Sunday, July 31, 2016

Times of Refreshing

Acts 3:19 - "Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord."

Some may have bought into the idea that salvation from sin allows one to enter into a life filled with blessing. In truth, this is a fact. However, it is often not perceived so. There are still the problems of life such as the car needing fixing, the boss is being unreasonable, and the kids are acting out at school. Jesus tells us each day will have its own troubles (Matthew 6:34). However, unlike our lives without Jesus, we now can draw upon His presence. The simplest way to do this is to enter His presence with praise and thanksgiving.

Times of refreshing will come in our time of need. This begs the question of how much do we need Him? He desires to allow a cascading waterfall of His presence to drench us daily. However, this comes only by faithfully praising him during the highlights and the lowlights throughout our day. All of us who know the Lord Jesus have the opportunity to turn from our problems and turn our face towards His in adoration. The more we do, the more we will experience the refreshing, restorative power of His presence.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Synonymous Expressions of God

Job 28:28 - “And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; And to depart from evil is understanding.’”

God often uses synonyms in scripture to help us understand His nature. Paul tells us in I Corinthians 1:34 that "love is patient." It is the natural outworking and expression of love to be patient. Similarly, John tells us that "God is love" (I John 4:8). Therefore, we can surmise that everything God does is out of a nature of love as He never fails to express it.

Of great importance regarding how God protects His children from evil is to understand how the fear of the Lord and wisdom are inextricably linked. They are one in the same, for one cannot exist without the other. As patience is the natural outworking of love, the fear of the Lord is the logical conclusion of wisdom. When we simply pray, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,” we are displaying the synonymy of the fear of the Lord as it is bound with wisdom. This, my friends, is a splendid place to dwell.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Victory Over Death

Acts 2:24 - "But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power."

If we are in Christ, the agony of death has been broken in our lives. We can truly say with Paul, "O death, where is your sting?" (I Corinthians 15:55). Though our old man is dying daily and our physical body will one day cease to be, we will all take on immortality when we are transfigured into His glorious image.

Until then, we must know and understand that death cannot hold us in its power because we have the life of Christ. We can rejoice that we no longer have to sin but we can live, every day and every moment, in the power of life. What was once the agony of defeat has become the joy of victory in the Son. He has triumphed over death, sin, and devil for all eternity.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Fearing God and Not Man

Matthew 14:5 - "Although Herod wanted to put him to death, he feared the crowd, because they regarded John as a prophet."

Our flesh, that old man that often refuses to die within us, is like Herod of old. The sin nature's character is one of self-serving and fear of everything else besides God. However, like the old saying "when push comes to shove," the flesh will always struggle to survive when faced with submitting to God or dying to its selfish will. In similar manner, Herod sought to save face when he murdered John the Baptist. His fear of the crowd eventually won out over his minimal fear of God.

The Holy Spirit, or the prophetic voice of God within, will never bow to the will of our flesh. That is why the old self must die within the life of every believer. Shall we be as Herod this day and behead the Son of God within, disallowing Him to reign? Or, shall we humble ourselves and fear God rather than the crowd of this world? Our choice will determine our destiny this day, the day after, and for all eternity.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Embracing Our Destiny

Genesis 35:18 - "It came about as her soul was departing (for she died), that she named him Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin."

It is significant that directly after Jacob's name is once again confirmed as Israel (Striven with God) from Jacob (Deceiver), Rachel then dies. She was the love of his heart and the desire of his eyes.  Interestingly, Rachel named her son Ben-oni, which means "son of my sorrow." Yet, his father named him Benjamin, "son of the right hand."

Often, when God does a paradigm shift in our lives, it is to redefine our legacy. Then, it is our responsibility to not allow the death of the old life to distract us from our new destiny. We must not look with sorrow at what God could have done, or should have done through us before our sanctification. Instead, we must rename our outcomes in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, taking hold of all in which He has called us to be. Change, beloved, is difficult and especially if we have grown fond of our old ways. However, God desires to rename the "Benjamins" in our lives and make these outcomes prodigies of the strength of His right hand.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Siding With Jesus

Matthew 12:30 - "He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters."

Jesus' "either or" statement is in context with His explanation regarding the unpardonable sin. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is simply rejecting God's great salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ. It is the only sin that becomes unforgivable and only applicable upon death. Those who reject Jesus throughout their lives are a foe of God. If we are not entering the kingdom as a son or daughter of His, then we are accessories to the crime of rebellion against God.

