Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Led by the Spirit in the wilderness


Luke 4:1 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness


Sometimes we feel that if the Holy Spirit leads us, it will always be "beside peaceful streams" (Psalm 23:2). But that is not necessarily true. He led Jesus into the wilderness for a long and difficult time of testing, and he may also lead us into difficult situations. When facing trials, first make sure you haven't brought them on yourself through sin or unwise choices. If you find no sin to confess or unwise behavior to change, then ask God to strengthen you for your test. Finally, be careful to follow faithfully wherever the Holy Spirit leads.

The devil, who tempted Adam and Eve in the garden, also tempted Jesus in the wilderness. Satan is a real being, a created but rebellious fallen angel, and not a symbol or an idea. He constantly fights against God and those who follow and obey God. Jesus was a prime target for the devil's temptations. Satan had succeeded with Adam and Eve, and he hoped to succeed with Jesus as well.

Knowing and obeying God's Word is an effective weapon against temptation, the only offensive weapon provided in the Christian's "armor" (Eph_6:17). Jesus used Scripture to counter Satan's attacks, and so should we. But to use it effectively, we must have faith in God's promises because Satan also knows Scripture and is adept at twisting it to suit his purposes. Obeying the Scriptures is more important than simply having a verse to quote, so read them daily and apply them to your life. Then your "sword" will always be sharp.


Are you in a wilderness today? A dry season in your life? Have about a storm that is brewing? Then read these words from Mark 6:46-51: "the boat was in the middle of the sea; and He was alone on the land. Then He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them. Now about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea, and would have passed them by. And when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed it was a ghost, and cried out… But immediately He talked with them and said to them… 'It is I; do not be afraid.' Then He went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased".

There are four lessons here for us:

1) It's when we feel most separated from God, that He's teaching us the most.

Dave Dravecky said, "Looking back… I have learned that the wilderness is part of the landscape of faith, and every bit as essential as the mountaintop. On the mountaintop we are overwhelmed by God's presence. In the wilderness we are overwhelmed by His absence. Both places should bring us to our knees; the one, in utter awe; the other, in utter dependence."

2) God doesn't show up early. Usually He comes in the worst part of the storm when you think you can't take any more - but He will always be on time.

3) God takes us through different storms, revealing more of Himself to us in each one. Otherwise there are aspects of His character, and divine strategies we'd never understand.
4) God's presence alone should be enough for us in any storm. The moment He shows up and says, 'It is I,' our every fear should be calmed.


"Lord, it's difficult to believe and understand that I am often in a wilderness experience because the "Spirit led me" there. I have been reminded today that the wilderness brings me face to face with Your Word and Your sovereignty. I reaffirm my trust in you. Even though there are things I don't understand, when I can't trace Your hand, I will trust Your heart. In Jesus' name, amen!"

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Check your Cargo


Matthew 12:33-36 "Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. (34) You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. (35) The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. (36) But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.


Jesus reminds us that what we say reveals what is in our heart. What kinds of words come from your mouth? That is an indication of what is in your heart. You can't solve your heart problem, however, just by cleaning up your speech. You must allow the Holy Spirit to fill you with new attitudes and motives; then your speech will be cleansed at its source.


It was the end of World War II, and the city of Berlin was being divided up by the allies. Now, the East Berliners, in what was to become Communist Berlin, drove a dump truck over to the west side to free Berlin. It was filled with garbage, and they just let it all be dumped out and then they drove away. Nice, huh?

Well, the people from West Berlin said, "OK, two can play this game." So they thought, "We'll pick up all that garbage, we'll put it in our truck and we'll dump it right back on the east side." They thought again about that, and they decided maybe that wasn't the best way to handle it. So, instead, they filled the dump truck, but they filled it with canned goods and non-perishable food items. Then they drove the truck over to the east side of Berlin, stacked all the food neatly, and put a little sign beside it. Here's what it said: "Each gives what he has to give."

As I read the text for today, and this story I asked myself "What am I carrying around inside of me?" What kind of fruit am I reaping? To find the answer to this, listen to the words that you speak on a regular basis.

