Thursday, September 30, 2010

This persuasion...


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!"

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"The only thing is..."


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!"

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"You'll see soon enough!"


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!"

Monday, September 27, 2010

Don't be like a Wildebeest


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!"

Friday, September 24, 2010

Bethlehem, Calvary, and Pentecost


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!"

Thursday, September 23, 2010

When I am weak, I am strong!


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!"

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Secure Mind


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!"

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Separate, Bright, Pure


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.
Second, brightness
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!"

Monday, September 20, 2010

Not everything is BENEFICIAL


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!"

Friday, September 17, 2010



Ezekiel 16:4 And as for thy nativity, in the day thou wast born thy navel was not cut, neither wast thou washed in water to supple thee; thou wast not salted at all, nor swaddled at all.


These verses portray Jerusalem as an abandoned baby girl, denied the cutting of the umbilicus as well as the washing, salting, and swaddling (diapering) that were all part of loving baby care in ancient Palestine. (The salting was a carry-over from the practice of preserving meat. Since salt kills bacteria, it was a fairly effective, though primitive, kind of hygiene.) But the Lord loved this "baby," Jerusalem, and by His all-powerful Word decreed that she should live. This part of the allegory points to Jerusalem's early years, as in Abraham's day. Jerusalem, by nature unclean, miserable, and near to destruction, is adopted by the Lord and clothed in splendor.

This verse refers to what is ordinarily done for every infant on its birth. The umbilical cord, by which it received all its nourishment while in the womb, being no longer necessary, is cut at a certain distance from the abdomen: on this part a knot is tied, which firmly uniting the sides of the tubes, they coalesce, and incarnate together. The extra part of the cord on the outside of the ligature, being cut off from the circulation by which it was originally fed, soon drops off, and the part where the ligature was is called the navel. In many places, when this was done, the infant was plunged into cold water; in all cases washed, and sometimes with a mixture of salt and water, in order to give a greater firmness to the skin, and constringe the pores. The last process was swathing the body, to support mechanically the tender muscles till they should acquire sufficient strength to support the body.


I read a devotion by Author Bob Gass today that spoke to my heart. I am indebted to him for the majority of this article.

DL Moody said, "Of 100 unsaved men, 1 will read the Bible; 99 will read the Christian."

Such very true, and convicting words. The world we live in is desperate for someone who is a true follower of Jesus Christ. So much of America is unchurched today because they have "read the Christian" and decided they wanted nothing of this Jesus! Precious Holy Spirit, please convict our hearts today to realize that people of every walk and faith are watching us TODAY. Whether we are at Walmart, driving down the interstate, at school, at work...we must be constantly aware of how we represent Jesus Christ!

It has been said, "only one in ten people who make a commitment to Christ, are still serving Him five years later." Why? Ezekiel gives us some answers:

(1) You must be SOAKED (washed)! Your spiritual protection against dirt, disease and death is "the washing of water by the Word" (Ephesians 5:26). It's not enough to step into the shower every morning - you've also got to step into the Scriptures. Jesus said, "Now are ye clean through the Word" (John 15:3). Sin will keep you from your Bible, and your Bible will keep you sin.

(2) You must be SALTED! In Hebrew culture, they rubbed salt on newborn babies to toughen their skins, so they could be handled without bruising. Too many of us need “special handling”. We're touchy. If we're corrected, we get defensive. Only when you've been “salted” by mature love and non-legalistic acceptance, can you be really open and honest. We need to ask the Holy Spirit to help us get the proverbial “chip” off of our shoulder. We must stop looking for opportunities to get offended, and look for opportunities for unity and ways to live in peace with one another. Again, people are tired of “Christians” that can’t get along with each other!

(3) You must be SWADDLED! When we're first born into God's family, we're vulnerable. We need to be covered and protected. That's the value of Christian fellowship; it wraps us up in the arms of love and says, "You don't ever have to go back to the old life again! You can begin afresh. You can be healed of your painful past. You can have good times and good relationships instead of bad ones." The enemy doesn't want you have that fellowship. That is why it is so important for you to not miss out, or forsake, the coming together of Christian brother and sisters. We need each other. You need church attendance. The one that says, "I don't need to go to church to serve God" is being deceived by the enemy. There is a portion of truth in that statement. You may not have to go to church to serve God, but you NEED the fellowship, and encouragement!

Have you been soaked, salted and swaddled?


