|12/7/2023||As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.|
As Jesus spent final, precious moments with His disciples, He spoke of abiding and how their point of contact determined their potential.
Vinedressers can attest that the point of contact – where the branch meets the vine – is where healthy, flourishing life begins. At that juncture, life-giving sap flows through to be delivered to the fruit growing on the branch.
If the branch has a large, unobstructed connection to the vine, the potential is great for a bumper crop – plentiful, luscious grapes. If the connection is poor, the fruit will be withered and sparse.
To abide means to remain, to stay closely connected, to settle in for the long term. Ongoing vital connection with Jesus directly determines the flow of His supernatural power at work in our lives.
In John 15, Jesus uses “abide (remain or dwell)” eleven times. John uses it 40 times in his gospel. To be productive, we must join with Him.
A branch, severed from the vine and lying in the dust, will not produce one leaf, one flower, one grape. Our connection to Jesus must be our singular priority.
To remain in Him, we must set apart devoted time with Jesus. We must deepen our relationship by talking and listening to Him. Savor His words. Be attentive to His presence every moment. Abide in Him.
|12/6/2023||John 15:2: “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”|
Today’s verse sounds quite ominous to the “branch” that is not bearing fruit. However, when we examine it in the original text, a beautiful picture emerges.
Instead of “take away,” the Greek word “airo” can be translated “lift up.” John the Baptist exclaimed, “Behold! The Lamb of God Who takes away (airo) the sin of the world!” Jesus took away our sins and “lifted” them to the Father. Jesus said, “And I, if I be lifted up (airo) from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”
In a vineyard, grapevines grow upwards along a trellis, so the clusters of fruit hang freely. If branches grow along the ground, the fruit splits or grows moldy. They are never intended to exist there.
We cannot flourish where we were never intended to live. If we are connected to old behaviors or old ways of thinking, our ability to produce good fruit is severely limited. We cannot grow in the dark.
Our tender Vinekeeper will come to “lift up” the branch that has fallen in the dirt. He will “take away” the dead foliage, prune it for optimum growth. He will wash it with the water of the Word to make it clean. With gentle hands, He will do everything He can to ensure that we produce much good fruit.
|12/5/2023||John 15:8 “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”|
God’s will for each of His children is that we bear fruit – and not just somefruit, but much fruit! God is a productive and producing God, and He desires the same attributes in us.
When do we start? Immediately! Fruit production is possible for every believer. From the moment we are grafted into the True Vine, His potential and power flow through us.
Where do we start? Here! Our mission field exists right where we live. We have great impact in the place where we are known the most.
How do we start? The Holy Spirit produces fruit in us as we submit to the Father. His good fruit grows in us, and we produce works as evidence.
When the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, they received power to become His witnesses in Judea – that was home. In Samaria – those were their neighbors. And to the uttermost parts of the earth.
Let’s produce good fruit at home – with our spouses and children…Let’s be productive in our witness to our neighbors…In the places where we are employed, let’s work with God-honoring integrity…Those who know us best must know how we love Him most…Start here…Start now…As you are nourished by the Father, may you flourish…Abound in every good work to produce more and more fruit!!!
|12/4/2023||Romans 11:17 “…and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree…”|
Many people claim a deep affiliation with religion, but they have no relationship with Jesus. Until they are grafted into the True Vine, they face death and the fire of judgment.
To graft a branch into a vine, the vinedresser cuts open the well-rooted, mature vine. In the fresh cut, he places the branch. He then ties the vine and the branch together.
As the vine begins to heal, the sap and nutrients from the root will feed the branch through the wound of the vine. This life-giving flow unites the branch and vine. Eventually, no one will be able to tell that the branch was once separate from the vine.
Before Calvary, we were outside of the covenant of God – a wild olive tree. When Jesus went to the cross, He was wounded for our wrongs, crushed for our evil. The judgment for our sin was placed on Him. He was pierced and broken for us.
When He cried, “It is finished,” His crucifixion pulled us into the covenant…Because we are grafted into Jesus, the spiritual DNA of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob now flows through us…We are His chosen and redeemed…We are fed by the richness of the True Vine!!!
|12/3/2023||Colossians 2:6-7 “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith…”|
Trees are known by their fruit. Apple trees produce apples; cherry trees produce cherries. We are known by the good fruit that we produce for His kingdom.
Without a root, though, no fruit exists. If we are not vitally connected to the Root of David, we produce nothing of worth. Jesus, the True Vine, stretches from the manger all the way back to Abraham. He connects the covenant of Genesis with the cross of Golgotha. He pulls us into every promise of God.
Before the cross, we were without hope outside of the covenants of God. Because we have been grafted into the True Vine, every promise is now “Yes and Amen” to us in Christ.
Those who refuse to abide in Him, who reject the Root of David, are branches disconnected from the life-giving source. They wither and die, are gathered up, cast away, and burned in the fire.
Those abiding in the Vine live as heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus. We build our lives in the One from Whom all blessings flow.
Wrap your life around the Root of David…Abide in Him to be fruitful in every good work, increasing in the knowledge of God, and fully pleasing Him!!!
|12/2/2023||John 15:16 “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit…”|
Jesus and His disciples had just celebrated Passover. As they walked towards the Garden of Gethsemane, they passed through a vineyard in the Kidron Valley.
There, among the clusters of grapes, He taught them. “I am the true vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser. You are the branches.” His further instructions extend to us.
He chose us. He appointed us. We are to go and bear fruit. He desires that we grow and produce good things for His kingdom. No matter if we have been a believer for five minutes or 55 years, God shows no favoritism or partiality.
He wants growth. If we are breathing, there is room for more of Him. He desires for us to grow more mature, stronger, deeper, wiser, more faithful, and more fruitful.
The patient Vinedresser will come to inspect our branches and our baskets. For those of us producing fruit, He will prune us to help us grow even more. For those of us whose branches are bare, He will lift us up to cut away the loose ends in our lives and to help us produce.
Cultivate opportunities for growth…Everything that is occurring around us – and in us – works to make us that much more fruitful…Leverage it all for Him…Go, grow, and produce!!!
|12/1/2023||John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”|
Jesus knew what was coming as He gazed into the circle of dear, familiar faces glowing in the lamplight. These were the final words He would share before He was betrayed.
What a ragtag group they were – men with callouses on their hands and hearts, cheaters, liars, betrayers, and doubters! Jesus saw what others could not. His heart was tender towards these vagabonds who would undertake His earthly ministry to carry the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
The words that He spoke into their ears that fateful evening are the same ones He whispers to us today: “…apart from Me you can do nothing.” He wanted them to understand that if they chose to go it alone – to work hard to generate results on their own – all of their efforts would be in vain. No matter how well-intentioned, they would produce nothing of enduring worth.
How freeing to realize that it is not up to us! Only He is the Prince of Peace. Only in His presence can we find the fullness of joy. When the enemy rushes in like a flood, only He can raise a standard against him.
Outside of Jesus is barrenness and brokenness…With Him, our lives blossom and bloom in the beauty of God!!!
|11/30/2023||Genesis 32:31 “Just as he crossed over Penuel the sun rose on him, and he limped on his hip.”|
As Jacob wrestled with God, the sky began to lighten. God saw that He did not prevail against Jacob, so He touched his hip and threw it out of joint.
Jacob was forever changed. For the rest of his life, he leaned on God. When he escaped with Esau’s stolen birthright, he was proud and pompous. His shoulders were square; his chin was held high. His scheming deception had earned him what he wanted.
But after he wrestled with God, he was humble in heart. He carried himself slowly. With each faltering step, he recognized that his blessing came from God. His limp reminded him of his new name and destiny. He called that place Penuel, face of God.
Have you ever been through a trial so traumatic that you were changed forever? The person you were before the crisis no longer exists. Yet, the new you recognizes that it is good that you were afflicted (Psalm 119:71). Your prayers prevailed; His Word has settled in your bones like never before.
You wrestled with God until the sun rose over you, and He gave His blessing…And because you contended through the long night, you are familiar with His face…You know Him in a way that defies explanation…You will never be the same!!!
|11/29/2023||Isaiah 62:2 “You shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD will name.”|
Jacob stubbornly wrestled with God. He would not let go until God gave him what he wanted more than anything.
God blessed him with a new name; He would now be called Israel. Jacob had struggled with God and man, but he had prevailed. His desperation for the blessing won out.
In an instant, he received a new name, a new character, and a new outcome. No longer was he known as Jacob – the heel catcher, deceiver, and trickster. God called him Israel, a Prince with God.
He had lived up to his previous name and fulfilled the expectations of that label. But when His Creator – the One Who formed and ordained – called him by name, he became the man God had designed. When his Maker told him what He saw and called out his true identity, Israel was born.
Many of us wrestle with who we once were. We are exhausted by the expectations and diminished by the doubters around us. Our Creator will struggle with us – just like he wrestled with Jacob – until we are in a position to receive the blessing.
In a moment, He will call out the person He designed you to be…He will give you a new name, new character, and new destiny…One touch will change everything!!!
|11/28/2023||Psalm 148:5 “Let them praise the name of the LORD, for He commanded and they were created.”|
From the highest heaven to the lowest valley, all of creation praises our Father. He commanded, they were created, and they commend His efforts.
From above, the psalmist calls for the sun, moon, stars, and clouds to praise Him. From earth below, he calls for a response from the oceans, mountains, and forests. He commands the cattle, sea creatures, and birds to give thanks to their Creator.
At this beautiful time of year, all creation joins to magnify His name. The trees burst forth their riotous robes of color and clap their hands for joy as the wind teases their leaves. The mountains and hills sing in tones of aspen yellow and dancing goldenrod. The geese honk of His greatness as they wing their way south under a high, cloudless, autumn sky. The bountiful harvest extols His goodness in a cornucopia of pumpkins and produce.
All around us, creation reminds us to praise the Lord…The earth and His creatures know that they are created by Him and for Him – to point to and praise His majesty…The psalmist rallies us to praise, too…From the tiniest babe in arms to the gray-headed elder, he summons us to exalt our God Who reigns over all…Join in the symphony of praise with all God’s creatures today…Praise the name of the Lord!!!
|11/27/2023||Psalm 150:6 “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!”|
Praise the Lord! Psalm 146 through Psalm 150 all begin with that resounding encouragement, and it echoes throughout the verses of these chapters.
These psalms tell us who should praise the Lord – everything that has breath. What should extol His goodness? Every creation above and below. When? Every single day forever and ever. Where? From the sanctuary to the quiet of our beds in the midnight hour. Oh, how these verses tell us why we should give thanksgiving to our most worthy Father!
Psalm 150 explodes in a symphony of praise! Blast the trumpets, crash the cymbals, shake the tambourines! That worship is also exhibited in the stillness where we know that He is God, in the soft strumming of stringed instruments, in the tears of gratitude in the comfortable silence between us. In every way we know how, every single being that has breath should praise His name!
How extraordinary that this continual outpouring of praise would bless God and would produce extraordinary results in us, too…Science has proven that this attitude of gratitude creates pathways of positivity in our brains that benefit our health in every way…These thoughts of thankfulness center our very beings on the One Who continues to gift us with spiritual blessings in a beautiful cycle of generosity…If you have breath, praise the Lord!!!
|11/26/2023||Psalm 149:4 “For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation.”|
What a beautiful picture the psalmist paints for us in today’s verse! The Lord has blessed and beautified us with salvation. He delights in us.
When there was no good thing in us – nothing worthy of His attention – He took notice of our desperate state. While we were still sinners, He died for us. He stripped away our own filthy rags and clothed us in His holy robes of righteousness.
This kind of love merits a new song – not just melodies and harmonies droned out mindlessly, but a joyful river of Spirit-song flowing from a heart of inexplicable gratitude. Make those praises privately – and publicly – surrounded by other saints!
This unspeakable gift of salvation causes us to rejoice in our Maker and to be joyful before our King. Such love demands our deepest response of thanksgiving – praising Him with dancing, song, and playing of musical instruments.
And because our hearts overflow with gratitude, the daylight hours will not be able to contain our praise. Even lying in our beds, we will keep up a constant flow of praise for the goodness of our God.
Praise Him for the gift of His salvation…He has given us beauty for ashes and joy for mourning…Bask in His delight…Let all that is within you bless His holy name!!!
|11/25/2023||1 John 1:7 “… and the Blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”|
On the day that the flood of God’s judgment loomed, Noah and his family climbed aboard the ark, and God closed the door. The opportunity for mercy and grace was no more.
As the lightning flashed and thunder crashed, Noah was sealed inside. God provided a way of escape from the watery grave outside.
Years later, the children of Israel hunkered in their houses on the first Passover night. The blood of a spotless lamb splashed over their doors turned away the judgment of the death angel as he passed through Egypt to kill the firstborn sons. He did not discriminate as he took the Pharaoh’s and the pauper’s sons. When he saw the blood, the Israelites’ sons were saved.
At Calvary, Jesus became the Ark of our Salvation…He hung between us and judgment…Sin, death, and hell had laid claim to us…Addiction and bondage tightened chains around us…But by His stripes, Jesus paid for our healing…His crown of thorns bought our royalty…The Cross set us free…Now, no weapon formed against us will prosper…When fear lurks, when the past rises up to haunt, when old sins rattle their chains, the blood of Jesus stands against them…When they see that we are safe within the Ark, they must pass by…We are under the Blood – cleansed and set free!!!
|11/24/2023||Psalm 147:1 “Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful.”|
Again, the psalmist encourages us to approach the Lord with praise and thanksgiving. Throughout this psalm, he lets us know that it is good, pleasant, and beautiful to sing to God!
Other translations tell us that – not only is it good, pleasant, and beautiful – it is appropriate and fitting that we sing praises to Him. When we consider His goodness and glory, it is exactly right that we would burst forth into grateful song.
He created, counted, and called each star by name. He causes the grass to grow and feeds all the creatures of the earth. He keeps peace at the borders of our nation. He launches His promises to earth, and they accomplish His will here.
Closer to home, He puts good food on our tables. He pulls together the outcasts, heals their broken hearts, and bandages their wounds. He makes our cities secure and blesses our children.
In this season, consider the handiwork of the Lord…Take note of all His blessings to you…He delights in giving good gifts to His children…Allow the gratitude in your heart to spill from your lips in joyful worship…Sing a hymn of thanksgiving to God…The Lord strains to hear your upraised voice…Your praises are music to His ears!!!
|11/23/2023||Psalm 30:4 “Sing praise to the LORD, you saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.”|
The first American Thanksgiving Day occurred in 1621 when the Pilgrims gathered to give thanks for surviving the long winter to reap their first harvest in the strange, new land.
In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared an official holiday with the following proclamation: “I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.”
Today, as you mark the Thanksgiving holiday, find a quiet moment to count the many gifts with which God has blessed you. Look back over the last year to recognize the evidence of God’s handiwork. Remember His arms carrying you through the difficult days, His provision and protection.
Thank Him for salvation today and bright hope for eternity. Praise Him for the blessing of living in a nation where peace predominately prevails. Express gratitude for the dear family and friends gathered around your table.
May you be aware of His every blessing…May you acknowledge it as a good and perfect gift that has come from the Father of Lights above!!!
|11/22/2023||Psalm 146:1 “Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul!”|
We are counting our blessings and singing God’s praises. We choose to give thanks every single day.
In our verse, the psalmist speaks forcibly to his soul, “Praise the Lord!” He seems to be waking up his sluggish soul and reminding it to give praise where praise is due.
A popular quote asks the direct question: “What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?” Ouch! How easy it is for us to get sidetracked by all the distractions that clamor for our attention. How quickly our world-weary souls bow under the weight of everyday pressures.
But the psalmist rings the alarm and shakes our shoulders: “Praise the Lord, O my soul!” And he proceeds to spell out all the reasons that those whose hope is in the Lord should be happy.
God always does what He says that He will do. He executes justice for the oppressed. He gives food to the hungry and freedom to the prisoners. He opens the eyes of the blind and raises up those who are bowed down. He watches over strangers, the orphans, and the widows – those who feel displaced and lonely.
Today, rouse your soul…Wake it from its slumber, and remind it of all the reasons that God has given you to be happy…Count your blessings one by one!!!
|11/21/2023||Hebrews 6:10 “For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.“|
Not only does God remember you, He remembers the work that you do in His name. He promises a reward for those unseen tasks that no one else recognizes.
Something as small as giving a cup of cold water to a little one in His name does not escape His notice (Mark 9:41). He recognizes these tasks as a labor of love given out of our deep appreciation for all that Jesus has done for us.
Each of us has some ministry to fulfill for the Lord – no matter how small. The key is to do it in His name and for His glory. If we desire credit or recognition for our work, we are not doing it for His glory – but our own.
A labor of love is completed with excellence. We pour our very best efforts into every task we undertake. He is worthy of the finest we have to give.
Our verse today mentions the ministry to the saints in the past and the continued ministry in the present. A labor of love is an ongoing effort. We must be committed to advancing the Kingdom.
Keep up the labor of love for Go…Even when no one else notices, He sees you there…He will not forget!!!
|11/20/2023||Psalm 139:1 “O LORD, You have searched me and known me.“|
God forgets no one. Over and over, Scripture declares that God remembered His promises to His people.
God remembered Noah, and He closed the windows of heaven and shut off the fountains of the deep so the floodwaters could recede. God remembered Abraham, and He made him the father of many nations with descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky.
God remembered the Israelites, and He delivered them from slavery in Egypt. God remembered Rebekah, and He took away her reproach by opening her womb to give her a son.
The Psalmist declared that we are continually on God’s mind. If we were to count the sum of His thoughts towards us, they would be more numerous than the grains of sand on the seashore.
He knows every idea that passes through our minds…He is aware of every word we will speak before it rolls off our tongues…He is acquainted with all of our habits…Every one of our days was written down in His book before we lived one…He knows us more intimately than anyone else ever has or ever will…He still loves us so deeply that we cannot even comprehend the breadth or depth of His commitment to us…Even when you feel forgotten and deserted, He remembers you…God forgets no one!!!
|11/19/2023||Psalm 145:1 “I will extol You, my God, O King; and I will bless Your name forever and ever.”|
Thanksgiving is a few days away! More than a one-day-a-year celebration, thanksgiving should be the everyday overflow of our hearts.
The psalmist gives us a great reminder. With sweeping passion, he declares that he will bless the name of the Lord forever and ever. Yet, the next verse draws it a little closer to home. He promises to bless the King every single day. Then, he explains how he might fulfill that vow in the rest of Psalm 145.
He promises to meditate on the splendor of God’s majesty. He will recall how He is gracious, full of compassion, slow to anger, great in mercy, and good to all.
He will declare God’s mighty acts, His wondrous works, and His glorious kingdom. He will remind others of all His blessings. His mouth will speak the praise of the Lord.
He turns his eyes expectantly to the Lord Who satisfies the desire of every living thing. This is our Savior Who draws near and preserves all those who love Him.
For the next week, bless your King every single day…Take time to meditate on all He is and all He has done for you…Testify to others about His overwhelming kindness to you…If we are to praise Him forever and ever, we should begin to practice now!!!
|11/18/2023||Revelation 5:9 “And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.”|
Two by two, male and female, animals from every species boarded the ark – from the mammoth elephant to the tiniest snail.
Jesus, the Ark of our salvation, provided a way of rescue for people of every kind. Through His sacrifice on the Cross, He welcomes “whosoever will” to join the family of God.
The Good News does not take your nationality, skin color, or social class into consideration. No one is disqualified by the sins of the past or the predicaments of the present. If you have a heartbeat and are breathing, you are the right kind of person to receive salvation through Jesus Christ!
One day, we will gather around the throne of God…Men and women from the whole earth will sing a new song to the only One worthy of worship…The redeemed from every walk of life – bakers and bikers, pastors and prostitutes, teachers and truck drivers – will eat together at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb…Animals of every shape, size, and temperament marched aboard Noah’s ark…God sent His Son for you…Here is your invitation; He is waving you aboard…You are the right kind of person for Him!!!
|11/17/2023||Genesis 8:1 “Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark.”|
By faith, Noah built an ark that carried him through the flood of judgment to safety. He started out before he knew how things would turn out.
The waters of the flood prevailed on the earth. Noah and his family were adrift on a three-story zoo with no rudder, no sail, and no map. They had no place to dock, to plant a seed, to see a future for themselves. Noah must have felt forgotten and forsaken by God.
But God remembered. After 150 days, He closed the windows of heaven, turned off the faucets of the deep, and the floodwaters began to recede.
You may be weeks or months into your own flood. There is no let-up in the pouring rain. You feel alone and abandoned. The water has swamped the sunshine and drowned your dreams.
God knows when the first raindrop fell; He knows when the clouds will clear. He sees the beginning and the end, and He is right beside you in the middle.
He sees you there…No need to flounder in the floodwaters…He will never leave you…No need to feel alone…He will not turn away…No need to despair…He has given you a future and a hope…He remembers!!!
|11/16/2023||2 Timothy 2:13 “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.|
Noah was a faithful man – a righteous man – but he was not perfect. We sometimes struggle to behave like we believe. Even though we are professing His promises, we waver over the “why’s” and stumble in the uncertainty.
Even when we fail, God does not. Even when we are too weak to go on, His strength will be perfected in us; His power will rest on us. When we are hurting beyond words, He will help us. We are such a part of Him that He could never disown us; it would be like denying Himself.
His love and mercy, His grace and provision are not contingent upon our perfection. When our flesh is weak, He says, “My grace is sufficient for you” (II Corinthians 12:9).
When the storm clouds begin to gather…When the rain begins to fall…When the fountains of the deep break open…When the flood begins to rise…We can enter the Ark of salvation and find the safety and shelter we need…When we fail, He does not…When we cannot, He can…When we do not know, He does…When we are out of answers, He is the Answer…Have faith in God. His grace is sufficient…He remains faithful!!!
|11/15/2023||Proverbs 22:29 “Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before unknown men.”|
Noah heard God’s warning. He believed what God said, and he went right to work. He did not stand in his living room and ask God to manifest the ark in his yard. He did not “name it and claim it” or “mark it and park it.”
Too often, people desire the convenience of the blessing but dismiss the burden of the work. God’s promise does not automatically entitle us to the blessing. We must act on the word that He gives. We take the step of faith that demonstrates our confidence in what He has said.
God promises us the power to get wealth, but He tells us that the person who will not work should not eat either. He promises that His Word will be health to our bones, but we must be good stewards of the physical bodies with which He has blessed us.
Our profession and our conduct must be in agreement. Noah scouted out the forest, felled the trees, sawed the planks, and hammered the nails. He put his faith to work.
God has a plan for our family’s future… Know where you need to pick up a hammer…Behave like you believe and watch God’s promises come to pass…Get to work!!!
|11/14/2023||Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.|
“You’re not the boss of me!” Sound familiar, parents?
We love them with all our hearts. We make sacrifices to provide for all their needs. We take them to church and practice our faith to be Godly, genuine examples. And yet?
Children have responsibility in this equation, too. God instructs them to honor their parents. Not a suggestion, this is a commandment that carries a promise. If they choose to obey, they will enjoy a long life in which things go well for them. For the child who treats his parents with contempt, God reserves a curse.
We must teach our children to take this responsibility seriously. We begin by honoring our Heavenly Father, demonstrating the reverence and respect that He is due. We also honor our own earthly parents – extending forgiveness for past hurts and practicing grace in the present.
And always, we must guard the authority that God gives us as parents – not pals. Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child (Proverbs 22:15), and we must administer the discipline, correction, and training that will help our children mature to walk in God’s commandments.
Parents, love your children…Train them up in the way they should go…Children, obey your parents in the Lord…This is right!!!
|11/13/2023||3 John 1:4 “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”|
After the animals paraded two-by-two into the ark, Noah’s family followed. By faith, they entered the boat that proved to be their salvation.
Noah’s wife must have supported him. When the rest of the world was against him, he needed someone in his corner. Because of their agreement, their sons believed and worked alongside Noah to complete the boat. Finally, they all climbed aboard and waited for the rain to fall.
When we are united in faith with our spouses, our children will follow. When they hear us talk about Jesus as our Best Friend, they will find the love and acceptance they crave in Him. When they catch us reading, reciting, and wrapping our lives around God’s Word, they will recognize its truth as the foundation for life.
When they watch us bow our knees, they will recognize prayer as a first resource – not a last resort. When they see us rely on Jesus to bear our burdens and to provide for us, they will comprehend that He is more than enough to meet every need.
As we persevere in this most holy faith, our children will see that a life in Christ is the only one worth living…And as they climb aboard the Ark of salvation, we will know no greater joy!!!
|11/12/2023||II Peter 2:5 “…and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness…”|
Scripture does not celebrate Noah for his naval genius. While he was an impressive boat builder, he is remembered for something more world-shaking.
Because Noah believed God and behaved like he believed, his entire family was saved – eight people in all. That is worth celebrating!
Today’s verse refers to Noah as a preacher of righteousness. Where and to whom did Noah preach? Genesis never mentions him standing behind a pulpit. But every day, Noah shared a message with his life, when he moved in Godly fear to obey His commands.
What message are we preaching to our children? Does our behavior cause them to believe in the God that we serve?
While Noah’s sons may not have understood his actions, they trusted him and followed him into the ark. Our children may not understand why we pray or attend church, but if we set the right example, they will implement those same practices in their own lives.
Let us live consistent lives of faith…Let us be beacons that light the way to Jesus in this dark world…If we set the right example, they will follow us into the Ark of salvation…We may not be impressive boat builders, but we will be remembered for something more world-shaking!!!
|11/11/2023||Mark 11:22 “So Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Have faith in God’.”|
What is the one thing in your life that opens up the door of opportunity for God to pour out His grace on you and your family?
It is not your works. All of our righteousness – the good things that we do in our own power – is like filthy rags in the sight of God. We cannot earn salvation.
It is not your monetary status. Your family may be held together with golden handcuffs of privilege, but finances will eventually fail.
It is not your educational standing. Even with prestigious degrees, you will collide with a question that no earthly wisdom can answer.
It is not your influence. No matter the awards you have achieved or the accolades you have received, God is not impressed.
Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord because of his faith. When the rest of the world thumbed their noses at God, Noah had faith. When they scorned him, he continued to hammer the nails. When they whispered as he walked down the street, he prayed harder and praised louder.
Even when it is not politically correct, have faith in God…Even when it is not socially acceptable, have faith in God…Your faith will open the door for God to pour out His grace on you and your family!!!
|11/10/2023||Luke 17:26 “And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man.”|
God warned Noah of the approaching flood, and Noah heeded that warning. By faith, he began to prepare for the upcoming disaster. His actions saved his whole family.
By God’s divine design, Noah received everything that he needed to escape the coming judgement. He precisely followed God’s blueprint for the ark. He loaded up the animals and hurried his family aboard the boat. God closed the door behind them.
Noah was pressured by the same temptations and surrounded by the same wickedness that we face. And yet, he remained righteous. Because of his faith, his whole family came into the ark with him.
We are surrounded by widespread wickedness like the days of Noah, but God has given us everything we need to escape the coming judgment. He gave His only begotten Son to be the Ark of our salvation. When we believe in the promise of God and enter in, we will not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
Because of Noah’s obedience, those he loved the most followed him onto the boat…He did not win his neighbors, but his faith convinced his family to enter the ark…We must make every effort to do everything in our power to reach our family for Christ!!!
|11/9/2023||John 14:29 “And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe.”|
Many people grow nervous when the storm clouds roll in and the thunder rumbles in the distance. Imagine how Noah must have felt when he looked up and saw a dark cloud forming on the horizon.
He had heard and heeded God’s instructions. For 100 years, he had worked and warned his family and neighbors. The rain was coming, and the flood would rise. He labored through day-after-day, building a boat for a flood in a world that had never seen a drop of rain.
When he drove the last nail into the final board and saw the storm clouds roll in, he did not get anxious about what was coming. He must have sighed in relief that his faith was fulfilled. He must have thanked God that He was true to His word.
Over two thousand years ago, Jesus assured us that He would return to earth as a conquering King. He made promises about perilous times and the pouring out of His Spirit, about disasters and dreams, about sorrows and signs in the sky, about tribulation and trumpets, about epidemics and the end.
Keep working for His coming…Tell your family and friends…God’s Word is true, and His timing is flawless…One day, He will split the eastern sky…His promise endures!!!
|11/8/2023||I Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.”|
No matter what personal flood is swirling around you, be assured that God has placed someone in your life to throw out a line to you.
God created us for relationship with Himself and with one another. He made us family. He instructs us to look out for the interests of others; we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers.
In the middle of strange waters, struggling to keep your head above water, be alert for the person that God has sovereignly placed near you. That is the person who will toss out the life preserver, that will remind you that God has not brought you this far to fail.
In the face of a frightening diagnosis, that brother will testify to Jesus’ healing power. Once drowning in a sea of debt, that sister will tell of a Provider Who is more than enough. She will remind you of His past faithfulness. He will encourage you to trust and persevere. They will stand beside you in the rain and pray for the sun to shine again.
Watch for the hand reaching down to pull you out of the waves…Listen for the life-giving words that will be breath to your lungs…Find hope in the friends that He will give you in the flood!!!
|11/7/2023||Deuteronomy 31:8 “And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.”|
When we face a flood and are tossed about on waves of worry and woe, Satan whispers that God has abandoned us to sink like a stone.
In Genesis 7:11, the rain fell “in the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day.” God did not guess. How comforting that He knew exactly when and where the first raindrop would land!
We might not have seen our flood coming, but God was aware of the building clouds. He sees exactly what lies in our future, and He is already there awaiting our arrival.
From your mother’s womb, He knew that in your thirteenth year, in the second month, on the fifth day, you would need a friend that sticks closer than a brother. He waited there with open arms.
In your thirty-second year, in the sixth month, on the fifteenth day, when the doctor delivered the diagnosis, the Great Physician attended that appointment too. On the day that your heart was shattered, He captured every tear.
Nothing escapes His notice…No random events surprise Him…He holds you in the palm of His hand, and nothing can snatch you away…He is here for you!!!
|11/6/2023||Matthew 25:13 “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”|
Armed with the blueprints of the ark, Noah went to work. In light of the coming flood, Noah did not delay to gather the gopher wood and get started.
Noah had enough faith to believe that if God said it, He would bring down the rain. He had enough reverence to take action on the plans God had given him.
He must have enlisted the help of his three sons as he built the mammoth boat that would save his family and the animals of the earth. Their father’s faith and fear must have been contagious. His devotion and determination convinced them.
Some have doubted the success of Noah’s ministry. All around him, his neighbors continued to eat, drink, and celebrate life’s events. How they must have laughed and scorned the crazy man whose whole life had been derailed by this building project!
But on the day that the storm clouds gathered, the people that Noah loved the most walked into the boat with him. God closed the door on the ark of their salvation.
Let’s believe in the words of God and get to work on the plans that He has placed in our hearts…Like Noah, let’s be undeterred in our work for the Savior…If we do not grow weary in doing good, we will reap a reward!!!
|11/5/2023||Hebrews 12:28 “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.”|
The alarm beeps every morning. We hop in the shower, grab our coffee, and head out the door to beat the traffic. Our routines make us feel safe and in control.
When Noah was 500 years old, God showed up to shake up his routine. Life had fallen into pleasant patterns, but God was about to do something that had never been done before.
How do we respond to daily disruptions? What happens when the alarm fails to ring, when traffic comes to a standstill, when the principal calls, when the anticipated check does not arrive?
Noah responded with faith. He trusted in the word God spoke, and he was “moved with Godly fear” to gather the wood and pick up his hammer (Hebrews 11:7). He responded with faith…and fear?
This fear was not based in Noah’s anxiety for the future. It was rooted in his utter reverence and respect for his Sovereign Father. It moved him – caused him to take action. He did not rail against the disruption that took him 100 years away from his own plans.
When interruptions hijack our plans, let’s trust in the God Who writes every single page of our story…Let’s walk expectantly into the detour that He lays out before us!!!
|11/4/2023||Hebrews 11:7 “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household.”|
God opened the windows of heaven, and never-before-seen rain cascaded from the sky. The fountains of the deep broke open, and water gushed forth. Noah faced a flood.
Floods are inevitable in our lives. Noah faced a flood of judgment. We may be overwhelmed by a flood of fear, financial lack, physical trial, or family torment.
By faith, Noah teaches us how to navigate the unavoidable floods. If we cling to our faith, God has provided an ark of salvation to deliver us.
God warned Noah of the impending disaster. Noah was unprepared for rain, arks, and zoos. This had never been done before! He had a decision to make. Would he trust in the word of God or in his own intuition that said this was foolishness?
How many times have we deserted our faith to flounder in dark waters? Faith is not faith until it is tested. When we are tried by sickness, God becomes our Healer by faith. In our hour of need, God becomes our Provider by faith.
When the rains fall, when the storms rage, when the floods rise…face them with faith in the One Who will shut us in with Him and carry us safely to solid ground!!!
|11/3/2023||Romans 11:33 “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!”|
The wisdom and ways of God are simply over our heads. Impossible to figure out and beyond the realm of our ability!
At God’s word, Noah went to work for 100 years. He had no concept of rain because it had never fallen before. When he drove the final nail, animals arrived two-by-two to climb aboard until God shut the door behind Noah and his family. Unexplainable!
So many things are beyond our understanding. How did a holy God look into an abyss of blackness and say, “Let there be light,” and it came to be?
Why did He plan for His only begotten Son to be the sacrifice for sin from the foundations of the earth?
How did that Son come through the womb of a virgin to be crucified in our place?
We certainly cannot explain how, after three days in the grave, He burst forth to ascend to the right hand of God where He now rules.
How incomprehensible that, in the name of Jesus, we have access to bring our petitions to the Father!
We have no reason for “exceedingly abundantly above all that we could ever ask or imagine” or “pressed down, shaken together, and running over.”
Unsearchable and past finding out…He is the God of the impossible!!!
|11/2/2023||I Peter 4:7 “But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.”|
Jesus Christ is coming soon! All around us, we see the signs of His nearing return.
Jesus warned us of these impending signs: wars, rumors of wars, disease, famine, earthquakes, deceivers who claim to be Jesus, increased wickedness, a lack of love, and a migration of Jews back to Israel. For anyone who watches the news, these are daily realities that cause us to look up, because our redemption is closing in (Luke 21:28).
His approaching return stirs a sense of urgency in our hearts. We have work to do before the trumpet blast and His appearance in the clouds! We must remain sober and alert because no one knows the day when He will descend to catch us away.
We are Christ’s ambassadors while we remain…He has given us everything we need to succeed in our mission…We must be devoted to prayer, good stewards over all the gifts He has entrusted to us…We will give an account for the ways that we manage all He has given…Watch and pray…Work diligently at the tasks that He places before you, but keep your eyes on the sky…We will not be caught off guard when we live in expectation of His return!!!
|11/1/2023||Psalm 127:4 “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.”|
They are exceptionally noisy and incredibly messy. They question our decisions and challenge our authority. They monopolize our days and keep us up at night. And we love them more than our lives – these children that God has given to us.
Our children are our legacy and future. We are commissioned by our Heavenly Father to raise up the next generation to follow Him, to thoroughly prepare them for a life in Christ.
As parents, we are charged with teaching them about this marvelous Savior to Whom we have devoted our lives. We must raise them up to love Him and fully embrace His Word and the power of the Holy Spirit.
They are like arrows in our hands – pointed and purposeful. We sharpen them to shoot them into the future, to carry the power of Jesus into the years beyond us. We must be intentional as we model and mold, train and teach, love and lead – always pointing them to Jesus.
If we submit to the mission and the necessary sacrifices to pass this torch, our arrows will be pointed and prepared…They will fly true and straight to hit the mark of God’s purpose every time!!!
|10/31/2023||Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God.”|
In our noisy and hectic lives, silence is scarce. Rest is rare. The idea of stillness actually fills some with dread and alarm.
And yet, God beckons us into stillness before Him. We often lament how distant – even absent – God seems, but we infrequently sit alone in His presence just to listen. We expect Him to catch us on the fly, to whisper life-altering truths in our ears as we frantically fit one more activity into our day.
Elijah stood on the side of a mountain, waiting to hear. A wind tore across it, so strong that it shattered rocks. Afterward, an earthquake shook the ground, and a fire blazed through the trees. God was in none of those things. Then came a still, small voice that was so powerful that Elijah wrapped his cloak over his face. How often have we missed the still, small voice?
Jesus often stole away from the crowds and even His close-knit group of disciples. He sought the solitude of a garden or the Galilean hills to communicate with His Father. The instruction and encouragement He received in those hours fueled His earthly ministry. His example inspires us to do the same.
Being quiet takes discipline…It means carving out time and clearing away the clutter to sit in the presence of God…Find a place…Be still…Listen expectantly…Make room for Him…He will be there!!!
|10/30/2023||Job 23:12 “I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.”|
Pastor John Hagee once told his son, Pastor Matt: “If you’ll take the time to dig into God’s Word and tell others what He says, they’ll come from all over the world to hear you. But if all you do is tell them what you say, they won’t cross the street to listen.”
While most of us will not become internationally-known ministers, the wisdom in these words applies to us, too. This world is perishing for a lack of knowledge. They have rejected God’s laws and are reaping the painful consequences of living outside of His will.
People need to hear the Word of God – not the latest self-help advice, psychological diagnoses, or our well wishes. So many are floundering – and even falling – because they have failed to get the Word into themselves.
Job said that he treasured God’s words more than his necessary food; they sustained, nourished, and gave life to his faith walk. There, he found the strength to persevere.
Take time to read it, memorize it, and meditate on it…Dig in…We may not have silver or gold, but we can share the riches of God with others…Out of the storehouse in our hearts, we can give the life and love found in Jesus alone!!!
|10/29/2023||Psalm 45:17 “I will make Your name to be remembered in all generations; therefore the people shall praise You forever and ever.”|
We are members of one, big, beautiful family! We count Christian brothers and sisters of all nations, tongues, cultures, and generations among our numbers. We are one family united under one Father.
As we submit to His Word individually and in the corporate life of our local assemblies, we sometimes overlook the greater, global church of which we are a part. Across the planet, believers cry out to the same God, apply the same beloved Scriptures, and believe in the same mission to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Each of us has a part to play as one generation shares the holy name of Jesus with the next. The older generation is charged with mentoring the younger ones. How rich are the testimonies of those whose faith was forged in the fires of perseverance!
For those in the middle generations, they must perpetuate the convictions and character of those who have gone before. The Truth that we have received transcends generations. They must pass the baton to those young ones who are listening and learning the love of our Savior.
Submission to the mission is how we accomplish God’s plans and purposes through every generation…He equips and empowers us to do His work in every age…Know your part and play it well!!!
|10/28/2023||Philippians 2:3 “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”|
We move at warp speed, rushing through exhausting days to fall into bed with unmet demands still burdening our hearts.
With so many responsibilities and so much pressure to perform, it is easy to develop tunnel vision. We focus exclusively on ourselves and our dreams and desires. Others become resources to reach our goals or nuisances that impede our progress.
Jesus calls us away from a life of selfishness into a life of sacrifice. Following His example, we learn to look up and look around. When the disciples shooed away the children who clambered around Christ, He stopped them and pulled the children in for a blessing.
On a life-or-death mission, He stopped for the woman with the issue of blood. On the Sabbath day, while the Pharisees looked on scornfully, He healed the man with a withered hand.
In the middle of important work, He noticed and took time. In fact, the irritants and outcasts were His important work. Instead of pushing them to the fringes of society, He pulled in the prostitutes, swindlers, crippled, and poor.
Look where you can swap your selfish ambition for sacrifice…See how you can exchange your conceit for concern…In the middle of your important work look up and look around!!!
|10/27/2023||Luke 9:23 “Then He said to them all, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”|
A war rages inside each of us. The desire to do right is at odds with the desire to do wrong.
We each struggle with the temptation born of our fleshly nature. Sin comes naturally to our “old man,” the person we were before we made Jesus our Savior.
When we come to Jesus, the Spirit of God calls us to be more like Him. We have been crucified with Christ – dead to sin and alive in Christ. We put off the former sinful conduct we once practiced with its passions and desires. We are no longer powerless slaves to sin.
If we go after Jesus, we deny ourselves – say no to the desires of our sinful nature. We take up our cross every day – put to death anything that would rise in opposition against God. We follow His example – in our attitudes, our speech, our actions.
Our old nature wars against our new, but we do not battle alone…The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives in us now…He empowers us to put the old man to death…We need not fear that we will slip back into the bondage of sin…If God is for us, nothing can stand against us!!!
|10/26/2023||Isaiah 6:8 “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us? Then I said, Here am I! Send me.”|
Difference makers come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and cultures. They often do not possess extraordinary talents or special gifts that set them apart from others. The one thing they have in common? Willingness.
They have decided to live with an attitude of gratitude. They determine to serve Him as a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. They are simply willing to try.
In Isaiah 6, Isaiah had an awe-inspiring vision of God cloaked in glory and surrounded by angels. The Lord asked, “Who will go?” Isaiah immediately blurted out, “Here am I! Send me.”
He did not take an inventory of his skills, make a list of all his inadequacies, or spout excuses for why he could not volunteer. In complete surrender, he simply said, “Here am I!”
Differences are as unique as difference makers. It is the woman who rocks babies at the local hospital. Or, the man who drives the church van. Or, the person who serves meals at the homeless shelter. Or, someone who sends a timely text. It is as simple as seeing a need and stepping in to meet it.
God is still asking, “Who will go?”…Be brave enough to say yes…Be grateful enough to go…Be determined to make a difference!!!
|10/25/2023||Jeremiah 9:24 “But let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth.”|
Consistent prayer brings us into proximity with God. It develops intimacy and allows us to hear His voice when others might not.
Jesus is our true Shepherd, and we are His sheep. He calls us by name and leads us in His paths. We recognize His voice because we have spent time in His presence. His whisper has calmed our fears in the deep of night. His warning cry has kept our feet from the edge of the cliff.
People often say that they want to know the will of God, but they fail to ask Him. Or, they ask once and give up quickly. Jesus longs for us to pursue Him in prayer. More than the occasional try, He desires an ongoing and sustained effort.
Jesus is our Bridegroom, and we are the bride of Christ. This illustration calls to mind the rich love of a long marriage – the quiet conversations, hard questions, inside jokes, easy laughter, and vulnerable tears. He knows the lines of her face, and she recognizes his voice. Jesus yearns for that love relationship with us.
Unceasing prayer keeps us in His presence…As we learn the cadence of His voice, intimacy grows between us…May we glory in knowing and understanding Him!!!
|10/24/2023||1 John 5:14 “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”|
Prayer is a privilege. Prayer is powerful. It rearranges our attitude and pulls us into alignment with the will of God.
For too many, prayer feels like an awkward encounter with a stranger. But prayer can flow as easily as a comfortable conversation with an old friend. As natural as breathing in and breathing out, it runs like a current throughout our days and nights.
Communicating with our Father should become such a habit that we do not even realize that we are praying – a part of our very identity. This inhaling and exhaling of petitions is an open invitation to Jesus to breathe His life into every situation.
When you have an important presentation at work…Pray. When you need wisdom to parent an unruly child…Pray. As you talk with a friend devastated by a divorce…Pray. As you contemplate a financial investment…Pray.
Nothing is too small to request God’s assistance…If He has counted the hairs on your head, He is in the details that seem insignificant to others…Nothing is too big to request God’s assistance…He specializes in impossibilities…Partner with God in prayer today…Listen for His still, small voice and watch for His answers in response to the constant outcry of your heart!!!
|10/23/2023||Colossians 4:2 “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.”|
Paul encouraged us to pray without ceasing. Do it all the time without letting up! Prayer aligns our attitude with God.
Prayer may be the most overlooked and underutilized gift that God ever gave us. What power we possess when we pray! How was the New Testament church built? Prayer. What healed the sick? Prayer. What brought revival fires in the past? Prayer.
Prayer is more than a nursery rhyme that our children recite at bedtime, a monotonous chant, or a religious ritual to check off of our to-do lists. Prayer is a privilege.
In the Old Testament, the Israelites did not have immediate access to God. They could approach Him through the priest, in a particular place on a particular day in a particular way. Only then could they make their requests known.
When Jesus died on Calvary, God tore the veil in the Temple from top to bottom…He ripped apart the barrier between us…Jesus, our High Priest, became our once-and-for-all sacrifice, and He now sits at God’s right hand to intercede for us…We need only whisper His name to be ushered into the throne room where we can meet face-to-face…Call on Him at any time – all the time – with an attitude of expectancy…Cultivate a continuous attitude of prayer!!!
|10/22/2023||Psalm 34:1 “I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”|
Praising God changes the atmosphere. Psalm 22 declares that God is enthroned in – inhabits – the praises of Israel.
When we are going through a difficult situation, our persistent praise is a personal invitation to the throne room of God. It welcomes Him to show up and demonstrate His power in our circumstances.
Consider Job who lost so much in one day – his ten children, business, and health. Kneeling beside freshly-dug graves, Job said, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away” (Job 1:21). Job’s praise did not cancel the facts. In spite of them, he followed those words with: “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job was not in denial; he made a declaration.
God had been good to him in the past, and he could trust Him in the present. He had blessed him in the best of times, and He would not abandon him in the worst. God was too wise to be mistaken and too loving to be unkind. And even while walking through the darkest valley of his life…blessed be the name of the Lord.
God is consistent and constant…Praise Him even in the middle of the storm…Your praise demonstrates your trust and invites Him to your side…Bless the Lord at all times!!!
|10/21/2023||Psalm 118:24 “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”|
Gratitude determines our attitude. The more thankful we are, the better our attitude – and our outcome – will be.
Rejoicing is a habit that we choose. It has nothing to do with the details of our circumstances but everything to do with a heart fixed on Him. And practice makes perfect!
When the alarm rings, thank God for new mercies every morning. This is the day that the Lord has made – choose to meet it with gladness.
Make work a sacrifice of praise to God. No complaining about overpacked schedules or unpleasant coworkers! Thank God for the means to provide for our families and for healthy bodies to accomplish all that is required.
As we drift off to sleep, thank God for our homes, for protection over loved ones, for the food that He gave us to eat today.
And always, thank God for the joy of our salvation! His Blood has washed us white as snow, forgiven us, and set us free. Even on rough days, thank Him for His sufficient grace that covers all imperfections. For protection and provision, bless His holy name.
Make gratitude your point on purpose…As we think on all He has done, gratitude swells in our hearts to overflow into our attitudes which change the atmosphere and our outcomes…Rejoice and be glad!!!
|10/20/2023||1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”|
Our attitude determines the difference we make. Our focus on God’s goodness factors into our ability to have kingdom impact.
People with the right attitude often do impossible things. Conversely, people with the wrong attitude do little; they tie their own hands.
In every circumstance, our attitude decides whether to name it a blessing or a burden. In every challenge, we choose whether to believe God for more or to become frustrated by the situation. Our attitude determines whether we will praise Him or whether we will dissolve into complaints and accusations.
Complaining cancels out the power of praise. God instructs everything that has breath to praise Him. Praise Him for His mighty acts! Praise Him for His excellent greatness! When we elevate our perspective, our attitude comes into alignment.
Our attitude is determined by three things: the gratitude that is in our hearts, how we praise God, and the time that we spend in prayer. We are not helpless victims of our emotions. We have the option to choose our actions and reactions. We get to decide.
Rejoice always…Pray without ceasing…In everything, give thanks…This is the will of God in Christ Jesus for all of us…These actions determine our attitude and the difference we make!!!
|10/19/2023||1 Corinthians 2:2 “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”|
No matter how insignificant we may feel, when we determine to proclaim Jesus, we make a difference.
Edward Kimball was a Sunday School teacher in Detroit in the 1850’s. When a young visitor told Kimball that he had no interest in knowing Jesus, he could not let it go. Kimball went to his workplace, purchased a shoe shine, and began to witness to him. Before he left, D.L. Moody received Jesus as his Savior.
Moody became a powerful evangelist who reached more than one hundred million people with the Gospel. Frederick Meyer’s congregation heard about the American revival and invited Moody to London. He preached three sermons, every one entitled, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.” Revival swept through the church, and Meyer’s ministry was transformed.
J. Wilbur Chapman came to Christ in Meyer’s church and eventually moved to Chicago where he led Billy Sunday to salvation. Sunday became a great preacher, and Mordecai Ham was saved at one of his meetings.
Ham went on to become one of the first tent revivalists. One night in North Carolina, under Ham’s large circus tent where people stood shoulder to shoulder, a young man came to check out the spectacle. That night in 1936, Billy Graham came to know Jesus.
Because one seemingly insignificant Sunday School teacher was serious about winning the lost, generations of people around the globe were impacted by Christ. What you do for Jesus matters. Go and tell! Win the lost!
|10/18/2023||Acts 17:28 “For in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, For we are also His offspring.”|
Everything that God created, He connected to a source. As long as the created stays connected, it lives and thrives.
In the heavens, God placed the sun and stars. If a star falls from the sky, it dies; it has disconnected from its source. On the earth, God placed trees and plants. If we pull fresh flowers from the ground, they begin to wither and die apart from their life source.
When God made humans, He created us out of Himself. Made in His image, He breathed life into us. In Him, we live and move and have our being – we are His children! We have unlimited potential because our Source is limitless.
Sin created a soul-deep problem; it separated us from our Source. Every one of us has sinned and is dead in trespasses. Like a fish out of water, we flail and gasp for breath. We are not where we belong – outside of His provision and power.
Without connection to our Source, we are dead men and women walking…Salvation through Christ reconnects us to our Source…We find life, wholeness, and abundance…Apart from Him, we can do nothing…Stay plugged in to stay powered up!!!
|10/17/2023||Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”|
We are God’s workmanship, and we have been created to do good works that God planned out for us in advance.
These are not good works that we perform for salvation. These are good works that we complete so others will be persuaded to receive salvation.
After the New Testament church received the Great Commission, they went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them (Mark 16:20-21). They took the Gospel into their homes, streets, and workplaces. They told friends, neighbors, strangers, and enemies what Jesus had done. And they turned the world upside down!
The Lord still works with us. When we do what He commanded us to do, He rewards us with His presence and power to accomplish His will. If we dedicate our homes to God, He will use them for His purposes. People will come in and experience the light and love of Jesus and will leave with the peace of God.
If we dedicate our businesses to God, His unlimited resources become available to us…When our mission statement is His, He will open doors of opportunity and increase…When we are about God’s business, He partners with us…Get to work so others will take notice and glorify our Heavenly Father!!!
|10/16/2023||Psalm 139:14 “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.”|
From the top of your head to the tips of your toes, God created the amazingly unique you.
You are His workmanship, created by God and for God. How easy it is, though, to be discouraged in the middle of the messiness – to feel unsaved, unworthy, and outside of His blessings. Remember that you are a work in progress!
Think about an intricate mosaic floor. From a distance, you appreciate the beauty of its overall plan. However, the closer you move towards it, the less you can comprehend the entire design. In fact, up close, you only focus on one broken shard of pottery. When all you see is brokenness, it is not impressive. It all comes down to perspective.
God is working on you…He takes this broken piece, that shattered moment, this unplanned event, that mountain, this battle…He pulls it all together one piece at a time, over days and decades…Step back and see where you once were and where you are now, and know that God truly has worked all things together for your good…Take heart…He has been refining you all these years…He will not quit until you are perfect in every way because He always completes every good work that He begins!!!
|10/15/2023||Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.”|
If anyone is in Christ Jesus, he is a new creation (II Corinthians 5:17)! The moment that we accept Jesus as Savior, we are made new.
The truth is that – until we come to Christ – we only have the ability to become a reformed version of our old selves. We can embark on a journey of self-improvement, but without Jesus, true change is impossible.
Too many believe they can grasp salvation in their own strength. They cease and desist sinning all on their own. Even if they have the self-discipline to do that, they still have a problem.
Their behavior has changed, but their sins have not been forgiven. They still need to be washed by the Blood of Jesus. Without the shedding of Blood, there is no remission of sins (Hebrews 9:22).
