Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Why Does God Have To Make The Road So Rough?

In my last blog, I compared our walk by faith to a road trip. In Psalms 37:23, David said that the steps of a good man were ordered of God. Each day that goes by is like the mile markers on the interstate. When most of us take a trip, we pretty much know how many miles it is, how long it will take and how much gas we will use. With everything that we think we'll need, we begin our journey.

However, our walk by faith is never smooth sailing. God never promised us smooth sailing. Look closely at what Jesus said in John 16:33. He starts off by saying, "These things I have spoken to you, that in me you might have peace." Now, that's a great verse to shout about, isn't it? Yeah, Jesus, You're gonna just smooth things out for us, aren't You? U-h-h-h-h, nope.

The next part of that verse brings us back to reality. You know.....life the way it really is. "In the world ye shall have tribulation." This is more like it, isn't it? All of us have had more trouble than we really want. Sometimes it seems like we go from one bad thing to another. And, all too often, we constantly expect something bad more than we expect something good to happen. C'mon, say Amen.

Is it so hard to believe the rest of the verse? Jesus said for us to cheer up when those tribulations sideswipe and t-bone us. Now He does make a statement that we merely read and seldom heed. He told us to cheer up because He overthrew satan's power that brought the tribulation. Instead of mulling over all the tribulation we face, we should be thinking about God's power blowing every demon force in hell to smithereens.

Let's remember Paul's life and writings for a moment. If anyone ever went through enough tribulations to make you want to quit it was the Apostle Paul. Paul was beaten, jailed, cursed, stoned and left for dead and kept on going. Lots of people got saved, healed and delivered and a lots of others got together and run him out of town. So you think that God's mean to you, huh? Old Paul asked the Lord three times to remove his 'thorn in the flesh' but what did God say? God told Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9 that His grace was sufficient for Paul because God's strength was manifested in Paul's weakness.

Did you catch that? And did you catch a glimpse of what is on God's mind when He allows us to go through tribulation? God ALWAYS put Paul in a situation that Paul had no way of getting through unless the awesome power of God came on the scene.

Paul was able to pass down to us his secret recipe for success but I bet most of you never caught it. Look at 1 Corinthians 10:13. "There hath no temptation taken you but such as common to man:" Stop right there. You are not UNcommon and you are not going through anything UNcommon. Quit thinking that God made up some special kind of hell just for you to go through. What you are going through right now is normal and you are normal. Get over whatever you have to get over. Quit wallowing around in the pig pen of self pity and act like a blood-bought, Holy Ghost filled child of the living God for once. It'll do you good.

The next thing that verse says is, "But God is faithful." Don't start with your, "Yeah, He's always faithful to let something come along and knock me down just when I got to climbing up higher. I knew something would come along like that." You know why I don't want to hear that? Because that's exactly what I USED to say. For years I celebrated my own little pity party. Thank God I finally quit and put away the balloons. They were flat anyway.

Let's read the rest of that verse before I comment. "Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation make a way of escape, that ye may be able to bear it." God has the devil on a short chain. The devil is NOT free to do with you as he sees fit. Mr. Ugly has to have God's permission to throw some bad stuff on us. If God says 'No' then he can't.

God carefully measures every one of us before He lets the devil go after us. Just like He did with Job, God WILL NOT allow the devil to have free reign in our lives. He always has a stopping point to the torment. He draws a line and the devil can't cross it. Besides, it's only with God's permission that the schmuck can work against us anyhow.

Here's something you might not have ever seen before. "But will WITH THE TEMPTATION make a way of escape." Did you catch that? Before God gives His permission for the devil to come after us, He has already planned a blessing greater than the trial. Did you hear me?

After Job seemingly lost everything except his nagging wife and three gossiping friends, God blessed Job with TWICE as much as he lost. That was God's plan. Jeremiah said that God is planning things for our good. Yes, Job went through torment but it didn't kill him. He lived all the way through it. AND he wound up with twice as much as he had before.According to Paul, God had the blessing ready for Job before the devil ever threw the first punch.

Yeah, but what about the trouble after trouble after trouble that Paul had all of his life. Is that all you see? You must not have read your Bible. Paul reached the lost. He started churches that thrived on the power of God. He operated in the realm of healing and special miracles. How long did the beatings last? An hour? How long was the power of God poured out? Weeks, months and years. And the power of God is still moving in our lives today because of what Paul did and wrote. I would say that it was a little bit of turmoil that turned into millions upon millions of blessings.

1 Thessalonians 5:18--KJV--In every thing give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. This was Paul's secret plan of attack in the Philippian jail. They prayed and sang praises to God at midnight after they had been beaten for the cause of Christ. The praises to God IN everything was the right thing to do. It brought them joy and it brought them freedom. And, the jailer got saved and his family. No doubt some of the prisoners converted, too. The pain and embarrassment that the went through melted away at the revival and ultimate victory that God gave them.

