Thursday, March 28, 2013

This is the day the Lord has made!

"This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it."  Psalm 118:24

Rejoice in the Lord!  There are days when times seem tough.  But everyday is full of his new mercies.  We have to make a decision whether we will rejoice in the Lord or let the cares of this world weigh us down.  Although life is not always easy, when we praise God in the midst our of trials our spirit is uplifted and it seems to put all things in perspective despite our circumstances.

If we can daily see the goodness of God in the midst of tragedy and loss, we hold on.  God never promised us that we would not have problems here, but he said that he would give us a comforter and that is part of who he is, the Holy Spirit.  If we turn to him, he will comfort us in our time of need and be our very present help.

I don't think we will always fully grasp the why things happen this way, but what I do know is the end of the dark season there is light at the end of the tunnel.  I know this personally as I had experienced much pain, loss and hurt.  I know that the season were not always easy, but what I found is that God did a work in my heart.  It was a softening work from a hard heart into a pliable heart.  It was one that could give thanks to God for the wonderful things that he has done for me.  When I think about how he sent his son Jesus to die for me and his son sits in glory at the right hand of God, how can I not give praise.  He paid such a price for me.  I was doomed to death and destruction and now God had blessed me because he remembered my sins no more and has given me a new life.

Yes, there are times when I see the myself in my failures and weaknesses.  However, God reminds me of the covenant of Jesus Christ and I am now renewed into a hope of eternal glory. I am no longer born of man or of a human decision, but born of God.  God has imparted into a seal and promise, the gift who is the Holy Spirit living in me.  I know that I have God with me and that he will help me finish out my faith walk.  I am truly thankful for that.

So when I think about the trials in this life, I stop and give praise to God and his son Jesus.  When I am in an attitude of praise for his great plan of salvation I find my hope being renewed and the life springing forth.  So my hope today for each and everyone of you is that you will rejoice today for this is the day the Lord has made!

Set Apart for God

"Sanctify them by the truth your word is truth." John 17:17

Jesus prayed for his disciples. He knew that his time was short and he went on to share that they were not of this world.  He prayed not to take them out of the world, but to protect them from the evil one. He then closes his prayer by asking God to sanctify them.

Sanctify means to set apart for God. When Jesus asks for them to be sanctified by he truth and then defines truth as his word. The word of God is what brings in light and truth into our life. Jesus is the embodiment of the word and it sanctifies us by showing God's will for our life. It also provides revelation of who he is and his righteous requirement. The word ministers life and washes and cleanses our minds. We are renewed in our minds and hearts to see things as God sees them.

God desires that all men come to the full knowledge of the truth.  This comes in through receiving Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  When we encounter Jesus and begin to read his word it begins the sancifying process of setting us apart to fulfill his will. He begins to speak to us through his word which gives us instruction on how to lead a godly life.  His word becomes a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. We are made the righteousness in Christ through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit and his word.

He builds us up in faith through hearing the word of God.  He also becomes power in our weakness.  He begins to teach us how to trust in him because he is faithful to his word.  We are made whole in Christ. We become the light of the world who so need truth. We become that vessel of glory through by being transformed into the same image from glory to glory.  When we allow the sanctifying work into our lives we will begin to experience daily more of who God is giving us hope.  Today do not lose heart but press onto the goal to which you were called.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Faith Versus Feelings

"Therefore. The promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace to all Abraham's offspring-"'  
Romans 4:16

Walking by faith is not how we feel for the day.  Many times we can get into our feelings.  We may be feeling God is not there for me or that we are unloved and no one cares about me.  We may be feeling rejected, hurt or angry.  When we get into how we feel about a ourselves or a situation rather than by walking in faith, we could end up in emotional turmoil.  Our day is based upon our feelings rather than an act of our will believing in the truths that God has promised us.

The enemy wants us to be focused on ourselves and our feelings.  I am not saying that if you have been hurt or are in pain you should ignore it.  What I am saying is that your feelings should not rule your day.  We can choose where we spend our time in our thoughts.  We can make a decision as an act of our will to choose to have a good day despite the start.   We can still choose to love others even though we have been hurt by them.  We can choose to bless rather than to curse others.

