The Missing Ingredient

Imagine your favorite food. You taste, and it’s just not right; something is missing. You go and get that one ingredient that will make it taste the way it should. Once you add just enough of what was missing, you can eat on to your heart’s delight.

There are two types of people in every congregation: those who profit from the Word preached–and those who don’t. There always seems to be a case of us or them. Two students, same teacher; one passes and one fails–us and them. Consider also
two siblings with the same parents. Each child goes in two opposite directions in life–once again a case of us and them. In every group, some seem to go up and others seem to go down; some move forward in life, and some go backward; some do well and others not so well. Then there’s our case of the two people in the same congregation. Both under the same preacher, hearing the same gospel and only one of them profit from that word being preached–us and them.

Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” Heb.4:1-2

This word preached that proved to be unprofitable to the hearer is not the fault of the Word. The Word of God has the power to pull down strongholds. The problem here is that the Word which was heard was not mixed with faith. The hearer simply did not believe. As it was then, so it is now.

The Choice of Unbelief
Do not fail to enter into His rest because you fail to believe–unbelief is the crux of the matter:
Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭3:7-8‬ ‭

The phrase ‘harden not your hearts’, obviously indicates personal choice. This was for the Israelites, their unfortunate response upon hearing the voice of the Lord. It is the voice of direction; why do we run from it? It is the voice of peace; why do we ignore it? There is a price to pay for not trusting His voice, as they would find out. The price we pay is no less. No, we don’t just die away as many of them did. It is a slow death to void oneself of His help. To put oneself at odds with the One that we will give an account to is a foolish thing. To choose not to believe what He has spoken, has to be the highest form of treason; choosing our way over His.

So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” Hebrews 3:‬19

The Character of Unbelief
Unbelief is, at its root, rebellion. It is both a hardening of the heart and a departure from the living God.

“Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation…”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭3:8‬a

“Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭3:12‬

We are told here that unbelief is akin to evil which is a departure from the Lord. This makes unbelief a very serious matter.

“That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”‭‭ Hebrews‬ ‭6:12‬ ‭

The Chemistry of Unbelief
“…but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it”Heb.4:12b
Several things cannot be mixed the Word. You cannot mix worry with the Word and you cannot mix doubt with the Word. Worry and doubt are cut from the same mold, and are actually the opposite of faith. Another thing that cannot be mixed with faith is apathy. Apathy naturally says, ‘I don’t care.’ The only thing that can be mixed with the Word is faith.

Two Impossible Things
First, it impossible to live the Christian life in your own strength. Most will deny that they do this. However, when individuals continue to ‘work’ at being a Christian and trying harder by doing more in an effort to keep from sinning, then living through your own strength is what is taking place. Second, it is impossible for someone who is not a Christian to live the Christian life at all–and don’t say ‘Who would ever do something like that?’, because it happens every day and every Sunday in churches all over the city, country and world–individuals caught up in church life. This is commonly called religion and uncommonly called churchianity.

The Consequence of Unbelief
Old and young alike, show up to church to have a good time, or to fulfill some duty, or even to make some connection–business or otherwise. Unfortunately, some are so blinded, deceived and far away from God, due to a false sense of security, and an over abundance of self-righteousness, they just don’t get it. No matter how much they hear, they don’t understand. They are the ones that scripture says are ‘ever learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth’ (2Ti.3:7). This is truly a sad state of life; to be in the right place to hear the truth, yet not able to receive it and walk in it.

I believe there are several things we can do to, in a sense, ‘protect’ our faith. These things themselves are accomplished by keeping Christ at the center of all we do by faith.

  • Do not allow the difficulties of your present circumstance overshadow the reality of God’s truth. All God’s promises concerning our well being in times of trouble, must be received.
  • Don’t be a hearer of the Word and not a doer; this is deception – (Ja.1:22)…thinking that because you have heard and have put yourself in a position to hear, that this amounts to righteousness on your part, or that God is somehow pleased.
  • Don’t be a learner and not a believer – 2Ti.3:7 (one who does not trust or have faith); this is also deception. Learning in this way only makes you acquainted with facts.Facts are good; but they are not enough. Remember, truth that does not transform, is truth that has not been properly received.

Without faith, hearing and learning become exercises in futility. Not entering into rest in the Lord due to a refusal to believe, actually causes one to short circuit and sabotage ones’ own destiny.

The Cure for Unbelief
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

The cure for unbelief is faith! It is shown by coming boldly, that is, coming in confidence and assurance, to receive what is needed, in this case, rest. This must be done by faith because:
“…without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

Once we enter in to His rest by faith, great things will begin to unfold.

By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:2

Need some rest? Add some faith!

Thats the Word! Take it with you. God bless you.

