Friday, August 11, 2017

Believe, Apply and Act

I would like to speak to you today about one of my favorite subjects, FAITH.

I have found, that no matter when or how often I speak on the subject of Faith, it is ALWAYS a relevant topic for people.  

Why is that?

It is because we are always going through something that requires us to choose between trusting God and His Promises, or falling into an emotional mess, despair, depression, anger...etc.

The Lord spoke to me one day with this idea:

"My Promises are NOT merely statements of OBSERVATION." 

In other words, when we read the Scriptures and find a Promise that God makes to us, it is not a given, that we find this Promise as true in our lives. Actually, most of the time, we may find our "reality" is in direct conflict with the Truth of that Scripture.

Can you relate?

Here is an example: 

Psalm 37:25 NLT
Once I was young, and now I am old.
    Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned
    or their children begging for bread.

The Promise from the Lord that is implied here, is that the Children of the Righteous will Never have to Beg for Bread.

Does this mean that no Christian in the history of the world has ever begged for bread?

Here's another example: 

Psalm 30:5b NLT
Weeping may last through the night,
    but joy comes with the morning.

So after a night of lamenting and sadness, if you wake up happy, you say, "oh I guess the Bible is true!" However, if you wake up still sad the Bible is false???

What about healing scriptures?

What about scriptures that Promise: Joy, Peace, Blessing, Abundance, the Holy Spirit, Power, Spiritual Authority, Signs following those who believe...this list can go on and on.

The question is: If we OBSERVE these Promises manifesting in our lives, does it make the Scriptural Promises of God true, and if we do not OBSERVE these, is the Scripture no longer relevant?

I think this example may shed light on the subject:

1 John 2:2 NLT
He himself [Jesus] is the sacrifice that atones for our sins - and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.

So Jesus' sacrifice atoned or paid for the Sins of the WHOLE WORLD! Praise the Lord!

Does this mean EVERYONE is going to Heaven?

As Christians who know our Bibles, we understand this is not the case. 

So what is the factor that makes the difference for a Promise of God to become reality in our lives?

FAITH!

MANY great things are Promised to us in the Bible, however, few if any, are automatic. No. You must grab hold of the Promise and obtain the Promise by Faith! 

When I has about 13 years old, I came running down the stairs in my house. I was barefoot. At the bottom of the stairway, as you make the turn into the living room, sat my mother's sewing-table.

Some of you are cringing already!

As I flew around the corner, my bare foot came in direct contact with the leg of her sewing-table at high velocity! 

Actually, the wooden table leg which was square in shape, split right between my two smallest toes on my right foot.

The pain was immediate, and immense!!! 

A glorious involuntary howl erupted from my lungs for my whole neighborhood to hear! 

If that wasn't bad enough, after running and dancing across the living room into my parents bedroom and flopping on their bed, when I finally looked at my foot, my pinky toe was sticking straight out, perpendicular to my foot!

Then I let out a shriek of abhorrence at the freakish site! 

When my father finally got me calmed down, while gently praying, he simply pushed my pinky toe straight and back in line with the others like it was no big thing...and it was better! 

I never had a problem with it after that. 

Wow.

So was Psalm 91 not true?

Psalm 91:11-12 NIV
11 For he will command his angels  concerning you to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

You might think, well the sewing-table was Wood not Stone. Ha!

The point of this Promise is that God's Angels will protect us, even in the simple things like stubbing your toe!

I learned two things here. 
  1. I would not know the benefit of the Promise if I didn't know the alternative
  2. I had not appropriated or applied that Promise to my life yet
So if you are unaware of God's Promise or choose not to Believe, Apply and Act on that Promise...you will not walk in that Truth. 
Isn't that true of our Salvation?

Jesus died for the Sins of the WHOLE WORLD, yet only those who Believe, Apply and Act on the Promise come to Salvation.

So I encourage you, take what belongs to you today. Find His Promise in the Bible for your situation. Read it. Think on it. Meditate on it. Speak it. Act on it! 

Joshua 1:8 NIV
Keep this Book of the Law [Scripture] always on your lips;  meditate  on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

No Other Gods

From the time of Joshua, the great Leader of Israel, who brought them into the Promise Land, all the way to Israel's first king, King Saul, Israel went through Seven Cycles of Rebellion, Oppression by their Enemies, Repentance, and Deliverance.