When the devil comes after you pay as much attention to him as you would to a yapping little dog that was tied up to his owners porch. If you stand there paralyzed in fear, you will always be stopped by the incessant barking. But, if you will walk on toward the next mile marker and praise God with all of your heart, that dog will stop because he sees he can't keep you scared.

One more verse, Psalm 8:2--NIV--Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.

Now stop crying and start praising God for a new life of power, victory and joy that He's been wanting to pour out on you.

Monday, June 29, 2015

God Takes Us Step by Step

Psalm 37:23--(KJV)--The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord; and he delighteth in his way.

This past Saturday, I drove a church bus from Savannah to the Jacksonville International Airport to pick up some people who were returning from a missions trip to Chicago. While traveling down there I had my mind on this scripture. It was what I was going to teach on the next day, (Sunday).

As I watched the mile markers pass by, a different meaning began to take shape. I started my journey on I-95 at mile marker #94. Naturally the next mile marker was #93 and so on to the Florida border. These were measured steps that got me from one place, and to another, and to another, and to another, until it finally got me to my destination. And, they were all ordered.

That's when it dawned on me that God's path to our answered prayer is much the same way. When we ask in faith and believe we receive the answer when we pray, (Mark 11:24) God puts us on an orderly and measured pace to get to our destination.

Jeremiah 29:11--NLT--I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

God has things all planned out for those of us who commit our lives to follow Him. The question is, do we want to move forward with Him and are we willing to follow the planned path He has established for us?

After we believe and start traveling on our way to our answered prayer, God leads us to and through places where it just does not look like He knows what He's doing. Sometimes it even looks like He is taking us in reverse. Sometimes it looks like He was just kidding when He said He would meet all of our needs according to His riches in glory.

Sometimes, there is pain on the journey. Sometimes people do their best to discourage us. Situations come up that we never counted on. People let us down that we thought would stand with us through anything. Of course, there are those people that watch us go through some bit of misery and encourage us to give up and declare that God is dead.

God never promised us that the way to an answered prayer would be easy, but He DID say that He would give us the things that we asked for. He never said there wouldn't be discouraging times or that you would never meet discouraging people, but He did say the He would give us the things that we asked for.

Rolling down I-95 was pretty boring. There were a lot of trees and bushes and creeks and bugs. As a matter of fact there were more trees and bushes and creeks and bugs than there was Jax International Airport. But that was the boring path that I needed to take if I ever wanted to get to that airport, pick up those homeward bound missionaries and get them back to Savannah.

If we honestly serve God, then we need to understand that He has us on a path that He understands a whole lot more than we do. He sees a lot farther down the road than we do and has it all planned out. All we need to do is patiently follow each step just like I had to go past every mile marker before my journey was over.

Sometimes we get discouraged, but we must not give up. We WILL get to the destination if we don't stop. Sometimes we meet with unexpected problems but keep on going. Every day means that you are one day closer to your miracle or your need being met.

Just like mile marker after mile marker, God takes us on our journey one step at a time. He is right there with us each step we take. He planned your trip for you and has promised you a good destination. Learn to enjoy walking with Him each day and the trip will become much shorter.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

When Will Our Land Be Healed?

2 Chronicles 7:14--(KJV)--If my people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

We've all quoted this scripture and many of us have preached it from time to time. Still our land is not healed. Sin abounds. Hatred surrounds us. Things look like they're getting worse and not better. It's that way all over the earth and not just here in the United States. There are many faithful readers of this blog from all over God's created earth that are going through the same things and even more. We could spend hours talking about the atrocious way the enemy has unleashed his ungodly demons on mankind. But, let me have a few moments of your time to help us see this scripture a little deeper.

Shall humble themselves and pray:  As I alluded to in my last blog, I firmly believe that the church has lost the Godly order of our services. Jesus put more emphasis for the need for us to pray than He did for us to sing. Yet, singing takes up a major part of our services. There would be a marked difference in our gatherings if 10-15 minutes of our singing was given over to corporate prayer.

God told us to humble OURSELVES and pray. It wouldn't take Him too long to humble any one of us. His Holy Spirit could swoop down and put a burden of prayer on us that would cause us hours of crying out to Him. So, why doesn't he? It's like the parable of the widow in Luke 18. She could have just gone on in her miserable way when she had the right to have her needs met. She could have died in poverty and unfulfilled. HOWEVER, she made up her mind that she was going to have all that the law said she could have.

So, God wants to see just how bad we want our land healed. IF we REALLY do, then we will humble OURSELVES. WE will make the effort. WE will set aside the time. We will make prayer a DAILY habit.

