Saturday, May 31, 2014

May 31: The proper way to ask

Ask and it will be given to you… For everyone who asks receives.  (Matthew 7:7,8  NET)

Jesus must have intended for us to understand this promise to mean that a person should ask, and keep on asking until he receives what he is asking for. Clearly, asking once is not always enough. Elijah on Mount Carmel prayed seven times before it rained, Jesus Himself prayed a second time for a blind man, Hannah had prayed countless times for a son and had gotten nothing, until one day she prayed like she had never prayed, and there are the examples of the Syrophoenician woman, the persistent widow, and Bartimaeus. So whenever we approach God to ask Him for something, we should be prepared to persist in our prayers. Instead of giving up after one try and assuming that what we have asked for is not God’s will because we did not immediately receive it, if it is something that falls within the general will of God, we should be bold and tireless in our asking. At times God is intent on testing our character in the process.

Isn’t it interesting to note that Jesus places no conditions on the asking; whoever has the faith to ask will receive. Faith is a great leveler. Rich, poor, handsome, ugly, old, young, educated, uneducated, holy man, sinner… all have to use the same means to get what they want from God — we all have to ask in faith. The rich man does not have an advantage over the poor, nor can the well-spoken assume he will be heard before the stutterer. All are required to manifest a bold, audacious faith, being sure that what they do not yet see is already theirs. Though billions of people pray every day, many do not even come close to the type of asking that God is looking for.

“Everyone who asks receives” is a wonderful guarantee that if we persist in asking, and have an unwavering faith, our request will be granted. Remember, God wants us to receive more than we want to receive. He loves to give, it’s just that He wants us to develop character along the way, not just receive the blessing.

Friday, May 30, 2014

May 30: Called to be pioneers

For indeed he who makes holy and those being made holy all have the same origin, and so he is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.  (Hebrews 2:11  NET)

The first phrase of this promise says that we have the same origin as Jesus. This can be understood in two ways: Jesus was fully God and fully man while He was on earth. Though He was God, He left behind His power and glory when He became a man, and lived exactly like any one of us, except that He was sinless. In this way, we have the same origins. The Lord Jesus lived on earth as a human, just like us. But the other meaning of this phrase is that Jesus is God (no less and no more than God the Father and the Spirit) and each of us has been made in the image of God. Though we are flesh and blood and have many failures and weaknesses, we have godly qualities that have the ability to utterly transform our lives if we use them.

Today’s promise continues… Jesus is NOT ashamed to call us brothers and sisters. When we grab a hold of faith and surrender our lives to Him, we become a part of God’s family. No matter where we’ve come from, or what we’ve done, no matter what the world thinks or what it says about us, God welcomes us into His family. Jesus calls us His brothers and sisters. Few, if any of us, will ever have the honor to visit the White House as the President’s guest, and sleep in the Lincoln bedroom. Few have had the opportunity to study at the best schools or get prestigious degrees that cause us to be acknowledged by others.  Yet all of us can become brothers and sisters of Jesus. The poor and uneducated will be raised up to positions of honor, and the rich and highly educated will have to humble themselves and find fulfillment in God’s honor and not the world’s.

In the verse leading up to this promise, Jesus is referred to as a “pioneer”. This Greek word can be translated as "prince,” “captain,” or “leader.” But the word communicates more, it also means a person who does what has never been done before, who breaks new ground… a trailblazer or pioneer. This word is used 35 times in the Greek Old Testament and 4 times in the New, and always in relation to the Lord Jesus Christ.  Because of that, it’s logical to say that we are called to be pioneers like Him.  By faith we need to do what no one has ever had the courage to do before. Because our origins are the same as the Lord Jesus’, we should be spiritually audacious like Him, and determine great things for the glory of God. 

Let’s be the first, the pioneers, the ones who lead the way.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

May 29: Time is short

But woe to the earth and the sea because the devil has come down to you! He is filled with terrible anger, for he knows that he only has a little time.  (Revelation 12:12  NET)

This negative sounding promise is actually very positive for those of us who take it to heart. The devil is fully aware of how little time he has left, and is filled with terrible anger, but can we say the same about Christians and the Church? Christians as a whole overemphasize peace — don’t rock the boat and just hold on until they reach heaven — but are not worried about accomplishing great things for God in this world. How many of the top 100 billionaires in the world are Christian? Probably not even one. But if there was, imagine what a difference he or she could make in spreading the gospel, not only monetarily, but through his or her testimony and example of faith.

Feeling too much peace makes us complacent.  It causes us to take our foot off the accelerator; it makes us weak. We should be worried and frustrated about how little time we have left to save souls, and to make an impact in the world. Does anyone doubt that drug dealers and prostitutes are bolder in pushing their products than Christians are in evangelizing to the lost? A person can risk his life over and over while serving the devil, change his life and get saved, and then be embarrassed to stand up for what he now believes. This is wrong. If the devil is filled with a terrible anger and knows that the time is short, we as God’s children should be angrier at the state of a suffering world, and even more conscious of how little time we have.

On the other hand, when the full force of the devil’s anger comes against us, we can’t become discouraged.  It’s just a sign of the devil’s frustration at being on the losing side, knowing that he only has defeat and punishment waiting for him. Whenever the devil shows he’s angry against us, we should celebrate — that’s a great sign!  It means that our faith makes him frustrated, threatened and afraid of us, and few things in life are better signs than that.

Let’s determine to make better use of the time we have, saving the lost and making a difference in this world.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

May 28: We have not seen Him…

You have not seen him, but you love him. You do not see him now but you believe in him, and so you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, because you are attaining the goal of your faith — the salvation of your souls.  (1 Peter 1:8,9  NET)

Isn’t it amazing how we who believe, are absolutely sure that Jesus lived on earth, died, and rose again over 2000 years ago, even though we were not there to see it? Many have never been to Jerusalem, to see the Upper Room where the last supper was held, the hill where He was crucified, or the tomb where He was buried, yet are certain that those things occurred just like the Bible says. Ordinarily we only believe what we see and touch.  Yet when it comes to faith, an important spiritual law comes into play — we become certain of what we do not yet see.

Many wish they could have lived when Jesus was on earth, to have actually touched Him and heard Him speak. But John 20 says that people who believe in Him, though they have not seen Him, are more blessed that those who believed because they saw Him. Intrinsic to faith is the ability to be sure of something before it has come to pass, only because God has promised, because it’s His nature to do such things. It’s not wise to wish we had lived in another time and had other opportunities. God in His wisdom decided to have us live at this very moment.  We need to accept that and be determined to make a difference now. To have never seen Jesus and yet believe only makes us more blessed — our faith is of a purer quality because we don’t depend on what we have seen.