Theologians refer to this as the Seven Apostasies.

This happened over the course of about 350 years.

It says a lot about God's Mercy for His people, as well as the rebellious nature of man.

In Judges 10, we see Israel had lived in peace for about 45 years...then they began to backslide...again...

Judges 10:6 NKJV 
Then the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baals and the Ashtoreths, the gods of Syria, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the people of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines; and they forsook the Lord and did not serve Him.

We very quickly understand the statement that Israel "...did evil in the sight of the Lord..." by worshipping other gods, but we like to compartmentalize this to an ancient Bible story that has no real relevance to our lives today in modern times...because, let's face it, we don't worship other gods...

Right?

We are not foolish enough to, "do evil in the sight of the Lord..." 

God forbid.

Some of you are already ahead of me, thinking, "uh oh, I know where he is going with this."

Let's ask a few locating questions:

1) What is a god?
2) What is worship?

A god is defined as the following:
  • An Image
  • An Idol
  • An Animal
  • An Object 
  • An Individual
All of the above, worshipped and adored, and depended upon for our needs to be met, whether physical, emotional or spiritual. They may also be that which carries supreme importance in our lives.

Worship is defined as:
  • deep feeling of reverence or adoration
  • strong devotion
  • fervent expression of your affections and passions for something
Looking at these definitions, can you imagine the gods that are worshipped today in our culture?

Here's the short list of the major gods in America:
  • Money & Materialism (twin gods)
  • Success
  • Sports
  • Sex (especially pornography, America leads the way with this worship, largest producer on the planet)
  • Alcohol, Drugs
Honestly, it is not really possible to make an accurate list of all the gods worshipped in our culture...for truly ANYTHING that takes the place of Jesus in our lives, is our god. 

Here is an important question to ask ourselves: What do we run to when we are sad or when we are hurting inside? 

Do you find yourself worshipping the King of Kings? Or are you chasing something that will bring you a few minutes of "happiness" to cope and make it through your trial?

Do you TRULY depend on the Lord to meet your every need? Or do you depend on, who you know, your job, your education (intellect), bank account, hobbies, vacations, addictions, entertainment, recreation...etc. to meet your physical, emotional and spiritual needs?

We have all heard the 10 Commandments.

Do you remember the First Commandment? I believe the first one would be a very important one:

Exodus 20:3 NKJV
You shall have no other gods before Me.

The real challenge here is we can learn to live as Christians, doing away with the major sins, looking spiritual and godly to other people...however, God sees past all the externals. He sees directly into the Heart. Every motivation. Every affection. 

Even "good" things can become gods in our lives. Things that no one will ever judge us for nor recognize as evil.

Yet, anything that comes before God, including husband, wife, children, job, MINISTRY, hobbies, toys... 
I know, this is a tough Word that we all must evaluate. 

It is not to say our families, and things that bring us pleasure are sinful, but we MUST keep the Lord FIRST in our lives!

When we consider all that He has done to save us and rescue us from sin and condemnation, He deserves our WORSHIP!

So, back to our story...

Israel found themselves in another bad place due to their worship of other gods...their enemies raided, harassed, oppressed and attacked them for 18 years!

The Bible says Israel was severelydistressed.

So what did they do?

Judges 10:10 NKJV
And the children of Israel cried out to the Lord, saying, "We have sinned against You, because we have both forsaken our God and served the Baals!"

And they lived happily ever after...NOT!

God's response was terrifying!

Judges 10:14 NKJV
"Go and cry out to the gods which you have chosen; let them deliver you in your time of distress."

I remember a chilling statement my pastor made when I was in my early 20s. Juli and I were raising our young children. He was talking about families who had left the church for their kids to play football on Sundays...he asked, "will they call out to their trophies to deliver them in times of distress??"

Wow.

Israel continued in their repentance begging the Lord for Mercy. They also took action.

Judges 10:15-16 NKJV
And the children of Israel said to the Lord, "We have sinned! Do to us whatever seems best to You; only deliver us this day, we pray." 16 So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the Lord. And His [God's] soul could no longer endure the misery of Israel.

Repentance is always the action that brings God's mercy and deliverance.

