Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Attracting Light

Matthew 5:16 - "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."

The light of the Lord does not automatically shine forth from us. Just because we are redeemed doesn't mean we are a lighthouse for those whose ships are running aground. We must "let" our lights shine, as Jesus stated.

If our light is barely visible, then we are merely ornamental and offer no real light to drive back the darkness. If we burn too bright and without wisdom, then we might offend those we are trying to help. Yet, if our light does not blind but instead provides a lighted path to the Savior, then we have accomplished a great thing. May our lights burn appropriately to always lead others to the Lightgiver.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Needs Versus Wants

Matthew 6:33 - "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."

We may possess a reciprocity mindset that says, if I give then I will get. We might believe God will multiply our blessings if we just believe. However, Jesus' promise is that He will "add" to our needs, not always fulfilling our wants.

Oftentimes, if God would multiply His blessings in our lives, they would destroy us. Consider Jesus' use of Solomon to illustrate His example regarding the lilies of the field. He knew this wise king was nearly destroyed by his abundance. Jesus tells us true wisdom is to allow God to add to our lives when He sees fit, and to expect nothing more or less. The mind set upon the truth of Jesus' words to seek first His kingdom will create a heart filled with gratitude and thanksgiving.

Monday, April 28, 2014

God’s Love for Us

Song of Solomon 1:15 - “How beautiful you are, my darling, how beautiful you are! Your eyes are like doves.”

How long has it been since we have heard the sweet wooings of our Beloved? He is always speaking, but are we listening? Nothing will change a man or a woman more than a revelation of the love of God for His beloved bride. The epiphany of His love upon the soul is linked inextricably with an understanding of His wisdom for our lives. Through it springs faith and hope as we fall deeper in love with the Bridegroom and His Father.

Maybe some have never experienced this intimacy? All we need to do is surrender to Christ and declare to Him that we are His. In short order, He will begin to speak to your heart saying, "How beautiful you are, my darling, how beautiful you are!"

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Liberty Through Obedience

II Corinthians 3:17 - "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."

Have we come to a place in our walk with Christ where we choose obedience out of love rather than obligation? This is true liberty. Paul uses the Greek word "eleutheria" to describe how we are not legally bound to our former slave master, but we have been set at liberty to go wherever we desire. However, when we love the One who has set us free, then we obey Him not because we have to but because our desire is to act like a son or daughter rather than a slave.

We are free to behave like a servant, if we desire, and do things out of obligation to our new Master. However, Jesus wants us to come into that place of liberty where we walk with Him and enjoy the intimacy of His counsel. No longer do we do things merely because they were the right things yesterday, but we obey Christ because of the living word He gives us today.

Beloved, He is always speaking liberty to us through His leadings. His commandments are life which gives us broad expressions of freedom.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Spiritual Blindness

II Corinthians 4:4 - "In whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God."

Spiritual blindness often depends on whether we choose to believe or not. Satan may be the author of spiritual blindness, however we are the ones to perpetuate it by are refusal to come to Christ. This is true for believers and non-believers alike.

Our desire for God's light is dependent upon our humility to surrender to Jesus. Our Lord asked the two blind men in the book of Matthew if they believed that he was able to heal them. He said let it be done according to your faith. May we all turn from the god of this world and turn to the God who restores sight to the spiritually blind.

Friday, April 25, 2014

God's Heart Throb

Song of Solomon 4:9 - “You have made my heart beat faster, my sister, my bride; you have made my heart beat faster with a single glance of your eyes, with a single strand of your necklace."

All of chapter four of Solomon's Song of Songs is devoted to his bride. This verse, in my opinion, is the apex of his desire for his espoused. ... Beloved of God, THIS is the attitude of Jesus Christ, our Great Bridegroom, toward YOU! If we have surrendered to His love and accepted His gift of salvation, He sees us as a gorgeous spectacle of His divine work.

Even more gratifying to the Holy One is when we turn our gaze toward Him in love. The scripture here states we arouse His great love and passion for us where His heart beats faster at a single glance from us! Will not He then grant us everything pertaining to life and godliness if He cares so much for us? May we look toward Him, for in our mutual admiration in love is a spiritual existence beyond our greatest expectations.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

I Am My Beloved's ...