Do you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy? Are you filled with joy when you think about how you’re saved and bound for heaven? Do you even think about heaven? When we do think about heaven and the blessings that are waiting for us, we receive strength and courage to fight against problems and the devil. Those who don’t spend time meditating on their salvation are not listening to the Holy Spirit, and may not be as spiritually mature as they think they are.  They are living dangerously. This indescribable and glorious joy about our salvation is what Paul means when he mentions salvation as part of the armor of God — our helmet. Meditating about it protects our head, our thoughts from the devil and sin, and helps us to keep perspective in this confusing world. This joy is not automatic, we have to choose to experience it, to focus our thoughts on it.  And when we do, we become strong.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

May 27: Undeserving of God’s great mercy

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he gave us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, that is, into an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. It is reserved in heaven for you, who by God’s power are protected through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. This brings you great joy, although you may have to suffer for a short time in various trials. (1 Peter 1:3-6  NET)

Peter wrote this letter to the men and women of faith “living abroad” in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, the province of Asia, and Bithynia — modern day Turkey. These believers had fled the Christian persecution in Jerusalem and settled in other parts of the world, but were still undergoing persecution. But Peter was no different, he wrote this letter from Rome — using the code word “Babylon” for that city — and was about to be martyred himself. And yet he was brimming with faith and encouragement, far from being depressed, negative, anxious, or bitter. It is abundantly clear that he considered the Lord Jesus his greatest treasure.

The fact that our salvation is based on God’s great mercy, not on our goodness and holiness is a truth that we cannot forget. God has compassion on us in spite of our sins and failings, which are many. Not one of us deserves God’s mercy, but when we turn to Him in faith and have pure hearts, He treats us much, much better than we deserve. Anyone who thinks that he has very few sins is far away from God; the closer we get to Him the more we understand how sinful and unworthy we are, and the more grateful we are to Him for considering us worthy of His mercy. Only when we continually remind ourselves of this truth will we be shielded from the pride and laziness that causes so many to fall away from the Lord Jesus.

Peter mentions an interesting concept in today’s promise: we have been given new birth into a LIVING HOPE through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Our hope is not wishful thinking. It is not static and passive, it is alive. It is a strong, living conviction about God’s promises — our blessings now and our future in heaven — that develops and grows as the years go by. Once more, when we have this type of hope we guard ourselves from falling away from Him. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

May 26: Sickness’ link with idolatry

You must not bow down to their gods or worship them. Do not imitate their practices. Instead, demolish them and smash their sacred pillars to pieces. Worship the Lord your God, and He will bless your bread and your water. I will remove illnesses from you.  (Exodus 23:24-25 HCSB)

There is a direct connection between honoring demons and sickness.  Though curses may sound like a medieval concept, they are very real, and the Bible makes that clear.  We have known countless examples of people who have sought our help for a sickness that doctors could find no cure for, only to discover that evil spirits were the cause of that sickness.  When the demons were driven out, the disease left with them.  Their healings baffled their doctors, but proved that the Word of God is true. 

Of course we live in a world where viruses and bacterial infections are all around us.  Just because someone is sick doesn’t mean that they are being cursed, or that they are somehow spiritually to blame for that sickness.  Everyone gets the sniffles, everyone gets a few infections now an then that a trip to the doctor can take care of. But there are many more cases of illnesses that cannot be cured by doctors that are the direct result of an evil force trying to claim the life of that person – either to take their life completely, or to cause them to suffer for the rest of their lives.  

Holding onto idols of any sort, whether they are just trinkets, statues, books, philosophies, or lifestyles, is the same as Satan worship.  When people “bow down”, figuratively speaking, to the love of money, their obsessions, addictions, immoral behavior, and anything that takes them away from God, they are bowing down to demonic forces that promise them happiness.  In return for that worship, these spirits can easily curse them with sicknesses of body and mind.

God wants to heal, to deliver us from the pain of sickness and disease, but He asks that we be faithful to Him alone.  Worship the Lord your God, smash and destroy all remnants of those items, thoughts and desires that have become idols for you.  That is when even your bread and water will be blessed, and the sicknesses that have been sent to curse you will leave.  

If you have any items in your house that you know displease God, either throw them out immediately, or bring them to your local church for your pastor to destroy.  Then ask for a strong prayer of healing and deliverance for all your illnesses to be done away with.   

Sunday, May 25, 2014

May 25: The path to greatness

Then He called a child to Him and had him stand among them.  “I assure you,” He said, “unless you are converted and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child—this one is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  And whoever welcomes one child like this in My name welcomes Me.  (Matthew 18:2-5 HCSB)

A child looks at a loving parent with total trust, and will believe anything that parent says without a doubt.  A child tries a new skill, falls down, and gets right up to try again, over and over until he learns.  A child finds delight and laughter in the simplest of things, and when he is tired or in need of comfort, he runs to his parent’s arms and finds complete safety there.  A child knows that he is small and incapable of surviving on his own.  He sees himself as an extension of his parents, more like an extra limb than an independent person.  A child lives for the smiles, hugs and praises of his parents, and even when he is disciplined, he knows that it is out of love and does all he can not to repeat that mistake. 

The pride and stupidity of human nature loves to be exalted.  We judge ourselves, and others so wrongly when we become impressed with social status, knowledge or wealth.  We may not admit it, but our social reputation often blocks us from doing what is right, because we are too embarrassed to be seen behaving in a way that would make us look ridiculous in their eyes.  We won’t try something new, we won’t seek out help, we won’t admit our faults or ask forgiveness, because we don’t have that kind of humility that Jesus is talking about. 

But Jesus says that becoming humble like a child is what makes us great in the eyes of God!  And if we are great in God’s eyes, our power and effectiveness to defeat our problems is greater still.  “Unless you are converted and become like children…” can we assume that those who refuse to be humble are not truly converted?  Yes.  To convert from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of God requires humility, and the sacrifice of pride.  