"Lord, help me to understand that people know that I am a follower of Jesus Christ and I want my life to point the seekers TO You and not AWAY from You. Holy Spirit, I need to be SOAKED, SALTED and SWADDLED today. Forgive me for isolating myself from my Christian brothers and sisters. I will change that this weekend! In Jesus name, amen!"

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Maintaining integrity in the tough times of life


Job 2:9-10 Then his wife said to him, "Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die." (10) But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips.


Why was Job's wife spared when the rest of his family was killed? It is possible that her very presence caused Job even more suffering through either her chiding or her sorrow over all they had lost.

Many people think that believing in God protects them from trouble, so when calamity comes, they question God's goodness and justice. But the message of Job is that you should not give up on God because he allows you to have bad experiences. Faith in God does not guarantee personal prosperity, and lack of faith does not guarantee troubles in this life. If this were so, people would believe in God simply to get rich. God is capable of rescuing us from suffering, but he may also allow suffering to come for reasons we cannot understand. It is Satan's strategy to get us to doubt God at exactly this moment. Here Job shows a perspective broader than seeking his own personal comfort. If we always knew why we were suffering, our faith would have no room to grow.


Job is totally covered with agonizing sores. He was not only physically afflicted, but he was also painfully humiliated. He ends up sitting in the ashes, scraping the pus from his sores with a broken piece of pottery. To cap it all, the one to whom he ought to have been able to turn for emotional support turned against him. His wife said to him, "Do you still hold fast your integrity?"

I can see that her faith has crumbled under this attack. She no longer believes that God is loving, thoughtful, and just. She sees this as proof, as many of us have done in times of trial, that God has forsaken his promises, that the Bible is not true.

How many times I have come to comfort people going through trials, and had them say to me, "I tried these promises, I tried believing God, but it doesn't work." Have you ever said that?

That is getting very close to what Satan was trying to get Job to say: "Curse God, and die." He used Job's wife as his instrument, and, just as Eve became the instrument to get at Adam in the Garden of Eden, the assault upon Job's emotional life comes through his wife. She advises him to do two things: "Give up your faith, apostatize. Curse God." (Actually, in the Hebrew, the word is "bless" God, but it is properly translated "curse" because the word "bless" is dripping with sarcasm.) "Bless God, and die." "It would be better for you to take your life than to go on like this." So poor Job, bound by physical pain, sits in humility with a disfigured body, and suffers from a sense of emotional abandonment by his spouse. Here was a severe attack addressed to the very soul of Job, in which he felt his wife abandoning him, advocating that he turn from his faith and renounce his God. But now, in Verse 10, we get the results of this second round of tests:

But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips. (Job 2:10 RSV)

Job's rebuke is a very gentle one. He did not say, "You foolish woman!" He said, "You speak as one of the foolish women." He is not attacking her, rather, he is suggesting that this is a temporary lapse of faith on her part, and that, for the moment, she has begun to repeat the words of stupid, foolish women who have no knowledge of the grace and glory of God. In that gentle rebuke you can see something of the sturdiness and tenderness of Job's faith. In this great sentence he again reasserts the sovereignty of God: "Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?" And herein is the lie that is growing in America spoken by Job's wife. She had the philosophy that life ought to be pleasant and if it was not, there was no use living it.

That philosophy is widespread in our own day,
and a mounting suicide rate testifies to the universal acceptance of it. But the story of Job is given to show us that life is not to be lived on those terms. The reason we are here is not necessarily to have a good time. There are meaningful objectives to be attained in life, even when it all turns sour. When the pressure comes, when living is no longer fun, life is still worth living.

A philosophy that wants to abandon everything as soon as things become unpleasant is a shallow, mistaken, distorted view of life, and a growing lie from the devil in America.

Job reaffirms that. "Shall we not take both good and evil from the hand of God?" We take his joy and his pleasure, the pleasant things of life with gladness and gratitude. If he chooses to allow something that is difficult, shall we then abandon that gratitude and begin to curse him in protest, because life is suddenly different than we thought it would be?

The reason we are here is not merely that we might have a good time, and this is taught everywhere in the Scriptures. God, in his grace and glory, does give us many, many hours of joy and gladness and pleasure and delight, and it is right for us to give thanks. But do not abandon that when the time of pressure comes for that is what satan wants us to do. He wants us to begin to complain and to protest to God; to get upset and angry and resentful; to stop going to church, or to stop reading the Bible. That is what Satan's whole attack in our lives is aimed at doing.

So today, put on that garment of praise, and understand that "life is worth the living, just because He (Jesus) lives!


