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Monday, December 30, 2013

Daily Devotional December 30 - God's Word Never Fails

"Trust in the Lord..."  Psalm 37:3a

1st Do you believe God said this in His Word?
2nd Do you believe that this Word is true?
3rd Do you understand, by the Holy Spirit the wisdom of the principle?

In other words; have you received the wisdom of the Word from God and have you maintained your faith in it without changing or looking back to reconsider whether you believe it or not?

Has the Word been made alive, so that when you read it you trust it implicitly to perform what it says it will?

You can answer that by answering this. Do you apply the truth that you received from the Word of God to all areas of your life?

We say that we trust the LORD, but do we trust the LORD? I believe that most of us do not trust God the way that we should:
  • Implicitly without reservation
  • With full assurance that Gods Word will be fulfilled
  • Without any doubt
Really there isn't much since in reading on until you believe what God has already spoken to you.  Every lesson - every principle - every truth from God must pass this test in your heart before you can receive the power and authority of the Word.

This test being:
1st Do you believe God said this in His Word?
2nd Do you believe that this word is true?
3rd Do you understand, by the Holy Spirit the wisdom of the principle?

We hear the voice of God through God's Holy Word. We receive the fulfillment of the Word of God when we receive the wisdom of the principle or revelation by the Holy Spirit.  "Trust in the LORD." It is the Word that created the heavens and the earth and all that is within it. It is the same Word that created life itself. 
Now watch this carefully.
God speaks His Word and creates the heaven and the earth.
God speaks into existence light, plants, animals and even mankind.
God can speak anything into existence out of nothing, because there is no resistance.

Where there is no resistance - God's Word flows freely.

When God speaks His Word to you - You have free will to resist or receive.  If you did not resist the Word of God, every Word would be yours.  Every Word would perform its task.  Every Word would bring into existence its purpose.  Every Word would be fulfilled.

Every Word of God that you:
1st Believe God said it.
2nd Believe that this word is true?
3rd Understand, by the Holy Spirit the wisdom of the principle?

No doubt can enter in. No wavering. No trying it out to see how it works. What it takes for God's Word to work its power in you is (no resistance from you).  Listening or hearing in itself will not activate the power and authority of God.  The Word has to be heard - received - believed and trusted for it to have power in you.  You have to trust God at His Word.

Now in your defense:

I believe that all of us have decided in our heart that the Bible is the Word of God.
If not then let's get together and pray about that.
It is a huge step of faith, but it is essential if you are to receive power and authority from God.
By believing that the Bible is the Word of God, you allow the Holy Spirit to use the scriptures to teach you and train you. You allow the Holy Spirit access to your heart by faith.
Believing that the Bible is the Word of God gets you to the place where you can receive understanding from God.  But for the Word of God to create what it says in your life, you have to trust God.

God knows the end from the beginning.  God is not going to allow you to try Him out and test Him to see if God is all He says He is, like trying out a new car. God knows when you are fooling around, and He knows when you are trusting in Him. God knows when your faith is in yourself and God knows when your faith is in Him.  Because God knows all these things, He set His Word up to work for those who trust Him, when they trust Him. This is a principle of God and it can never fail.

Daily Devotional December 29 - You Will Get All That God Has For You

"For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; that ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well.  Fare ye well."  Acts 15:28-29

There are two thoughts I want to extrapolate from these verses.
First, how does James know that it seemed good to the Holy Ghost not to place too heavy a burden on the gentile believers? 
Second, along with accepting Christ as your personal Savior, God gives us His principles in succession, truth upon truth, precept upon precept, over time and during the process of living the Christian life/lifestyle. 

How does James know that it seemed good to the Holy Ghost not to place too heavy a burden on the gentile believers?  The Holy Spirit lives within us and we can know the mind of Christ and the will of God and the expectation of the Holy Spirit if we are in alignment with His will.  If we are in love with Jesus and following after His ways, it is almost second nature to hear and understand the voice of the Holy Spirit within. 

A good knowledge of the Bible and a healthy dose of following after Christ and anyone can know the will of God.  We make a big deal about it because there is a lot of money to be made on keeping people in their ignorance and bliss; steering believers to believe that they need a mediator between them and Christ or that the 'average' Christian can't know the will of God; It must be revealed by a priest or prophet or apostle or preacher.  Sorry, but you are just as responsible to gather and follow the teachings of Christ as anyone and you have been endowed with the ability to activate the power of God within you equal to and the same as anyone who claims Christ.  We all have different gifts, but all who are born again have within them the Holy Spirit of God.  All who have been born again have the same chance to find and develop the mind of Christ.  James and you can know what the Holy Spirit desires you to do or say.

God gives us His principles in succession, truth upon truth, precept upon precept, over time and during the process of living the Christian life/lifestyle.  The Holy Spirit did not want to lay too heavy a burden on the new gentile believers at this time.  The process of the Christian life is to start and then move forward and then grow and then abide in Christ and each of these phases are filled with events and struggles, obstacles to overcome and barriers to break down.  At every turn there is a principle of God to be opened up and then utilized, new truths to be learned and new directions to take.  No one gets all of God at one time nor do they get all that God has for them in one sitting.  The process is to grow in Christ and to go through things that develop a God-consciousness in us.  We start out by accepting Christ and we move forward co-creating with God to accomplish the will of God in our life and for the overall good of all.  During this process we also fulfill the prophesies of God concerning mankind and the condition of the world that we live in.  Don't take your part in all this too lightly.  God chose you and that makes your position pretty important.  No you will not get it all at the same time, but you will get all that God has for you in His time.  God's way really is the best way. 

Daily Devotional December 28 - Arise And Go

"I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee."  Luke 15:18

This is a passage from the parable of the lost son.  If you need to re-read the story it is found in Luke 15:11-32.  This story is about how we all have made choices that did not glorify God and were not for our benefit either.  We thought at the time that we just had to do this or that.  We tried out the grass on the other side, so to speak.  Some of us made choices that took us away from our protection and others even further, to actually abandon our principles altogether, but all of us have made choices that have not glorified God.

It is in this statement above that I find is the beginning to all rebuilding or re-structuring of our lives.  All correcting of the direction we are headed in; all misalignment with God's perfect will for our lives.  "I will arise and go."  Inside your heart you must say these words to get back on track with God.  It has to be your own personal acknowledgement that you have strayed from God and your own acknowledgement that you will get back up and go toward the Father that all spiritual growth is built on.  Without you activating your own free will to go, you will stay in the path in the opposite direction of God's purpose for your life.

Why is that important?  Nobody can do this for you.  Not even God.  Free will is powerful and within its parameters all spiritual growth is activated.  Free will activates the power of God to be used to bring to pass the will of God. When free will is activated to follow after God, God's purpose and direction for our lives is not encumbered by our choices, because the choices we make are made with forethought and prayerful attention. 

Even though we have all strayed away from God, are you ready to say, "I will arise and go???"

Daily Devotional December 27 - Are You OK With Being Perfected?

"The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: Thy mercy, O LORD, endureth forever: forsake not the works of Thine hands."  Psalm 138:8

Do you feel like God is perfecting you?  If not, it is likely that you are not spending enough time with God.  God does so many things for us, in us and through us, but perfecting us is a primary work of God in man.  The perfecting that God is doing is a cleansing of the mind.  The more time you spend with God, the more thoughts about God are generated.  These God thoughts have in them the power to alter your thinking.  And it is through the altering of your thinking that perfection is being performed in you.

As the new year approaches it might be that God is calling you to a closer walk.  It only requires your time, your heart and your mind.  Different attributes of God are revealed when you approach God at different seasons and for different reasons.  For example when you approach God when you are desperate for an immediate fix of some situation, you see Sovereign God working His will through your situation.  When you approach God when you are in need of money you see the God of provision.  When you approach God for healling you see God's miraculous power to heal the body. 