Look at the examples in the first paragraph, and put yourself in the place of the child and God in the place of the parent.  Is that the way you relate to God?  Let go of the reins.  Forget about embarrassment.  Become great in His eyes.  Become humble like a child.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

May 24: How to avoid being trampled

You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its flavor, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled on by people.  (Matthew 5:15  NET)

In the first century salt was used, like it is today, as favoring for food. But another use that is not so common today was as a preservative. In the absence of refrigeration, meat could be salted and preserved for long periods of time, an important function in those times. It’s easy to see how Jesus intended both aspects of salt to characterize Christians’ lives. Because of our faith and standards of behavior, we add flavor to life. Whenever we interact with people they should be able to see that we are different, that we do not steal, do not lie, are not selfish, are not worldly, do not love money, are not immoral, do not panic in difficult times, and on and on. In a world that is daily slipping into more and more ungodly ways, that is controlled by demons, we have to be a breath of fresh air—hope for the future.

Salt symbolizes faith, and faith involves obedience to the Word of God and submission to God’s ways. Jesus poses the question of what should be done to salt that loses its saltiness, or, what can be done for a Christian that loses his faith. Just like unsalty salt becomes a useless white powder, so Christians that lose their faith and courage are transformed into useless people that are trampled under foot by demons, the devil, people, and situations of life. Just as unsalty salt is a ridiculous element, something that no one would buy at the store, a person that confesses faith in God but sees no results from that faith, and has no courage to act on it, is a ridiculous and pitiful creature.

Grab a hold of today’s promise and determine that you are the salt of the earth, that the power of God Almighty is coursing through your veins, and that you are going to make a difference in this world. People will frequently complain about you because they are not used to your saltiness, but now and again you will come across people who are dying for what you have, and who will join you as the salt of the earth.

Friday, May 23, 2014

May 23: The years the locust have eaten

So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust, my great army which I sent among you. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you; and My people shall never be put to shame.  (Joel 2:25,26  NKJV)

This promise is a lifeline for many of us who have lost years of our lives to the devil. God promises to restore the years that the locust have eaten. What an amazing promise! What hope we can have for the future because of this promise. In one year of faith in the Lord Jesus, you could recover from years of destruction that the devil brought upon you through addictions, depression, anger, a bad marriage, poverty, and any other tool of the devil. In other words, we don’t have to live in regret over the years we wasted because God in His greatness can restore the years that were devoured by demons. We don’t have to beat ourselves up for the years we spent as addicts, because now that we are free, God will use us to set many other addicts free, and through the help that we offer, the years will be restored to us.

In chapter one of Joel, the prophet warned the nation of Israel to repent from their sinfulness ways, because if they didn’t great devastation was headed their way.  Swarms of locusts were a symbol of an enemy nation that would devour and destroy whatever they could get a hold of.  When God’s people reject Him, they reject His protection and therefore become open targets for devouring spirits. The phrase, “My great army which I sent among you,” means that God in His greatness would use an attacking foreign army to accomplish His purposes… to turn His people back to Himself. He did not want His people to be attacked, but an army came from the north because of their idolatry and rebelliousness, a situation that God was determined to turn around for His people’s own good.

Demons are more crafty and innovative in their attacks than we realize.  The swarming locust, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, the chewing locust, can symbolize the various ways that evil can wreak havoc on our lives – internally through mental anguish, socially through isolation and broken families, physically through financial ruin and sickness – just like swarms of ravaging insects, demons are ruthless and relentless by nature.  

We are included in today’s promise, but what do restored years look like?

Of course we can’t turn back the clock and relive our childhoods, but we can begin living today with such an abundance of peace, joy, strength and clarity of mind, as if we had never gone through painful years when Satan had dominion over us.  Abused women can experience loving, healthy families as if they had always lived in the happiest of homes.  Those wounds can be totally wiped away.  Men who suffered years of mental illnesses can be so emotionally and intellectually strong, that they live more productive lives than those who had never gone through such struggles.  For every scenario of stolen years you can imagine, God has an abundance prepared to restore back to you. 

We have all lost years to locusts, the devil and demons have devoured many years of our lives, but if we turn back to God, humble ourselves, and have real faith in Him, all those years and more will be restored to us. We cannot afford not to do this!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

May 22: A life without curses

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us (because it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”) in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles, so that we could receive the promise of the Spirit by faith.  (Galatians 3:13-14  NET)

When people think of the cross of Jesus, they think of his dying for our sins, and unfortunately think of that as a very abstract philosophical idea.  This promise here, brings it home so much more. Jesus actually became a curse.  Imagine the most evil, twisted and depraved curse that a Satanist could muster against an enemy.  Jesus was the embodiment of that, and a million times more, as he hung on that cross for us and all humanity, past present and future.  

The curse that began from the time of Adam and Eve’s sin was to be separated from their loving, protective bond with God.  They chose to obey Satan, so by default, they chose to exile themselves from God’s presence and become open targets for the attacks of Satan.  Adam and Eve’s descendants, you and I, have suffered more and more as generations have passed, and Satan has devised newer and more effective ways to torture souls and drag them into hell.  But Jesus’ death and resurrection has broken that curse.  We never have to live under that oppression again!

So why is this world still so evil and the devil still so ruthless?  The answer comes at the end of the passage.  The curse is broken for those who “receive the promise of the Spirit by faith.”  Agreeing to the idea that Jesus broke the curse is not enough – only an active faith that lives out what it believes can do that.  That’s what the Spirit of faith is.  We need to confront the evil that attacks us by claiming this promise – Christ already became a curse for us, so Satan has no right to lay a hand on us.  Jesus made the sacrifice, but the fight and stubborn faith is up to us.  

This promise goes on to say that with that faith, we then become eligible to receive all the blessings of Abraham.  We are the spiritual Israel when our deep faith in the cross destroys our curses.  The Israel of the Old Testament defeated every enemy as long as they were faithful to God.  They prospered, grew, and were a shining example of God’s love and power to the world.  

That is what a life without curses is supposed to look like for us.  That’s what true faith in the cross creates, and this is exactly what we need to fight for and live like if we are truly His.    

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

May 21: Not too weak to deliver…

Look, the Lord’s hand is not too weak to deliver you; his ear is not too deaf to hear you.  (Isaiah 59:1  NET)

In the time of the prophet Isaiah, God’s people had turned away from Him and had turned to false gods, sexual immorality, the love of money, theft, violence, lies, and every other thing that displeased God. Though Isaiah preached and prophesied to them, few people responded to his message of repentance and change. He was blunt about their empty professions of loyalty to God, their hypocrisy, and their repentance, because it was only words, not a changed life. Though they fasted, their evil ways spoiled their fasts and made them unacceptable to God. Isaiah’s repeated message was that God was looking for holy lives, not meaningless ritual.

