04 October, 2012

Reasons Why

Last week, I addressed the issue of trials in the Christian life. God's sovereignty does not imply that every moment of our lives is a direct result of His divine plan. Religious ignorance and/or misunderstanding has led too many believers to unintentionally 'blame" God for tragedies. While it is true that our Father "allows" moments of temptation or trial, He is not their Author. The Word makes it abundantly clear that Jesus came in order to rescue us from all the devices of Satan. He did not wrest authority and the power of sin and death from Satan in order to sit upon the Throne and use that power against His own people. He is never out to harm us, but rather to redeem us from all harm. We find evidence for this throughout both Old and New Testaments:

 You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.
Only with your eyes shall you look,
And see the reward of the wicked.
Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place, 
No evil shall befall you, 
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling
~Psalm 91:5-10

No grave trouble will overtake the righteous,
But the wicked shall be filled with evil.
~Proverbs 12:21

Whoever observes the [king’s] command will experience no harm...
~Ecclesiastes 8:5a, Amplified

No weapon formed against you shall prosper,
And every tongue which rises against you in judgment
You shall condemn.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
And their righteousness is from Me,”
Says the Lord.
~Isaiah 54:17

Behold! I have given you authority and power to trample upon serpents and scorpions, and [physical and mental strength and ability] over all the power that the enemy [possesses]; and nothing shall in any way harm you.
~Luke 10:19, Amplified

[But] he who commits sin [who practices evildoing] is of the devil [takes his character from the evil one], for the devil has sinned (violated the divine law) from the beginning. The reason the Son of God was made manifest (visible) was to undo (destroy, loosen, and dissolve) 
the works the devil [has done].
~1John 3:8, Amplified  

With this much Biblical evidence telling us that it is God's will for us to be free from harm, why is it that we still go through so much turmoil in our lives? Obviously, it cannot be a result of anything that the Lord has concocted, or else the totality of Scripture would be rendered a lie. Clearly there are other factors involved. Why are Christian people suffering with poverty, sickness, depression, addictions and whatever else the enemy can contrive? There are many factors, none of them being God, Himself. Though, as we saw last week, He may allow a trial for a short season, He does not allow more than we can handle. And nothing should by any means harm any of us. So, what is causing Christians hard times?

1) Life. We shouldn't be surprised at tests and trials in our life, because of the brokenness of the world around us. Jesus told us we would experience these times in this life, but He never sad we should be suffering as a result of them. He said, "I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]" John 16:33, Amplified.

Here we see that promise of no harm once again. Harm is not a part of the plans and purposes of God for His people. That runs completely contrary to religious teaching, but that is what the Bible clearly tells us. Jesus is not out to harm us, but "life" is. Due to the fallen nature of this world and its mode of operation, we can expect to encounter times of difficulty. That is why it is essential that we stay "in Christ." The promises listen above in Psalm 91 are all a result of remaining in the shadow of the presence of God at all times. 

Jesus has deprived these seasons of the power to harm us. If we are suffering harm, something is wrong.  

2.) The Word. Being a disciple of the Lord Jesus puts one in direct opposition to this world and its system. Jesus told us that the world would hate us as a result of following Him. we can expect trials and persecution for being the people of God. Obviously, God is not going to persecute His own people, so we know that this form of human trial or tribulation is not from Him, either. 

However, Jesus not only informs us that this form of persecution is possible, He prays over each and everyone of us, that we would be more than able to overcome (and even be rescued from) these trials: "I have given and delivered to them Your word (message) and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world [do not belong to the world], just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that You will take them out of the world, but that You will keep and protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world (worldly, belonging to the world), [just] as I am not of the world." (John 17:14-16, Amplified). Again we see Jesus praying that we be kept from harm. 

But that protection is only possible when we stay in position to walk in it. Which leads us to...

3.) Our Choices. Our actions have consequences. As has been stated, the sovereignty of God does not mean that He can force us to do whatever He wants, whenever He wants. Not every moment of our lives is a moment designed by God. He is not the Universal "Puppet Master" stringing our lives along against our wills. He will not violate our free will. If God had the ability to make us do whatever He wanted, the entire human race would already be redeemed and in Heaven by now (1Timothy 2:24). It is our actions and our choices that can result in our inability to walk in the full redemption and protection that is ours by right as children of God. Proverbs 26:2 says, "As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come." (KJV). This means that no curse is a result of coincidence or accident. Jesus came to redeem us from the curse (Galatians 3:14), so the cause cannot be Him. The cause must lie on our end.

This is not meant to be a moment of fear or condemnation. It is simply meant to cause us to take a moment and evaluate ourselves. What is opening a door from Satan in each of our lives? 

Scripture tells us that fear is a major contributing factor. The story of Job shows us that. Unlike most religious teaching, it was Job's fear that opened a hole in barrier of protection that God had placed around him (Job 3:25). Fear is the opposite of faith; and James 1:8 tells us that when we operate in fear and doubt, we are no longer able to receive anything from the Lord -  including protection from harm. 

Relying on ourselves and our own devices can be detrimental to us. Proverbs 14:12 says that there are ways that seem right to us, but that they result in death. Simply relying on ourselves can kill us. Our healthcare, financial strategies, education, etc., are all well and good, if accompanied by Godly wisdom. The Scripture tells us that God's ways cannot be discerned and understood by our own human understanding (1Corinthians 2:14-16). God has given us His Word to tell us how to live - and there is a good chance some of it will come across as insane (Abraham, anyone?).