Grace – by faith – is what saves us…Grace is the work that God does, and He gives it to us as a gift…Faith in our ability does not save us…faith in His ability does…Works cannot save us…Only His grace and Blood wash us clean!!!
|10/14/2023||Luke 14:23 “Then the master said to the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.”|
To every Christian, Jesus has issued the order to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
Jesus spoke these words to a small group of faithful followers thousands of years ago, but this special assignment was not for twelve disciples alone. This commission was not isolated just to them. This special order was for every person who has ever received Jesus.
If you accepted him forty years or four days ago, you have the same commission. Go and tell someone else who Jesus is and what He has done. No need to memorize chapter and verse or pass a test. Just remember these three simple words: win the lost!
No matter your denomination or tradition, win the lost…No matter your age or generation, win the lost…No matter your unique gifts or the one thing to which God has called you, win the lost…No matter where you have been or where you are going, win the lost…If you are looking for a passion and a purpose, win the lost…This is how to make a difference…When you win the lost, you introduce the sinner to the Difference Maker, and He changes everything!!!
|10/13/2023||Matthew 28:19-20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you…”|
Members of the United States military have one commission to uphold: to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.
No matter the branch of service – Air Force, Navy, Army, Marines or Coast Guard – the commission is the same. No matter the generation, training or assignment, the Enlistment Oath connects every service person who has ever worn the military uniform.
Even when a Marine argues his superiority over an Army soldier – one commission. Whether a soldier engaged in conflict or did not – one commission. Regardless if a service person retired as a four-star general or was discharged as a private – one commission.
As blood-bought, Bible-believing followers of Christ, we have one simple commission: go…God has commanded us to go into all the world and preach the Good News to all the world…When Jesus redeemed us, we were drafted into the army of the Living God…We are united under His banner and have received our marching orders…When His truth is ignited in the depths of our souls, we are compelled to share the message of the Gospel with those who are outside of His saving grace…We must go and tell the life-changing things that Jesus has done for us!!!
|10/12/2023||Ecclesiastes 4:9 “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.”|
We shine better together! Jesus looked at a group of people and said, “You are the light of the world.”
He spoke to each individual, since His light has taken up residence in each of our hearts. He also spoke to them as a group. Why? Because we shine brighter and better together!
Once we decide to try, to shine, to be difference makers, we must be willing to work with others. The church often suffers from an “I” problem – what “I” want, what “I” need, what “I” do. Instead, we must learn to ask how we can accomplish God’s plans together. How can we better reach this world?
How freeing to appreciate our differences! If we all are exactly alike, most of us are unnecessary. But He created us beautifully unique. Iron sharpens iron – one blade cuts against another – and friends hone the character of each other. In the places where one of us lacks, another comes to fill in the gaps; we come into agreement.
Under the cause of Christ, we unite to accomplish His purposes…Our God-given differences were made to complement – not compete with – one another…We are united in a purpose that is much greater than ourselves…Together, we will shine so brightly that His glory will pour out to flood the whole earth!!!
|10/11/2023||John 4:36 “And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.”|
We love to celebrate big things! We bestow huge awards on people who perform better than everyone else. Behind every person who reaps the recognition, though, someone else has sown the little things.
In 1970, Dr. Norman Borlaug was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his extensive work in agriculture. Scientists estimate that his discoveries saved over two billion people who would have starved to death.
Along with Borlaug, we must recognize Henry Wallace, one-time Vice-President of the United States. As the former Secretary of Agriculture, he believed that if the world was going to be at peace, it needed food. He hired young Borlaug to study ways to feed the world.
George Washington Carver must receive credit, too. Before he became the genius of his generation, he volunteered to take his professor’s son on nature hikes. There, he taught young Henry Wallace how all plants were created by God and could be used for great reasons.
Before that, Moses and Susan Carver rescued George from a band of bushwhackers who murdered his mother and kidnapped him. To honor his mother’s memory, they adopted George as their own.
Do not despise this day of small beginnings…Only God knows what eternal fruit will grow from the seeds you plant today!!!
|10/10/2023||1 Timothy 6:18 “Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share.”|
One person who sees a need and is willing to try can change everything. A simple willingness to try can make all the difference.
Over forty years ago, Pastor John Hagee invited a nine-year-old boy to church. The youngster responded that he would love to go to church, but he did not have a ride. Pastor Hagee promised to find a ride for him. When he asked the church for a volunteer, a teenage girl raised her hand.
Every service the boy could attend, that young lady made certain that he made it to church. From the outside, it looked like a little thing, a mere good deed. In reality, she was a world changer.
That nine-year-old’s path changed the moment He surrendered his life into God’s hands. The course of his family destiny was altered for eternity. He became a pediatrician who has treated thousands of patients. For twenty years, he has volunteered as a Cornerstone Church cameraman so people around the world can tune in to worship. Thousands of people have been impacted by Jesus because one young girl was willing to try.
You are not responsible for a whole eternal destiny…You can meet just one small need today…What a difference you can make if you are only willing to try!!!
|10/9/2023||Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”|
You are not defined by your function. Who you are is not confined to what you do. You are a difference maker.
You might be a parent, a postal worker, a painter or a pediatrician, but that is not all that you are. Elevate your perspective: you are defined by the purpose for which God has called you.
As a parent, you impact future generations. When your children become tomorrow’s leaders, the difference they make will be determined by what you do today. More than having hot dogs with the kids, you are feeding a feast to future difference makers!
God told Jeremiah that He formed, called, and ordained him before he was even born. And God has a divine purpose for you! He prepared good works for you to accomplish today long before you arrived here – walk in them!
When every little thing that you do – wiping a nose, sliding a letter through a slot, splashing color on a canvas, or making a diagnosis – is done in the name of the Lord Jesus with an attitude of gratitude, He infuses those actions with holy purpose…More than fulfilling a function, you are created to make an eternal difference!!!
|10/8/2023||Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”|
You never know the difference you could make until you try. Little things make a big impact.
Think of how your own life has been transformed by little things. A smile brightened your outlook on a rough day. A handshake welcomed you into a room filled with strangers. Three simple words – I love you – set your feet on the road to happily-ever-after.
The slightest bit of effort can change everything. Destinies have been changed by a little invitation to church. Lives have been impacted by a little word spoken in defense. Suffering has been eased by a little willingness to reach into others’ pain.
Do not disqualify yourself from the exact place where God wants to fit little you into His bigger plan. You may feel inadequate for the task to which He is calling you, but remember that it is His Spirit – not your might or strength – that empowers you.
Little things in the hand of an almighty God make a great difference…Give God a baby in a basket, and He will deliver a nation…Give God a shepherd boy with a slingshot, and He will bring down a giant…Give God five loaves and two fish, and He will feed 5,000…Never underestimate how little becomes much when God is in it!!!
|10/7/2023||Matthew 5:13-14 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned… You are the light of the world…”|
We are the light of the world. We are the salt of the earth. We are the difference makers that change destiny.
If salt loses its flavor, it has no value. If light is hidden under a basket, no one will see it. Are we doing what we were created to do?
We are the light of the world. This is not a simple statement made by a common man. Jesus has expertise in light. He was there when the Father looked down into the void of darkness. When God commanded, “Let there be light,” Jesus brought light to form.
And when Jesus looks at you, He does not see an ordinary, everyday individual. He recognizes inside of you the same power that changed everything in Genesis. The change agent that God used to dispel darkness in the beginning is the same power that exists inside your soul.
When you shine, darkness flees…Light breaks forth…The glory of God rises over the situation, and new life is born…Salt and light change destiny!!!
|10/6/2023||Esther 4:14 “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”|
“What difference does it make?” Have you ever asked yourself that question? Have you talked yourself out of taking action with that question?
You are a difference maker! Every day, whether you are intentional or not, you make an impact – for the good or the not-so-good. You decide the difference that you will make.
Instead of counting our blessings, we frequently choose to focus on things we would like to change. When it comes time to take the action that leads to change, though, we often throw up our hands and ask, “What difference does it make?” With that question, we discount any strategy, action, or outcome that would help us achieve our goal.
Do you wish your boss appreciated you more? Show up early. Stay later. Do a little more than what is required.
Do you wish you were in better physical shape? Put down the remote. Take a walk. Make healthier eating choices.
Do you wish that your family life was stronger? Spend time together. Look one another in the eyes. Talk about your accomplishments and challenges.
The power to make a difference lives in you…God has chosen you…He has inserted you into this moment in history to impact the world for Him…Live in wide-eyed expectation for the difference He will make through you today!!!
|10/5/2023||Psalm 146:7 “Who executes justice for the oppressed, Who gives food to the hungry. The LORD gives freedom to the prisoners.”|
In Psalm 146, ten verses give us ten reasons to rejoice for His kindness. We have good reason to shout!
The Lord sets prisoners free. Freedom – true, meaningful, spiritual freedom – cannot be found outside of Jesus Christ. Only He can break our chains and release us from sin.
We once were slaves to sin, and Satan was our slave master. But Jesus came to dwell among us. What He came to do in His earthly ministry, He has done in each of our lives. He touched the sick and set them free from disease. He touched the sinners and delivered them from the shackles of their past.
He spoke the Word, and the dead came back to life. The same hands that reached out to the sick and the sinful in the New Testament are the same hands that reach from Calvary, through the crimson stream, to touch us today.
The Lord has set us free. Like Lazarus, we have walked from death into life. Like Zacchaeus, we have walked from sin into salvation. Like Bartimaeus, we have walked out of the blindness of our yesterdays to see God’s purpose in our lives.
Cry out for freedom…Lift your voice to declare your liberty…Now is the time to shout!!!
|10/4/2023||Matthew 28:20 “and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.”|
God is our help in times of trouble. But if He promises to never leave us, why does He allow the terrible trials that we all experience?
God will allow us to go through difficulties, but He will never abandon us. He is beside us every step of the way through every circumstance.
A tangible example of this promise can be found in our long-ago experience of learning to ride a bike. When we perched on the seat, someone older and wiser than we were demonstrated how to peddle and taught us to steer. Before we pushed off, we said, “Don’t let go!”
As we peddled, they jogged alongside. As we mastered the balance and gained momentum, they began to run. Suddenly, they disappeared, and we were doing it! Until we realized their hand was no longer on the back of the seat. “Where did you goooooo?”
But they were there to pick us up, dust us off, dry our tears and tell us, “If you want to learn to ride this bike, I have to let you go.”
In order for us to learn what God wants to teach us, He will allow us to go through some challenging situations…But when we fall, He is there to pick us up, brush us off, and encourage us to try again!!!
|10/3/2023||Ezra 3:11 “And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the LORD…. Then all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD…”|
Have you ever met someone who was excited about the win before the game ever began? That attitude sums up the shout of praise.
The shout of praise is something that you lift up before you see the victory. It is a shout filled with expectation and the certainty that if God has done it before, He will do it again.
The shout of praise is not rooted in denial; it is grounded in faith. You see a problem, but you know the Waymaker. You need healing, but you know the Great Physician. You need a miracle, but you know the Mountain-Mover. In spite of how impossible the situation appears, God specializes in impossibilities.
He is worthy of your shout of praise…His great displays of power prove that He is able to meet your every need…He will part the Red Sea…The walls of your Jericho will crumble in the face of your shout…He will walk beside you through the fiery furnace…From the ashes of those dead dreams, He will resurrect your life…In anticipation of the victory, raise a shout of praise…Your faith is the victory that overcomes the world!!!
|10/2/2023||Jeremiah 33:3 “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”|
Whether it is a shout for help or a shout for joy, we know that it is not why we shout, when we shout, or what we shout. It is to WHOM we shout that makes all the difference!
We do not cry out to some unnamed cosmic force that is limited in strength. We do not plead with a disinterested power with no compassion for our plight.
We shout to the Creator of the universe, the One Who spoke the heavens and earth into existence. We shout to the One Who fashioned each one of us uniquely in our mother’s womb, Who knows the exact number of hairs on our heads, Who has designed our divine destinies, Who has been working on our behalf since the day we took our first breath.
He gently challenges us to call to Him – shout out – and He assures us that He will answer. Not only will He respond, but He will reveal wondrous mysteries to us – things that were once hidden, that we were not able to comprehend.
When we shout to God, He moves heaven and earth for us…We lift our hearts and our shouts to the King of kings and Lord of lords…And HE makes all the difference!!!
|10/1/2023||Psalm 98:4 “Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth; break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises.”|
Sometimes, our “Hallelujah!” breaks out with ease. We remember what God has done for us in the past. We see all of the wonderful things He is doing in our present, and we anticipate sunny days ahead.
When the storms come or the unthinkable occurs, our natural inclination is to fall silent, to shut in our shout. However, our shout for joy is not based on our circumstances. They change in a moment. Our emotions waver wildly. Our moods swing with our situation.
Our joy, though, is not a byproduct of circumstances. Fullness of joy is found in the presence of God (Psalm 16:11). If He abides inside of us, His joy – no matter what the situation – resides deep in our spirits.
In our season of need, we remember the Lord is our Shepherd; we shall not want. In our season of trouble, we sense His presence as we walk through the very shadow of death; His nearness comforts us. In our season of confusion, we find clarity in our Light and Salvation; we have no reason to fear.
Everything in our world need not be perfect before we shout for joy…In our very core, we recognize the fullness of God and His all-sufficiency to meet whatever it is we face…From that absolute certainty, our shout of joy erupts!!!
|9/30/2023||Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”|
When we are overwhelmed, God is our safe place to hide. When we are in the grip of a crisis, He stands ready to assist. His ear is attuned to our shout for help.
In the middle of a storm, Jesus came walking on the water towards the disciples’ boat. Peter was the only apostle who had the courage to get out of the boat and walk towards Him. In a blink, he was drowning in waves he had been walking over moments before. As the sea crashed over his head, Peter shouted a short and powerful prayer, “Lord, save me!”
His desperation caused him to be blunt. Our humble “God, I need you” pulls Him into our situation. We will never be independent of Him, and grace says that we have no need to be. God wants us. His eyes are on us, and His ears are open to our cries.
If you are surrounded on every side, if you are going under for the last time, shout to Jesus for help…Your desperation may cause you to be blunt…Your despair may cause you to be bold in your request…But even as the cry is torn from the depths of your spirit, He will be there, leaning over with hand outstretched to catch hold of you!!!
|9/17/2023||Psalm 18:30 “As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.”|
Joshua could not take down the walls of Jericho alone; he needed the children of Israel to help him carry out God’s unique battle plan. As their leader, Joshua did something extraordinary.
Instead of positioning himself at the forefront of the parade, he made the Ark of the Covenant the central focus of every Israelite. The Ark represented God’s presence among His people; it contained His promises to them. Surrounded by the priests, warriors, and people, the Ark was at the center of their laps around Jericho.
They kept the Word of God and His presence in sight. As you march, remember to keep Jesus at the very center of your endeavors as though your life depends on Him. If you follow a mere man, you will receive only the best that he can give. But, if you follow a limitless God, He will give you more than you can imagine.
Open the Word of God to meet Him in the pages…Find direction and hope to conquer darkness and provide courage for another lap…It always accomplishes what it is sent out to do…When you are walking around the most difficult issue in your life, keeping His presence and His promises at the center will lead you to victory!!!
|9/16/2023||1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”|
When God gave Jericho to Joshua, it did not come gift-wrapped with a pretty bow set on top. Instead, God told Joshua, “You will march.” If the walls of Jericho were to fall, work was to be part of the equation.
The walls of Jericho fell…by faith. And since faith without works is dead (James 2:17), we see that work was holding faith’s hand. Everywhere faith is found in His Word, work exists right alongside it.
After God gave Joshua his marching orders, he rose early the next morning. He did not delay to do what God asked. He did not waste time whining; complaint is a restraint. He put the plan into action.
Joshua was not where he wanted to be…yet. He went to work right where he was. He knew that God was too wise to be mistaken and too loving to be unkind. He worked while he waited for the fulfillment of God’s promise.
We work while we wait…We march around the walls…We speak His truth…We extend His heart…We put our hands to the task before us…And every step of faith brings us one step closer to the shout of victory!!!
|9/15/2023||Hebrews 11:30 “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days.”|
The daunting walls of Jericho stood between the children of Israel and the Promised Land. If not for God, those walls were their mission impossible.
You may face the walls of a personal Jericho that are impossible for you to bring down on your own. But remember! God’s power begins where your strength ends. Even though every step of every lap must be walked before the wall crumbles, you walk by faith in a God Who makes the impossible possible.
Rather than analyzing the issue from every angle, choose to address your Jericho. You cannot change what you will not confront or finish what you are unwilling to begin. The victory of day seven only occurs after a first step is taken on day one. By faith, take the first teetering step that leads to freedom and laying hold of the promises of God to you.
One step in front of the other, one day after another we walk on by faith…When we march in God’s truth and in His way, a revolution of righteousness swells to sweep away the stubborn walls and carry us to victory…Our God makes the impossible our reality!!!
|9/14/2023||Psalm 34:19 “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”|
As the Israelites prepared to take possession of the Promised Land, they stared up at the walls of Jericho. But in the middle of today’s difficult circumstances, God had some good news for Joshua.
As Joshua stepped into Moses’ leadership shoes, God assured Joshua that He was giving them the Promised Land. Every piece of land where Joshua’s foot fell belonged to him. No man would be able to stand before him all the days of his life. Just as God was with Moses, He was with Joshua. He would never leave nor forsake him.
As you march around your personal Jericho, be encouraged by the Good News. The afflictions of the righteous may be many, but the Lord delivers us from them all. If your heart is broken, remember that He has heard every prayer and has captured each tear in a bottle.
Weeping endures for the night, but joy comes in the morning. No matter your affliction – physical to financial – God’s Word contains 3,000 promises that apply to you. He keeps His promises from generation to generation, and He will not fail you.
No matter how many laps you have circled around your Jericho, if you are walking in obedience and making every step one of faith, your shouting day is coming…One day soon, a roar will erupt…Your shout will go up…Those walls will come down!!!
|9/13/2023||Isaiah 52:7 “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, Your God reigns!”|
We live in a complicated, fast-paced world that threatens to overwhelm and rob us of the simple joys in life.
Remember not to ignore the Good News when dealing with today’s news. Do not allow God’s promises to be overshadowed by the Jericho that you face. Remember to rejoice in this simple truth: you woke up this morning!
Your heart beats in your chest because He has a purpose for you. He has not forgotten you, and He will never abandon you. He loves you deeply and unconditionally. He has a plan for you. Even when life is difficult, be assured that a good God still sits on His throne. He is faithful to fulfill all of His promises to you. He will provide everything that you need according to His riches in glory.
The situation might look complicated in front of you, but God is not confused. He knows the path that you take. He has gone before you to prepare the way. He has moved the mountains of impossibility. If you need wisdom, ask Him. If you need strength, lean on Him. If you need joy, He will be the glory and the lifter of your head.
Whatever you face today, do not forget the good news as you deal with today’s news…God is on your side!!!
|9/12/2023||2 Corinthians 5:7 “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”|
For forty years, the Israelites walked in circles in the wilderness. God planned to take them straight from Egypt to the Promised Land, but their unbelief and disobedience left them wandering.
Joshua’s first task in the Promised Land was to take another walk. This walk, though, was one of faith and obedience. When we walk by faith, we make progress. When we walk in our own carnality, we create work and frustration.
As we take another lap, our Jericho may be the same stubborn issue that needs to be solved, but something begins to happen. We are not the same people that we were on that last lap.
Every day, we are just a little stronger. We are just a little wiser. We are learning to lean more on a faithful God. His Word is growing in us. Our legs are stronger. Our faith is bigger. A shout is building in our lungs. Every step becomes one of progress when we walk in obedience to God’s will.
Even if our enemies scoff at us from the top of the wall. Even if they tell us how ridiculous we look. We are not walking blindly; we are in step with God Almighty. Just keep watching.
Jericho, He has given you to me…Jericho, He has promised me a victory…Jericho, your days are numbered…Jericho, you may be greater than me, but you are no match for the One Who lives in me…One step closer to victory!!!
|9/11/2023||1 Samuel 15:22 “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice.”|
God promised to give Jericho into the Israelites’ hands, but when they would have marched into battle, He had another idea. Let’s spend seven days walking around this problem before we solve it!
We want to make progress, but God walks us in circles. We want to surge forward, but God forces us to take another lap. Why do we get so frustrated when we know that there is a lesson in every lap?
Our perspective of progress is nothing like God’s perspective. We measure success when we see what we want. God measures success when we are willing to do what He wants.
We want God to bless our businesses; He wants us to recognize Him as our Source. We want God to bless our marriages; He wants us to submit to one another. We want God to stamp out our tempers; He wants us to practice self-discipline. We want God to erase our hasty words; He wants us to control our tongues.
The next time God waves you on to another lap, stay alert for the lesson to be learned and for the wisdom He will whisper…Your willingness to put one foot in front of the other is better than any sacrifice you might make…The Lord delights in your obedience as you take another lap!!!
|9/10/2023||Joshua 6:2-3 “And the Lord said to Joshua: ‘See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days.’”|
If you have served God for any time at all, it goes without saying that His ways are not our ways. The path that He charts, the routes where He sends us are not normally the ones that we would choose.
Joshua must have felt the same way when God announced His plan to take down the walls of Jericho. Walk around the walls in silence for six days? What about weapons, battle strategies, and manpower?
In our spiritual lives, it often feels like we walk in circles around the same situations. However, God has built a lesson into every lap. When our common sense says that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, His is the path of righteousness.
We long for progress, but God gives us the opportunity to take another lap and learn another lesson…Our Jerichos are gifts – not burdens – so that we may witness the greatness of God and gain His wisdom with every step…It might look like another lap, but God is leading us…He is growing us…He is demonstrating His goodness…When the walls fall flat, we will understand the lesson in every lap!!!
|9/9/2023||Psalm 68:1-2 “Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered; let those also who hate Him flee before Him. As smoke is driven away, so drive them away; as wax melts before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God.”|
When Joshua and the Israelites stood on the brink of the Promised Land, the intimidating walls of Jericho loomed between them and the land flowing with milk and honey.
What obstacles stand between you and the promises of God? Every one of us has cringed under the shadow of a stubborn wall. Whether it is emotional, spiritual or financial, they tower so high and so strong that trying to tear them down seems pointless.
Those walls that keep you from enjoying the fullness of God’s promise may be much higher and stronger than you, but they are no match for the God that you serve. He is higher and greater. He keeps His promises, and He tells us that we can do all things through Christ Who gives us the strength.
Your Jericho problem is no match for the Waymaker…Even if you must walk around the problem for a few days, He will walk beside you and whisper lessons in your ear that grow your faith and your determination…That day will come when God commands, “Shout!” And with a voice of triumph and a roar of praise, the walls and the barriers in your life will fall down flat…Let God arise, and let His enemies be scattered!!!
|9/8/2023||Numbers 33:55 “But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall be that those whom you let remain shall be irritants in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land where you dwell.”|
Joshua and the children of Israel stood on the brink of the Promised Land. The land flowing with milk and honey that God had promised to Abraham spread out before them. And yet…
There towered the walls of Jericho – mighty and intimidating. Joshua did not wish to deal with Jericho, but God made it clear: drive out all of the inhabitants in Canaan. If any were left behind, they would become a barb in their eye and a thorn in their flesh.
Jericho is not a problem that comes out to attack us. Jericho is a problem that shuts itself in and challenges, “Get rid of me if you can!” It is an issue that digs in, prevents us from seeing the goodness of God, impedes our progress, and causes us frustration on a continual basis.
In the same way that Joshua had to confront Jericho, we must address the painful issues that seek to take root in our lives. We must seek God’s face, listen for our marching orders, and obey them fully.
We cannot allow strongholds to diminish our faith walk…Whatever that stubborn situation, it must fall in the face of the God that we know…His victory allows us to forge ahead into the promises that He has waiting!!!
|9/7/2023||Romans 8:31 “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”|
The book of John tells us that there is no truth in Satan. When he lies, he speaks his native tongue because he is the father of lies. How easily we fall prey to his accusations!
Today’s verse stiffens our spines and raises our heads though. When we find refuge in God, He comes to our defense. When we suit up in His armor, the fiery darts of the enemy fall powerless.
What shall we say when condemnation crouches with all its guilt and shame? God is for us. Christ bore our condemnation – along with our sin – at Calvary. No more condemnation for us!
What shall we say when old temptations whisper suggestively in our ears? God is for us. We are dead to sin and alive to the righteousness of Christ. The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead rises up inside of us to help us resist the devil.
What shall we say when fear threatens to overwhelm? God is for us. The Spirit confirms that we are the heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ; all of Their sufficiency is ours.
God will turn the things that Satan intends for our harm to work to our benefit…And through it all, nothing will separate us from His great love…God is for us, and that makes us more than conquerors!!!
|9/5/2023||1 John 3:1 “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!”|
One of God’s most loving and enduring blessings to us is the gift of family. Through faith, we become sons and daughters of God – adopted into a diverse and loving family!
Membership in His family assures many benefits. We are always – fully and without question – loved by our Father. He gave everything that He had to adopt us as His own. In the household of faith, we are surrounded by brothers and sisters who love us with deep affection. We no longer are lonely strangers; we are accepted and beloved.
These brothers and sisters pray for us to the finish line and celebrate our victories. They sit in the ashes with us when our hearts are broken. They gently admonish us when we wander off course. They offer hospitality and generosity when we are in need. They encourage us with songs, Scriptures, and wise words. We eat together, laugh together, grow together, and share our stories.
And when differences arise? We extend the same grace to others that Jesus lavishly pours out to us. We do not provoke others to anger, and we are quick to forgive. We insist that peace tie us together.
We are not created to go it alone…We are gifts to one another from our Father Who knew that we would need each other’s encouragement and love…Together, we are the King’s children!!!
|9/4/2023||Psalm 90:17 “And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; yes, establish the work of our hands.”|
Labor Day provides us the opportunity to honor the social and economic achievements of the American worker. Today, we pay tribute to the contributions that workers have made to the development, security, strength, and prosperity of our country.
As we celebrate, let us offer our gratitude to God for the gifts with which He has graced us in this country. Our Constitution names three inalienable rights available to every American: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Our national and personal freedoms allow us the opportunity to chase our dreams and realize our goals.