The Truth The Devil Just Can’t Handle

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. (John 8:44)

The devil is a deceiver. His name says it all. Here in our verse the phrase ‘he speaketh of his own’, means that he speaks from his character. He is a liar; he lives in untruth. It is what and who he is. Deception flows from his pores, so to speak. He lives to deceive and above all, and most dangerous of all, he himself is deceived. He thinks he will win. He’s seen the last page of the book, which spells out his doom and his demise, yet he still believes he can change it all. Somehow, he believes he can defy what has already been declared and decreed by the finger of God through the Holy Ghost. It is because of this arrogant and twisted self-deception, that there are several things that he simply cannot accept, or handle. I believe that these are the things that drive him to destroy people; that fuel his blind, yet intelligent hatred toward humanity and the true Christian in particular because it is we who proudly carry the name of the One who defeated him at the cross. So,  first of all,  here is truth number one that the devil just can’t handle–

The fact that he himself is not God
For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. (Isa.14:13-14)

These verses are tagged simply as Satan’s 5 ‘I wills’. These five statements spell out his wish list, his bucket list, if you will, with the last one being his ultimate goal; what he’s wanted almost from the start. Having said that, there are three titles ascribed to Satan that I’d like to bring to your attention. First, scripture states that Satan is the ‘god of this age’ (2 Cor.4:4). Secondly, in John 12:31, he is spoken of as ‘the prince of this world’. Finally, in Eph.2:2, he is called ‘the prince of the power of the air’. With all of these grandiose titles–and I’m sure he appreciates and embraces them all, it’s still not enough for him. He wants to be God himself. He would love to dethrone God if he could, but he can’t, so let’s move on. The second thing that the devil just can’t handle is–

The fact that his beauty was not enough to get him what he wanted
Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee. How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! (Isa.14:11-12)
Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone wasthy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so:thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee
Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee. (Ezekiel.28:13-15,17)

Look at all Lucifer had going for him! He was given power, beauty, wisdom, and even an anointing! Yet he forfeited it all because eventually, he came to believe that all of this merited him equal status with God. But of course, this would not be the case. This is a truth he just can’t handle.

Pride is a serious matter.  If it was able to bring an angel of God down, then what do you think it can do to us, who are created a little lower than they were? God is absolutely repelled by pride because it was the very thing that instigated this thing we call sin. The bible states emphatically that, ‘God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble’ (James 4:6). Pride is also actually first in a list of seven things that are an abomination to Him.

These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren. (Prov.6:16-19)

Thirdly, I believe the devil just can’t handle–

The fact that he can’t do exactly what he wants to do
And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD. (Job 1:12)
And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life. (Job 2:6)
I believe it rankles Satan to no end that he cannot really do what he wants, when he wants. We see here his proposals to God, as to what he wanted to do, and we see Gods’ response as to what he actually could and could not do. Do you ever wonder sometimes, why you are even still here, when you have such an enemy as Satan who wants and is willing to destroy you? Why doesn’t he just do it? It’s because he can’t. God has drawn a line in the sand, and the devil won’t–can’t cross it.  If he hasn’t been given permission to do a thing, then he just can’t do it. Oh sure he has been given some power along with some rope, and he does manage to ruin,destroy, and blind the minds of those who do not serve him, but he does not have a free hand. All he does and is allowed to do falls under the sovereign and watchful eye of his creator.

Next, we see that the devil just can’t handle–

The fact that he doesn’t get the worship he craves
And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. (Mat.4:9-10)
This certainly must be classified as desperation at its peak. Satan is literally asking Jesus to worship him! At the same time though, his request has a two-fold purpose. First, he obviously  wants to be worshipped for his own twisted reasons.  Remember, he wants to be God, so he naturally desires the worship that goes along with it. Second, and actually more importantly, if he could get Jesus to sin, he would have effectively ruined God’s plan of redemption for humanity. This of course, he was unable to do.

The last two truths that the devil can’t handle probably stick in his craw more than all the rest, because they have to do with Christ and His people. The first being–

The fact that the blood of Jesus sets men free
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. (Rev.12:11)
Because he was unable to thwart God’s plan of redemption, he cannot handle the truth that Jesus’ blood that was spilled on the cross, still has the power to save, heal and deliver from sin. Satan’s plan backfired; blew up fight in his face. You see, the very thing that the devil wanted to happen, that is, Christ dead and out of the way, was the very thing that God needed to happen. No, I am not saying that we owe a debt of gratitude to the devil for inflaming Jesus’ foes with hatred enough to have him crucified. But what I am saying is that God uses the enemy at times to fulfill His purposes. The fact is,  Jesus came to die, only the devil didn’t know it. This is how he would go about destroying the works of the devil. WhAnd I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. When we read Joseph’s words in Genesis, we see a principle that God lays out in scripture, namely that God is able to take what looks bad, what is bad, and cause it work for His purposes. Joseph said, ‘But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive’ (Gen.50:20). The things that make us scratch our heads and say, ‘Why?’, are the very things that God is able to use for our good. This is what happened at the cross. It certainly looked bad, at least for three days. But joy came on Sunday morning! That’s the kind of God that we serve! His blood still sets people free–and the devil hates the blood.