When you approach God without any reason except to be close to Him, you see His purity and His light, His holiness and His beauty.  You see the "come unto Me all that labor and are heavy laden," God.  You see beyond your immediate circumstances and start to understand the big picture, the one that includes others as well as yourself.  You see the gentle hand of love reaching into your heart to purify you with God thoughts.  You see the God that created everything and in everything a purpose and a direction.  What God has done starts to make sense.  You get a clearer vision of the end and the middle doesn't look so scary. 

When you get even closer you see yourself through the mind of Christ.  You see the beauty of living to serve God and you grasp why you don't have to be the center of the universe to be fulfilled.  Stay just a little longer and the desire to stay gets greater.  The drive to do it your way becomes hollow.  Your spiritual eyes start to focus and you see the bounty that God has provided.  You see the storehouses full of benefits and blessings with your name on it.  You see that what God has already done with you is more than you ever dreamed.  Yor eyes are opened to another dimension and you start to see the connection between your problems and His solutions.  "The Lord will perfect that which concerneth Me," makes sense.  I am the Lord's handiwork and God is the craftsman.  "The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me."

Daily Devotional December 26 - Who Is Changing You?

"But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  To Him be glory both now and forever."  Amen. 2 Peter 3:18

"The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.  Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing;  To shew that the LORD is upright: He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him."  Psalm 92:12-14
This word grow as translated from the Greek is: to change into - enlarge or increase. To enlarge or increase our estate. To grow or change means that we will flourish like the palm tree - Grow like a cedar - Flourish in the courts of God - Bring forth fruit in our old age.  These are not negative things.  Change is not a negative thing.
If we are following Jesus Christ we are changing. The word of God is alive and written so that we would change and change and change. And each change is to make us more like God.

A static relationship with God is not a relationship at all. A static relationship is religion. With religion we can stop and get off anywhere we want to and still maintain our so-called relationship with God.  With a static relationship with God we can easily be led astray.
We can fall into temptations
We can become unfruitful
We can abandon the brethren
We can even turn away from God

But with a vital and changing relationship with God, everyday brings new ground to break, new horizons, newness of life.
We can flee temptations
We produce fruit
We stick with the brethren
We draw nearer to God

We risk our souls when we bargain with God. God calls us to change so we can be more like God. An elder, mentor and friend of mine at age 87 told me, "A  man or woman of God is always a teachable man or woman."  Isn't it the truth.

The greatest opportunities in our lives have been when we were open to receive what God had for us and the greatest moments among those opportunities are when we received what God had for us.

Each time this happened we made progress in our lives. We allowed God to change us and every change that God makes in us is good. Let's pray that God will change us and not allow us to go another day without opening ourselves to Him in a way that change could take place.

There are ten things that happen when we are not growing or changing:
We can become stiff, callous and un-pliable
We can be easily led astray
We can go back to our old ways
We will lose our sense of urgency in the things of God
We will waste time wallowing in the past or even in the present
We will stop producing fruit - Think about it - How long can fruit hang on a tree before we just cut it off and throw it away, because fruit becomes rotten on the tree.
We can miss our calling
We can become complacent and careless
We will slowly turn back to where we have been
Lastly, God cannot use us, because we are not willing to follow Jesus wherever He takes us.

Sometimes we get into ruts and just stay there.
We resist change. 
Sometimes we hold on to the familiar because its easy.
We hold on to old doctrines of men.
We hold on to our own opinion, even after new light has been shown.
We hold on to the world and what it offers.
We hold on to the past.
We hold on to our guilt.
We hold on for FEAR OF CHANGE.

Yet, God calls us to trust Him in a way that demands change. Each step of faith with God is one of relinquishing the familiar or the stagnant and receiving what God has for us. That takes change. It's not easy to step out on the water expecting God to keep us up, but we must if we want to walk with Jesus, because our walk with Jesus is a faith walk, every step of the way.

There are ten things that happen when we are growing or changing:
We become softened and pliable, easy to be talked to and loving to others
We cannot be easily led astray
We will not turn back to our old ways, we abandon them
We recognize the urgency of the things of God
We live in the now and don't live in the past, opening old wounds
We will be producing fruit
We will find our calling
We will become excited and careful
We will never go back to where we have been
God can use us because we go wherever Jesus goes

Are we the same person you were ten years ago?  I hope not. If you are you have missed much life.  God has a precious plan to grow you and I into an holy temple.  A place good enough for God to reside.  No! I am not saying that we can of ourselves make ourselves good enough to be God's dwelling place.

God makes us good enough to be His dwelling place.  God designed a plan to purge us and live in us.  Each of us, because of Christ, are worthy to be God's temple and together we grow into an holy church.  Growing or changing does not happen at the same time for everyone. What moves one person, does not move another. Sometimes a verse of scripture will change someone forever and another will not be moved at all. Some of change easily and some of us change slowly and with great difficulty.  All change comes from influence.  We are influenced by everything we come into contact with as well as being influenced by the omission of contact. 

It is important that we allow ourselves and our children to be influenced by those things that keep us on track with our faith.  And it is just as important to dis-allow some of the distractions that can come our way or our children's way to keep on track.  It is just as important to pull away from those things that distract us from keeping our eyes on Jesus.  The direction we change will be the direct result of what influences to that change.

To hold to the things of God, we need to be influenced by the people of God.
To hold to the things of the world, we need to be influenced by the world.

If we are to change and be more like God, we will needaround those people that are going in the same direction as we are.

And then the other side of this is:
What we allow to influence us - we will in turn influence others the same
We become more like God - others will become more like God
We allow the world to influence us - we then influence our children with the same thing. This principle cannot be circumvented.

Think about this. God wants nothing from you that God does not give you.

God gives nothing to you that He does not want from you.

We change so we can be changed.
We are given to so we can give away.
We are taught so we can teach.
We are blessed so we can bless.
We are loved so we can love.
We are changed so we can change others.

God moves and works through us, via change.

If we hold onto what God gives us, we will get no more.
If we bury our talent in the ground, God will take it away.
If we use it, God will replace it or multiply it.
If God gives us a gift and we use it, God will increase (change) it
If God gives us a gift and we don't use it, God will take it away
If we learn a truth and teach others, we will learn more and more
If we learn a truth and keep it to ourselves, we will die with it

Change is inevitable.  Create change or change will create you.  Which is better?

Daily Devotional December 25 - Merry Christmas


Can we just bask in His glory for a moment and reflect on all that Jesus has done for us this year.  It is beyond measure.  Jesus still coming and going, sending and praying, answering and performing miracles for you and me. 

"And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.  And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women."  Luke 1:26-28

The provision of God is universal and comes to each and every person that God made.  It is God's way of providing equally for all. The means of this catholic (world-wide) provision of God is through nature, i. e., gravity, biology, physics, ecology, astronomy, physiology and all the other natural provisions.

But the favor of God comes to those who have a personal relationship with God.  All of creation provides beauty and excitement, adventure and mystery to any and all who choose to utilize creations elements. You don't have to be a born again believer to package or repackage creations components. Everyone has the same opportunity to seek, find and use natures ingredients and bake their own cake, so to speak.

But to have assurance that all will be OK in the midst of the storm requires the favor of God.  The favor of God comes with commitment and preservation of a personal and continuous and deep relationship with Jesus.  Anyone can mine for gold or diamonds or start a business and receive the benefits associated with perseverance and hard work, but to receive a nod from God for a job well done requires the favor of God.