Sometimes though it is a process.  Many times when people have been hurt, their boundaries have been violated.  When we have been injured by others, we begin to be led by our feelings rather than by our will.  These traumatic and stressful experiences begin to trigger our response from how others treat us rather than being able to act by the will of God.  Our expectation of others causes the injury because we expected them to act a certain way when in fact they may not be capable of it.  Although this may seem practical, expectations of man can lead to great disappointment.  We are told that man will always fail us.  So we need to shift our hope and trust from man to God.

When we begin to put our faith and trust in God in a situation, we can begin to share the hurt and pain with him and ask him to heal us from the emotional pain and hurt feelings.  The Holy Spirit is there for us to comfort us in our time of need.  If we need healing, then we need to turn to God and ask for the comforting of the Holy Spirit.   When the healing process begins, then we can begin to see things the way God intended us to see things.  We see that all of us have a need for God and that we all have weaknesses and fail in life.  This gives us the ability then to begin to extend grace to others because we begin to remove our expectations from them to the promises of God.

God has a promise and sure word for every situation in your life.  If your spouse or child needs salvation, he has promises for household salvation.  If you have a need for finances, he has promises for you that he will take care of your needs according to his riches and glory.  If you need healing, he has promises that by his stripes ye are healed.  If you need love, he demonstrated his love by sending his one and only son to die for you.  If you need someone to be there for you, he is and confirms it by telling us he will never leave us or forsake us.  He is "I AM", which means he is the "I am" what you have need of at this moment.

This comes by faith and believing that God honors his word and his promises.  Faith is an action that comes by hearing the word of God and allowing it to penetrate your heart and your mind until it comes to fruition into your heart as truth.  God desires that you know the truth, so the truth will set you free.  He desires that you come to know him by who he is rather than by how you feel.   Feelings are fickle.  Daily they change.  God desires today that you come into faith so that you may see the fulfillment of his promises.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Way of the Cross

"and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me."  Matthew 10:38

The hardest thing to do is to die to self.  Jesus said you must pick up your cross, deny yourself and follow me.  So many times when we are going through problems in life we have such difficulty getting beyond ourselves.  When we understand the kingdom of God and his righteousness comes when we realize we are not our own, but were bought with a price.  We too now need to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.  This also means a dying to self.

The self is one that exalts itself up against the knowledge of God.  We can easily get caught up in ruts when we have difficulties because we become focused on ourselves and our circumstances.  The enemy then uses God against us and we begin to question God.  We don't understand why God is doing this to us.  What we tend to forget is that we are in a world that is fallen.  Satan for now is still present and reeking havoc on earth.  What God has given us is his son with instructions on how to remain in him.  We are in a battle that God has won, but we have to deny the flesh in order to complete the mission.  Jesus tells us that we would have trials and tribulations in our life.  These trials as we read in the New Testament show that they are used to prove our faith and to bring out perseverance, character and hope.

We are not living for this world and it's riches, ease of life and goodness.  We are in anticipation of the eternal things.  We are promised eternal life and a kingdom beyond this one.  We are given a guarantee of what is to come with a taste of his goodness today by what he has done through his son Jesus.

When we get caught up in the here and now, we will live our life in discouragement and hopelessness.  When we get caught up in Jesus, we live our life for his glory.  We then become like him in his nature and walk in the spirit of God rather than the lusts of the flesh and the pride of life.  We look for the things eternal.  We hope and believe the best because we know that we are just sojourners passing through this life.  In the process of it all, we desire to take as many of those around us with us, so that they may rejoice one day in the heavenly kingdom rule and reign.

When we look upward, we know that our redemption draws nigh.  So today when you are facing the darkness of this world, look up.

