Monday, January 4, 2021

Jump Up and Shout

Every season of each year brings various sporting events, whether, baseball, football, soccer, hockey, tennis and so on. Events like these are considered team or individual sports. That mean that there are two different teams or individuals competing against one another. It also means that there are spectators that are cheering for their favorite team or individual. When the contest is close or especially when those who are competing score points, the spectators most likely jump up and shout. For the most part, there is nothing wrong with having a favorite team or person that you want to see win the contest. But as Christians, do we tend to shout more for achievements of people who have no ability to save, heal or deliver another person from the bondage of sin and Satan than we do for the Lord and Savior of all men? I believe the best way to answer this question would be to take some Sunday's and visit several church congregations to observe the peoples response or actions during worship.

Praise and worship is a powerful way for believers to express their humble adoration as well as their jubilant admiration for all that God is and what He has done through Jesus Christ. Jesus is the champion of all champions. No one in the history of mankind has ever gained such an incredible victory or as it were, scored more points than He, and yet most Christians approach to praise and worship is just singing nice songs. We disguise our lack of passionate, energetic, heartfelt praise and worship by saying "we are showing our reverence toward Him" and yet without hesitation, will clap and shout aloud at a sporting event. Case in point. I recently attended what was called "Grandparents Day" at a Christian School. There were about 300 in attendance. The students sang numerous songs with lyrics about Gods magnificence, splendor and glory. Song of the greatness of the Lord Jesus Christ and yet the atmosphere was quiet and reserved. Even at the end of each song, with the exception of myself, there was no shouts of "amen, praise the Lord, hallelujah" or any such thing. 

One of the greatest accounts recorded in the Bible that reveals uninhibited praise and worship is found in 2 Samuel 6 and 1 Chronicles 13, "And so it was, when those bearing the ark of the LORD had gone six paces, that he sacrificed oxen and fatted sheep. Then David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting and with the sound of the trumpet." (2 Samuel 6:13-15) "Then David and all Israel played music before God with all their might, with singing, on harps, on stringed instruments, on tambourines, on cymbals, and with trumpets." (1 Chronicles 13:8) Try to imagine what was taking place. Israel, led by David the king were transporting the Ark of the Covenant which included the Mercy Seat, to the City of David. To Israel, this sacred piece of furniture represented the presence of God. 

Notice, "David danced before the Ark with all his might while all Israel played music before God with all their might." This should strike a chord in our heart. Again, the Ark represented the presence of God not the indwelling, empowering presence of God that comes to all those who confess with their mouth the Lordship of Jesus Christ, receive Him as their Savior and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Think about it. Jesus had not yet become mans substitute for sin, therefore not one person at this time was born again and filled with the Spirit, yet the leader of Israel, King David thought nothing of dancing before Israel and the Ark with all of His might while Israel played music with all their might. 

Some may say that it was a cultural thing, but I contend it was a God thing. They were celebrating "The God Who Sees" (Genesis 16:13), "Almighty God" (Genesis 17:1), "The Lord Who Provides" (Genesis 22:14), "The God Who Heals" (Exodus 15:26), "The Lord Who Sanctifies" (Exodus 31:13), "The God Who Keeps His Word and Makes it Good" (Numbers 23:19), "The Lord Who is Peace" (Judges 6:24), "The Almighty Who is Excellent in Power, in Judgment, and Abundant Justice, Who does not afflict" (Job 37:23), "The Lord the Shepherd" (Psalm 23:1), "The Lord Who is Good" (Psalm 34:8) "The Lord Who Delivers" (Psalm 34:17), "The Lord Who is Merciful and Gracious" (Psalm 103:8), "The Lord Who is full of Compassion" (Psalm 145:8). 

Of course if we do not know God's true nature and character, as revealed in the above scriptures which are just a few examples of many, then it becomes difficult to let go and worship Him as Israel did. However, let's keep in mind, "For I am the LORD, I do not change..." (Malachi 3:6), "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." (Hebrews 13:8), "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning." (James 1:17) God has not, nor will He ever change. In fact He reveals His will, nature, character, purposes and plan through Jesus Christ more than the Law or the Prophets or any one else (Hebrews 1:1-4). 

