Friday, November 30, 2012

Daily Devotional November 30 - Cast Your Net On The Other Side Of The Boat

"Then Jesus said unto them, children, have you any meat? They answered Him, no. Then Jesus said unto them, cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes."  John 21: 5-6

Listen for the voice of the Lord today. What is it you have been trying to do without success? What are you trying to accomplish, that without a word from the Lord, you will not catch any fish? Are you stubborn and you have been told to cast the net on the other side of the boat, more than one time, and you refuse? Do you believe that Jesus makes a difference? If you do, why wouldn't you listen for His voice of reason prior to even setting out on a venture?

God-thinking demands that you follow these three easy steps for a fulfilled life, one that you do what God purposed for you the first time.
1 Choose a goal, a dream or a task at hand that can be sanctioned by God.
2 Purposefully set out to fully understand your role and God's role in getting to your desired end. In other words, acknowledging what you are able to do toward creating your goal and acknowledging what is impossible for your to do and will require the hand/voice of God.
3 Talk to and listen to God while on the journey.

For the supernatural to be in operation on your behalf, you will have to believe that God is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. Part of creation was to incorporate in your soul the ability to co-create with God. Co-creation is enabled by cooperation, i. e., the purposeful action of an individual in alignment with the express will of God. When this happens you have automatic intervention by Sovereign God on your behalf. This is not a static condition that one reaches and then remains there until death. It is a fluid condition that is enabled and disabled by your own actions.

God cannot operate outside of His will and therefore when you make a decision to step outside of the will of God, God cannot participate in that activity. Thus, the constant, or at least, partial frustration that we all live with of feeling like everything is going OK and then we feel like we are on our own and then we get a revelation that puts us back on track and then we get cocky and start to operate on our own power again. Over and over we are fighting the battle against pride and ego. We are winning with 10 seconds on the clock, everyone is excited and we are ready to receive the pennant and then our emotions kick a field goal in the last second and we lose that game/battle.

I'm just saying, cast your net on the other side of the boat today and see if the change makes any difference.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Daily Devotional November 29 - Tough Truth Concerning Baptism

"And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias (Isaiah) the prophet. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, how can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. The place of the scripture which he read was this, he was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth. (Isaiah 53:7,8) In his humiliation his judgement was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? For his life is taken from the earth. And the Eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of Himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went o their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, see, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Phi;lip said, if thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he (Philip) baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus..." Acts :8:26-39a

There are a few beautiful thoughts about these verses that must not be missed.

First of all, the angel spoke to Philip and gave Philip instructions and then Philip went and did what he was instructed to do. That's a novel thought, to actually do what God says to do. First from His Word, by the voice of the indwelling Holy Spirit and of course from an angel of God.

Second, Philip was not an Apostle. How could someone who is not an Apostle just disappear and end up somewhere else? And for those who say that only the Apostles could perform miracles. Well, you see where I am headed.

Third, Philip knew his Bible. He didn't rely on someone else's interpretation to make his case that Jesus was Lord and that the whole of the Old Testament spoke of Jesus and that salvation was through Jesus. Part of the reason that more people don't know enough about Jesus to convert anyone is because they don't read their Bible. If you read the Bible, you will inherit the knowledge that puts these kinds of truths together to reach people. If you rely on someone else to do it for you, you might not even get the raw truth that builds up real faith.

Fourth, what happened to the six week refresher course required before you are baptized to make sure that you believe that you believe all the right things, or is the course designed to steer you to believe more than what is required to be baptized? After all if you believe that Jesus is Lord, you are as prepared as you will ever be to be baptized. Baptism doesn't save you. It is the outward expression of an already existing inward faith.

Fifth, we need more Philips in this world. A man who ran after the Holy Spirit spoke to him, a man who had already made up his mind that he would obey as God spoke to him. A man looking for opportunity to serve the Master without 'qualified' reservations. A man able to reveal Christ. A man not afraid to be caught riding in a chariot with an eunuch, if it meant that a soul would be saved. A man who didn't whine his way through the ministry. A man of God.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Daily Devotional November 28 - Are You Following God's Leadiing Or Are You Following Some Of Your Wealthy Parishioners?

"My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye then not partial in yourselves, and become judges of evil thoughts." James 2:1-4

Pastors hear the mind of God on this issue. Any attempt to build or sustain your ministry on the backs of the rich and famous will come to nought. Recognizing someone for something they did or to acknowledge an accomplishment has nothing to do with this verse. This is about the mindset that you are handing down to your staff and assistant pastors. Trust me, you won't win any favor with man for following this concept and staying true to James position. You will be ridiculed, ill spoken of, talked about behind your back, maybe even pulled aside and chastised by those who think they know best. But the slight-of-hand that man provides is hardly to be counted against the hand of God.

You may have started your ministry with a small core group of faithful believers, but if your doors are open to bring the gospel to the lost, it won't be long and your meddle will be tested. The lost don't always look so good, but most of the time they aren't playing like they are someone they are not, either. I was senior pastor of a small storefront church for five years with five associate pastors under me. We had it going on: Great music, anointed teaching, good Sunday School for the kids and we provided food for the hungry and many other ministries as well. But I was reprimanded on several occasions for making the drug addicts and the alcoholics feel comfortable.

There was one instance in particular where a mom, who had just lost her daughter to a terrible crime against the daughter, was invited to come to our church. She was in shock for weeks and she was in much pain and she probably hadn't been the mother she would like to have been. She had problems herself, with ex-marriage, troubled finances and maybe some drug addiction, but the crime against her daughter was a non-related issue. She needed Jesus and the love of the church family at this point in time. Of course she wasn't going to turn over a new leaf in a week and maybe she wouldn't change at all, but for the body of Christ it was important to reach out and give her one place she could have solace.

I remember the first Sunday that she came. Previously I had some carpenters put together a wooden cross with large timbers weighing about ninety pounds. I wanted each person to get under the cross and feel the pressure. We let the one leg of the cross on the floor and had each person come up as two of our men gently laid the cross on the shoulders of each person. They would let more and more pressure down as each person wanted. Some people wanted to feel the entire weight and others just a little, but all in all everyone participated. This woman who had lost her daughter came to grips with God losing His Son right there. She and many others were broken and found new light about God.

Later, I was pulled aside by a few women and they told me that that woman wasn't worthy to get under the cross and that she shouldn't have been allowed to participate. Trust me on this one, nobody will ever forget the day we carried the cross on our own shoulders. It was a cleansing exercise.

The point is: Build your church on faith, raw faith, the kind of faith that trusts God; the kind of faith that follows the scriptures. Your church should be built on all kinds of people; rich, poor, middle class, black, white, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Trinidadians and anyone else who walks through your doors. In the long haul you will be far better served listening to and doing what God wants you doing than what a few wealthy or pushy parishioners would like to see.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Daily Devotional November 27 - Why Are You A christian?

"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:" 1 Peter 3:15

I think that this is a very important message for us; to be ready always to explain our reason for following God. What is your reason?
Is it because God saved you from something?
Is it because you were brought up in the church?
Is it because you are afraid of hell?
Is it because you want to go to heaven?
Is it because you think becoming a Christian will make all your problems go away?
Is it because you think you will never get sick if you become a Christian?
Is it because you just don't like the sound of other religions?
Is it because you were taught to be a Christian?
Is it because you got out of something really bad and feel a sort of obligation to God?