Every religion in the world other than Christianity is Hindu or Eastern in its tenants. They all seek to work their way up to God, rather than God through Jesus Christ working His way down to us through the cross. The former, according to this and other scriptures, are enemies of God that scatter rather than gather into the kingdom. It is important to understand that our works mean nothing to God outside of a loving heart that is devoted to Him. If we are moved to do for God out of religion, then we have missed the whole point of relationship.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Aromatic Ministry

II Chronicles 29:11 - "My sons, do not be negligent now, for the LORD has chosen you to stand before Him, to minister to Him, and to be His ministers and burn incense.”

There comes a time in every believer's life when he or she is faced with going on in God. The truth is that we are either moving toward Him or away. However, when we come to that place where we stand – no matter what – then we begin to experience the life that abides in Christ. No longer are we negligent about the word of God in our lives, but we have denied ourselves and have moved into a place of seeking His face and not merely His hand. When we come to a place of desiring to be a child of God rather than what we can get out of God, then we have begun to learn the true place of ministry.

The outward demonstration of this spiritual paradigm shift is whether we have begun to "burn incense" to the Lord. Is our life a sweet fragrance to others, an aroma of the Lord? We cannot burn for the Lord if we have not first allowed Him to burn up our old life and the things that would compromise our relationship with Him. May we all become the fragrance of Christ that burn brightly for Jesus.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

How Clean Are Our Hands?

Job 22:30 - “He will deliver one who is not innocent, and he will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands.”

What a tremendous responsibility we have to those who are too weak and unknowing to rescue themselves from sin! God has commissioned all who say they know the Lord Jesus Christ to be the expression of Himself upon this earth. Even as He is the Savior of this world, he has called us as His ambassadors to reflect His salvation. Jesus desires that we represent Him in such a way as to attract others to His salvation. This will only work if we are living a life of love with the Savior.

None of us are innocent. However, Jesus Christ has made a way for us all to be righteous through His blood and accepting His great gift. We must allow the Holy Spirit to live through us in such a way as to make others yearn for that place of innocence once again. Paradise lost will once again be Paradise regained through Christ's righteousness. While Adam's innocence can never be regained in this lifetime, we can help bring others to redemption through Christ's justification.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

A Lack of Restraint

II Chronicles 28:19 - "For the Lord humbled Judah because of Ahaz king of Israel, for he had brought about a lack of restraint in Judah and was very unfaithful to the Lord."

A "lack of restraint" is the same thing as empowering those around us to sin. We can either humble ourselves through the fear of the Lord, or God will allow our enemies to rise up all around us and defeat us at every turn. In so doing, we license those who look up to us to become accessories to the crime of rebellion against the Lord. They likewise will be dragged down by our infidelity.

What is our heritage as leaders in our church, youth groups, bible studies, families, work, etc? What are we modeling for others to follow? If we are not restrained by the love of God, we will be unrestrained to lie, cheat, gossip, engage in promiscuity, or any other sin of the flesh. While some may not see our outward behavior, a spiritual dynamic works unseen to the physical eye, empowering these strongholds in our lives and those of others.

May our lives reflect the fear of the Lord, for this will build a mighty fortress for both ourselves and those with whom we lead.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Righteous Compassion

Matthew 9:13 - "But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Has the Lord ever told us to "go and learn?" While this may sound harsh, it is God's remedy for those with a stubborn heart. Religiosity can often make us legalistic and unbending. Yet, Jesus tells this sort to head back to spiritual kindergarten and learn the basics of His message – compassion and mercy that are powered by love.

Do we feel like we have given up much for God and that others should do the same? Possibly our sacrifice is not the same as the next fellow's. Perhaps God has for them a different cross to bear that looks nothing like ours. Our position is to be positionless regarding their position and their walk with God. We should not judge a man unless we are also willing to grant them mercy in our judgment. Our appraisals should always be based in righteous, humble thinking (John 7:24). This is our safeguard against haughtiness, beloved.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Peace Within

Job 20:20-21 - “Because he knew no quiet within him, he does not retain anything he desires. Nothing remains for him to devour, therefore his prosperity does not endure."