Are they angry words? Bitter words? Hurtful words? Revengeful words? Lying words? Or are they life giving words? Forgiving words? Healing words?

It is imperative for every child of God to take a look at the type of "cargo" they are carrying around. I don't want to dump "garbage" on anyone. It hurts my testimony for Christ and we all will give an account for the words we speak on judgment day. Blessings


"Lord, please forgive me for the times I have been careless in the Words that I have spoken. I need to examine daily the cargo I am carrying around inside of me. Because the cargo I carry will effect others today. I want to speak life not death. Forgiveness not unforgiveness. Healing not bitterness. Hope not despair. Thank you Holy Spirit for examining my heart this morning. In Jesus' name, amen!"

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Hinge of the Soul


Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.


The Word of God is not simply a collection of words from God, a vehicle for communicating ideas; it is living, life-changing, and dynamic as it works in us. With the incisiveness of a surgeon's knife, God's Word reveals who we are and what we are not. It penetrates the core of our moral and spiritual life. It discerns what is within us, both good and evil. The demands of God's Word require decisions. We must not only listen to the Word; we must also let it shape our lives.


Hebrews 4:12 says "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow..."

Notice that the joints are compared to the soul and the marrow is compared to the spirit. The joints are to the human body as the soul is to the three-part man. The soul is a joint or link.

Just as my elbow is a joint joining two things, so my mind, or my soul, is a link. It connects my spirit with my body, and whichever way it swings, the other one just follows. That is why the Bible says in Romans 8:6 that to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. So, again, the mind is the hinging point.

Remember that every man is made up of a body, soul, and spirit. The body is world conscious. The soul is self conscious. The spirit is God conscious. The body represents the Adamic nature that we were born with. It is the old man, the flesh that we wrestle with so often. The spirit represents the new man who came back to life when we got saved. Our new man is the new creation we become every day when we choose to make Jesus Lord of our life's.

The soul is our emotions, our intellect, our mind. It is imperative that it is renewed every day through God's Word. The soul is the hinge between our body and spirit. Whichever way our soul goes, our day goes. If our soul is renewed daily, it hinges towards our new man and we walk in the spirit! If we don't take the time to renew our soul, it hinges towards our body, or flesh and we walk carnally.

The Bible has much to say about the soul. It tells us that we are to renew our minds. It also tells us that God wants us to prosper and be in health even as our soul prospers. The Bible says whatsoever things are lovely or of a good report, we are to think on these things. To think you must use your mind. The Bible also says the Lord will keep you in perfect peace if your mind is stayed on Him. The Word says, "Bless the Lord, 0 my soul: and all that is within me..." (Psalm 103:1.)

You see, the part of man that gives him trouble, if he is born-again, is not his spirit; it is his un-renewed mind.

Romans 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.

We will either walk according to our body (outward man, flesh) or the inward man (new creation that should be renewed daily). The "hinging point" is our mind. Whichever way our mind goes, we go along with it. If we do not renew our mind, if we do not allow God to transform us through His Word, then we "hinge" towards our flesh, outward man. If we spend time in the Word of God, prayer, and fellowship with the Spirit, then we will "hinge" towards the inward man.

2 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

Since so much in our Christian walk rides on the "hinge" of our soul (mind, emotions, intellect) we need to make certain it is being renewed every day through the precious, powerful Word of God! Every day God will speak something into your spirit man that you can think on all day. Have you taken time to hear Him today? Then mediate on that thought all day long, because that will help swing your soul one way or the other!


"Lord, I thank you for this Word today. Thank You for teaching me that the Soul is the hinge between my spirit and body, or between my renewed inward man, and decaying outward man. I must die to my flesh daily. I must renew my spirit man daily. I must be careful what I think and dwell on today. I want my soul to hinge towards my new, inward man all day long today. I thank You for Your Holy Spirit who will help me with this goal. In Jesus' name, amen!"

Friday, June 24, 2011

Lovers of pleasure


2 Timothy 3:1-5 (TM) Don't be naive. There are difficult times ahead. (2) As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, (3) dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, (4) treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God. (5) They'll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they're animals. Stay clear of these people.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NIV) But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. (2) People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, (3) without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, (4) treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God- (5) having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.


