Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A challenge for West Memphis


3 John 1:11 Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.


John is addressing a situation concerning a man named "Diotrphes who has been causing problems in the church. We know nothing about Demetrius except that he may have carried this letter from John to Gaius. The book of Acts mentions an Ephesian silversmith named Demetrius, who opposed Paul (Acts 19:24), but this is probably another man. In contrast to the corrupt Diotrephes, Demetrius had a high regard for truth. John personified truth as a witness to Demetrius's character and teaching. In other words, if truth could speak, it would speak on Demetrius's behalf. When Demetrius arrived, Gaius certainly opened his home to him.

John, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, warns each of us to "imitate good" not evil.


As I read our verse for today, I immediately asked myself "if anyone was to imitate me, would they be acting out good or evil?" What am I showing by my words, actions, attitudes and motives?

I am afraid that too often my actions and words fall short of goodness.

I am so thankful to be a part of the West Memphis, Arkansas community. Christ like love was seen in action over the past few days in the response to the tragic death of police officers Brandon Paudert and Bill Evans. Churches came together, races came together, law enforcement came together, Christians in general came together.

As I watched this unfold, my heart was stirred for a genuine move of God in our community.

My friends, as adults, we have often portrayed anything but Christ likeness to the newspapers, television camera's, and radio personalities. Because of this, I am afraid our children have been and will continue to imitate our prejudices and lack of love.

I don't care how much we label ourselves "Christian" the true test is our fruit. How can any Christian man or woman spew hate and prejudice against another race? Can we really convince ourselves that God is OK with our hatred?

We have division in our community and God is not pleased with it. There are some who love the TV camera that, quite frankly need to avoid the camera and microphone because of what comes out of their mouth. It is not helping our community. It is harming it and causing the division to be even greater. And the problem with that is, as our text says, people are imitating our community leaders. And the TV camera rolls and continues to pick up "christian" men and women talking about how wrongly each side is treating the other. My God, please have mercy on us. Please forgive us for our severe lack of Christ like love. Please help leaders to realize they are leading people to either evil, or good.

I'm not just talking about our political leaders, but our church leaders as well. I call out to all of our Crittenden County ministers to help heal the racial and religious division in our community. Pastors, if you get involved in "politics" your political views must not usurp God's views. You must continue to hold up God's Word and standards. God is a God of love and not division and hatred.

My heart is burdened for the law enforcement in our area. There has been a lot of things spoken negatively against our law enforcement over the past few years. The standard for Christian is not to do battle in public via television, paper, etc. But the following:

Matthew 18:15-17 (TM) "If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him--work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you've made a friend. (16) If he won't listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. (17) If he still won't listen, tell the church. If he won't listen to the church, you'll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God's forgiving love.

Confronting, fighting, arguing through the media is anything...ANYTHING, but Christ like. I plead to every Christian in Crittenden County. Please pray that our community will be united and healed. That will happen when our pastors, and political leaders are united.

Someone has got to step up and be the adults. Someone has got to step up and be Christ like even when we are angry. Someone has got to lead by example. Let's start right now. Whether you are Baptist, Methodist, Church of Christ, United Pentecostal, Episcopalian, Church of God in Christ, Methodist AME, Presbyterian, Catholic, Assembly of God...let's determine to love one another in spite of our differences. Let's determine to show a world that desperately needs showing, that Christianity is still alive and effective in our community.

Please hear the heart of a Pastor who loves this community more today than I ever have! And wouldn't want to live anywhere else. I believe we are on the verge of a great renewal and awakening! Blessings!


"Oh God, please forgive us for the division that we have allowed to take place among our churches and leaders. Please forgive those of us who claim to be a Christian, for not acting much like one. Please forgive me for not being more involved in our community and with our Ministerial Alliance. I plan to change that immediately. Please forgive our political leaders for putting their own agenda above Yours. Please forgive each of us for allowing the racial division to go on for years in our community and instead of praying against it, we fan the flame by our silence, or by the other extreme of speaking hatred. I declare renewal and awakening over the West Memphis community, and start with each of us that read this blog today. In Jesus' name, amen!"

Friday, May 21, 2010

Courage in West Memphis


1 Samuel 17:48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him.


David was able to move faster than Goliath because David carried no heavy weapons or armor. David was an expert marksman with a sling, and as he advanced on Goliath, he stayed out of range of Goliath's huge weapons. What made David effective, however, was more than his ability with a sling; it was his courage and his faith in God. To fight like David we need David's kind of fearlessness. David had grown strong in his confidence by trusting God when he had encountered wild animals while guarding his father's sheep (1 Samuel 17:34-37). When you face towering problems, recall how God has helped you in the past. Take heart because God gives you strength. Use the skills God has already given you and move forward.