"Lord, I am so thankful that You are in control of my life and destiny. It doesn't matter what happens TO me as long as I allow you to work THROUGH me. Help my confidence in You to remain constant in spite of the storm. In Jesus' name, amen!"

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ear, Thumb, Toe


Leviticus 14:13-18 He is to slaughter the lamb in the holy place where the sin offering and the burnt offering are slaughtered. Like the sin offering, the guilt offering belongs to the priest; it is most holy. (14) The priest is to take some of the blood of the guilt offering and put it on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot. (15) The priest shall then take some of the log of oil, pour it in the palm of his own left hand, (16) dip his right forefinger into the oil in his palm, and with his finger sprinkle some of it before the LORD seven times. (17) The priest is to put some of the oil remaining in his palm on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot, on top of the blood of the guilt offering. (18) The rest of the oil in his palm the priest shall put on the head of the one to be cleansed and make atonement for him before the LORD.


Why did Aaron and his sons need to be cleansed and set apart? Although all the men from the tribe of Levi were dedicated for service to God, only Aaron's descendants could be priests. They alone had the honor and responsibility of performing the sacrifices. These priests had to cleanse and dedicate themselves before they could help the people do the same.

The ceremony described in Leviticus 8 and 9 was their ordination ceremony. Aaron and his sons were washed with water (Leviticus 8:6), clothed with special garments (Leviticus 8:7-9, 13), and anointed with oil (Leviticus 8:12). They placed their hands on a young bull as it was killed (Leviticus 8:14-15), and on two rams as they were killed (Leviticus 8:18-19, 22, 23). This showed that holiness came from God alone, not from the priestly role. Similarly, we are not spiritually cleansed because we have a religious position, reputation, or title. Spiritual cleansing comes only from God. No matter how high our position or how long we have held it, we must depend on God for spiritual vitality.


How does this apply to me? We see the practice of placing some of the blood of the sacrificial animal "on the tip of Aaron's right ear, on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot" in Leviticus 14:14 and 14:25 in the cleansing ritual of one who has experienced healing of a skin disease. Though the situations calling for this ritual are dramatically different, the symbolism is intriguing in both. If one considers the ear a symbol of hearing, the thumb a symbol of working, and the toe a symbol of walking, one can regard this action as indicating that priests (and later cured "lepers") are now commissioned and established to listen to God, to work for God, and to walk with God.

Every morning and evening, I pray over my wife and kids and I plead the blood over their right ear, right thumb and right toe. This is believing God to protect their minds, their work (what they do this day), and their walk.

Moses would then apply anointing oil, which is symbolic of the Holy Spirit, over the blood on the priests right ear, right thumb, and right toe. This is symbolic of the Holy Spirit responding to the blood and giving us the strength to keep our minds pure, our work holy, and our walk righteous.

I believe strongly in the importance of pleading the blood of Jesus over our loved one's: body, soul and spirit as well as over their mind, work and walk. There is power in the blood of Jesus, and the person of the Holy Spirit. Remember, the Holy Spirit always honors the blood of Jesus!


"Lord, help me to understand the importance of the blood of Jesus in my every day life. I recognize the need to apply the blood to my body, soul and spirit. Help me also to be reminded to apply the blood to my right ear, right thumb and right toe. I want to be everything that you want me to be. Right now, I plead the blood of Jesus over my children's (call them by name) body, soul (emotions) and spirit (where they commune with God). Also, I plead the blood of Jesus his/her mind, work and walk. The following prayer is something I want to learn to pray daily:

God be in our minds and in our understanding.
God be in our eyes and in our seeing.
God be in our mouths and in our speaking.
God be in our hearts and in our living.
God be in our ears and in our hearing.
God be in our hands and in our doing.
God be in our feet and in our walking.
God be with us now in our departing.

I ask this in Jesus' name, amen!"

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Grace for the WACKO


2 Corinthians 12:7-9 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. (8) Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. (9) But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.


We don't know what Paul's thorn in the flesh was because he doesn't tell us. Some have suggested that it was malaria, epilepsy, or a disease of the eyes (see Galtians 4:13-15). Whatever the case, it was a chronic and debilitating problem, which at times kept him from working. This thorn was a hindrance to his ministry, and he prayed for its removal; but God did not remove it. Paul was a very self-sufficient person, so this thorn must have been difficult for him.

Three times Paul prayed for healing and did not receive it. He received, however, things far greater because he received greater grace from God, a stronger character, humility, and an ability to empathize with others. In addition, it benefited those around him as they saw God at work in his life.