You should be sure that you can answer this question for yourself, because all of us are able to rationalize anything and quite honestly, I am afraid that too many people don't have a clue why they are a Christian? If I asked you, "are you a Christian," you would probably say "yes," but if I were to ask you why you are a Christian, what would your answer be?

I would hope that you realized that you were separated from God and that you didn't want to be separated from God.
That you knew that you have sinned and that you felt that the sin was keeping you from knowing God.
That you were destined for a life without God and a future that was undetermined.
That you needed to find a way to re-connect with God.
That Jesus offered you a perfect sacrifice for your sins.
That you thought about it and decided on your own that what Jesus did for you on the cross was the perfect atonement for your sin and therefore you chose it.
That since that time you have come to know Jesus better and that you have peace with God through Jesus Christ.
That now you realize that through Christ is the only way to reconcile to God.
That you would tell anyone that ask if you are a Christian:
You would say yes, because you want to be.
That nothing can compare with your relationship with Christ.
That you understand what God has done and that you choose to follow after Christ.
That you know deep in your heart that there is no other God and no other way to be reconciled to God.
That you love all that God has done for you and that you are beginning to see how God is involved in your life in the big things and in the little things too.
That you wouldn't trade a moment with God for anything without God.
That you talk to God and God talks to you.
That God hears you and responds by intervening in your life in a way that fulfills you.
That you have come to know the creator of the universe and that you are beginning to understand God's ways.
That you can guarantee them that if they were to make the same choice as you that they would been cleansed from all unrighteousness and that whatever they had done in this life against God or man would be forgiven and forgotten by a God that accepts applications from those whose resumes read like a horror film.
That you can guarantee them that if they were to make the same choice as you that they would find fulfillment in this life and hope for the life hereafter.
That nothing compares to the inner knowledge that God is in you and with you.

How many other things can you think of to say that could express why you are a Christian?

Daily Devotional November 26 - The Tree Of Life

"And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil." Genesis 2:9 "And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, of every tree in the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." Genesis 2:16-17
"And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest (for fear that) he put forth his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life." Genesis 3:22-24 "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God." Revelation 2:7 "Blessed are they who do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city." Revelation 22:14

The tree of life was in the garden of Eden and Adam and Eve and everyone else could eat of it freely sustaining them, in their righteous state, before God, for all eternity. The original plan was that mankind would live forever in a sinless world. That's still the plan. But due to Adam's sin, if God had let them eat of the tree of life after sinning, they would live for all eternity in their sin.

So God protected the tree of life until which time He removed it and put it into paradise, which is heaven. If you were to partake of the tree of life before you were born again you would live in your sins forever, but Jesus became the propitiation (substitute for your sin) so that you could be made sinless before God and eat of the tree of life and live forever.

When you cross over unto heaven, you will have access to the tree of life, to eat thereof and live forever in your sinless state. In this story remains the mystery of God; that part that God has not disclosed to us through His Word.
Why?
Why the tree of life and why the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Even though we do not have a full explanation, I think it noteworthy that God did tell us about these trees and what they do. I think it was for a specific purpose.

To be like God and to stay being like God you have to have free will; Free will to sin and free will to choose not to sin. These choices make us like God, however eternity with a people that still choose to sin would be no heaven. That's why Jesus came to die for you and me; to make us righteous; to put within us the Spirit of God and to give us the power to overcome sinful behavior. When we die, we are ushered into the presence of God sinless and ready to eat of the tree of life freely. We will do so out of choice, not coercion. We will lie in eternity with God freely serving God and God freely serving us. Read Luke 12:37

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Daily Devotional November 25 - Was Your God Created In Hollywood?

"The words of wise men are heard in quiet more than the cry of him that ruleth among fools. Ecclesiastes 9:17 "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty." 1 Timothy 2:1-2 " And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice." 1 Kings 19:12

In all the movies about God, God speaks with a loud, deep voice, echoing through the clouds, shaking mountains and causing men to fall down and tremble. But in your lifetime, how many times has God spoken to you like that? None. God speaks to us in a quiet voice, heard in the inner man, in the depth of your soul. And to hear the voice of God amongst the din of this world; between soccer games, while traveling with the music on, while watching TV with the new big screen TV with surround theater sound, while rushing through the house doing laundry and listening to the clanking of a dish in the dishwasher, is difficult if not impossible.

I am disappointed to say that far too many Christians get their theology from Hollywood. And yet God is so clear when He gives us instruction or information through the scripture or through personal connection. Modern man thinks that they have transcended the teaching of the scripture and that the Bible was written for a different time. Many modern Christian critics and even some Christians say that the Bible is outdated and it wasn't meant to be taken literally. If that is the case, among all the information and instruction that God gave us, including prophesies for all times including the near future, why didn't God tell us that the Bible was going to become outdated and that we would have to find new resources through CNN and Hollywood producers?

It's not because God didn't know that we would twist and turn the scriptures into what we wanted them to be.
It's not because God didn't know about the advances in technology.
It's not because God didn't know that we would question His Word.
It's because it's not true.

God can only tell the truth and the scripture is the truth about God and of God. When God speaks to us about the quiet and peaceable/peaceful life, it's because God knows that if we don't find 'quiet' we will not be able to hear God speak to us.

Modern man isn't very concerned about finding a quiet place to spend time with God. We have all but lost the art of communicating through the silence of the woods or the quiet of a house without the TV on or the quiet place by the water where you can eat lunch and just hear the birds. It seems as if the advertising community has made a pact with the devil, "let's shout it at the top of our lungs and don't give anyone time to contemplate about their decision; it must be made in the next ten minutes or the opportunity will be lost." Even our TV evangelists have picked up on this type of conning and make all kinds of promises that if you do this or if you give that in the next ten minutes, your destiny will change and your prayers will start to be answered again.

We have slipped away from God, fallen from the garden where we meet God in the cool of the day and the still of the night. Today people think meeting God is going to church on Sunday, keeping their eye on their watch, marking off the hour and dropping a fin in the offering plate.

God deserves something better than that from you.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Daily Devotional November 24 - Can you See God In The Little, Everyday things?

"There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God."  Ecclesiastes 2:24

This is one of those truths that have become part of man's tradition throughout the world. In every country and in every nation men and women are taught that hard work is to be admired and the fruits of one's labor enjoyed. What's not taught in every nation is that it is from the hand of God. Too often we are looking to God to help us with something or bail us out of a bad situation or we petition God for something we think we need or we are looking for a miracle. Sometimes we have messed things up so bad that we beg God to undo what we have done or to miraculously alter our circumstances. Sometimes when everything is going just great and we have all that we could have, we forget about God altogether. But seldom do we see our natural surroundings and the life that we live as being a gift from the hand of God.

Seldom do we see our job as a gift from God where God intervened in the processes of life and made a way for us so that we could be a blessing to someone or someone could be a blessing to us.

Seldom do we think of the shopping mall as a gift from God to make available anything we want that might give us pleasure or bring us joy.

Seldom do we see the grocery store that has such a variety of the wonderful foods of the earth as a gift from the hand of God.

Seldom do we think of Penny's or Barnes and Nobles or Sears as a gift from God to enhance our lives and give us joy in our heart.

Seldom do we think of our restaurants as being a place where God has intertwined people together to serve others and make a way for the workers and owners to enjoy life.