The Psalmist David concurs with this scripture from Job when he states how delighting in the Lord results in obtaining the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4). Often, the reason our prosperity is not sustainable is because we are not seeking the Lord's will with the riches He has entrusted. This is not only material wealth. Of greater importance is the wealth of love and kindness that we show to others which results in great peace.

We can only keep what we give away, beloved. If we are seeking to store up any kind of riches here on earth, whether material or spiritual, they will soon make wings and fly away and leave us empty. However, if we continue to give purposefully, then God will continue to fill us to overflowing.

Do we want to know peace? Then grant peace to others. The same can be said for anything we desire. All things which we desire that we give to others will then be ours in abundance.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Return to God

Hosea 5:4 - "Their deeds will not allow them to return to their God. For a spirit of harlotry is within them, and they do not know the Lord."

When I was deep within my sin and addiction, I had created such a legacy and heritage of sin in my life it became impossible to get "better." Often, people can become more religious and turn toward God. This, in itself, does not ensure salvation. However, for some of us, we lost the ability even to turn to God because we had been sleeping with the world too long. It meant coming to a bottom of utter despair. Then, the miracle happened! God was able to turn and repair our titanic vessel from the iceberg of sin which was sinking us.

Some of those reading this are still trapped in the icy waters of despair. They have fornicated with their sin for so long that they no longer know how to start getting free. There is hope. We must turn to God and ask Him for the power to turn. There is no other way when we are so enmeshed in the sin that continues to enslave us. Seek God today for there is salvation if we will but trust He will save us.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Reasonable Expectations

Matthew 6:34 - "So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

It is easy enough to tell someone not to worry about tomorrow. However, in order for there to be a logical replacement for worry there must be proper expectation. Jesus tells us plainly in this scripture that we can expect trouble, often on a daily basis. This, in itself, might create a hopeless despair of soul. However, Jesus also wants us to expect God's provision as He suggests in the previous verses regarding the birds of the air and the lilies of the field (Matthew 6:25-33).

Expectations, whether hopeful or hopeless, will invariably rule our day. It just depends on which we decide to put our hope. Will we hope in God's promise that He will meet all our needs in Christ Jesus? (Philippians 4:19) Or, will we succumb to the anxieties of the day and create a cesspool of doubt and worry in our souls? It all depends on how we allow common, everyday expectations to either propel us toward the Solution or deeper into the problem.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Stronger and Stronger in God

Job 17:9 - “Nevertheless the righteous will hold to his way, and he who has clean hands will grow stronger and stronger."

Mankind does not become righteous, but we are made righteous by accepting the free gift of God in Christ Jesus. However, the true mark of a man or woman's salvation is whether they are growing in God. We often see many in the church who appear no different than their profession of faith from 30 years earlier. They have not grown in grace because they have not held to the way of God, allowing sanctification to have its perfect way.

Are we growing stronger and stronger? If we have not first become weaker and weaker through our realization that God is our Great Sanctifier, then we are still trusting in our own strength to make us "better." Beloved, we must consecrate ourselves by denying the flesh and our own power to save us. Then, God will step in and do the work of sanctification and make us holy even as He is holy.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Subtle Temptation

Matthew 4:3 - "And the tempter came and said to Him, 'If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.'”

In Philippians, we read when Jesus came to earth, He emptied Himself of His rights as God to become a humble bond-servant of mankind (Philippians 2:5-8). In this passage in Matthew, Satan tempted Jesus in a moment of vulnerability to refill Himself with His rightful position as part of the Godhead. If this would have happened, then the devil knew Christ would have disqualified Himself as the perfect man. He desired Him to meet His own needs rather than allow God the Father to provide.

Our temptation from the evil one is similar. He would have us step out of our relationship with the Son, as Satan wanted Jesus to do with the Father. After all, did not God say He would "give us this day our daily bread?" What is the harm with helping God get it for us? Frankly, this type of thinking is born in hell if God is not the One with whom we are listening. In order to come to a place of true sonship, we must empty ourselves of ourselves and then allow God to meet our needs in every instance. Anything less than this is idolatry and self-worship that demands our needs be met from our own resources.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Not Knowing God's Plan

II Chronicles 20:12 - "O our God, will You not judge them? For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You.”