Yesterday was a tough day here in West Memphis, AR. After a routine traffic stop, two of our police officers were shot and killed, then a shoot out at our local Walmart ensued where two more policemen were shot and the two suspects killed. We are a community deeply saddened.

As I watched this unfold up close and personal (I was at the Walmart parking lot) I saw civilians running from the shooters, and our police officers running towards the shooters. They were upholding their sworn duty to protect our community and to maintain law and order. As I watched these brave men and women, my mind went immediately to our text today where David ran towards Goliath. That took courage!

Without courage you're not living, you're hiding! Courage is what moves you forward; it's the muscle that makes your faith work. Faith by itself can be nothing more than a set of beliefs. Courage is what activates those beliefs.

Courage is like oxygen, you can't survive without it. Courage is not the absence of fear, it's the conquest of it. Courage means doing it afraid - until you're no longer afraid. It means - tremble your way to confidence!

Today, I say thank you to all of our law enforcement men and women who are courageous and unsung heroes!

Also, my prayer is with the families of the killed police officers and the injured ones as well. I pray the following verse over them:

Psa 34:18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.


"Lord, thank You for the example of David running towards Goliath. He exemplified what courage is all about. I also thank You for our local law enforcement men and women. What courageous warriors they are. They are my heroes. I ask You today to supernaturally comfort the Evans and Paudert families. May they sense unexplainable peace in the days, weeks and months ahead. Also, minister to the Wren and Busby families. I thank You for their courage and may we as a community determine to appreciate our police officers more than ever before and to hold them up in prayer daily. In Jesus name, amen!"

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The God of the Breakthrough


1 Chronicles 14:11 And he went up to Baal-perazim, and David struck them down there. And David said, "God has broken through my enemies by my hand, like a bursting flood." Therefore the name of that place is called Baal-perazim.


Notice how David likened God's power to the bursting forth of waters. In other words, he described it as a flood. He was saying that when the God of the breakthrough shows up and releases His power, it will be like a flood of His goodness, a flood of His favor, a flood of healing, a flood of new opportunity.

Think about how powerful water is. Three or four inches of water can pick up a huge car that weighs thousands of pounds and move it all around. I've seen on the news whole houses floating down the river in big floods. Nothing can stop the force of that water! Anything that's in its way is moved!


Today, you may have difficulties that look extremely large, obstacles that look impassable, dreams that look unobtainable. But know this: when the God of the breakthrough releases a flood of His power, nothing can stop it. You need to get ready not for a trickle, not for a stream, not for a river. Get ready for a flood of God's favor, a tidal wave of His goodness, a tsunami of His increase! Dare to believe that God is going to overwhelm you with victory in every area of your life today!

What are you addicted to? (Think before you answer). What controls you? What is it that you just 'can't' live without? What is it that you constantly turn to, to relieve your pain, your loneliness, or your frustration?

Addictive behaviour is often just an attempt to hide from reality, or to put off dealing with areas where we're hurt, or angry, or afraid.

Joyce Meyer writes, "Except for cigarettes, most of my addictions did not fall under the heading of 'substance abuse.' I was addicted to… reasoning… worry… judgement… compliments… self-pity… pouting… control… and work. When I realised I was addicted to these things, I determined that in God's strength, I was going to be free and live a disciplined and productive life.

"Everything was great - until the pain started. If I had not had the inner strength to withstand the pain, I'd have given in, which would have temporarily relieved the pain, but started the cycle all over again.

"Today God does not just want to give you strength - He wants to be your strength. Think about that! Through His indwelling power, He wants you to know that you can break every addiction in your life!"

Then she adds, "Make a decision today to become addicted to Jesus and His precepts - and watch your addictions begin to vanish one by one."

God wants to give you a BREAKTHROUGH!


"Lord, I am thankful that You are the strength of my life. You desire to give me victory. You desire to give me a Break through! Heavenly Father, I invite You to overwhelm me with You today. Take over every area of my life; my thoughts, my attitude, my body. Flood me with Your healing, favor, and strength today as I surrender my entire being to You. In Jesus' Name, amen!"

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

You are an original!


Galatians 5:26 That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.


Everyone needs a certain amount of approval from others. But those who go out of their way to secure honors or to win popularity become conceited and show they are not following the Holy Spirit's leading. Those who look to God for approval won't need to envy others. Because we are God's sons and daughters, we have his Holy Spirit as the loving guarantee of his approval. Seek to please God, and the approval of others won't seem so important.


