Monday, January 17, 2022

Freedom In Christ

The most destructive force on the earth throughout the history of man is sin. Sin has never changed. It has only become more destructive. The Bible reveals sin as, Transgression; "Whosoever commits sin transgresses the law: for sin is the transgression of the law." (1 John 3:4). Unrighteousness; "All unrighteousness is sin..." (1 John 5:17. Unbelief;  "...for whatever is not from faith is sin." (Romans 14:23). Iniquity; "And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold." (Matthew 24:12). Trespass; "For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man..." (Romans 5:17). Lawlessness; "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?" (2 Corinthians 6:14). Evil doing; "Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!" (Matthew 7:23)

Sin can be defined as missing the mark; the act of disobedience against divine law; outwardly violating divine law; to cross over a line or boundary; to fall away; and or the ignorance of what should have been known. Simply put, sin is rooted in lust, pride and self-will, all motivated by selfishness which simply focuses on, me, myself and I. When comparing these things with what we see in society we can clearly see the destructive nature of sin at work in every level of human life. Sin is not a respecter of persons. There is no amount of money, education or society class that can prevent sin from its destruction. There is not even one person that can boast that they are a good person, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)

Although the destructive affects of sin are virtually endless, it will always lead to the same end, "For the wages of sin is death..." (Romans 6:23) This does not refer to physical death although sin works at taking physical life away. This refers to spiritual death, that is, separation from God for eternity with its end in the Lake of Fire and Brimstone. Unfortunately, much of the church today does not even want to mention the word sin, because it is said that the word sin come across as offensive, but that is exactly what it is. It is an offense to God and should be seen in the same manner to man. Sin destroys individuals, marriages and families. It promotes moral depravity, sickness and all manner of addictions. Sin destroys and leads into bondage and eventually death.

However, according to the Bible, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:16-17)
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) No matter how destruction sin is, God has provided away to be set people free. "The Word became flesh..." (John 1:14) Deity and humanity came together in Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul tells us, "For sin shall not have dominion over you..." (Romans 6:14) In other words, if you have received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, then sin no longer has power over you (unless you give it permission).

The Apostle John tells us, "Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God." (1 John 3:7-9) What a wonderful truth from God. If you are struggling with any sin in your life, speak this passage of scripture aloud to yourself continuously. The Bible tells us, "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17) Speaking God's Word aloud will build your faith and eventually your faith in God's Word will be greater than the sin you are dealing with. Eventually the sin will be whisked away by the power of God and you will walk in forgiveness and complete freedom from sins reign. 

"Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.   And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:31-32) "Jesus answered them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed." (John 8:34-36) If you are in Christ, YOU ARE FREE!

Monday, January 10, 2022

Whose Report Will I believe

A see-saw (also known as a teeter-totter or teeter board) is a long narrow board pivoted in the middle so it can alternate in an up-and-down or backward-and-forward motion. The Bible records a situation that happened in the history of Israel that involved a puppet king name Ahab. The reason why I refer to Ahab as a puppet king is due to the things his wife Jezebel did. In reality Jezebel governed Ahab who governed Israel.

Once again Israel left God to worship false gods and during this time Jezebel massacred the prophets of the Lord. However, Obadiah, a man who had charge of Ahab's house, who feared God, hid one hundred prophets. Obadiah meets the Prophet Elijah who tells Obadiah to contact King Ahab so that Elijah could meet with him. "Then it happened, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said to him,"Is that you, O troubler of Israel?"  And he answered, "I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father's house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD and have followed the Baals. Now therefore, send and gather all Israel to me on Mount Carmel, the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel's table." (1 Kings 18:17-19)

Ahab calls Elijah "O troubler of Israel." However, the reality was, Elijah was trouble for the devil because the devil works overtime deceiving God's people into believing that God is not true to His Word. Elijah was bringing the Word of God to Ahab and Israel. The devil has been using this tactic from the beginning of man. "Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said..." (Genesis 3:1) The devils lies can be seen as truth when God's people lack in two main areas of their life. One is a lack of the knowledge of God's Word. Hosea the Prophet tells us, "My people are being destroyed because they don't know me..." (Hosea 4:6 NLT) The best way to get to know God is through His Word. His Word is His revelation of Himself and His plan to man.