Because Christ did die on the cross, something else fantastic happened, and it’s the final truth that devil really can’t handle. It is–

The fact that he has no power over the child of God
And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. (Col.2:13-15)
Here we have the proverbial ‘nail in the coffin’, the ‘coup de grace’, the ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’.  These are some of the most powerful and overlooked passages in the bible.  They speak to the nature and enormity of the defeat that Satan suffered at the cross. It was both public and humiliating and he’s been trying to recover from it ever since, to no avail. He still stands powerless before the ‘cross wise’ child of God. When we understand that Satan was disarmed at the cross, having his power over us snatched away, we can better appreciate the victory that was purchased for us there. Christ’s death on the cross secured a perpetual victory for all who trust in Him, and an enduring and most devastating defeat for the devil. He fell there, and he will never get up because he was crushed.  And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel (Gen.3:15). 

So there you have it. Prophecy was fulfilled, and truth came to pass–just like God said it would.  And oh don’t you know that the devil just can’t handle the truth!

That’s the Word! Take it with you. God bless you.

What Does It Really Mean To Be A Christian?

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. (John 3:3)

This question has been asked and answered by many, with a variety of answers. Many people believe that they are a Christian based on the mere fact that they live in America. This is is based on the idea that the United States is a Christian nation. While this may be true at least foundationally, this is obviously not the case in actual practice. What does the bible say? What does Jesus say?
Is it going to church?
Is it living a moral life?
Is it treating people right?
Is it living in America?
Is it keeping a list of rules?
Since the very beginning man has been seeking to cover himself by his own means. Lets first take a look at Genesis chapter 3:

And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.  And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. (Gen.3:7-10)

Here’s what it is. Man has been seeking to cover himself by his own means ever since. We have our own ‘fig leaves’ that we use to cover our sin in an effort to put or keep ourselves in God’s ‘good graces.’ Whatever looks right and feels right must be alright, and God must approve of it–right? Not so fast. Before we fall into the world’s mindset and believe that God is a happy, tolerant, higher power who just wants us to be happy in whatever makes us happy, we must first search the scriptures. There we will find truth.

Those seeking to be justified by the things they do, by default, usually wind up saying things like the following to show that they are saved, or that at least they have a place in heaven:
But I’m educated
But I’m a member of the church
But I give to charity and feed the poor
But I’ve been baptized
But I give to the church
These are all works. These are all false hopes of salvation. But what does the bible say? For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast (Eph.2:8-9). When a person becomes a Christian, they enter into a spiritual relationship with Jesus Christ. As for the aforementioned actions deemed to be good enough to make one righteous, the bible says that there is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the way thereof ends in death (Proverbs 14:12).

The Case of Nicodemus

Nicodemus was a good, religious and upstanding citizen. When I say ‘good’, I mean that at least he was considered good by the people. Being a Pharisee automatically placed him in the upper echelon of their community–and they knew it. They were, for the most part looked upon in favor by the people. Jesus however, saw them in a different light. While the Pharisees, almost to a man, looked upon themselves as righteous and accepted in God’s sight, Jesus told them the truth about themselves. Listen to Jesus’ own penetrating words:
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. (Matthew 23:27)
Nicodemus may have also thought like the majority of the other Pharisees, that he was better than others. Here is a sampling of the Pharisaical mindset:
And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. (Luke 18:9-14)

I am sure that when Jesus came on the scene, and Nicodemus heard him, while as stated, he may have had this particular mindset concerning himself, Jesus words arrested him. The Holy Spirit began His convicting work in Nicodemus’s heart. Nicodemus came to Jesus by night because he knew that there would be backlash aimed in his direction had his Pharisee brothers known that he had come to question Jesus concerning the things He spoke. Though Nicodemus had probably thought that he was righteous based on his status and the things he did, he now realized that something was missing. He came to Jesus to find out what it was. Jesus obliged him telling him that he needed to be born again.

The Case of Cornelius

Here was a man, by all intents and purposes, who, if you did not know the intricacies of what a Christian is, would be your model of what a Christian should be. Read his profile found in Acts 10:1-2:
There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.