Are you so busy analysing your vices that you don't have time to appreciate your virtues? Are you so caught up in scrutinising others, that you don't value what God's given you? God never intended you to compare yourself with anybody. Listen: "We will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original." (Galatians 5:26 TM)

By making comparisons: (a) you imply that God made a mistake by making you as you are; (b) you allow others to define your idea of attractiveness; (c) you give them control of your self-esteem. That's too much power to give anybody! Paul says, "Since we find ourselves fashioned… excellently… and marvellously… let's just go ahead and be what we were made to be" (Romans 12:6 TM). Focus on the talents and abilities God's given you, and stop coveting what you don't have. Base your self-esteem on the fact that God made you exactly, precisely, intricately, wondrously and uniquely who you are. You're without comparison, a genuine 'one off!'

What you are is God's gift to you; what you do with yourself is your gift back to Him. Until you stop comparing yourself to others you'll never be able to give birth to the unique gifts He's placed within you. So, thank God today for making you who you are, and begin believing that He's transforming you day by day into who He wants you to become.


"Lord, thank you for who You have made me to be. You knit me together in my mother's womb. You placed within me potential. Help me to live up to that potential today. You placed within me dreams. Help me to make decisions to continue to move towards those dreams. I thank You for who you made me. I am thankful that You continue to work in me. I am an original. Thank you for that Lord. In Jesus' name, amen!"

Monday, May 17, 2010

What are you depositing today?


2 Corinthians 4:16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.


Paul had faced suffering, trials, and distress as he preached the Good News. But he knew that they would one day be over, and he would obtain God's rest and rewards. As we face great troubles, it's easy to focus on the pain rather than on our ultimate goal. Just as athletes concentrate on the finish line and ignore their discomfort, we, too, must focus on the reward for our faith and the joy that lasts forever. No matter what happens to us in this life, we have the assurance of eternal life, when all suffering will end and all sorrow will flee away.

It is easy to lose heart and quit. We all have faced problems in our relationships or in our work that have caused us to think about giving up. Rather than quitting when persecution wore him down, Paul concentrated on the inner strength that came from the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 3:16). Don't let fatigue, pain, or criticism force you off the job. Renew your commitment to serving Christ. Don't forsake your eternal reward because of the intensity of today's pain. Your very weakness allows the resurrection power of Christ to strengthen you moment by moment.


A 90-year-old widow was moving to a nursing home because she was legally blind. On the elevator when a nurse began to describe her new room, the elderly lady exclaimed, "I love it!" "But you haven't even seen it yet," said the nurse. "That doesn't matter," she replied. "Happiness is something you decide ahead of time! Whether or not I like it doesn't depend on how the furniture's arranged. It's how I arrange my mind that's important, and I've already decided to love it. Every morning when I wake I can choose to dwell on the parts of my body that no longer work, or give thanks for the ones that do! Every day is a gift, so as long as my eyes open I'll focus on the blessings of each new day, and all the great memories I've stored away." What an attitude!

Old age is sort of like a bank account; you get out only what you deposit. In fact, all stages of life are like a deposit. If you deposit lots of good stuff early on, you'll be able to withdraw it later when you need it. So - what are you depositing today?

Read again Paul's words from today's text: So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.


"Lord, I love the attitude of the 90 year old lady. She had already decided that she would enjoy her new room even before she had seen it. Why? Because she started out the day DECIDING and DETERMINING to enjoy whatever that day brought. She savored every moment that she had. Oh God, please help me to do the same thing. Please forgive me for the days that I have allowed to pass me by without savoring the moments. I am a blessed man, and I take so much for granted. Today, I determine that I will bask in and savor each moment. I deposit memories of blessings, even the seemingly small things. I will draw from those memories in days to come. When I go through a struggle, help me to remember what I am depositing today. In Jesus' name, amen!"

Friday, May 14, 2010

Parakaleo Ministry


Hebrews 3:13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.


Our hearts turn away from the living God when we stubbornly refuse to believe him. If we persist in our unbelief, God will eventually leave us alone in our sin. But God can give us new hearts, new desires, and new spirits (Ezekiel 36:22-27). To prevent having an unbelieving heart, stay in fellowship with other believers, talk daily about your mutual faith, be aware of the deceitfulness of sin (it attracts but also destroys), and encourage each other with love and concern.


God has challenged my heart the past few days on the importance of encouragement, and guarding my words. Isaiah 50:4 (TM) says, "God, has give me a well-taught tongue." My words are like nitroglycerine: they can either blow up bridges or heal hearts. You can tell more about somebody by what they say about others, than by what others say about them.

There are so many of God's children that are thinking about giving up because they feel alone, and uncared for. There is such a great need for The "Parakaleo Ministry." What do I mean by that? Well, I would love to use the words of one of my favorite authors to explain this…Rick Renner. I have taken the following from his book, "Sparkling Gems from the Greek."