The other area is that many of God's people lack is faith. Faith is defined in two ways. The first is what is called sense knowledge faith. This is faith based on a persons senses, touch, taste, smell, see and hear. For many in the church it means they will not believe God's Word unless they see physical evidence first. It means that many will say they believe that the Bible is the infallible Word of God yet they will not act on what is says beyond what their senses can understand. Unfortunately, this is unbelief disguised as faith. The other kind of faith, the kind that pleases God (Hebrews 11:6). It is believing God's Word and acting upon it without any physical evidence, even when the circumstances dictate other.  This is what is called revelation faith. It is of the spirit not of the senses.

Look at what Elijah says as he confronts the children of God, "So Ahab sent for all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together on Mount Carmel. And Elijah came to all the people, and said,"How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him." But the people answered him not a word." (1 Kings 18:20-22) For most in the church today, if they were confronted with these words, mostly likely two things would happen. One, they would be offended and leave the church or they would do as Israel, not say a word and look for proof.

All to often, correction is taken as an offense which reveals a lack in the above mentioned areas, not knowing God and lack of faith. In Israel's case, they were waiting on physical evidence that God was God and Baal was nothing but a lie from the devil. Elijah clearly shows us that there are only two opinions, God's truth or Satan's lies. Isaiah asks, "Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?" (Isaiah 53:1) Jesus and the apostle Paul ask the same. (John 12:38; Romans 10:16) In each case, the question was aimed at God's children due to a lack of faith.

Every day believer's must ask themselves this question, "Whose report will I believe." If we truly believe the report of the Lord (God's Word) then the evidence will be our confession and actions even when we have absolutely no tangible evidence. Even when the circumstances are so insurmountable that it looks like there is not even a remote possibility of deliverance. This is the kind of  faith that moves God. This is the kind of faith that gets the job done. This is the kind of faith that pleases God and this is the kind of faith that makes the impossible possible. "Jesus said to him, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes." (Mark 9:23)

So do not get on the devils seesaw ever again. He will try to get you to falter between two opinions. Do not let him talk you out of what God said He would do. "God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?" (Numbers 23:19) When he tries to bring you a report that is contrary to God's Word, simply,  "submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you..." (James 4:7-8) "Resist him, steadfast in the faith..." (1 Peter 5:9) The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you... 

Monday, January 3, 2022

Moving Forward

 Now that 2021 is history, we need to look ahead. But for us to do this we must assess or examine ourselves to see if we have accomplished or completed the mission in which the Lord has called us to and or what, if anything that we have built. The apostle Paul tells us, "Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?" (2 Corinthians 13:5) and "For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss..." (1 Corinthians 3:11-15)

So what is the litmus test to show us these things? First, we must look at our own life. Jesus said, "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." (John 15:5) What is the fruit that has been produced in your life? First, has your knowledge of God's Word grown opening you to a greater realm of faith and revelation of spiritual things? This is probably the most important thing for believers. Throughout the Epistles we see that believers are exhorted to grow in the knowledge of God and our Lord Jesus Christ. The knowledge that believers are to come into is not a mental accent but that of revelation knowledge, that is, a full or complete knowledge which can only come by-way of the great teacher, the Spirit of Truth (John 14:17), "...The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things..." (John 14:26) "...who will guide you into all truth..." (John 16:13)

Next, have you acted upon the knowledge that you have received through God's Word? True Bible faith does not come because we believe God's Word. Believing God's Word will only build a capacity for faith. Faith is only built when we believe and act upon the Word. As we do this the Word becomes a part of our daily use being reflected in our conduct and speech. As faith grows, Satan's dominion and or deception that he tries to impose upon us weakens. Circumstances are less formidable because, fear, doubt and unbelief are destroyed. We also learn to possess and take advantage of our rights and privileges provided for us by the Father through Jesus Christ.

Now that we are believing and acting upon God's Word, growing in faith, what have we built or are building? One of the things to keep in mind when building the church (Jesus builds His church through us) is to be careful that we do not get caught in the mindset that quantity (numbers) is a true representation of fruit. Many church leaders have fallen prey to such without the slightest inclination that they have compromised quality. What this means is believing that numbers equals success can be misleading. The fact is, the success of Jesus ministry was five people at the cross, (John 19:25-26) one hundred twenty (Acts 1:15) in an upper room and finally five hundred others that saw Him after the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:6). This is the result of His three and one half years of ministry, ministering to multitudes.

There is certainly nothing wrong with a large congregation. However, when ten or twenty percent of the congregation is doing the work of ministry while the other eighty or ninety percent are consumers, then it should be apparent that there is a lack of spiritual growth or quality. When church leaders need to fill a ministry position in the church and find it necessary to petition the denomination headquarters or place an add in the local newspaper to do so, once again we see a lack of quality. This is not building with gold, silver and precious stones, but with wood, hay and straw that will eventually be tested with fire. Being a former firefighter, I can assure you that wood, hay and straw make for a blazing fire.