Song of Solomon 5:16 - “His mouth is full of sweetness. And he is wholly desirable. This is my beloved and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.”

If chapter four of Solomon's Song is about the king's love expressed, then chapter five epitomizes the bride's torment in separation. His desire for her to come to him in verse two and her deliberate debate not to in the following verses causes a tumultuous search by the bride for her bridegroom. Once she finds him, she makes her love declaration in 5:16 as stated above.

Is Christ both our Beloved and our Friend as the bride declared? Have we come to the place where we no longer debate His commands but we open our hearts to obey every time He speaks? We will not do this perfectly as Christ's beloved. However, to that degree will we be able to call Him our Beloved and Friend. 

Lord, make us lovers of yours who wait expectantly for Your voice and may we respond quickly to experience Your joy. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Laying Down Our Lives

James 4:1 - "What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?"

James reveals the source of conflict. But Paul tells us how to end it – by being at peace with all men, so far as it depends on us (Romans 12:18). If we have the opportunity to diffuse an argument, then we must not take pleasure in our position of being right, but we must lay down our rights for others.

Our refusal to submit to another or being a proverbial doormat is foreign to the character of Christ. Until we can give ourselves as Jesus gave Himself to unjust men who crucified Him, we should never attempt to bargain for so-called position. Let it go and let God resurrect us and the situation at hand to give glory to Him through our humility.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Mountain Movers

Mark 11:23 - "Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him."

Many would say that Jesus' analogy was nothing other than rabbinic hyperbole. However, He reinforces the profundity of His statement in the next verse stating that whatever a man believes he will receive if he does not doubt.

As believers, we should be careful not to minimize or rationalize the word of God. We need to remember that mountains come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. (Remember, a half inch round rock may be a mountain to an ant!) Things are always relative to our size in God compared to the mountain assailing us. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God, beloved (Romans 10:17). If God tells us our mountain is to be removed, what right do we have to say otherwise? No matter what circumstances look like, we must pray and not think ourselves into unbelief. Prayer is the enemy of human intellect and reason. In time, believing prayer will pulverize any mountain we face.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Words Matter

James 5:6 - "You have condemned and put to death the righteous man; he does not resist you."

Are we creating martyrs of those whom Christ died for by unjust or slanderous remarks? Are we killing those whom Jesus loves by the fruit of our lips? We bring forth life or death every time we speak, beloved of God (Proverbs 18:21).

Jesus tells us that every word we speak we will one day have to give an account (Matthew 12:36). Will our ledger be full of words seasoned with grace, or words that continually destroy?

Lord, give us lips purified by the fires of Your altar that we may speak life and not death to those whom You love.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Reality of the Resurrection

Philippians 3:10-11 - "That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead."

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the truest event that has ever occurred in the history of mankind. However, Paul did not take it for granted and neither should we. Just because something is true does not make it our reality. The demons, James tells us, believe in God yet they shudder at this knowledge (James 2:19).

Like Paul, we should seek to bear our cross (Luke 9:23) as Jesus bore His for our sake. Merely knowing that Christ was raised from the dead means nothing unless we enter into that fellowship of His sufferings by bearing our crosses respectively. Only then will we experience His resurrection power. Then, like Paul, we may hope to attain to the resurrection of the dead when Jesus calls us home.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Wise Stewards of God's Revelations

Mark 9:8 - "All at once they looked around and saw no one with them anymore, except Jesus alone."

When God appears in the cloud on our respective mounts of transfiguration, all we will be able to see for a season is Jesus alone. Beware of other influences that will seek to crowd Jesus out prematurely. God wants us to soak in the divine revelation of His Son for the prescribed period He has ordained. Let nothing abort His presence in this holy time.

Conversely, we should not attempt to remain on the mount longer than Jesus desires. There is ample work to do once we go down the proverbial mount to the demon-possessed valleys below. Do all that you can to guard what the Holy Spirit has entrusted. It will provide moments of power and wisdom to those in our lives who desperately need it.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Embracing the Cross

I Corinthians 1:18 - "For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."