For Such A Time As This

"For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, 
but you and your father's family will perish.  And who knows but that you have 
come to royal position for such a time as this."  Esther 4:14

God has a plan and purpose for each of our lives.  He orchestrates life from beginning to end.  He planned the day we were born and he has placed us in areas where we are to fulfill his calling in our lives.  You have come for such a time as this.

In Ecclesiates we are told in Chapter 3 that there is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens. He has outlined and landscaped the plan.  He is calling us now to fulfill his purposes.  Esther was to save the Jewish nation from annihilation.  She was to bring salvation so that they may live.  God today has surrounded us with those around us who too are dying.  They are dying in their sin and need a savior.

He has placed a field ripe that is ready for the harvest.  When you look to your left  you see a person in suffering and when you look to your right you see one in pain.  Both are wandering around aimlessly without hope.  They laugh and try to enjoy the things of the world, but inside they are empty inside, sad and hopeless.  They need to know the good news.  They are perishing before your very eyes and yet no one says a word.

God is looking for one who is willing to pray and seek him.  He is looking for one who will rebuild the walls of the city.  He is looking for someone to do as Nehemiah did, fast and pray, then wait for the opening.  He is waiting for someone to arrive at the fish gate and fish.  He is looking for fishers of men.  He needs for the workers to come along side Nehemiah and help rebuild the wall.  There is opposition when this occurs.  You have the mockers and scoffers.  Idle threats come your way, but God is saying they are powerless.  If you hold firm to my truth and faith.

He is desiring that we rise up and become that bride, the one without spot or wrinkle.  The one seeking the glorious way looking above to our God.  The one who is truly love and who loves us.  He is looking to have us bring the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world.  Today, we are the generation that has been born for such a time as this.  Let us not allow someone to take our place to bring relief and deliverance from those dying around us.  Let us be the ones who fulfill our roles and stand before God who will say "Good and faithful servant."

Friday, March 15, 2013

Every Good and Perfect Gift is From Above

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.  He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created."  

God gave us the good and perfect gift from above.  God sent us his heavenly son who he promised from the beginning.  He sent Jesus to die for our sins and to give us eternal life.  We were given a new birth.  We became the firstfruits of all he created.  We are now in a better lineage.  We are no longer born of man, but born of God.

In the context of James 1, he is talking about trials and temptations.  Many were encountering temptations believing that God was tempting them, but in reality they were being enticed by their own desires.  God does not tempt us, but we can be deceived into believing lies in our heart and allowing sin to be conceived if we are not careful.  Sometimes when we are going through a battle and struggling with our desires over the will of God, it can be difficult.  But God has a promise...."blessed is the man who perseveres under trail, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him" (James 1:12).  God knows that temptation will come our way.  He has given and equipped us to be able to overcome.  We have to remind ourselves of these truths and take action to overcome.  So James takes time to remind us of this one great truth, that every good and perfect gift is from above.  He reminded them of God's great gift.  He gave his one and only son that was promised through the word and that we could be be transformed through his son.  We could become like him in our nature through what his son has done for us.  He told them, God does not change.

When we focus on the goodness of God and his perfect gift, we will have victory.  For we know that our success in the battle and the overcoming of the temptation comes through him.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Deliverance is on it's Way

The Lord said, "I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt, I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their sufferings.  So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey -"  Exodus 2:7-8a

God is our deliverer.  Sometimes when deliverance is on it's way, the situation and circumstance can seem to get harder rather than easier.  We know this because we are told that" these fiery trials comes our way to prove our faith more precious than gold" in 1 Peter 1:7. 

The Israelites were now in bondage in Egypt.  They had no hope for themselves or for their offspring.  They had become slaves in a foreign land.  Although they had become numerous and fruitful, they were no longer able to enjoy the fruits of their labor.  Instead, they encountered a jealous and fearful Pharaoh who desired to kill their children and enslave them.  Their misery was so great that God heard them crying out.  He saw their suffering and now it was time to bring them up out of Egypt.