You might be thinking, just get on with it, just tell us how to get the favor of God so we can move into that experience quickly, but the truth is that many people want the favor of God without commitment and loyalty, allegiance, constancy, steadfastness, devotion and affection, love and faith toward God.  The favor of God requires that we die to self, lose our life to save it, put others ahead of ourselves, exchange our rights for obedience and trade in our will for God's will, not that popular today.

God shows His favor upon men and women whom God knows will hang in there to the end. God knows you and I that well. God does not distribute His essence without full knowledge of the past, present and future.  If we want the favor of God, we must make up our mind to follow His Son, today and tomorrow and when the bottom falls out and when our ship comes in.
In the up time and in the down time.
In times of health and when our health has left us.
When we are treated fairly and when we are mistreated and maligned.
The favor is evident to the faithful, because it is revealed through relationship.

If God gives you or me favor, so be it. We have a sickness in our society that if someone becomes successful, or receives a blessing, many around them become discontent with them or disappointed with them or in some cases even troublesome toward them.  And in some cases we are fighting against the favor of God.
The Lord has called you out and seeks to show Himself worthy to anyone who will prepare a table in his heart for the Lord. 
To anyone who will offer up his life for a better one.
To anyone who will seek the will of the Father over his own.
To anyone who will bow the knee to His Son, hear His voice and follow hard after Him.
To anyone who will build on the name of Jesus and not their own.
To anyone willing to let go of their dream for a better dream.
To anyone who will come to the alter and lay it down, lay it all down: money, children, successes, problems, troubles, religion, finances, everything.

The favor of God comes when we do naturally what God has ordained beforehand.

When we seek His presence and find it.
When we set our heart to serve the Christ.
When we make choices to follow the precepts handed down to us through the scriptures and handed down to us through the indwelling Holy Spirit.

See, receiving the favor of God is not based on what you've done, where you've been who you've hurt, how you've mismanaged your money or anything else you've done while trying out life outside of the will of God.  The favor of God is based on what you've given God to work with.  What part of yourself have you given God to work with?

Daily Devotional December 24 - What Are You Willing To Trade In?

"Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."  Mark 11:24 

We usually look at this verse as if we were to pray for some thing or some gift, some tangible, material thing.  But for the sake of today, let's just look at this verse as it pertains to receiving God Himself.  For just a little while, can you try to clear your mind of all that distracts you from receiving God.  Let's not worry about your kids right now, or your parents or anybody, right now.

Please forget just for a moment everything that you usually let press into your life during the week.
Please drop your guard, that you felt that you had to have up all week, and let God have His way with you this day.
Please forget about all the barriers and obstacles that seem to be in your way of making personal progress.
Please forget about your circumstances, finances and troubles.
Please forget about what you don't have.
Please just let God, be God, and have His way with you.
Please take it one more step - practice some God-thinking
Please, just for the moment, trade in everything you hold onto so dearly, for what God wants you to have.

God says that you can overcome your circumstances, whatever they are, if you will but let go and let God.  I believe that you have limited what God wants to do in your life. 
What have you become accustomed to that is less than God's best for you?
What is it that you really would like to see happen in your life?  This might take a few minutes to figure out, but the process is worth it.  Take time and think about this in the depths of your heart.

Do you want peace in your house?
Do you need delivered from bondage?
Do you want to get along with your spouse or best friend under the anointing of God?
Do you want to see your kids serve the Lord with reverence and awe?

Sometimes we are living as if our hands were tied.  We can fall into the trap of living as if God were far away or distant.  Sometimes we act like God doesn't care.  We live with less and in less because we constrain God.  Think about it. Some of us have fought or are still fighting against God, all the while God is trying to give you blessings. God makes His blessings available, His overcoming power, free and without strings and we fight against God. We fight against receiving God's very best for us. We hold on too tightly to what we have, because we haven't come to the place, where we believe, that what we have, is supposed to be traded up for what God has in store for us.

God has many times, sent to you and me, angels to steer us when were getting ready to make certain decisions. God puts up red flags, barricades, walls and closed doors and sometimes we go around them anyway - and the consequences in some cases are still with us. Past baggage - unconfessed sin - guilt - confusion - even addiction.  God has opened up opportunities for us all along the way of our life. Sometimes we turned away and we are still feeling the consequences.  I am convinced that every one of us has less of what God wants for us and we have more of what God doesn't want for us because we didn't or wouldn't receive from God all that He has for us.

There are plenty of reasons - guilt - pride - fear - disobedience - trusting in the wrong person - wrong thinking - false beliefs - prejudice, greed or low self-esteem.  If we want to we can trade in the less of what God wants for us for the more of what God wants for us. But we have got to trade it in.
Would you trade $5.00 for $500.00?
You have got to give up what you have to get something. You cannot receive from God until you give something up.  You have give God something to work with.

Luke 5:36-38 says, "And He spake also a parable unto them; No man putteth a piece of a new garment upon an old; if otherwise, then both the new maketh a rent, and the piece that was taken out of the new agreeth not with the old. And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish. But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved."

You cannot get the best that God has to offer until you get rid of the less. You don't just give it lip service, you must lay down the old to get the new. You must let go of the old, stale and unproductive thoughts if you are to receive a new regenerating Word from God.  Before God can give you anything new, you must trade in the old.  God will not let you try on the new until you lay down the old.  God won't let you and I see if what He has for us is going to be OK with us. We have to trust Him implicitly.

Your heart and your conscience knows what it is that you are afraid to give up, or, exchange, trade in, for something new.

It doesn't matter what it is.
It could be a habit?
It could be poverty?
It could be money?
It could be something you've done?
It could be a belief?
It could be a gift?

Whatever it is. Now hear this closely. Whatever it is. If you give it to God; I mean lay it down, and walk away from it. I mean throw it over the cliff; that kind of letting it go - God will replace it with something better - every time.  What are you willing to trade in so that you can receive something new and wonderful from God?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Daily Devotional December 23 - Bring God Into Your Situation Early

"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee."  Isaiah 26:3

Do you have an unwanted debt?
Do you have any troubles?
And for some maybe troubles on more sides than one?
Have people said or done some things that hurt you?

For some of us to be burdened by something or someone has been going on for so long we have began to believe that this is the way it is supposed to be. We start to think that it just can't get better, that we will forever be assigned to this station of gloom and troubles and peril.

Along the way in life we have had many teachers. We have been taught what to do and what not to do. We have been taught basic Math, Science and English and even some Bible. Some of us received formal training in a specialized field of endeavor, like health care, masonry, carpentry, mechanics or management. Some of us have a high school diploma, some college , others a masters degree or a PhD.  We have learned a great many things, some to our credit and some to our shame.

One look around and you can see how busy we are as a people. For some of us our day, our week, our entire year or longer is mapped out with little or no room for change or diversion.  Some of us have spent more time thinking about what we cannot do, haven't done or won't ever have the chance to do more than what we can do.  Some of us have dreams or goals that take us beyond our current circumstances. Is there anybody out there that fits this category? Some of us have tried to break away from whatever it is holding us back only to find an invisible elastic band attached to it drawing us back again and again.  How would you like to have the power to overcome the circumstances and see your goals and dreams come to pass?

For those of you who are of age you have been pulled back so many times that you feel like a rubber band and you are more than ready to give it up for something better.

For the youth and those about 20, they haven't experienced the teeter totter syndrome yet - for you, (with just a right Word from God) you will be able to bypass the back and forth motion of indecision and indiscretion - make decisions and stick to them - turn from the unnecessary without loss of territory and find fulfilling opportunities early.

The secret of life is about bringing God into your situation early .
Psalms 63:1 "O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;"

The call of God to be invited in early was not meant just to be early in the morning, like so many think, although it can be early in the morning.