Seldom have I heard anyway say that the Internet is a blessing from God.

Seldom do I hear that living in the city is a gift from God.

Seldom do we hear people say that our military is a gift from God.

Perspective is the key to understanding the whys of it all. You are currently where you need to be to fulfill your purpose in life. It might not be where you want to be and it might not be doing what you want to do, but today it is where you are on the way to a complete and fulfilling experience. There are a million little things that help to make up the day. Can you try to see God in them. I know that God is in the big decisions and the big issues of life, but God can be clearly seen and sometimes better understood in the everyday things you do as well. Don't deny yourself the blessings that are on your table even if you are feverishly pursuing something different. You will miss irreplaceable moments with God and become callous to the little things that are the stepping stones to your future.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Daily Devotional November 23 - Believe What God Says About You

"(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;"
2 Corinthians 10:4-5

This is radical Christianity.

Could it be that Paul is saying that we should take control of our thoughts and make sure that we are thinking spiritually about the situation?
Is Paul really saying that we shouldn't even allow evil thoughts to come into our mind, but if they do, we should stand against them and cast them out of our mind?
Is Paul saying that in everything that we think about we should make it subjective to our personal commitment to obeying Jesus?
Is Paul saying that we should not allow the influences of the world to interfere or skew our responsibility to a holy lifestyle?
Is Paul nuts? This whole thing sounds like Christianese.

Paul was reminding us that he too had thoughts that were not godly. He had once been a part of the religious elite of the times, seeking out to hurt and even kill those who believed differently than he did. All the while he had believed a lie. He was religious, but not righteous. He was religious, but intolerant of others who might believe differently than he did. He was actually serving the devil under the guise of religious excellence. But when Paul wrote 2 Corinthians he had the advantage of having served Christ and he knew the blessings and benefits of a life well lived under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Paul is sharing with you and me what he had come to learn about life. How the important things are often the invisible things.

That true giving is through silence and anonymity.
That the real spiritual battles are fought in the mind and the heart.
That what matters is what God says matters.
That the real battlefield is your mind.
That your real enemy invades your thought life to chisel away at the truth that is in you, to question the things of God and allow free reign of the things of the world.
That true spirituality is received, not earned.
That obedience to God through a relationship with Jesus Christ is not a kids game, but the real man's/woman's way of life.
That power is imputed into you by your faith.
That evil is ever with you, gnawing at you like a canker, pressing in with a vengeance.

Also that:
God is in Sovereign.
You are more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus.
You can follow Christ.
You can live a holy life.
You can think godly thoughts.
You can resist the devil.
You can overcome evil.
You are a child of God.
You are heir to the kingdom, now and forever.
You do have the indwelling Holy Spirit within you.
You can make wise decisions.
You are the chosen of God.
You are beautiful.
You are righteous in Christ.

Take a minute and say at least ten other things to yourself about your self that are beautiful and godly. There is power is believing what God says about you.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Daily Devotional November 22 - Do You Need Peace In A Storm?

"And let the peace of God rule in your hearts..." Colossians 3:15

If you are thinking, right! You don't know what I'm going through, you are probably right. But I do know that everyone goes through the fire of life in many differing ways. For some of you it might be self imposed from making poor choices. For others it might be that someone mistreated you or defrauded you in some way. And then there is the risk of problems that come with the fall of man and of course your adversary, the devil, is also out to make sure you feel some of the pain.

OK, everybody goes through problems and pain, sometimes tragedy or disaster. How can I have the peace of God in my heart when my world is crumbling?

I do have some advise for those who might be facing something serious, life-threatening or tragic. God knows about your situation.
Yes God allowed it to happen. What are you going to do with what God allowed to happen?
Yes it is unfair. Yes, there seems to be no way out.
Yes it looks like everything you worked for is about to be annihilated. But God is available to vent to about your situation. I know you need more than venting, but don't be afraid to tell God what you really think, how you really feel about your situation, how unfair it is, how abandoned you feel, how miserable you are. God can handle your outbreak of frustration. God can handle your problem too. Turn it over to God. Lay it at the feet of Jesus. I understand that you don't have an offering. God looks deep into the soul and sees your heart. And it is there, in your heart, that God is going to put inside of you His peace. That's right. In the middle of the collapse, God will put peace in your heart.

Let the peace of God rule in your heart for a season. Believe in your heart that God is watching out for you and that it will end well. Allow God to have your attention and your inner man for a moment to place in you forgiveness and mercy and love and comfort and hope. Of course God is just and not everything can be washed away as if it didn't happen. There are consequences in a fallen world, but let God have you and see what I am talking about. Let the peace of God loose in your situation and watch the mighty hand of God work on you behalf. Pray and pray hard for a change in your situation, but don't give up on God. God did not bring this thing upon you. But God will turn it around. God is able and will purify you through this experience. Don't be afraid to let God have all of you. Let your guard down and yield to the power of the Holy Spirit. You need the anointing that comes with true belief. Believe God and let Him work His plan for your life.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Daily Devotional November 21 - God Is Able

"Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen." Jude 20-25

There is one word that I love that describes God in a way that gives me strength and hope in the ways of God. The word is able. I once put together all the names for God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit that I could find in the Bible. I think it was around 435 that I could find. That was a fun exercise in that you get to see the many different ways that people see God and the many attributes that God possesses that are unique to God only. Of all the words or phrases that describe God, I was moved by the word able. I capitalized the word and it was one of the first words of the list. Able.

When you think of God, do you see Him as this verse describes Him? And when you see the word able attributed to God do you see it as the same as we use it for ourselves, as in, we are able to make eggplant Parmesan or able to drive car? God is able in a different way. What God is able to do , He does. What God is able to do, He does perfectly and without the need to try again to to rework the situation. When the scripture says, "Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory..." do you believe it? God is able, and God will do it.

There is a catch though. God needs your cooperation/co-creation. In the process of getting from point A (birth) to point Z (death) God has established protocol that requires your cooperation/co-creation. In this case they are the same thing. Nothing can stand in the way of you fulfilling your part in co-creating your life with God, except yourself. You can let others talk you out of it. Others can influence you. You can even be taught false truths that can slow your progress, but no one has any power or authority over your internal obedience to God. If you decide to take God at His Word, everything that God is able to do will be done.

Yes God is able to keep you from falling. Most people that fall, (step outside of the will of God for personal aggrandisement or the fulfillment of ungodly behavior) do so by activating their own free will to do so. Most sinful behavior is a simple choice to step outside of union with God to cooperate or co-create with other sources. God has stayed true to you all along. God is able to reunite with you upon request. God will keep you from falling and present you faultless with your permission. That's right. You can have messed up and created something ugly and terrible and God can regenerate it into a new creation. God does this through forgiveness and regeneration. He forgives your sins and regenerates your mind and heart. At any point in time that you want to be transformed from fallen or lost to faultless before God, just believe that God is able and it will be done.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Daily Devotional November 20 - Profaning The Holy

"Her (Israel) priests have violated my law, and have profaned my holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my Sabbaths, and I am profaned among them." Ezekiel 22:26

Profaning the Holy. My wife wrote a fantastic poem/prose called profaning the Holy. It is a story about the dichotomy of man and how we have, at times, ruined the things of God with the things of man. You can ask her about it at http://www.louvregirl.blogspot.com/

It has happened many times in history where entire nations went from serving God to serving idols, from having godly Sabbaths to an 'any ol time' scenario, from following the will of God to following after their own self interest. This is reiterated in the stories in the Bible, like:
Adam and Eve
Noah and the Ark
Jonah and the whale
The tower of Babel
The money changers in the temple
The crucifixion of Christ

The point is that mankind has been profaning the Holy in each generation. There are people that break out of this worldly partaking and follow Christ, but as it was from the beginning, it is a remnant.