The church has the mandate to "Go make disciples." Disciples will do their share of the ministry that the Lord has called then to. Disciples make a strong infrastructure on which to add or multiply the number of believers. So as we have now entered 2022, let's let the Holy Spirit build the church through us using the building plan that we have, God's Word, the Bible. Let's move into a greater realm of faith, which will cause eighty or ninety percent of the believers doing the work of ministry as the other ten or twenty percent are being equipped for the work of ministry. Let us not repeat any of the previously years, but be "transformed into His image" (2 Corinthians 3:18). Let us go on to perfection (Hebrews 6:1)

Monday, December 27, 2021

A New Year, A New Chapter

There is much history concerning celebrating "New Years," In brief, New Year's Day is observed on January 1, which is the first day of the year on the modern Gregorian calendar. The Gregorian calendar was used by the Roman Empire around 45 BC and is accepted today by most countries as the calendar most used. The Romans originally dedicated New Year's Day to Janus, the god of gates, doors, and beginnings for whom the first month of the year (January) is named. New Year's Day is probably the world's most celebrated public holiday, often observed with fireworks at the stroke of midnight as the new year starts in each time zone. By Roman definition, beginnings, we can see why so many people make resolutions, that is, taking a course of action one determines or decides to do as a new beginning. Looking into New Years resolutions you would discover that on the average ninety percent of all New Years resolutions fail. Why is that? Generally speaking, Most people try to make several resolutions instead of focusing on one; People tend to set unrealistic goals; After a resolution is made, most people have no one to encourage them to see it through; Failure to adopt new behavior and thought patterns.

You may think of more reasons, but these four points are to bring us to the place to understand that the flesh is weak. One example of a New Years resolution which is probably the most popular, is weight loss. Usually, beginning in November, television, news papers, magazines, internet and other forms of media focus their advertisements on weight loss. However, every time I see an advertisement promoting weight loss, I find it interesting that they never reveal the failure rate. If you do some research, you will find that only about five percent of the people who make a resolution to loss a certain amount of weight make their goal and keep the weight off for five years or more.  Although I am using weight loss as an example, there is certainly nothing wrong with trying to loss weight if you have a weight problem. Actually, it's a good thing.

For the believer however, a so called resolution should not be a first day of the New Year thing. Believers should be determined to be a reflection of Christ in and through their life every day, but we must remember and act upon some sound advise. "And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men." (Colossians 3:23) "For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's.' (Romans 14:8) Everything in the believers life should not be to gratify ourselves or to please men per se, but to please the Lord. Solomon tells us the conclusion of all of mans vain self efforts, "...Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man's all." (Ecclesiastes 12:13)

Next, we must not try to do things through our talents and strength, but, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6). The apostle Paul reveals several things along these lines. But one of the greatest revelations that he received was through his pray to the Lord asking Him to deal with the messenger of Satan that was stirring up persecution and opposing the work that the Lord called him to. The Lord said to Paul, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." The revelation Paul received was, "Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:9-10) It is of the utmost importance that believers rely upon the Lord, His strength and abilities to accomplish any task or conquer any trial that may be encounter in this life. This is why Paul was able say, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." )Philippians 4:13)

Another area to consider is understanding who believers are in Christ. When believers come to a full knowledge of no longer being identified with who they were before they were born again and know who they are in Christ, then they will understand what it means when Jesus said, "nothing is impossible to those who believe." (Mark 9:23) Knowing who one truly is in Christ sets believers free from shame, condemnation, guilt and inferiority. They will walk in a freedom that will cause them to not make resolution but find the grace and power to overcome and live victorious. For instance, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ.." (2 Corinthians 5:17-18) The old nature, the old way of doing things, the old person that you were prior to your salvation is gone. You have been made completely new in Christ and have right standing with God.

Finally, you must have and use your own faith. What does this mean? All believers one day must come to the place where their own faith has grown and has brought them to know without doubt, "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him." (1 John 5:14-15) This is actually a realm of Christianity that few believers come to. Not because they do not desire to have this level of faith. It is mostly due to a lack of studying and meditating on God's Word as well as faithless church leaders leading people down a path that causes then to believe man's doctrines over God's Word. These things will prevent believers from having their own faith but will cause them to rely on another believers faith hoping to live a victorious Christian life.