When the Holy Spirit inspired Isaiah to declare today’s promise, God was saying to them, and to us, that no matter what you’ve done, no matter how far you are from Him, no matter how long you’ve been content to live hypocritical lives, He has the power and the compassion to save you and make you His children again. His hand is never too weak… His ear is never too deaf… But they, and we, had to decide to humble themselves, give up their old ways of living, and decide to do things His way.

Getting rid of sin and changing bad habits is good, but more is needed. We need to have faith in God. Faith made Abraham who he was, and faith will transform us. But faith is not what many people think it is. It’s not a feeling of excitement, or wishing that God will do something. Faith is not the emotion we feel when we hear a Gospel song that we like. Faith is being absolutely sure that what God has promised will come true in our lives. Faith is not delicate. It’s not fragile. Faith is tough, and even offends the people around us at times. Faith stubbornly insists on what it is sure of, and believes that the God of the past is alive today, and that He still does what He did in the past.

Faith is absolutely sure of today’s promise… the Lord’s hand is NOT too weak to deliver you, and His ear is NOT too deaf to hear you.  Let’s stop playing around with faith and church, and get serious! God is just waiting for people to rise up and have an audacious faith in Him.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

May 20: Generosity of the heart

Give, and it will be given to you: A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be poured into your lap. For the measure you use will be the measure you receive.  (Luke 6:38  NET)

Jesus is preaching a longer sermon in this chapter that is deeper than mere dos and don’ts, but attitudes we need to have towards God and towards each other. The bottom line is that we all are completely indebted to God for everything we have. None of us has the right to cling to our opinions, our ways, our possessions or our lives, because all we have and know is a continuous gift from our Creator. We are to live in a spirit of generosity and gratitude for the lives we have.  

This verse is often used to refer to the giving of offerings, but it’s actually about a state of mind that offerings can naturally flow from.  It’s a state of total dependence on God with absolute trust in His goodness and desire to bless His own. When we give mercy to people that seem unworthy of love, we will receive even more back from God.  When we give kindness, effort, understanding, goodness, we are guaranteed to have it all returned to us in abundance by a loving Father who has already given us more than we deserve to begin with.    

Those who complain about the giving of offerings and tithes (Jesus refers to the importance of tithes in Matthew 23) are completely blind to the generous character of God.  He is a God of abundant giving.  He loves to see His children blessed, but they first need to exhibit that same character of joyful giving as well.  When we give freely, we show not only that we trust in Him, but that we are LIKE Him, that we have a heart of giving. That is when He is able to give back to us freely.  

Our generosity may seem like a lot to us, but being a recipient of God’s generosity is beyond comparison. Our abundance is a pittance compared to His.  Once we believe that, we can throw off our fear of giving, become more like Him, and enjoy partaking in His goodness.

Monday, May 19, 2014

May 19: The danger of scoffers

How blessed is the one who does not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand in the pathway with sinners, or sit in the assembly of scoffers! Instead he finds pleasure in obeying the Lord’s commands; he meditates on his commands day and night. He is like a tree planted by flowing streams; it yields its fruit at the proper time, and its leaves never fall off. He succeeds in everything he attempts. Not so with the wicked. Instead they are like wind-driven chaff.   (Psalm 1:1-4  NET)

There is no indication of who wrote this Psalm or what the circumstances its writing were, but it seems to be a quick summary of the lessons that Israel learned throughout its history. It contrasts the blessings of following God with the futility of turning away from Him, and through this initial psalm the Holy Spirit appears to set the tone for the rest of the book.

The first sentence describes increasing levels of evil that still exist today, three to four thousand years later. Following the advice of the wicked leads to standing in the pathway of sinners, which leads to sitting in the assembly of scoffers. First the devil wants us to follow his advice by listening to words of fear and doubt from a friend or colleague, then he wants us to seeking out their friendship and stand with them, getting accustomed to their ways. Finally, he wants us to sit in the assembly of scoffers, cynics, and people who have lost belief in anything good. There must have been ages where people did a lot of complaining, but the modern world we live must be one of the most unbelieving. People are skeptical about God, faith, trust, respect, and anything else that is good. People don’t believe in marriage anymore, they think prayer and church are a waste of time, they don’t believe in their government officials (at times with good reason) and authorities, and start to feel that no one and nothing can be believed anymore.

The person who avoids these people and places, and instead chooses to meditate on God and His word, day and night, experiences a totally different type of life. He is fully aware of the evil in the world and the untrustworthiness of people, and as a result places his trust in God. He prospers, he is strong and resilient in times of trouble, he is continually fruitful, and he is successful in whatever he does. People with faith in God have a future, whereas scoffers end up as wind-blown chaff… useless and carried away by the wind.

God promises that we will be like trees planted by flowing streams if we find pleasure in obeying His commands.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

May 18: Boundless strength

He gives strength to the weary and strengthens the powerless.  Youths may faint and grow weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.  (Isaiah 40:29-31 HCSB)

One mistake people often make with the promises of God, are to assume that they are supposed to just “happen,” no matter what.  But all promises come with conditions, and this one is no exception.  It’s only for those who trust in the Lord.

Trust is a type of confidence, a firm assurance that God will come through for you, because He promises to, and because His character doesn’t allow Him to break His promises — ever.  We’re promised strength to run and to soar, despite our weakness and feelings of powerlessness.  It’s not a promise to make our problems vanish like magic.  There are plenty of times that God wants us to go straight through the thick of our problems, but instead of floundering and stumbling, He will cause us to soar right over them like an eagle flying above the storm.  We will be able to walk, run, and fly with an endless supply of energy and strength. 

For those who really trust in God’s love for them, problems become challenges to enjoy (really!) because though their emotions may tell them they are weak and helpless, their intelligent faith knows they are being made stronger, and that their victory is already certain.  Whether we are young or old, we don’t have to stumble and struggle in agony any more through the inevitable attacks of the devil.  We have this promise that we will soar on the wings of eagles — IF we steadily trust in Him.

Don’t waste another moment allowing your problems to beat you up.  If you feel like you are being battered in a storm, ask yourself if you really do trust in God as you should.  If you do, then claim this promise immediately.  Expect God to lift you up.  Get your mind out of the “gutter” of doubt and self-pity and take a hold of the supernatural strength that He wants you to experience.  