If you want to fulfill God's plan for your life, there's one thing you must not do: Don't forsake the daily fellowship and encouragement of other believers! Hebrews 3:13 tells us that we need to "exhort one another daily." But what does it mean to "exhort"?

The word for "exhort" that is used in this verse comes from the Greek word parakaleo. It is a compound of the words para and kaleo. The word para means alongside, and the word kaleo means to call, to invite, to speak, or to beckon. When these two words are compounded into one, it gives the picture of someone who has come closely alongside of another person for the sake of speaking to him, consoling him, comforting him, or assisting him with instruction, counsel, or advice.

Because it is so helpful when someone comes alongside to support you in this manner, this word is often translated in the New Testament as the word encouragement. Jesus used the word paraklete, a derivative of parakaleo, to describe the Holy Spirit as the "Comforter" in John 14:16.

These verses make it abundantly clear that we need to both give and receive encouragement from other believers on a daily basis. This is such a vital principle that the tense used in the Greek language calls for continual action. In other words, we are not to just encourage one another once a week; we are to make this a matter of lifestyle. We must get into the habit of encouraging one another, doing it so often that it becomes a daily practice!

Think how encouraging it is when someone cares enough to take you to lunch, call you on the telephone, write you a note, or go out of his way at the office or church to come to you and ask how you are doing. It is especially very strengthening to know that someone really cares about you if you're going through challenging times!

But rather than fixate only on your need to be encouraged, try taking your eyes off yourself to see those around you who are also in need of strength. Think of someone you know whom you can strengthen by coming alongside him to speak words of comfort, consolation, or bravery. Maybe you can take that person to lunch; call him on the telephone; drop him a note; or go out of your way to see how he is doing. Remember, you're not the only one who needs encouragement!

We all need encouragement from brothers and sisters in the Lord who will lovingly attach themselves to us — watching us, making observations about us, and finding ways to provoke us unto love and good deeds. But we must also turn around and do the same for other believers. That's what the Body of Christ is all about!

So recognize that when you're feeling down and left out, you need fellowship with people of faith more than ever. Jesus understood this principle. When He went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray the night before His crucifixion, He asked Peter, James, and John to come pray with Him. Jesus needed their fellowship and strength that night, or He wouldn't have requested it.

Recognize your need for others — and acknowledge that others need you as well. The daily exhortation and encouragement of other believers will help you stir up your faith to hold fast to your confession until it becomes a reality. And as an added side benefit, you will experience more deeply the Presence of the Lord in your life through the joy of knowing and loving other people of like faith!

What a challenge! "Lord, use me today in The Parakaleo Ministry!


"Lord, forgive me for the times I have discouraged instead of encouraged. I believe strongly that you 'reap what you sow.' That means if I would expect encouragement during difficult times, I better be planting encouragement in other folks life. My prayer today is 'Lord use me in the Parakaleo Ministry!' In Jesus name, amen!"

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I MUST decrease. He MUST increase.


John 3:30 (AMP) He must increase, but I must decrease. [He must grow more prominent; I must grow less so.] [Isa. 9:7.]

(BBE) He has to become greater while I become less.

(CEV) Jesus must become more important, while I become less important.

(MSG) This is the assigned moment for him to move into the center, while I slip off to the sidelines.


John's willingness to decrease in importance shows unusual humility. Pastors and other Christian leaders can be tempted to focus more on the success of their ministries than on Christ. Beware of those who put more emphasis on their own achievements than on God's Kingdom.


The Bible describes the call of God as "the high calling" (Phillippians 3:14). Yet the higher your calling takes you the lower you must become in your own eyes. That means taking all the accolades that come your way and passing them on to God.

Jesus said of John the Baptist, "There is not a greater prophet" (Luke 7:28). Yet John said of Jesus, "He must increase, but I must decrease." When God called Ezekiel into the ministry he felt so inadequate that he fell on his face and God had to say, "Stand up on your feet, and I will speak to you" (Ezekiel 2:1). How's that for humility?

We don't know exactly what the "thorn" in Paul's life was but we know why he had it. "Lest I should be exalted… there was given to me a thorn in the flesh" (2 Corinthians 12:7). Thorns come in many forms. God customizes them to our individual need. Your thorn may be a problem child, a turbulent marriage, a stubborn habit or a lifelong affliction. It's what deflates you when others try to exalt you. It's what enables you to receive a compliment and not become arrogant.

Paul writes: "Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God" (2 Corinthians 3:5 NAS).

If we are to demonstrate God's Kingdom on the earth, it'll only happen through His assistance. That's why He allows our feelings of inadequacy. It's our neediness that forces us to rely on God for strength. That's a difficult concept for our ego to accept! But when we do, we become effective in His service.