It is also early in your relationships.
It is also early in the planning stages of your new business.
It is also early in your ministry.
It is also early in your decision making process.
Early in your job
Early in your spending

My God if you were to seek God early, how many problems and situations that you had to go through could you have avoided?

Don't be too proud of your many experiences. God prefers you learn to avoid satan and his ploys 'early.' Can you sense in your spirit that God has always been there? Oh had we invited God in early?

In a way, for us to make improvement in our life and get beyond our current circumstance, it will be important that we make room in our mind for new light, new inspiration. For many of us, to go into the closet with God we will have to clean out that closet. Just try to get into a closet when it is full of stuff. Does anybody have a closet that is full of stuff?

It is the same with our prayer closet in the inner man. You can't get into the prayer closet with your inner man if it is full of stuff. I want you to get a sense of approval from God on this issue - It's OK to dump some of that stuff:

Some of the unused
and in some cases, unfit stuff
to make room for pure Christ.

You wouldn't throw a treasure from God into your junk drawer or cluttered closet would you? But we do. We take the very breath of God and mix it with so many lesser things.  It's hard to keep our minds stayed on God when our minds are so cluttered with superfluous and worthless thoughts.  Maybe it's time to re-evaulate what we allow to have the pre-emminence in our life and re-stack our thinking to think more like God, thus God-thinking.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Daily Devotional December 22 - Engaged In The Things Of God

"But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.  God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."  John 4:23-24

Life was never meant to be a game where we juggle our professional life, our family life, our Church life, our work life - as if they were independent of one another.  The only life that glorifies God is the integrated life.

The unbelieving world - secular humanist - agnostics - atheist and - this is a hard saying, the lukewarm Christian - All want you and I to play their game and their game is - GOD IS NOT FIRST. 
There's more that the worldly purport, like this.
  • The things of God are not to be integrated into your life.
  • You can juggle a little church with a little world.
  • A little marriage with a little womanizing.
  • A little Christianity with a little Eastern philosophy.
  • A little G rated TV with a little ....
  • A little integrity with a few bounced checks.
Freedom and enlightenment is when we are free from the wicked influences of this world - not when we are free to indulge ourselves in them.  Take just a few moments and think the deepest thoughts of God you can muster up.  Allow yourself to be mesmerized by God.  Allow your thoughts to go deeper than before.  Talk to your inner man and listen as your highest self expresses God's perfect will in your life.  Visualize standing or sitting or bowing in God's presense, before the throne of God.  Force your mind to stop racing around and listen to God, carefully and often - without your cell phone on.
Go to God in your spirit and sense His acceptance of you.

This is cleansing and powerful.
Change your vision of God - close your eyes and see God in the inner man.
Think higher and loftier thoughts.
You can always tell when you are making headway with God.

As you get closer, God gets bigger.
As you know more, there's more still.
As you go deeper, deeper gets deeper.
As you draw closer, God pulls you even closer.

Make up your mind to put God-thinking into action. Force the things of God to the top of your thinking and push down all else. Some things need to be pushed so far down that they are pushed out altogether.  To worship God in spirit and truth will require that your mind is engaged in the things of God.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Daily Devotional December 21 - The Power Of Communion

"And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by ordinance for ever." Exodus 12:14

Jesus proves who He is more by this one act than any other- The institution of Communion.  I want you to see the connection between the Jew (the people of God) of the Old Testament and the Church (the people of God) of the new Testament. 
It started with the Passover lamb. Passover:  The Old Covenant and the New Covenant all tied together by God to spiritually unite His people together with Himself. It was a symbol and more than a symbol of God's protection for His people and it was and is a remembrance of what God had done for His people. 

What we have come to know and understand as communion is also a remembrance and more than a remembrance of the body and blood of Jesus, the Christ. It was the institution of the New Covenant between God and His people.  Communion is the sacrament that changed the order of the Levitical Priesthood to the Church. Passover has been honored since 1491 BC.

When Jesus met with the twelve at the upper room, for what would come to be known as 'the Last Supper,' He met them to transfer the oracles of God from the Religious Priesthood of the 12 tribes of Israel (Jacob) to the 12 Disciples of Christ, signifying the end of the era of the law and the beginning of the era of grace.

It was about 1462 B.C. when God gave Moses instructions to take a lamb, without spot or blemish (Ex. 12:5) and kill it. "You shall take the blood of the lamb and strike it on the two side post of the entrance to every home wherein there is an Israelite. For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians (Ex. 12:23) And it shall come to pass that when the Lord passes by, He will not enter any home protected by the blood of the Lamb."

There would be a Passover dinner to be prepared prior to this night when the Lord would pass by. This Passover dinner would consist of the lamb (a type of Christ), unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 

"And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by ordinance for ever."  Exodus 12:14
The Passover had been instituted since this time, and it was this Passover that Jesus was acknowledging and attending with his disciples.  It is important to see the connection between the Old and the New, because it reveals who Christ is better than any other proof.

Matthew 26:17-30 says, "Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto Him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the Passover?  And He said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand: I will keep the Passover at thy house with my disciples.  And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them: and they made ready the Passover.  Now when the even was come, He sat down with the twelve."
The twelve is of great importance. Under the blood covenant of the Old Testament the twelve tribes of Israel were protected by the blood of the Lamb.  Now the church, (which began with the twelve) would be afforded the same protection, but no longer by the blood of the sacrificial lamb. It would now be by the blood of the Lamb of God, Himself. 

Communion was the birth of the New Testament, the New Covenant. It is by the blood of the Lamb of God that we have redemption and forgiveness of sins.  It was at the Passover meal that Jesus prepared the Lamb of God.  It is this moment in time that we remember. Jesus was offering Himself a blood offering once, for all. I doubt that the significance of this moment can ever be fully discovered.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Daily Devotional December 20 - Believe

“Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you.” James 4:8

Today requires God

Many of you are trying to work today’s problems out with yesterday’s solutions. Things change and the methods needed to solve a problem today may be different than the way the same problem was solved yesterday or ten years ago or one hundred years ago.

Your spiritual walk with God is very much the same. Many believers today are holding on to a religious relationship with God and trying to solve today’s dilemmas with archaic solutions. God is alive, and to be current with the way to solve your problems, you will have to be communicating with God on a daily basis. It’s not safe to rest on the traditions of men when the immediate power of God is available at any given moment.

Praying to and listening to God today is the only way to live your life to the maximum potential. Have you noticed that it isn’t urgent to live your life to the maximum potential anymore? The bar has been set soulfully low. If you find yourself in a place where you no longer desire the best that life can offer you have been distracted or deceived.

God’s best for your life is available and always was available for you. You may have been detoured, but God is working on your behalf right now, awaiting your personal response to His invitation. You have been taught by many who do not experience the day to day communion with God and in some cases you have been taught by those who have not experienced God at all. And in the most distressing circumstances of all ypu have been taught by many who haven’t even received the Spirit of God through a personal salvation experience.

God has been with you every day steering you and guiding you, but if you have not heeded God’s call; if you have not committed yourself to God, should it seem odd that you should be experiencing adverse results. Any turn, however small toward God, will bring about measurable positive results. You must learn how to think with the mind of God if you are to defeat your foe and live life to its fullest. I say must because all the peace and joy that was designed for you will go to waste if you do not receive it. You must learn how to receive the blessings of God and you must learn to deny/starve what is keeping you from the blessings of God.

Why are you bent on complicating the simple truths that work?
Why do you feel you have to be better than someone else to have worth?
Why have you changed the clear and simple truths from God to man-made phylacteries?