Today is Sunday.  Don’t reject coming to God’s House to hear from Him, and then complain that life is too hard.  Trust in Him more than ever, hold God to this promise, and watch yourself take flight.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

May 17: Crouching at the door

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you furious? And why do you look despondent? If you do what is right, won’t you be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.  (Genesis 4:6-8  HCSB)

Isn’t sin always crouching at everyone’s door? Why did God make this generic statement that seemingly applies to the entire world at this very crucial moment in Cain’s life? Within the next two verses Cain suddenly went out and murdered his own brother in a shocking fit of jealousy—humanity’s first murder. The Bible had barely begun and we already have uncontrolled anger and death… these are not modern problems, they’ve been around since the very beginning of time.

The truth is, this piece of advice was not generic and general at all, it was exactly what Cain needed to hear. It could have given him the push he needed to turn things around if he had only listened. God promised that if he did what was right, he would be accepted. In other words, “Cain, you can turn this situation around right now. You’ve made a mistake but it can be fixed. Just do what is right. I’m ready to accept you, hear your prayers, and bless you as soon as you do.” This word had the power to change everything, but Cain chose to do the opposite and committed what must have been the worst sin of his life.

Doing what is right has its rewards. The world may not notice, our situation may not immediately change, but God will see and approve of us. But the devil is constantly fighting to convince us that this promise cannot be trusted. We’re tempted to take things into our own hands because we feel we can’t count on God to deal with our situation, when in truth, God is waiting for us to place our trust 100% in Him so that He can resolve the matter.

Another important point to be made about this promise is that sin is crouching at the door of those who do not do what’s right, who insist on doing things their way. Both Cain and Abel had just finished giving offerings to God, and because Abel had given his very best as an expression of deep love and respect… God had been pleased with him—not with his brother. Cain had given, but had not given his best, and therefore did not express deep love and respect. This is the setting for God’s words to him. 

Sin is always trying to drag us down — all of us. But when we’re not doing what’s right, sin is crouching at our door, and resisting it is far more difficult than for those who’ve been doing what’s right. When we’re close to God, walking by faith, and making sacrifices, sin is there but our eyes are open, the attraction is weakened, and it doesn’t take a great deal of effort to resist it. It’s as if we have a hedge of protection around us, and the light of God in our inner-selves reveals the ugliness and shallowness of sin, so our fight against it is fairly easy.

Either way, we all have the responsibility to rule over sin.  I don’t know about you, but I want to walk the path of righteous Abel, not Cain.

Friday, May 16, 2014

May 16: Secrets to life, #3

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things about you falsely account of me. Rejoice and be glad because your reward is great in heaven, for they persecuted the prophets before you in the same way.  (Matthew 5:9-11  NET)

The last two qualities of the Beatitudes are being a peacemaker and being persecuted for righteousness. Neither peacemaking nor the willingness to endure persecution are common in the world today—whether we’re talking about unbelievers or believers. And yet we can clearly see these two qualities among the disciples of the early church and among prophets of old. Today, anger, abuse, unforgiveness, and divorce are a daily experience—few people feel it’s worth their time to become peacemakers. Some fight, argue and complain, and others passively give in to the abuse of others out of fear and powerlessness, and neither attitude is healthy.

God calls us to make peace with Him, and to be peacemakers in this world. Instead of grudges and hate, He wants us to understand where people are coming from and seek to discover why they do what they do. Whenever Jesus came across troubled people—the Gerasene demoniac, Mary Magdalene (7 demons), Zacchaeus (corrupt thief), the woman caught in adultery—He would help them to change rather than hate and criticize them… and this is our challenge today. Most people act the way they do because they’re in pain, or because they don’t know how to change or deal with their feelings. Frequently, when someone takes out the time to understand and help these people, their lives change—and those who help them can be called peacemakers. Not only are they helping people to establish peace with their Maker (the most important thing we could do), but they are helping them to be at peace with the world. When we do this we show ourselves to be children of God—what a privilege!

I don’t think this needs to be said, but I’ll say it anyway—we are called to be peacemakers with God and with other human beings, but we can never be at peace with the devil and demons, or with sin. Concerning them, we have to be at war. If not, we will be at war with God.

No one looks forward to being persecuted, but when we are persecuted for righteousness, we show ourselves to be part of that group that is saved and going to heaven. We simply cannot genuinely follow God and not experience persecution. The more closely we follow Him, the more spiritual and holy we are, the more persecution we encounter because we make ourselves more and more the enemy of all evil. Since Satan is the “prince of this world” and controls the thoughts and actions of the large majority of people, we will be unjustly, and unfairly attacked, and even lied about by this world, when in fact all we are doing is minding our own business, being a good follower of the Lord Jesus, saving as many souls as we can, and having the “audacity” to believe that we are saved and on our way to heaven. And yet this type of behavior is extremely maddening to forces of darkness. They look at us and ask “Who do you think you are? How dare you challenge my authority!” We are an offense to them, and to anyone that is controlled by them.

But even when we are persecuted, we are to rejoice and be glad (something that enrages the devil and demons even more). Like Jesus said, we should pray for those who persecute us, and love our enemies. Our love for them is stronger than their hatred for us.

As we continue to develop the qualities we’ve spoken about over the last three days we will please God and confuse the world. Being poor in spirit, mourning, being meek, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, being merciful and pure in heart, being peacemakers, and being persecuted for righteousness sake are all qualities of a true child of God.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

May 15: Secrets to life, #2

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.  (Matthew 5:6-8  NET)

Imagine a starving man, driven by one goal: finding drink and sustenance to save him from certain death. That’s the way Jesus wants us to yearn for righteousness. Righteousness: whatever is right, true and just. Whenever evil attacks us, destroying those we love, hungering and thirsting for righteousness means we’ll do whatever it takes to eradicate that evil, and establish what is right. It means we won’t tolerate anything that is not from God, because God is the epitome of all that is right, true and just. Those who are relentless warriors for righteousness, are guaranteed to be satisfied.

Those who show mercy, understand that every gift from God is His mercy towards us. If none of us are worthy of His love, and yet He still loves us, who are we to withhold love, kindness and mercy to others? We’re all in the same boat! But unfortunately, even among Christians, we can find people who don’t have the patience or willingness to extend a hand of kindness to those they consider beneath them. When the day comes that they need mercy from others, they won’t find it. But those who do show mercy, forgiveness, and love to the unlovable, God promises that they will also receive mercy for their own shortcomings.