When we face the greatest challenges in our lives, God's wisdom may not be readily apparent. We may not have clear direction and may feel like we have to do something to help out the situation. However, times like these when we know not what to do are often times the place of greatest power. Our own impotence is often displayed when we come to the conclusion that we have neither the mind of Christ in a situation nor the wherewithal to carry it out. These are times when we must merely stand and see the salvation of God.

Waiting without any action on our part may look like spiritual suicide. In Jehoshaphat’s case, it must have seemed absurd to some to meet the enemy with musical instruments, praising the Lord, rather than taking decisive action. However, the outcome of the battle in II Chronicles 20 tells us the opposite. Waiting on God's salvation resulted in the enemy destroying themselves.

Are you facing a life challenge where God is silent and you know not what to do? "Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord." (Psalm 27:14) In your waiting, praise Him for the answer. It will come, beloved, if we wait on Him.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Loving at All Times

Proverbs 17:17 - "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity."

What does it mean to love at all times? Solomon is not speaking of sentimental emotion, although that can sometimes be part of true friendship love. If we need a definition, love has no better definition in scripture than in the thirteenth chapter of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians. Here we find that "love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." (I Corinthians 13:4-7) In a nutshell, love does nothing from self-interest but in the interest of others.

The consistency of loving as "at all times" is only possible through Jesus Christ. Perfect love was never meant to be the heritage of mankind outside of God living within. It is an impossibility to achieve oneness with love outside of this relationship. Other religions can believe they are loving and sympathetic to their fellow man. The capacity to love will always be limited or unlimited through seeking to love from ourselves or through Jesus Christ, respectively.

God is love, beloved. However, mankind's love will only imitate the divine. Once God has a man or woman's heart, then He can love constantly and continually through their broken and surrendered lives.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Arguing For God

Job 13:7-8 - “Will you speak what is unjust for God, and speak what is deceitful for Him? Will you show partiality for Him? Will you contend for God?"

Often, the greatest understanding that we are speaking for God is when we are saying nothing. To attempt to explain ourselves can often lead to "pearls before swine," and further misunderstanding of God's intent (Matthew 7:6). To defend God and what He is doing in our lives is often a fruitless endeavor. If the Lord decides to give understanding to those who misunderstand, that is His business. Until then, we should wait on the Lord and allow Him to do His desire (Psalm 27:14).

Has someone falsely accused you? The human tendency is to go to this person and attempt to explain oneself. However, did the Lord Jesus ever do similarly? His position was that of the Father's. He would not speak or act without His permission. Too often we set out to make things right and abort what God is trying to do in someone else's life. When and if they are ready to hear, He will orchestrate their epiphany with or without our involvement.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Obedient Listening

Genesis 22:3 - "So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son; and he split wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him."

Our previous days of listening to the voice of God will result in that one day of obedience that will make us the men and women of God that He desires. Abraham had grown so accustomed to hearing God's voice that it was without debate when He declared that the patriarch was to sacrifice his own son. Those who have not allowed themselves to be trained by God's voice might have said, in similar circumstances, that it was a demon speaking! Immature believers can easily make the mistake of rebuking God when they believe what they are hearing can't be from God!

When we get to the place of hearing God's voice regularly, the "So" or the "Therefore" of the early morning's obedience will be something as natural as breathing. "So" we will rise early to complete whatever it is the Lord would have us do, no matter how unreasonable it may sound. When we pray for divine encounters and appointments, we had best be ready for something way out of our comfort zone as God sees what we are made of.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

God's Word and Touch

Daniel 8:18 - "Now while he was talking with me, I sank into a deep sleep with my face to the ground; but he touched me and made me stand upright."

When we are truly hearing from God, his words will always give us great rest and peace. When the risen Lord appeared to his disciples, He spoke peace to them. There is always great comfort when God speaks to our soul His rest.

However, when he touches us then we have a responsibility to act. Then we must stand up for Jesus and do what he commands us to do. Obedience will always result in holiness and uprightness. This is our great commission to carry forth God's desires.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Joy in Asking

John 16:24 - "Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full."

Not only is there authority in the name of Jesus, but there is tremendous awareness regarding how to use it. God's authority and power is born in obedience and humility that is guided by wisdom. To assume we can ask for something in the name of Jesus merely because we have heard another claim a promise of God is presumptive. When we are truly baptized in the name of Jesus, there will be no second-guessing if God desires something to occur. It will become to us the mind of Christ that controls the outcome.