Cornelius was doing things that some Christians don’t even do regularly! He was devout and respectful, and he had reverence for God. He was that type of person who would cross himself each time he walked past a church, cathedral or temple. Cornelius also had a heart for the poor, as scripture here says that he gave ‘much alms’, that is, charity to the less fortunate. Also, Cornelius did not just pray, he prayed always. In all he did, God saw his heart and knew his heart–but still–Cornelius was not saved. Had he died in that state, I shudder to think where he would have spent eternity. But God is gracious. God dispatched an angel to Cornelius who instructed him to seek out Peter who would in turn, speak words to him that would bring salvation to his soul, and as instructed by the Holy Ghost, this is just what Peter did. Cornelius and his family were saved, even before Peter could finish speaking!

In each case, both Peter and Jesus make it absolutely clear that becoming and being a Christian have nothing to with the good or righteous things we do. Being a Christian is not about turning over a new leaf, or deciding you’re just going to be better. Being a Christian means having a living, breathing, one on one relationship with Jesus Christ. Too many people believe that just by going to church over a period of time, or listening to gospel music of some kind–and enjoying it, or because they actually ‘like’ God, and try to do the best they can when they can, qualifies them as ‘Christian’.  Here is the bottom line: when your life changes from the inside out, and not from the outside out; when His Word becomes what you do rather than just what you hear; when your sin, more than anyone elses, becomes an affront to you, and prompts you to run to His throne for mercy, then you have entered into relationship.

In closing, please allow me one final thought. Please stay away from religion. It will kill you spiritually and eventually send you off into eternity without ever knowing Jesus personally. It will also drive a wedge between you and God and give you a false sense of security. It’s what the Pharisees were. It’s what Cornelius was. The mercy and grace of God bought them out. When they placed faith in Christ, He in turn, gave them new life. There it is. The Christian life is about living a new life. His life, in us. 

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John14:6)
That’s the Word! Take it with you. God bless you.

The Toothless, Chained Lion

CHAINED LION

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. 1 Peter 5:8

So goes the warning. And it’s a good warning. We’re told to be on guard; to watch our back. The devil is out there; on the prowl. He’s seeking those who’ve left the door to their life open. Those whose steps have faltered; whose minds have steadily become conformed to this present world system, and have shifted their sight and their faith from Christ and the Cross to someone or something else.

These are Satan’s targets. They are his venison. And he will exercise a certain semblance of authority over these to a certain degree. In some cases, the Lord will allow some latitude to the enemy; not to punish his child, but to bring him back into right relationship; though I believe that we who are looking from the outside will not readily know what the Lord is up to in someone’s life , or even our own. Job had no idea what had taken place in the throne room of heaven between God and Satan, but he was greatly effected by it.

However, Satan holds no such sway over those who know who they are in Christ, whose sight is steadily and firmly finding its resting place in the Cross. They no longer put faith in themselves and what they have done, but are now placing it on Christ and what He has already done. For these, who ought not to think of themselves as better, the devil has no real power. Though he continues to operate like a lion, he has no teeth! I don’t say this in order to throw him a railing accusation, but I base the statement on fact.

When Jesus died on the Cross, He stripped Satan of his power. And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it (Colossians 2:15). Those principalities and powers are the same ones referred to in Ephesians 6:12. These are the powers at war with us; the powers we battle against. The plain and simple fact is, we face a defeated foe! We still need to watch and pray, to stand firm and not be moved, and remain vigilant. Above all, we must trust Christ and the Cross. It was through His blood spilled for us there, that we have an abiding victory.

In John Bunyan’s classic allegory, ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’, he relates a powerful scene involving the book’s title character, Christian. It goes like this:

So I saw in my dream that he made haste, and went forward, that if possible he might get lodging there. Now before he had gone far, he entered into a very narrow passage, which was about a furlong off the Porter’s lodge, and looking very narrowly before him as he went, he espied two lions in the way. Now, thought he, I see the dangers that Mistrust and Timorous were driven back by. (The lions were chained, but he saw not the chains.) Then he was afraid, and thought also himself to go back after them; for he thought nothing but death was before him. But the Porter at the lodge, whose name is Watchful, perceiving that Christian made a halt, as if he would go back, cried unto him, saying, Is thy strength so small? Mark 4:40. Fear not the lions, for they are chained, and are placed there for trial of faith where it is, and for discovery of those that have none: keep in the midst of the path, and no hurt shall come unto thee.

Don’t you love that? Those lions represent both Satan’s forces, and the fear and intimidation that they attempt to unleash upon God’s children. These are some of the things that try our faith. But that fact that he is chained, means that he can do us no harm, as our our faith remains fixed on the Cross. The Cross is what causes him to tremble, because he knows it was there that he was defeated. ‘And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb…’, is the Apostle John’s resonating proclamation (Rev.12:11).

The next time you’re tempted to fear, to doubt, to turn around or give up, remember: Don’t fear the lions–because they are chained. And don’t fear the lion, Satan, either, because he also has no power over you. Keep your eyes and your faith on Jesus.