God has already shown just how bad He wants to heal our land. It took Him years to set up the stage for the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. He sent His only Son to die for OUR sins. Jesus went through the years of separation from Our Father. He went through the torment and the pain. He paid the debt that was ours. Not only that, His blood paved the way for mankind to be filled with all the power of Heaven. God's heart in sending Jesus to this earth was to show what a fleshly man could do under the power of the Holy Spirit. He could cast out demons. He could heal the sick. He could turn nations around.

That brings us to the next point, seeking the face of God. Most of what little prayer time we give is spent in asking God to heal, save and deliver His people. This is exactly what God wants us to do. HOWEVER, God is saying that if we want our land healed, we need to spend some time just getting to know Him. We need to spend time in His Presence just letting Him love on us.

During my sleepless hours with adrenal fatigue, I have had hours in the middle of the night to spend with Him. It has made a total difference in my relationship with Him. The things that I thought were impossible are now the things that I am expecting God to do. The thing about spending time one-on-one with God is that God begins to share His heart with you. The Word of God takes on a deeper and more powerful meaning because you begin to hear the Word from the point of view of God's Love.

And turn from our wicked ways: We don't know just how many tiny ways that the devil has a hold on us until we begin to seek the face of God. I'm not talking about murder, gambling and cussing. I'm talking about the little ugly thoughts, our talk that is grounded in doubt, our thought patterns that are centered around how God cannot do something. When we seek His face, He begins to clean up our insides. He begins to renew our thought life and His Spirit begins to empower us to believe Him for more.

When these things begin to take place in our lives, our faith in the healing of our land begins to grow exponentially. We begin to see a greater need for prayer. We see a greater need to know Him and we experience a revival of His presence down inside of us that transfers itself into actions around us.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Lessons From the Widow--Luke 18--The Lost

Jesus used the parable of the widow in Luke 18 to make the point that His people should always pray and not give up. After declaring how faithful Our Father is to answer prayer, Jesus finished the parable with this question. Luke 18:8, (KJV) "Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?" I believe His intent in asking this question was to infer that people might not be praying as they should. He seems to equate the amount of prayer with the amount of faith we have. Assuredly, if our faith is high, so will our prayer life be high.

(Let me interrupt this blog to say something that might be a little tacky. But, think about it and I believe you'll come to the same conclusion. The word "sing" is mentioned 119 times in the Bible and only 5 times in the New Testament. Jesus never mentioned singing. Without boring you with statistics the word "pray" is mentioned 313 times in the Bible. Jesus specifically gave instructions to "pray" seventeen times in the four gospels. Yet we spend more time 'singing' in our services than we actually do 'praying'. Could we be missing something? Yes, we certainly are. And we wonder why the devil is having a field day. I don't know about you but I've changed my priorities.)

Let's look at some scripture. Peter tells us in his second letter, third chapter and ninth verse that God is NOT willing that any should perish. Of course, John 3:17 says, "For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved." Are the terrorists in this world and are they an 'any'? The murderers, are they the same? How about the spouse that abandoned the marriage vows and destroyed a marriage? How about the children on drugs? How about that Christian that wronged you and everybody thinks they are right? How about the president, the members of congress and the mayor of your town? If they are in the world God's heart wants them saved.

The god of this world, satan, has blinded their minds so they can't see the truth of the gospel, 2 Corinthians 4:4. 1 John 4:4 tells us that the greater one is in us. In Luke 10:19,  Jesus gives US all power over the devil. Then let's get busy.

Father, we declare that You are the Almighty God and that Your Word is true. I believe that You want my lost loved ones to be saved. You showed how much You cared by sending Your only Son to die on a cross for all of our souls. It's because I believe these things that I take the following action according to Your Word. Devil, I demand you in the Name of Jesus to loose your hold on my unsaved loved ones. God wants them saved and I agree with Him. I want them saved, too. I command that spirit of blindness to loose their souls and minds so that they are able to see the light of God's love for them. God be just as relentless in chasing them as You were in chasing me to get me to do right. I commit them into Your heart and Your Word and ask You to do whatever it takes to turn their lives around. I believe Your Word is true and that because of my interceding on their behalf that You will honor what You said in John 14:14. You said that You would do anything that I asked You to if I asked in Your name. So I ask You to save them and I count it done in Jesus Name. Amen

Monday, June 22, 2015

Lessons From the Widow--Luke 18

In Luke the 18th chapter, Jesus taught a lesson about a widow and an unjust judge. The judge in this story was portrayed to be one who cared less about God or his principles and he cared less about people. However, a poor widow actually FORCED this unjust judge to act in her behalf. Why? Because she had a legitimate legal claim to something.