Offense is deadly. 1John 2:10 says that when we walk in unconditional love - the love that has already been placed in us by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:29) - then there is no cause for us to stumble. However, when we walk in offense, always holding grudges, being easily hurt and upset by people, we walk straight into Satan's playground. He has been doing a job on the Church for centuries. We gripe and fight all the time. Most people will tell you that Church people are the worst people they have ever known. Our desire to live Godly has caused us to be easily affronted by people who do not "fit the mold." 

We are too easily offended, and it is playing right into the enemies hands, because...

4.) Satan's still shooting! This fight is not over. Though victory is already ours, our adversary will never quit. And he fights dirty. He is the author of sickness, disease, poverty, depression, division, and every other human tragedy imaginable. And he is not on God's payroll...

We are taught to fight the fight of faith (1Timothy 6:12) using the shield of faith (Ephesians 6:16). Settle this in your mind now: Satan will never stop shooting at you. Hard times are not God trying to teach a lesson. He has His Word to do that. If all these trials and tribulations were from God, why would He teach us to fight Him? He is not the Author of the trials in our life; He is the provider of the weaponry necessary to conquer the trials in our life. His Word is our weapon (Hebrews 4:12). We are to stand (daily), declaring and believing His Word, and then we will be safe. 

James 4:7 tells us to resist the devil and he will flee. When? Whenever he gets tired. We must learn to outlast the enemy with our confessions of faith. That is how we overcome. We must never quit using the Word and our faith in resisting the trials and tribulations in our lives. We should never accept anything but what the Bible promises us. The Scripture never promises us that God will harm us. It never tells us that He is manipulating our circumstances to be difficult in order to teach us a lesson. These are lies. 


Understand, this is not an exhaustive, end-all list of causes for tough times (I didn't address many aspects of sin, or the stupidity of other people). However, it is solid starting point for us to begin changing the way we think about all of the tests and trials of the Christian life. We need to adjust our way of thinking about hard times. God isn't behind our sufferings. The Scripture tells us to "test the spirits," to see if what we hear is from God. I have heard too many testimonies from people about God that do not line-up with His Word. Scripture tells us that trials may come as a result of our love for Jesus. Trials come, because we are moving forward in our life with God and Satan is out to stop us. People are jerks sometimes. Trials come to refine our faith - meaning we should use it to overcome, not simply lay down and say "God is good." Fight back. And win.

P.S. Happy birthday, mom! :-D

Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us.
 ~Romans 8:37

02 October, 2012

Chill out. Trust God

"Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?" ~Matthew 6:25

If you are anything like me, you have had the issue. You mind wanders around with all the stuff you want to do, or need to do, or can't do, etc. When you are doing one thing you are thinking about another. You switch to the other, but you then cannot stop thinking about what you were doing. You struggle to fall asleep at night, as you mind constantly wanders to everything you have on your plate. Budgets, grocery lists, work commitments, church functions, homework, your kid's homework, your pets, your cars, your relatives (oi vey...) - the list can be endless sometimes.  Though we are told to be good stewards of all that we have in our life, we are also explicitly instructed by God Himself not to worry about these things.

I am not saying that we should not be concerned with the comings and goings of daily life. I am not suggesting that we wander aimlessly around, assuming God will pick up the slack for our laziness. What I am saying is this: take no thought. You have not been equipped by your Maker to take on the burden of your provision. You are not designed to be the provider of your household. It is not laid upon you to "take care of yourself." That title belongs to God. That is His "job description." And He is exceptionally good at what He does. Therefore, if you are not in a place where you are capable of addressing a situation, just shut your brain off. At bed time, go to sleep. You cannot tackle any of life's situations while lying in bed, so don't try. Sleep. What did Jesus say? "Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?" (verse 27). You can't. So stop! 

The money may be tight. So what? Jesus promises provision (and not crappy, holes in the roof, stale bread, provision like religion teaches. He promises excellent provision, the likes of which you can't even dream up). You may in a hospital bed with a bad report. So what? God is The Healer (and not just sometimes, depending on the mood He is in, or the "plan" that He has. As Healer, He heals - always). You may be stressed. Stop! He promised you He would supply everything you need, and that He would always fight on your behalf. What is there to be stressed about when God controls the situation? 

This is not a holy suggestion, or a nice idea found in an ancient, religious text. This is a command from the mouth of the One Whom we all call Lord, Master and King. His Word is law. Every statement of faith in every church in America says that the bible is the final authority for the life of a believer. Therefore as a disciple of the Lord Jesus, you do not have the right to worry. It is not an option for any of us; because worry removes things from God's Hands and places them back in ours. Our limited abilities hinder us from the best that God has in store for us. We are instructed (nay, commanded) to remove the burden of worry from our lives, so that our God is free to handle them the right way. He may do it all on His own, and He may have a role for you in the situation. That is why it is so vitally important to not only pray, but be quiet afterwards in order to hear Him layout the plan. Our lives would be a lot more peaceful and productive if we stopped assuming that, since we are "believers," everything we do or go through is God's plan for our lives.