The weakness of Jesus' message is absurd to most. Many liberal scholars have sought to explain Christ's death as a miscalculation and a mistake. They claim He did not fulfill His ministry but died in weakness so therefore His original intent was aborted.

However, those of us who have been ordained for eternal life understand that only through His perfect sacrifice is there perfect redemption. Humanity is crippled by sin and there is no way to stand before God but by clinging to the cross. All those who seek to prop their lives up by their own attempts will not have a leg to stand on when they appear before God on that final day.

So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it someday for a crown.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Weeping With God

Luke 19:41 - "When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it."

Before Jesus entered the temple and whipped out the moneychangers, He first wept over the city. Through its history, Jerusalem had created a religious system which had lost its heart of love for God and man. Likewise, before we get indignant over the sin and moral lapses around us, we had best be sure we have first felt the heart of God in their regard.

Jesus told us not to judge merely by appearances but to judge with righteous judgment (John 7:24). When we can hurt with the heart of God over sin, only then do we have the license to whip those who He desires to chastise.

May we seek God's heart for those whom He died for, only wounding them with His love when He calls us to do so.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Man’s Foolish Wisdom

I Corinthians 1:27 - "But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong."

Shame might be defined as "the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, or ridiculous done by oneself or another." Shame is often meant to bring forth pain which may ultimately result in change. However, God's wisdom is often hid from those who pride themselves in the strength of their knowledge.

Often, Christian apologetics will not include any other evidence then that of the Holy Spirit working to confound the wisdom of this world in those hostile to the Gospel. Often, it is not our job to debate or refute, but to allow God to reverse what the supposed wise of this world have erroneously believed. Arguments may work to a point, but then God through His Spirit must bring a person to their senses.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Work in Progress

Philippians 1:6 - "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."

It is impossible for God to do shoddy work. There has never been a time in any of our respective lives in which God has compromised His intentions. Even when we have resisted His will, He continues to perfect His desire within His beloved.

How extraordinary that God never gives up on us! Why, then should we give up on ourselves? Patience is synonymous with love and the Lord has an abundance of both. Where there is life, there is hope. Cling to God's promise for He will complete what He started. He is bound by His own nature of faithfulness to do so!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Foremost in Sin and Grace

I Timothy 1:15 - "It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all."

Paul was not exaggerating when he claimed to be the foremost of sinners. To the degree of his revelation of sin came the incredible understanding of the grace of God and what it cost the Almighty to restore us. Some might believe Paul spoke in hyperbole in an attempt to convince others of his sincerity. However, those who knew Paul saw him as a living epistle – one who was a blasphemer and a persecutor of the church transformed by God's grace.

Similarly, John Newton understood God's amazing grace. This ex-slaver penned the words of this famous hymn and understood the depth of depravity from which he was saved. He knew it was only by God's "Amazing Grace" that he was once "lost then found, was blind but now I see."

Do we love much because we understand God's great love for us? May we all continue to ask God for revelation of His great love and grace which saved wretched sinners the likes of us!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Covered Prayer

Lamentations 3:44 - "You have covered Yourself with a cloud so that no prayer can pass through."

There are generally two reasons why prayer remains unanswered. One is certainly demonic strongholds that block answered prayer. We see this when Daniel fought with principalities to secure an open heaven for answered prayer (Daniel 10:10-14). However, possibly the one we desire least to recognize is either individual or corporate (national and/or global) sin.

God always comes in clouds. However, if we are waiting for Jesus to appear on the clouds and bring retribution to the nations, we may first want to examine if He has covered Himself in a cloud because of our sin. As Isaiah states, our sin has made a separation between us and God so that He will not hear (Isaiah 59:2). May we all desire to be a man like righteous Elijah, a man not unlike us, who was effectual and fervent in prayer for an entire nation (James 5:16-18).

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Thorough Examination

Lamentations 3:40 - "Let us examine and probe our ways, and let us return to the Lord."

If we have ever had a splinter in our finger, many of us understand what it means to probe with a needle or a sharp instrument until it is removed. If something is left under the skin long enough, it will eventually alert the body that something is wrong and this foreign object needs removed. We are wonderfully made by our creator who allows us to know when something is amiss physiologically.