A popular song says:

Satan the blood of Jesus
Is against you
Satan the blood of Jesus
Is against you
Satan the blood of Jesus
Is against you
You are defeated
You are defeated
You are defeated
By the blood of the Lamb!

Amen!

That’s the Word! Take it with you. God bless you.

What To Do While You Wait

Eagle Isaiah 40v31 KJV  Isa.40:31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
Psa.27:14 Wait on the Lord: Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.

Have you ever noticed some of the things people do while they wait? For instance, when waiting on an elevator, we keep pressing the button. It doesn’t help. Or when stuck in a traffic jam, we honk the horn. It won’t help. When waiting on line, we try going from line to line. Stay put. And when we’re put on hold for a long period of time, we hang up and try again. Bad move.
And some of the more mindless things we do while we wait: we suck our teeth, sigh, tap our feet, pace back and forth, hum, whistle, even pick our nose (yes, I’ve seen that!)–all of these things are done for one reason, and one reason alone–we are IMPATIENT! WE JUST DON’T LIKE TO WAIT! Almost to a person, we want what we want when we want it; and that’s usually right now or yesterday.

Waiting is an unavoidable part of life. Its one of those things that everyone has to do whether they want to or not. Some would go so far as to call it a necessary evil. Necessary, yes. Evil? I don’t think so. Patience needs to worked out in our lives. We need to let it happen; and let God do it.
Ja.1:4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
Yet, our impatience persists. And what about God? We’ve prayed, but He has not answered. He’s promised, but hasn’t responded. We’ve prayed some more, but no breakthrough seems near. What to do? Wait. The very thing we don’t want to do, is the very thing we’re commanded to do. The danger is that even while we wait on the Lord, we begin to do things that we should not do. While we wait on God we tend to:

Wonder
We begin to question. Did God hear me? Does He care? How long Lord? We have to be careful not to question God’s tactics and timing.
Psa.34:6 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.
Eccl.3:11 He hath made everything beautiful in his time…

God promises to do what needs to be done at the proper time…His time.

Waver
We begin to doubt. Doubt is an indication of a lack of faith. Faithlessness prevented the Israelites from entering the promised land. It prevented many people in Jesus’ own hometown from receiving the fullness of what He provided. And it will not help you as you wait on God.
James 1:6-8 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
Wither
We get tired and weary. This in turn causes us to lose heart, and then we’re tempted to give up.
Gal.6:9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
The principle here is not to give up doing the right thing. Waiting on the Lord is the right thing.

So how should we wait on the Lord, and what should we do while we wait?
Stand firm
1 Cor.15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
Don’t be moved by what you see or experience. Stand your ground.
Take courage
Buckle up; don’t be afraid. It may be a bumpy ride.
Trust
Believe that the Lord already has it worked out; class is still in session. There are still things to be learned.
Expect
This is the proper attitude. We are to wait in hope. Hope in the bible is never an ‘I hope so’ kind of hope; but is always an ‘I know so’ kind of hope. One is insecure; the other is assured.
Praise
Praise is blessing Him for what He has done–even if I don’t see it. This keeps me in His presence while helping to keep the enemy in his place.

What can be expected when I wait this way?
Added strength
…he shall strengthen thine heart
Renewed strength
…they that wait…shall renew their strength. God will restore and revitalize, and refresh your old strength.
The ability to soar above the situation
God wants us to see our unique circumstances from His perspective.The eagle’s strength lies in its wings, and He will give us new feathers.
The ability to move forward
…they shall run, and not be weary…they shall walk and not faint. Our forward motion will not be impeded with the strength that comes from Him.
Waiting teaches us to trust God and rely upon Him. No matter how long it takes, we can rest in Him and His Word.

That’s The Word! Take it with you. God bless you.

The Art of Sight: Not Looking at What You Can See-And Seeing What You Can’t

temporary2

While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal (2 Cor.4:18)

So there it is. You’re faced with what looks like an impossible situation. There is no way around it. No need to downplay it. The situation is bad. It is a bonafide crisis. It feels as if things couldn’t get any worse. The more you think about it, the more it brings you down; and you can’t help but see it, because it just won’t go away.

Whether you’re seeing what looks like insurmountable circumstances, an onslaught of too many bills and not enough money, or just dealing with unsaved loved ones, there is a greatly overlooked principle in scripture, that if gotten hold of and applied by faith, will bring peace and a great measure of relief from whatever it is that you just can’t seem to get around.

The apostle Paul held no punches when it came to speaking about the things he had suffered for the name of Christ. He was never ashamed about it and did not become bitter concerning his trials. Rather, he considered himself blessed and humbled that Christ would use him the way He did.