If God is so great and the blessings so enormous and the power so incredible, why is it that everyone doesn't recognize this and follow after God? Man's propensity to profane the Holy is powerful, starts early, and without leadership is easily cemented into a lifestyle.

That's what I want to talk about. Just for a moment let's only look at those who claim Christ as their Saviour. I am talking to the born again believers group, those who attend church or are a part of a collective group of believers.

The nation of Israel has waxed and waned in love with God and God's ways. All that God has done for the nation of Israel has not been recorded in the Bible or history in general. They had the tabernacle and lost the tabernacle, they had the ark of the covenant and lost the ark of the covenant, they claimed to keep the laws of God and they claimed to be the ones who represented God on earth, but when God came as the incarnate Christ they didn't even recognize Him. They have followed God and rebelled against God. Here in Ezekiel about 593 BC they had fallen away again into hedonism. The things of God had lost their savor and man had once again turned to his own rudimentary and mundane pleasures and forfeited their connection to the Holy.

I believe that today Christians have become somewhat like those in Ezekiel's time. Please read the verse again.  "Her (Israel) priests have violated my law, and have profaned my holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my Sabbaths, and I am profaned among them."  Ezekiel 22:26

We don't deny that there are holy things, we simply don't give them there place in God's economy.

We don't deny that there are clean and unclean, places, events, TV, radio, video games, music, books, thoughts, but we are not suited for battle and standing fast against the unholy versions.

We don't deny that there are Sabbaths and holy days, we simply put them in the same category as all other days. We have done that.

We are guilty of profaning the Holy, because we have not stood up and said no to the wishy-washy, watered down, flowery and insignificant preaching that has dominated our pulpits for years. Our pastors must tell the people about the Holy things of God, about our responsibilities and about our liberty in Christ. You must read and believe scripture once again and not let someone talk you out of it. You must follow Christ even if it is not popular. You must hold strong, when, even those in the church are telling you, that you are taking this Jesus thing a little too far.
It seems to me that even if a nation of people are heading in the wrong direction, that individuals are empowered to rise above it and lead the way of following God. How do you feel about profaning the Holy?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Daily Devotional November 19 - I Can't Hear The Voice Of God. What Should i Do?

"In the beginning God..." Genesis 1:1a "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds." Hebrews 1:1-2  "But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me." John 15:26

God spoke
Jesus spoke
The Holy Spirit speaks

All of the words from God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit were written down by men of God, inspired to transcribe the mind of God to the written Word. Don't get caught up in the 'my version is better than your version battle.' There are a few really poor translations and they should be avoided, but overall the message of the voice of God has been preserved intact. Only those looking for loopholes to escape the truth of God's Holy Word are arguing that the Bible is full of flaws and mistakes. Your Bible is God's Word to you.

Today, God speaks to you directly through the Bible and through the indwelling Holy Spirit. You need to utilize both forms of communication to have unencumbered access to the throne of God and for God to be able to reach your inner man. When you read the Word of God, the Word enters through your mind and settles in your inner man. When you speak to the Holy Spirit you speak directly to God, but you don't need to speak out audibly, because the Holy Spirit can hear you clearly within.

All that set aside, when God speaks to you it can be through several avenues:
God can speak to you through the Bible.
God can speak to you through the indwelling Holy Spirit.
God can speak to you through nature.
God can speak to you through dreams and visions.
God can speak to you through your pastor.
God can speak to you through your spouse, children, friends, co-workers, anyone in whom God trusts to carry the message.

That being said, I have found that many people say they do not hear the voice of God. I truly understand the comment. There are times when you just cannot hear the voice of God. There are times when it seems like ages have passed and there is no movement in the spiritual realm on my behalf. There are moments when we feel empty or abandoned. These are normal emotions. Please don't put someone down because they are having a hard time hearing the voice of God. And don't be too hard on yourself when you are going through a dry spell.

But even when you are not recognizing that God is speaking to you and in you, God is doing what God does, 24/7. Even if you can't hear the voice of God and even if you feel alone or even if you feel abandoned, that's not what is really happening. Remember the poem, usually accompanied by a picture on a plaque where it shows footprints in the sand and the poem goes on to show how God was carrying you through when you thought He wasn't even there. That's the way it really is. God is continually speaking and working in your life through His Word, the Holy Spirit, your family, friends, co-workers, people you don't even know, nature, your pastor, through dreams and visions and many other ways also.

What I have found is that maybe I should be a little more attentive when my daughter speaks to me, or my son or my parents, or a friend. Maybe I should be a little more attentive to my surroundings and the beauty of nature. Maybe I should go to church with a deep, abiding respect for my pastor, expecting to hear from God through him/her. Your perspective and attitude does play a role in what can enter and stick in your heart. If all you see is the futility around you it's not because God has let you down. Learn to adjust your thinking so that all that is available to you is able to get into you. It might take a little unlearning to make this happen.

"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find it; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." Matthew 7:7-8

Daily Devotional November 18 - There Is Plenty Of Time.

"And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."  Genesis 2:16-17 "And the serpent said unto the woman, ye shall not surely die." Genesis3:4

The devil is your real enemy. Yes, the devil exists and yes the devil is alive and yes the devil is powerful and has influence on mankind today, just as much as during these precious moments at the beginnings of mankind. The devil is still a liar and the devil is still trying to get you to believe anything other than what God says. God says one thing, the devil says another.

sarcastic
Of course we who live in modernity have learned how to balance good and evil without giving up too much pleasure or relaxation, without upsetting the applecart, without having to appear to be too holy for the general public. We have learned how to balance our lives so that we can rationalize and do almost anything we want to do. We can go to church and sing and praise God and live a worldly life also as long as we are careful. We can do business any way we want to, because we have learned how to separate our Christianity from our business. We have learned how to become ecumenical instead of spiritual or spiritual instead of Christ-like. Either way, we have made it difficult for men and women to preach or teach real truth, the kind that makes you think, the kind that isn't necessarily comforting to your current lifestyle.  Even the kind of preaching that reveals how wonderful and gracious and merciful God is, is masked by the need to confuse the general public into a relationship with God, built on duty or guilt.

The scripture is clear on so many issues of life and we listen to the words of the enemy instead. It seems hopeless to fight, when satan and his emissaries have so much power. After all if satan tricked Eve, then what hope is there that I won't also be tricked? And so what if I'm dabbling with a little evil. Everybody is human. You can't live perfect anyway, so why not work it out so that you can appear to be holier than you really are. What's the problem with that? Nobody knows, so nobody gets hurt.

The reason that this mind-set doesn't work is because it is built on a false premise. What God says is true. What satan says is a lie. What God says makes one wise. What satan says makes one foolish. What God says makes one alive. What satan says makes one dead. What God says works. What satan says doesn't work. What God says brings to pass all that is perfect for you, now and forever. What satan says brings to pass all that is vain, and mean, and ugly and disgusting, and short lived. What God says to you might hurt your feelings and might disrupt your comfort zone, and open your eyes to a better life. What satan says to you will destroy you and your children, your parents and your friends, your business and your dreams.