You  say you don’t understand and that you just can’t see. God says you do understand and that you can see clearly. Pastors, teachers, priests and rabbi’s are selling God like a commodity. Why aren’t they pointing to the Master?

You are empowered by God
You are a fit vessel to receive all the blessings of God
You have received enough revelation
You have within you the understanding
You can commune with God today:
   Without a reservation
   Without mediation
   Without more revelation
You can touch the hem of His garments and be healed
You can discuss the path you’re on and get clear direction
You can ask and receive
You can know
You can understand
You can because God says you can.

I have found that You are the only barrier to having a deep and fulfilling relationship with God. The truth is that most of us really want the onus to be on someone else for just about everything unfulfilled in our lives.

We could be walking with God in the cool of the day
   But we have chosen a lesser, more undesirable way
      We could be looking ahead knowing the path is clear,
         but we choose to wallow in the saying, “not another year like last year”
            We could be partnering with God and exploiting time
                But we choose to partner with the world and recline.
"Draw nigh unto God and He will draw nigh unto you."

Daily Devotional December 19 - Believe

"And when much people were gathered together, and were come to Him out of every city, He spake a parable:  A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.  And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture.  And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it.  And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when He had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.  And His disciples asked Him, saying, What might this parable be?  And He said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.  Now the parable is this: The seed is the Word of God.  Those by the wayside are those that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the Word out of their hearts, lest (for fear that) they should believe and be saved.  They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the Word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.  And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.  But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the Word, keep it, (believe) and bring forth fruit with patience."  Luke 8: 4-15

This word (keep it) literally means, (to hold fast to, possess and retain, continue to believe in).  I am going to show you something about this word believe that will change the way we you look at and define belief, forever.
To believe: To be fully persuaded; having your mind made up, convinced beyond question, without any doubt, past the point of turning back, trusting implicitly, that the object of your belief, (what you are believing for), will be accomplished.
Read this carefully
Can we just believe God for what He does with us?
Can we believe God for what He tells us?
If we believe - we can't help but to receive:

What are some things that we cannot help but receive if we believe?  Salvation - the indwelling Holy Spirit - power to overcome - answered prayer - healing for our bodies emotional healing - many blessings - new creation

I want you to establish where you are in relation to God.  Instead of saying where am I in time? Or where am I in God's overall plan for mankind, the question I want to ask is where are you in relation to God?  The answer to this question lies within what you believe.

I want to reveal, that what a lot of people call belief is not belief at all, and what is true belief works just like Jesus says it does.  What most people call belief about God, the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit, and other essential truths, is not belief. It really should be called guessing.

Here's the thing. Unless we are convinced, thoroughly convinced, like: Let's say we take a sponge and we squeeze the sponge and push it down into the water, and slowly release it so that the sponge is thoroughly saturated; Unless we are convinced of a truth, in the same way as the thoroughly saturated sponge, we have no authority with that truth. That truth has no efficacy in us.

Until you truly believe a truth, it stays the truth, but you cannot operate under the power of it. That truth remains stored for later use. It is stored in the Word of God, until, by faith, you believe it. Then and only then, is it released to you for use.

The principles that God established to be put into operation by His people can only be made available to His people when sponge-like belief is present.  It is belief that ignites or activates a truth and takes it from its hidden or stored state and puts it into operation in its active use state.

Are you ready to believe God for more than the daily hum-drum of an uninspired life/lifestyle?  God has made it easy to believe Him and with each new truth you believe God will activate it so that you can operate in the power of it.  I hope you are as excited as I am to look for new truths from God.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Daily Devotional December 18 - God Is Thinking About You

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end."  Jeremiah 29:11 

Just because there are many ways offered by various religious groups doesn't mean that those ways are credible.
God is not in competition with anyone.
God is not concerned that you or someone you know or some guru from Nepal is going to come up with a better plan or a better way than His plan.
There is no book that God needs to be concerned about - One that might reveal something that God forgot to tell us in the scriptures.
God is not at all moved with the thousands of varieties of religious beliefs and religions that add to or take away from God's inspired Word.
God is not at all surprised when Islam or Hinduism or Taoism attempts to stake a claim as a viable authority into the heart of God.
God is not concerned that the whole world seeks after something or someone other than His Son to fulfill their inner desire to know their creator.
God is not a bit distraught that spiritist, crystal ball readers, palm readers and card readers make money off of the vulnerable and ignorant public at large.
God is not moved by all the skeptics that think that the bible is just a history book and a not very accurate one at that.
God is not worried that scientist will discover that we were once monkeys and that the earth did begin by two stars colliding 5 billion years ago, give or take a few billion years.
God is not unsettled that politicians would refer to God as, an "opiate to the masses"
God is not moved by the poets referring to Him as the one that isn't.
God is not moved by the philosopher's final analysis that, "God is dead." We have come to learn that Notradamos is dead, not God.
God is not worried when satan and all his demons make up some new potion for people to try - or when satan repackages imitations of God's Word and sells them as philosophy.

Why is God not moved when it seems like the world is falling apart?  Because God has a plan and you are in it.

Daily Devotional December 17 - All In All

"And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life." 1 John 5:20

God has come to us in the person of Jesus Christ and given to us understanding. That way we can know Him that is true. And knowing Him that is true causes us to abide in Him and He in us throughout all eternity.

I talk to many people that claim to be a Christian. And there's nothing wrong with claiming to be a Christian. Many people tell me about their relationship with Jesus as if Jesus was in a distant land, not participating in our daily lives; a figure head, but not a living spirit actively participating in the daily affairs of mankind. Many people tell me that they are a Christian, but no mention of personal relationship; speaking to and hearing from God, co-creating with God so that the purposes of God will come to pass, not just in spite of us, but through us and by us, in cooperation with the express will and active participation of Christ in our daily lives.

Jesus isn't a figure head at all. Jesus is our All in All. And if yo are one of those people that have a cursory understanding of who Jesus is, what Jesus has done for you and what Jesus is doing for you right now, today, then you are not abiding in and by the teaching of Christ in the scripture. Even if you want a distant relationship that only acknowledges the once existent Christ, you have to do so by denying the truth of the same scriptures that teach a different philosophy. In other words, if you are satisfied with a understanding that Jesus once lived and He was the Son of God, you are in perfect agreement with the Muslims and demons. But the scriptures teach about a Jesus that not only once lived and was the Son of God, but a Jesus that lives and is the Son of God and more. Jesus offers continuing education in spiritual matters by being personally involved in the whole of our life. There is nothing you do that Jesus does not know aforehand. Doesn't it make sense to make an attempt to have a better relationship with Jesus than a simple knowledge that He once existed?

Jesus gives you understanding in equal proportion to you receiving it. Jesus will not give you information that is not wanted, nor will Jesus hold personal seminars with those who can't even find the time to thank Him for all that He has done and all that they already have. Knowing Jesus in the way that the scriptures portray Him and learning about how Jesus interacts with us today, through the scriptures, is a goal that everyone that names the name of Jesus should strive for and encounter. Jesus doesn't make it hard and Jesus doesn't charge for His services, but you have got to ask to get answers, seek to find and knock to have the door opened. Jesus gives us understanding that we may know Him, now, today. Christianity was made for use for the living, not the dead.

Daily Devotional December 16 - Just Be Real It It's God Thing

"Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift is like clouds without rain." Proverbs 25:14

Solomon was the wisest man to have ever lived. I believe it would benefit us to look at what he tells us in Proverbs with a sort of intrigue. He received His wisdom from God and then he put the wisdom he received from God to practical use. Solomon was a very hard worker and certainly a man of many exploits. He knew about kings and queens, protocol, cultures and societal differences. He was acquainted with complex national treatise as well as mining and construction. He was intelligent and full of wisdom. Solomon knew people.