The casting off of the worries and anxieties of life is what the Bible calls humility. Being humble before God is done by exalting the former sinful nature or current failures we have in our lives, but it is rather done by truly casting the cares of life into the loving Hands of our God. It is done by acknowledging that He is smarter than us and that He will handle our situations better than we could. Humility is found in believing God's promises that He will provide/heal/remedy, our situations - then resting in that peace. If you do not currently have peace about the situations in your life, there is a very good chance that you do not trust God concerning them. That's the first adjustment that needs to be made, because without faith in God you cannot get anywhere. 

I think that it should be a requirement that Hebrews 11:1, where we learn about the Biblical definition of faith, should only be read using the Amplified translation of the Bible. It says that faith, "is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]." Faith and trust in God requires us to rest in the knowledge that our circumstances are taken care of without evidence to the prove that fact. If my wife promises me that she will handle something, I believe her - even if I never actually see her do it. She may handle phone calls, lists, budgets, etc., when I am not around to see her do it. However, I trust her when she says, "I took care of that." Jesus is saying the same thing to us today: "Don't worry. I will take care of that. I got that covered. I already provided." 

I am not saying this is easy. However, it is doable. We have been given the power and might to do what I am saying. This is not something we "try" to accomplish under our own strength. This is a command from God, and He has already provided us His Spirit to assist us in doing it. Stop worrying about your life. Because worry contaminates your faith.

When we worry, our actions are saying, "Lord, I don't believe You." Ouch. We cannot do that anymore...

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
~Matthew 6:33-34

Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith?And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things."
~Luke 12:22-30 

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 humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
~1Peter 5:6-7    

27 September, 2012

Throne of Tribulation(?)

I have heard it said, seen it written, and even addressed it with people in various ways before. However, more depth is been shown to me, and I see that this issue must be addressed again - both for my sake and for others.

God is not the author of our rough patches, our difficulties, our sicknesses, our financial struggles, or any other tragedy in our lives.

Maybe you have seen something similar to what I have. It is often found on social media outlets: where someone posts responses to their hardships, saying things like, "Lord, I know that this trial is from Your throne, and that I will be better for it in the end." Or perhaps you have heard the words from someone who has dealt with, or is dealing with, a crisis of some kind. They say phrases like, "God decided I needed a trial," or, "The Lord decided it wasn't yet my time for deliverance/provision/healing/etc." These phrases sound good, religiously speaking. However, the are Biblically inaccurate. In fact, they are lies that contradict the very words of Jesus Himself. They make Him a hypocrite.

Every church website has the same sentence listed on their "beliefs" page: "we believe the Bible is the supreme and final authority of the believer." If that is the case, then let's go to the Word and find out what the Lord has to say concerning the tests and trials of life.

First of all, I am in no way saying that life should be easy for Christians. No one says that. Not even those TV preachers many Christians can't stand say that. It is not true and it is not taught by anyone. The question is: what do you believe about trying situations in life? Jesus put us on the alert for tough times: "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Jesus has made it known that, in the world, we will have troubles. But, He has already given us His peace. When do we walk in and experience that peace? When we stay in Him. So, if we are going through times of distress and we are not experiencing peace, we know that we have broken off fellowship with our Master. The peace is in Him, so get there.

What I want you to realize is that Jesus isn't harming anyone. John 16:33 in the Amplified Bible makes that very clear: "I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]" No question about it: Jesus isn't responsible for our hard times. He has empowered us to overcome them all, and He fully expects to do just that.

I know that James 1:2 says, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials." I'm sure that verse went through your head already. However, we need to set the record straight on what is really going on in this verse. The word translated "trial," is often translated "temptation" in many translations of the Bible. I pulled out my concordance and looked up the Greek word used in this verse. It is "peirasmos."  It comes from the Greek word "peirazo," which means to test. This word "peirasmos" is defined in my concordance as, "a putting to proof (by experiment [of good], experience [of evil], solicitation, discipline, or provocation); by implication adversity." It is a word that is translated, "temptation," "test," or "trial." I know this is way more "heady" than most people go for when reading a random blog, but it is very important that we get this. This Greek word for temptation is used in each of the following verses:

~Matthew 6:13 (The Lord's Prayer) -> "And do not lead us into temptation (peirasmos), but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen."

~1Corinthians 10:13 -> "No temptation (peirasmos) has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted (pierazo) beyond what you are able, but with the temptation (peirasmos) will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it."

~James 1:2 -> "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials (peirasmos)."

~James 1:12 -> "Blessed is the man who endures temptation (peirasmos); for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 

Isn't it interesting that Jesus teaches us to pray to the Father to keep us out of the very situations that many Christians claim He brings upon us all? Jesus told us that He has deprived the world and the issues of this sinful age of the power to harm us, yet we teach that these very issues are God-ordained from the throne, itself. Though we are told to walk in joy through these trials, we are never told to thank God for them. We are actually told from the Lord that if we remain faithful throughout the issues of life, that we have a reward in this life (Luke 18:29-30). Now, for the single-most important verse of them all...

James 1:13 -> "Let no one say when he is tempted (peirazo), “I am tempted (peirazo) by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt (peirazo) anyone."

It is the same root word! In other words: God and the devil are not in Cahoots. God is not contracting Satan and his minions to do God's dirty work in order to teach us things. Jesus said in John 10:10 that He is not the author of stealing, killing or destroying. In fact, we learn in 1John 3:8, that Jesus came expressly to destroy all of Satan's work. He did not do this so that He could go sit at the Father's side and use that very satanic power against us. God is not an abusive Father; He is not making life hard on anybody in order to prove a point. 