You will be in this battle until you die. But don't think that if you aren't interested in the things of God here, (on this side of heaven) that when you die you will somehow be interested in the things of God there. It's not true. Maybe you should re-evaluate what you think while the opportunity to think on the things of God are still available. But don't be surprised if you also hear a voice saying, "you've got plenty of time to change your mind/ye shall not surely die."

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Daily Devotional November 17 - A House Of Prayer

"And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, and found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: and when He had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, take these things hence; make not My Father's house an house of merchandise." John 2:13-16 And in Matthew 21:13, Jesus said, "It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves."

What has happened over the years? Have not our pastors read this verse and many others just like it? Oh, I get it. Since the body is now the temple of the Lord, whatever we do in church is OK. The church, since it is not the temple is exempt from the selling goods rule.

What do you think? The tabernacle of the Old Testament, the temple of the New Testament, the synagogue, the church, the temples; aren't they all meant to be a place of prayer/worship? Of course the church is to take the tithe if that is their policy and to take offerings for use, but not to sell goods inside the church. It is irreverent to have book sales and video sales and crosses and earrings and any other Christian paraphernalia for sale in the church. No one should have to be told that. Jesus has set a precedence and it is that precedence that we must follow, not rules of our own.

That's what the Jews did prior to Jesus coming in the flesh; they made rules to accommodate themselves. They had made rules for everything, about 100 rules for every God breathed rule of scripture. They placed a burden on people that was not scriptural and they made allowances for themselves that excluded them from scrutiny. They added, turned and twisted the Word of God to meet their own evolving needs. Are we doing the same thing again as the church?

Please dear pastor or leader, be careful about the church that was given to you by God. Be careful for the things of God that take place inside those holy walls. Be careful not to think wiser than the scripture. Be careful to fulfill your calling and your calling is not to sell goods inside the sanctuary. That's not your platform. It is the pulpit of God and you are a steward and the church is an holy place. Keep it that way. This is not just one more rule to add to the others; this is a direct message from Jesus. This story is found in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Daily Devotional November 16 - Which whatsoever Are You Following?

"Whether therefore ye eat, or drink or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31 "Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Philippians 4:8 "His mother saith unto the servants, whatsoever He saith unto you, do it." John 2:5 "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." Matthew 28:18-20

Whatsoever you read in the scriptures and whatsoever you hear Jesus speaking into your heart, do. But God did not say:

Whatsoever TV you want to watch, whether it is edifying or not, watch.
Whatsoever you feel like doing, do.
Whatsoever place you decide to go, go.
Whatsoever you decide to drink, drink.
Whatsoever you decide to advertise, advertise.
And on and on.

We do not follow the leading of Jesus Christ to get saved or to stay saved. We follow the leading of Jesus Christ because we trust that Jesus is right. Jesus is always right. You can't do better than to do life the way that Jesus outlined for us how to live.

Whatsoever you do. Think about it. Before you do the next big thing you are about to do, are you going to get clearance from Jesus? Are you going against specific scriptural reference to areas of life you should not be involved in? Are you asking and listening to the Holy Spirit for guidance? Have you sensed in your spirit that what you are about to do is godly? Is your whatsoever an approved whatsoever?

This is why I am mentioning this. If you are born again, you currently possess the power to overcome evil and to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in your actions and deeds. Of course it will be an internal battle. Your mind and your flesh will rebel, but you do have the power to overcome. If you do whatsoever the scripture or the leading of the Holy Spirit says to do, you will be in alignment with the will of God. You will be living out what God purposed for you and what you were purposed to accomplish. There is nothing to be compared with a clear knowing that you have chosen whatsoever (by your own free will) to follow Jesus (who gives you the right to not follow His will) in whatsoever He commands or suggests. This chosen connection of doing whatsoever pleases God is the highest honor you can receive from God.

Daily Devotional November 15 - How Can You Be Sure?

"The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and He knoweth them that trust in Him." Nahum 1:7

How do you know if the Lord knows you trust in Him? Wouldn't it be sad to go through your whole life and come to the end and find out that what you have done, you have done on your own and that your relationship with Jesus was superficial, that you were never born again and that your name is not listed in the book of life? And then in your anger you might start spouting off, "Lord, Lord, have I not prophesied in Thy name? And in Thy name have cast out devils? And in Thy name done many wonderful works? Then Jesus says, "And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you: Depart from Me, ye that work iniquity." Matthew 21:22b-23

There's only one way to be sure that the LORD knows you. But first here are many ways that do not determine that the Lord knows you:
You have a spiritual interest and you are fascinated with Hollywood's version of angels and demons.
You donate to quasi-church or para-church organizations.
You are fair to your employers.
You do not steal from your employer.
You go to church on Easter and sometimes Christmas.
You go to church every week.
You speak in other tongues.
You tithe and give money to charities.
You have been baptized in water.
You are a member of the church, any church.
You have your pastor over for dinner.
You are open minded and don't mind too much if people at work talk about Jesus.
You were born in America.
You were born to a Christian family.
You were Christened as a baby.
You were Confirmed as a teen/adult.
You were Bar-mitzvah'd as a teen/adult.
You are spiritually minded and find many similarities between all world religions.
You take in exchange students.
You consider yourself a really good person.
You pray.
You read your Bible.

So you think I am going to far with this? You might be right, but it is so important to have a clear understanding of what God accepts as knowing you, and I feel compelled to make this most profound of all concepts, as simple as possible.

You must trust that Jesus is the only way to God and that what Jesus did on the cross for you is the only thing you will ever have to do to be known by God.

This is hard for the cultural Christian who has been brought up in a Christian family and come through the ranks of a church, because most of our church leaders teach this truth plus a great many things makes you a Christian. You won't be known for your great works. You will be known for you association with Christ, by faith, only.

Daily Devotional November 14 - Do You Want To Get To Know God A Little Better?

"And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another comforter, that He may abide with you forever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth him; for He dwelleth with you, an shall be in you." John 14:16-17

How long shall the Holy Spirit indwell the believer? Forever. There are so many teachings on this issue, because there are multiple schools of thought about the role of the Holy Spirit amongst the Churches. I choose to believe the scriptures. The Holy Spirit is God within you.

God comes to make His abode with you.  (John 14:23)
You are the building where God resides.  (1 Corinthians 3:9)
You are the temple of God.  (2 Corinthians 6:16)
You are the habitation of God.  (2:22)

With all that going on, doesn't it seem like you might want to get to know the God that lives in you a little better?
Maybe you could learn to trust the leading of the Holy Spirit within you, more.
Maybe the answers to your problems aren't that far away.
Maybe you have within you all the power you need to accomplish that daunting task that you have been ignoring because you though it was too big for you to handle.
Maybe the blessings of God have already been bestowed upon you and you are acting like you have sand in your eye.
Maybe you have a gold mine in your home, your work or in your thoughts and you keep passing over it because it is covered with dust or it might take a little effort to uncover.
Maybe your prayer was already answered but you are unwilling to accept "no", or "wait," or "not at this time" for an answer.
Maybe you have within you the power to heal your body or to heal your situation, but you haven't used the power within you to do much more than drag your body to church once a week.
Maybe you know the right words to speak that could change lives, but you were offended once, twenty years ago, and you aren't willing to let go and move on. Sometimes it's easier to stay offended about something, even if you can't even remember what it was, than to be vulnerable, all for the sake of an unthankful soul.