"Lord, I really must decrease so You can increase in my life. Before You can fill my life, I must empty my life. There is too much of ME and not enough of YOU. I don't like to die to anything, but if I don't die to my flesh, I will never walk in the freedom and liberty that You have for me. Today, I make a conscious effort to decrease in self-reliance, self-confidence, self-control and increase in Spirit-reliance, Spirit-confidence, and Spirit-controlled. In Jesus name, amen!"

Monday, May 10, 2010

Settling for Midian


Exodus 2:11-16 Time passed. Moses grew up. One day he went and saw his brothers, saw all that hard labor. Then he saw an Egyptian hit a Hebrew--one of his relatives! (12) He looked this way and then that; when he realized there was no one in sight, he killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand. (13) The next day he went out there again. Two Hebrew men were fighting. He spoke to the man who started it: "Why are you hitting your neighbor?" (14) The man shot back: "Who do you think you are, telling us what to do? Are you going to kill me the way you killed that Egyptian?" Then Moses panicked: "Word's gotten out--people know about this." (15) Pharaoh heard about it and tried to kill Moses, but Moses got away to the land of Midian. He sat down by a well. (16) The priest of Midian had seven daughters.


As I read this passage, I made several observations. I would like to divide these observations into ten statements:

#1 One day he went and saw how bad his Hebrew brothers and relatives were being treated.

#2 Then he saw an Egyptian hit a Hebrew, one of his relatives

#3 He looked this way and that, and when he realized there was no one in sight, he killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand

#4 The next day he went out there again, and two Hebrew men were fighting once again

#5 Moses spoke to the man who started it and the man said, "Who do you think you are, telling us what to do? Are you going to kill me the way you killed that Egyptian?

#6 Moses panicked and said to himself, "Word's gotten out--people know about this.

#7 Pharaoh heard about it and tried to kill Moses

#8 Moses got away to the land of Midian (Strife).

#9 He sat down by a well

#10 The priest of Midian had seven daughters.


How do these statements apply to me? Let's look at each of them.

Moses had been living a life of luxury as Pharaoh's grandson. He had everything monetarily that he could possibly want. Then one day he went out to place where his Hebrew friends and family were working. He then saw how difficult of a time that his relatives were having. Then he saw an Egyptian hit a Hebrews, one of his relatives. When he saw this, something inside of him apparently snapped. In one day he went from a life of luxury to a life on the run. One day changed everything for him. I never know what this day holds for me, but I do know WHO holds the day and walks with me through it. I am reminded that "this is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."

Moses did something that should be a warning for all of us. He "looked this way and that" and when he didn't think anyone was looking, he killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand. Looking "this way and that" should be a warning sign for me. "Why am I concerned about who sees me do this?" And even if NO PERSON sees me, God sees everything I do, as well as my thoughts and motives of the heart. So, the next time I am tempted to look around to see who is going to see what I am about to do, maybe I should pause and pray and ask God whether I should do it or not.

The next day, Moses went out to the Hebrews again, and two Hebrews were fighting. These Hebrews were an angry, oppressed group. It is easy to allow your circumstances to dictate to you how you will act and treat others. Regardless of the oppression I may be facing, I still need to choose to treat people the way I would like to be treated, and not the way they deserve to be treated.

As Moses saw the two Hebrews fighting, Moses spoke to the one that started the fight and the man said something that slapped Moses in the face, and effected him for the next forty years. The man said, "Who do you think you are, telling us what to do? Are you going to kill me the way you killed that Egyptian?" Those words stayed with Moses because we see him forty years later at the burning bush, arguing with God that the Hebrew people "will not listen to me" and will wonder "why am I telling them what to do." Too often, I find myself hindered by the words spoken over me in anger many, many years ago. It is time, like Moses had to do, to get victory over those harmful, hurtful words. At the burning bush, God spoke words of hope and encouragement into Moses' life, and He wants to do the same thing to me...if I will slow down and listen.

On top of the hurtful words, now Pharaoh heard about Moses killing a man, and now Pharaoh was seeking to kill Moses. So Moses runs for his life, and he ends up in Midian, the land of strife. Moses sat down by a well, and ended up staying in the land of strife for forty years. Too often, after we are hurt and treated badly we end up in Midian, and we stay there for a long time. is appealing to our flesh. "Midian had seven daughters..." No wonder Moses settled down there. As a single man, that was very appealing to him. Seven daughters! Strife is just as appealing to some folks. They are the happiest when they are stirring up trouble.

That is not the way that God wants His children to live, and it is time to move! Moses did, and you can as well!