Once we get this solidified in our thinking, we will be more adequately prepared for all that the enemy throws our way. You cannot have faith to combat something if you think God is authoring its existence. Our faith becomes severely stunted when we believe God is authoring our sickness, disease, poverty, addictions, depressions, and so-on Our faith is severely limited if we think the He is taking "the long way 'round" in providing for us our Covenant rights to freedom, healing and prosperity. God has been ready to provide us the very best this life has to offer. He paid an exceptionally high price to grant us those rights and privileges. For Him to withhold anything from us, we be for Him to be made a liar. Enough people think that about Him already. Don't add to their number. 

Remember what Jesus promised: "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne." ~Matthew 11:28-30, Amplified.

So, why do these bad things happen in our lives? Check back later... 


13 August, 2012

My Rights

In such an individualistic society, we often think it “wrong” or “evil” to believe that Christians have rights. After all, we are “crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20), taking up our cross daily to follow Him (Luke 9:23), with our life being no longer our own (1Corinthians 6:19). These are all true statements; however, we have been led to believe that these passages indicate that we have no right to anything from the Lord. Growing up in the church my whole life, I have heard countless teachings and phrases at go something like this: “How dare we think we can demand anything from God? How dare we think we are indispensable to God? God owes us nothing…”
 To be honest, years of being involved in and around the church and the people of God has left me rather depressed. How is it possible to be full of joy when serving a God that you believe doesn’t actually care that much about your life? How can we be excited about a God that is portrayed as egotistical and self-centered? This God tells us to pay in faith (James 1:6), and yet a vast majority of His people believe ‘sometimes He does; sometimes He doesn’t. It all depends on Hs will.” Ladies and gentlemen, this line of thinking makes no sense. We have been so trained to believe that God’s sovereignty means he can do whatever He wants, whenever he wants, no questions asked, that we openly contradict ourselves in the way we think and speak about Him.
God says that anything is possible to anyone who believes (Mark 9:23). We say that God does what He wants. Jesus told us that when we ask anything in His name, we will receive it (John 14:14). We say that only applies to situations that are under His will (which we don’t know). The Holy Spirit speaks through the apostle James that when we pray in faith, the sick will be healed (James 5:15). We preach that sometimes God heals, sometimes He doesn’t. The Scripture tells us that Jesus took sickness and disease upon Himself on the Cross (Isaiah 53:4-5). We teach that He uses it as a means of gaining glory. The Scripture tells us we are Blessed (Galatians 3:13-14) with a Blessing that causes financial prosperity (Proverbs 10:22). The church often teaches that anyone who preaches that Blessing is a heretic. Jesus told us to take up our cross (Mark 8:34). Religion dictates that we should be taking His.
Get the picture?
Our God separated Himself, suffered and died, went to the furthest depths of Hades, itself – all so that we could have our lives put back right, to the state that it was designed to be at before the Fall. Yet, because we cannot help but look at the circumstances of life around us, we are not living that way. Rather than look to the Holy Word of God Almighty, we look to our lives, our friends and loved ones, the economy, politics, and all the mess that is going on globally, in order to ascertain the will of God. My friend, that ought not to be. It violates the very nature of faith.
Let’s settle this in our minds, once-and-for-all: God will always do what He promised us.
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
My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips.
~Psalm 89:34
 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.
~John 15:7
God said He will do what He said he will do. He said that if we remain in Him and we go to Him, He will answer us and grant us the prayers that we ask of Him. He instructed us to approach Him with boldness (Hebrews 4:16) and great confidence. I have, through the work of my God and his great love for me, a right to his promises.

Correct. I said I have a right to the plans and purposes of God being accomplished in my life.  I have a right to healing and abundant provision (it is part of salvation, look up the Greek word and see for yourself). I have a right to the mind of Christ (1Corinthians 2:16). I have a right to His wisdom (James 1:5). I have a right to know His will (Ephesians 5:17). Through the work of the Cross, through the work of salvation, itself, I have a right to live the highest life there is. That runs contrary to the world’s ways of thinking.

Unfortunately, the world’s way of thinking has infiltrated the church. We contradict ourselves and our God without even realizing our error. We are painting our God to be double-minded and inconsistent. If we believe the words He has handed down to us, then we must put an end to this idea that God will do whatever He wants at His Own discretion, and that we have no right to question Him. We don’t have the right to tell Him how to be God, but we do have the right to expect Him (reverently expect Him) to do what he promised He would do. Otherwise, we unknowingly and unintentionally call Him a liar.

God has given us all the information we need in His Word as to why we do not yet see all the manifestations of His promises in our lives. Go find them. Believe them. Implement them. They are yours by right as a born-again child of God, co-heir with Jesus Himself (Romans 8:17)

Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul, and forget not [one of] all His benefits – Who forgives [every one of] all your iniquities, Who heals [each one of] all your diseases, Who redeems your life from the pit and corruption, Who beautifies, dignifies, and crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercy; Who satisfies your mouth [your necessity and desire at your personal age and situation] with good so that your youth, renewed, is like the eagle’s [strong, overcoming, soaring]!
~Psalm 103:2-5, Amplified

20 July, 2012

The "Wisdom" of Men

Anointing. That is what the Lord is pressing upon each and every one of us. There is a season of change , a time of fulfillment, that the Lord is endeavoring to accomplish in all those who will listen and follow Him. And that is the key to it all right there: listen and obey.