Paul's reference to the "last days" reveals his sense of urgency. The last days began after Jesus' resurrection when the Holy Spirit came upon the believers at Pentecost. The "last days" will continue until Christ's second coming. This means that we are living in the last days. So we should make the most of the time that God has given us

In the USA today, being a Christian is not especially difficult as far as persecution goes-in other words, people aren't jailed for reading the Bible or executed for preaching Christ. (However, this kind of persecution is very real for many believers across this world.) Paul's descriptive list of behavior in the last days describes our society-even, unfortunately, the behavior of many Christians. Check your life against Paul's list. Don't give in to society's pressures. Don't settle for comfort without commitment. Stand up against evil by living as God would have his people live.

Why is it so tempting to "love pleasure rather than God"? Pleasure is something we can control; God cannot be controlled. Most pleasures can be obtained easily; love for God requires effort and sometimes sacrifice. Pleasure benefits us now; the benefits of loving God are often in the future. Pleasure has a narcotic effect; it takes our minds off ourselves and our problems. Love for God reminds us of our needs and our responsibilities. Pleasure cooperates with pride. It makes us feel good when we look good in the eyes of others. To love God we must lay aside our pride and our accomplishments. Have you chosen to love pleasure, or to love God? How do you know?


When we overindulge in anything it loses its ability to make us happy. Smart people regularly back away from life's banquet table so it stays fresh and exciting. Pleasure-seekers on the other hand, dive in and wring every drop of gratification from it. But it doesn't work and here's why: (a) Neurologically it overloads the brain's pleasure centers and depletes your feel-good neuro-transmitters / serotonin. (b) Psychologically it creates unrealistic expectations and boredom. (c) Physiologically, overindulgence in anything (including food) creates tolerance, addiction and health problems.

Paul writes, "In the last days… people will be… lovers of pleasure." And seemingly benign pleasures can be the most seductive. For instance, if you lie in a recliner every night watching TV and eating junk food, you may not think you're in danger. But think again. While over 60,000 Americans die each year from illegal drug use, over 600,000 die from overeating and inactivity. That's way too high a price to pay for something that doesn't buy long-term happiness. The Bible says, "Your… motive is wrong - you want only what will give you pleasure" (James 4:3 NLT). Lasting pleasure should be your reward, not your pursuit!

Paul says, "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His cross" (Galatians 5:24 NLT). Do you do that daily? God's not against pleasure as long as you remember that it's the dessert - not the main course! The truth is, true fulfillment can be found only in the center of God's will.


"Lord, I truly realize that we are living in the last days. Because of that we are seeing love for each other, and more importantly, love of God grow cold. Yet, we see sin and perversion increase. It is simply a sign of the time. One of those signs is becoming a "lover of pleasure more than a lover of God." Please forgive me for the times that I have put pleasure before you. I choose today to bow before Jehovah God and not the god of pleasure. In Jesus' name, amen!"

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Worship the GIVER not the GIFT


Leviticus 26:1 "Don't make idols for yourselves; don't set up an image or a sacred pillar for yourselves, and don't place a carved stone in your land that you can bow down to in worship. I am GOD, your God.


Twice as much space is devoted to warning as to blessing in this chapter. The people of the Old Testament were warned over and over against worshiping idols. Adversity, the promised fruit of disobedience, is a tool which God uses, not to inflict revenge but to lead His people to repentance (vv. 40-42). National chastisement would be increasingly severe until the people confessed their iniquity. Notice the progression in verses 14, 18, 21, 24, and 28.
After warnings against idolatry (v. 1), sabbath-breaking, and irreverence (v. 2), the Lord promised the following blessings to the nation if it would keep His commandments: rain, fertility (v. 4), productivity, security (v. 5), peace, safety (v. 6), victory over enemies (vv. 7, 8), fruitfulness, and the presence of the Lord (vv. 9-13).


How does this apply to me? We wonder how they could deceive themselves with these objects of wood and stone. Yet God could well give us the same warning, for we are prone to put idols before him. Idolatry is making anything more important than God, and our lives are full of that temptation. Money, looks, success, reputation, security-these are today's idols.