You are not your own, you were bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20). You are the steward of the Holy Spirit within, the holder of the sacred truths in the depths of your inner man, the one who provides a habitat for God.
Live large and let God be God in you and through you.
You won't be disappointed. But if you continue to deny God His rightful place in your life/lifestyle, you will have forfeited a great deal of irreplaceable time for much lessor things. Not only do the lessor things lose their value, they change like the wind. Let God have His rightful place in your life and your life will be full beyond measure.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Daily Devotional November 13 - Why Take A Risk With Something So Simple And So Important?

"Jesus answered and said unto him, art thou a master of Israel, and knoweth not these things?
Verily, verily, I say unto thee, we speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? John 3:9-12

Jesus was talking with Nicodemus (a leading Pharisee, ruler of the Jews and member of the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin is the highest Jewish tribunal.) Jesus was telling Nicodemus that he must be born again and Nicodemus was responding stupified.

There is a point here that must not be missed. It is obvious that being educated, being a part of the religious leadership of a religious order and even being a leader in religious philosophy does not qualify a person to understand spiritual matters. What qualifies a person to understand spiritual things that will transform them from lost to found, from darkness to light, from religious to truly spiritual, is an open mind and a receptive heart. Even Jesus Himself, when in the presence of others, could not reach everyone, because of their religious background or their own personal defiance of God. How much harder for us who are left with the commission to bring the gospel to the lost.

Jesus made a great point to Nicodemus, "If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things." Jesus spoke to Nicodemus about His ministry and the things he had been doing, about the people, their response to Him, the healings, the miracles and about the greatest miracle of all, salvation. He was speaking straight; no gimmicks, nothing to sell, nothing to gain, simply what He had seen and done, all first hand personal experience. Nicodemus was having a hard time believing what Jesus was saying. And so Nicodemus would have an even harder time believing what Jesus was saying about heavenly things, things about the future, things about God, things about the spiritual realm.

It is the same for you and me. If you spill your heart out about what you have seen with your own eyes and what you have heard with your own ears and what you have experienced first hand in your own life and someone does not believe you, how can you go on and tell them about heavenly things and expect some kind of positive response?

What can we do?
Keep it simple.
Tell people about what God has done for you. Be specific. Be clear. Don't explain to them all your theological history. Tell them about your personal relationship with Jesus. If they show interest, then you can go on to tell them more about Jesus.
Keep it simple.
Don't explain Jesus away by telling them about how they have to operate in the gifts of the spirit, be baptised four different ways, be saved over and over again, become a member of something, give up smoking, drinking or a plethora of other vices. Let the Holy Spirit continue to be the Holy Spirit. Simply tell them about how they can ask forgiveness for their sins and to ask for Jesus to come in and make His home with them.

Church people have turned away a many a person who really were ripe for the picking by offering them a lot more than they could digest. That's not evangelism. That's a real shame. If you tell them about your denomination and everything they believe, it is real likely that you will have offered them more than what Jesus would do.  Why take a risk with something so important and so simple?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Daily Devotional November 12 - Are You Receptive To Hear The Voice Of God?

"And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nepthalim: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias (Isaiah 9:1-2) the prophet, saying, "the land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; The people which sat in darkness saw great light, and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.  From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."  Matthew 4:13-17

About 769 years earlier Isaiah was granted a look at the future. Not only in this verse, but literally hundreds of Old Testament verses refer to a particular moment/season in time. Think about how long that is and just how difficult it would be to guess specific events of the future. Truly we can barely see to the end of the week, much less months, or years, decades, centuries or millenniums.

God has weaved together the past, present and future to reveal His omniscience through the scriptures.

Don't let the naysayers put their foot in the door of your faith. All scripture is true and all scriptural prophecy has come to pass or is waiting to come to pass according to God's foreknowledge.

Don't buy into the argument that the scriptures from one writer say something different from another writer. That is a child's argument and certainly not from someone who has read and understand the links and correlations of scripture.

Don't even listen to the argument about the King James version of the Bible is full of mistakes and errors. The mistakes and the errors are being made by those who can't grasp the connection between God and man, the spoken word 'Rhema of God' and the written word 'Logos of God' and the inerrancy of the scripture, even in it's man written form.

There are even those who go about saying that God doesn't answer prayer anymore, that we are in a waiting period between the time when Jesus performed miracles and heaven. Gobbledygook. That hardly explains the miracles that took place after Jesus ascended into heaven, through Paul, the Apostles and many others.

In this one verse, Isaiah spoke it and Jesus fulfilled it hundreds of years later, but there are hundreds of like prophesies in the scriptures. God is still speaking to men and women and giving them words of knowledge, words of wisdom, prophetic words of encouragement and prophecy. What makes these prophesies different than scriptural prophesies is that scripture holds the key to salvation and every word ever spoken necessary to secure salvation has already been spoken/written. There will never be a new way or a different way or a way that God told so and so it should be done that differs from scripture. But foreknowledge of future events spoken for the edification of the church, yes. What, do you really think that God stopped speaking to men and women of faith after John died on the Isle of Patmos? No way. And God is speaking to you, right now, through His Spirit into your inner man. Are you receptive to hear the voice of God. Isaiah was and look at the results.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Daily Devotional November 11 - Agape love

"Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, and have not charity, I am as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing." 1 Corinthians 13:1-2

This is the heart of the gospel and it represents the heart of God.
It's OK to have the best theology.
It's a good thing that you tithe.
It's a good thing that you give to food banks.
It's a good thing that once a year you fill your quarter packet for the missionary fund.
It's a good thing that you read your scriptures.
It's a good thing that you go to church regularly and that you are part of the small core group on Wednesday night.
Paul was being facetious about understanding all mysteries and having all knowledge and having all faith, but the point was made to reveal that even if you did possess those attributes, they are not the measuring stick for true spirituality.

Charity as used in this verse is from the Greek word agape, (ag-ah'-pay). This word agape means love, but in the deepest sense, like a love feast. In other words an irresistible urge to do something, a compelling that is so strong that you fall over yourself trying to accomplish it.

The reason Paul defines the importance of this agape love is to make sure that you aren't still trying to move up the spiritual ladder by your good works, your performance, your ability, your skills, your education or your disciplines. All of these are good, but you know people that have advanced skills and yet they are austere or hardened in their character, lacking sensitivity and lacking agape. You can be real smart and be mean to the people around you. And for the businessmen out there, there is no separation from business and faith. Who you are and the way you treat people at the workplace is the real you. Anybody can put on a smiley-face for church.

It's everywhere, every day that God calls you to operate in agape love. It is the discerning factor in Christianity. It is the difference in religious philosophy from one world religion to another. It is the God factor. Superficial love sickens God. Agape love is God. You can operate in this agape love. Pray before making decisions. Think diligently before answering back. Allow the decisions of your inner man to rise to the surface before speaking. Let the Christ in you shine forth from you.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Daily Devotional November 10 - Be ye Holy

"Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance. But as He which has called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, be ye holy because I am holy." 1 Peter 1:13-16

Gird up the loins of your mind. To paraphrase: "Strengthen, through use and constant communication with God, the center of your mind; the inner most part of your thinking; the root of all your thought life." We do this because as born again believers, we have a new nature that can be trained in the things of God. We have a living spirit that makes the direct connect with God through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. We strengthen our minds by exercising them.
Be sober. In your thinking be sensible and use the wisdom that has been imputed into you by God. Don't let yourself be caught under the influence of anything that can blur your inner vision. It's not just alcohol and drugs. There are other vices that can keep you from sober thinking.

And hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Hope, look toward the end, but in the meantime you are living under the auspices of grace. Christ has already been revealed to you and you have already received the blessing of living under grace. You are not waiting until the end to receive the grace. You are currently actively involved in living under the rule of grace, the dispensation of grace, the time prior to the end of the end of man. Your hope must be in the finished work of Christ. You need to know that God's grace is to be fully understood, activated, and utilized now, on this side of heaven. All that God has is available to you right now under grace. If you are waiting to cross over to the other side so you can really experience Christ, you will be disappointed. Grace and peace with God are for this life we live , fully activated for use and complete in every way. Of course this is not heaven, it was never meant to be. This is life in Christ, for the now. Heaven is meant for another time and when we get to heaven we will no longer be under the dispensation of grace. We will be in the dispensation of the kingdom of God.

As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance. Obedience to God only means good things. Obedience brings blessings. Obedience saves us from ourselves. Obedience to God is so much better than anything this world has to offer for our allegiance. If you claim Christ, fight your mind and your body to fashion itself to be like minded with Christ. You didn't have the power to do that before you were born again, but you do now. Use it wisely.

But as He which has called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation.
Conversation means lifestyle. Jesus is calling us to a holy lifestyle. And more than that, holiness is all about the direction you are in. Holiness is not a static position that you earned because you belong to the right church, because you are a pastor, because you are a priest, because you tithe, because you always make the right decisions or because of any other level of perfection that you think you might have reached. Holiness is fluid and part of the sub-structure of the Christian life. You are holy because of Christ, not because of you. You are holy because God sees you through the works of Jesus, not because you attended church and didn't miss a Sunday for six years. Of course it is wonderful that you or someone you know is faithful to do what they say they are going to do and follow the important tenants of faith of the church they attend. But don't get that kind of holiness mixed up with the holiness that God calls you to through Christ. The holiness we live through Christ, is Christ in us the hope of glory, and it is the indwelling Holy Spirit that lives in our inner man, but it is not from our good works that God looks upon and bestows blessings. It's always been about what Christ is doing in you and through you that makes you holy. Let God have His way with you.

Because it is written, be ye holy because I am holy. Because it is written. I won't belabour the point, but this is so important in how you view the scripture and God.
Because it is written it cannot be rescinded.
Because it is written God has proven Himself that He will not change his plan.
Because it is written, you have a contract with God that is immutable.
Because it is written you can stake your life on it.
Because it is written you don't have to worry about dysfunctional cult leaders taking you down the wrong road.
Because it is written you can find the truth for yourself and decide.
Because it is written it will come to pass the way it is written, because God promises that not one jot or tittle will be changed until all is fulfilled.

You might not like it. You might not agree with it. You might not do it this way if you were God. But because it is written, it will come to pass. My suggestion is to get on board with all that God is doing, pray about your part in this great move of God, listen carefully to what is written and act swiftly to fulfill it.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Daily Devotional November 9 - Will You Be Found Thinking About God?

"And He spake a parable unto them, saying, the ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, what shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, this will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow my fruits and goods. And I will say to my soul, soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." Luke 12:16-21

There is noting wrong with getting rich. But success is found in the honest pursuit of wealth, not in the accumulation of things. The mistake that this man made was not that he was rich. God provided rich soil and the man worked the soil and it produced well. The mistake that this man made wasn't that he had become so rich that he needed new, bigger and better barns. Again God wants men and women to be diligent and produce goods and services to service the people.

So what was it that the man did that made him a fool?

He had not reconciled with God along the way. He was rich with goods, but poor with the things of God. Had he made a place for God in his life, this parable would have been written about another man. God did not take his soul because he worked hard and was rich and about to get richer. God didn't plan his death so he couldn't enjoy his harvest. God didn't take his life at all. But God did know when his earthly life would end and this man was not ready to pass over.

That's the point. You are working hard and making a life for yourself and your family. Maybe you have been successful and maybe things are going really well for you. Don't wait until you think you have it all together to get right with God. Do it now. Do it today. You can't be sure about tomorrow, but you can be sure about right now. Bow your knee and let God know that you do want the things of God to be pertinent in your life.

Become a steward of everything instead of an owner of a few things. Were the man in the story a steward, it would mean that he had already reconciled himself to God and he was now using his mind and his hands to produce goods for the betterment of mankind, sharing his wealth and sharing his smart business acumen. He would have had no less wealth, but an even greater wealth in having the satisfaction that he was doing business God's way. It does matter. Time is fleeting and as each day passes, your collective opportunity to follow God's leading and change the way you think is diminishing. On your last day, let it be that you were thinking like God.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Daily Devotional November 8 - The Truth Within The Truth

"And He said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity (insistence and persistence) he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. And I say unto you, ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened."

There are some great truths here.
The first truth is the reference to midnight. Midnight is after the last minute. If you were going to go to someone who could help you with your need, you usually wouldn't go to them after hours, probably not after 7:00 or 8:00 pm. Even if you were almost desperate you would still not go to them that late, but midnight, that's out of the question. It's just too late. But notice the inference here. Even if you come to the Lord past the last minute, it's not too late.

The second truth is the reference to the 'story.' The story being the man's story who is knocking on the door. He starts by telling the man with the bread why he needs the bread and the urgency of the matter. His friend needs the bread, but he doesn't have the bread to give him. In other words he has someone coming to him with a need and he is not prepared to meet the need. Of the thousands of Christians I have interviewed, it seems to be normal to be under-supplied; to not have more than the bare minimum; to be living from paycheck to paycheck. There is a tone of embarrassment in his voice as well. Maybe he feels embarrassed that he can't offer his friend even the bare minimum. Either way, he tells his story to the man who has the bread. It is imperative that we follow Jesus in His leading about how to approach these kind of situations. And giving our story is a way of communicating where we are and why we are in need.

The third truth is the reference to the lender. The bottom line is that the man with the bread tells the man asking several important messages:
It's after hours. You should have come to me hours ago.
There was many previous opportunities for you to come and get the bread.
My children and my family are down for the night and it will be quite an inconvenience to them for me to get up and take care of your need.
I'm already up now, come on in and I will get the bread.
God has made a way for you and me to get our needs met, even though we might come to Him late, maybe ask for the wrong thing, maybe ask at the wrong time, and maybe not even ask in the right way. But if we ask seems to be the real message here. God has what you need, for your friend and for yourself. Even if you wait too long to go to God with your problem/need, God will assist you simply because you asked. And from experience, I have found it true that God has answered some of my prayers because I was importunate, not because I asked the right way or at the right time or ended my prayer with the right title; not because I was properly prepared, not because I had made provisions for future events, not because I was warned in advance; simply because God is that great and that good, that God can overlook our insufficiency when He sees our sufficiency, i. e., Christ in us.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Daily Devotional November 7 - Lawyers Are People Too

"Bring Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey diligently, that nothing be wanting unto them." Titus 3:13
This is a remarkable statement. Let me paraphrase. When you bring Zenas, the lawyer and Apollos the preacher to see me, make sure that:
  • the plans for their departure and arrival are well thought out
  • everything they need is properly set up
  • someone helps with the baggage
  • their family is taken care of while they are gone away from home
  • they have enough food and drink for the whole trip
  • that all their bills are paid before bringing them
  • and that the trip is completely paid for
That's the Christian way. This notion that lawyers don't need anything because they make so much money is foolishness and most of the time not true at all. Let me tell you a story. Hurricane Andrew hit SW Florida and I was living in Florida at the time. I had a small construction company with about 10 workers. One week prior to the disaster of hurricane Andrew I was praying and I said, Lord I will go anywhere you send me, willingly, except Miami.