Likewise, spiritually, God will let us know when something is wrong with us if we will but listen to the warnings from His Holy Spirit. Often, sin can lie just below the surface of our consciousness. We must first acknowledge it is there and then allow the Holy Spirit with the sharpness of the word of God to remove it from us. The probing is our responsibility while God has promised to be the remover if we will only allow Him to do so.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Surety of God's Love

Lamentations 3:22-23 - "The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness."

Just when things look most grim in our circumstances, then often we experience God's divine opportunity. This is otherwise known as hope, beloved. Hope is most remarkable, for from it flows faith and trust that God is still in control. The prophet's analogy of God's faithfulness to the surety of the sunrise is atypical of a God who will always demonstrate His love to us.

Love never fails, as Paul tells the Corinthian church (I Corinthians 13:8). Those who say God's love has failed them do not yet understand His faithfulness regarding the "big picture." God may not look loving today in a trial or a circumstance. However, when we understand how He grants new mercies every morning, in time we will see how His grand plan was worked out. Hold on, beloved, and see the salvation of God as it manifests day by day.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Bridges of Love

I Thessalonians 5:14 - "We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone."

God will always require us to do more building up than tearing down in those He has put in our lives. As fathers, mothers, grandparents, friends, etc., we have a moral obligation to build bridges first and then, when necessary, provide correction. God never intended for us to create weak bridges but instead spans that will hold up to the sometimes rebuke we must offer. Remember, it is risky business to attempt to drive a 2-ton truck over a 1-ton capacity bridge. Similarly, we must ensure we have built trust with those God has entrusted to us.

If we have successfully encouraged, helped, and been patient with all, then we will be licensed to drive the proverbial truck of admonishment. Our license is often revoked when we do not show love and patience first. May we all do much for building up in love, so that our occasional tearing down in love will be received with grace.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Divine Forgetfulness

Philippians 3:13 - "Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead."

Divine forgetfulness allows us the grace to become unrecognizable concerning who we used to be. However, we must recognize that what we gaze at will inevitably be what we become, beloved. If we remain transfixed on the past, we will never change. If we fix our gaze on Jesus, we are being transfigured, daily.

The lie the devil wants us to believe is that we can continue living the way we did in our past and still become like Christ in our future. If we have truly been raised with Christ, then we will be seeking those things above and desiring to forget those things which used to bring us sinful pleasure(Colossians 3:1-2). This is the true hope of our salvation!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Afflicted Beauty

Psalm 149:4 – “For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation."

To what degree do we believe that God takes pleasure in us? It is to this degree we will possess the faith to understand that he loves us dearly. If we are running to God instead of from God then we will empower Him to grant us the revelation to experience all things in the Beloved.

It is an extraordinary thing when we understand how much God cares for us. It is quite liberating to recognize how our affliction becomes a stepping stone to His grace. His pleasure becomes our reality only because of the blood of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. As a result, the empowerment of the Holy Spirit through the affliction of human weakness allows us to draw upon His divine strength. There is no other way to acquire His grace. When we do so, we beautify our appearance through humility and walk in faith regarding all He has given us.

Monday, April 7, 2014

An Eternal Celebration!

Luke 15:24 - "'For this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate."

Knowing that God is love and His very character is inclusive of all those who accept Christ as their Savior, it is not a stretch to believe He celebrates continually over us as sons and daughters. When we turn to Him throughout our day—no matter what we are going through—we can believe He is rejoicing in His beloved. The prophet Zephaniah states "He will exult over you with joy ... He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy” (Zephaniah 3:17).

Know this, beloved of God, whether we glory in our salvation or not, the Godhead rejoices in it every minute of the day. May we all step out of looking at ourselves and look toward Father who is enthusiastically celebrating His great love for us. Inevitably, it will be our choice whether we decide to join the proverbial party and celebrate with heaven the great things He has done!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Marked For Prayer

Ezekiel 9:4 - "The LORD said to him, 'Go through the midst of the city, even through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations which are being committed in its midst.'”

Too often, we who would desire to be great prayer warriors for God are confused how this is accomplished. We say, "God mark us for You! Make us mighty intercessors for You!" However, God is saying, "Devote yourself to prayer and then I will mark you as one who shares my heart for the lost and hurting!"