The pure in heart are those who are utterly sincere—no hidden agenda, and no attempt to impress others. They believe the best in others. They trust that God loves them and is with them, even in the most difficult moments.  They are the rare few, the uncynical—the ones who have the simple purity of a child. These few develop the spiritual eyes to actually “see” God when no one else does, and because of that, their faith is unwavering. These are the Joshuas and Calebs who see the enemies of God as easily defeated. These are the young Davids who see no option but to defend God’s honor. These are the Elishas who see an army of angels of fire surrounding their homes despite the threats against them.  

The pure in heart, the merciful and the seekers of righteousness are the strongest and happiest people that exist. You could be among them starting today!

(Tomorrow we’ll conclude our discussion of the Beatitudes)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

May 14: Secrets to life, #1

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.   (Matthew 5:3-5  NET)

The Sermon on the Mount — the longest single example of Jesus’ preaching in the Bible — begins with the Beatitudes, a list of nine different qualities, and why people with those qualities should be considered blessed… or made happy by God. These nine promises for people of faith paint a picture of the type of person that is saved and knows God.

The first promise is for the “poor in spirit”, or humble. Salvation and citizenship in God’s kingdom can only be taken hold of by people who are willing to accept God, give up their own ways and thoughts, and be obedient to Him. It’s no small coincidence that pride made Satan into what he is right now, and so we can conclude that pride in us will do the same thing. Though we see pride in Christians as a whole, in Churches, and even among pastors, we need to understand that this is the worst sin a person can commit, because it makes us blind. A proud person cannot listen to anyone else, or admit that he/she is wrong. It’s no mistake that Jesus mentioned this quality first; it’s the most common and the most dangerous. But when we determine to be humble, God’s kingdom in ours.

The second promise is about those who “mourn”. We normally associate joy and peace with Christians, not crying and sadness. And yet, how can we be happy at the state of the world around us, at the number of people that are being lost, at the increase in addictions, or at one-in-three children in the US being fatherless. These things have to make a real man or woman of God mourn. Though we have joy about our salvation and relationship with God, we cannot have joy about the world we live in. One part of us mourns, while another part of us is filled with joy.

“Mourning” also refers to the sadness we should all have towards our own sins. As children of God we need to be aware of our sin, and to grieve over the fact that we fall short of God’s establish standards. And yet, when we do mourn for sin, God will come with His comfort, forgiveness, and transforming power. Anyone that does not mourn over sin, is a person that’s spiritually blind and out of touch.

The third promise is for the “meek”… the compliant, the obedient. Amazingly God promises that these people will inherit the earth. We’re used to seeing the proud, rich, and arrogant taking over the world and trampling everyone else under foot, but here God contradicts human reasoning and determines that those who please Him will take possession. This is God’s way of rewarding those who have the character and courage to be meek… meek toward God, not toward the devil. Towards God we have to be flexible and obedient, and towards the devil we have to be stubborn and unmoving.

Start developing these three qualities — humility, mourning, and meekness — and these three promises will come true for you.

(Tomorrow we will discuss more of the Beatitudes)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

May 13: Let’s all get angry

Be angry and do not sin; on your bed, reflect in your heart and be still. Selah. (Psalm 4:4  HCSB)

This is not a promise, but I want to include it because there is a promise here if you read between the lines and reflect on the examples of heroes of faith and on the practical workings of faith itself. Most Christians make the big mistake of labeling all anger as bad, but it’s not. There’s a proper place for anger, and in fact too many Christians are not angry enough at the situation of the world or their lives. If we would all stop and honestly compare our lives with what God has promised, and with what happened to others in the word of God, we would all, without exception, feel that something was wrong, and hopefully get angry. And if we did, there would be a huge chance that our lives would start to change because of that anger.

Just like yesterday’s verse, today’s is such a powerful concept that it is quoted by Paul in the New Testament book of Ephesians. It does not prohibit anger; in fact, it tells us to get angry, but not to sin. Most anger that we see around us is an uncontrolled, knee-jerk reaction to situations and people; it’s pure emotion, empty of any reason or thought. People just react the way they feel like reacting at the moment and usually live to regret it. But this type of anger will always lead to sin, to gratifying the flesh, to open doors for demons to come in and control us. This type of anger is always harmful and unproductive. What God is recommending is the type of well-thought-out anger that is intelligent, hits the mark, is always under control, and in the end brings benefits to everyone.

The world is not a perfect place, and there are any number of things that we come in contact with on a daily basis that have the potential to make us react in anger. Many of them are not worth it—we should forgive those people, and let go of those situations. But there are other things that happen to us that should be handled with a righteous, godly anger. In fact, when we don’t react with anger at certain situations, we are giving the devil permission to walk all over us. There are times that the only proper reaction is anger—good anger. There are times that God wants to bless us but He’s waiting for us to become indignant and to revolt against circumstances. Hannah did this, and so did Abraham, Gideon, Moses, Ester, Joshua, Paul, and Jesus to name a few. Every single one of them saw huge, life-changing blessings after they reacted in anger—proof that this attitude was the missing ingredient that they had been looking for.

Some people have a real hard time getting angry at their problems… or at the devil. The idea that anger is always bad has been hammered into their heads for so long that they have a real hard time getting angry. But just like true love for God involves hatred for the devil and sin, true peace with God involves anger at situations that conflict with the promises of God… and this is where this verse relates to promises. If we do not get angry at the fact that God has made promises but they’re not coming true in our lives, we will never experience those promises, even though God has given them to us. When we show anger in this way, we are proving that we genuinely believe in the promises of God and that we refuse to be denied what He has promised. This is a necessary step to seeing them come true.

Let’s all get angry!

Monday, May 12, 2014

May 12: I will NEVER leave you!

…for He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you. Therefore, we may boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?  (Hebrews 13:5,6  HCSB)

This quote of an Old Testament verse in Hebrews is one of the strongest statements in the New Testament! In Greek it has two double negatives, similar in English to saying, “I will never, ever, ever forsake you.” The grammatical structure of this verse makes it stand out among the close to eight thousand verses in the New Testament, and the over seven thousand four hundred promises in the Bible. Because of this we should pay close attention to this promise, clearly the Holy Spirit feels that the message of this promise is of great importance.