Idols made by our own hands:

Isaiah 2:8 (AMP) Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, what their own fingers have made.

Too often, God's people have also had a propensity to worship God's blessings.

Judges 8:27 Gideon made the gold (the spoils from the battle with Midian) into a sacred ephod and put it on display in his hometown, Ophrah. All Israel prostituted itself there. Gideon and his family, too, were seduced by it. The Children of Israel were "seduced" by the blessings of God. Even Gideon committed "spiritual prostitution" by giving worship to the things that God blessed him with, instead of giving worship to God.

I need to examine myself to make sure I am not being seduced to worship the blessings of God instead of the God of all blessings. Idolatry has a seductive side to it. It is constantly calling out for your attention and worship. That is why it is so important to daily spend time in praise, worship and thanksgiving to the one and only True God!

As you look at these false gods that seductively promise everything you want but nothing you need, does idolatry seem so far removed from your experience? The cry of my heart is, "Help me Lord!"


"Lord, please forgive me for allowing myself to be seduced by the very things that you have blessed me with. Every where I turn I see your blessing. Too often, I give more attention to the blessing than to the "Blessor." I truly repent of this, and ask you to forgive me. I want to daily recognize your blessings and give you heartfelt thanks! You are such a good God, and full of compassion and mercy. You pour out so much grace into my life, and yet I often forget to stop and say "Thank you, Lord!" Today, I will be more aware of the seduction that blessings can be in my life. I have made up my mind today, to give more praise to the Giver than the gift. I love you Jesus, and thank you for the process of holiness that you are bringing into my life as I daily strive to be the man of God that you want me to be. In Jesus' name, amen!"

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

"Lord, please open his eyes"


2 Kings 6:15-17 When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, "Alas, my master! What shall we do?" (16) He said, "Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them." (17) Then Elisha prayed and said, "O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see." So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.


Elisha's servant was no longer afraid when he saw God's mighty heavenly army. Faith reveals that God is doing more for his people than we can ever realize through sight alone. When you face difficulties that seem insurmountable, remember that spiritual resources are there even if you can't see them. Look with the eyes of faith, and let God show you his resources. If you don't see God working in your life, the problem may be your spiritual eyesight, not God's power.


2 Kings 6:16 is one of the most memorable, unforgettable words of Scripture. It emphasizes the importance of seeing things from God's point of view, with spiritual insight, with faith.

After a trip to France, a pastor described the disappointment he felt on first seeing the famous cathedral of Chartres. The old building was dirty and gray; its windows looked dark and dreary. The church had no charm or appeal. He wondered what there was about this ordinary structure that had drawn medieval pilgrims there by the thousands and still attracted tourists today. Then he went inside, and the transformation was dramatic. It was magnificent. Streaming through the stained-glass windows, the sunlight set the sanctuary aglow with the deepest hues of the rainbow. The inside of the old church was totally different from its outside. It was a place of rare, incomparable beauty.

Looking at the Christian faith from the outside, many critics describe it as dull, legalistic, unintelligent, unappealing; but from the inside it is something else altogether. Through the eyes of faith, the Christian life is beautiful, majestic, powerful, full of joy and meaning.

Similarly, through the eyes of fear and unbelief, the situation at Dothan looked hopeless. No wonder the unbelieving servant sighed, "Alas my master! What shall we do?" (v. 15). But Elisha, facing the identical situation, saw things differently. He said, "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them" (v. 16). He was viewing the situation from inside the cathedral of faith. Through the eyes of God, the horses and chariots of divine protection were clearly visible. Elisha asked God to give his servant the same 20/20 vision on the spiritual eye-chart, so he too would not be afraid. "Seeing is believing" is the motto of the secular world. "Believing is seeing" is the motto of faith.

The enemy loves to attempt to speak fear into your life by what you "see" around you. Everywhere you look, you see the problem, surrounding you. How can there be a way out? My friends, please understand that there is a battle going on in the "heavenlies" that you can't see with the physical eye. You have to see it by faith, and understand that God is fighting for you. Jehovah God wants to open our eyes that we may see!