In order to walk in all that Jesus afforded us, we must be Kingdom-minded. We know this. We have had it preached to us for the majority of our Christian lives. We know it, because Jesus said it very pointedly: "seek first the kingdom of God" (Matthew 6:33). However, our actions outside of the church prove that we do not take the commands of our Lord very seriously.

Therefore do not worry and be anxious, saying, What are we going to have to eat? or, What are we going to have to drink? or, What are we going to have to wear? For the Gentiles (heathen) wish for and crave and diligently seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows well that you need them all. But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides.
~Matthew 6:31-33, Amplified

Does that really mark our lives when we walk outside the doors of our churches? Do we really trust that by putting the plans and purposes of God as our top priority, that He will handle all the other issues of our lives? Our pulpits say that we do. How often do we here messages on topics like Matthew 6:24

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon

And yet, how often do the messages stop there? When Jesus goes on to say that we are not to worry about our own provision, because that will take away from our ability to be Kingdom-minded? 

Being a Christian does not make you a person who is Kingdom-minded. James 1:22 tells us that simply listening to the Bible  doing other "religious" things is not enough. In fact, it is delusional to think that way. Doing that which our Lord tells us to do is what is required. Without the doing, we cannot walk Blessed, Anointed lives.

Kingdom ways of thinking do not line-up with earthly ways of living. Unfortunately, earthly mindsets have infiltrated their way into many churches. Think about it: we talk about our jobs, needing to work more in order to "earn" more money. We teach our children to follow the same earthly model as those outside the church: "go to school, get good grades, go to good college, get good job, make good money and have a good retirement." What Scripture is that on, again?

This is a broken model. I have lived it, and it didn't get me anywhere. Conventional wisdom has no place in the Christian life. Proverbs 14:12 tells us that it leads to death. 1Corinthians 2:14 tells us that these natural ways of thinking and living hinder us from receiving revelation from God.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't have jobs or do well in schools. What it means is that it is our responsibility to find out from God what He wants us to be doing. His plan is the plan that is Blessed - not whatever we come up with. What happened to Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (NIV)? God's plans are the ones that are already Blessed and Anointed. They are the ones that work. Why are we making our own, based upon the world's system around us?

James 4:13-17 shows us that making our own plans without God is both arrogant and sinful:

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin

This passage is telling us not to simply up and make our own plans for life, assuming that since we are men and women of God He will Bless them. Our earthly lives, in the scope of eternity, are too brief for that kind of living and thinking. In fact, to assume that since we said a few prayers, read the Bible on occasion, and remember to add "Your will be done" to the end of our prayers at church, that God will Bless our endeavors is arrogant presumption. You know you are to listen to Him regarding what to do with your life. And when you know what to do and you decide not to do it, for you, it is sin. God cannot Bless and Anoint sin.

Just because you say, "Your will be done" at the end of a prayer does not mean that His will actually will happen, either. Jesus didn't teach us to pray that way. On the contrary, Jesus said to pray that God's will be done on earth as it is in heaven. God's will is heaven on earth. Contrary to religious opinion, that which does not match heaven is not the will of God. 

Just because we see it happen in our lives, or in the lives of others, does not mean God ordained it. The "God is Sovereign" excuse is nothing more than spiritual laziness. There are people who hate God, because Christian people have led them to believe God is responsible for poverty, sickness, disease, third-world nations, terrorism, genocide, and every other atrocity this world has. The Bible says otherwise. The Bible says in 1John 3:5 that Jesus came to destroy these things. And that is all that matters.

In order to walk in the fullness of the Anointing and Blessing of God, we must put aside all that we think we know, and get on our knees before Him. Let God tell you exactly what to do - even if it defies "conventional wisdom." Only then will we walk in all that Jesus bought us: the good life.

For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].
 ~Ephesians 2:10, Amplified 

25 May, 2012

Doubting Doubt

I picked up a book the other at Barnes and Noble and discovered something that made my stomach turn and my skin crawl. As I sit here in my office the thought of it still irks me. I do not remember the title of the book, which is probably a good thing, because you do not need to know. It was written by one of my favorite Christian authors - and that, of course, makes it worse. While browsing the pages I discovered a chapter on doubt. To my astonishment, this writer claims that it is OK for Christians to doubt God.

Let that sink in for a moment. Sadly, this is not the first time I have heard Christian leaders say something along these lines. In the case of this author, the premise was that doubt is not a form of unbelief, but rather a temptation to think more than one way. By definition, doubt is being double-minded. It is having more than one thought about a situation or circumstance. To this writer, doubting God is an occasion to grow in one's faith. How that works in this person's mind is beyond me. Doubt is the exact opposite of faith. And it is not something to be condoned.

The Scripture tells us the same thing about doubt as this author did. However, unlike what I read at Barnes and Noble, the Bible is adamant that we refrain from all traces of doubt 

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
~James 1:5-8

How do we condone doubt as Christians? For those of you immediately wanting to play "devil's advocate" (why do people advocate for the devil?! Find a better expression!), no, this author did not mean that doubt is not something wrong. They were laying claim to the idea that doubting God can and at times is a good thing. Clearly, from the Bible itself, that is not true. 