We often desire God to come down and make us something we are not, rather than spend the time pouring out our lives for Him and others. We imagine a bolt of glory from heaven when all He wants is for us to choose to glorify Him with a poured out life. Beloved, devoted intercession often starts with us pouring our hearts out for those closest to us. Those we can see changed by God's power can often result in faith for those who we may not see. However, when we acquire the eyes of faith, then He can truly trust us with His heart for our communities, our country, and the world.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Behaving Wisely

Colossians 4:5 - "Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity."

How are we at being ambassadors for Christ? Have we learned yet to step away from that conversation that tends to gossip about a co-worker? Or, how about how we behave at sporting events with our friends? The list could go on and on. Beloved, even as Paul states to the Corinthian church, we are often the only Bible others will see. Are we an effectual letter of Christ to those around us? (II Corinthians 3:3)

As Paul tells the Colossian church, wisdom is the key in proper conduct. The Scriptures tell us the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7). Do we reverence the Lord or do we merely say we love Jesus? It will be evident in how we behave to a world that desperately needs Him.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Let Peace Rule

Colossians 3:15 - "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful."

There will always be that man or woman – often the exception in our encounters with Christians – who will exude the peace of Jesus Christ. Some will erroneously think that this person never has a trial or a reason to become disturbed. However, if the aforementioned are living in peace, it is because they have chosen to do so.

Paul tells us the secret of this sort of peace in the preceding verses. He tells the Colossians to "put on a heart of compassion" for others and to choose to live in the fruit of the Holy Spirit. He speaks of forgiving all as Christ forgave us and to do all with a thankful heart (Colossians 3:12-15). If we are choosing to be loving, forgiving, and thankful, beloved, we will experience peace ruling in our hearts and touching everyone we meet.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Fathering Without Provocation

Ephesians 6:4 - "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."

Many of us who have raised children failed to do so "in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." That is often the reason for rebellion, because deep down, what children want are boundaries set by a father who loves them. They desire a firm but loving daddy who cares enough for them to not let them make wrong choices. Often, our disinterest and lack of love equated to provocation and the anger that so many children experience today.

Those of us who are fathers will never quit being fathers. Even though we have made mistakes, God desires to redeem our children even when they are grown and far from the Lord (Acts 2:39). Though we have sown the whirlwind regarding our children (Hosea 8:7), His desire is to rebuke the devourer off their lives and bring them home once again (Malachi 3:11).

Lord, may You have your way in the hearts of our children, bringing them to You and for Your glory, Amen!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Children of God's Inheritance

Luke 12:32 - "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom."

God is not reluctant to give us everything pertaining to life and godliness. He has called us sons and daughters of the Most High. Why then would he hold back and defraud His heirs of anything according to His will in this life or the one to come? The only reason is our inability to believe through lack of faith. Often, this comes by not understanding His great love for us.

His kingdom has come on earth as it has in heaven if we will but embrace it. While the devil runs amuck and continues to reign as a counterfeit ruler, Jesus said that all power and authority had been handed back to Him at the defeat of His adversary (Matthew 28:18). It is our rightful inheritance as children of God.

May we choose gladly to receive Christ's kingdom which the Father has gladly given.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Lasting Greatness

Jeremiah 45:5 - "'But you, are you seeking great things for yourself? Do not seek them; for behold, I am going to bring disaster on all flesh,’ declares the LORD,‘but I will give your life to you as booty in all the places where you may go.'"

Greatness should be superfluous to the child of God. Especially when it has to do with personal gain. What will a man give in exchange for his soul? This rhetorical question of the Lord from the Gospels is similar to the one He asked through the prophet 700 years earlier. The betterment of the flesh has not changed from Jeremiah's time up through Christ and even today. Self-seeking will only result in "disaster on all flesh."

If we seek greatness, it should be wrapped in a cloak of humility that is seeking Christ's kingdom. Without our surrender to Jesus, we are merely profiting the flesh which -- in the end -- will not redeem anyone or anything. It will be consumed only upon our own lust for recognition. However, if we desire to see Jesus lifted up and magnified, then paradoxically we will know greatness for both ourselves and all we touch in His name.