There are others who believe this thorn wasn't just a physical problem, but a relational problem. People who were driving Paul "wacko." This is the angle I would like to look at in this article.


From Paul's words in 2 Cor. 12:8, it seems that he had prayed to be delivered of problem people on three different occasions during his ministry. He wanted to be free of these people so desperately that he said, "For this thing I besought the Lord thrice."

The word "besought" is the Greek word parakaleo, an intense word that is derived from the Greek words para and kaleo. The word para means alongside, and the word kaleo means to call or to beckon. When compounded together into the word parakaleo, the new word pictures
one who comes alongside someone else, as close as he can get, and then begins to passionately call out, plead, beckon, beg, and beseech that other person to do something on his behalf.

In using the word parakaleo in this verse, Paul lets us know that he had passionately asked God to answer this prayer. Paul had drawn as near to God as he possibly could; then once he was in that close position, he earnestly pleaded with God, asking Him to deliver him from that thorn in his flesh and from the messenger of Satan that buffeted and constantly harassed him

Paul tells us that he asked God to cause this thorn in the flesh to "depart" from him. The word "depart" is the Greek word aphistimi, which means to depart or to remove and as a rule it is used to refer to people rather than things. The use of this Greek word amplifies the fact that Paul was praying to be freed of problem people! He was literally saying, "God, I don't want to deal with these people anymore. I earnestly ask You to please remove them from my life!" However, even if God did remove this particular group of people that caused Paul such trouble, it wouldn't be long until another group of problem people showed up!

As long as we live in this world, we will have to deal with people whom we don't enjoy or whom the devil tries to use to steal our joy and peace. If we constantly focus on getting rid of people we don't like or enjoy, we'll be praying to be delivered from people for the rest of our lives.

That's why the Lord told Paul, "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9). The word "sufficient" is the Greek word arkeo. This is an old Greek word that means to be sufficient; to be satisfactory; and to give protection, power, and help. In later Greek, it denoted a man who possessed great financial means. This type of person was sufficiently endowed with huge resources that were more than enough for him or for any endeavor he would ever attempt. Hence, he was financially strong or
financially sufficient.

This is precisely the word the Lord used when He told Paul, "My grace is sufficient for thee." It was the equivalent of the Lord saying,
"My grace is more than enough to protect you, empower you, and help you deal with the problem people you encounter in life. You will find that My grace is completely satisfactory in meeting your need and that it will make you sufficiently strong to deal with these situations."

Just like Paul, we may occasionally feel exasperated and incapable in our own strength to victoriously cope with troublesome people; nonetheless, the Lord gives us His promise: "My strength is made perfect in weakness." The word "strength" in this verse comes from the Greek word dunamis, the word for dynamic power. This is a strength that always releases sufficient power and possesses the ability to make needed changes. God knew that Paul needed a new surge of divine power that would change his perspective and empower him to successfully overcome his struggles with people.

The Lord knew that Paul felt insufficient in his own strength to successfully deal with these people.

But if Paul would open his heart to the Lord, God's promise was that His strength would be made "perfect" in his weakness. Here is the answer that Paul and you and I need when we feel exhausted in dealing with troublesome people and relationships.

The word "perfect" is the word teleo, which means perfection, completion, or something that is mature. But the Greek tense used in this verse accentuates continuing action, which is a very important point! It means that this inflow of supernatural, strengthening power is not what God only does sometimes; it is power that God makes available at all times if we will only receive it. The verse could be translated, "My power is constantly being perfected in you whenever you feel weak and needy."

It's all right to pray for others to be changed, but never forget that God wants to do a work inside you as well! He wants to change you so that you can successfully live in the midst of imperfect people. If you'll open your heart to receive what God has for you, He will fill you with His dynamic, supernatural power - divine power that will transform your thinking and inwardly fortify you to live successfully in this world. You'll be able to cope with the problem people you have to deal with - and you'll do it all with joy, peace, and victory! God will strengthen you and help you overcome your own weaknesses, making you sufficiently strong to handle every people challenge that ever comes your way! Those people that are "driving you WACKO" are the very ones God is using to teach you more about His grace and strength!


"Lord, thank you for this Word today. It has challenged me to look for the lessons You have for me in each person that you bring into my life. Especially those who drive me 'wacko' because You are teaching me invaluable lessons. Today I will not complain about these individuals, in Jesus' name, amen!"

Monday, September 13, 2010

Four truths when facing discouragement


Psalm 43:1-5 Vindicate me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation; rescue me from deceitful and wicked men. (2) You are God my stronghold. Why have you rejected me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy? (3) Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell. (4) Then will I go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight. I will praise you with the harp, O God, my God. (5) Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.