We have all had times where we have been tempted to doubt. It is not something to feel guilty over or to condemn one's self about. However, it is also not something to be tolerated, either. There is no stability in a doubtful person. Faith remains; doubt wavers. Doubt is a tool of the devil to break our confidence in God and His Word. When tempted to doubt, doubt the doubt. What? When you feel doubt in God and His Word rising within you, doubt it. Know that God is not the Author of doubt or confusion, so anything that falls into those categories are not from Him. When feeling doubt about health, healing, provision, direction or any other promises of God, doubt those doubts.

It is insulting to God when we do not trust Him. How much more does He have to do for us? Many will say, "I do so trust God!" Feelings of doubt prove otherwise. While those moments can, and often will, be turned around by God, it is always better that we acknowledge what they are and begin to resist them from here on out. Perhaps the reason many of us are not seeing manifestations of God's promises in our lives is because we have fallen pray to the idea that doubt in a tool in the Hand of God. One pastor says otherwise, "Doubt is a cancer growth in the spirit. It must be removed using the scalpel of faith."

14 May, 2012

Just Get Me to Jesus

[B]y the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established ~Deuteronomy 19:15b

[B]y the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established ~Matthew 18:16b

This is the Biblical standard for handling a situation. Be it a legal matter, a Church debate, or organizing an argument, the Scripture tells us to base our defenses on more than one proof. That is how God, Himself, operates. He doesn't lay down a standard or system for His people that He does not apply toward Himself. In fact, this standard of witnesses is repeated six times in the Bible (Deuteronomy 17:6, 19:5; Matthew 18:16; 2Corinthians 13:1; 1Timothy 5:19; Hebrews 10:28). God followed His own standard - times two. I think five should be enough...

Jerry Savelle, pastor of Heritage of Faith Christian Center, in Crowley, Texas, says "God never intended prayer to be guesswork." Whether we realize it or not, many of us are guilty of that very thing. 1John 5:14-15 says, "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." When an issue is already covered in Scripture, we should not go to God with an attitude of "let's pray about it and see what happens." However, that is exactly what we do at times. Phrases like, "Lord, if it is Your will..." or "Whatever comes, Your will be done" prove the point. While it is essential that we center our lives on the will of God, He has already showed us great depths of that will in His Word. For us to continue to pray as if we didn't know what He wanted to do is to show a great lack of faith in that Word. The Bible tells us that there is a time to pray "if the Lord wills," and it is in regards to situations such as where to live or what job to take (James 4:13-17). However, according to 1John, there are circumstances when prayer should be based on the known will of God. Ephesians 5:17 commands us to find out that known will of God. You're still wondering about the "five," aren't you?

Let's look at five instances where people were not concerned about whether or not Jesus would or would not answer. These individuals had great confidence that, if they could get to Jesus, He would remedy their situation. No guesswork, but complete knowing.

Centurion (Matthew 8:5-13)
Here we see a Roman official approach Jesus on behalf of a sick servant. And what do we see him say to Jesus? "Only speak a word, and my servant will be healed." That is all this man needed. He knew that all he needed to do was ask Jesus to command it, and the healing would come. 

Hemorrhaging Woman (Mark 5:25-34
This woman didn't even ask! This woman knew that all she needed to do was get close enough to touch Jesus, and she would receive her healing. This woman, under Levitical law, should have been executed for being in that crowd. Yet, she knew that getting to Jesus was the key. She didn't say, 'maybe I will be healed if I can get to Jesus." She said, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.”

 Jairus (Luke 8:41-56)
 While this situation with the woman was taking place, Jairus is standing by trying not to lose his cool. He approached Jesus the moment He stepped off a boat in Capernum and implored that Jesus come and heal his daughter. He was waiting by the shore for Jesus to arrive, because he knew that if he could get Jesus, his daughter would be made well. He didn't implore Jesus by saying, "Lord, if it be Your will." Mark 5:23 tells us that Jairus said, "come and lay Your hands on her, so that she will get well and live." He knew that if Jesus got involved, his situation would be fixed. 

Blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52)
 This man would stop at nothing to get Jesus' attention. He sat on the ground, hollering out over the noise of the crowd, in hopes that Jesus would look His way. He didn't care what he looked like, he just knew that if he could get Jesus to look his way, he would receive the petition of his heart. 

The Paralytic (Mark 2:1-12)
 These men were so determined to get their friend to Jesus, that they tore up the roof of Jesus' house to do it! That is determination. They ripped up the house, and lowered the man in. At this point, they didn't need to ask - it is obvious what they wanted. Jesus just watched it unfold, and then forgave the man of his sins and healed him. There was no guesswork involved with Jesus; they knew that they had to get to Jesus, and that He would heal their friend if they did.

How do I know that all these people knew Jesus would respond they way they wanted? Jesus tells me. In the case of the Centurion, Jesus said, "I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel... Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” To the woman who broke the law to touch Him (without asking), He declared, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.” Jesus had to make sure Jairus didn't waver in the faith he had approached Jesus with in Mark 5:23, so He said “Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well.” Jesus told Bartimaeus that, "your faith has made you well.” And it was "When Jesus saw their faith," that He moved on behalf of the paralytic man. 