All of these things if applied in the believers life will change their behavior and thought patterns. These things are not self imposed, by Holy Spirit inspired. The apostle Paul tells us to, "...Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." (Galatians 5:16) So you see we do not have to make New Year resolutions to only have them fail. We can live in the power and ability of God everyday through faith in Jesus Christ to overcome every obstacle of life and do the impossible where others fail. So this New Years, do not make a New Years resolution but, "...lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of you." (Philippians 3:12) And as the apostle John said, "Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers" (3 John 2) is also my prayer for you. Therefore, have a happy, healthy and prosperous new year and may the grace and peace of our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ be multiplied to you...

Monday, December 20, 2021

Unto Us A Savior is Born

The "Christmas Story" is one of the most remembered and by far the most told of any other story in human history. Not only does this story reveal the birth of Christ the Lord, but a closer look reveals the movement of creation itself in bringing forth the Savior. It is the Gospel according to Matthew and Luke that uncover the events of the "Christmas Story." So as we look at these events, we will see the infinite wisdom and love of God at work in human history for only one reason, "to open their (humanity) eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.'  (Acts 26:18)

In Luke 1:5-25 we see a priest named Zacharias chosen to minister before the Lord in the temple in the form of burning incenses. His wife's name was Elizabeth and they were both descendants of Aaron, Moses' brother and first Priest chosen by God along with his sons. (Exodus 4:14, 28:1)  Zacharias was a praying man and his prayers were heard. The angel of the Lord, Gabriel was sent to give him the good news concerning what was about to break forth into human history. However, we see that Zacharias first response was doubt. Like Zacharias, we too can get so caught up in doing our regimented Christians duties or building our own personal kingdoms, that we miss what God is about to do. Then when God reveals to us His plan we again like Zacharias do not believe. I believe that most Christians today struggle with a lack of faith for the very same reason. They pray, look for God, but when He reveals Himself doubt enters and they forget the very things that they were praying for. Most often, God revealed Himself His way not their way. Although, Zacharias doubted God's Word, what the angel had spoken still came to pass.

Next, Luke 1:26-38 records another miraculous event happening. The same angel, Gabriel appears to a virgin woman whose name is Mary who was betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph. He reveals that she is “highly favored" by God and "blessed among women" and that it would be Mary who would be used by God to bring forth the One who would be the Deliverer. Mary questions Gabriel, but his answer should cause believers to see God for who He really is, "For with God nothing will be impossible." This is an important key to having prayer answered as well as living a victorious life. Jesus says it this way, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes." (Mark 9:23) Not only are all things possible with God but He makes all thing possible to all believers who exercises faith. It is very apparent that Mary believed Gabriel's report, "Then Mary said, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her."

Although we see Mary exercising faith for the impossible, we see a different picture with Joseph, her betrothed. Again, we see doubt take the place of faith. (Matthew 1:19) However, we do see an angel of the Lord appear to Joseph in a dream explaining the situation to him, which caused Joseph to respond to what the angel had spoken. (Matthew 1:20-25) You may be thinking, "Well getting the news that your wife is with child and you have had nothing to do with it certainly would cause one to doubt." This may be somewhat true, but remember Zacharias had a visitation of an angel of the Lord but he still doubted. Also, Matthew records that Joseph was a "just man' which means, "justly, righteously, in accordance with what is right."So we have to assume that for Joseph to have this type of character, that he attended synagogue and or was versed in the the scriptures. If so he had available to him what was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel." (Isaiah 7:14) But isn't that the problem that the children of God have struggled with then and still struggle with today? For most believers, although we have the Word of God recorded in what we call the Bible, many still chose to look at the circumstances in the natural like Zacharias and Joseph and entertain doubt rather than faith in a faithful God, "that what He has promised He is also able to perform." (Romans 4:21) Although it appears that Joseph had some doubts, he still responded to the command of the angel to take Mary as his wife.

The incredible events continue to unfold. Luke 2:1-7 records that not even Caesar Augustus the top official of the human government at that time could do nothing more than to bring the prophetic Word of God spoken 700 years prior through Micah to pass, "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting." (Micah 5:2) Joseph following the orders of the government, made his way with Mary to the very town where Christ was to be born, Bethlehem.