There are numerous Bible references revealing the presence and power of God released when His people truly praise and worship Him. The picture painted in Revelation 4 - 5 of worship in heaven before God is a tremendous sneak preview of what the saints will be doing for eternity. So, if we are going to shout at the achievement of men, then it is time to shed our fears and inhibitions and as the children of God, lift up our voices and shout even louder to Him Who sits on the Throne and unto the Lamb. Someone shout, "PRAISE THE LORD."          

Monday, December 28, 2020

Resolute in Christ

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 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. HAPPY NEW YEAR...

Monday, December 21, 2020

What A Great Story

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 wonderful 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." Have a wonderful and very "MERRY CHRISTMAS."

Monday, December 14, 2020

More Than a Conqueror

A Gladiator was a man during the time of ancient Rome who was trained to fight with various weapons  for two purposes. One purpose was to fight against other men or wild animals in an arena and the other purpose was for defending or opposing a cause. On May 5, 2000 an epic historical drama film entitled "Gladiator" was released in the United States. In short, the film portrays a fictional character, a Roman general who was loyal to the emperor, who is betrayed when the emperor's ambitious son who murders his father the emperor, seizes the throne, has the generals family murdered and attempts to have the general killed also. However, the general escapes certain death, is taken into custody by slave traders, sold and forced to fight in the Colosseum in Rome as a gladiator Through all of this, the general had a cause, to make right all that had been stolen from Him. 

The Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul gives us some great insight in the letter written to the church at Ephesus concerning the dress of a Roman soldier whose dress was also worn by gladiators. Paul uses the natural to reveal an application for the believer to use in the spiritual, "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 6:10-12) 

The believer is not to rely on his own abilities but must fully rely upon Gods ability in order to withstand the schemes of the devil, "...that we should not trust in ourselves but in God..." (2 Corinthians 1:9). Paul reminds us that the wrestling that is set against believers is not in the natural realm but in the spiritual. According to Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, the word wrestle means "to sway."  This is very key to understanding what Paul is presenting, because most believers are under the influence that they are to war or fight against the devil. In fact, to sway sheds much light on the believers position as he/she withstands the schemes of the devil. In other words, if we let him, the devil will come against us and try to sway us away from faith and into fear, doubt and unbelief. However, look what Paul continues to tells us,  "Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." (Ephesians 6:13) Believers are to stand their ground in faith. When we do, the devil cannot sway us from trusting God nor cause us to question the integrity of God's Word. 

When dealing with the forces of darkness believers must keep in mind what Jesus did through His death, burial and resurrection, "The hostile princes and rulers He (Jesus) shook off from Himself, and boldly displayed them as His conquests, when by the Cross He triumphed over them." (Colossians 2:15) and, "Since then the children referred to are all alike sharers in perishable human nature, He (Jesus) Himself also, in the same way, took on Him a share of it, in order that through death He might render powerless him who had authority over death, that is, the Devil." (Hebrews 2:14) Jesus has conquered the devil and his gang. He has rendered them powerless. Yes, we are in a battle. Yes, we are to put on the armor of God, but it is against principalities and powers that Jesus has defeated through His death, burial and resurrection, "And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all." (Ephesians 1:22-23) 

The church is the Body of Christ and the principalities and powers are under the believers feet! So the believers focus is not fighting with a defeated enemy, but focus is to be on building and strengthening our relationship with Christ as we stand in victory over the adversary. The believers position when standing against the schemes of the devil is one of victory, "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 15:57) The believer should see himself as one who stands triumphant in Christ, "Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ..." (2 Corinthians 2:14)

Paul tells us what the real fight believes are to engaged, "Fight the good fight of faith..." (1 Timothy 6:12) When believers understand what the real battle is and begin to appropriate what Jesus did between the cross and being seated at the right hand of Majesty on high, we will understand that we wrestle the forces of darkness by our faith in God's Word preventing them from trying to sway us from faith into living in doubt, fear and unbelief. Why is this a high priority on the devils list of lies and deception? He want to keep us in the the realm where we exercise sense knowledge faith, that is, relying on our senses and not revelation faith, that is, the kind of faith that is spiritual that believes even when there is no physical evidence. Sense knowledge faith relies solely upon what our senses can understand which is the thing hat has kept most believers (including most church leaders) believing things that is contrary to the Word of God. This is the very thing that the apostle Thomas did, even after living and traveling with Jesus for three years. He could only believe what his sense could understand. (John 20:24-25) 