"Lord, this morning my prayer is exactly like Elijah's: 'Open our eyes that we may see.' Your Word tells us that the young man's eyes were opened and he was able to see that "the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.' May we all understand that in spite of what we see, hear, or feel, the Lord is whispering to us with confidence, 'Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.' In Jesus name, amen!" Blessings

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ischuos: Power of God


Ephesians 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.


In Ephesians 6:10, Paul says, "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might." The word "might" is taken from the word ischuos, and it conveys the picture of a very, very strong man, such as a bodybuilder or a mighty man with great muscular capabilities. Now Paul applies this picture of a strong, muscular man, not to himself, but to God. Paul pictures God as One who is able, mighty, and muscular.


For today's application I want to share something I read this morning from Rick Renner's "Sparkling Gems from the Greek:

Let me ask you - is there anyone more powerful than God? Is there any force in the universe equal to the muscular ability of God? Consider this:

  • With one stroke of the hand, God's mighty arm released so much creative power that the entire universe was flung into being.
  • With one stroke of the hand, God's mighty arm discharged such incredible force that the civilized world of Noah's day was flooded and an entire period of civilization was wiped out.
  • With one stroke of God's mighty arm, Egypt's rebellion against Him was crushed beyond recognition, and the children of Israel were set free.
  • With one stroke of God's mighty arm, the wicked powers of the heavenlies were forcibly shoved aside, and although it was physically and medically impossible, Jesus was conceived and miraculously born from a virgin's womb.
  • With one stroke of God's mighty arm, His power surged into the throes of hell itself, where it ripped Jesus out of the pangs of death, stripped demonic principalities and powers naked, and made a public display of their embarrassing defeat.
When the mighty arm of God moved on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came as a "rushing mighty wind" and filled the Upper Room with His awesome power, supernaturally enabling the disciples to preach the Word with signs and wonders following.

Where is this powerful, mighty ability of God working today? In you and me! Paul says, "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might."

The word power in our text is the Greek word kratos and it is the demonstrated, outwardly manifested, eruptive power of God, which now operates in every believer. But the ischuos we have looked at today is the force that works behind the kratos power! Why is kratos power so strong and demonstrative (as in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead? Because God's muscles (ischuos) are backing it up!

These words in Ephesians 6:10 are so powerful that they convey this idea:

"Be strong in the Lord and in the powerful, outwardly demonstrated ability that works in you as a result of God's great muscular ability that is working behind the scenes."

All that God is, all the power He possesses, and all the energy of His muscular, mighty ability now energizes the kratos power that is at work within you. With this power at your disposal today, you can confront the unseen demonic spirits that come to wage war against your flesh and your soul - and you can win every time! Since this power is available to you today, you are ready to lay hands on the sick, pray with power and authority, speak the word of faith in every situation, and see mountains move on your behalf!

So the next time you run into a problem that seems a little overwhelming, remind yourself that "greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world" (1 John 4:4). You have no need to be afraid and no need to shrink back in timidity, for there's enough power at work in you to resist any force that comes against you and to supernaturally remedy anything that needs to be changed!


Lord, I am so thankful that Your muscles are the backup for the power that operates in my life! Just as Your mighty arm created the universe, divided the Red Sea, destroyed the Egyptians, ripped Jesus from the throes of hell, and raised Him from the dead, I know that now this mighty power also works in me. Help me learn how to flow with this power and allow it to be released through my life so I can be a bigger blessing to people who are around me.
I pray this in Jesus' name!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Worry wages war on your faith


Matthew 6:33-34 Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. (34) "Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.


Planning for tomorrow is time well spent; worrying about tomorrow is time wasted. Sometimes it's difficult to tell the difference. Careful planning is thinking ahead about goals, steps, and schedules, and trusting in God's guidance. When done well, planning can help alleviate worry. Worriers, by contrast, are consumed by fear and find it difficult to trust God. They let their plans interfere with their relationship with God. Don't let worries about tomorrow affect your relationship with God today.