The widow kept coming to the judge and demanding that he act in her behalf because she knew that she was right. Everybody in town knew that she was right. Even this ungodly judge knew she was right. He just didn't want to do it. But, because she kept coming to him and demanding the same thing over and over and over again, the judge got embarrassed and finally consented to grant her legal request.

Jesus said that our Heavenly Father would do the same thing if we would continually come and lay a legitimate claim before the throne of Grace. The big difference is, God is Righteous and not unjust. Our Heavenly Father loves us and will never fail in granting our requests. However, if you will read through this parable, you will find that there are times when God waits for a while before granting our request. Why? At the end of the lesson Jesus poses the question. When He returns, will he find faith on the earth? In other words, will we be constant in our faith and continually come boldly to God's throne with our requests based on His promises.

Have you paid your tithes and given offerings? Then you have a right to come boldly to God's throne and pray like this:

Heavenly Father, I give you praise that You are Lord of all. I give You praise that You love me with an everlasting love. I thank You that You are faithful to keep your Word and that Your Word is true. Father, I have been faithful in paying my tithes and giving in my offerings. So, in the name of Jesus, I boldly declare on the authority of Your Word in Malachi 3:10 that the windows of Heaven are opened and blessings are being poured out that I don't have room enough to receive. According to Luke 6:38, I believe that You have blessed the offerings that I have given. I boldly declare before Your throne that it IS good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over that men give to me because I have sacrificed and given to You an offering. I give You praise that every need of mine is met according to Your riches in Glory according to Philippians 4:19. I boldly give You praise that You always keep Your Word. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Fuel Your Faith More Than You Fuel Your Doubts

Great is Thy Faithfulness, O God my Father
There is no shadow of turning with Thee
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not
As thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

Summer and winter, springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join in all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

I hope this is one of your favorites as it is mine. The title to today's blog has been going through my heart all week. You will have to agree that we are 'prisoners' of our thoughts. Our thoughts govern the course of our actions just like the steering wheel on a car. Too often, wrong thoughts lead to serious and hurtful accidents.

When we dwell on the past hurts, mistakes, jealousies, and anger we are actually trying to steer our lives while driving in reverse. We are constantly looking at our past, mulling over who did what, when and how. It's no wonder we wind up going nowhere or getting to our desired destination so slowly. Instead of thinking about where we are going, our minds 'eyes' are locked on things that happened years ago.

Do you realize that the words to this great hymn are enjoyed by unbelievers and ungodly just as much as they are by the 'saints.' Maybe even more so. Take, for example, this hot summer weather. Saint and sinner alike can be heard to say, "I can't wait until the fall brings cooler weather." And, in the winter, we all say, "I can't wait for warmer weather." All of us are actually praising and believing God in THINKING about His great faithfulness in bringing a change.

What are we as Christians, real "Bible believers" doing? Are we fueling our faith more than we are fueling our doubts? Bad stuff happens alright but God said in Jer. 29:11 that He is planning on doing something good for us. Romans 8:28 reminds us that God will work all things together for our good. If you put those two verses together you could easily see that God is going to use the bad stuff you're going through right now to make something good for you.

The key to greater faith is to thwart the devil's attempt to get your mind locked in on all the bad that's happening right now. God said that He was planning on bringing some good things to you. Clamp your mind on His Word. Think about healing. Think about increased finances. Think about your loved ones coming to Jesus. Think about good things coming your way. Fuel your faith instead of your doubts and watch miracles begin to happen.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Never Pass Up an Opportunity to Display God's Love

 In the eighth chapter of Matthew, the writer documents the calming of a storm and the deliverance of the demoniac of Gadara.  Here are two perfect opportunities to reveal God and His love.

       Jesus told the disciples to get in a boat and cross the sea of Galilee.  During the trip, they encountered a storm.  The storm was not sent by the devil nor induced by God.  Storms on the sea of Galilee just happen.  It's a normal occurrence.  Just like life, storms come when you least expect it.  

     Naturally, the disciples who were used to seeing the destructive power of these storms began to be afraid.  Jesus slept.  Fear caused the disciples to rave about the dreadful prospects of impending doom.  They woke Jesus who found an opportunity to demonstrate God's love and protective heart.

     When they reached the shore, they were confronted with a man that was demon possessed.  The human thing to do was to put distance between yourself and such a person.  Jesus demonstrated that God's love would attract the attention of such a person.  The man was attracted to His love while the demons raged inside of him.  Jesus again found an opportunity to demonstrate God's divine love by demanding the demons to leave the man.  They did.

     Every day, we face normal circumstances brought by a world full of evil.  In the book of Ephesians, Paul teaches us to be rooted and grounded in God's love.  Every evil thing that comes to us is an opportunity to show sinners the overwhelming grace of God and His love.

     May we be so empowered every day of our lives.