In the Proverbs Solomon exhorts, rebukes and enlightens his readers. Again, Solomon knows people. In Solomons time in order to be accepted as an architect or a lumberjack, a statesman, a nurse, a prophet or a thief, you had to possess proven attributes of your talents or skills. They were tested by actions and results. Solomon had met many a fake in his time. There were those who claimed they were someone they weren't and they claimed to have skills they didn't have. They were examined, observed and scrutinized for honesty, integrity and substance. Those possessing their claim were given positions of authority and excellence and those who made false claims were dishonored and cast out to live a life of wandering and poverty.

Today people make all kinds of claims without consequence. Especially concerning spiritual gifting and prophesy. All of us have encountered the false prophet, the false Christian, the false minister and false healers. There's even another level of those who dabble in spiritism and make claims of talking to the dead, seeing into the future, reading tarot cards, reading palms, and making claims that they have certain powers. It is out of hand. The unlearned Christian has a great deal to overcome just to sift out truth from all the false teaching and false spiritual guides.

There really is no need to make a false claim about who you are or what you do. God made you and God has endowed you with certain gifts and skills and talents, personal to you. You were created with unique qualities and characteristics, propensities and proclivities. You are all that you need to be to enhance the world by your presence, just being yourself, doing what you do best. No one likes it when someone says one thing and does another, acts like they are something they are not or tries to act like they are an expert when they have little or no experience. Our society has allowed this to happen. But as mature Christians we need to take a serious look at ourselves and make sure that we are representing who we are, our skills and talents accurately and without exaggeration, amplification or over-embellishment.

Side note: What we like most about people is when they are down to earth. None of us like arrogance, egotism, pompousness or pretentiousness. Just be real. It is a God thing.

Daily Devotional December 15 - What Part Of What Jesus Has Said Do You Believe?

"Thomas saith unto Him (Jesus) Lord, we know not whither Thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto Him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me. If ye had known Me, ye should have known My Father also: and from henceforth ye know Him, and have seen Him. Philip saith unto Him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip? He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father; and how sayest then, shew me the Father? John 14:5-9

Depending on your religious background, I am sure that some of you might have a real hard time with these verses. I have resigned myself to believe what Jesus says. Jesus said many profound and troubling or questionable things.

He tells us that that He did not come to destroy the law but to fulfill it. Matthew 5:17

He tells us "resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." Matthew 5:39

He tells us "if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also." Matthew 5:40

He tells us to "give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away." Matthew 5:42

He tells us to "love your enemies." Matthew 5:44

He tell us to "bless them that curse you." Matthew 5:44

He tells us to "pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you." Mathew 5:44

He tell us that "Not everyone that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven;" Matthew 7:21a

He tell us "Follow Me; and let the dead bury the dead." Matthew 8:22b

He tells us that "whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." Mark 8:34

He tells us "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for My sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it." Mark 8:35

He tells us "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar, and to God the things that are God's." Mark 12:17

He tells us "But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judea flee to the mountains." Mark 13:14

He tell us "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:26

He tells us "Verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein." Luke 18:17

He tells us "Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you." John 16:7

He tells us "My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence." John 18:36

He tells us "Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find." John 21:6

Now He tells us "If ye had known Me, ye should have know My Father also: and from henceforth ye know Him, and have seen Him. "Have I been so long time with you, and yet thou hast not known Me, Philip. He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, shew us the Father?"

What part of what Jesus has said do you believe?

I can say this: Whatever you believe of what Jesus has said, Jesus will unveil the depths of it for you. There is power in trusting in Jesus. It requires faith, simple faith. Don't make the gospel so complicated. Trust what Jesus says and the truths of God will be opened unto you.

Daily Devotional December 14 - Are You Living With God Right Now?

"Be not overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good." Romans 12:21 "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 "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne." Revelation 3:21 "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" 1 John 5:4-5

I'm wondering if you have been taught that to overcome the world you have to become a member of this or that church or that you have to speak in tongues or be baptized in the Holy Ghost or maybe that you have to tithe or do good works until you die. If we (pastors) were to tell the truth, we would simply point people to Jesus and then tell them, that, after they gave their heart to Jesus Christ, by faith in the work of Jesus on the cross, they have already overcome the world.

It was just yesterday that I asked this really nice older guy about his faith. I said to him, after we had dug his car out of the snow, "how's your relationship with God?" He said to me, "I'll find out when it's all over." I remarked. I already know and I don't agree that you have to wait until you die to find out if you had faith in Jesus enough to get to heaven." He then went on to tell me a long story about how God intervened in his life many times through his wife and his children. He admitted that God had been working with him all along, but he still didn't understand that he could have peace in his heart about the end of it all.

That's the way it is for many people who have been taught in their denomination that they have to work and worry all through this life in hopes that at the end they will somehow slip in under the wire, in hopes that they will have asked forgiveness for the last of their sins prior to dying or they will not get in; as if to get to heaven was based on all kinds of things except the vicarious work of Jesus Christ on the cross. If you are counting on you to get to heaven, you might very well be disappointed. The entire Bible points to Jesus as the Saviour, not you. You can't save yourself, nor can you do anything that will make up for your sin. You are lost until you accept Jesus Christ as Saviour and nothing you did or will do can earn you a place in heaven. Give it up if that is your philosophy. God does the work of saving you from yourself by calling you out into His kingdom. You come by simple faith in Jesus. Nothing else will do and nothing else works.

Why does it matter whether we believe that we get to heaven by being good or by believing in Jesus? The reason is that you can be good on your own. You were born with enough godlikeness to do good things to other people, but salvation is not found in doing good things. God sent His Son to die in your place because you have sinned against God. In essence you forfeited any rights that you thought you had the first time you sinned against God and prior to that you were born into the race of Adam, which has already fallen. You were born into a fallen race and of your own volition you have sinned against God. The only way that God could save you so that you could overcome the world was to impute into you the righteousness of God by faith in His Son. God designed every soul with the answer to the sin problem. It was to come and die for you. Faith is the connector and the Resurrection from death unto life. Faith in what Jesus did for you outweighs anything you could ever do, even in ten thousand lifetimes of working hard to be good.
  • You get saved by believing that Jesus is the Son of God, by faith.
  • You overcome evil with that same faith.
  • You live out your life with that same faith.
  • You come to the end of life with that same faith.
In between while you are living out your life, faith is what draws you closer to God to find out more about your purpose and to get to know God better; to learn His ways and to follow them; to receive from God all that is rightfully yours by faith as heir to the kingdom, now, today, not just when you die.

Doesn't it make sense that if you overcome by faith, that you would want to find out everything you could about your faith?
Isn't it likely that you will enjoy life more and have better success in life if you trust Jesus for more than just getting you a ticket into heaven?
Isn't it likely that the same Jesus that saved you from you sins has a plan for you for this life?
Isn't it likely that if you were to discuss this with Jesus that He would fill in the blanks and open your eyes to all that He is doing on your behalf.
Isn't it also likely that if Jesus saved you it was for a purpose greater than to know where you are going when you die?

Please seek His face today and get things on track. You were saved to co-create with God while on the journey. Give up this idea of holding on to your ticket to heaven with clinched fists, hoping all will end well and enter into His rest right now. That's what salvation is really about. Living with God right now.

Daily Devotional December 13 - Being Like Christ Or Finding Religion...?