Now concerning the armor of God, Paul continues, "Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." (Ephesians 6:14-17) Every piece of armor is important and has its place, but notice that Paul use the words "above all" in describing the last three pieces of armor. First, the "shield of faith." Faith is the channel that quenches, extinguishes, suppresses ALL the schemes of the devil. A gladiator would use his shield to suppress his opponents aggression toward him. Faith not only pleases God (Hebrews 11:6) but it also releases the power of God for the believer to do the impossible. (Matthew 17:20) 

Next, Paul tells us to "take the helmet of salvation." Naturally, the helmet would protect a gladiators head from death dealing blows, but think of the helmet of salvation for the believer from this perspective, "That we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting." (Ephesians 4:14) Paul also tells us, "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:3-5) Believers must keep renewing their minds with the Word of God. (Romans 12:2, Ephesians 4:23). The Word of God will separate false doctrine from sound doctrine as well as expose arguments and renegade thoughts that are contrary to the truth. 

Finally, Paul tells us to take, "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." This was the gladiators only offense against his opponent. The believer is to use the Word of God, to uphold and enforce everything that Jesus has accomplished through His death, burial and resurrection. "For the Word of God is living and powerful..." (Hebrews 4:12) Jesus knew this and shows us the standard for striking down the schemes of the Devil. In Matthew 4 and Luke 4 Jesus is tempted for forty days and night by the devil. Jesus did not war against the devil, He simply stood His ground and use the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. In the three temptations recorded, Jesus put the devil in his place by saying, "It is written." After the forty days of being tempted of the devil were completed, the Bible records, "Then the devil departed from Him..." (Matthew 4:11) 

If you are struggling with any issue that the devil is trying to hold you in bondage to, you can be free from every one of them and walk in the liberty that Jesus has purchased for you. Be a gladiator with a cause. No longer let the devil cheat you out of your inheritance in Christ. Begin to exercise your faith, stand your ground and "hold fast the confession of our faith without wavering, for He who promised is faithful." (Hebrews 10:23) God's Word never fails!!!

Monday, December 7, 2020

Affirmed Forever

From the time that the Lord first called Abram (Genesis 12:1-4) at age seventy five and for the next twenty five years the Lord continued to affirm and reaffirm him. (Genesis 13:14-18, 15:1-5, 17:1-27, 22:11-18) To affirm someone is to, assert strongly and publicly by declaring as a fact, one's support for another by validating, upholding and defending them. Everyone needs affirmation. Even Jesus Christ the Son of God was affirmed, "When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying,"This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." (Matthew 3:16-17) Jesus was affirmed by His Father at the launch of His ministry on earth as the Son of Man and "We declare to you glad tidings, that promise which was made to the fathers. God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: You are My Son, today I have begotten You." (Acts 13:32-33) He was affirmed again by the Father at the fulfilling of His ministry on earth when He was resurrected from the dead. 

Many in the church today struggle with their identity and affirmation. I myself also have struggled with the same because my natural father passed away when I was young and I did not become a believer until twelve years later. However, at a conference in 2002 the Holy Spirit spoke to me to go forward and receive a father's affirmation from a well known man of God who was thirty years my senior and had been in the ministry for fifty years. When I received the father's affirmation I truly felt validated and from that point forward was able to receive my Heavenly Father's affirmation through His Word as to how He truly sees me and my identification with Him through Jesus Christ. It is truly liberating when you absolutely know with out wavering that, "...He made us accepted in the Beloved." (Ephesians 2:10) 

So, why do believers struggle with who they truly are in Christ.  Look what happen to the Lord after the Father affirmed Him, "Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  and when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread....Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down..." (Matthew 4:1-3, 5) Satan attacked Jesus’ affirmation or identity by basically saying, "If you really are who you say you are then prove it." Jesus knew who He was so He did not have to prove it to Satan.  