Immature Christians "name and claim" promises in the name of Jesus. However, there is such thing as the timing of God and praying in the Spirit which confirms we are in the name of Jesus. Much is spoken regarding the baptism of the Holy Spirit. However, if we are in the name of Jesus, the Holy Spirit will confirm both His presence and Jesus' with joy inexpressible.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Loving Perfectly

Deuteronomy 6:4-5 - “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might."

Most would say this is an impossible commandment of the Lord. One might ask what is the feasibility of loving God in the fullness of expression as He commands? Perfect love only comes through the empowerment of Jesus Christ within. Only He can create a perfect love within that matures into this "fullness of expression."

Perfect charity is only possible through the love of God that has been poured out in the heart of every believer (Romans 5:5). Only through the Holy Spirit and His zeal for the Son and the Father can we experience a perfect love that is passionate for God and likewise for those with whom He loves.

Beloved, while perfect hearts of love are far beyond our capabilities, they are always an ever present reality if we will but yield ourselves to His loving Spirit.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Praying in the Spirit

Jude 1:20-21 - "But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life."

I will not argue whether or not this verse speaks of praying in tongues as many Pentecostals and Charismatics believe when Jude tells his readers to "pray in the Spirit." However, I do know it is entirely possible to pray with one's mind and not the Spirit of God. This can easily be done when the Spirit of wisdom and revelation sent from God is not guiding our prayers. What happens, as a result, is it becomes religion and mechanical without faith. Consequently, our love dries up for others because love is not sympathetically given for others by God, but is divinely implanted for the purpose of godly intercession.

Romans 5:5 tells us the love of God has been shed abroad in our hearts. If we are not experiencing a deep love for mankind in our inner man, it might be good to examine whether we have been praying with our minds out of obligation, or praying in the Spirit out of God's necessity. If we have lost the burden of prayer, we must ask God for it who will faithfully give us the spirit of prayer for those who desperately need it.

Friday, July 8, 2016

A Laid Down Life

John 10:17 - "For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again."

God has always and will unfailingly love us. However, His delight is manifested when we lay down our lives for one another. Why should we believe as disciples of Jesus that God would expect any less from us? The phone may ring at 3 a.m. and someone may need to get together for a cup of coffee to pour their heart out. Or, the person upstairs in the building we live in may need some help to move some furniture. How will we respond? Are we ready to lay down our lives no matter what the circumstance?

While these are notable acts of kindness, God the Father desires a much greater love than this. He desires that we love not the world, but passionately lay our lives down for Him and all He is. It means giving our heart only to Him and to no other. When we do this, then the random acts of kindness will be rivers that naturally flow from us. Are we ready to go on in God? This, my friends, is the key to abiding in Christ and experiencing the peace and joy of the Father.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Abiding in Jesus' Teaching

II John 1:9 - "Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son.

In context, John speaks of deceivers—Gnostics, in particular—that had gone too far and perverted the teachings of Jesus. These had severed themselves from Christ and were seeking to do the same with those with whom he was writing.

Today, our churches have many who would seek to disavow the teachings of Christ and secularize the Gospel to fit their lives. Usually, it comes in two forms – friendship with the world or slavery to the Law. The former embraces the world, saying God is filled with grace and we can live however we desire because Jesus will inevitably forgive us. The latter is built on the idea that we have to work our way to God by pleasing Him through our strict observance of the Law. Neither heresies are correct and have nothing to do with abiding in the teaching of God.

To abide in Jesus Christ, one must be in love with Him. We follow Him and obey, not because we have to, but because we want to. He offers us grace when we fail, but our main desire is not to sin. The teaching of Christ is a roadmap to romance with God, not a plan of enslavement to this world or to the Law.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Overcoming the World

I John 5:4 - "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith."

This is a troubling statement John makes if this benchmark is applied to most of western Christendom. If we take an honest look at the church in America, are we overcoming the world or is the world overcoming us? We can make a lot of excuses why much of the church looks no different than the world. Or, we might say that we are waiting for Jesus Christ to appear to set all things right. Then, we say, the church will overcome the world! It is hogwash to believe that overcoming only happens upon Christ's return. If we are not overcoming now, then something is amiss.