"But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking." Matthew 6:7

First of all Jesus says "when ye pray." Jesus doesn't say if ye pray. Praying is part of the connection between God and man that God grants. It's not just that your prayer is heard, but if you are born again, inside of you - you have the indwelling Holy Spirit to assist you with what to pray for and how to pray. Now you can see that God says that the heathen, (those who do not have Christ) think that if they pray they will be heard because they pray often and sometimes loudly. The heathen pray out of duty and religious upbringing. It's true, those without Christ pray and many of them pray fervently, some five times a day, some more. The non-Christian world prays and they have religious ceremonies. Entire nations are built upon this premise.

Jesus is instructing believers that when they pray, God does not need to be reminded that He is God, nor does God need to be reminded of anything. Don't use vain repetitions. Why is that important? Because anybody can use vain repetitions and appear to be in touch with God because they pray or they say something religious over and over again. That's not prayer at all. That's religious rhetoric filling the minds of the people with false hope and false belief.

Jesus is instructing you to be real with God. In the presence of no one, speak to God your mind. Ask for wisdom. Seek His face to know Him, not just so that you can get things from God, but to know God personally. When you pray, talk to God. Let God know your frustrations. Talk about your battles, your losses, your pain or your successes. Come boldly before the throne, not cocky as if you knew it all, but boldly, in that God wants to hear from you and it is your turn to speak. Praying is communication with God, not whining and complaining about so and so. Praying is about finding the heart of God on the matter so you can believe it in your heart and go and do God's will.

But what about all the weirdos out there that claim God told them to do this or that? And what about all the people that claim God told them to take or steal or kill or maim in the name of God? Don't be fooled by the tricks of the devil. You, nor anyone else will ever be told to do anything against the Word of God, against mankind or against disrupting or destroying God's creation. Those who are hearing that voice are not hearing the voice of God. They are the heathen. They are the ones that claim God on one hand while slaying innocent children with the other. That is a trick of the devil.

Pray because Jesus says to. I find that time in prayer just confessing my shortcomings and asking for wisdom takes a great deal of time. I find that God enjoys when I come to Him just to come to Him, no agenda, no questions, no preconceived ideas about the moment, just mindfully wandering into the throne of grace and thanking God and praising God and worshipping God.

Another reason that Jesus says "when thou prayest," is because God already knows about your situation. God has already gone before you and made a way. God has already intervened to bring about His will. But you and I, we don't see very far and we need to go to prayer so that we can see with the mind of Christ. Otherwise we could not handle the injustice and the improprieties that come our way. Pray to be filled with understanding about how God wants you to be like Christ. The scriptures make more sense when being like Christ is the goal and not just finding religion.

Daily Devotional December 12 - Nothing Else Will Do

"Ye have heard that it hath been said, thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you;" Matthew 5:44

I remember preaching this in Redland Florida. It was their first Sunday as they had just split off from another church in Princeton Florida. I was not taking sides, but their newly formed church board had chosen two candidates to be their new pastor and I was one of them. As you can imagine, this is quite an honor and I was selected to preach the first sermon of their first service. I talked to God about this as I was searching through the scriptures attempting in my mind to try to find something conciliatory and comforting to bless this newly formed group of believers. I perused through some of my previous sermon material, thinking that maybe there would be something that fit the day. But God would not let me get away from this very verse. I really thought that this verse was inappropriate because of the recent church split, again of which I was not involved. And furthermore, everyone likes to hear these words of God's true way for man to live at peace with one another, but few follow these ego crushing words spoken by Jesus to the whole world at the sermon on the mount.

I wrestled with this verse, because I knew deep down inside that it was so much the heart of God to teach His people how to live with one another in harmony and peace and how to live with the world at large even though the world at large was not going to play by the same rules. What could this verse possibly benefit a newly formed group of seasoned believers? I did preach the sermon and it wasn't received well. I guess I will never know why this was so important, and by the way, they chose the other pastor to lead their flock. But I can tell you now that Jesus knows what works and these words were written to embed your soul with the heart of God and this is the heart of God.

Unfortunately as you read in yesterdays daily devotional, even our Christian brothers and sisters are capable of doing frightful things to their fellow church members or anyone for that matter. Hear the heart of God on the matter. He has instructed you to do a few things that go against your human propensities.
Love your enemies
Bless them that curse you
Do good to them that hate you
Pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you

You will have to read these over and over again until your inner man believes it is true. This is an uphill battle and if you are not serious about following Christ, you will not win it. It goes against our very nature, that nature that we were born with that looks out for number one. But Jesus spoke it and that makes it true.  Why is it important to believe and practice these strange commands? It is important to God and God made us to be like Jesus and nothing else will do.

Daily Devotional December 11 - You Reap What You Sow

"Save me, O God, by Thy name, and judge me by Thy strength. Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth. For strangers are risen up against me, and oppressors seek after my soul: they have not set God before them. Selah." Psalm 54:1-3

Strangers and oppressors shall come against you. I hope you are not currently experiencing the angst that goes with having people want something from you that is not theirs. Maybe you have fallen prey to those who can't stand you because you are in love with Jesus. Or maybe you have acquired enemies for no reason at all except they just want to do you harm or make your life miserable. They are out there in great number. And I am very sorry to admit that many of the oppressors and those who would attempt to overthrow our peace, are Christians. I won't stay with this very long, but it hurts worse than anything when a so-called brother or sister becomes a turncoat and sets out to destroy what you have worked for or are currently working for. The worst scenario is that it is sometimes a supposed good friend.

If you read through Psalms it reveals two sides of God's heart about these marauders who use their time on this earth to cause others pain and suffering.  They are cavalier about it and sometimes proud of their accomplishment as if they were doing God favor handing out their form of justice and equity.

The first move of God toward these marauders disguised as Christians is to have them come to their senses through rebuke or exhortation or through finding out how blatantly ungodly their behavior is and asking forgiveness for their crimes against God and man. This is the preferred method. It serves the purpose of having man work out their offenses one with another. But don't think that God will not intervene on behalf of the one who has been wronged.

The second move of God is for God to intervene and stand against the oppressor or the offender, as a just God against an unjust action. God is not just lolly-gagging around heaven handing out lollypops to the kids and sitting around telling stories to the adults about the good old days. God is Sovereign and will have the last word and will intervene and bring to pass His will. It is not God's will that those who wrong others get their just reward, (else all of us would not have the opportunity to be converted and have our sins forgiven) but it is the will of God that you reap what you sow. And for those who continue to cause trouble, as they continue to claim Christ, will find trouble of their own, multiplied by their lack of commitment to the things of God; consolation and peace of mind will be hard for them to find.

Rest assured if you are troubled by others who want what you have or they just trouble you because that is who they are, or they trouble you because they are vindictive, God is in charge and God always does the right thing. "For we know Him that said, vengeance belongeth unto Me, I will recompense, saith the LORD. And again, the LORD shall judge His people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." Hebrews 10:30-31

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Daily Devotional December 10 - Trust God Through It All

"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths." Proverbs 3:5

I believe what God says. Every word in this verse is true. But , you may be thinking, that hasn't been my experience. That's the problem with interpreting scripture. This verse is true, but there are many other truths also. Sometimes we base the results of an experience on the way that we perceived the end. We thought that if God was involved it would end differently than it did. So when we don't receive the desired end that we thought should be the end, we think that there must be something wrong with the way that God does things. Why does God let us go through so many things that are unfair or worse?

Read this carefully:
God lets us go through things because, in order for us to receive the full blessing that comes with salvation we must exercise our freewill and suffer at the hands of those who exercise their free will. It is this free will that makes us like God and exercising our freewill to choose the things of God is what makes us godly. It is in your choosing, not in the outcome of your choosing, where God is found.

We live in a fallen world and as long as we are in the flesh, we are subject to its parameters. One of the parameters is that others are exercising their freewill as we are exercising our own. Sometimes there is conflict, because not everyone is following God and not everyone seeks the will of God. The results of this dichotomy is that sometimes you will be the one that disrupts the plan of God by your behavior and sometimes someone else disrupts the plan of God by their behavior.