So God sent Moses to accomplish this task.  Moses was chosen to bring God's people out of Egypt.  God gave the word to Moses to go to Pharaoh to bring his people out of Egypt.  He even informed him that Pharaoh would not let his people go unless his mighty hand compels him to.  He let Moses know that he would perform mighty signs and miracles and would strike the Egyptians and when he is done that the Egyptians would be favorably disposed towards them so that they will not leave empty handed. 

Initally, the Israelites were excited to hear how God has heard them.  They were so humbled that they bowed down and worshipped God.  But this soon ended after Moses first meeting with Pharaoh.  Pharaoh increased their labor and kept the same quota.  As soon as the promise came to them, the trial soon followed. The trial came to test their faith in God.  Although they were given the promise of their deliverance, when the taskmasters beat them, they became discouraged.  Moses became the focus of their displeasure because he was the one who brought the word.  Although they had heard the sure word of their deliverance, when they experienced delay, pain, suffering and grief they
became faithless.  They let discouragement come between them and their promise.  Although Moses was informed that Pharaoh would not release them unless he was compelled to do so, Moses also became upset.  He told God "If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips?" However, God knew that they needed to have their faith built up. 

Faith would come through them coming to know God as being great.  He would reveal himself as God Almighty.  He was getting ready to show his greatness through signs, wonders and miracles.  He was teaching him to trust, no matter what he saw.  He was looking to show them that his word is true.  Just like he was with Abraham, Jacob and Isaac he too would be with them.  He was fulfilling the promise that he gave to Abraham 400 years ago.  He was bringing them into the promise land. 

God is our deliverer.   He sent his son Jesus to set the captives free, give sight to the blind and remove all oppression (Luke 4:18).  Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil (Acts 10:38).  Just as God came to deliver Israel from Pharaoh, God has come to deliver us through Jesus Christ from bondage, sin, oppression and spiritual blindness.  However, through the process we may encounter like Israel trials.  We know that trials are their to refine our faith.  It is there to remove those obstacles such as disappointment, discouragement, hopelessness and faithlessness from our lives.  These trials are used to refine our faith making it much more precious than gold.  It will give us the ability to trust in God and know who he is.  We come to know of his greatness through our trial.  We see our victory through him and his great love through Jesus Christ.  Although, we may be walking through a trial today, we have assurance and his sure word that he will deliver us. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Action Required for Battle

When Jesus died on the cross He said it is finished. Daily we are in a battle, it is a force that reckons with us to keep us from walking in all the fullness of what God has for us.  We daily need to put on the full armor of God to withstand the evil of the day. When we put on the armor we put on Jesus. Jesus is the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness and gospel of peace.  Our faith and salvation are in him.  He is the word of God and that is what we have inscribed on our hearts and on our minds.

God has equipped us to overcome.  In James 4:7-8, he shares with us the following:  "submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you.  Cleanse your hands, ye sinners, and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

Submit = accept or yield to a superior force (Jesus) or to the authority or will of another person (Jesus).  Jesus has to be Lord over your life first and foremost.

Resist = to withstand, strive against or oppose; to withstand the action or effect of such as resist infection and resist temptation.  I thought that was so interesting that they used to resist infection.  Sometimes the devil throws out a few symptoms and we talk ourselves into being sick.

Cleanse = rid of something seen as unpleasant, unwanted or those horrible thoughts.  If we believe the lies of the enemy and do not renew our minds with the word of God, we defile ourselves and the enemy comes and makes his unwanted and unpleasant presence known to us.

Sinner = one who broke the law and has not repented (turned from his/her sinful way).  Jesus fulfilled the law and nailed it to the cross, however, we are to cleanse ourself from the repetitive sinful nature by renewing our minds to the truth and resisting the devil who is tempting us.  We may not always be successful and when we fail we do have an advocate in heaven who will cleanse us by receiving His finished work of the cross.