Finally, Luke 2:8-20 shows us the culmination of the events of the birth of Christ. Again, an angel of the Lord appears. This time to "shepherds living out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night." It is recorded that the"angel stood before them and the glory of the Lord shown around them" and the angel reported the most incredible event to date in the history of humanity, "For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger." Once the angel gave this report "suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" Not only were the people of the earth moved to be participants in the ingenious plan of God (whether they knew it or not) but even the angels of God rejoiced. Think about that. The angels of God who are spirit beings were excited for humanity that now the plan of God was manifested for the salvation of humanity. Deity and humanity has now come together as Jesus Christ the Lord.

We all should see Christmas as a time for great rejoicing. A is new birth. A new birth in our love towards God and toward one another. A new birth in dedicating our lives to His service. Christmas not New Years should be a catalyst for change, hope and increased faith. A great expectation of what God can and will do through those who believe. For some, maybe we need to see Christmas through the eyes of three wealthy wise men who left their nation and traveled a great distance to behold an infant King. Three men who apparently exercised faith having only the knowledge of ancient writings and a star that guided their way. Christmas is not just about a baby in a manger, it's about the complete redemption of humanity. We should celebrate Christmas as one of the two greatest moves of God in human history. That baby, the Christ, had come into the world to save humanity from Satan's power, to reconcile God to man and man to God for us to have "life and to have it more abundantly." So, as the song goes, "JOY to the world, the LORD is come!" Have a wonderful and very "MERRY CHRISTMAS."

Monday, December 13, 2021

Choose Wisely

One of the greatest acts of deliverance recorded in the Bible is Israel's exodus from Egypt. There are several estimations of how many people left in the exodus. We are not given any exact number until the first census of Israel was taken "...on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt." (Numbers 1:1) However, this census was limited to, "...all the congregation of the children of Israel, by their families, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of names, every male individually, from twenty years old and above, all who are able to go to war in Israel. You and Aaron shall number them by their armies." (Numbers 1:2-3) This total came to "All who were numbered were six hundred and three thousand five hundred and fifty."(Numbers 1:46) Keep in mind that the census was taken fourteen months after the exodus and was limited to men "twenty years old and above, all who are able to go to war." Notice that the men chosen were all who were able to go to war. Some have suggested that there were some men unfit for war due to some sort of aliment. This is a wrong assumption. "He (God) also brought them out with silver and gold, and there was none feeble among His tribes."  (Psalms 105:37) This tells us there was not one person who lacked in physical or mental strength. They were not frail or weak in any way.

Many have used formulas to calculate the total number of people that God delivered from the bondage of Egypt but we do not know the exact number. Based on most researchers the average number comes to approximately two million people. Although God Himself was leading Israel, He chose Moses and set him over this multitude of people to lead them on a journey to the "Promised Land." During Israel's journey through the wilderness there were faced with various trails. Although they witnessed their miraculous deliverance and Gods provision in the wilderness unbelief ran rampant among the people, even the great man Moses had his doubts. One of these happened at the Red Sea.

Israel had come to the Red Sea with impassable mountains on their left and right and the army of Pharaoh behind them. It seemed as though there was no place to go, there was no escape.In the natural it looked quite disastrous, but what God spoke to Moses is a key to living a victorious life. "And Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace."  Exodus 14:13-14) At first glance it appears that Moses is trying to calm the people by assuring them that God would save them, but look what God says to Moses. 

"And the Lord said to Moses, "Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward. But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea." (Exodus 14:15-16) God is actually rebuking Moses for unbelief. Look carefully at these verse again and note that which is highlighted. The Bible record numerous times that God used Moses' rod to perform miracles, and still Moses was unsure.God did not say to Moses, stretch forth your hand and I will divide the sea. No, God said, "stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it." God was calling Moses to exercise his faith.

 Jesus' disciples were faced with a similar situation. "Now it happened, on a certain day, that He got into a boat with His disciples. And He said to them, "Let us cross over to the other side of the lake." And they launched out. But as they sailed He fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, "Master, Master, we are perishing!" Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm. But He said to them, "Where is your faith?" (Luke 8:22-25).