Thank God for the breath in our lungs, the strength of our bodies, and the sharpness of our minds as we set our hands to the work that He has provided for us. Thank God for the jobs He has given so that we can provide for our families. Thank God for the value and dignity that He places on the work that we do.
As we give thanks to our Father and offer up every word that we say and every task that we complete in the name of Jesus, we become co-laborers with Christ to achieve amazing accomplishments in this world…May the beauty of the Lord be on us, and may He establish the work of our hands!!!
|9/3/2023||Mark 1:41 “Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, I am willing; be cleansed.”|
The Son of God – sent by love, motivated by love, and reaching in love. We often see Jesus with His hands extended, reaching out to touch a wounded world.
He demonstrates His love with actions – reaching beyond racial, cultural, and gender barriers, beyond sin, shameful pasts, and societal condemnation, beyond time and space to heal and restore.
Standing at a well in the midday sun, Jesus reached out to the Samaritan woman. Rejected by Jews and Samaritans alike, Jesus gave her living water so that she never need thirst again.
The scribes and Pharisees caught a woman in the very act of adultery. Instead of pointing an accusing finger, Jesus challenged the man who was without sin to throw the first stone. When they retreated, He sent her home to “sin no more” with no weight of condemnation.
When the disciples shooed away the children, Jesus took them in His arms and blessed them. When the blind man came seeking sight, Jesus took Him by the hand. When the leper begged to be made clean, Jesus reached out and touched his diseased body.
At the border of the cross, Jesus still stands with hands extended…He longs to gather every person under the shadow and safety of His wings…May He teach us to reach with the same love that drove Him to the ultimate sacrifice!!!
|9/2/2023||1 John 5:11 “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.”|
Our words have weight. Our stories have significance. Proclaiming them holds power.
Romans 10:9 tells us that we must believe in our hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead, AND we must openly acknowledge Him with our mouths. Believing in our hearts makes us righteous before God; confessing it with our mouths confirms our salvation. Saying it out loud makes it so!
Overcoming power is found in sharing our testimony – the story of God at work in our lives. And that overcoming power is not just for us; it is for the people who hear our stories and are captivated by the ways that Jesus Christ has taken up residence in our hearts and has enriched every aspect of our lives.
When we say it out loud, we welcome others into hurts that we have experienced, but more importantly, we point to a Healer that made us whole…We were dead in sin, but He has given us abundant life…We were lost and alone, but He adopted us into His family…He broke the chains of habits that diminished our lives…And when we say it out loud, others are drawn to this lovely Light…They find reason to hope again, strength to fight another day, and tools to try once more…They find a Savior Whose love changes everything…Say it out loud. Testify!!!
|9/1/2023||Ephesians 1:22-23 “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.”|
For every person who has placed their faith in Jesus Christ, the cross is not just a border of salvation. It is a border of triumph!
When God raised Christ from the dead, He sat Him down in heavenly places and placed everything under His feet. Everything includes every ruler, every power, every authority, every name that is named, in the present age and in the ages to come…everything!
From His throne, Christ directs galaxies and governments, planets and politicians, countries and kings. Nothing is exempt from His rulership. From now and through forever, He is over all.
Today’s verse informs us that God set up Jesus as the head over everything for the church. We are His body. Christ – the One Who fills the whole, wide universe – fills us up in every way. He speaks to us and acts through us so that we are His love and message to the world around us.
When we are full of Christ, His power and authority have rulership in our lives…He crushes Satan under our feet…We no longer are slaves to sin in a lifetime of bondage…The cross opened the door to salvation and liberty…Thanks be to God Who always causes us to triumph in Christ!!!
|8/31/2023||Joel 1:3 “Tell your children about it, let your children tell their children, and their children another generation.”|
In our nation, we are suffering under the curse of division and discord. In the house of God, though, may we be the city on a hill that blazes forth the light of unity and love.
We believe that Jesus is returning soon for His bride. Until that day, we have a responsibility to work until He comes. While we remain, we must never stop telling our children about our Heavenly Father and the priceless gift of His Son.
We must show them how to love Him with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strength. We must teach them the unshakable truth of God’s Word and the unsurpassed power of the Holy Spirit.
The next generation was created to worship Him. If we do not protect them, they could fall victim to the enemy. If we do not provide for them, they might seek out what they need in other places. If we do not prioritize them, who will?
May we give the best of ourselves to the kingdom of Christ…From father to son, from mother to daughter, from generation to generation, let our hearts be turned towards one another as we embrace the wisdom of one generation and the energy of another…Let us instruct our children to live for Jesus and teach the same to those who come after them…And all of God’s children say, “Amen!”
|8/30/2023||Psalm 78:4 “We will not hide them from their children, telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.”|
Because Pastor Matt Hagee made the choice to submit to the spiritual authority of his father and pastor, John Hagee, they were able to achieve “generational leverage.”
He explained it this way: if a person needs a loan, he visits the bank and shows the little collateral that he possesses and requests a loan. When the bank loans him the funds, he leverages the little bit of his money with a whole lot of their money for profit.
When Pastor Matt was a new college graduate, his father said, “Son, if I only knew then what I know now and have the energy of my 20’s….” Pastor Matt replied, “Dad, I’m in my 20’s, and I have all kinds of energy, but I am all kinds of ignorant!”
He said, “Dad, if you will loan me your wisdom, I will leverage it with my energy.” Pastor Matt took his zeal and leveraged it into over four decades of his father’s experience. Together, much ministry has flowed out of that collaboration to the glory of God.
When the more mature generation lends its Godly experience, its vision continues into the future…When the younger generation lends its energy, the mission progresses with renewed vitality…And in that place of generational leverage and unity, God commands His blessings to flow!!!
|8/29/2023||Romans 13:1 “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.”|
Pastor Matt Hagee has learned the blessings of submission under the mentorship of his father, Pastor John Hagee.
Pastor Matt calls him “Dad,” but he also calls him “Pastor.” As a son, he might disagree with his dad, but he has never disagreed with Pastor John, his spiritual authority. He recognizes that, if he chooses to move from underneath that cover, he stands alone.
He began to understand the importance of submission when he was 17 years old. Pastor John asked him to prepare his first sermon. For months, the young Matt poured all his energy into preparation. He could not wait for his father to look over his 38-page masterpiece.
Soon, 36 of those pages were lying on the floor covered in red ink. On the remaining two pages, four lines remained, and the rest were marked out. Pastor John said, “Everything that’s all over that floor, it came out of you. If you’ll take the time to dig in to God’s Word and tell others what He says, they’ll come from all over the world to hear you.”
Pastor Matt had a choice to make. He could have complained about starting his sermon over again. Instead, he listened to the still, small voice of God and chose to submit to the spiritual authority God placed over him. He looked at his father and said, “Dad, I don’t know what to do. But if you show me, I’ll do it.”
|8/28/2023||1 Peter 5:5 “Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”|
Every generation has a unique role to play in the family of God. Each one performs its part for the church’s mission to be accomplished.
We are one body with many members, and God has set each one in the place that He pleases. Every person is necessary to the mission. We bring our individual passions and personalities, our experiences and expertise to this rich body of believers. We weave them together in unity.
In humility, we submit to one another out of genuine love and affection. We put aside our personal preferences to pursue the power of peace. We place higher priority on the cause of Christ than insisting on having it our way.
In wisdom, the more mature generation can lead the way. Engage with younger believers who need to hear your stories of God’s faithfulness through the years. Be reverent, sound in your faith, and patient as you teach good things (Titus 2:2-3).
Younger members are building on the foundation laid by those who have gone before. Honor those testimonies and allow them to inform your faith walk. Share the new things that God is speaking to you.
Mutual submission accomplishes the mission with which Jesus has entrusted us…Our Christ-like conduct and our love for one another across the generations makes our faith appealing in every way!!!
|8/27/2023||Psalm 145:4 “One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts.”|
Every generation has a role to play in the kingdom of God. From the oldest to the youngest, He has a purpose for each one of us.
From the more mature generation, the body of Christ counts on your mentorship. Tell us the stories of God’s protection and provision in your lives. We need the power of your prayers covering us. Encourage us to dig deep and dream big…like you.
From the so-called “sandwich generation,” the body of Christ relies on you to bridge the gap between the older and younger generations. We need to see the sacrificial ways that you minister to aging parents and your own children. Lead with character and the convictions that your parents poured into you. Show us how faithfulness to the Lord looks from one generation to the next.
From the younger generation, the body of Christ depends on you to carry the gospel into the future. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, we trust that you will hit the mark to bring down the schemes of Satan. We count on your devotion to God’s Word, your passion and your vision to advance Christ’s kingdom.
Each one of us has a vital role to play in God’s family…He places each member into the body and asks us to care tenderly for one another…It’s the role of a lifetime!!!
|8/26/2023||Psalm 33:11 “The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations.”|
When several generations share the same space, differences can create division that threatens our primary mission.
Churches have split over minor issues – the carpet color in the sanctuary, preaching styles, musical choices, etc. Those issues often boil down to preferences, a desire for one group’s wishes to prevail over another’s. So much energy has been diverted into quarrels and conflict. So much bitterness and anger have led to disagreements and discord. When it must be our way or the highway, we need to push the pause button.
Psalm 133 proclaims how good and pleasant it is for God’s people to dwell together in unity because it is there that God commands His blessing. In order for us to fulfill the Great Commission – to reach the lost with the Good News – God knew that we would need to be united in mind, heart, and purpose. A house divided against itself will collapse in a heap.
As we pull together for His purpose, we may need to sacrifice our personal preferences for the sake of peace…Paul encourages us to practice humility, gentleness, and love towards one another as we work very hard to preserve the unity of the Spirit because He will tie us together with peace…We choose unity…We choose peace…We choose His purpose over our preferences!!!
|8/25/2023||Malachi 4:6 “And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”|
Because of advances in modern medicine and technology, over 500,000 people over the age of 100 are alive today. As people live longer, it is not unusual for four generations to share the same space.
This togetherness has emphasized the gap – the power struggle – that exists between generations. The young believe the elderly are in error; the more mature believe that young people have wandered far off course.
For those in Christ’s family, though, He comes to turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers. Since every person is created in the image of God – by Him and for Him – we respect others. If a person is alive and breathing, God has a purpose for him or her, and we honor His decision.
We must abandon selfishness in favor of sacrifice…As we seek to honor God and fulfill the good works that He prepared for us to accomplish, we make room for one another…We honor the experience and the energy, the tradition and the transformation…We allow for differences as we press toward the same goal…In the middle of the messiness of generations sharing the same space – in the center of it all – our hearts reach for our Father…And He turns our hearts towards one another!!!
|8/24/2023||Proverbs 8:17 “I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently will find me.”|
The tree in the Garden of Eden and the tree on which our Savior died at Calvary represent the power struggle that exists in every human heart.
In Eden, Adam succumbed to temptation, and one man opened the door to all the misery that sin brings with it. But at Calvary, another Man – our sinless Savior – tore the veil to give us access to the grace and righteousness that flow out of restored fellowship with God the Father.
Stop returning to the scene of the crime. Stop looking to a tree weighed down with fruit that leads to death and loss. Look instead to the tree where Christ became the Remedy for the terminal illness of sin. Eat of the fruit of this tree to find love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
To resist the temptation to waver between those two trees, pursue Him relentlessly. Focus your eyes exclusively on Him. Strip away anything that would weigh you down as you run for the prize of knowing Him. Place your hand in the nail-pierced hand that hung on that tree in your place. Never look back.
Be consumed by His holy fire…When we seek Him with our whole hearts, we will find Him…Consider everything else a loss for the unsurpassed worth of knowing Him…Keep pressing on and reaching out for the One Who wondrously reached out for you!!!
|8/23/2023||Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”|
Because sin will kill the plans that He has for us, God desires to stop sin before it stops us.
Scientists tell us that the average person thinks about 70,000 thoughts per day, and approximately 70% of those are negative. After we confess sinful thoughts, we need to change the channel and bring every thought into obedience to Christ. When we recognize a thought that stands in opposition to God, we must put it to a stop.
When the temptation to complain arises, do not allow it to give birth to sin. Think instead about the blessings that God has liberally and richly poured into our lives. When tempted to undermine our relationships with harsh words and accusations, seek peace and unity instead. When tempted to gossip about another person, pray for them instead.
Tune in to the truth that sinful thoughts have no authority in your life any longer…The people that we once were – before we met Jesus – are dead and gone…We are born again with a brand-new nature inherited from Jesus Christ…Change the channel to meditate on that good report!!!
|8/22/2023||1 John 1:8-9 “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”|
God knows that sin will steal our potential and kill the plans that He has for us. His desire is for us to stop sin before it stops us.
Thoughts of sin lead to action. We must confess them to Jesus before they can conceive sin. Bring them out and show them to the Lord because He is the only One Who can do anything with our sin.
He is faithful and will not banish us from the family of God. He is fair and understands the temptations with which we struggle because He was tempted the same. His blood cleanses us from every sin.
When our children play outside after the rain, they often come inside caked with mud. They hold up their dirty hands to say, “Look!” As loving parents, we lead them to the sink and wash them clean.
God invites us to come freely to Him…When we hold up our sins and confess, “Dad, look what I have done,” He welcomes us with mercy, grace, and love…He washes us with the water of His Word and His shed Blood…When we are clean, He wraps us up in His robe of righteousness…Though our sins are like scarlet, He washes us whiter than snow!!!
|8/21/2023||James 1:14-16 “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.”|
Each one of us is enticed by Satan with tailor-made temptations. When we act on those temptations, sin is conceived and produces death.
God knows that sin will steal our potential and kill the plans that He has for us. His desire is for us to stop sin before it stops us.
S – Sinful thoughts confessed.
When we continue to dwell on those temptations, they lead to action. Kill those tempting thoughts by confessing them to Jesus before they can conceive sin.
T – Think on these things.
After we confess sinful thoughts, change the channel. We must take control of our thought lives. Think about things that are pure, right, noble, worthy, beautiful, and good (Philippians 4:8).
O – Order our thoughts.
Take every thought captive. From sophisticated arguments to foolish fantasies, we must bring every thought into obedience to Christ.
P – Pursue Christ relentlessly.
In Christ alone, we find the power to overcome sin. God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear. With every temptation, He provides a way of escape.
Live with eyes wide open…Be aware of the ways Satan will tempt us to sin…Stop sin before it stops you!!!
|8/20/2023||Romans 7:24 “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”|
The tree in the Garden of Eden and the tree on which our Savior died at Calvary represent the power struggle that exists in every human heart – a struggle between right and wrong, between our selfish desires and the truth that sets us free.
Jesus died to give us victory over transgressions, but we slip back into sinful habits, like a comfortable old pair of shoes. Even the apostle Paul engaged in this struggle.
In today’s verses, he confesses that the good things that he wants to do, he fails to deliver. The evil things that he tries to avoid? Those are the practices that plague his steps. He is torn between the tree in the Garden of Eden and the tree at Calvary.
Paul is brutally honest when he admits that there is nothing good inside of him. As the power struggle rages, he recognizes that he is truly wretched, that help only comes from one Source – Jesus Christ!
Jesus bore our sins and the condemnation that comes along with them…We are no longer slaves to sin, destined to do what we once did…Kick off those old sin shoes to come walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4)!!!
|8/19/2023||Romans 6:22 “But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.”|
The God Who formed and fashioned you knows your future. More than anyone, He knows how sin can wreck all that promise and potential.
So, while we were still sinners, God sent Christ to die for us. He went to a cruel tree where He took on our temptation, our sin, and our condemnation.
He was bound there that we might go free. He died that we might live. He wore a crown of thorns that we might become royalty. When He said, “It is finished,” He placed a comma where Satan intended a period.
Accepting Jesus does not merely make us better versions of ourselves. We become new creations. The old sin nature that we inherited from Adam is crucified with Christ. We are dead to sin. We have been cured from a terminal disease.
We were all born with the cancer of sin…Sitting in a church pew will not purge our souls…We could not sing loudly enough or perform enough good deeds to humanely address this disease…But when we accept this free cure of grace from Jesus, we are no longer slaves to sin and death…Majestically, miraculously, and mercifully, He goes to the source of our sin sickness and heals and sets us free to live again!!!
|8/18/2023||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.”|
Two trees mentioned in Scripture capture our attention. Both deeply impact our lives, but only one has the power to change our future.
The first tree is found in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:16-17). God gave Adam and Eve permission to eat their fill of every single tree except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
That tree opened the door to every kind of sin to destroy our souls: lust, greed, hatred, jealousy, etc. If Eve would have seen that “fruit” hanging among the leaves, she surely would have given it wide berth.
Thousands of years later, we find another tree at Calvary. There, the Author and Finisher of our faith endured the humiliation of the cross. On that tree, the One Who was completely perfect died for us in our imperfection. The Eternal One laid down His life in exchange for ours. He opened the door to an endless future with Him.
Since the Garden of Eden, a power struggle exists in every human heart – a struggle between right and wrong, between flesh and faith, between our selfish desires and the truth that sets us free…The tree in Eden left us a legacy of sin and shame…The tree of Calvary bought us the gift of grace that sets us free!!!
|8/17/2023||Isaiah 43:1 “But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine.”|
Have you ever felt trapped by the deeds of your past? Covered with the dust of regret that you cannot seem to shake?
When you invite Jesus into your heart, He determines that you are no longer called by your deeds; you will be called by your destiny. He does not remember the stains of your past deeds; He sees only the promise and potential in you as a new creation in Christ.
In Acts 3, the man who laid at the Beautiful Gate was known as lame and crippled. Those people who dropped coins in his cup day after day had no idea that he was destined to become a leaping and praising miracle…but God knew.
As a believer, God has called you by a new name. Your sins have been removed as far as the east is from the west. He no longer remembers them. He has given you a new destiny, a future filled with hope.
Shake off the dust of regret…You will no longer be called by your deeds…You will be called by the destiny He created for you…Most importantly, He has given you a new name…He calls you “Mine”!!!
|8/16/2023||1 Peter 2:15 “For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.”|
What is God’s perfect will for my life? Many believers anxiously seek the answer to that question and worry that they might somehow miss it.
This simple truth frees us: when we fulfill the general will of God, He will show us the specific will He has for each of us. While some of our Bible heroes experienced dramatic moments of illumination, God’s will is more often a gradual revelation as we walk in obedience.
Consider Peter and John in Acts 3. They were fulfilling the general will of God as they went to join other believers for worship and prayer. As they strolled through the temple gate, though, God drew their attention to the lame man begging for alms. He sent them on a specific, special assignment that would forever change one man’s life.
God’s general will for us is to give thanks in every situation, to pray without ceasing, to hide His Word in our hearts, to fast before the Father, and to live worthy of our holy calling. This is the preparation, the training ground, for the specific will of God.
As we walk in His general will, we can expect divine detours as God reveals His specific will one step at a time…Every day becomes a grand adventure…What extraordinary exploit He has written on your calendar for today!!!
|8/15/2023||Psalm 2:8 “Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession.”|
Our tendency to focus on the negative greatly affects our perspective. It narrows our vision and minimizes our expectations.
When Peter and John approached the lame man at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, Peter said, “Look at us” (Acts 3). The crippled man looked up, expecting them to toss a few coins in his cup. Was he in for the most amazing surprise of his life!
When we major in the minor, it limits our ability to see beyond the problem to a God Who holds the solution. Even though this man must have heard the miraculous stories of Jesus and his disciples as he laid daily at the temple gate, when Peter and John stood before him, he could only hope for some change.
Since the disabled were prohibited from entering the temple to worship, God sent Peter and John to meet him outside. In the presence of the Lord, the lame leaped to his feet, forever changed.
Jesus stands before you to ask, “What is the one thing that I can do for you today?”…Do not shake your cup and hope for a few coins…Lift your eyes to see a Savior Who is well able to meet every need…Ask out loud and with expectancy…The supernatural is commonplace to Him…He longs to give good gifts to you!!!
|8/14/2023||Song of Solomon 2:15 “Catch us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes.”|
Science tells us that we are hardwired for negativity. This tendency to focus on the negative poses major ramifications. Those “little foxes” can cause much damage – and even destruction – in the sunny vineyards of our lives. They can rob our joy, sense of worth, and the ability to be productive.
Consider the lame man outside the Beautiful Gate in Acts 3. When Peter pulled him up, his feet and ankle bones were strengthened. Those tiny bones, which seem so insignificant when compared with larger bones of the body, had created many issues for him.
Jewish law prevented the lame from entering the Temple where he could experience the presence of God. He was forced to rely on others for daily assistance. He lived on the meager alms he could beg. Physically, spiritually, financially, and emotionally – something so small had ruined so much for him.
If we focus on the negative, we can be impacted in much the same way. However, when we follow His example, we receive much more than we expect.
Lift up your eyes…Take Jesus’ hand…Allow Him to pull you up…He will strengthen all those “minor” issues…You will go walking, leaping, and praising God!!!
|8/13/2023||Matthew 25:21 “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.”|
We long for God to pour out His favor in our lives. We pray for the anointing that ushers in the miraculous. We lay hold of His promises for prosperity.
The secret to experiencing the unexpected, supernatural move of God in our lives can be summed up in one word: faithfulness. And because God’s faithfulness is never in question, that secret is unlocked by our fidelity.
God expects us to be faithful to Him…even in the very smallest details. When He delivered the children of Israel out of the slavery of Egypt, His first commandment to them was, “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3). The expectation was clear: I will be faithful to you; I expect you to be faithful to Me. When they refused to devote themselves to Him, the results were disastrous.
Too many people in our culture demand God’s faithfulness even when they choose to be fickle. However, Jesus did not say, “Well done, good and fickle servant.” Inconsistency does not warrant a command performance from God.
Our faithfulness is measured as we read, obey, and accomplish God’s Word and His will…When we are single-mindedly committed to Him in even the smallest ways over the fewest things, He rewards us with the unexpected…This is a simple secret worth sharing!!!
|8/12/2023||Acts 3:1 “Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer.”|
Our faithfulness in simple and expected ways opens the door for God to do the unexpected things in our lives.
In today’s verse, Peter and John were on their way to pray at the Temple. They had just spent three years walking with the Incarnate Son of God. Right before their eyes, they had witnessed Jesus raise the dead, calm the wind and waves with a word, walk on water, and turn a sack lunch into a 5000-person buffet. After the crucifixion, their mourning was transformed into joy when He rose victorious from the grave.
Yet, they were being faithful in this simple way. They were on their way to the Temple, the very place that sent out guards to arrest Jesus on that fateful night.
They knew that they would experience God’s presence in His house…They understood that where two or three gather in His name, He joins them there…They expected to find the fullness of His joy, for burdens to be lifted, for yokes to be destroyed, for lives to be changed…Faithfulness in this one simple way led to an unexpected, supernatural encounter for Peter and John…Something so simple invited God to do the miraculous!!!
|8/11/2023||Acts 3:6 “Then Peter said, Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”|
When we are faithful to do the things that God expects, He will show us the unexpected! The miraculous becomes the expected.
In fact, Jesus declared that certain proofs would accompany believers (Mark 16:16-18). We can expect the sick to be healed. We should not find it peculiar when principalities and powers are defeated. That is the sovereign God we serve!
In Acts 3, Peter and John were on their way to the Temple to pray. Nothing unusual to report here! They were going about their expected business.
A certain man, lame from birth, was lying in front of the Beautiful Gate. Every day, his companions carried him to this specific spot so that he could beg for alms – his expected daily routine.
As Peter and John walked past him, he called out. The two disciples stopped and focused their attention squarely on the beggar. “Look at us,” Peter said. The man looked at them, hoping to receive some coins – an expected exchange.
Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” Instantly healed, he went walking, leaping, and praising God into the Temple. Unexpected!
For those who believe, signs and wonders will follow…Expect the unexpected!!!
|8/10/2023||Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”|
Are you holding onto a God-sized dream? One so big that you are afraid to say it out loud? One that will need the push and power of God behind it to come true?
Keep believing! When our joy is in serving Jesus, He gives us the things that our hearts desire. When we prioritize His kingdom and His righteousness, He adds the things that we need – and even desire – to our lives.
Keep asking, and He will give it to you. Keep seeking, and He will be found. Keep knocking, and He will open the right door at the right time – doors that no one else can shut. If our earthly, very human, fathers relish giving wonderful, long-anticipated gifts to us, imagine how God exults to give us good gifts when we ask.
Ephesians 3:20 teaches that the Holy Spirit of God is already working deep inside of us to bring about the answer to those far-fetched prayers. His Word assures us that He is able to do exceedingly abundantly, far beyond what we could drum up in our imaginations or would even dare to ask. Our highest hopes and deepest dreams do not raise His eyebrows.
Whatever you are expecting God to do don’t lose heart…Every day unfolds with new mercy and delightful surprises when we walk with Him…Wait expectantly for the gift that will answer your prayers and make Your Father smile!!!
|8/9/2023||1 John 5:5 “Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”|
Those truths that we believe at the core of our beings drive our actions. Our faith in the Son of God compels us to overcome this world.
We focus on the great things that people do, but those feats spring from a bedrock belief that moves them to act. David ran to meet Goliath because he believed in a God who was bigger than any giant.
Moses defied Pharaoh because he trusted the great “I AM” Who promised to go before him. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego chose the fiery furnace over a gold idol because they were convinced the Fourth Man in the fire was able to deliver them.
The early disciples were imprisoned for preaching in the name of Jesus. They believed so fully and so deeply in the One that God had raised from the dead that their faith was like a fire shut up in their bones. It could not be contained!
Let’s be people who are utterly convinced of the truth of God’s Word, who pray with deep faith and expectation, and who expect the miraculous…That deep-in-our-bones belief propels us to blaze forth with His light and shout His truth from the rooftops…That hang-onto-it-at-any-cost conviction will lead us to fight a good fight and finish our race with arms raised high in victory!!!
|8/8/2023||Mark 9:23 “Jesus said to him, If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”|
What we believe determines how we behave. The things that we hold true drive our actions.
Why do people go to the gym to exercise? Because they believe that the physical activity will benefit their bodies and minds. That belief motivates their actions…in spite of sore muscles or slow results.