I have been reading a book by Max Lucado, "Every day deserves a chance", that has ministered to me deeply. I would like to journal some of his comments for today's application of our text:

The Greek word for worry, merimnao, stems from the verb merizo (divide) and nous (mind). Worry cleavers the mind, splitting thoughts between today and tomorrow. Today stands against it. Fretting over tomorrow's problems today siphons the strength you need for now, leaving you anemic and weak.

Worry gives small problems big shadows.

Montaigne said, "My life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which never happen."

Corrie Ten Boom commented, "Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows; it empties tody of its strength." Worry scuttles our lives, hurts us, and most sadly, dishonors God.

God says: "Every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good" (Romans 8:28)
Worry takes a look at catastrophes and groans, "It's all coming unraveled."

God's Word says, "God has done it all and done it well (Mark 7:37)
Worry disagrees: "The world has gone crazy."

God's Word calls God "the blessed controller of all things" (I Timothy 6:15)
Worry wonders if anyone is in control.

God's Word declares, "God will take care of everything you need" (Philippians 4:19)
Worry whispers this lie: "God doesn't know what you need."

God's Word reasons: "You're at least decent to your own children. So don't you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?" (Matthew 7:11)
Worry discounts and replies, "You're on your own. It's you against the world."

You see worry wages war on your faith. You know that. You hate to worry. But what can you do to stop it? These three worry stoppers deserve your consideration:

Pray more. No one can pray and worry at the same time. When we worry, we aren't praying. When we pray, we aren't worrying. "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You" (Isaiah 26:3)

Want less. Most anxiety stems, not from what we need, but from what we want. "Delight yourselves in the Lord, yes, find your joy in Him at all times" (Philippians 4:4). If God is enough for you, then you'll always have enough, because you'll always "have God.

Live for today. Heaven still has her manna house. The bushes still hide quail. And you still have today. Don't sacrifice it on the altar of anxiety. "Live only for the hour and its allowed work...set earnestly at the little task at your elbow...our plain duty is 'not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand.'" (William Osler)

May I urge you to do the same? "Go confidently to the throne of God's kindness to receive mercy and find kindness, which will help us at the right time" (Hebrews 4:16)

Wow! What a powerful application of today's Scripture verse.


"Lord, I am so thankful for what you are teaching me about THIS DAY. I have given too much attention to tomorrow, and it's potential problems, and not enough attention to THIS DAY. Your Word has shown me today I need to give my entire attention to TODAY. You never promised to give me victory over my FRIENDS, but over my ENEMIES. I want to make sin, in particular, worry my enemy so that You can help me defeat it. I give you all the praise and the glory THIS DAY, in Jesus' name, amen!"

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Embrace this God-life


Mark 11:20-25 (MSG) In the morning, walking along the road, they saw the fig tree, shriveled to a dry stick. (21) Peter, remembering what had happened the previous day, said to him, "Rabbi, look--the fig tree you cursed is shriveled up!" (22) Jesus was matter-of-fact: "Embrace this God-life. Really embrace it, (23) and nothing will be too much for you. This mountain, for instance: Just say, 'Go jump in the lake'--no shuffling or shilly-shallying--and it's as good as done. (24) That's why I urge you to pray for absolutely everything, ranging from small to large. Include everything as you embrace this God-life, and you'll get God's everything. (25) And when you assume the posture of prayer, remember that it's not all asking. If you have anything against someone, forgive--only then will your heavenly Father be inclined to also wipe your slate clean of sins."


In this passage, two unusual incidents are related: the cursing of the fig tree and the clearing of the Temple. The cursing of the fig tree was an acted-out parable related to the clearing of the Temple. The Temple was supposed to be a place of worship, but true worship had disappeared. The fig tree showed promise of fruit, but it produced none. Jesus was showing his anger at religious life without substance. If you claim to have faith without putting it to work in your life, you are like the barren fig tree. Genuine faith has great potential; ask God to help you bear fruit for his Kingdom.