Paul tells us, "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles (schemes) of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 6:10-12) To define what a scheme of the devil is from a biblical perspective, it is a large-scale systematic plan or arrangement for attaining some particular object or putting a particular idea into effect in a devious way with the intent to do something illegal or wrong. Paul encourages the believer to be strong and courageous by totally relying on God’s strength, abilities and promises. Believers are not to rely on natural things for the warfare at hand, but God has spiritual armament to triumph over the devious, illegal systematic plans and ideas of the devil. 

Paul reiterates this very thing in 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 but reveals something else, "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled." Paul tells us again that God has spiritual armament for pulling down strongholds (fortress, or strong fortification) These strongholds are everything that opposes God's Word, such as philosophies, fantasies, reasoning and false doctrines. These things are all demonically influenced and if unchecked will attach themselves to our soul (mind, will and emotions) When a person thinks about something long enough or has repetitive thoughts, a belief system is  formed. These beliefs when held on to long enough become mental strongholds. Mental strongholds are powerful because they hide the truth and can shape a person into a false identity. 

One of Satan’s primary schemes is to keep believers from knowing who they truly are in Christ which keeps them from the call of God in their life, thereby defeating their purpose. This scheme also causes believers to feel inadequate or inferior because it fills the mind with sin consciousness. The following are some examples of how this diabolical scheme can get place with believers....

  • Being hurt in any relationship;
  • Being abandoned by a parent, spouse, loved one or close friend; 
  • Physical or mental abuse; 
  • Hurt by another believer especially a church leader; 
  • Receive(d) constant criticism; 
  • Have faced a traumatic situation;
  • Experience numerous failures; etc.
All of these can become thoughts that produce feelings of condemnation, guilt, shame, inferiority, or inadequacy. If you are dealing with any of the things mentioned above and they are producing these feelings, condemnation, guilt, shame, inferiority, or inadequacy, then know that God's Word has exceedingly abundant great news for you! Proverbs 4:22 tells us that God's Word is, "life and health (medicine) to all our flesh." So begin a daily time of reading and meditating on God's Word. Declare what God has done for you in Christ; How the Father see you in Christ; What the Holy Spirit through God's Word is doing in you; and what God can do through you by His Holy Spirit who is in you. When we come to truly know who we are in Christ we will have no problem accepting ourselves with all of our flaws, our strengths and weaknesses, our successes and failures without condemnation, guilt, shame or inferiority because through God's Word we will see that our heavenly Father truly loves us and is not ashamed to call us His children.

Monday, November 30, 2020

Hold Fast to Your Confession

Word games are a favorite among many. They not only provide fun entertainment, but they also provide a learning experience. Some of the top word games today are, Scrabble, Boggle, Typo, Balderdash, Upword, Word Search and the ever favorite, Crosswords. Though word game may provide various benefits, how we use our words has a great impact upon ourselves and others. Solomon says it this way, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit." (Proverbs 18:21). 

Many believers today live with a sense of defeat and failure not realizing that the words coming from their mouth are most likely the reason for this, especially if their words are negative in content. Look what the writer of Hebrews says concerning God's Word, "who (Jesus) being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, (the Father) and upholding all things by the word of His power..." (Hebrews 1:3) Notice that it does not say "the power of His word" but "the word of His power." In other words, God's Word is His power or as Hebrews also say, "For the word of God is living and powerful..." (Hebrews 4:12) 

It has been said by many, that Christianity is called "the great confession" However, far to many believers are defeated in life because they believe and confess the wrong things. Again, looking to the Book of Hebrews it  says, "Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession." and "Let us hold fast the confession of our faith without wavering, for He who promised is faithful." (Hebrews 4:14, 10:23) Believers are to "hold fast our confession." But what confession are we to hold fast to? We are to hold fast to our confession of the absolute integrity of God's Word as well as hold fast to the confession of the finished redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Concerning holding fast our confession to the absolute integrity of God's Word, let's consider the following...

  • Psalms 89:34 My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips. 
  • Psalms 119:89 Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven.
  • Psalms 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
  • Isaiah 55:11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
  • John 17:17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth
  • Hebrews 11:3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.
These are but a few passages of scripture that reveal the power that is released when believers stand on the integrity of God's Word. God has promised to make His Word come to pass, all we have to do is speak it and believe that it will never fail but get the job done every time. Concerning holding fast to the confession of the finished redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ let us consider the following...
  • Romans 5:1-2 Therefore, having been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
  • Philippians 4:19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
  • 1 Peter 2:24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness by whose stripes you were healed.