Our outward behavior, more than any other tell, signifies what we believe on the inside. When our words say one thing, but we fail to act on what we say, it is the lack of action that betrays our true beliefs. “They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him…” (Titus 1:16).
We who confess Christ as our Savior sometimes falter at reading what we believe and believing what we read. We profess that the Bible is inspired by God and is profitable for instruction in righteousness, doctrine, reproof, and correction (2 Timothy 3:16), but internally, we do not fully believe what it says and do not embrace it as the God-breathed Word of our Creator.
We are drowning in information overload – inundated with social media, TV news, radio chat, and newspapers. If we are not vigilant, our inward beliefs begin to develop based on accepting what we read…rather than reading what we believe.
Let’s determine to believe what Jesus says – and nothing else…May our actions confirm what we profess…If we can believe, all things are possible!!!
|8/7/2023||Jeremiah 17:7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord.”|
Placing our hope firmly in the Lord promises abundant blessings. Even in the most difficult days, God will carry us through when our expectation is in Him.
In today’s passage, the prophet Jeremiah describes a person whose hope is in the Lord as a tree that spreads out its roots by the river (Jeremiah 17:8). We draw vitality from Him.
This person does not fear when the heat comes or when he goes through the fire. Like the three Hebrew children, He will walk us through to the other side without even a whiff of smoke clinging to our garments (Daniel 3:27).
He will not be afraid, and his leaf will remain green (Jeremiah 17:8). When others pass out, we will prosper. In the year of drought, we will drink deep of the never-ending Living Water (John 4:13-14).
This beautiful tree will never cease to bear fruit. How comforting to know that, even in the desert times of our lives when the heat threatens to dry up our hope, we will continue to bear fruit for God’s kingdom.
Even if you are struggling through a year of drought, do not be anxious…Picture that stately tree planted beside a clear, rolling river with roots dug in deep to soak up the life-giving flow…Picture the wind tossing its green leaves and branches laden down with fruit…You are blessed when your hope is the Lord!!!
|8/6/2023||2 Corinthians 9:8 “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.”|
Our properly-placed expectation draws us into alignment with God. He is able to protect whatever we entrust to Him. He is more than able to provide healing, move mountains, resurrect a dream that you may have giving up hope, and provide you the strength and courage to face any obstacles that may come your way.
We can have great expectations from our God Who never fails. We know Whom we have believed, and we believe that He is able to:
• release captives from prison (Luke 4:18).
• make the deaf hear (Matthew 11:5).
• make the enemies that come against you from one direction scatter in seven different directions (Deuteronomy 28:7).
|8/5/2023||Philippians 1:20 “…according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.”|
If our expectations are in others, they inevitably disappoint us. If we seek the approval of others, we end up disillusioned. We can never give enough to secure the hearts of others, and they can never be enough to fill ours.
Our expectations are powerful. When you come into God’s presence, do you anticipate a powerful encounter with an Almighty God Who has the ability to change your mind, heart, and life?
Our expectations form our beliefs which shape our behaviors. Our behaviors settle into habits. When we believe God will fulfill His promises to us, that expectation draws on the power of the Holy Spirit. Our belief causes Him to shift in our direction and pulls Him into our situations. This holy expectation brings fresh encounters with Jesus which mold our behaviors.
Like a wildfire, we will not be able to contain it…We will be compelled to tell others of the goodness of God…It will spill out of us to impact this world for Christ!!!
|8/4/2023||2 Timothy 1:12 “For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.”|
Why would we withhold the Good News? Are we utterly convinced of what we believe? Perhaps we fear rejection or carry a predetermined expectation that something negative will happen.
In today’s verse, the apostle Paul reminds Timothy of all that he has suffered for the cause of Christ. He was beaten, imprisoned, stoned, shipwrecked, hungry, cold, and naked. He carried the burden of concern for his fellow believers…only to be rejected by them (II Corinthians 11:23-29).
Despite of all that, Paul fiercely told Timothy that he was not ashamed. He knew Whom he believed in, and he was persuaded that God was able. He sought approval from no one else. His expectation was firmly planted in Jesus Christ, and he proclaimed with assurance: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
Let’s fully rely on God so we move from Sunday morning pew-warmers to those who fully embrace, believe, and tell…Let us go into the highways and hedges to share His amazing grace!!!
|8/3/2023||Psalm 147:3 “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”|
In the throes of battle, warriors are often wounded. Even valiant soldiers can suffer from fatigue.
In 1 Kings 18, the prophet, Elijah, went up against 450 prophets of the idol, Baal. In a miraculous blaze of fire from heaven, God showed Himself to be sovereign in Israel.
When Queen Jezebel heard, she put a death warrant on Elijah’s head, and he fled for his life. In the wilderness, he begged God to take his life. He believed his efforts were in vain, that he alone served God in Israel, and he was doomed to die.
Worn out, he fell asleep under a tree. God knew that Elijah was exhausted, so He lovingly allowed him to rest, and then sent an angel to bring nourishment for the journey ahead.
Elijah headed for Mt. Horeb, the very place where God had given the Ten Commandments to Moses. He needed to hear from the Lord again. As he waited on the mountain, a violent wind tore through. An earthquake violently shook it. A fire raged across it.
Finally, a still, small voice caused Elijah to cover his face. God whispered what he needed to hear. Elijah was not alone; God was sending reinforcements.
If you are wounded from the battle, exhausted from the fight, God sees you there…Find rest in His arms…He will heal your broken heart…Listen for His whisper of encouragement…He is sending help to make you battle-ready again!!!
|8/2/2023||Colossians 3:17 “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”|
When the shepherd boy ran out to fight the giant, he called out to Goliath, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts…” (I Samuel 17:45).
David did not fight in his own strength but in the name of the Lord. Throughout Scripture, the name of our Lord carries weight, dominion, and power. There is something about that name!
In the name of Jesus, we believe and are saved. We are baptized in His name. We have life in that precious name. In His name, the disciples found boldness to preach and teach.
Even when they were beaten, imprisoned, and warned not to speak in the name of Jesus anymore, they continued to perform miracles and cast out demons in that name.
Colossians 3:17 encourages us to do everything – every word and every action – in the name of Jesus. When you open your mouth, speak in the name of Jesus – words that bring life. Do every small deed throughout the day in His name – a reflection of His love and an arrow that points back to Him.
When we operate in His name, all of His power and authority stand behind us…He is glorified. It changes us, and it changes those around us, too!!!
|8/1/2023||Deuteronomy 20:4 “…for the Lord your God is He who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.”|
What was King Saul thinking when he allowed a young shepherd boy to face down a hulking giant? What chance did David have against Goliath?
In ancient times, warring armies commonly staged a dual between their two strongest soldiers. The winner of the duel determined the outcome of the battle and sent his fellow soldiers home to plant crops, build homes, and control their trades.
In the valley of Elah, the Philistines put up their champion fighter, Goliath. For forty days, morning and night, he challenged the Israelites to send out a worthy opponent. Goliath poured out his contempt when, instead of a battle-hardened warrior, a boy with his trusty slingshot stepped onto the plain.
God sent out a Warrior to fight for us. Jesus has proven Himself in the ultimate battle with the enemy of our souls. He won a war that He knew we did not have the power to win.
In whatever arena you face a giant today, know that the Lord stands beside you…He goes with you to fight against your enemy…Whatever taunts and lies the enemy shouts at you, rest assured that the battle already belongs to Jesus…He has come to rescue you…He fights for you…He will strike the final blow that will send you home to embrace your life…Stand still, and watch for His deliverance…See what He will accomplish for you!!!
|7/31/2023||Acts 11:23 “When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.”|
Every warrior needs a battle plan. Every warrior who goes into combat without a plan becomes a casualty.
As David prepared to fight Goliath, he went to the brook, found five smooth stones, placed them in a pouch, and grasped his slingshot in his hand. Most importantly, he went out to fight the giant in the “name of the Lord of hosts.”
Proverbs reminds us that a person can make many plans, but the Lord’s will always prevails. We purpose in our hearts to seek His direction and allow God to plot the journey. We may chart our courses, but He will guide our feet. To be certain that we are in step with Him, we await our marching orders.
We do not drift aimlessly into success. His Word is our guidebook that instructs how to respond in battlefield situations. Prayer keeps us in constant contact with our Commander-in-Chief. Every skirmish hones our skills and sharpens us for the next encounter with the enemy. And always at the front of the brigade, leading the charge, is our Lord of lords.
What “stones” are in the pouch at your waist? What weapon do you heft in your hand? In whose power do you wage war? Draw up the plan that will lead you to certain victory!
|7/30/2023||1 Samuel 17:26 “Then David spoke to the men who stood by him, saying, What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”|
David, the shepherd boy, stood on the hillside and listened to the arrogant dares of Goliath. The fighting men of Israel cowered in the shadow of the giant, but a fierce determination sprang up in David’s spirit.
He looked at the soldiers on either side of him and asked, “Is there not a cause?” David found cause to speak up and take action.
All around us are opportunities to step out and step up in faith. We step over our fear because we are captured by a cause that demands a response. We meet challenges “in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel” (I Samuel 17:45).
We focus on strong marriages that defy the odds. We determine to train up our children to love Jesus so that they will experience a lifelong relationship with a faithful Savior. We purpose to bring God’s light into our workplace, to speak up for those without a voice, to share the Good News in our communities.
Know where is God asking you to step up…It could be as simple as putting down your phone to be more present with your family…It could be as difficult as foreign missions…Whatever He calls you to, do not delay. There is a cause for you!!!
|7/29/2023||Ephesians 6:13 “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.”|
While we may never face down a Goliath with a slingshot, we all understand what it is to look a giant in the eye and realize that we are not enough to take him down alone.
When we put on the whole armor of God, we can stand firm in the power of His might.
Clothe your waist with truth. When confronted with the truth of God, the father of lies can gain no ground against us.
Put on the breastplate of righteousness. This piece of armor protects our hearts from which all of life flows (Proverbs 4:23).
Protect your feet with the preparation of the Gospel of peace. His Gospel makes us surefooted as we carry out His plans.
Take up the shield of faith. This most important protection wards off flaming arrows of doubt. When locked together with the soldiers next to us, we create an impenetrable wall.
Wear the helmet of salvation. This piece guards our heads as we put on the mind of Christ to make every thought obedient to Him.
Fight with the sword of the Spirit. God’s Word represents the only offensive weapon in our arsenal. Know it to take down our enemy.
Pray always. Stay in constant communication with the Captain of angel armies.
Armor up to stand firm against the attacks of our adversary, the devil…He does not stand a chance against you, mighty warrior!!!
|7/28/2023||Psalm 77:11 “I will remember the works of the LORD; surely I will remember Your wonders of old.”|
In the middle of a heated battle, even God’s toughest warriors can forget how He has been faithful time and again. Even after the dove had descended on Jesus and God’s voice had rolled down from heaven, John the Baptist still asked, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?”
God knew that we have a tendency to forget, so He encouraged some simple habits to help us remember. He told the Israelites to tie His words on their hands and foreheads, speak them to their children from morning until night, and inscribe them on the doorposts of their homes.
To remember His wonders, He instructed them to pile up memorial stones, build altars, and celebrate annual feasts to commemorate how He delivered His children. One generation was to sing His praises to the next!
In case of a memory lapse, look back and remember His works on your behalf. Remember the just-in-time job offer, the word of confirmation, the check in the mail, the miraculous turn-around when the doctors were out of answers.
He was faithful to you in the past, and He is not finished…He will do it again…Remember, and take heart!!!
|7/27/2023||Psalm 90:17 “And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; yes, establish the work of our hands.”|
As we go about the good work of building our marriages, we can be assured that the “beauty of the Lord our God” is on us and that He will “establish the work of our hands for us.”
As Nehemiah struggled to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, he had to combat several enemies. He and his fellow Jews worked night and day to complete their mission as they contended with mockery and threats of attack.
In the good work that we are doing to construct Godly families, we may face insults and threats from those who are jealous or do not understand our decisions.
His enemies attempted to divert Nehemiah from his work, to pull him away from the purpose for which God had sent him. They harassed him repeatedly, but Nehemiah worked steadily. He refused to leave his post and would not stop what he was doing to go down to them because he was busy doing a great work (Nehemiah 6:3).
God sees the great work in our marriages and families…When others threaten us with slander, slights, slurs, and snubs, He promises to prosper and protect our marriages…Their words have no impact on our outcome…God has determined our success…His Word is the final word!!!
|7/26/2023||James 5:16 “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”|
Marriage can take its toll in wounds and scars. As two people learn to live together, pain is inevitably inflicted on one another.
When we are hurting, the temptation is to isolate ourselves from others. The reasons vary: protection against ongoing pain, embarrassment over our weakness, fear of rejection, even passive aggression.
Just as Nehemiah enlisted help to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, we must call on those we trust to help us rebuild the damaged walls in our marriages. We must insulate ourselves, surround our relationships with people we can count on to pray, encourage, and counsel us as we build our marriages and families.
Instead of pulling back and hiding alone, today’s verse admonishes us to confess our weaknesses to one another. When we agree together in prayer, our hurt is healed, and our brokenness is restored. The prayers of those who have gone through the battles, who have persevered through trials, and have come out victorious on the other side are powerful and effective.
When troubles come, do not fall into the trap of isolation…Instead, insulate your marriage with those who will assist you in the good work of building a strong relationship and family!!!
|7/25/2023||Mark 10:9 “Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”|
The border of marriage stands as a covenant between God, a man, and a woman. More than a binding, legal contract, this covenant emphasizes the spiritual relationship between the three parties.
Ephesians 5 reveals how our marriages are a beautiful image of Jesus’ relationship with His church. The Bridegroom demonstrated His great love for His bride, the church, by pouring out His life as the sacrifice that brought her to His side.
Similarly, God calls husbands to love their wives just as Jesus loved the church. Just as you love and nourish your own body, cherish and protect your wife.
A man leaves his parents to be joined to his wife, and the two become one flesh. Jesus left the Father in heaven, wrapped Himself in flesh to dwell among us, and has joined Himself to the members of His church. Jesus and the Father are One, and we are to be One in them. It is a great mystery!
God calls for wives to submit to their own husbands like they submit to the Lord. When a man submits to God’s authority, a woman can confidently follow his lead. She demonstrates deep respect for him, and he treasures her.
As members of His glorious church, we are raised up to be all that God intended…In the mutual partnership of marriage, we find the love and encouragement to become all that God has purposed…What a holy and blessed estate!!!
|7/24/2023||Hebrews 13:16 “But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”|
Marriage has a way of shining a spotlight on our selfishness. It forces us to consider another person’s feelings and preferences.
It means remaining silent when we want to blurt out loudly, putting it back on the shelf when we prefer to buy it, pitching in to help when we desire a lazy afternoon on the couch. It means putting another person before yourself.
Genuine, loving relationship puts an end to selfishness. In fact, author David Young says, “If marriage doesn’t end your selfishness, your selfishness will end your marriage.”
In its place, Jesus exemplifies sacrificial love towards one another. The very definition of sacrifice tells us that we give up something valuable to ourselves for the sake of something more worthy or important. Jesus gave up His life so that we might come into a right relationship with the Father and be adopted as His children.
Isn’t love for our spouses more important than anything else? Isn’t the health and happiness of our marriages of utmost value?
Choose love above all else…Choose to do good, to share with her, to consider him before yourself, to put an end to selfishness, and to embrace the sacrificial love that marriage demands…It pleases God, and it makes for a happy house!!!
|7/23/2023||1 John 5:14 “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”|
Building a marriage and a family will prove to be one of the most difficult things that we accomplish in this life. And unless the Lord builds our homes, we labor in vain (Psalm 127:1).
When the king saw how Nehemiah, the prophet, grieved over his broken-down hometown, he asked, “What do you request?” He demanded to know how he could help.
We have a Heavenly Father Whose eyes are on us, Who is attuned to our cries, and comes to our rescue. He is especially near to the brokenhearted, to those who are discouraged (Psalm 34:18).
When our marriages hit rough patches or our children make wrong choices, we have an Advocate in Jesus Who lives to make intercession for us. When you and your spouse boldly approach the throne of grace through prayer, He promises to hear and to work on your behalf. He never leaves us to flounder on our own.
Even in struggles, if we continue to honor each other and to recognize one another as co-inheritors of God’s grace, nothing can interfere with our prayers. And when you and your spouse agree together in prayer, our Father will give you the answer.
Ask, and you will receive…Seek, and you will find…Knock, and the door will be opened for you…Our King of Kings is eager to know what you request!!!
|7/22/2023||Romans 14:19 “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.”|
As we live intimately with a spouse, we find that marriage brings out the best – and the worst – in us. We can choose to respond in ways that promote peace and unity.
Our verse today encourages us to concentrate on harmony and on the things that build others up and promote their spiritual growth. It is easy to major in the minor irritations that every relationship experiences. Instead, the apostle Paul urges us to not say or do things that would interfere with the free exchange of love.
While it is tempting to spew harsh words in the heat of the moment, they only cause hurt and division. Paul encourages us to speak words that are a gift of grace to the person who hears them (Ephesians 4:29).
Instead of arguing, treat one another with deep affection; prefer one another in love (Romans 12:10). Focus on ways to promote and honor your spouse.
Even when our spouse “rubs us the wrong way,” remember that person may be the very “sandpaper” that God will use to knock off some of our rough edges. He refines us in relationship. He speaks to us through our spouses.
He knew that marriage would create many opportunities to practice sacrificial love and service…We can speak cruelly or kindly, strengthen or weaken, lift up or tear down…We choose how we build!!!
|7/21/2023||Nehemiah 2:18 “And I told them of the hand of my God which had been good upon me, and also of the king’s words that he had spoken to me. So they said, ‘Let us rise up and build.’ Then they set their hands to this good work.”|
Building a healthy marriage is much like a construction project. Whether you are praying to meet God’s choice for you or have been married for a while, certain principles hold true for the border of marriage.
Nehemiah, the prophet, returned to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem after the Babylonians destroyed the city. He encouraged those Jews struggling to live in the devastated city.
He let them know that the hand of God was good upon him. And God’s hand is still good upon us today. He is the Author and Finisher of our faith, the Architect of our marriages. When we follow His plans, we build on a sure Foundation.
Every construction project begins with a dream and a blueprint. Nehemiah had King Artaxerxes’ letters. The King of kings has spoken His direction for our marriages. In humility, we first submit to Jesus, and then to one another. In sacrificial love, we lay down our lives in the same way that Christ laid down His life for us.
With the hand of God upon us, we confidently rise up to set our hands to this good work…Hand in hand with Jesus, we will build loving marriages that stand the tests of time!!!
|7/20/2023||Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”|
At the core of our beings, we long to be completely known and understood… accepted and loved. Also lurking inside of us is the fear that true transparency – the revelation of our flaws and frailties – might result in humiliation and rejection.
Here at this intersection of utmost longing and unspeakable fear, we find Jesus. He is intimately acquainted with us. He knows our thoughts and our very motives. He has counted the hairs on our heads. He knows when we wake and when we lie down to sleep.
He knows our past and all the secrets we conceal from others. He breathes life into our present and goes before us into our future. He understands our weaknesses and mourns our apathy.
Best of all, in spite of it all, in the middle of it all, He loves us – deeply, fully, irreversibly, and eternally. Nothing we do causes Him to flinch or abandon us. Nothing we do can cause Him to love us any more than He already has at the border of the Cross of Calvary.
We are accepted in the Beloved…He takes the risk out of transparency when we stand in His presence – fully known and fully loved…No more hiding…No more fear…Oh, how glorious to be found in Him!!!
|7/19/2023||Psalm 107:14 “He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and broke their chains in pieces.”|
At the border of the Cross, we find freedom. The weight of the world can crush the life out of us, can make it hard to breathe. Jesus has come to break away those chains and set us free indeed!
Bondage and chains can come in many forms – depression, broken relationships, ingrained habits, addictions, financial debt. While we may feel shackled to these things, God’s Word is not chained (II Timothy 2:9).
God sent Jesus to proclaim freedom to the prisoner. He sent Him to set the oppressed free (Luke 4:18-19). For those who were under the dominion of darkness, He has called us into His marvelous light. For those bound in affliction and irons, He brings us out of the blackness – even the very shadow of death – and He breaks our chains in pieces (Psalm 107:14).
Remember Paul and Silas, bound in prison for preaching the Gospel of Jesus. In the midnight hour, they lifted their voices in prayer and songs as the other prisoners listened. Suddenly, an earthquake shook the very foundation of the prison. Every cell door flew open, and every single chain fell off of every single prisoner. Salvation and celebration broke out!
Jesus has come to shake the very foundation of the prison where you are bound…He will cut the bars of iron in two…He will break your chains in pieces…He will set you absolutely free!!!
|7/18/2023||2 Corinthians 1:20 “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.”|
Has your spiritual walk ever felt more like a crawl? Has your salvation seemed more like a struggle for survival? Do the words “overcomer” and “more than a conqueror” describe someone other than the person in the mirror?
Great news! Every promise in God’s Word was spoken to you. Every promise finds its divine YES in Jesus. He gets the final AMEN in your life that will give all the glory to God! If you want Him and are ready to do what He says, the Door is open.
He does not play favorites or pick and choose which one of His children receives a limited number of promises. Every good and perfect gift that comes down from the Father of Lights is available to you.
When you said yes to Him at the border of the Cross, you came into agreement with Him. Through Christ, everything became possible – for you. His blood washes away every imperfection – for you. His perfect love has chased away fear – for you. Every promise is available – for you. His YES and AMEN – for you.
No need to crawl…No need to hang on by a thread…When you look in the mirror, see an overcomer, see a child of God who is more than a conqueror, see someone destined to run in the path of His commands because He sets your heart free!!!
|7/17/2023||Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”|
At the border of the Cross, God has poured out His grace for salvation. God’s riches, at Christ’s expense, were extended to us. So undeserved!
From the beginning, He made us the focus of His love and planned to adopt us into His family as His own dear children. Through the generosity of the grace He lavished on us, we are now accepted in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:6).
His grace bought our redemption through the blood of Jesus. It washed away our sins and justified us in God’s sight. He sees us as clean, washed as white as snow, just as if we had never sinned at all.
Though He was rich, the Lord Jesus Christ emptied Himself and became poor for our sakes, suffering death on the Cross. His poverty made us rich; we are now co-heirs with Jesus of every treasure that He possesses.
It is only by grace that we have been saved…We could never earn this grace…Nothing we could ever work up in ourselves could merit such favor…At Calvary, the glory of God’s grace was His gift to us – pure and simple!!!
|7/16/2023||John 10:28 “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.”|
How reassuring is this beautiful promise from Jesus! No matter what chaos swirls, we can rest confidently in His commitment to us.
Jesus declared Himself to be the Good Shepherd. He knows each one of His sheep. He calls us by name, and He leads us in and out of the sheepfold to find green pastures. We are so familiar with the sound of His voice that we will not wander off to follow a stranger. He loves us so much that He lays down His life for us. Nothing and no one can pluck us, His precious sheep, from His hand.
Centuries before this promise was penned in the New Testament, the Psalmist declared that He is our God, that we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand (Psalm 95).
Safe in His hand, we can be certain that nothing reaches us that is not filtered through the loving fingers of our heavenly Father first…He promises to strengthen us, to help us in every situation, and to keep a firm grip on us…As those who follow the Good Shepherd, He shelters and shields, protects, and provides for us…Allow yourself to just be held by our Sovereign Father today…We are safe in His hands!!!
|7/15/2023||John 16:33 “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.”|
Jesus warned us that we would have trouble in this life, but He tells us to find peace in Him, to be of good cheer. Be certain, confident, and courageous!
If we are honest, trials can fill us with uncertainty. We are tempted to doubt God’s love and His good plans for us. Our faith shrivels into fear, and worry becomes our constant companion.
At the border of the Cross, we have a choice to make. We can bring those burdens and entrust them to Jesus, or we can continue to bend under their weight. The apostle Peter has some reassuring advice for us.
If we humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand, when He deems the time is right, He will raise us up again (1 Peter 5:6-7). Peter encourages us to throw the whole weight of our anxieties on Jesus because He cares for us. His eyes are watching over us, and His ears are attuned to our prayers.
Peter speaks this beautiful declaration: “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you” (1 Peter 5:10).
In the middle of the trial, allow Him to come and fill you with His peace…Cast your cares on Him…You can trust Him to raise you up again!!!
|7/14/2023||Ephesians 2:4-5 “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ”.|
At the border of the Cross, dead things cross over to life. And not just a barely-getting-by kind of life, but an overflowing-with-abundance kind of life!
We once were dead in sins and trespasses. We walked hand in hand with the evil in this world. We were governed by selfish desires and were headed for God’s wrath.
Even in this sinful state, God sent Jesus to die and rise again for us. At the border of the Cross, God quickens the dead. He makes us alive in Christ!
We rise up to walk with Him. We now live and move and find our very existence in Christ Jesus. We are His offspring, the God-created. We owe our every breath to Him. He shows us what it means to truly experience a full-to-the-brim life of abundance.
In fact, Ephesians 3:20 tells us that God will do “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us…”
That same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead now works in us…That power will accomplish more than we can even imagine…We once were dead, but we now are alive!!!
|7/13/2023||2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”|
God has blessed us with borders, but these boundaries have not built walls between us. His ear is bent towards us. His arms are open. His heart longs for us.
He sent His Son to build a bridge back to Him. Through this Door, God is accessible and available to every single person. He is not angry. His face is not turned away.
Remember the story of the prodigal son? The father must have stood in the door, watching the road day, after day because when the son was still far away, he saw him. Did he slam the door? Did he turn away in disgust?
No! He was filled with compassion and flew down the road to meet him. He embraced and kissed him and called for a celebration even as his son cried out, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son” (Luke 15:21). The lost was found. The one presumed dead was alive again.
If the road has taken you far away from the Father, He stands waiting for you at the Door…Turn around, and come home…If you are praying for the return of a loved one, He stands at the Door with you, waiting and watching and longing, too!!!
|7/12/2023||Psalm 119:160 “The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.”|
God has blessed us with the border of His Word. The entirety of His Word is truth. All of it? Every word of it. Heaven and earth will pass away, but God will dot every “i” and cross every “t” of His Word (Matthew 5:18).