Again, I say, He Deserves our Worship!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Stand Firm

The fact of the matter is, we all face trials. 

No matter how much you grow in the Lord, no matter how spiritually mature you become, you will face trials...and perhaps even more so as you grow in the Kingdom of God.

Here is the Scripture:

Isaiah 7:9b NLT - Unless your Faith is Firm, I [God] cannot make you stand Firm.

Wow. Meditate on that for a moment.

Some might think, "...but I thought God could do anything! What does He mean, He cannotmake us stand firm??"

This is God's Word, and that is what He said. 

Don't analyze. Don't try to force it into your doctrines and understandings of God's nature...take it at face value.

We, being Firm in our Faith, has a great deal to do with God's Power being evident in our lives.

There is our part, and there is God's part. 

Here is the context of this scripture:

Israel at this time had split into two Kingdoms...the Northern Kingdom was still called "Israel". 
The Southern Kingdom was called, "Judah."

Israel and Syria had allied together and planned to invade Judah, removing Ahaz as King and installing their own. News of this caused the hearts of the people of Judah to "shake as the trees of the forest are shaken in the wind."

However, the Lord sent the Prophet Isaiah with a Word for King Ahaz.

Isaiah 7:7-9 NLT - But this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
"This invasion will never happen;
    it will never take place;
8 for Syria is no stronger than its capital, Damascus, and Damascus is no stronger than its king, Rezin. As for Israel, within sixty-five years it will be crushed and completely destroyed.
9 Israel is no stronger than its capital, Samaria, and Samaria is no stronger than its king, Pekah son of Remaliah.
Unless your Faith is Firm,
    I cannot make you stand Firm."

Some of us need to hear that same Word today!

The Enemy's attempted invasion into your life will be an utter failure as we stand firm in our faith!

But we must do our part! Stand Firm!

Don't let the enemy defeat you with fear!

Don't let the enemy steal your Joy! 

Don't let the enemy steal your Peace!

Don't believe his lies and accusations!

You are forgiven, redeemed, bought with a price, healed, cared for, made righteous, and a son or daughter of the Most High God! 

I heard this great quote today:

"How would you treat a friend that lied to you as often as your fears do?"
- Jack W. Hayford

If you are willing to tolerate the devil and his lies, your faith will be weak, and you will remain in fear and defeat.

Or...

You can stand Firm today on God's Word and His Promises and move into a position of Victory!

Stand Firm!

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Title & Position

I once heard a woman I knew years ago who held a management position with CITI Bank say, "there are 2 motivators to make a good employee. Either pay them more, or give them an important Title."

That really jumped out at me as I considered the Pride of mankind. 

The idea was if an employee feels he is important, a VIP, someone others had to submit to, then he would do a good job. 

That is so empty. 

Everyone wants to feel appreciated and loved. However, if one's drive is about how "great they are" or their level of authority over others...they are putting themselves in a really bad place.

The scriptures say in James 4:6 and Proverbs 3:34:

"God Resists the Proud,
But gives Grace to the Humble."

Do you remember the story of Moses receiving the 10 Commandments up on Mount Sinai? While the people of Israel waited at the bottom of the mountain for Moses to return they grew fearful and impatient.

Now God had made Aaron, Moses' brother, the first High Priest of Israel. 

Although God gave him Title and Position of High Priest, that did not automatically make him a great High Priest.

Watch what he does here:

Exodus 32:1-6
When the people saw how long it was taking Moses to come back down the mountain, they gathered around Aaron. "Come on," they said, "make us some gods who can lead us. We don't know what happened to this fellow Moses, who brought us here from the land of Egypt."
So Aaron said, "Take the gold rings from the ears of your wives and sons and daughters, and bring them to me."
3 All the people took the gold rings from their ears and brought them to Aaron. 4 Then Aaron took the gold, melted it down, and molded it into the shape of a calf. When the people saw it, they exclaimed, "O Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of the land of Egypt!"
Aaron saw how excited the people were, so he built an altar in front of the calf. Then he announced, "Tomorrow will be a festival to the Lord!"

WHAT?!!

"To the LORD??!"

It gets worse. God tells Moses what is happening with the people. When he gets to the bottom of the mountain he is so angry he smashes the 2 Tablets that God had written upon.