"Lord, I have ended up in the land of strife because of hurtful words and actions from my past. I recognize that now, and I ask you to forgive me for hanging out so long in Midian. When I do that, you are not pleased. Jesus, you tell me to "live at peace with all men, if possible" and it is possible because all things are possible with you. I want to live a joy filled, peace filled, Word filled, love filled, victory filled life. I just can't do it in Midian. I must not be content to dwell there anymore. I choose to listen to You today as I read the story of Moses one more time. I am so thankful that he was able to leave Midian, and I am as well...with your help. In Jesus' name, amen."

Friday, May 7, 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!"

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Am I dwelling in Midian?


Exodus 2:11-15 Time passed. Moses grew up. One day he went and saw his brothers, saw all that hard labor. Then he saw an Egyptian hit a Hebrew--one of his relatives! (12) He looked this way and then that; when he realized there was no one in sight, he killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand. (13) The next day he went out there again. Two Hebrew men were fighting. He spoke to the man who started it: "Why are you hitting your neighbor?" (14) The man shot back: "Who do you think you are, telling us what to do? Are you going to kill me the way you killed that Egyptian?" Then Moses panicked: "Word's gotten out--people know about this." (15) Pharaoh heard about it and tried to kill Moses, but Moses got away to the land of Midian. He sat down by a well.


Midian means strife, and is the fourth son of Abraham by Keturah, the father of the Midianites (Genesis 25:2; I Chronicles 1:32). It also means: judgment; covering; habit.

To escape punishment for killing the Egyptian, Moses ran away to Midian. He became a stranger in a strange land, separated from his home and family. It took many years after this incident for Moses to be ready to serve God. But he trusted God instead of fearing the king (Hebrews 11:27). We may feel abandoned or isolated because of something we have done. But though we feel afraid and separated, we should not give up. Moses didn't. He trusted God to deliver him, no matter how dark his past or bleak his future.


It is so easy to end up in the land of strife! And, as Midian means, to form a habit of strife. There are times that I just find myself agitated, aggravated, frustrated, irritated...any "ted" you can think of, and I don't really know why. When I am like this, nothing or no one can make me happy. When I am hanging out in Midian, I don't really want to spend time in God's Word, nor do I desire to pray. I have to be disciplined enough to push through my "lack of desire" if I expect to leave Midian victoriously.

Sometimes, instead of pushing through, I linger in Midian longer than I should.

We must leave the land of strife if we expect God to use us, bless us, or prosper us. If I find myself getting mad very easily, or if I develop a tendency to become offended easily, or have a tougher time than usual to control my tongue, there is a good chance that I am hanging out in "Midian, the land of strife."

It is time God's people stop living and dwelling in disunity and strife. That is not pleasing to God, nor does it help build God's church. In fact, quite the contrary. It tears down His church. I am either a part of the construction team or the demolition team when it comes to building Christ's church. How about you? Are you building up or tearing down? How about at home? Do your kids respect or not respect someone because of your lack of self-control? Are you leading your kids to the Land of strife by your words and actions?

I have seen it happen too many times. Kids develop a dislike, or distrust of the church because parents would not leave the land of strife. In fact, Sunday night I will show through the word that the land of strife is very appealing and attractive to the flesh. Many are content to dwell there. But I must make up my mind to leave this land, if I ever want to be anything for God.


"Lord, I ask you to help me today to leave the land of strife. But before I make a decision to leave Midian, I have to recognize that I am dwelling there. I have been frustrated, irritated, aggravated, agitated for too long. I have become offended to easily. I have pointed my finger at others in contempt but turned a deaf ear to your Holy Spirit as you try to show me that the problem isn't always someone else, but it is me. I need your help today. I need your guidance today. I make the choice to leave the land of strife. I thank you that as I do that, you will give me the strength to make wiser decisions than I am right now. I love you Lord, and thank you for this Word. In Jesus name, amen!"

Wednesday, May 5, 2010



Numbers 11:25-30 GOD came down in a cloud and spoke to Moses and took some of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy leaders. When the Spirit rested on them they prophesied. But they didn't continue; it was a onetime event. (26) Meanwhile two men, Eldad and Medad, had stayed in the camp. They were listed as leaders but they didn't leave camp to go to the Tent. Still, the Spirit also rested on them and they prophesied in the camp. (27) A young man ran and told Moses, "Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp!" (28) Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses' right-hand man since his youth, said, "Moses, master! Stop them!" (29) But Moses said, "Are you jealous for me? Would that all GOD's people were prophets. Would that GOD would put his Spirit on all of them." (30) Then Moses and the leaders of Israel went back to the camp.