When we have faith in God, His presence is immediate. Jesus once said that if two or three were gathered in His name, He would be there in their midst. When Jesus was on earth as a man, He never turned away anyone that came to Him asking for healing, even when they were corrupt thieves like Zacchaeus or demon possessed like Mary Magdalene. He was always ready to help people, especially when they had made a lot of mistakes in their past. Matthew, the disciple that wrote the first book of the New Testament, is an example of this. Jesus called him to be one of the twelve when he was working as a tax collector in Capernaum, a job that meant he had turned his back on his family, the temple in Jerusalem, and his people, all in the name of money. And yet Jesus did not allow all that to cloud His impression of the man. He knew that there was hope for him, and called him to follow Him for the next three years.

We need to be stubborn and determined about God’s presence. He is our helper, and because of that we do not need to be afraid of people or situations. Fear is the enemy of faith. When fear is in control, our faith is at a low, and when faith is in control, fear is banished.

Whenever the thought that God is not with you troubles your mind, react immediately and with full force. Don’t give that thought any room to work. Just like this promise in Hebrews is the most emphatic of the New Testament, our words and reactions should also be extreme when God’s presence with us is questioned.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

May 11: Freed from the curse

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us (because it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”) in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles, so that we could receive the promise of the Spirit by faith.  (Galatians 3:13,14   NET)

The quote from the Old Testament in the middle of this passage reveals that Jesus crucifixion was not only a painful, humiliating, torturous death, but according to the words from God’s own mouth, it cursed Him. This was no mistake. From the very beginning of the world the Father knew that Jesus’ death would be necessary, that it would have to be a complete sacrifice — removing sin, sicknesses, and curses. Though crucifixion was a common practice among the Romans, Jesus’ crucifixion is the only crucifixion mentioned in the Bible, and is a crucial part of the Gospel. Throughout the New Testament we are reminded of His manner of death as proof of His immeasurable love, and of the fact that He became a curse in our place.

If you feel cursed — because of circumstances, witchcraft, or someone’s threats — you now have the authority to declare it broken and ineffective. When we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, curses no longer have power over us, as long as we use our faith to cast them out. It’s not automatic, putting faith into practice is what makes it a reality.

But today’s verse speaks about another curse that we are freed from, the curse of the law. Before the Lord Jesus came into the world, throughout the Old Testament, the Jews were commanded to follow the law of Moses perfectly to be saved and accepted by God. Anyone who didn’t do everything written in the law was cursed and lost, and clearly, no one could follow the law perfectly. But now, through Jesus, we are saved through faith in Him, trusting in the unmerited grace of God. Though our belief in God has to be followed with obedience, we are not saved by the things we do. We are saved when we accept the free gift of God by faith. Obviously, real faith involves works, but it is not the works that save us.

Each one of us should be deeply grateful to God for our salvation, because we don’t deserve it, and will never deserve it. On the other hand, we can know that our salvation is guaranteed because we have faith in Him and have accepted His amazing sacrifice on the cross.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

May 10: The recipe for success

Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. (Proverbs 16:3  NLT)

This promise is basically a recipe for guaranteed success, but so hard to believe.  Everyone knows that success involves so many unknown variables.  Many good hard-working people suffer failure, and the self-help section of every bookstore is jammed with “how to succeed” handbooks that are full of trite clichés and empty promises.  Most Christians brush off this little promise as if it were one more cliché, not to be taken seriously.

Another reason why few really believe in this verse, is they think they already know many who have “committed” their work to the Lord, and yet live miserable lives.  “What about those people?  This promise didn’t work for them,” they say.  But all the difference lies in the true understanding between really committing your work to the Lord, or just claiming to commit your work to the Lord.

Someone who commits themselves to someone or something, is a person who devotes, and even relinquishes their life to that other party.  Your wedding vows represent a mental, spiritual, emotional and physical relinquishing of your life to your new spouse, for the rest of your lives, through thick and thin, sickness and health, better or worse.  Committing your life, and your work to God is a mental, spiritual, emotional and even physical relinquishing of control over your work and your plans to the Creator of all things.   

But most Christians fool themselves into believing that because they made some sort of prayer asking for God to bless their work, that automatically, God has to establish all their plans.  Yet there is no true committing of their work, no true faith, no submission to His requests, no relinquishing of control, not even a consideration of what His desires might be for them.  When God asks anything of them, they balk.  Give up extra hours at work or sleep to come to church Sunday morning?  That’s too much, can’t do it.  Start giving my tithe?  God knows I can’t afford that now, when He blesses me with a better salary, I’ll think about it.  Cut out the unethical work practices?  God understands this is a competitive economy — sorry, God, just can’t do it.  

But those who are bold enough to commit, devote, and relinquish their work and plans to God, are guaranteed to have God Himself, establish them.  It’s so simple and straightforward, it overrides all the unknown variables, no matter what they are.  Start taking that risk to commit your work to Him — all the way.  You only have everything to gain.

Friday, May 9, 2014

May 9: Every knee will bow

As a result God exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name,
 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow — in heaven and on earth and under the earth — and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”  (Philippians 2:9-11  NET)

One day every knee will bow to the Lord Jesus Christ and acknowledge that He is the only Lord, but only those who put their faith in Him in this life will go on to live with Him for eternity in heaven. Angels, the four living beings around the throne, demons, Satan, believers in God as well as unbelievers, ALL will bow down to Him in recognition of His supreme power. Some will bow down in worship, while others will bow down in utter defeat and weakness, still resistant to any worship of Jesus.

But there is another truth here: right now, Satan and demons have to bow their knees whenever the name of Jesus is spoken by servants bold enough to confront them. Though evil spirits act as if they were all-powerful and as if they can do whatever they want, though they act as if the cross never happened, in truth they are defeated beings with no hope and no future, destined to spend eternity in chains and torment. Only those who do not truly understand the Good News allow them to have control over their lives and families. Enlightened men and women of faith command these forces of darkness to get on their knees and release their hold on them, their family, and their circumstances… while those who are not, allow these defeated beings to act as though they were in control.

May our lives bring glory to God as we live out a spiritually audacious faith — forcing the powers of darkness onto their knees, grabbing a hold of the freedom that Jesus won for us, and living a life that reflects His power and glory.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

May 8: Not one of God’s promises failed

So the Lord gave Israel all the land He had sworn to give their fathers, and they took possession of it and settled there. The Lord gave them rest on every side according to all He had sworn to their fathers. None of their enemies were able to stand against them, for the Lord handed over all their enemies to them. None of the good promises the Lord had made to the house of Israel failed. Everything was fulfilled.  (Joshua 21:43-45  HCSB)

This is not a promise… but it makes the amazing statement that “none of the good promises the Lord had made to the house of Israel failed!” So this passage has everything to do with the subject of promises. 