I used five instances concerning healing, because that is without a doubt the most difficult thing for us as Christians to believe for. We have seen too many people suffer without relief, and it has weakened our ability to believe that it is the Lord's will to heal, every time. Yet, according to the Biblical standard, we have more than sufficient proof that it is the Lord's will to heal, and that it is our faith that is the determining factor in whether we receive it or not. 1John 5:14 shows us that the same holds true with all of our prayers. We are not to pray with an attitude of "Let's see what God thinks about it," unless the situation is not directly addressed in the Bible (again, James 4:13-17). If we have Biblical evidence, we are to stand on and pray according to it. Jesus told us to believe that we have received the answers to our prayers when we pray them (Mark 11:24). He told us that if we center our lives around Him, we will have whatever we ask of the Father in His name (John 15:16). All we have to do is go to Jesus on the authority of His Word, and He will remedy our situations. All of them.

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God ~Romans 10:17

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.] ~John 16:33, AMPLIFIED 

04 May, 2012

God Doesn't Wrestle

"Jacob wrestled with God." We all know the story. Jacob stays up all night wrestling with the Lord; unrelenting in his pursuit of a Blessing. He fought, and was Blessed. However, this was one story. It happened one time. And it became a doctrine...

For some reason or another, many of us have come under the assumption that we do not hear from the Lord becomes He wants us to "fight for it." It always comes back to Jacob wrestling with God. The teaching is that god wants to make sure that we want t hear from Him bad enough before He will relent and speak to us. This is blasphemy. Just because Jacob did it does not mean we have to do it. In fact, Jesus sacrificed Himself so that we wouldn't have to wrestle to receive The Blessing of God. Galatians 3:14 tells us that Jesus died so that The Blessing of God might come upon the Gentiles (us). Jesus paid the price for that Blessing so that we could freely access it. And it was God's idea. If God wanted us to fight for The Blessing, why send Jesus to make it easier for us to obtain?

The Holy Spirit has been given the assignment of speaking to us what is on the Father's heart. Jesus explains that to us in the Gospel of John,

But when He, the Spirit of Truth (the Truth-giving Spirit) comes, He will guide you into all the Truth (the whole, full Truth). For He will not speak His own message [on His own authority]; but He will tell whatever He hears [from the Father; He will give the message that has been given to Him], and He will announce and declare to you the things that are to come [that will happen in the future]. He will honor and glorify Me, because He will take of (receive, draw upon) what is Mine and will reveal (declare, disclose, transmit) it to you. Everything that the Father has is Mine. That is what I meant when I said that He [the Spirit] will take the things that are Mine and will reveal (declare, disclose, transmit) it to you. ~John 16:13-15, Amplified.

That is the Holy Spirit's job description: to reveal the heart of the Father to His children. We preach in our churches that the Father is constantly pursuing us. However, when we struggle to hear His voice, we turn around and preach the exact opposite - that He is withholding Himself to make sure we really, really want to hear from Him. These two teachings contradict. They cannot both be right, or else God would be a hypocrite. God does not want us to wrestle with Him the way Jacob did. He sent us His Son and His Spirit to see to it that we have free access to all that He has. Our problem is not that God is withholding for a time, it is that we cannot hear Him when He calls.

We live in a noisy society. So many voices are vying for our attention. We have developed a "hearing problem." The Holy Spirit is always speaking to us; He is always disclosing the Father. However, we rarely take the time necessary to be still in His Presence and listen for His voice. That was what He showed with Elijah, when the prophet was hiding in the dessert. Elijah was wailing about God not having his back and leaving him to run and hide, when the Lord showed him something we all need to understand

Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. ~1Kings 19:11-12, NKJV

God wrestled with Jacob once; He speaks in that still, small voice all of the time. We are not required to fight with God to hear Him. We need to learn to fight against all the things in this world designed to distract us from Him and His leading. He is not withholding anything from us. He is waiting for us to be still long enough or Him to speak. The manifestations of His Word may not appear immediately, because His Word is a seed (Mark 4), and seeds take time to grow. But His Blessing is upon us now. His voice is readily available. We don't wrestle with God; we wrestle against the world to be with God. 

29 April, 2012


Let's begin with something we all enjoy: story time. Last week, I picked up my wife after her weekly student ministry lifegroup. She walked out the front door of our friend's house loaded down with baby stuff. You see, we are expecting our first child this December (woohoo!), and since our friends have two little girls who are finally outgrowing their baby things, they have graciously offered us pick-of-the-litter when it comes to baby supplies. I was overwhelmed. I mean, this kid isn't due for another seven-and-a-half months. What do we need all this stuff for? After talking things out, I learned that they were ready to get as much of that stuff out of their house as possible. We were doing them a big favor by taking these things off their hands. That made it easier for me to swallow. Then my wife said something very interesting. She said it helps during those times when the devil tries to make us worry about not having enough to support our child, to go in and look at all this stuff we already have. We've only known we were having a baby for three weeks, and we have practically everything covered - except a car. A bigger car would be great. Big, nice, shiny new car... *wink* Anyway. My wife said that though our friends had promised it, having some of these supplies under the bed and in the closets helps reassure her of all that the Lord is doing to provide for us. I immediately replied by saying, "Oh, I don't have to see it, I trust David and Heather." And it hit me immediately...