These too are but a few passages of scripture revealing the finished redemptive work of Christ and the believers legal right to these incredible promises. Both of these areas of making confession require only one thing, faith, the rest is up to God. Let's face it, every person who walks by faith will have testing, but keep in mind they do not come from the Father, they come from the adversary, (James 1:13, 1 Peter5:8) The devil does not want the Word of God to have the ascendancy in your life. He knows that when believers live by the Word of God, they know how to resist him on every level of life in the same manner that Jesus did. This is freedom, this is life, this is rest, because this is Christianity. 

"My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; For they are life to those who find them, and health (medicine) to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put perverse lips far from you."  (Proverbs 4:20-24)

Monday, November 23, 2020

Many Thanks

Thanksgiving Day, in the United States, is a holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. Thanksgiving was celebrated nationally in 1789, after a proclamation by George Washington. It has been celebrated as a federal holiday every year since 1863, when, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens." As a federal and public holiday in the United States, Thanksgiving is one of the major holidays of the year. The event that Americans commonly call the "First Thanksgiving" was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World at the Plymouth Plantation in 1621. According to historic accounts, this feast lasted three days, and it was attended by 90 Native Americans. It was first and foremost celebrated as a religious observance of the blessings of God upon the early settlers.  

Although the colonist did not call the celebration Thanksgiving, it was the first corn harvest proved successful by the new colonists. After being plagued with sickness and death, there was definitely something to be thankful to God for. So, Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit. While no record exists of the historic banquet’s exact menu, the Pilgrim chronicler Edward Winslow wrote in his journal that Governor Bradford sent four men on a “fowling” mission in preparation for the event, and that the Wampanoag guests arrived bearing five deer. Historians have suggested that many of the dishes were likely prepared using traditional Native American spices and cooking methods. The meal, most likely, did not feature pies, cakes or other desserts, which have become a hallmark of contemporary celebrations. Today, in the United States, Thanksgiving is the most traveled holiday of the year. 

In many American households, the Thanksgiving celebration has lost much of its original religious significance. Instead, it now centers on cooking and sharing a bountiful meal with family and friends. Although turkey has become all but synonymous with the holiday, it may or may not have been on the menu of this inaugural feast in 1621. According to the National Turkey Federation, today, nearly 90 percent of Americans eat some type of foul, whether roasted, baked or deep-fried, on Thanksgiving Day. Other traditional foods include stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, a variety of vegetables and pumpkin pie. Volunteering is also a common Thanksgiving Day activity. Communities, especially churches, often hold food drives and host free dinners for the less fortunate. Parades have also become an integral part of the holiday in cities and towns across the United States. Although these things may have some redeeming qualities, there is one thing that has certainly corrupted Thanksgiving Day which began Thanksgiving Day 2014. Unfortunately, most department stores and retailers have permitted greed to erode this day of giving thanks to become a day of making a profit.  

Although there has been a departure in the United States of the true meaning and reason for celebrating Thanksgiving, and although there may be some who disagree that Thanksgiving was a religious event, believers should never let any sector of society deprive us of celebrating Thanksgiving from its original roots, celebrating the wonderful works of God. The Apostle Paul tells us, "In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (1 Thessalonians 5:18) Believers are to maintain an attitude of gratitude. We should always remember what the Lord Jesus Christ did for humanity. The fact that He left the glory of heaven to take on the form of a man (Philippians 2:5-8), becoming sin with our sin, sick with our sicknesses (Isaiah 53:4-6, 10) and a curse for all (Galatians 3:13), should cause every believe to be extremely thankful and to greatly rejoice. To rejoice is a spontaneous, unsustainable feeling of jubilance; a feeling so strong that it finds expression in some external act, clapping, dancing, shouting. It means to be exceedingly joyful. 

Even in our prayer time believers are to be thankful, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God." (Philippians 4:6) "Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men." (1 Timothy 2:1) So, during this festive holiday, let us truly offer the Lord the fruit of our lips from hearts of thanksgiving, how great and wonderful He is. Let us give Him thanks for the wonderful blessings that He has given and continues to give. May the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ fill you with thanksgiving everyday...