The Bible tells us Who created us and how we came to be here. It teaches us that He has a plan for our lives. We are not victims of circumstance.
It shares the story of a love so great that He stretched out His arms to die in our place, and of a redemption so welcoming that those same arms are flung wide to embrace and pull us close. It instructs us how to live worthy of this wondrous gift we have received.
When confusion threatens, God welcomes the hard questions. If anyone lacks understanding and needs answers, we can simply ask, and He promises to pour out His wisdom liberally and without reproach (James 1:5). Even when the news anchor contradicts it, when the professor’s words do not align to it, we can trust in its truth and the One Who gave it to us.
God’s Word is flawless…It unfolds to bring light and understanding…He has sent out His Word, and it will not return to Him without accomplishing everything He has commanded it to do…We can stand on it!!!
|7/11/2023||Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”|
Centuries ago, God brought Abraham to stand under a night sky and urged him to count the stars. And He made a promise that, one day, Abraham’s descendants would be as innumerable as those twinkling points.
Thousands of years later at Jesus’ birth, the Light dawned on a people who sat in darkness, who lived in the shadow of death. When we invite Him into our hearts, this glorious treasure comes to live in our jars of clay.
God has chosen us to be the light of the world right here and right now. He calls us to be blameless and harmless in the middle of a crooked and perverse generation, to shine like the stars in the sky (Philippians 2:15).
He is not looking for a perfect people. God is looking for a people willing to live by His truth, to speak out against evil, to reach out and ease suffering – to shine a Light.
When we submit our wounds and jagged pieces to Jesus, He comes to heal and reveal Himself…Through all of the cracked places in these jars of clay, His Light spills out to reach those around us who still sit in darkness!!!
|7/10/2023||Leviticus 23:3 “Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.”|
God did us a favor when He created the border of a Sabbath day. He did that for us…not for Himself (Mark 2:27).
He knew that our lives would move at breakneck speed, our calendars would be crammed, and we would overcommit. He knew we would need to rest and refocus.
Establishing a Sabbath in our lives causes us to recognize God’s governance of our time and helps us relinquish control to Him.
The Sabbath is a time for us to cease from regular daily activities. Set aside and resist the obligations and activity that consume most of your days. It offers us a sacred time to rest. We can sleep a solid eight hours, sit quietly, or doze in a hammock.
On this special day, do the thing that brings you joy, that recharges and rejuvenates you…Remember to spend time in God’s presence…Turn your heart to Him…Open your Bible, sing to Him or talk to Him in prayer…As you take this step of obedience, expect to hear from Him…Anticipate a refresh and renewal for the upcoming week…Honor the Sabbath…It is His gift to you!!!
|7/9/2023||1 Corinthians 2:2 “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”|
The very first commandment instructs us to have no other gods before the one true God. In our culture, though, many turn aside to worship the idol of self.
Many sacrifice to the idol of significance. We thirst for status and to be known. We seek greatness – but from small motivations. Significance seeks to make our names known.
God is calling us back to a “Jesus sufficiency.” Like the apostle Paul, we must determine to know nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Out of His great love for us, He laid down His life so we could find life in Him. There, we find our value and our worth.
His will becomes our priority. We must deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and lose our lives for the sake of Jesus and His gospel. Our death to self brings life to others.
In His kingdom economy, those who desire to be first will be a servant to all (Mark 9:35). He calls us to sacrifice…not significance. Sacrifice seeks to make His name known.
When we make Christ known, we share the one thing that we have to offer a hurting world…Nothing of ourselves will ease their suffering, deliver them from evil, or promise hope for tomorrow…We only have Jesus. And He is more than enough!!!
|7/8/2023||2 Chronicles 7:14 “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”|
The evidence mounts with each story in the daily news. Our nation is struggling. When Israel found themselves in a similar situation, God gave some simple instructions in today’s verse.
We must humble ourselves. We must recognize that no political policy, no radical reform, no capital campaign will solve our problems. Apart from Jesus, we have no solutions (John 15:5).
We must pray. Before we can stand, we must kneel. We can boldly approach the throne of grace to submit our requests to a loving God Who alone has the power to redeem and restore.
We must seek His face. When we sit in His presence, look into His eyes, and listen for His voice, we hear from Him. We find that He alone is more than enough to provide all that we need.
When we spend time with Him, we are compelled to turn from our wicked ways…It is His kindness that leads us to repentance…He knows that repentance brings wholeness and the peace for which we long…Four simple steps for profound change…The prayers of the righteous have tremendous power to impact America!!!
|7/7/2023||1 Thessalonians 2:13 “When you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.”|
God has graciously given us the life-giving truth of His Word to guide and to guard our steps. It is a border and a blessing – the very foundation of our lives in Him.
When we choose to live within the border of His Word – and to not pursue our own paths – He blesses that obedience and rewards us with the promises found within the chapters and verses.
Moses understood this concept. When the children of Israel sinned, God told Moses that He would no longer travel with His chosen people. He would send an angel before them, but He Himself would not go with them to the land flowing with milk and honey.
Moses went to meet God in the tabernacle. He told the Lord that he would rather call off the whole trip than to take one step without Him (Exodus 33:15). It was not a hard choice for Moses. He preferred to stay in the wilderness with the presence of God than to go to the Promised Land without Him.
When you are committed to walking within the border and the blessings of His Word then dedicate every step to the Lord…When the law of the Lord is in our hearts, our steps will not slip or falter!!!
|7/6/2023||Romans 16:20 “And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.”|
The apostle Peter warns us to “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). And Jesus uses strong language to let us know that this thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10).
Jesus contended with him when He walked this earth. After forty days of fasting, the tempter came to divert Jesus from His mission. In each circumstance, Jesus defeated him with the Word of God (Matthew 4:1-11). Little did Satan know that this battle was only an indication of things to come!
Satan thought that he was victorious at Calvary. When Jesus breathed His last and His body went into that cold, dark tomb, Satan believed that he had won. But he only struck His heel. Because three days later, Jesus crushed his head in defeat!
We are not ignorant of Satan’s devices (2 Corinthians 2:11), and we are not helpless in combating them either. That same Spirit that raised up Jesus from the dead? That Spirit lives in us! We are no longer slaves to sin and death (Romans 6:6). We are not subject to the wiles of Satan. We are more than conquerors through Him Who loved us! (Romans 8:37)
The head of Satan was crushed under the foot of Christ…Jesus is now Head over all…He has filled us to the brim with overcoming power…“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).
|7/5/2023||1 Timothy 6:11 “But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.”|
Satan is an enemy who attempts to draw us in, to bring us near. Since he is a roaring lion who walks about seeking whom he may devour, he knows that he needs to be close enough to pounce (1 Peter 5:8). When it comes to fleeing from temptation, Joseph provides us a prime example.
Young Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery; he was bought by Potiphar, the Egyptian captain of the guard. Because the Lord was with Joseph, Potiphar saw that everything he put his hand to prospered. He made him overseer of his household. Since he was a handsome man, he caught the eye of Potiphar’s wife. Day after day, she attempted to seduce him. Day after day, he refused her. He would not stoop to dishonor Potiphar’s trust or to sin against God (Genesis 39:9).
One day, when no one else was around, as Joseph went into the house to work, she grabbed hold of his garment and would not let go as she tempted him yet again. He resisted her pleas, pulled away, and left his garment in her hand as he fled. There was no shame in running away!
The Apostle Paul said to “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.” He goes even further when he encourages young Timothy to “fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life…” (I Timothy 6:12). When we submit to God and resist the devil, James tells us that Satan will flee from us (James 4:7)!
In all the places where Satan would seek to entice you to sin or where he would draw you close enough to pounce and devour, resist him…When we submit to God first, we do not stand to resist in our own power!!!
|7/4/2023||Galatians 5:1 “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free.”|
Today, we commemorate our Independence as Americans! From sea to shining sea, we celebrate with waving flags, marching bands, family picnics, and fireworks exploding in the night sky.
Our Founding Fathers placed such importance on liberty that they named it as one of the inalienable rights with which our Creator endowed each of us. We have staunchly defended, preserved, and advanced this freedom for ourselves and for others suffering under tyranny.
God understood the importance of liberty, the cry of every human heart to be free. He saw us groaning under the weight of unrighteousness, slaves to sin. We were in bondage to every form of evil and corruption, held captive by Satan.
In His lovingkindness, He sent Jesus to proclaim the Good News, to bind up every broken heart, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and to open up the prison doors for those who were bound (Luke 4:18). He set us free! We have walked out of the darkness into His marvelous light. Though we were without hope, He brought us near to give us the promise of a glorious future.
As we celebrate our American independence today, let’s rejoice in the soul-deep freedom that we have in our Savior…True liberty is found at the foot of the cross…We proudly wave His banner…When Christ has set you free, you are free indeed!!!
|7/3/2023||Galatians 6:1, 3-4 “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.”|
We cannot change what we will not confront. And even while confrontation is often uncomfortable, it is necessary for healing and restoration.
Second Samuel 11 finds King David walking on the roof of his house. On that spring night, his eyes fell on a beautiful woman as she was bathing. Upon discovering that she was the wife of Uriah, the soldier, David did the unthinkable.
He sent a command to have Uriah placed at the front of the fiercest battle so that he would be killed. After Bathsheba mourned the death of her husband, David took her as his wife. This evil deed displeased the Lord (2 Samuel 11:27).
The Lord sent the prophet, Nathan, to confront David regarding this grievous sin (2 Samuel 12:1). While the Bible does not give us the details of God’s direction, we can imagine Nathan’s trepidation at calling out the king in the error of his ways.
In spite of that possibility, Nathan obeyed. While confronting the king may have proven difficult, disobeying the King’s command would have reaped worse consequences. Situations almost never resolve themselves, and time only compounds the difficulties.
In obedience, Nathan presented the word of the Lord to David. Without hesitation, David acknowledged the truth when he confessed, “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:13). He wept, prayed, and lay prostrate before God, asking Him to be gracious to him.
When David was confronted by his own sin, he faced up to and admitted it. With deep humility, he sought the Lord. David knew that change would not come until he confronted the depth of his own sin.
Whether God calls us to confront or we are the persons who are confronted, humility before God and before others is essential…Let us examine our hearts and seek spiritual restoration with gentleness and honesty!!!
|7/2/2023||Romans 6:6-7 “Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin.”|
When God brought the children of Israel to the brink of the Promised Land, He gave those warriors one order: “…drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you…” (Numbers 33:52).
Not only did the Israelites fail to follow this one directive, they also married the foreigners, adopted their customs, and even began to worship their idols. For hundreds of years, Israel was caught in this trap.
We can find ourselves ensnared in a similar trap. As beloved children of God, purchased with the blood of His Son, we are commanded to put away the sins of our past, to drive them out. The apostle Paul tells us that, as Christ followers, we are “dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:11). And if we are dead to sin, how can we continue to live in it any longer (Romans 6:2)?
We must never allow sin to move in and blind us to the truths of God. We are called to live for righteousness (I Peter 2:24). Paul commands us to put away lying, stealing, corrupt words, bitterness, wrath, anger, quarreling, and malice (Ephesians 4:25-31). These things have no place in our lives.
James tells us that for the person who knows to do good but does not do it, that is sin (James 4:17). He encourages believers to submit to God. If we resist the devil, he will flee. When we draw near to God, He will draw near to us. We must cleanse our hands and purify our hearts. We must humble ourselves, and He will lift us up (James 4:7-10).
Refuse to be entangled by sin…In every place that sin creeps in, our relationship with Jesus is diminished…We must do what the Israelites failed to do…Seek His face and His heart…Jesus gave Himself to redeem us from sin, from every wicked, lawless deed…He is purifying a people to be His own special possession, who are zealous for good works…Rise up, warriors, to drive it out!!!
|7/1/2023||Isaiah 40:29 “He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.”|
Samson was a mighty warrior, but he forgot where his strength originated. His memory lapse proved to be his ultimate downfall.
For forty years, the Philistines ruled over the Israelites, but God had not forsaken them. He sent an angel to speak to Samson’s barren mother to let her know that her soon-coming son was destined to deliver the Israelites from their adversaries (Judges 13:5). As he grew, the Spirit of the Lord began to move on him (Judges 13:25). He served as a judge to his people for twenty years (Judges 16:31).
We cannot face our battles on our own. We do not possess the strength that we need, but we know the One Who does. How liberating to trust in His promises and to cease from the pressure and the striving that wear us out and break us down. We can rest in His strength and fight in His power!
When we cry out to Him, He makes us bold in the strength of our souls (Psalm 138:3). He arms us with strength for the battle and subdues those who would rise up against us (Psalm 18:39). When our courage fails, He strengthens our hearts (Psalm 27:14). He strengthens our faith when we might otherwise waver at His promises (Romans 4:20). He is our strength, song, and salvation (Exodus 15:2). We can do all things through Christ Who gives us strength (Philippians 4:13).
Even when we are burdened beyond measure, His strength is made perfect in our weaknesses…He alone is the secret of our strength!!!
|6/30/2023||Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”|
Declared as the “The Hall of Faith,” Hebrews 11 recounts name after name of the warriors of old who grabbed hold of the promises of God, and by faith, performed mighty exploits in His name.
Hebrews 11:1 describes faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” In other words, as believers, we have full confidence for the things for which we hope; we are completely certain of things that we cannot even see. It was this kind of faith that drove the saints of old and won them a reputation that stands today.
Hebrews 11 calls out some of these warriors by name:
-Noah, by faith, built an ark before one raindrop fell.
-Abraham, by faith, left everything familiar to search for a Promised Land.
-Sarah, by faith, gave birth to baby Isaac long after her childbearing years had passed.
-Abraham, again by faith, offered up that same long-awaited son on the altar…before God provided a ram.
-Amram and Jochebed, by faith, disobeyed the king’s command and spared the life of their son, Moses.
-Moses, by faith, gave up the pleasures of Egypt to suffer the afflictions of his people, the Israelites.
-The Israelites, by faith, crossed through the middle of the Red Sea on dry land.
These men and women — and many others — “through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens” (Hebrews 11:33-34). Can we ever hope to be so courageous and victorious?
The answer is yes! Because none of these people fought in their own strength. They simply took God at His Word. They could not see the outcome with their physical eyes, but when God spoke to them, they took the step of faith that set them on a course to certain victory.
Whatever you face today, the battle belongs to the Lord…Take Him at His Word…Trust and believe…Take the first step, by faith — even as small as the tiniest mustard seed — and watch Him move a mountain for you!!!
|6/29/2023||1 Corinthians 13:4-8 “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”|
Marriage is a holy institution created by God. A man leaves his parents to marry a woman, and in that union, the two become one flesh (Matthew 19:5). It is a beautiful mystery — one that symbolizes Jesus Christ and His church (Ephesians 5:32).
God never intended for our marriages to merely survive. They were created to thrive! Since these relationships signify how Christ interacts with His church, what picture are we painting for the world around us?
When the borders of our marriage are breached by the enemy or when they are weakened by internal neglect, we must commit to the good work of rebuilding those walls. We must not be deterred from the commitment that we have made — no matter what distractions we encounter.
When storms arise — as they inevitably do — we must assess the damage to our relationships. We must determine the role that we played in inflicting the hurt, and we must be quick to repent and restore.
When the walls are tall and strong again, keep close watch at the gate. Open up the gate to usher out the destructive things that bring death to a relationship. Open up the gate to welcome in the Holy Spirit and the perfect gifts that bring life to a relationship.
In the power of God, broken borders can be rebuilt…Broken boundaries can be re-established…Marriages can be reconstructed, and families can be reunited…God’s healing can revitalize relationships to bring wholeness, peace, and joy…Your marriage was created with God’s purpose to be a vehicle that will show the world how Jesus has given Himself in sacrificial love to His church…It was created to thrive…His love never fails!!!
|6/28/2023||Psalm 147:13 “For He has strengthened the bars of your gates; He has blessed your children within you.”|
Rebuilding the broken border of a marriage relationship requires commitment and a willingness to change. It requires walls and gates.
What do walls and gates have to do with the husband-wife relationship? Walls and gates are distinct in their roles. They work together, but they possess different purposes. Walls protect, while gates act as points of access. Gates are pointless if the walls are broken down.
As children of God and as husbands or wives, we must guard the gates of our marriages. We are responsible for the things that we allow entrance. We also are responsible to escort out the things that bring harm.
We must ask the Holy Spirit to point out those things that need to leave and those things that we need to welcome. Perhaps bitterness or pain from the past has driven a wedge between you and your spouse. Maybe you are holding onto a grudge that weighs you down like a boulder. For some, it could be a behavior or a habit that eats away at the stability of your relationship.
Open up the gates to evict those things that can only drag down and destroy what God has planned for you and your spouse…Ask God to banish the bitterness, anger, and hurt…Ask Him to lift away the grudge or to deliver you from the habits that have a stranglehold on your marriage…Kick those things out of the gates and to the curb…When you open the gates to escort them out, a wondrous exchange occurs…God ushers in His mercy, joy, peace, love, and renewed hope…When you welcome in the power and the strength of God, He reconstructs and builds up and refurbishes…He can give you not just the marriage of which you dream but the marriage that He intends and has designed for you and your spouse…Open up the gates!!!
|6/27/2023||Nehemiah 2:20 “So I answered them, and said to them, The God of heaven Himself will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build, but you have no heritage or right or memorial in Jerusalem.”|
In our husband-wife relationships, we are responsible for maintaining the border of marriage. Nehemiah demonstrates a principle for us as we consider those who might discourage us in our endeavors.
In complete confidence, Nehemiah declared to the triple threat: “The God of heaven Himself will prosper us.” He put his enemies on alert. No matter what they said or how they attempted to thwart him, they had no bearing on his outcome. His outcome was determined by God alone. He was the One Who would protect and prosper them.
In fact, he went on to say: “…you have no heritage or right or memorial in Jerusalem.” He reminded them that the land on which they stood was covenant land. It was given to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all of the generations following. Outsiders had no role in that covenant. They might as well pack their bags and leave now.
Many marriages have been destroyed by outsiders. Families have been torn apart because people who had no part in that covenant relationship wormed their way in to divide and destroy. We have a biblical mandate to take a stand, to shore up the marriage border, and demand that they find an exit.
God fights for our marriages. Are we protecting what He has promised to preserve? “What God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:6). God desires to command a blessing on the unity in our relationships and to extend that blessing to our children and grandchildren. When outsiders who have no part in the covenant relationship attempt to breach the border, refuse to back down.
We are doing a great work in constructing strong marriages and families…Do not be distracted by detractors…Pull the border tight for your spouse, your family, and all the generations to come!!!
|6/26/2023||Matthew 6:6 “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”|
In our marriage relationships, we will experience seasons of difficulty. Hurt will be inflicted. When two imperfect people unite, it is not unusual for friction to arise and damage to occur.
When damage has diminished our relationships, we must evaluate the issue privately. We must consider the role that we played in the rift, as well as the responsibility that we have to repent and reconcile with our spouses. Respect the intimacy of the marriage relationship; do not share issues haphazardly with those outside.
We need to take a journey of self-examination to understand the issues. We need to ask the Lord for wisdom and guidance. His Word and His Holy Spirit are best qualified to resolve marital issues.
What caused the walls of Jerusalem to be reduced to a pile of bricks? Internal neglect! When the Israelites walked away from God’s promises and neglected His covenant, the Babylonian enemy swooped in and destroyed the walls and the city.
We have an enemy, too. Satan prowls about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (I Peter 5:8). When we do not keep God at the center of our marriages, we open ourselves to attacks and destruction.
We must choose to work with those we trust — those who talk to God more than others, who have no personal agenda but to seek God’s will for our marriage, and who have more experience than us. They live where we want to go and can help us build the marriages we desire.
When damage occurs and the walls of our marriages are breached, God will provide the tools that we need to repair and restore…Walls can be rebuilt with humility, wisdom, and love!!!
|6/25/2023||Proverbs 5:18 “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth.”|
Have you ever gotten excited about a movie preview, bought the tickets months in advance, arrived early at the venue, and settled in with your popcorn before the theatre got dark? Only you walk out disappointed two hours later because the best part of the movie was the previews.
Don’t let your relationships be the preview for a very bad movie! Don’t allow it to be false advertising for a sad outcome. Make certain that what comes next is better than what came before.
Let’s work at constructing strong marriages and relationships. Let’s put away our phones, look one another in the eyes again, ask questions, truly listen to the answers, hold hands, weave some new dreams, and say, “I love you” often.
Once Nehemiah received permission from King Artaxerxes to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, the hard work began in earnest…Nehemiah left the king’s presence and went right to work…He was determined to restore his hometown…He was not to be deterred in his goal of rebuilding the walls and rehanging the gates…In our relationships, let’s make the next chapter the best one yet!!!
|6/24/2023||Isaiah 62:5 “And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.”|
Biblical marriage — one man and one woman before God for a lifetime – is a border that demands protection. Pledging our love to one another “until death do us part” is a commitment that requires serious consideration.
When the prophet, Nehemiah, learned that Jerusalem was demolished, he prayed and fasted to ask for God’s help. When King Artaxerxes offered his assistance, Nehemiah asked for a letter to rebuild Jerusalem. Before construction began, Nehemiah knew he needed to obtain the king’s permission.
Wisdom bids us to seek God’s permission before we begin to build a relationship. Is this the person whom God has chosen for me? Together, can we build a strong family? Our King of kings, Who sees from the beginning to the end and Who has a plan for each one of us, desires to give us good gifts.
As we build our marriages, it is imperative to keep God at the center of the relationship. An attacker can overpower one person, but two can resist him; a threefold cord is not easily broken though (Ecclesiastes 4:12). When a couple abides in Christ, they find the strength and sufficiency to weather every storm.
When the Lord builds our home, our work will not be in vain…He blesses our partnerships and anoints them for His holy purpose…We find our “happily-ever-after” in Him!!!
|6/23/2023||Nehemiah 2:18 “So they said, Let us rise up and build. Then they set their hands to this good work.”|
The borders that God establishes bring blessing to those who choose to honor them. One of the boundaries most in need of repair today is the broken border of marriage.
Biblical, God-honoring marriage between one man and one woman for a lifetime is under threat. The sacrificial love of which the Bible speaks, that inspires one person to give his life to another and to raise children in the fear of the Lord, has been forfeited. This breakdown of the family unit erodes the foundation for our future.
Great relationships require effort, practice, and intentionality. Good husbands, good wives, and good families are not born of luck. They are built by hard work.
For single people who desire to marry, you are working on your future relationship. Are you preparing to be a superb spouse? Or just hoping for the best? If you are a broken person before you marry, marriage will only further break down what is already broken. Wholeness is only found in Jesus.
For those who have been married for decades, be gracious enough to share how God has led you through the difficulties to find strong, peaceful marriages. You are surrounded by people who need help in the tough times. Make yourselves available to pray or have a conversation.
Let us commit to do good work in our marriages…Let us use words that encourage and build up…Let us cut away all bitterness and strife…Let us seek to love our spouses more than we love ourselves…Let us determine to strengthen these relationships that God has given to us…Let us rebuild the broken borders of our marriages…We’ve got work to do…good work!!!
|6/22/2023||John 15:9 “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.”|
From Genesis through Revelation, God demonstrates His deep desire to be with us. How amazing that the Creator of the universe longs to spend time with us.
In Genesis, God lovingly fashioned Adam from the dust of the ground and breathed His own breath into him (Genesis 2:7). As He molded Adam and Eve, He formed them in His own image. He wanted us to recognize Him, to relate to Him. In the garden of perfection that He had created just for them.
If you are longing for fellowship with God Almighty, if you are reaching for Him, He is reaching back to you. The eyes of the Lord run to and fro across the earth; He wants to show Himself strong on behalf of those who are loyal to Him (II Chronicles 16:9).
Be careful not to confuse His longing with any sort of need. God does not need us. He is all-sufficient unto Himself. He needs nothing from anyone. How awe-inspiring that He wants us! He desires to spend time with us, to communicate with us, to revel in our presence just as we revel in His.
From the beginning through the end, God has shown us over and over, with deep love and faithful promises, that He longs to be with us…Whisper His name, and He is there…At your lowest point, He stands beside you…In your moments of quiet joy, He is there…Embrace the wonder — God wants you!!!
|6/21/2023||Colossians 1:13-14 “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”|
For all that Jesus Christ did for us at the Cross, as much as He makes possible through His sacrifice, it is only accessible to us when we cross the border from unbelief to belief. Our faith unlocks His promises in our lives.
As we travel from country to country, when we cross borders, we are given forms and asked to declare certain things. From where are we coming? Where are we going? What are we carrying with us? How long do we plan to stay? When we come to the Cross — the border of salvation — we have some declarations to make.
We declare that we believe that the Word of God is true. We recognize that we are sinners in need of a Savior, that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We come from the other side of the border of salvation. And we come just as we are. We declare our sin, our brokenness, our rejection, our shame, and our pain.
The only thing that we cross the border with is the shed Blood of Jesus Christ that cleanses us from all sin and washes us whiter than snow (1 John 1:7). We leave everything behind and walk through the door by His divine grace.
We are going to a land of light and liberty and a new home of happiness, wholeness, and hope…We enter a kingdom where we become new creations, where the condemnation of the past falls powerless!!!
|6/20/2023||Exodus 32:26 “Then Moses stood in the entrance of the camp, and said, ‘Whoever is on the LORD’s side—come to me!’ And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him.”|
The border of the cross, the border of salvation is absolute. Jesus is the Door, the only point of access to cross the border into freedom.
After we step through the Door, we need to close it behind us. Many of us want the door to swing both directions. We choose to live on one side and then the other – not one side OR the other. We cannot live on both sides of the border. Jesus said it this way: “He who is not with Me is against Me…” (Matthew 12:30).
What is truly worth pursuing on the other side of the cross? On the other side of the cross are guilt and shame. On the other side of the cross are sickness and disease. On this side of the cross, “…He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).
On the other side of the cross are mountains that we cannot move and problems that we cannot solve. On this side of the cross, “whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says” (Mark 11:23).