The Lord has been dealing with this in my life the past week. I didn't have to see the things we were promised, because I trusted our friends weren't lying to us about having baby supplies, or that they would let us have them when our child came along. And yet, I do have to see things the Lord has promised me in order to have confidence in His promises to supply everything I need. I felt it in my spirit the moment those words left my lips, "Why don't you think that way about Me?!" That is the very definition of faith - believing without seeing. Hebrews 11:1 lays it out for us clearly: "Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]" (AMP). It is believing that you possess what the Lord has promised you, even before you see the concrete evidence.

I believe that our friends have the supplies they promised us, because I have seen their little girls. I believe them because I know them; I know their character; I know their hearts. I trust them. The same should be true of all of us where the Lord is concerned. We should know His heart; know His character; trust Him. Jesus paid an awesome price so that He could provide for us His Blessing. Paul explains part of what Jesus has done for us in 2Corinthians, when he says, "For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us" (2Corinthians 1:20, NKJV). The Apostle John tells us that when we pray in accordance to the Word of God, He listens to us, "And if (since) we [positively] know that He listens to us in whatever we ask, we also know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that we have [granted us as our present possessions] the requests made of Him" (1John 5:15, AMP). Because of Jesus, I am covered. My baby is taken care of. I do not have to see the back room of Heaven to know that the supplies for my family are already there, and that He will see to it that I get all that I need (see Philippians 4:19). When I told my aunt I was having a baby and was concerned about providing for him/her/them, she squashed that worry with a simple sentence: "God's not going to give you a baby and then not provide for you to take care of 'em." Problem solved.

06 April, 2012

More Than Sin...

He was despised and rejected and forsaken by men, a Man of sorrows and pains, and acquainted with grief and sickness; and like One from Whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we did not appreciate His worth or have any esteem for Him. Surely He has borne our griefs (sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses) and carried our sorrows and pains [of punishment], yet we [ignorantly] considered Him stricken, smitten, and afflicted by God [as if with leprosy]. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole ~Isaiah 53:3-5, Amplified

Why did He take the beating? Those of us who have been around church for more than about ten minutes know that Jesus died to forgive us of sins. He died to redeem us and make us new and allow us to go to Heaven when we die. However, I believe that is as far as most of us go with regards to what happened on that Friday all those long years ago. It was so much more...

Isaiah 53 is the quintessential passage for teaching on Jesus' redemptive work at Calvary. You can't preach about Easter without this passage. And yet, it has been mistranslated far too often. That is why I chose to use the Amplified translation, to unpack the fullness of what was really being spoken of. Isaiah was looking into the future, some 800 years away, when he was given this vision of what was to happen to Jesus. This gives us a very poignant description of going on in the spirit on that day. Jesus didn't just die so we ca go to Heaven one day. He was beaten so that we could be free from every curse this world is under.

In most translations, we see that Jesus bore our sorrows and our griefs. However, those two words are quite frequently translated throughout the Scriptures as "sickness" and "pains." That is why Isaiah goes on to say "by his stripes we are healed." Those stripes that Jesus took prior to his crucifixion were to pay for complete restoration of the body. Go back and look at everything Jesus bought and paid for: peace, well-being, healing. He took upon Himself more than just sin; He took everything. And it says that God did it...

Yet it was the will of the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief and made Him sick. When You and He make His life an offering for sin [and He has risen from the dead, in time to come], He shall see His [spiritual] offspring, He shall prolong His days, and the will and pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand ~Isaiah 53:10, Amplified

See that? This is the only time in the totality of human existence where God made someone sick. With each blow of a Roman, God struck Jesus with grief, pain, sickness and disease. It was so that not only sin, but the deadly consequences of sin, could be put to death and conquered once and for all. That is why Isaiah saw a man who was not esteemed, but seen as forsaken of God. Jesus looked far worse on that cross than religious movies portray. We know He bore all the sins of the world in his body on that Cross. That in itself is enough to drastically change one's demeanor. Haven't you ever been around a person so entangled in their sins that their countenance is radically different? You can see it in their eyes, they're dark and cold. I have been around people who were so far away from God I could tangibly feel the evil radiating from them. They look "off." Jesus would have looked exponentially worse, because He was carrying every sin of every person of all time. But there was more...

This prophetic passage of Scripture tells us that He also carried every sickness and disease known to the world. Imagine how terrible He must have looked. With each bruise, He was stricken with a new ailment. That's what Scripture tells us. He was hanging on that cross carrying every sin, sickness and disease of humanity, so that all of it would be put to death. Jesus didn't have to take a beating to be crucified. They could have just nailed Him up and walked away. But it was the will of God to have Jesus go through that, so that He could take upon Himself sickness and grief and disease, so that all symptoms of the curse would be put away. In doing so, it allows for the apostle Peter to quote this passage with one glorious "tweak": "He personally bore our sins in His [own] body on the tree [as on an altar and offered Himself on it], that we might die (cease to exist) to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed" (1Peter 2:24, Amplified, emphasis added).

We are free, this very moment, from the power of sin and death. We are free, this very moment, from sickness, disease, oppression, depression, sorrow and fear. It was paid for. It is not the will of God for any of us to have these curses in operation in our lives, because He placed them on Jesus to be overcome. That doesn't mean we are to walk through life without ever facing a challenge. Symptoms will attempt to come upon us all; but they are not the will of God. He has equipped us to overcome them all. We are over-comers (Romans 8:37), but you can't be an over-comer without something to overcome. Remember the words of Jesus: "... in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]" (John 16:33, Amplified, emphasis added). That's the full power of the cross. Happy Easter.