM
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Isaiah 6:3 And they were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory."
The throne, the attending seraphim (angels), and the threefold holy all stressed God's holiness. Seraphim were a type of angel whose name is derived from the word for "burn," perhaps indicating their purity as God's ministers. In a time when moral and spiritual decay had peaked, it was important for Isaiah to see God in his holiness. Holiness means "morally perfect, pure, and set apart from all sin." We also need to discover God's holiness. Our daily frustrations, society's pressures, and our shortcomings narrow our view of God. We need the Bible's view of God as high and lifted up to empower us to deal with our problems and concerns. God's moral perfection, properly seen, will purify us from sin, cleanse our mind of our problems, and enable us to worship and to serve.
Isaiah saw God in His holiness, then Peter reminds us that God requires for us to strive for holiness:
1 Peter 1:15-16 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; (16) for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."
Peter's words mean that all parts of our lives and character should be in the process of becoming conformed, both inwardly and outwardly, to God's standards. After people commit their lives to Christ, they sometimes still feel a pull back to their old ways. Peter tells us to be like our heavenly Father—holy in everything we do.
Holiness means being totally devoted or dedicated to God, set aside for his special use and set apart from sin and its influence. We cannot become holy on our own, but God gives us his Holy Spirit to help us obey and to give us power to overcome sin. Don't use the excuse that you can't help slipping into sin. Rely on God's power to free you from sin's grip.
There are three thoughts underlying the word "holy."
First, the idea of separation.
Third, moral purity
Isaiah saw God in His holiness and was vividly reminded of his own impurity. Then hundreds of years later, Simon Peter reminds us that we are to "be holy" as God is holy. The only way we can do this is through the precious blood of Jesus, and the influence of the Holy Spirit.
As we walk in holiness we need to be separated in the way we live. We talk differently, walk differently, live differently than those who are not Christians. Too often we are NO different than the unsaved. We will never be the influence that we are called to be if we do not allow the Lord to separate us. Their should be a marked difference between the Christian and the non-Christian.
We should walk in brightness as well. Remember that Jesus told us we are to be the "light of the world." As we allow Jesus to be seen in our daily life, His light will shine through us.
Then we are to walk in purity. The Greek word is hagneia where we get our word "hygiene." It means pure from defilement, not contaminated, clean. Again, the only way we walk in "purity" is by and through the shed blood of Jesus. As the hymn goes, "what can wash away my sins...NOTHING, but the blood of Jesus." Thank God for His blood. But I must make the choice DAILY to walk in the purity that He brings into my life.
So, if I am to walk in holiness today, I must be separated and act, talk, and walk differently than those who are not living for the Lord, walk in the brightness of God's light, and live in the purity of God's blood. That is indeed HOLINESS.
"Lord, I choose to walk in Holiness today. Too often holiness has been associated with what one wears, or the style of their hair. But you have reminded me today that holiness starts in the heart. May I show this day that I am separated, and live, talk, and walk differently than I used to. May I let Your light shine through and before me, and may I walk in purity. Because You Word says plainly that only the "pure in heart shall see God." In Jesus name, amen!"
Posted by Rusty L. Blann at 7:17 AM
Monday, September 20, 2010
1 Corinthians 6:12 “Everything is permissible for me"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"—but I will not be mastered by anything.
1 Corinthians 10:23-24 “Everything is permissible"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"—but not everything is constructive. (24) Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.
Sometimes it's hard to know when to defer to weaker believers. Paul gives a simple rule of thumb to help in making the decision: We should be sensitive and gracious. The goal here is not a general hypersensitivity that worries about what others might possibly think. Rather, it is a genuine awareness of others and a willingness to limit what we do when there is a real possibility of misunderstanding and offense. Some actions may not be wrong, but they may not be in the best interest of others. We have freedom in Christ, but we shouldn't exercise our freedom at the cost of hurting a Christian brother or sister. We are not to consider only ourselves; we must also consider the needs and perspective of others
Apparently the church had been quoting and misapplying the words "I am allowed to do anything." Some Christians in Corinth were excusing their sins by saying that:
(1) Christ had taken away all sin, and so they had complete freedom to live as they pleased, or
(2) what they were doing was not strictly forbidden by Scripture.
Paul answered both these excuses:
(1) While Christ has taken away our sin, this does not give us freedom to go on doing what we know is wrong. The New Testament specifically forbids many sins (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-10) that were originally prohibited in the Old Testament (see Romans 12:9-21); Romans 13:8-10).
(2) Some actions are not sinful in themselves, but they are not appropriate because they can control our life and lead us away from God.
(3) Some actions may hurt others. Anything we do that hurts rather than helps others is not right.
I am troubled by the attitude that some Christians have of "everything is permissable" or "it isn't sin so why shouldn’t I do it!" Too often, we become selfish in our decisions and "liberty's." We don't care who we hurt or how much our testimony is affected, because I can do, and WILL DO what I want to do. The whole time Jesus is saying, "You are the salt of the earth" and you are the "light of the world" so desiring for His children to get back to living for Him AND for others.
Jesus COULD have called angels from heaven to come and deliver Him from the cross, but He showed self-control, and died to his way, and the RIGHT that He had, by putting the needs of other's before His own.
My friends, I want to live that way. I don't want to be a stumbling block to those around me who are seeking Jesus because of my freedom or liberty. There are simply some things I WILL NOT DO, not because it is sin, but because I want Jesus to be seen in me, and way too often, the world, those not living for Jesus, has seen hypocrisy in the followers of Christ because of "freedom!" To say, "I'll do it if I won't to" is living for myself, and selfish.
Too often we put our own desires over the desire of Jesus for His children to be influencers in this increasingly evil world. We need Light to penetrate the darkness. But too often we have allowed darkness to influence the Light of Jesus in us. It happened to God's Children (Israelites) in the wilderness, and it is happening again in the day we live.
When we are more concerned about my rights, freedom's and liberty's than we are for letting Jesus be seen in our words, decisions, and actions, then we have become selfish and living for ourselves and not Christ! As Paul said, “all things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others." Forgive us Jesus and help us!
"Jesus, please forgive me for the times I have put my desire over Your desire and the needs of this world to SEE YOU in our life. I want You to be seen in my life today in everything I say, do or show. In Jesus' name, amen!"
Posted by Rusty L. Blann at 7:29 AM