Fig trees, a popular source of inexpensive food in Israel, require three years from the time they are planted until they can bear fruit. Each tree yields a great amount of fruit twice a year, in late spring and in early autumn. This incident occurred early in the spring when the leaves were beginning to bud. The figs normally grow as the leaves fill out, but this tree, though full of leaves, had no figs. The tree looked promising but offered no fruit. Jesus' harsh words to the fig tree could be applied to the nation of Israel. Fruitful in appearance only, Israel was spiritually barren.


Embracing this "God-life" means accepting and obeying God's Word and conditions. If we want to flow in the Spirit and have a right relationship with God our Father, then we MUST forgive, in WORD and ACTION. Then our prayers become very effective.

James 5:16 Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.

If you want your prayer to be something to be "reckoned with" then you MUST embrace this "God-life" God's way!

The kind of prayer that moves mountains is prayer for the fruitfulness of God's Kingdom. It would seem impossible to move a mountain into the sea, so Jesus used that illustration to show that God can do the impossible. God will answer your prayers but not as a result of your positive mental attitude. Other conditions must be met: (1) You must be a believer; (2) you must not hold a grudge against another person; (3) you must not pray with selfish motives; (4) your request must be for the good of God's Kingdom. To pray effectively, you need faith in God, not faith in the object of your request. If you focus only on your request, you will be left with nothing if your request is refused.


"Lord, I choose today to EMBRACE this "God-life." That means that I will forgive anyone that I hold a grudge against. Way too often, I nurse that grudge instead of killing it. Please forgive me for allowing bitterness, hurt, offense, and the lack of forgiveness to keep me from embracing the life You have for me. Today, I let go of the past. I let go of the hurt. I choose to forgive. I will not allow bitterness to rob me of the blessed life. I will not allow the flow of the Spirit to be hindered any longer because of my desire to please the whims of the flesh. I die to my flesh this morning and walk in, and embrace, the God-life! In Jesus name, amen!"

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

What seeds am I planting?


James 3:18 (TM) 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.

James 3:18 (NIV) Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.


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).


Unlike creatures who travel in packs, porcupines travel solo. When they encounter other animals they respond by withdrawing, or using their quills to attack. Once their deadly quills become embedded the wounds fester, causing suffering, even death. Now porcupines don't necessarily want to be alone, they just don't know how to get close without hurting others or themselves.

Sound familiar? If so it's not surprising, because as human beings we employ attack and withdrawal strategies every day. We each have our own set of quills; things like: gossip, anger, pride, competitiveness, insensitivity, greed and control, planting seeds of discord to name just a few. By aiming them at others, we damage relationships, hurt people and end up lonely. Now, while it's not always easy, porcupines want to be able to get along together if only to ensure future generations. Their only other option is extinction. The same goes for us too!

Dr Robert Oppenheimer, the noted physicist who masterminded the first atomic bomb, was asked by a Congressional committee if there was any defence against it. Addressing a hushed audience, Oppenheimer replied, "Yes. Peace!" Now think, if peace can diffuse an atomic bomb, what can it do in the lives of the people you come in contact with?

The Bible says, "Peacemakers… plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of goodness" (James 3:18). All around you are frightened, despairing, lonely people, desperately needing 'a word of peace'. Do you have one?

If you want to experience your own miracle today, try planting a seed of encouragement in the heart of somebody who's ready to throw in the towel. Speak a word of peace to that person whose life is in turmoil because of family problems, health issues or financial hardship. Anytime you 'plant seeds of peace', you schedule a harvest of hope, love and joy in the life of that person - and your own life too!

Paul writes: "Live in harmony with each other. Don't try to act important … enjoy the company of ordinary people" (Romans 12:16). It matters to God how you get along with your family, your neighbours and your co-workers. The Bible says: "Give more honour to others than to yourselves. Do not be interested only in your own life, but be interested in the lives of others" (Philippians 2:3-4). And James writes: "Do the hard work of getting along." Come on, you've got to work at it! Pull in your quills today and ask God to help you build loving relationships with the other porcupines that share your space!


"Lord, I realize that I can act like a porcupine at times. Please help me today to be aware when my "quills" are out and keeping me from getting close to anyone. I want to be clothed in kindness and humility. I want to be a peace maker. To do this, I need your help. In Jesus' name, amen!"