You haven't always been living a godly life. Now that you are doesn't preclude the rights of those who are not, to continue to exercise their free will against the will of God. As long as free will exists, there will be crime and terrorism, foolishness and sin, pain and suffering, unfairness, liable and fraud. That's the results of free will.

But this same free will that allows for those who stand against the things of God to cause havoc also allows for those who choose to follow God to cause good things to come to pass. It is in the choosing to do the will of God that godliness is found, not in the final results of our work. You may set out to do some great thing and have it thwarted by others with a different plan, but it is in the choosing to set out to do some great thing that your trust is rewarded, not in the outcome of that venture. The path that God sets before you is the direction that you are in, not the results of the day. The path is pure, the road is full of corruption, but it is in choosing the path and taking it that your faith is proven, not in what happens to you along the way.

It will never be that when you find God and you become saved, sanctified, and filled with the Spirit, that your roads will all be cleared and each day will end in peace and serenity. You are following a holy God in an unholy world. That's why God doesn't want us traversing the road in our own understanding. First we will misunderstand God and make false presumptions about God and second we will start to think that our own path is really safer and better.

The truth is:
God is true to us and every word in the scriptures is to assist us on our journey
God is on the journey with us
God intervenes in the journey within the parameters of prayer just as He says He does
The outcome of things isn't always what we see with our eyes
The closer you get to God the more you get to see how we are co-creating with God all the time
It is in exercising our free will to follow God that we are found in God, not in the outcome of each event of the day
Learn to trust the 'follow' and not the 'outcome' and you will see much more of God than ever before.

Daily Devotional December 9 - You Already Have The Power

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage." Galatians 5:1

You have been given the authority by God to live your life free of bondages. This freedom from bondage comes when you are born again. You are endowed with the power to overcome. The Holy Spirit dwells within you and you can decide to deny the flesh or the mind certain vices and it will come to pass. For some it might be as easy as drawing a line in the sand and for others a process, but either way you have the power to overcome anything that is not godly.

All of us have different weaknesses. No one is exempt from the rudimentary and mundane things that perpetuate sinful behavior, but don't let anyone convince you that you don't have the power to break free, because you do. It is a gift from God. You can if you think you can. You can say no to anything and keep it at bay. You can overcome anything that is not of God. Here's the tiff. First of all you have to believe you can. There is so much watered down preaching to new converts its possible to be lead to the Lord in one breath and told that you will struggle indefinitely in another.

When Paul says stand fast, he means stand so firm that you are like a rock, immovable and impenetrable. The Word of God is powerful and sometimes you just need a little kindling faith to get you on your way with victory. Sometimes we just need somebody to believe in us. Sometimes we need someone to give us some tough love. Unfortunately there are some people so stubborn that it takes calamity to bring them around. But if you are born again you can overcome.

I don't want to put a timeline on your particular issue, but if you have been fighting against some vice or bent for more than five years, you really don't want to overcome. You aren't trying to get out, you just want people to feel sorry for you. You play the Christian card, but only because it is convenient and you know what saps the Christians are for reaching out and helping someone. You use people under the pretense of trying to get out, but you haven't even wanted to get out. You have been playing people and playing with people's lives. You are a user, a fool and a fake.

There are probably spouses, children or parents that you have hurt and are continuing to hurt over and over again, friends and family that you have abused or betrayed or used, more than once. You keep making promises, but you can't overcome because you don't want to. You have been called out. Your future is bleak and your life a waste, not because it has to be, but because you want it to be. And yet within you you have the power to turn around and make good. That shows you the power of the devil. He will hold onto anything you let him have and rub your face in it forever. Just give him one little ungodly vice and you can ruin many lives, even as a Christian. I know you don't want to hear this, but the liberty we have and the power to overcome must be activated and used or else it lay dormant. God works in us and through us, by us, not in spite of us.

You have got to lend your heart and mind to God and believe God and let your faith rule in your life if you are going to operate in the liberty wherewith you were set free. It doesn't just happen by chance. You don't just automatically do and say the right thing. You have to get to know God to emulate Him. But being born again gives you the power. Don't through away such a precious gift.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Daily Devotional December 8 - Faith Is Proof Enough

"So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where He made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had come out unto Galilee, he went unto him that He would come down, and heal his son: for he was at the point of death. Then said Jesus unto him, except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe."  John 4:46-48

You almost can't blame the man looking to Jesus for a miracle. His son was dying and he was desperate. He did have the faith within himself to know that Jesus could perform the miracle and Jesus did perform the miracle. Jesus didn't even go, He just spoke the word and the man's son was healed.

The statement that Jesus made, "except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe," was a statement about the condition of the people in Israel (God's chosen people) and the people outside Israel as well; a statement about what they had become over time. They had become a people of 'show me and I'll believe.' They had become a works based society. Their leaders, the Sanhedrin and the Pharisees who were overseeing/handling the faith of the nation has turned from God's ways and made a new set of rules for themselves. Over time they dismissed the miracles of the 'freedom from slavery of Egypt' generation and the 'crossing of the Red Sea' generation and the 'wandering in the wilderness' generation, and the 'fed with manna' generation. They had killed off the prophets and they were bent on having an Israel with a worldly leader, someone magnificent and full of splendor, someone who would destroy the Romans and bring glory to Israel like never before. They missed the coming of the Saviour and now they had a reputation to uphold, proud, strong men, men who needed a sign or personally witness a miracle or else they would hold to what is sure, their place in the temple. They had become so enamoured with the temple, they forgot the God who once inhabited it. They were bent on creating for themselves a place of acceptance by the Romans. They had become slaves again, but this time of their own doing.

The Saviour of the world had come among them and they were either rushing toward Jesus like a kid watching a parade, hoping to get a piece of candy thrown their way or they were ignoring His presence altogether as that of a charlatan. Jesus' message was not enough for the hardened of heart. Many of them had already made up their mind that even if this was the Saviour, they would kill him, because he threatened their current religious system. But more than that the hardened of heart had reduced Jesus to a man who practiced legerdemain. Jesus knew their hearts and that is why He could say, "except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe."

Is it really that different today? Tens of thousands of people go to single stadium events just to see someone perform a miracle. Except they see it with their own eyes they will not believe. And even if they see it with their own eyes they still are only giving mental assent that what they saw was true or real. While godly men and women are talking to atheists or agnostics about faith, they say that they will believe if God was to come down and strike them dead or something like that. I've heard it too many times. Just show me a sign and I will believe. But I don't think so.

Even in the story of Lazarus and the rich man Jesus confirms Abraham's words, "If they will not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead." I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the unbelieving world is under a strong delusion. It is very likely that they would not admit that Jesus is Lord even if they personally witnessed ten miracles in a row. They already deny the miracle of life and they already deny the miracle of creation and they especially stand against the miracle of faith.
Don't be discouraged if you have never seen a miracle of witnessed some wonder performed by Michael or Gabriel. It is your faith that has saved you and healed you and brought you this far and it is your faith that will take you all the way home. Jesus make it pretty clear how it really works. "Thomas, because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." John 20:29b

Faith enters through the mind and resides in the inner man. Faith comes when you hear God calling you and you answer yes. Faith is the visible proof of an invisible work. You need not that God ever prove Himself if you have even the tiniest faith. But without faith, mountains could be moved out of your way, riches spilled throughout your house, talents lavished on you without reserve, love at your side, a healed body over and over again, life's best at your fingertips and you can't see any of it, because blindness due to faithlessness is total blindness and there is no cure except faith.