On the other side of the cross, we have no hope, no power, and no ability…On this side of the cross, we have the authority of His name, the power of His Word, and the redemption of His blood…He makes it so easy to choose…Come on over to the Lord’s side!!!
|6/19/2023||John 10:9 “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.”|
By faith, we come to the border of the cross. We open the Door that is Christ Jesus, and we walk from death to life. When we step across that border to the other side…we shut the door!
We already know the blessings that await us! We already understand the quality of the life that we want is to be found on this side of the border. We already recognize the things that we want to leave behind. Some of us, though, want an open border so we can cross back over anytime that we desire.
We still struggle with the chains of our past. We may be bound by generations of sin, by circumstances and issues that create link after link that tighten around us. How easy it is to begin to doubt the power of God to redeem us. We want access to the freedom and the liberty found in the salvation of Jesus, but we begin to believe that it is up to us, that we must figure out a means to disentangle ourselves from the chains that hold us down.
There is more good news for us…The Word of God is alive, powerful, and sharper than a two-edged sword…It declares that we are not redeemed by any schemes or works that we might muster up; we are saved by grace through faith…And even that faith is a gift from God!!!
|6/18/2023||Proverbs 17:6 “Children’s children are the crown of old men, and the glory of children is their father.”|
In honor of Father’s Day, Pastor Matt Hagee shared a personal story regarding two influential men in his life.
Pastor Matt was only nine-years-old when his grandfather passed away, but he cherished all the family events with him. They shared a love of the outdoors, and they spent countless hours on the lake fishing and hunting.
While he did not know him well, in the years since his grandfather passed, Pastor Matt’s father, Pastor John Hagee, has filled in the blanks. His grandfather was a man who loved the Lord with all of his heart and who loved God’s Word. He gave six decades of his life to preaching and winning souls to Christ.
What Pastor Matt did not know is that his grandfather grew up in a legalistic denomination that created personal torment for him, that made it difficult to enjoy life. The rules were based on a person’s own strength and works — not grace — and there was no room for imperfection.
One day, Pastor John began to share how difficult it was to grow up as his son, how he often would not speak one word to his family for weeks at a time. Painful memories spilled out.
In the following silence, Pastor Matt prayed for the right words to respond. Finally, he said, “Well, Dad, I guess I should write Grandpa a thank-you letter.” Pastor John exclaimed, “What?”
Pastor Matt explained, “If the way he raised you and all of the hurt that you had to endure is what helped you become the dad you are to me, then I guess I should write a letter and thank Grandpa. He never watched you play a game, but you never missed one of my practices. He might not have told you he loved you, but there’s never been a day you haven’t hugged me and kissed me and told me how proud you are of me. You let me know pretty quick, I was a hero. And you were mine. So, I want to thank you for being such a fabulous father.”
|6/17/2023||1 John 2:14 “I have written to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one.”|
Fathers, God has a plan and a purpose for each one of you! Those on “the home team” need you, our “most valuable players,” more than ever before. Fathers, your children need you.
Your children need to see you loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30). Your sons need you. They need a real-life example of how a man of God lives his life with integrity. They need for someone to demonstrate a strong work ethic, to tell them that diligence is worth the effort, to exhibit the honor in providing for and loving your family well.
Your daughters need you. They need your tender embrace, to know that your arms are a place to find confidence, comfort, and strength. They need you to show them how real men love and respect their wives, how they protect their household.
Your church needs you. It needs your dedication to the Lord, the boldness of a man committed to Jesus Christ. Your community needs the power of your testimony and your genuine desire to elevate those around you.
God in heaven needs you. He needs for you to recognize that He never intended for you to bear the load on your own. When the weight of responsibility is too heavy to carry, He needs for you to trust Him with it. Cast all your cares upon Him, and He will carry the burden that bows you low.
Fathers, we respect you…We love you…We need you!!!
|6/16/2023||Mark 11:25 “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”|
Men, when you hear a Father’s Day message, two choices arise. Some men choose to look forward with hope and optimism to the fathers that they aspire to be. Others look back at the childhoods that they experienced, at the fathers that they had, and they are filled with regret or anger.
Not everyone had a great example, but that does not mean that you cannot be one. We have a Heavenly Father Who is an unsurpassed example of how to parent well. He loves lavishly (Ephesians 3:17-19). He will never abandon His children (Matthew 28:20). His Word is true; if He said it, He will do it (Numbers 23:19). He is patient (2 Peter 3:9).
If you did not have the father that you longed for, forgive him. For those of us in Christ Jesus, we are new creations. When we came to the cross, God forgave us. All of the old things passed away, and everything has become brand new (II Corinthians 5:17). We no longer carry the sins, the regrets, the guilt, the shame or condemnation from our past. You are free to become the man and the father that God has planned.
Decide to stop looking back. Teach your children that forgiveness is the key that unlocks doors and builds bridges. A grudge is too heavy a burden to bear. If forgiveness seems impossible, realize that you are not left on your own. Lean on the Lord Who will empower you through His Spirit and lead you out of the shadows of the past and into His glorious light. If the Son has set you free, you are free indeed (John 8:36).
Through the example of a Heavenly Father Who loves you deeply, and through the power of His might, you can become the father He intended you to be regardless of what your yesterday held…Choose to move forward…God has filled up your today with blessings…Tomorrow waits and is filled with life, hope, and every good thing!!!
|6/15/2023||Luke 11:21 “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace.”|
Fathers, are you strong men? Are you fully armed? Are you guarding your palaces? Men, you are the protectors of your palace. Are you fully armed?
Technology has made protection much more difficult. Guarding your family means exercising diligence. It means paying close attention. It requires your strong presence and your willingness to provide a sense of direction.
Some fathers shrug their shoulders and relinquish control to their children. They decide to allow the kids to choose for themselves. Guarding and guiding requires discipline…for yourself, as well as the children.
Love them. Laugh with them. Talk to them. Train them. Get acquainted with their friends. Listen to their music choices. Guard them. Guide them.
Are you strong? This fathering business is not for the faint of heart. In Ephesians 6, Paul admonishes us to “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (verse 10). That is good news for the father who feels overwhelmed. You do not stand alone. You parent in the power of His might. You have the strongest of Allies as you guard your palace.
Are you armed? Paul goes on to encourage us to put on the whole armor of God so we can stand against the wiles of Satan (Ephesians 6:11). That armor covers every part of our bodies — except our backs. We cannot turn our backs or we leave ourselves — and our families — exposed to the enemy. God puts two offensive weapons in our hands — the sword of the Spirit that is His holy Word and the fervent and effective prayer of the righteous man (Ephesians 6:17-18; James 5:16).
Suit up, dads…Make sure that you are well-defended and fully armed with the whole armor of God, with His Word, and with the power of prayer…Stand in the gap for your family…Protect your palaces!!!
|6/14/2023||1 Peter 5:3 “…nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock…”|
Fathers, God has entrusted you with your own “home team,” and He has called you to be an example to your family. He has provided some fundamentals that will help you succeed in this mission.
The very first — and most essential — fundamental is to read His Word, commit it to memory, and allow it to change the way that you think and act. An athlete cannot achieve well in his sport unless he is on the same page as his general manager. The Bible is the play book for the General Manager over all.
The second fundamental is to love. When the Pharisees pressed Jesus on which commandment was the greatest, He replied: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38). Dads, love the Lord in such an out-loud way that your children will learn to love Him too.
Make sure they see you reading the Word and applying it to your life. They need to hear your prayers, to see you give thanks when God answers. Take them with you to the house of the Lord; worship Him with all your heart so that they, too, will begin to hunger and thirst after righteousness. The first God they will ever know is the One to Whom you introduce them.
The third fundamental is to lead. As Christ is the head of His church, so the husband is the head of his wife, the leader of his family (Ephesians 5:23). Dads, the trait that best qualifies you to lead is your ability to follow. If you follow Christ, He qualifies and equips you to lead. Every great coach is coachable. He never stops being a student of the game.
Hebrews 12:2 directs us to look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, to be our example. When He walked among us, He taught His disciples by speaking truth to them and by demonstrating how to live it out.
He did not just instruct them to pray. He showed them how to pray. He did not just send them out to minister. He demonstrated what ministry “to the least of these” looks like.
As you learn the play book, love out loud, and lead by example, the General Manager promises to be beside you every step of the way…He will train and teach, encourage and inspire…He values your commitment to the home team…He recognizes your importance to its success!!!
|6/13/2023||Psalm 127:1 “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.”|
Fathers, if you wish to build a great family, you must recognize the Source from which true greatness flows. Greatness is found in God alone.
Today’s verse reminds us that “unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” Dads, your true and full success can only be tapped into when God is the foundation of your lives. When God is the foundation of your home, your children will have a secure base. When God is the Anchor to Whom you cling, your marriage can overcome any stormy sea that batters it. The Lord must build your house.
Our verse also makes it clear that we will labor in this life. That truth is an important one for a father to model and to teach his children. Some people work very hard at hardly working. Fathers, instill a strong work ethic in your children.
When examining the stories of the greatest coaches and athletes who played the game — whether it be baseball, basketball, football, golf, or tennis — one unifying factor leaps to the forefront. They were not extraordinarily gifted; they were extraordinarily diligent at practicing the fundamentals. They mastered the basics and executed them over and over again.
If you have the privilege of being called a dad, God has established some fatherly fundamentals that every man can master…There are not great dads or not-so-great dads…There are fathers who are diligent and those who need to be diligent…Read the “playbook” that God has provided in His Word…Faithfully practice the fundamentals that you find there…Execute them over and over until you can accomplish them with ease…Greatness is within reach!!!
|6/12/2023||Ephesians 6:4 “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”|
Fathers, your family should take top priority. Your children and grandchildren are your dynasty. They are the ones who demonstrate to the world that you are a leader that has thoroughly prepared them for life in a world that is not fair.
You must prepare your children for the opponents they will face. How you train them while they are yours is how well they will play in the future. You must train them to win, to live out the destiny that God has ordained for each child He has entrusted to your care.
One of the most important roles a father will serve is to train his family in the fundamentals that are required to succeed against the tremendous challenges they will one day face. Are they familiar with the “playbook” that God has given for instruction in righteousness (II Timothy 3:16)? Are they listening for the Coach’s voice and following the plays He calls (Proverbs 3:5-6)? Do they know how to come alongside their teammates to rally them on to victory (Philippians 2:3-4)?
Fathers, the home teams are counting on you…They need your wisdom, encouragement, discipline, and example…You are building a team of warriors at home that will be world-changers when they run onto the field of life!!!
|6/11/2023||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.”|
For those of us who have come to the border of salvation, who have stepped over that border into new life with Christ, we must be willing to leave our old lives on the other side of that border.
Our verse for today tells us that, when we step across the border of salvation, all the old things that have hindered and kept us from abundant life in Christ pass away; they are dead to us now. Everything in our lives becomes new, filled with hope and promise.
Most of us have loved ones who are no longer living. We refer to them as having “passed away.” For those who were believers, we know where they are now, but they are no longer accessible to us. They no longer exist in an atmosphere with which we can connect. In the same way, our old lives have passed away. We should no longer access or connect to it.
Problems arise when we attempt to leave our old lives on life support so we can re-connect any time that we choose. That verse does not say, “Your old life is in ICU getting fluids!” It declares that old things have passed away, that ALL things have become new.
Many attempt to hold onto life on both sides of the border. When they come to the border of the cross, they desire salvation and the liberty that it offers, but they also want to retain access to life on the wrong side of the border that feeds their carnal desires.
The apostle Paul said it this way: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…” (Galatians 2:20). Jesus died for our sins once and for all. We, too, must step across the border into salvation once and for all.
No looking over our shoulders…No turning back…Pressing toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus…We are new creations!!!
|6/10/2023||Ephesians 2:13-14 “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation.”|
God’s love compelled Him to create borders for us. Borders are blessings. Inside the borders, we find peace, provision, and protection. Life proves more challenging for those outside of the borders.
At one time, we were all outside of those borders. While we were dead in our trespasses (Ephesians 2:5), God saw us there on the wrong side of the border. Overwhelmed with love, He sent His only Son, Jesus, to become the sacrifice that would bring us back into right relationship with the Father.
He saw us in our bondage and in slavery to sin. He saw us bound in chains of addiction and abuse. He considered the burdens that we were carrying and the yokes that we were wearing. He looked into our futures that were void of hope without Him. He saw how the world would break our hearts. He saw how Satan would attack us, how he would steal our hope, rob our joy, and kill our potential.
When He saw the quality of our lives on the wrong side of the border, the gospel of John captures His response: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
Hear that all-encompassing word: “whoever.” This border offers open access to all. It is available to anyone who chooses it. No matter how far you might have wandered, how broken you are, how desperate your needs. He saw you on the wrong side of the border, and He loved you.
When you were a stranger to the covenants of promise, when you were without hope and without God, He sent the remedy. He said, “I’ll take you.” He accepts the addict so locked in bondage that he cannot live without a fix. “I’ll take you.” He opens His arms to the abused so broken by the offender that they have lost all hope for tomorrow. “I’ll take you.” He offers love and acceptance to the lonely and isolated. “I’ll take you.” He welcomes the sin-stained and the shamed. “I’ll take you.”
With arms wide open, with eyes of love, He accepts all, and He takes us to a place called Calvary, to the border of the cross where He cleanses us…Though our sins are like crimson stains, He washes us whiter than snow…To all those who come, He says, “I’ll take you.”
|6/9/2023||John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”|
Consider the cross of Christ. There, we find the border of salvation. There, Jesus accomplished the work that would save us from a life of sin and redeem us to the abundant life He died to make possible. This border was built by the hand of Almighty God through the sacrifice of His only begotten Son when He humbled Himself and went to a place called Calvary.
There, He won an absolute and complete victory over every power, every principality, every force of darkness, over death, hell, and the grave. The cross is a border of triumph!
The cross is not a border to exclude or prohibit; it was not built to keep out anyone who might approach. God provided it as a free gift to all people of all cultures and of all generations. The Holy Spirit calls, “Come!” to “whosoever will” (Revelation 22:17).
This border is open to set people free, to offer asylum from the attacks against the heart, from the suffering and torment of this world, from the wiles of Satan, and the temptations of the flesh. To anyone who wants to immigrate from the guilt and shame of their past, the border is open. To those who want to leave behind the bondage and cross over to the liberty that only Christ can give, the border is open.
The best news about this border is that, though millions have flooded through the open Door that is Christ Jesus, room abounds for more.
This point of access is enforced by the Word of God…Entry is not allowed by any other means…Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life…No one comes to the Father except through Me”…Come, step through the Door, inside the border, and find a life overflowing with blessing – both now and forevermore!!!
|6/8/2023||Psalm 16:6 “The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; yes, I have a good inheritance.”|
God has gifted us with the Bible — a book of borders. Those borders are blessings, the means to abundant life. By choosing obedience instead of our own paths, we live in the life-giving flow of God’s Word.
God has established borders for us. You may have chosen to violate those boundaries — spiritually, emotionally, physically, financially or relationally. Choose the Door that is Christ Jesus. Walk through that Door to repent and return to your rightful place inside the blessings of God.
He is not looking for a perfect people; God is looking for a people who are willing. Not perfect, but willing to live by His truth, to speak out against evil, to reach out to alleviate suffering with His heart, His hands, and His feet. We are willing to choose for ourselves and our homes that we will serve the Lord with gladness.
God has chosen us to be the light of the world, to be the salt of the earth, right here and right now. He calls us to be blameless and harmless in the middle of a crooked and perverse generation, to shine like the stars in the sky (Philippians 2:15). We are the seasoning that brings out the God-flavor in this world, that points others to Him (Matthew 5:13).
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). If God stands with us, who can stand against us? (Romans 8:31) Our faith is the victory that overcomes this world (1 John 5:4).
Commit to live within the borders that God has established…Your obedience opens the windows of heaven, a pouring-out of the blessings that are exceedingly abundantly above all that you could ask or even imagine…Let us joyfully live within the boundaries so that we may see our King and be counted worthy to gladly enter into that holy city one day!!!
|6/7/2023||Hosea 10:12 “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the LORD, till He comes and rains righteousness on you.”|
God’s Word tells us that “righteousness exalts a nation” (Proverbs 14:34). God does something interesting in this verse: He combines an individual choice with a corporate organization.
The choices that we make as individuals create a blessing for the entire body. We often think of this in a backwards manner. Some believe that if we can get righteousness on a political platform, it will change everything. Wrong! Righteousness is not a political platform; it is a personal choice.
Righteousness is knowing to do right and following through with right action. It is a choice I make. It is a choice that you make. No candidate, no policy can force us to think and act rightly. Righteousness cannot be legislated. The personal decision to live rightly exalts a nation. If I do right, if you do right, if we all do right corporately, we begin to get better. It starts with you and with me. It is not an outside-in change; it is an inside-out change.
Change begins when we examine our lives, when we ask God to search our hearts and reveal any wicked way that He finds in us (Psalm 139:23-24). When we acknowledge where we have crossed the line, where we have crashed through the borders that He has erected for our best lives, we can repent and run back within the borders of blessing.
Let righteousness begin with you…Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good…Re-establish the borders of God in your life…Return to His Word and His commandments…Change begins in you!!!
|6/6/2023||Psalm 103:17-18 “But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children, to such as keep His covenant, and to those who remember His commandments to do them.”|
God has given us the gift of borders. As long as we live within the boundaries He has designated in His Word, we receive His blessings, His provision, and protection. The moment that we step across and outside of those borders, we stand against His will and undefended.
Before a mother even knows that she is pregnant, the child has blood. God told Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” (Jeremiah 1:5). Before the man and woman ever conceived a child, before the mother even knew that she was carrying a baby, God knew that child.
Before a child ever draws a breath, God sees in them his image…God has chosen us to be the light of the world, to be the salt of the earth, right here and right now…The King of Glory has forgiven us, the debt of our sin…He paid the price to set us free when we had no ability to do so ourselves…Choose to live within the border of blessing…Tear down the barricade between yourself and God to restore His ultimate purpose in your life!!!
|6/5/2023||Genesis 1:27 “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”|
God created us in His image. You are an expression of the manifested genius of God. He looked at this world and thought that this planet would be better off with you in it. He divinely designed you. Before He even formed you in the womb, He knew you (Jeremiah 1:5).
The book of Acts declares that God determined the seasons of our existence, that He set the boundaries of our lives so that we might seek Him and find Him because He is never far from us (Acts 17:26-27). He chose you. He appointed you for a purpose. He placed you on this earth for this specific time. God made a choice when He created you!
God’s heart is towards people…He sent His Son to redeem all of us…Jesus died to save us, to bring us into right relationship with God, into the parameters of the borders that God has established…It is time to point back to the unchanging borders that God has created…Let us fulfill His expectations of us!!!
|6/4/2023||John 17:17 “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”|
Every border that God creates has a built-in blessing. In Genesis 2:8-15, God created a garden east of Eden. He did not create a global garden; He created a garden with borders, four rivers that encompassed Eden. He placed Adam and Eve inside those boundaries, and He gave Adam a job. He instructed him to keep and tend the garden.
He also established another border in the Garden of Eden when He warned Adam that he could eat of all the other trees in the whole garden except for the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. When Adam crossed that border, God withdrew the blessing. God did not choose. Adam chose. When he violated God’s border, even the natural borders became chaotic. Even the borders of truth were confused.
When we step beyond what God allows, we choose a curse instead of a blessing. As our verse today indicates, God’s Word is truth. It tells us who we are, how we were created, who we are intended to be, how we can be redeemed, and how we must live within His borders to be sanctified and receive the blessings of God.
When we choose to control those borders and submit our lives to the one true God, we find a Provider, a Protector, a Healer, a Savior, a Deliverer, and a Friend that sticks closer than a brother…He sets life and death, a blessing and a curse before us…We must choose wisely so that we and those who follow behind us will experience abundant life!!!
|6/3/2023||John 10:9 “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.”|
God is a God of order; He keeps order through borders. When He created the world and everything in it, the heavens and the earth, He established borders for His handiwork.
The sun doesn’t shine when it chooses to do so. God created it with boundaries; it shines when and where He has determined. The stars that He calls by name twinkle at His bidding. The fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the animals of the land, the trees, the flowers – all of His creation, He blessed with a border.
If His creation operates within the limits of those borders, they are blessed. If they step across that borderline, they experience chaos. A fish out of water does not experience freedom, it experiences death. Consider all the natural borders in our lives of which we may not even be aware that still are blessings to us.
Outside of His borders, we will struggle. That is not just a natural truth. It is a supernatural truth. The reason that we are surrounded by so much pain and chaos on the earth is because we have crossed supernatural lines that God has drawn.
In our verse for today, Jesus proclaims Himself the Door. In John 14:6, Jesus told Thomas: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” He essentially said, “I am the border. I am your point of access.”
God is against no person…He desires that none perish but that ALL come to repentance…Over and over, Jesus said, Whosoever will…No matter your culture, what you have done, where you have been, how you have failed, Jesus is the Door…He is open to all…It is not about accessibility…It is about willingness!!!
Jesus makes Himself available to all. “I am the Door.” Are you willing to walk through the Door that God has provided?
|6/2/2023||Proverbs 14:34 “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.”|
Border control is a subject on American minds, a topic that cannot be escaped. People are examining it through many different lenses – politically, economically, legally, culturally, and ethically. Spiritually, we are struggling with righteousness-versus-unrighteousness, light-versus-darkness, and truth-versus-lie kinds of issues because we have violated God’s borders.
God has gifted us with the Bible – a book of borders. As long as we live within the borders He has designated, we receive His blessings, His provision and protection. The moment that we step across and outside of those borders, we begin to struggle. All around us, the world is struggling with all kinds of issues. Those issues are symptoms of a spiritual problem that we have created. We crossed the line!
We have changed our perspective on borders. Until recently, borders were considered blessings. Borders were considered the means to abundant life. By choosing obedience, instead of our own paths, we lived in the life-giving flow of God’s Word.
Now, borders are considered burdens. Many have believed the lie that, if we can step across that border, we can find a new level of freedom on the other side. The truth is that, outside of the parameters of God’s will, only chaos exists. We stand exposed and unprotected, and all the while, Satan is on the prowl seeking whom he may devour (I Peter 5:8).
God is not looking for a government policy or a political candidate to bring order back to our world. God is looking for the people whom He sent His Son to redeem, those for whom He bled and died, to become the kind of people that will obey what the Bible decrees, that will act as the righteous children He created us to be.
He is a God of order; He keeps order through borders…May we find a balance on border control as we return to being a people governed by God’s borders established in His book of truth…”if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (II Chronicles 7:14)…Righteousness truly does exalt a nation!!!
|6/1/2023||Isaiah 6:8 “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us? Then I said, Here am I! Send me.”|
The Church today is not so much guilty of the sin of commission or omission, but of no mission. We hang back and wait for the lost to enter our world when we need to enter their world with God’s love and His heart.
We have been rescued, saved, delivered, healed, showered with blessings, and highly favored. This good news should be so uncontainable that we are sharing it with every person we encounter. Instead, we often hoard it, hide it, and hope nobody asks.
We stall while we wait for the grand gesture – to speak to thousands, to touch the masses, to travel to a foreign land. But can we walk across the street and talk to our neighbors? Jesus’ example for us was often the opposite of the grand gesture. He held a child. He ate fish with his friends around a campfire. He touched a leper when no one else would. He discussed the Scriptures in the temple. And every one of those simple gestures had a profound impact.
Mother Teresa said, “God never asked me to be successful. God asked me to be obedient.” Let’s begin to think specifically about how we can obey the Lord. How can we be more intentional in the mission to which God has called us? Let’s stop drifting aimlessly.
Who can we invite to church?
Who can we visit in the hospital or nursing home?
Who can we ask out to share a meal?
How can we better use our finances for His purposes?
Who can we pray for tenaciously?
Can we give a cup of cold water to someone? Just start there!
A whole world around us is floundering, flailing, and fading fast…We have the hope…We have the remedy…Jesus has already sent us out on assignment…Let’s fulfill our mission…Starting now!!!
|5/31/2023||Matthew 20:27-28 “And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave — just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”|
Social scientists have a name for the tendency to watch from the sidelines: The Bystander Effect. It’s a social psychological phenomenon that refers to cases in which individuals do not offer any means of help to a victim when other people are present. The greater the number of bystanders, the less likely it is that any of them will help. Everyone thinks that someone else will do something or step in to rescue the victim.
It is easy, in the middle of our busy, fast-paced lives, to think that someone else will do what God is actually calling us to do. Someone else will witness to a neighbor or volunteer at our church or pray with a co-worker. We often think that throwing money at a need relieves us of the responsibility of wading in and getting our hands dirty.
If we are all honest, God is prompting us at this very point in time to do something we have not done before, to stretch beyond what is comfortable for us. So, why do we hesitate and hang back? Why are we content to watch while another believer steps in to meet that need?
For someone in your life right now, you are God’s Plan A…Jesus is counting on you to listen to His voice, to obey His prompting, and to reach out to meet the need…He created you for exactly this moment in history, to perform this good work that He ordained, and to be the answer to someone else’s prayer!!!
|5/30/2023||Ephesians 5:1-2 “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”|
With great freedom comes great responsibility. And we have received the deepest and widest of freedoms through Christ. We are free indeed!
We are free from the law of sin and death to live in the righteousness of God (Romans 8:2). We are responsible to be imitators of God and to be examples “in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). That may seem like a tall order, but once again, Jesus equips us with all that we need.
When we spend time with Jesus, we become more like Him. When we spend time in His Word, we begin to see things His way. When we spend time communicating with Him, our prayers become powerful and effective. We begin to speak His heart into situations. When we follow Him and step in His footprints, we begin to look a lot like Him Who “is the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15). We become imitators and examples.
When we spend time with Jesus, He leaves a mark on us that can be seen by those with whom we do life. He molds us, He shapes us, and He leaves His fingerprints all over us.
After Moses spent time with God on Mt. Sinai, he descended the mountain with the stone tablets in hand, his face aglow from the presence of the Lord. His countenance was kindled by the Light of God. In Acts 4, the crowds marveled at Peter and John when these uneducated and untrained men stood and boldly compelled others to accept the good news, but the people “realized that they had been with Jesus” (verse 13).