This passage refers to Joshua and the Israelites after they had taken possession of the land of Canaan, defeating seven stronger and more developed nations, and taking possession of their own land for the first time in their lives. Every one was at a severe disadvantage; each one was the child of former slaves who had only known harsh oppression from birth—for five to six generations—and had the scars on their backs to prove it. Each one’s parents had died in the desert after rebelling against God at the border to Canaan. After all this, how did they rise up, become a people, establish a culture, conquer seven different nations, and make homes and cities for themselves in the new land of Israel? The only answer is that they believed in God’s promises with more fervor than their parents. They decided to be pioneers, to avoid the mistakes of the previous generation. It took audacity, fearlessness, and determination, but because they trusted in God and acted on their faith, every promise that God had made to them came true.

Wouldn’t this be a great thing for you to say at the end of your life? “…none of the good promises that God made to me has failed in my lifetime.”  Impossible? Asking for too much? I actually know people who can say this! And as for myself, I have seen many come true, and at 54 years of age am determined to see more in the years I have left than I have seen up to this point. This is possible. In fact, it is more possible for us than it was for Joshua because we have the understanding of the New Testament and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This needs to be our goal in life, and clearly, it is God’s goal for us since He did it in the life of Joshua and the Israelites.

Start being more audacious about what God has promised. Insist on them coming true, and refuse to allow the devil to win by stealing them from us. May God bless you in this holy quest!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

May 7: Prophecy brings blessings

Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.  (Revelation 1:3  NKJV)

This promise refers to the book of Revelation and states that anyone that READS, HEARS, and KEEPS the prophecies that are written down in it, are blessed. But it also refers to the entire Word of God, and to prophecies that come from the mouth of true servants of God. Throughout the Old Testament God used prophets as His mouthpiece to bring His people to a place of repentance, faith, hope, victory, and salvation. All of the prophets were hated in some way, rejected by the majority of people, and many were mistreated and threatened with death. Their message was not designed to please—it was designed to correct wrong and to restore peoples’ connection with God. And today, when God speaks His words do not always please. At times He comes with a word of encouragement and faith, but at others He comes with words of rebuke, warning, and correction. 

If you are reading, hearing, and keeping God’s Word… you are blessed. But included in His Word there are prophecies and promises about what He will do for His people. It’s one thing to believe that the Word of God is genuine, that it is true, and it’s another thing to believe that His prophecy will be fulfilled in your life today. That takes courage, audacity, boldness, and faith. Doing this demands that we be unafraid to look like fools in the eyes of the world, and of our family and friends, because that is what proves our faith and trust in God.

Latch on to God’s prophecy for your life. Allow Him to breath new life into you, bringing the dry bones to life, and resurrecting you from the dead. Our mission in life is to glorify His name with our lives… not with words only, but with a life that reflects His power and glory.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

May 6: Never thirst again

But whoever drinks some of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again, but the water that I will give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up to eternal life.  (John 4:14 NET)

God often refers to water as a symbol of His Word, and His Spirit.  There are promises that speak of those who trust in Him as trees that are firmly planted by the water, and that those whose lives have become parched deserts, will see streams of water appear.  

No one can survive without water, and our physical bodies are comprised of up to 75% water.  And though it’s essential for our existence, here Jesus is teaching the woman at the well that He can provide another kind of water, even greater and more essential for life.  He is offering her living water, and once she drinks it, she will never thirst again.

Our spirits and souls are constantly thirsting for fulfillment, and most people in this world are trying to quench that thirst with activities, jobs, family, addictions and pleasure-seeking, and trying to fool themselves that their lives are just great the way they are.  But God sees what kind of inner battles they suffer, what doubts and fears plague them, and what tortured thoughts go through their minds while keeping a big smile on their faces in public.  No one can fool God.  Everyone thirsts for this living water that Jesus promises.

But people choose to believe that either water as amazing as that doesn’t exist, or that it’s not meant for them.  God wants us not just to drink of the water, but to allow it to turn into a flowing fountain that springs up inside of us, a fountain that continuously satisfies any thirst.  That is the infilling and overflowing of the Holy Spirit. Our job is to first drink from His spring, and then to be that fountain for others to see for themselves how real and how live-changing living for God can be. If everyone could remove the blinders from their eyes and see the life of total satisfaction, of abundance of life and joy that Jesus is offering to them, they would do whatever it took to take the deepest drink from His water.  

Monday, May 5, 2014

May 5: Bother God (Evelyn’s choice)

You who pray to the Lord, don’t be silent! Don’t allow him to rest until he reestablishes Jerusalem, until he makes Jerusalem the pride of the earth.  (Isaiah 61:6-7 NET)

There are two very important points in this little known verse-and-a-half, that can revolutionize your way of viewing God.

ONE:  God wants to be bothered by your prayers!  He is urging all of His children to make noise, to call out to Him and to keep insisting that He bless us.  It is a common deception that God shouldn’t be bothered with our constant requests.  That God has so many other people in the world who need Him, too much praying will irritate Him.  That there are those less fortunate then ourselves, we should give room for their prayers, before we bring up our own petty wants. But take this verse and join it with so many others that challenge us to pray without ceasing, to be persistent, and to knock, ask and seek over and over again, God is clearly saying exactly what Isaiah 62 says: give Him no rest!!  He is pleased by our prayers and requests, and never tires of hearing us pray.

TWO:  He promises to establish His people as the pride of the earth.  Jerusalem today refers to His children, those who submit to Him as King.  We are to fight for our lives to be a shining example of God’s power, and not to live in that false sense of humility that thinks asking for blessings is selfishness. God wants to bless us abundantly, and yet leaves the battle in our hands.  We are to wrestle in prayer, to audaciously demand that His promises come true.  Standing idly by and hoping blessings just drop from heaven when He feels like it, is a sad misconception of who God really is.  Assuming that our disgrace is His will since He hasn’t done anything for us so far, means that we believe in a passive and uncaring God.  God fully intends to establish you, and make you the praise of the earth.  But ask yourself, have you been passive?  Have you been silent?  Have you worried about being a bother to God?  Don’t waste another moment, get busy with your fight, and don’t be silent any longer!  The best way to please God, is to simply obey.