Moses was overwhelmed with the responsibility of leading, by some estimates, 2.5 million people. And what made this an even tougher task is that his flock was notorious for whining, complaining, bellyaching, and being inconsistent. They were happy to leave Egypt one day, and then desiring to return the next day. It depended upon what kind of a day that they were having.

God obviously didn't want Moses to burn out, so our text tells us that "God came down in a cloud and spoke to Moses..." This was a regular occurrence between Moses and God. What a close, personal relationship that they had:

Numbers 12:8 With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?

God told Moses to gather seventy men of the elders of Israel that would help him lead the Israelites. After these men were chosen and appointed, then Moses brought the seventy outside of the camp, into the tent of meeting. Then God met Moses, once again, face to face.

After this face to face encounter, God "took some of the Spirit that was on him (Moses) and put it on the seventy leaders." And as soon as the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied, "but they didn't CONTINUE doing it." However, Eldad and Medad, two of the elders continued prophesying and continued to do so "in the camp." From outside the camp (tent of meeting), all the way into camp, they prophesied. And some thought this to be improper, and they didn't like it.

This incident is similar to a story told in Mark 9:38-41. The disciples wanted Jesus to forbid others to drive out demons because they were not part of the disciples' group. But this type of narrow attitude was condemned by both Moses and Jesus. Beware of putting limits on God-he can work through whomever he chooses.


How does this apply to me?

I have read this story many times down through the years, but one line jumped off of the page as I read it today. "GOD came down in a cloud and spoke to Moses and took some of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy leaders."

We see afterwards, that Moses continued to lead and minister under the direction and leadership of the Spirit. God was able to take some of the Spirit that was upon Moses, and "put it on the seventy leaders." Wow! Obviously Moses was overflowing with the Spirit and not just getting by. He was truly saturated with and by the Spirit. As I meditate on that truth, I have to ask myself the question, "Am I full and overflowing with the Spirit?" Can God use the overflow of the Spirit on my life to influence, one, much less seventy people?

Moses lead, walked, talked, lived with the Spirit overflowing in his life, so much that he impacted 2.5 million people during his time on earth, and even more in the thousands of years since he died.

I desperately want to live in the overflow of the Spirit. Jesus discussed this in John 7:37-38:

John 7:37-39 On the final and climactic day of the Feast, Jesus took his stand. He cried out, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. (38) Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way, just as the Scripture says." (39) (He said this in regard to the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were about to receive. The Spirit had not yet been given because Jesus had not yet been glorified.)

Jesus said that if I am thirsty for more of Him, all I have to do is come and drink. It truly is up to me. It has to be my daily choice to drink of the Spirit if I want to live in the overflow of the Spirit. When I drink of the Spirit, then "rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me, just as the Scripture says."

Our text today is the Old Testament version of "overflowing with the Spirit." God was able to draw from the Spirit overflowing out of Moses' life to impact, influence and equip for ministry, the seventy leaders. In other words, Rivers of living water (God's Spirit) spilled out of the depths of Moses' life.

Living in the Memphis area the past eight years I have had occasion to see the impact of the Mississippi River when it "brims over" or "overflows" out of its banks. It effects so many people in the negative. People's families, homes, jobs, leisure are all effected by the overflow. The overflow of God's Spirit effects the same areas...but in the positive and for eternity. I truly want to live in the "overflow of the Spirit."


"Lord, what a challenge from your Word today. Thank you for the "washing of water of your Word" and the S.O.A.P. that I apply to my life today. My desire is to thirsts for more of you than I ever have. I want to "come to you and drink" of the Spirit. I know as I do this daily, then your Spirit will overflow out of my life, like it did in Moses' life. I want you to be able to "take from the Spirit in my life and give to others", and this only happens when I am overflowing with the Spirit. Forgive me Lord, for the times that I have just "gotten by" living off of experiences of the past. I need a fresh touch today. I need a brand new anointing and infilling of Your Spirit. I want to walk in the Spirit, be led by the Spirit, and allow Your living water to spill out of the depths of my life to influence and impact those I come in contact with today. I love you Lord, and I am so thankful for what you are daily teaching me. In Jesus' name, amen."

Tuesday, May 4, 2010



James 4:8-10 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (9) Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. (10) Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.


How can you come close to God? James gives five ways: (1) Humble yourselves before God (James 4:7). Yield to his authority and will, commit your life to him and his control, and be willing to follow him. (2) Resist the devil (James 4:7). Don't allow Satan to entice and tempt you. (3) Wash your hands . . . and purify your hearts (that is, lead a pure life) (James 4:8). Be cleansed from sin, replacing your desire to sin with your desire to experience God's purity. (4) Let there be sorrow and deep grief for your sins (James 4:9). Don't be afraid to express deep heartfelt sorrow for what you have done. (5) Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor (James 4:10; I Peter 5:6).