Purify = remove contaminates from; make ceremonially clean; cleanse our soul; to rid of impurities; cleanse; to rid of foreign and objectionable elements; to free from guilt or moral or ceremonial blemish; to clear imperfection.  Jesus is the one who purifies us through His blood.  He also desires for us to take action to let Him prune for us those areas where we defile ourselves and bring ourselves back into guilt and condemnation.  When we see our blemish or unpure way, it can keep us from walking in all the fullness of what God has for us.  He has given us His Holy Spirit to give us power to overcome.  We are to ask for the power to overcome.  He has also given us people in the body where we can confess our sins and seek to have prayers of agreement to be healed and delivered from these actions.

Double Minded = wavering or undecided in our minds.  One day we believe God, but the next day we do not.  We see our circumstances and they haven't changed.  We can become double-minded.  Faith is the substance of things hoped for, things unseen.  We have to rely and trust that God is faithful.  That He is trustworthy.  Sometimes that is a process. During trials, we see our weaknesses and lack of faith.  However, God tells us if we use what He has given us, He will prevail.  Faith comes by hearing and hearing the word of God.  God's word is true.  Sometimes it takes a while to get to the point of renewing our minds to believe.  However, if you continue you will presevere and be victorious.

God desires for us to walk in victory. He is there ready and waiting for us to turn and draw nigh to Him and He will draw nigh to us.  May the God of all peace give you the ability to overcome and resist the devil today!

God Rewards Those Who Seek Him

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.  Hebrews 11:6

God rewards those who earnestly seek him.  Those that seek God must have faith in him.  It is a faith that hopes in the things unseen.  Hebrews 11 we get a picture of the great men of faith.  These men encountered God, believed in him and held on to the promise that God gave them.  They were commended for their faith. Many of these did not see the fulfillment of what God had promised.  Yet through it all, they sought God.

As we read we find that Abel was a man of faith, because he gave a better sacrifice than Cain.  By faith Enoch was taken from this life and did not experience death because God had taken him away.  By faith Noah was warned about things not yet seen and built an ark to save his family.  By faith Abraham was called to go to a place that would later be his inheritance and left without knowing where he was going.  He became a stranger in a foreign land and lived in tents.  By faith, even his barren wife Sarah was enabled to have a child and he became a father of many nations. By faith, when Abraham was tested by God he offered Isaac, his one and only son as a sacrifice.  Abraham knew that it was through Isaac that his offspring would come forth.  Because of what God promised,  Abraham reasoned that God could raise his son from the dead.  We continue to read about Moses parents who hid their son for three months after he was born.  They were not afraid of the king's edict.  Moses by faith refused to be known as the Pharoah's daughter and chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.  He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ greater than the treasures of Egypt. These were men of great faith.  Still even more who chose the road that is narrow.  They were faced with adversity, hardship, death and chose to believe God over their circumstances.  Their hope was not in this world.  They knew that they had a better promise.  They knew that no matter what happened, they would seek God and his will.  They knew he would reward them.

They understood that they were strangers to this world.  Their hope was in a better country. Their eyes were set on the things above.  They were looking for the city of God.  They were seeking the promise that was from afar.  Some of these great men of faith were willing to give up their position of status and riches.  Others gave their lives.  Some were tortured, chained and put in prison. Others were killed.  Some conquered kingdoms, administered justice and gained what was promised.  Then there were those whose weakness was turned to strength.  Along with those who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.

No matter what you are facing today, God desires that we come to the place where our hope is not in this world.  He desires that we believe that he exists and he rewards those who earnestly seek him.  The enemy tries to get us to believe that when something goes wrong or something bad happens, that God did this to you or doesn't care, but those who believed also experienced pain, sorrow, loss and hurt.  This world is fallen and God desires that we walk by faith knowing that God does care for us and has plans for our life.  I don't understand why bad things have happened in some of our lives, but God is one who knows everything.  He desires to restore our soul and to bring us hope.  He tells us that one day he will wipe away every tear from our eyes.  We will be free from the hurt, the pain and the sorrow in this life.  He has given us an eternal hope and we know that although we can have a foretaste of his goodness now, he will truly know that we will reward us for seeking him.  Today we will go from blessing to blessing, hope to hope, faith to faith, life to life and glory to glory.