What were some of the things Paul suffered while laboring for the advancement of the gospel? Let’s take a look at 2 Cor.11:23-27: Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
Did you get all of that? This man was beaten eight times, stoned and left for dead, shipwrecked three times, and it goes on and on. How was your day? The things this man endured were unparalleled when compared to others, and yet for all of this and more, this is what he had to say: For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; (2Cor.4:17). Light affliction? Really? Is that what he calls it?  You see, Paul knew that nothing is as bad as it could be, because he knew he was in God’s plan and in God’s hand. He’s saying that hard times won’t last forever and that they are producing in us something greater than what we can comprehend. How was he able to see everything in the light of eternity? Paul had mastered the art of sight. He was able to see the things he couldn’t and not see the things he could. Yes, you read that right. An art is defined as ‘a skill at doing a specified thing, typically one acquired through practice’. Paul had learned through repeated trials and testings, not to see the difficulties before him. He did not ignore them or keep his head in the clouds as if they did not exist. He simply did not allow the things he saw to remove his vision from that which was greater. Look at what he said: While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: Paul surmised that what he could see was only temporary, and he would not be deterred by them. The things which were not tangible, but real nonetheless, were the things he chose, and needed to focus on. Things like God’s grace, mercy and power. We cannot put our hands on these things, but by faith we grasp them and do not let them out of our sight.

The art of sight. Have you mastered it? Have I?  At the time he wrote 2 Corinthians, Paul had been in ministry for over thirty years. For him, it had been a nearly life long process.  I cannot imagine it would be any different for us. As we go through difficult times, our prayer should be, ‘Lord, strengthen me to keep my eyes on you.’

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth
Will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace!

That’s The Word! Take it with you. God bless you.

I Didn’t Sign Up For This…Or Did I?

worth itYea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 2 Timothy 3:12

One of the most pervasive untruths spread by many so-called ‘new gospels’ seem to give the impression that once you’ve given your heart to Jesus, He makes everything alright, all your problems go away and there will be nothing but smooth sailing all the way to glory. Most obviously, this is not the case. This is not stated to discourage anyone away from giving their heart to Jesus, yet the truth must be told. Regardless of who we are in the kingdom, or how long we’ve been in the kingdom, if you name the name of Jesus, you will suffer persecution of some kind. I imagine that what we experience is not very much different from what unbelievers have to deal with, except for one thing- the Satan factor. We in the kingdom have an extra added attraction to the situations we go through. We have the arch enemy of our collective souls who many times engineers, manufactures and is the silent instigator behind much of what we endure. He is at odds with us because we have been transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of His dear Son. We’ve made him mad. We’ve gloriously ticked him off!

It isn’t that God is not sovereign and in complete control. It’s just that the Lord gives the enemy a bit of rope and a measure of latitude in our lives. Don’t worry though (**SPOILER ALERT**), it all works out in the end. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His  purpose. (Romans 8:28). Bless His name!

Having said that though, is it all worth it? I mean our opening verse states clearly that, ‘those who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.’ Wow. is that what we have to look forward to? This is no doubt a pessimists point of view. What this view fails to realize is that we are not alone. God has never and will never allow any of His children to bear more than they are able to handle. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but with the temptation also make a way of escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13). The word temptation in this verse is referring to trials. Our God will see us through.

The great apostle Paul is our shining example of one who faced seemingly insurmountable circumstances, yet lived to tell about it. I believe that every child of God will experience their fair share of what Paul faced. In 2 Corinthian 4:8-9, Paul says he dealt with trouble (pressure), perplexity(not knowing what to do), persecution and being cast down (whether emotionally or physically). In 2 Timothy chapter 4, Paul admits that he had been forsaken, mistreated and opposed. This selective listing is by no means exhaustive because Paul went through so much more! Knowing this, we should never underestimate our enemy because he will use any means necessary to accomplish his goal to stifle and undermine the work of the Lord. However, neither should we underestimate the power of our God!

What was Paul’s perspective on the things he suffered? His outlook is no less than stunning. Take a look at 2 Corinthians 4:16-17: For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Light affliction? Momentary? Is he serious? Yes! Paul here is stressing the temporary nature of all we endure in light of eternity. He saw everything from an eternal point of view. Similarly, in Romans 8:18 he states: For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. So is it all worth it? The answer is a resounding ‘Yes, yes Lord, Amen!

In spite of what we may face, our God promises us that we will not be alone. Nearing the end of his life, Paul spoke from his heart to young pastor Timothy. He mentions four things the Lord had done for him, even while he was in the midst of his circumstances. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (2 Timothy 4:17-18). There you have it! In our day of trouble, we can count on God’s faithfulness, his strength when we are weak, his deliverance from every evil work, and the knowledge that He will see us to the end. God is so good!