Are we truly born again? We will all struggle against sin in one degree or another whether we are or not. However, if we are not steadily pushing back the enemy then we may want to relook at whether we have truly been born of God. Surrender, repentance, and the power of the Holy Spirit are all characteristics of a believer who is overcoming the world. When God finds spiritual soldiers with these credentials, the world will once again be turned upside down for Jesus.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Are We From God?

I John 4:4 - "You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world."

The new birth is the most remarkable event that any of us can experience. It is secured for every man, woman, and child. However, few will receive God's great gift because of the enemy's great deception. Satan overcomes the majority of the human race, not through overt evil, but through his lie that they are good enough for both heaven and earth. Therefore, they are in agreement only with their own soul and the evil one, rather than what the Lord says about them.

Only those who have accepted Jesus' great gift have the opportunity to live as a true overcomer. We may conquer alcoholism, drug addiction, anger, jealously, or any number of other sins of the flesh. However, until we accept God's gift of salvation we will never know victory that will last through eternity.

We are either from God or from the devil, beloved. If we have not surrendered to Jesus, then we have surrendered to the evil one. May we all look to Jesus today ... there is no lasting victory without Him.

Monday, July 4, 2016

True Freedom

Galatians 5:16 - "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh."

The reason why more Christians are not experiencing victorious living is determined on allegiance. Many have chosen to live under the tyranny of the flesh, disavowing God and all His goodness. Instead of walking with the Lord, they have run toward the things of this world and the lusts thereof. They have practiced evil instead of pursuing righteousness. That is the reason our country is in the deep, dark dilemma it faces. We have put our hand in the one who seeks to destroy us rather than the One who would give us life and liberty.

To really understand freedom, we must first be free individually. Then, collectively, we must cry out to God and against sin and say, "This far and no more!" Until we live for Christ in our homes, it will never happen in our country. May God captivate us and cause us to desire to walk with Him. For if we heed not His call, we will instead crawl with despair through life as our captors continue to enslave us.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Faith and Love

I John 3:23 - "This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us."

Philosophically, it is quite easy to say that we should love one another. However, to love as God commands takes every bit of heaven and nothing of this earth. True love from the Father is born in belief "in the name of His son Jesus Christ." Anything other than the love which has been poured out within our hearts by the Holy Spirit is merely sympathetic emotionalism (Romans 5:5). We need God to energize our love otherwise it will wane like any other feeling or emotion.

When we are really ready to live as Christ desires, then we will begin to understand that faith and love are inseparable. When faith springs up in us, then love for God and our fellow man will become the outworking of our belief. Beware of faith without love. While love without faith is purely unsustainable emotionalism, faith without love is dead religion.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

To God be the Glory

John 5:44 - "How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?"

This penetrating, rhetorical question by the Lord Jesus nonetheless requires an answer by us all. How is it possible to come to Jesus on anything but His terms? There is no bargaining with God. He will either have all the glory or none. Even as Cain offered a half-hearted sacrifice, we must be careful to constantly be giving our best to Him (Hebrews 11:4). This means laying down our lives daily.

The writer of Hebrews stated that all who come to God must first believe "He is" and then that He rewards faith (Hebrews 11:6). It is impossible to come to God, in faith, if we are trying to keep back some of His glory for ourselves. We must lay our ministries, our families, our businesses, our jobs, our education, and anything else before the Lord and say, "If I am not bringing glory to you in these areas, then change it today!" Everything must be surrendered to Him before we can truly enter in by faith to God’s reward of peace of joy.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Spirit and Truth Worship

John 4:24 - "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Jesus proclaimed the way to true worship of Himself and His Father to the Samaritan woman. It is impossible to worship God with merely good intentions or fleshly enthusiasm. This type of behavior is best left to sports arenas. However, when God is helping us through His Holy Spirit, there may indeed be a joyous shout or a dance to confirm His presence. However, what we must discern is the truthfulness of our actions. Both of the aforementioned displays of emotion are scriptural in the context of God's Spirit moving through us.

Those who do not know the Savior will often attempt to worship God in the "spirit" that has become most familiar. However, if they do not know Jesus, then they are merely following a familiar spirit that is not of God. Unless we are surrendered to the truth of the Gospel, we cannot worship the Lord in spirit and truth. It is an impossibility. May we all humbly look to God and His scriptures and worship Him according to His word for this is His delight.