When I feel discouraged or down, many times I open up the Psalms and read the words of King David. His thoughts and expressions are so real, so honest. It's as if he tape-recorded his deepest thoughts, concerns, and feelings. When life gets heavy, go to Psalm 43. Here you see a man, hurting, somewhat afraid and aloof to the presence of God. Feeling alone, tied-up with emotions and troubling circumstances, David seems to burst from the inside out. His heart is heavy. His life feels uncertain.

David, who is running for his life, determines to trust God. He pleads. He prays. He petitions. Everything in his soul pours out, better yet, spills out. Ever felt that way? Ever felt like you were running from something frightening or painful? I think we all do. We all face situations that blanket our hearts with fear and uncertainty. Sometimes we feel it's the enemy attacking us. Other times, its just life.


Are you feeling like you need God to sustain you? Do you feel you need a warm cup of comfort? I was reading some articles on discouragement some time back and ran across an article by Jacob Rodriquez. It was a rhema Word from God for me. I want to share some of it with you. There are four things that David did, and that you and I can do, to make it through a season of discouragement (Psalm 43):

1. Position yourself in His Strength - Firstly, David said, "For You are the God of my strength." Sure, he followed that very statement with worries and doubts. However, before merely complaining or whining to God, he recognized that he needed His divine strength. Often times we grumble without seeing the power God has already given us. To David, he could have already been dead and gone. He could have already been killed. But God's strength had preserved him.

Sometimes we need do to what 2 Chronicles 20:17 says, "You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the LORD, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!' Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the LORD is with you." What a life-changing scripture! It's all about how you position yourself in God's hand. Position yourself; be patient and watchful of the Holy Spirit's influence. Cast all your cares upon Christ!

2. Pursue His Word - David went on to say, "Oh, send out Your light and Your truth!"

David yearned for God's word. I have found, that when you're in a desperate place, you get hungrier for God's word. It almost seems like no matter what the preacher is saying, your heart melts in your chest and you feel encouraged. When we're in trouble, we tend to be less analytical of the preacher's delivery, the choir's tune, and all the other details that can easily distract us.

Being in a place of brokenness unties the often-petty issues around your heart, and allows you to receive God's word openly.
Turning to the Word of God is the most powerful thing you can do when in a tough situation. Simply reading or hearing the word empowers and enlightens us.

David also said, "send out your light", which harmonizes with Psalm 119:105, "Your word is a lamp to my feet, And a light to my path." Like a lighthouse's beam cuts through the fog and guides vessels towards the shore, so God's word sheds light in dark places-guiding us through the dense fog of discouragement.

3. Persist in Worship - As synonymous with David's entire life, he can't help but worship God in his time of need. He said, "I will go to the altar of God And on the harp I will praise You". This part is so powerful. In the midst of calamity and despair, with nowhere to turn, no one to talk to, David musters up a heart of worship. When it appeared that all hades was breaking loose, and the end was near, all he could do was worship and praise God. He craved the altar. He hungered for the presence of God.

I believe this was a defining moment in David's life. And the same can be true for you. Worship changes you; especially when it seems inappropriate, based on your current circumstances. The best worship is not what you offer when standing on the mountaintop, above all your obstacles, but the heartfelt worship that echoes in a lonely cave, where problems seem to be mounting. There is where God gets the most glory. This is where you can exchange your spirit of heaviness for a garment of praise.

4. Possess your Hope - Finally, David hopes again. He said, "Why are you cast down, O my soul? Hope in God." Pay special attention to this progression: after that David was positioned in God's strength, pursued God's word, and persisted in worship...he possesses his hope. Plus, he is able to praise God even more. David got his hope back, because he got his faith back. As Hebrews 11:1 says, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

So how do we get faith? Romans 10:17 says, "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." God's word was in David, and that produced his faith.

Maybe you're wondering, "What does all this mean?" It's actually pretty simple. Life takes us all to caves of pain and distress. Life gets heavy at times. But if you can cry out to God, like David did, God is able to come to your rescue. Does it mean your situation won't hurt anymore? Does it mean that all your problems will be wiped away? Possibly not. But what will be evident is the hand of God, pulling you through each step and changing the lenses on your life-so that you can see him more clearly.


"Lord, I am so thankful for the example of David that we can read about. He was a man after your own heart. He battled discouragement, and he left us a tangible path to follow. I choose to do just that today. In Jesus' name, amen!"