It will be worth it all, when we see Jesus; Life’s trials will seem so small, when we see Christ; One glimpse of His dear face, all sorrow will erase; So bravely run the race, till we see Christ!

That’s the Word! Take it with you. God bless you.

Careful What You Pray For-You Might Just Get It!

PRAYINGI’ve heard people say that when they pray, and ask God for something, they pray specifically. Not a thing wrong with that. 1 John 5:15 says: And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of him. It says whatever we ask right? More on that later. Right down to the make and model, people pray for their next car. Right down to his or her height, weight, hair color, build and complexion, people pray for a spouse. There can’t be anything wrong with praying for what you want when scripture explicitly states: Delight yourself also in the Lord, And he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4). Seems like a body can’t go wrong. Seems. 

There’s a great quote I read on social media recently, it said, ‘Sometimes God will give you exactly what you wanted just to show you it’s not all you needed.’ I think there’s an element of truth in the statement. When I read it, my mind was immediately brought to Psalm 106. Verses 12-15 say: Then they believed his words; They sang his praise. They soon forgot his works; they did not wait for his counsel; But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul. In summary we see that God had been good to the children of Israel on the heels of the miracle at the Red Sea. As long as they believed His Word, they were able to praise Him. However when they took their eyes off Him (because this is inevitably how it happens), they forgot Him and His good works, and because their focus was now on self, began to lust after evil things. They no longer sought after Him or waited to hear from Him for their life’s direction. God in turn, because they persisted in this behavior, gave them what they were asking for. This then triggered an emptiness, a scantiness and leanness in their souls. They now could no longer enjoy fellowship with the Lord. Why did this happen? It happened because what they received from the Lord was not what He wanted them to have! This is a natural consequence many times of getting what we want when what we want is outside the circle of His will.

If 1 John 5:15 is isolated it would seem as though it says that no matter what you want, just ask and receive. God is supposed to give me the desires of my heart, right? Well, when your desires line up with His will, yes, because in 1 John 5:14 it says: And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us. (italics mine). Remember that He is not bound by your word but by His. Our wish is not His command. I heard a pastor say just the other day that we should command our needs to God and He will answer. He cited Isaiah 45:11 which says in part: Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me. The sermon was entitled ‘On Demand Prayer.’ What a horrible and despicable twisting of scripture! Trying to get people to believe that all we have to do is command the Lord and He will come through! If you tell people a good sounding lie long enough, they will believe it. No, the prayers God will answer in His time are those in accordance with His will. For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. (Matthew 6:32b). Delighting ourselves in the Lord means submitting ourselves to His will and being satisfied with it; even if it seems not to be what I wanted.

James says that the reason we don’t get what we want when we pray is because we ask improperly and seek to consume or waste it upon our own desires. (James 4:3). The bottom line is this; we do not tell God what we want, rather we ask Him for what we need. Keeping myself firmly entrenched within the circle of His will and delighting myself in Him, will ensure that I will receive the petitions I have asked of Him. So that I do not receive leanness in my soul, dissatisfaction and wind up regretting  receiving what I thought I wanted, I need to be careful what I ask for. If I don’t do this, I may be asking for trouble.

That’s the Word! Take it with you. God bless you.

Don’t Tickle My Ears-Tell Me The Truth!

truthliesFor the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned to fables. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

A smile. A scripture. A shout. Your best life is now! A smile. A scripture. A shout. You are the righteousness of God! A smile. A scripture. A shout. It is the year of your destiny! Depending on who you see, you may hear that it’s the year of plenty, or the year of power, or something else. Which year is it? Anyway, these are just a few of the more popular mantras heard nowadays from various preachers and teachers.

Look, no one wants to hear a ‘hard’ word. We could do without all the, what most call ‘negativity.’ Preaching about things like sin, judgment, and the like is not considered a good day in God’s house. Most prefer to be told that everything is alright, or how good they are and definitely how good God is. Only there is a problem. What about the difficult times? How do I deal with temptation or the more weightier issues of life? You can’t deal with these types of things with just a simple smile, a scripture (usually out of context), and a nice sounding slogan. Tell me how to deal with real life. Don’t give me candy, or sweet sounding remedies. Please, tell me what I need to hear, not what I want to hear!

Our scripture above from 2 Timothy says that the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine. We are there. I believe that now, more than any time in history there has been an inundation of false doctrine that has entered the church. The devil knows his time is short. Anyone who is willing to step into his world of doctrinal deception will be welcomed with open arms. The verse then says that at that time they will not endure sound doctrine. Who are the ‘they’ in this verse? Believers. It says that believers will not be able to endure or bear or even put up with truth. Many believers these days are hungering for something fresh, new and different. Don’t give me the same old messages recycled. Tell me something that will excite me. Look, if the Word doesn’t excite you as it is, you’ve already fallen off. No one needs to add a little spice or sugar to it to make you feel better. The scripture goes on to say that in order to fulfill this lust for more, believers will seek out preachers and teachers who will tell them what they want to hear. The itching ears referred to here is their desire to be audibly tickled. As we said, ‘Tell me what I want to hear; make me feel good.’ What immediately happens when anyone desires to have their ears tickled? They automatically turn their ears away from the truth. They choose poison over medicine. Notice that final phrase in verse 4, ‘and shall be turned unto fables.’ If one turns away from what is true, they have only one recourse, that is to turn to lies, fables and myths.