21 Finally, he turned to Aaron and demanded, "What did these people do to you to make you bring such terrible sin upon them?"
22 "Don't get so upset, my lord," Aaron replied. "You yourself know how evil these people are. 23 They said to me, 'Make us gods who will lead us. We don't know what happened to this fellow Moses, who brought us here from the land of Egypt.' 24 So I told them, 'Whoever has gold jewelry, take it off.' When they brought it to me, I simply threw it into the fire-and out came this calf!"

We see Aaron's lack of integrity here. He blame-shifts onto the people, then straight up lies to Moses about how the Calf came to be, as if it were some supernatural phenomenon. 

Is he so different from people today?

We are all given opportunities to walk in Truth and Integrity or to Compromise. 

Too often we are chasing promotion and elevation, rather than working on our character and allowing God to lift us up.

So many times people get a promotion but do not have what is called, "Staying-Power." They cannot hold onto the higher position because they have not grown enough to maintain it, or their thinking is still that of the previous level.

I can't help but always remember the story of Joseph. Called revealed His plan for Joseph to rule since he was a teenager. 

Joseph was born free, but sold into slavery at age 17. He was then a slave for 11 years in Potiphar's house. Then thrown into Prison for 2 more years. This makes a total of 13 years as slave or prisoner before Pharaoh makes him the 2nd most powerful man in Egypt at age 30!

Contrast Joseph's mindset with Aaron's. 

Joseph knew he was called to rule. Even Slavery and Prison could not deter him from walking in Integrity and Truth. 

Aaron on the other hand, lived his whole life as a Slave. He never knew freedom, nor the responsibility and integrity needed to steward freedom. 

Title and Position did not deter him from walking in a LACK of Integrity and a LACK of Truth.

Jesus taught us a superior way of thinking when it comes to Title & Position:

Luke 22:27
Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves.

Focus on Serving others and allow God to choose when and what He will promote you to.

This is God's Command and Promise to us:

James 4:10
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up in honor.


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Milestones

A Milestone is defined as:

1. A stone setup beside a road to mark the distance in miles to a particular destination.
2. A significant Event or Stage in the Life, Progress, Development of a person, nation, etc.

If you are like me, it is important to have a sense of moving forward, accomplishing goals, and seeing progress in your life.

Juli and I reached a major Milestone in our lives yesterday...

25 Years in Marriage!!

Wow. I am amazed myself. What a wonderful wife God has blessed me with to walk this life together. She is such a Godly Woman and still takes my breath away. I am excited to experience the next 25 years together!

I really believe  reaching Milestones is a God-given desire He places in each of us. 

Jesus, our model and standard, was Goal-Oriented when He walked this Earth. He came on a Mission and would not be deterred from accomplishing what He was sent to do!

Hebrews 12:2 NKJV
Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

He is not only the author, (the designer, instigator, architect, creator) of our Faith. He is the one to see us through TO THE FINISH! 


1 Samuel 7 relates a story of Isreal coming out of a season of transition and even doubt, into a moment of great Victory! 

The Arc of the Covenant, that golden box that contained the 10 Commandments, whose lid was called the Mercy Seat, had been stolen by the Philistines. This Arc was the core piece of Israel's worship. God Himself sat upon the Mercy Seat in the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle. The Blood of the Yearly Atoning Sacrifice was sprinkled on this box, appealing to God's Mercy to cover the sins of Israel for that year.

Now, it was in the Enemy's hands! And not just for a week or two...but for 7 months! Then upon receiving it back, 70 Israelites opened it up to look inside and died! So they put it in storage for the next 20 YEARS!

The people became depressed believing God had abandoned His people. Yet, the truth was, God's People abandoned Him to worship idols. That is why this whole problem came about!