Well hurricane Andrew goes through the Miami, Homestead area the end of that same week. God said go. I said you've got to be kidding and then God changed my heart. I took my truck and a few men with me the day after the hurricane had gone through. I ended up at a place called Quail Roost, an area South and West of Miami. I did not know I was in Quail Roost for weeks. Anyway, I went down to help people, except I didn't know what they needed until I got there and saw the destruction.

So went went back and forth from Mid Florida to Quail Roost for weeks, gathering supplies in Mid Florida and taking them to Quail Roost. We brought mostly plywood and tar paper just to help people have a dry spot in their home. Many people stayed and wouldn't even leave their property, even though there was almost nothing left, especially any roof shingles or plywood. During the next three months we dried in 43 homes, not completely, but enough where they could have a place to sleep and eat, out of the weather. (All at no cost to anyone receiving our help). It would be months and in some cases more than a year until some of these people could rebuild their homes. Anyway, keep in mind, I didn't know anyone and there was no Red Cross or National Guard yet and even when they did come it was not nearly enough.

here was this one home; two story, beautiful home, completely ruined, missing most of its second floor and most of its roof. There was a woman outside in a fuzzy nightgown with a glazed look in her eyes, staring off into the sky as if a bomb had hit their home, and this was a few days after the hurricane went through. As with all the help that we were offering we pulled over and the men and I took some plywood and tar paper and filled in a section of their roof so that they could have a dry area to live in. Wouldn't you know it, months later Christians back in Mid Florida and seven some of the local churches were angry at me for drying in the roof of this home. They said I should have only dried in the homes of the poor. They also said that this home wqas owned by a lawyer and he had plenty of money and didn't need help. Really?

The water was coming in their home just like everybody else's. You couldn't buy plywood or tar paper or anything else for that matter (in the area) at this point in time. All the money in the world had no value in their neighborhood. They couldn't get out and almost nobody could get in for weeks and months for many in that area. Any way, I am thankful to God that I didn't go down their with an agenda, taking my pride and arrogance and ignorance with me or I would have looked around to see who was worthy to have me fix their roof. God help us all. The point is that lawyers are people too.

Next Paul tells Titus to do the same for the preacher that he is doing for the lawyer. Our pastors work hard and they (almost all of them) are grossly underpaid. Not only that, too many parishioners actually resent pastor making anything, much less maybe having a nice car or wearing new clothes. Next time you are thinking of finding some old hand-me-down clothes for the pastors kids, you need to think again. They deserve for you to sacrifice and buy them something really nice, new and beautiful. Your pastor needs a new car. The pastor's wife is to be respected and honored and loved and cared for as a guest. You shouldn't even think of how little you and your church board can get away with paying your pastor. You should think of ways that you can double or triple their income. Don't bother writing me or trying to find scripture that supports not supporting your pastor. You won't find it.

Paul instructed Titus to bring Zenas and Apollos and that nothing should be wanting unto them. This is Bible truth. Find a way to bless your lawyer or pastor. Go the extra mile. Sacrifice some time or money and make their lives better. It is God's way.

Daily Devotional November 6 - You Have To Believe It To Receive It

"Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
What Paul is trying to say and has been saying in his ministry throughout the scripture is for us to realize and experience the world, but to think about and respond to our spiritual calling from Christ. Along with the many blessings, the good times, superior health, financial stability, job stability, family love, answered prayers and miracles from God, there will be times:
  • You will have pain.
  • You will experience mistreatment by others.
  • You will get sick.
  • You will be disappointed.
  • You will be lied to.
  • You will coerced.
  • You will robbed by satan of whatever is available.
  • You will feel discouraged.
  • You will feel beaten.
  • You will slip form your plan.
  • You will make mistakes.
  • You might even sin.
In these things, rejoice that God is still on your side.
In these things, pray that you will overcome.
Give thanks that God has not abandoned you, but is with you through it all.

That's the part that so many Christians don't like or maybe don't understand about God. They want to go around the fire instead of through the fire. You really can't blame them. Through the fire is when you experience these negative things I mentioned above. Of course we are not going to choose any of them and we certainly don't desire the valley experiences, but you will go through them at different points in time in your life. What are you going to do about it?

Well, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo had an answer to this question. They said, "If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up." Daniel 3:17-18

It isn't a question of whether or not bad things are going to happen to good people, because they are. The question shouldn't be "why do does God allow bad things to happen to good people?" The question should be, "what are you going to do with what God allows to happen."

Rejoice evermore.
Pray without ceasing.
In every thing give thanks.
For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
Can you believe this and make it a part of your relationship with God?

Daily Devotional November 5 - Are You Tooled Up?

"Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but satan hindered us. " 1 Thessalonians 3:11

Wait a minute! What does Paul mean that satan hindered him? How could it be that satan had any influence on the Apostle Paul? Wasn't Paul immune to satan's ploys? If Paul wasn't protected against satan hindering his mission, what hope do we have? Aren't Christians protected against any power that satan might have had before we were saved?

satan is a real spiritual force in our world. And because satan has so many followers, some by choice, some by default, he uses people to perform his will. In the Christian realm it's like when we pray to God, we know that God wants us to put feet to our prayers. In other words, for us to do what we can toward the tasks at hand and relying on God to complete the task with His supernatural intervention. With satan and his followers it works much the same. satan relies on people to cause whatever havoc he can influence them to do and satan and his emissaries (demons) apply whatever spiritual initiative necessary to complete the (havoc, pain, death, sin, indescretion, turmoil, fraud, terrorism, castatrophe.)

What Christians through prayer accomplish to bring to pass the will of God, satan and his followers buffet by standing against the things of God, attempting to thwart the will of God. satan is successful where the power to overcome his influence is missing. In Paul's case it wasn't that he could not go here or there because there was some sort of invisible barrier like a forcefield keeping him from his mission, it was that satan and his emissaries had plotted and planned, using men and women to set up obstacles and barriers making it difficult and sometimes almost impossible for Paul to accomplish his goal. No matter how spiritual you are, you can only fight so many battles at one time. Mortals have a limit.

If you are a Christian you have probably been in a similar battle. You see with your spiritual eyes that you are doing the right thing, but you also see with your spiritual eyes that there is an enemy waiting, plotting and planning your demise. This is the spiritual battle that you are in. This is the battle that you need to be prepared for and tooled up to fight. This is where we are hindered. One thing to remember in the midst of the battle/s. "Submit yourselvs therefore to God, Resist the devil and he will flee from you." James 4:8. satan can't stay where he isn't invited or wanted, but don't think he can't come around on occasion to check on your progress. That's right, even for Christians.