The Apostle Peter tells us what we should be desiring. In 1 Peter 2:2 he says: As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby. Once again I say, don’t tickle my ears-tell me the truth! It’s what we need.

That’s the Word! Take it with you. God bless you.

The Devil’s Joy or Things Church Folk Do That Make the Devil Smile

Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. 2 Corinthians 2:11

And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will. 2 Timothy 2:26

As Christians, we have a common enemy. Scripture tells us plainly that like a roaring lion, he walks around seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8). Because of this, we need to be vigilant. He will use every tactic in his arsenal that he is allowed to use against us. He will take every opportunity that he is given to halt, slow down, and frustrate the child of God and the work of God. Christians know this, and most will agree to each of these statements. So then how is it that the enemy seems to be making such headway in today’s church? With false teaching running rampant, entertainment taking the place of the Spirit of God and leaders opting for psychology over solid biblical counseling and guidance, it is no wonder things are the way they are. It’s as if anything goes nowadays. Slap a ‘Christian’ label on it and all of a sudden it’s Christian. It doesn’t work that way. What we don’t want to ever do is play into the enemy’s hands. We ought to be doing what the devil hates. Do things that frustrate him. Resist him and he will flee…(James 4:7). We ought to be becoming educated Christians so that the enemy does not so easily deceive us. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ…(2 Peter 3:18). Sometimes I think the devil just stands back, with arms folded and a big smile on his face when he sees some of the things God’s people do. Sort of a measure of joy. Now I realize that in actuality this is not the case. I know that in actuality there is war taking place in the heavenlies; yet I do believe he is happy when we veer off and do things we should not.

Some may not agree with the following list I have compiled. Some may be offended. That is not my intent, but it’s where I am and what I see. I believe the devil smiles:smile

-when Christians substitute gimmicks for the Spirit of God.

-when Christians believe that there is actually a such thing as Christian rap, rock or hip hop.

-when we go to church to be entertained, rather than to hear the Word of God.

-when Christians do nothing but dance and shout during praise and worship-then sleep when the Word goes out.

-when saints leave church ‘blessed’ because they ‘had church’-but actually leave unchanged.

-when our dance is in step with the music in the church-but our lives are not in step with the Spirit outside the church.

-when saints believe that prayer shawls are necessary and actually serve a purpose.

-when leaders continue to schedule revivals rather than seek His face for a God given, heaven sent one.

-when no altar call is given-and the unsaved remain that way.

-when false teaching goes out from the pulpit-and is embraced.

-when folk are baptized-without the benefit of being saved first.

-when we think that the louder we shout, we will scare the devil away.

-when the music gets louder and louder, the beat gets faster and faster-and the Holy Ghost moves further and further away.

-when saints believe that the Holy Ghost ‘shows up and shows out.’

-when flesh and pure emotion replace the moving of the Holy Ghost-and saints don’t even know that He has left the building.

That’s it. You’re probably wondering, ‘What has gotten into this guy’s craw?’ Not a thing. I’ve just seen so very much and heard so very much. I just want what is real. That should be what we all want. God has given us discernment. Seek the Lord and ask Him to show you truth. I don’t want a popcorn Christianity or a rollercoaster Christianity. Christianity was meant to be lived in victory. That victory is found at the foot of the cross. Christians walk around daily in bondage to some thing or another and all we do to combat it when we get to church is jump, sweat, and try to shout it out. The devil doesn’t care if you shout and jump. But if I only whisper the name of Jesus in faith, the devil will not be able to stand! None of those peripheral things will give me victory. Things like jumping, shouting, running, chanting, waving banners or flowers (that’s what I said-I’ve seen it), make us feel good and they will make you tired, but they won’t make you victorious. All of these things (except the flowers of course), may have their place in a service that is led and directed by the Spirit of God. But even then, remember that the Spirit of God is not going to go outside of the parameters of His Word to do something that you think He is saying. I must be careful to operate within the framework of scripture, because when I step outside of His Word, I am operating out of self and flesh. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.(Romans 8:8)  

The fact is that when we get away from the Word of God and the Spirit of God, things just get silly. Lord, draw me close and keep me close through the power of your cross. Amen.

That’s the Word! Take it with you. God bless you.