Here is what happened:

1 Samuel 7:3-11 NLT
Then Samuel said to all the people of Israel, "If you want to return to the Lord with all your hearts, get rid of your foreign gods and your images of Ashtoreth. Turn your hearts to the Lord and obey him alonethen he will rescue you from the Philistines." 4 So the Israelites got rid of their images of Baal and Ashtoreth and worshiped only the Lord.
5 Then Samuel told them, "Gather all of Israel to Mizpah, and I will pray to the Lord for you." 6 So they gathered at Mizpah and, in a great ceremony, drew water from a well and poured it out before the Lord. They also went without food all day and confessed that they had sinned against the Lord. (It was at Mizpah that Samuel became Israel's judge.)
7 When the Philistine rulers heard that Israel had gathered at Mizpah, they mobilized their army and advanced. The Israelites were badly frightened when they learned that the Philistines were approaching. 8 "Don't stop pleading with the Lord our God to save us from the Philistines!" they begged Samuel. 9 So Samuel took a young lamb and offered it to the Lord as a whole burnt offering. He pleaded with the Lord to help Israel, and the Lord answered him.
10 Just as Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines arrived to attack Israel. But the Lord spoke with a mighty voice of thunder from heaven that day, and the Philistines were thrown into such confusion that the Israelites defeated them. 11 The men of Israel chased them from Mizpah to a place below Beth-car, slaughtering them all along the way.
 
What a Victory from an impossible situation!

Look what Samuel did next:

1 Samuel 7:12 NLT
Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah & Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer (which means "the Stone of Help"), for he said, "Up to this point the Lord has helped us!"

Along the Journey of our Spiritual Life it is good to hit Milestones that encourage us to KEEP GOING!

Markers like: 

  • Salvation
  • Baptism
  • Victories over sin
  • Moments of Healing & Deliverance 
  • Moments of stepping out in Obedience
  • Overcoming Obstacles
  • Experiencing Break-Throughs as we walk by Faith

All of these Milestones are encouragements that we can look back upon as we face the next challenges life brings.


So don't be discouraged today! Don't give up!

Victory is yours!

Philippians 3:13b-14 NKJV
13b ...Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.


Thursday, June 01, 2017

Judah My Bow. Ephraim My Arrow.

Last week in our Church's eNewsletter I sent a Prophetic Word that spoke about Double Portion Acceleration

We read it again at our Saturday Morning Prayer gathering and prayed more into it for LifeTree Fellowship and the Congregation. 

As we were praying the Holy Spirit reminded me of a scripture which I looked up and read to the intercessors. 

Zechariah 9:13-14 (NKJV) 
13 For I have bent Judah, My Bow,
Fitted the bow with Ephraim,
And raised up your sons, O Zion,
Against your sons, O Greece,
And made you like the Sword of a Mighty Man.”
14 Then the Lord will be seen Over Them,
And His Arrow will go forth like LIGHTNING.
The Lord God will blow the Trumpet,
And go with Whirlwinds from the south.

Whenever we read the Words of the Old Testament Prophets we must realize, though they had a literal meaning for the people of that day, they also carry Spiritual significance for God's People today! Especially when the Holy Spirit highlights a scripture in a particular Season we are going through.

The Lord gave me an interpretation of this scripture for us to understand what He is saying to us through His Word:

Judah = this name means, PRAISE 
Ephraim = meaning, DOUBLE FRUITFULNESS 
Sword = Word of God 
Mighty Man = Jesus 
Arrow = again, Ephraim (double fruitfulness) 
Lighting = ACCELERATION
Trumpet = His Alarm or Signal for Battle 
Whirlwind = brings God's judgement for the enemy and Blessing for His people

Wow!

Are you getting this?

We are surely in a Time of Battle. There is a Holy Shaking in our World and in many of our Lives. (Hebrews 12:25-29)

The way to Victory is through the Lord's Bow...giving PRAISE to the Lord!

You may want to go for a drive, turn on your favorite Worship Music and Shout HALLELUJAH to the Lord!

This releases His Arrow of DOUBLE FRUITFULNESS in our lives!

The Sword of the Mighty Man is obviously the Power of God's Word in this Season as we War for the Promises of God from a  position of Ownership! Reading...Speaking...and Meditating on the Word of God, the Scriptures, His Promises!

God then sounds the Alarm for Battle against our Enemy, the devil and his cohorts, as the LORD is seen "over us" His people as His Arrow flies against the enemy. 

The Result is a Whirlwind! 

Many times in prophetic language of scripture, the Whirlwind is seen to bring Judgement on the Enemies of God and Blessing or Deliverance to the People of God! (Whirlwind Scriptures)

Heavenly Father, we stand in Faith on Your WORD as we PRAISE YOU to bring us the Victory in this Season of Acceleration and Shaking!