In both situation the same thing happened. God expected Moses and the disciples of Jesus to exercise their  faith, but their unbelief put the responsibility of the situation on God (Jesus). This happens to many in the church today. God has given the church His Word, His promises, the Name of Jesus, authority and the Holy Spirit, yet, when a tough situation appears, many believers cry out to God to do something, when in fact, He has given the church these five wonderful gifts to use against any of life's circumstances. This has nothing to do with petitioning God in prayer. All believers are to constantly pray. It simply means that believers are to step up as children of God and uphold and enforce what God has already given to the church. For instance, Jesus said, "And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover." (Mark 16:17-18)

Based on what Jesus said, believers do not have to ask God to cast out a demon for us or to heal the sick for us. We simply follow the Lords command and do these things in the Name of Jesus. In the Name of Jesus, demon come out. In the Name of Jesus, be healed. This is the place where Moses and the disciples failed as seen in the previously two passages above. It is also the place where most believers fail. Instead of believing and acting on God's Word, many let unbelief have the ascendancy in their life and then wonder why things do not seem to happen they way they had hoped. Jesus tells us, "Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them." (Mark 11:22-24)

Now your faith may not be at the level to believe God in this way, but as you feed on God's Word your faith will grow. "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17) So don't be discouraged, don't quit and don't speak a negative confessions. Know that your faith can grow and you will be used of God to do what seems to be impossible. "Jesus said, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes." (Mark 9:23)

Monday, December 6, 2021

Standing on Top of the Mountains

King David was what could be called a warring king. He, like everyone else was not free from the struggles of life. However, one thing he did know that many believers fail to take advantage of, he knew where to turn to be strengthened and encouraged. He knew the source for overcoming the struggles of life. "I will love You, O Lord my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the Lord who is worthy to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies." (Psalms 18:1-3) No matter what David faced, he knew that the Lord was always with him and would never leave him to fend for himself. Many of the Psalms that David wrote reflected his struggles, yet he still knew where his source of life came from.

On one occasion, at a young age, David face what we might consider a mountain in his life. This mountain had a name, Goliath. Goliath was a champion warrior of the Philistines who was of great stature. The Bible shows us that he was almost ten feet tall. He wore a helmet and his body armor weighed one hundred twenty five pounds. He also carried a spear with a iron spearhead that weighed fifteen pounds. The sight of Goliath and the threats that he made were enough to cause the army of Israel under King Saul to become dismayed and greatly afraid. David's father Jesse called for David to take some provisions to his others son's who were with the army. David met with his brothers, saw Goliath and took courage in the Lord. He was not about to sit by and allow Goliath bring reproach upon God's people. With five smooth stones in his shepherds bag and a sling he faced Goliath.

David was not facing Goliath alone, no, the Lord was with him. "Then David said to the Philistine, "You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord's, and He will give you into our hands." (1 Samuel 17:45-47)

Every believer one time or another will face a situation that looks like a Goliath. The key to overcoming the Goliath is not to let worry, anxiety or fear have place because they compound the situation. Jesus tells us, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." (Matthew 6:34) We are not to worry because "...our heavenly Father knows that we have need..." (Matthew 6:32) The Apostle Paul tells us, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7) Paul also tells us, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7)

Although David lived one thousand years before Christ appeared on earth and was under the Mosaic Law, he still exercised faith in God for everything. The conclusion of David's encounter with Goliath shows us that David did not wait for the battle to come to him but, "when the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, that David hurried and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. Then David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone; and he slung it and struck the Philistine in his forehead, so that the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the earth. So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. But there was no sword in the hand of David. Therefore David ran and stood over the Philistine, took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it." (1 Samuel 17:48-51)

Faith in God's ability is what put David over. The writer of Hebrews records, "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6) Without unwavering confidence in God, His Word, His wisdom, His ability and His promises it is impossible to please Him. The other way that we can say this is, God is not pleased with the person who has no confidence in Him; who doubts His Word, His ability and promises or does not believe that his ways are right.  Solomon tells us to "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." ( Proverbs 3:5-6) The Apostle Peter says it this way, "Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully." (1 Peter 5:7 AMP)

For many, faith seems to be somewhat obscure, unattainable and or limited to only a few believers. However, faith is quite simple. Also know that God has given it to every believer, "...God has dealt to each one a measure of faith." (Romans 12:3) That problem that most believers seem to experience, is they do not constantly feed on God's Word so their faith can grow. "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17) For most, we feed our body multiple times each day for strength and nourishment but our recreated spirit is neglected because most believers do not feed on God's Word. This is one reason why so many believers have weak faith. Another problem is believers having a double confession. One confession is upon the absolute truth of God's Word and then when things do not immediately change, the confession turns the opposite way, refuting God's Word.

I want to encourage you that as we have seen, every believer has been given faith from God. (Romans 12:3) Do not let discouragement try to over take you in the midst of what seems to be an insurmountable circumstance, instead, "...hold fast the confession of our faith without wavering, for He who promised is faithful." (Hebrews 10:23) PTL