I love the way these verses read in the Message:

James 4:8-10 Say a quiet yes to God and he'll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. (9) Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. (10) Get down on your knees before the Master; it's the only way you'll get on your feet.

James is describing an environment where God is able to bring about victory, holiness, peace and joy into our life. What kind of an environment do you start each day with? Praise and worship?

I preached this past Sunday on Ebenezer. Ebenezer is a declaration of "thus far has the Lord helped me!" However, there is another Ebenezer that is known for a statement he made. "Bah Humbug!" (Ebenezer Scrooge). Which Ebenezer are you? One of praise and declaration or one of pessimism? It really is about the environment you life in today.

When (the late) pastor Adrian Rogers wanted to attract birds to his garden, a neighbor told him, 'If you create the right environment they'll come.' So he bought the right kind of food, the right kind of birdhouse, mounted it on the right kind of pole, and enjoyed hosting a variety of birds. Rogers pointed out that many of us unwittingly roll out the welcome mat for the devil by creating an environment where he feels right at home. Satan can't take any ground you don't give him. He's looking for an environment where he can live comfortably.

If you've given the devil a place in your life today, you can reclaim that lost ground. First, by faith: '… every child of God defeats this evil world… through our faith' (1 John 5:4 NLT). God empowers us for spiritual warfare, and that power is released through faith. Knowing who you are in Christ gives you confidence.

Second, by resisting: '… submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you' (James 4:7 NKJV). Only as you submit to God, will you have the power to overcome the devil. You must come against him in the Name of Jesus and the authority of God's Word.

Third, by fighting: 'Put on the full armour of God so that you can… stand against the devil's schemes' (Ephesians 6:11 NIV). Remember, 'The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God… will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand… ' (1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT).


"Lord, I recommit my life and my ways to you today. I stand against the devil by Your Word. He has no place or authority in my life, except what I give him. I take back, renounce, any PLACE that I have given to him in days, weeks and years past. I now give myself to You Lord, and I know the devil has to flee. Help me to work at having these five things mentioned in our verses a part of my life today and having an environment of "Thus far has the Lord helped me" and not "Bah Humbug!" I make a conscious effort to have an environment of faith, in Jesus name!"

Monday, May 3, 2010

“The Hard work of getting along”


James 3:17-18 Real wisdom, God's wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings,
not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. (18) You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.


Have you ever known anyone who claimed to be wise but who acted foolishly? True wisdom can be measured by a person's character. Just as you can identify a tree by the type of fruit it produces, you can evaluate your wisdom by the way you act. Foolishness leads to disorder, but wisdom leads to peace and goodness. Are you tempted to escalate the conflict, pass on the gossip, or fan the fire of discord? Careful, winsome speech and wise, loving words are the seeds of peace. God loves peacemakers (Matthew 5:9)


What a challenge today. We all should want more of God's wisdom, but we need to remember that it begins with a holy life and is seen when we get along with other people. We are wise when we are gentle, reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings on a consistent basis.

This kind of wisdom is hard work. It takes a lot of effort to get along with each other and to treat each person with dignity and honor.

So let me ask a question today: How are you handling the difficult people in your life? You say, "At a distance." You get no points with God for that. Peter says, "Above all [most important], love each other deeply" (1 Peter 4:8 NIV). Here's how that kind of love works:

1. It encourages others. Even the apostle Paul needed that. Listen, "God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus" (2 Corinthians 7:6). Imagine being remembered as "the man who encouraged the apostle Paul!" If Titus never did anything else, that made him a success. You see, when you encourage someone, you give them the self-worth and the motivation to reach for their potential. What a gift!

2. It trusts others. Listen, "If you love someone… you will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him" (1 Corinthians 13:7 TLB).

Don't judge others by their actions, while you judge yourself by your intentions. That's a double standard! Give them the benefit of the doubt and treat them the way you'd like to be treated.

3. It yields to others. "Agree with each other, and live in peace… then the God of love and peace will be with you" (2 Corinthians 13:11 NCV). Fighting produces bruised and resistant people, but yielding at the right time can deflate the argument and save the relationship.

In his book "Make a Life, Not a Living", Ron Johnson writes, "Of all the things on earth, what will last for eternity? People! So when you change a life, you're making an investment forever." Think about that!


"Lord, help me today to commit my words, my actions, my decisions, my life to you once again. Often, in fact most of the time, the easiest thing to do is to not like people, and find fault with them. I choose to work hard at getting along with everyone today. I will find the good in even my enemies. I will seek the good in the ones who I have a personality conflict with. I want to show mercy and grace. I know I need it! In Jesus' name, amen!"