Spend time in His presence…Allow Him to leave His mark on you…Submit to His shaping…He will kindle a fire in you…He will make you bold…You will become an imitator of God and an example for others to follow!!!
|5/29/2023||Ephesians 6:13 “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.”|
Americans boast a long history of “standing” — standing for civil rights, standing for women’s equality, standing for political freedoms, or standing for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. As Christians, we stand on the promises and stand for the cause of Christ.
The Bible has much to say about standing. God often instructed people to stand – stand by the well, stand by the river, stand on the rock, stand before the priest, stand to minister, or stand still. And when they followed His direction, something interesting was bound to occur. We are still standing today.
We stand by grace. This amazing gift steadies us. Even in tribulation, we are filled with hope, and God’s love fills our hearts to overflowing (Romans 5:2). Because we have received grace, it pours out of our lives. We give it away freely because it will be measured back to us in the same way we extend it. If we give generously, it comes back in “good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over” (Luke 6:38).
We stand by faith. When we place our confidence in God, believe on His Son and lean on the Holy Spirit, we are established in Him (Romans 11:20). Our lives are marked with order, strength, and courage (I Corinthians 16:13). He seals us with His Holy Spirit, and we feel His presence in our hearts (II Corinthians 1:22-24).
We stand in the gospel. This good news has been proclaimed to us, so we can stand and proclaim it to others (I Corinthians 15:1). Our lives are grounded in its foundational truths that provide and protect us. We find hope in its promises.
We stand in liberty. We have been set free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2). We are no longer entangled in a yoke of bondage (Galatians 5:1). We are free indeed!
Because we are standing in the grace, faith, and liberty of this glorious gospel, we stand fast…As Christians, we are rooted in unity — one spirit and one mind — all striving to spread this glorious gospel story and to glorify our Father!!!
|5/28/2023||Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”|
We live in a culture driven by a consumer mentality. So many voices and choices compete for our attention. On any given Sunday, we are faced with the choice to attend church or spend our time elsewhere.
Even in the Apostle Paul’s day, this seems to have been an issue. He writes to the Hebrews to continue to assemble together for worship…even though some had given up the practice. He knew that we would need one another.
Have you ever thought that, perhaps, you might hold the answer to someone else’s prayer? That they will be sitting in the pew, desperate for the hope you could bring? Philippians 2:4 encourages us to look out not just for our own interests, but to watch out for others too.
Paul compares the body of Christ to the human body (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). Every part has its purpose, and every part needs to be present for the whole body to function at its highest potential. Without just one part, we would be off balance.
The body of Christ functions in the same manner. The gifts that you bring, your fresh perspective, your testimony of God’s faithfulness, sometimes just the mere fact of your supportive presence — the body of Christ needs you. When you are absent, the body is lacking. When you hold back, someone is left in need. When you do not share what God has given, we limp along without balance.
We are to be interconnected and interdependent, checking in and watching out for one another…Grab a cup of coffee with someone…Make dinner reservations with another family…Welcome the newcomers…Show up at church…for someone else…That is how God created this family of believers!!!
|5/27/2023||Mark 13:31 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.”|
We live in a world that makes less and less sense, where it becomes more and more difficult to discern fact from fiction. Charles Spurgeon said, “Discernment is not simply a matter of telling the difference between what is right and wrong; rather, it is the difference between right and almost right.”
To cut through all of the confusion, God has provided a resource to lead us to the truth. He has placed in our hands the Bible — the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures, the Good News of the Gospel, the Sword of the Spirit, the Law of the Lord.
In his second letter to Timothy, Paul warned that many deceivers and imposters would come claiming to know the truth, but actually living in opposition to all that Jesus taught. He reminded Timothy to go back to the one place that he could always find truth: “But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:14-15).
Not only has He placed this truth in our hands, but He encourages us to hide His Words in our hearts, so we do not sin against Him (Psalm 119:11). We need to read them, study them, memorize them, carry them inside of us so that we can expose the lies and recognize the truth (Hebrews 4:12).
The grass may wither, and the flowers may fade, but the Word of God stands forever (Isaiah 40:8)…Not one period or comma will disappear from His law until all of it comes to pass (Matthew 5:18)…When nothing else makes sense, His Word does…May it always be our true foundation!!!
|5/26/2023||1 Timothy 6:18-19 “Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”|
Do you ever get discouraged by the routine of life? After all, most of us haven’t slain a giant, camped out in the belly of a whale, led a million people across a desert, or healed the sick when our shadow fell across them.
Don’t be discouraged! Shepherds, fishermen, tax collectors, farmers — our heroes of the faith were just everyday people leading ordinary lives until God put His finger on them to do extraordinary things.
Too often, we search for the huge moment that will define our faith. What we overlook are the small, seemingly insignificant places where God begins to build the character and characteristics for the plans He has in mind for us.
Jesus reassures us that, if we do something as inconsequential as giving a cup of cold water in His name, there is a reward in that small act (Matthew 10:42). That is an easy starting point!
When we are filled with the Spirit of God, we are full of power to impact our worlds, our spheres of influence…When we do small things well over a long period of time with great love, they add up to a life of big impact for Jesus!!!
|5/25/2023||Jeremiah 33:3 “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”|
We have been commissioned by Christ Jesus. He has entrusted the keys of the Kingdom to us. He has given us the permission and the power to loose in heaven the things that we desire here on earth that are in agreement with His will for us.
How do we unlock those blessings though? We can struggle with the practical application of that spiritual truth. We all desire the good things of God to spill over out of our personal relationship with Him into our families, our homes, and our businesses. It is easy to bask in His presence in the church sanctuary, but is it reasonable to expect Him to fill up those other places too? Yes!
Businesspeople, do you wish for a happier workforce, more productivity, a stronger bottom line? Invite Jesus to be your Chief Executive Officer. Put Him first in all of your work; follow Him in the same way you would like for others to follow you. Colossians 3:17 admonishes us to do everything as if we were devoting our work to Him — not to a supervisor. Invite Him into the boardroom — He promised to be with you always.
Ask Him to guide you to make business decisions that honor Him. When you interact with employees, speak peace and positivity. Speak the promise of God over your workplace. Expect the providential turnaround. New opportunities, deals, mergers, acquisitions, trades — God gives it back when you surrender it to Him.
Many of us long for families of faith. Get on your knees and fight for your unsaved loved ones. Take the keys and unlock the promises of God in their lives. Claim the promises of God that your children are the inheritance of the Lord, that they are blessed and highly favored. Pray that your spouse begins to walk in the divine destiny God has decreed, that they do not belong to this culture, but they are set aside for the purposes of the Father. In prayer, use the keys to unlock the promises of the Almighty for their futures.
You are a child of God…The keys of the Kingdom are in your hands…Information without application leads to frustration…All of the access and authority, the permission and the power, belong to you…In the mighty name of Jesus, unlock and loose, bind and lock!!!
|5/24/2023||Matthew 16:25-26 “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”|
Now that we have moved beyond the curious to become the convinced and have committed our lives to Christ, He has commissioned us. He has given us the keys to the kingdom.
Let’s be honest though. We always approach commitment with caution. One of our first concerns is what it will cost us. What might I have to give up that I might not want to give up? How will that look? How will it feel? Will it be worth it?
Jesus gives us a new perspective in today’s verse: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” This is quite a paradox, but Jesus pushes the point even further: “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”
Words like “deny,” “lose,” “sacrifice,” and “follow me,” understandably make us nervous. Jesus encouraged us, to stop focusing on what we have to lose and to, instead, think about all we have to gain.
Like the young boy who gave Jesus his lunch to feed the five thousand, he did not obsess about what he might lose. He willingly surrendered his all. And when he gave it to Jesus, it was out of his hands. Jesus took it, blessed it, and used it to meet not just his needs, but the needs of many. And then He gave the boy twelve basketfuls of leftovers. That was quite a return on his investment!
Hold nothing back from Jesus…He came to give us abundant life…He will not withhold any good thing from us…When we give our lives and all we value to Him, He will pour out blessings that we cannot contain…In Christ, we can love and live and give like we have nothing to lose…because we don’t!!!
|5/23/2023||Matthew 16:19 “And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”|
The person who holds the keys has the power to lock and unlock. He has the access and the authority. He can enter and exit freely.
In Matthew 16, Jesus has a heart-to-heart with the twelve disciples. He asks them this question: “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” In essence, He asked, “What do the curious say about Me?” The disciples tossed out some answers that they had overheard in the chatter surrounding Jesus. Some thought that maybe He was Elijah, perhaps John the Baptist, just a prophet like other prophets.
Jesus pressed a little harder: “But who do you say I am?” He had done enough; were they convinced? Impetuous Peter passionately blurted out, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Not only was he convinced, but he was committed.
Jesus rewarded him in the same way He rewards all those who are committed: He commissioned Peter. He said, “…on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). Jesus appointed and authorized Peter. He gave him the keys. Like a law enforcement officer who wears a badge or a soldier who wears a uniform, those keys represent authority.
Jesus explained the keys to Peter, “…whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:19). Through the shed Blood of Jesus Christ, we have access to the throne room of God. Because of the gift of His grace, we can freely enter. Whatever we have need of here on earth, we can unlock in heavenly places to be poured out on us. Whatever needs to be prevented here on earth can be locked in heavenly places.
If we are committed to Him, He has commissioned us…He has entrusted these keys to us…We cannot afford to lose them, to stick them in our pockets, and forget about them…Those keys give us the privilege, the permission, and the power…They grant us the access and authority to retrieve those things we need…The possibilities of what you can do with these keys entrusted to you by the Son of the living God are unlimited!!!
|5/22/2023||Psalm 37:5 “Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.”|
In every congregation or conversation with Jesus recorded in the Bible, three types of individuals emerge. The curious came to hear what this preacher had to say. The convinced believed, through their experience and observation, that He had the power to change their lives. The third group of individuals moved beyond the curious and the convinced to a faith that changed the world – they were the committed.
One day, five thousand people came to hear Jesus – some walking great distances. He had compassion on them, and He healed the sick and hurting that came seeking His help. When evening arrived, the disciples urged Him to send them off to nearby villages in search of supper.
He said, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” The twelve were convinced that Jesus was Who He claimed to be, that He had the ability to help, but they approached Him only to point out the problem…the hour was late, the people were hungry, and they didn’t have enough food to feed a crowd of five thousand.
In spite of the fact that they had watched Him minister to this group all day long, they had witnessed the healing miracles from morning to evening, the disciples faltered in moving from the convinced to the committed.
One young boy demonstrated what it looked like to be committed. He brought everything he had – just five loaves and two fish – and presented them to Jesus. This faith-filled boy was all in. He saw a need. He looked at what was in his hands. He knew it was not enough. But he believed that if he gave all he had to Jesus, something miraculous could happen. He was committed.
Most of us stumble to a stop at convinced. We are content to point out our problems to Jesus. We know He can help if He wants to do so. The truth is that Jesus did not come from heaven to suffer what He did if He is not willing to fix it for us.
Like the young boy, be sure you are committed…You look at what is in your hands…You know it is not enough…You are convinced that Jesus can do something miraculous for you…Be all in…Take all that you have, all that you are, and lay it in His hands…Like those fish and loaves, He will bless what you commit to Him, and He will fill you up to overflowing with every good thing!!!
|5/21/2023||Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”|
In every congregation or conversation with Jesus recorded in the Bible, three types of individuals emerge. The second type are those who are the convinced. They have seen God do some miraculous things. Through their own experience and observation, they are convinced that He is Who He claims to be and that He has true power to change their lives.
Multitudes of people followed Jesus from city to city. The crush of the crowd was overwhelming at times as people came to witness how His teaching challenged the spiritual leaders. They brought their sick friends and family members in hopes that this miracle worker would touch them and relieve their illnesses.
They were convinced that Jesus was a great Teacher. They marveled at the miracles that He performed. They were convinced of His ability to heal their diseases, to deliver from demons, and to comfort the afflicted. They were certain that He had come to rescue them, to set them free from oppression and bondage.
However, when Jesus taught a particularly difficult doctrine one day, John 6:66 tells us that many of His disciples turned away and no longer walked with Him. They were convinced, but they were not committed. There lies the problem with simply being convinced. In James 2:19, we learn that even the demons see and believe…and they tremble. But that conviction has not led them to serve Him or commit themselves to Him.
When a person leans on their own observations and experiences, that is shaky ground…Sometimes, what we see consists of a piece of the story…What looks like tragedy can result in our ultimate triumph…What looks like the impossible may be setting us up for a miracle…When we move beyond the curious to the convinced, we believe that Jesus is Who He claims to be and that He can do what He has promised to do…That faith will propel us to take the next step to commitment…Faith without action is worth nothing, but faith that moves us to commitment leads to victory!!!
|5/20/2023||Matthew 19:16 “Now behold, one came and said to Him, ‘Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?’”|
In every congregation or conversation with Jesus recorded in the Bible, three types of individuals emerge. The first are the curious. They were simply inquiring minds who wanted to know!
They showed up in the crowds to check out all the fuss. They wanted to hear what Jesus had to say and to see why the priests were so confounded. They wanted to witness a lame man jump to his feet and go running through the temple. They had lots of questions.
What was so special about a Carpenter from Nazareth? Wasn’t He the Son of Joseph and Mary? Why was this guy from Galilee stirring up trouble for them? Why did fishermen follow Him and Pharisees despise Him? Why did tax collectors and prostitutes make dinner reservations with Him? By what power did He work these astounding miracles? How did He speak with such intelligence regarding Scriptural mysteries that even the religious leaders couldn’t understand?
A rich, young ruler came running to ask Jesus a question: “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” Jesus repeated a few of the commandments to this inquisitive young man. He assured Jesus that he had kept all the commandments since he was a young child. He demanded to know what else he lacked. When Jesus told him that he should sell all he had, give the proceeds to the poor, and come to follow Him, the ruler went away sad because he had much wealth. He was curious, but he wasn’t willing to commit.
In our everyday encounters, many are still curious about Christ. They may have attended church and experienced His presence. They may have felt that inexplicable tugging in their hearts. They may have witnessed a family member who encountered Jesus and had a radical change when He made them a new creature. Could He do that for them?
If people are curious about Christ, they are headed in the right direction…When that curiosity leads to conviction and is followed by commitment, they will experience the satisfaction and joy of fully knowing Jesus Christ!!!
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 “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…”
Our commitment to Christ is the key to unlock the ability to pull down the spiritual strongholds of Satan in our lives. What are spiritual strongholds? Paul defines them clearly for us in today’s verse. Strongholds are “arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God” — fortresses of lies against the truth of God in our lives.
As followers of Christ, we engage in spiritual warfare with the mighty weapons God provides. This spiritual struggle ensued long before we arrived on the scene, but we are not helpless in the face of evil. We take back spiritual ground that our enemy, Satan, has stolen from us and those we love.
We are not created to hide behind the walls of the church, to merely defend ourselves from the schemes of the devil. We are created to offensively establish God’s kingdom here on earth, to ward off the fiery darts of the evil one, to make war in heavenly places, and to gain ground for the cause of Christ.
Jesus told us that “the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matthew 11:12). This spiritual violence of which Jesus speaks describes how Satan strikes at us. He is intent on our defeat and our destruction. He sets out to disrupt, damage, and ultimately, destroy our lives. He will infiltrate our emotions, relationships, health, and finances. John 10:10 makes it plain that he comes to “kill, steal, and destroy.”
No matter the spiritual violence that he attempts to wreak on us, as believers, we can set him in full retreat through the power that we have through Jesus Christ…When we submit our lives to God, when we engage the mighty weapons God has given, and when we resist the devil, he will flee before us…We have authority through the name of Jesus, the power of His Word, and His overcoming Blood…Our Savior will crush him under our feet and lead us to victory!!!
|5/18/2023||Psalm 128:4 “Behold, thus shall the man be blessed Who fears the LORD.”|
Psalm 128 tells us that a man who fears the Lord and walks in His ways will be blessed! The best way that a man can love his wife is to walk in relationship with Jesus Christ. It changes their marriage, their family, and their world.
This Psalm continues with the admonishment that you shall eat the labor of your hand (Psalm 128:2). A Godly man works at a job to provide for his family. He is honored and well respected (Proverbs 31:23). First Timothy 5:8 even goes so far as to say that a man who does not care for his relatives – especially those in his own home – denies the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. His lack of empathy and enterprise deny the faith that he professes.
As he and his family enjoy the fruits of his labor, Psalm 128:2 declares that he “shall be happy.” A Godly man demonstrates a pleasant attitude. Others enjoy his presence and conversation. A harsh word or an angry demeanor do not denote machismo (Colossians 3:19). A Godly man has no desire to intimidate or dominate. He leads by example and practices wisdom and self-control.
Paul encouraged men to love their wives just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25). He laid down His own desires, sacrificed all that He had for her sake. This is the example that a Godly man emulates. He seeks to compliment, not complain. He seeks to help, not hurt.
A few verses later, Paul reminds husbands to love their wives as they love their own bodies, as a very part of themselves (Ephesians 5:28). A healthy person does not mistreat his own body, but he nourishes, protects, and cares for it. A Godly man will do the same for his wife. He seeks to nurture, not neglect. He seeks to assist, not abandon.
In such a loving relationship, wives thrive and families flourish…The holy vertical relationship with our heavenly Father impacts all of our horizontal relationships, too…Husbands, love Jesus…Wives, love Jesus…And when you do, “it shall be well with you”…
|5/17/2023||Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”|
You are not an accident. You are here on purpose. No random whimsy of act has dropped you here haphazardly. Almighty God has chosen to insert you into this moment in history for a specific reason.
We often, and quite unintentionally, discredit the greatness of God inside of us when we say, “I guess I was just lucky.” Luck had nothing to do with it. That was God working all things to our good, because we are “called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Sometimes, we say, “I was just in the right place at the right time.” And you would be right…because God led you there. Let’s give credit where it is due!
In the Old Testament, we read of the beautiful, Jewish girl, Esther. She found herself in the king’s palace with the weight of the survival of all Jewish people sitting squarely on her young shoulders. Mordecai, her cousin, urged her not to shrink from this enormous task. He was certain that she had come to that place “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). With the prayers of her people and Greatness inside of her, she rose to meet the challenge.
God did not place you here to merely exist. He deliberately sent you here for such a time as this. He did not place you here to merely get by or survive. Embrace the Great inside you! Let that light shine so that others will see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).
He knows you…He knows exactly what you need…He sees where you are and what you have walked through to get here…Whether you realized it or not, He was walking with you…He knows where you are headed, and He has gone on before you to prepare the way…Don’t let the world weigh you down…Don’t let the critics slow you down…Don’t let the burdens bring you down…Do let the greatness of God arise in you, and let His enemies scatter before you…Rise up, and shine!!!
|5/16/2023||Galatians 6:4-5 “But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load.”|
One of the three unalienable rights endowed on Americans by our Creator, according to the Declaration of Independence, is the pursuit of happiness. It sounds so simple. However, the Declaration did not grant us the “guarantee” of happiness…only the right to pursue happiness. If God has granted us life and liberty, each one of us has the responsibility to pursue happiness.
We are responsible for how we reach our individual happiness. Each one of us chooses a path and pursues it until we possess it. The work and effort required for the end goal is where we sometimes get derailed. It turns out that the pursuit of happiness may be one of the greatest struggles of the human condition. This pursuit of happiness is not a guarantee; it is an opportunity. Each one of us is responsible for what we do with that choice.
In 1 John 4:4, John told the Ephesians that God has placed greatness inside of every believer. By virtue of Jesus living in our hearts, we have His greatness to meet every eventuality. As Winston Churchill once said, “The price of greatness is responsibility.” The battle for greatness is won and lost — not in a voting booth or on a ticket — but within each one of us.
What will we choose to do with the Greatness inside of us? How will we face down our giants? How will we handle lack? How will we reach out to those in need? What will be our attitude when opposition rises? Will we choose words that build up or tear down? How will we stand for the defenseless? Jesus paid the price for this greatness, but we are responsible to grasp its promise.
Lean into that greatness…Apply yourself in heart, mind, soul, and strength into loving God and loving your neighbors…There, we will find the contentment, the fruitfulness, and the happiness of a life well lived!!!
|5/15/2023||Psalm 128:3 “Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house, your children like olive plants all around your table.”|
When a husband fears the Lord and walks in His ways, his choice sets up his household for success. His relationship with God strengthens His relationship with his wife and positively impacts his children.
Our verse for today creates a picture of the health and happiness that exists in such a home, the richness that flows out of a relationship with our Creator and Sustainer. At the very heart of the home, the verse depicts the wife as a fruitful vine.
Genesis 2:24 tells us that a man leaves his parents to cleave or cling to his wife, and they become like one person. When a wife is secure in the love of a Godly husband, she will freely wrap her life around him like a fruitful vine. She can cling to him as a leader because she trusts him, as a lover because she adores him, and as a confidante because she has a friend in him. Their lives are intertwined, joined so closely that they are inseparable.
Vines climb. When a wife is secure in the marriage relationship, she has liberty to climb to the destiny that God created for her. She has the confidence to reach for the Son until the dreams that God has planted in her heart become a reality.
Fruitful vines produce – they grow clusters of grapes on every branch. All that a wife puts her hand to will flourish. She will find satisfaction and contentment in her relationship with God, her husband, and her endeavors. Her productivity will bless her own family as well as her neighbors and her community (Proverbs 31).
Around their dinner table, their children will be like olive plants, a spring of life in their home. They will watch them bud and bloom with fresh promise for the future.
|5/14/2023||Proverbs 31:29-30 “Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all. Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.”|
On this special day when we honor mothers, Proverbs 31 offers us a wonderful reminder of all the traits that add up to a virtuous woman and wife. She is a treasure worth far more than precious jewels.
The virtuous wife respects her husband. Every day of her life, she finds ways to treat him well. He can trust her completely, and she enriches his life in every way. He is a well-respected leader in the city because of the support she affords him.
The virtuous wife works hard to provide for her family. She rises before the sun, and her lamp burns into the night. She brings food for her family. Her hands are busy, and her arms are strong. She is industrious and entrepreneurial. She sews and spins and creates beautiful products to sell for profit. She buys a field and plants a vineyard. She watches over all the aspects of her household.
We all know these women – up before dawn, dropping the children at school, heading off to jobs before returning home with the groceries to prepare a meal and help with homework, cheer from the sidelines, and organize tomorrow’s tasks before falling into bed late at night.
The virtuous woman cares for the poor and the less fortunate. She opens her heart and extends her hands to help. She does not sit idly by waiting for someone else to take action. She picks up the phone. She mails a card. She volunteers her time.
She lives with a quiet confidence in God, and she senses the value of the work that she completes. She speaks with wisdom and kindness, and she faces the future with a smile. Her strength is evident. Her actions speak for themselves.
Her husband sings her praises, and even her children admire and recognize that she is blessed. A woman who fears the Lord and places all of her hope in Him will reap the rewards of a life spent with Him and for Him.
|5/13/2023||Exodus 20:12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.”|
In honor of Mother’s Day, Pastor Matt Hagee shared the privilege it is to call Mrs. Diana Hagee his Mom. Like many women, she fills a multitude of roles, but the one role that supersedes all the others is that of being a mother.
Pastor Matt verifies that his mother has only one speed: overdrive! He is the first to confess that, if you have a mom who loves you in overdrive, you are blessed indeed. If you need help, she is knocking on the door. If you need a friend, she is there to hold your hand and dry your tears. If you need food, buy a larger refrigerator, because you are going to get food!
For over forty years, she has ministered alongside Pastor John Hagee. The greatest gift that she has given to the church – and to many outside the church – has been to teach them how to love one another. In John 15:12, Jesus said to His disciples, “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” Diana is a walking, talking tutorial on loving one another. Her life has been a humble demonstration of how to love each other well.
She has loved her husband, her family, and the members of Cornerstone Church. As importantly, she has taught them to do the same for one another. When church members visit one another in the hospital, when they reach out to someone who is ill, when they bring over a casserole in a covered dish, it is not because one of the pastors instructed them to do so over the pulpit. They do so, because Diana has been an example of loving and taking care of your brothers and sisters in Christ.
Jesus issued a new commandment to us; in the same way that He loved us, we should love one another. When a watching world sees the love that we demonstrate towards one another, how we tenderly care for and stand up for one another, they will know that we are His disciples (John 13:34-35).
For the virtuous woman, Proverbs 31:28 says that “her children rise up and call her blessed.” Pastor Matt Hagee is grateful for his mom and the legacy of love that she continues to build.
|5/12/2023||Psalm 45:9 “Kings’ daughters are among Your honorable women.”|
The Hagee family story cannot be told without acknowledging the contributions of the women from generation to generation. In honor of Mother’s Day, Pastor Matt Hagee shared pieces of their stories.
Laverta McElvany Hagee was born in 1893 and married Pastor Matt’s great-grandfather, John Christopher Hagee, when she was sixteen. She was the daughter of the Methodist bishop of Kansas and the region of Missouri. One night, Laverta attended a prayer meeting where she asked God for more of His presence, a deeper relationship with Him. He responded by baptizing her in the Holy Spirit. God filled her with unspeakable joy.
Struggling through the Great Depression, she gave birth to ten children – nine sons and the baby girl. Three sons died in infancy, and the others grew into a wild bunch. She needed the joy of the Lord to be her strength! She lived out this verse – the Lord was her salvation, her strength and song (Exodus 15:2). When her children gathered and shared childhood stories, laughing until tears ran down their cheeks, they always remarked on the joy with which their mom lived.
Vada Hagee married Pastor Matt’s grandfather in 1934. Very unusual for a woman in the 1920’s, Vada held not one, but two, college degrees. She was a college professor who taught homiletics and hermeneutics to men who wanted to be pastors. After she married, she preached to standing-room only crowds twice a week.
One Thursday night, she made this announcement from the pulpit, “Tonight is the last night that I will stand behind the pulpit and preach. I’m going to devote my life to supporting my husband and his ministry. And I’m going to invest my life in my sons. And I believe that God will give to one of them the ministry that He intended for me.” And she kept her word.
No one knew that the 10-year-old boy standing beside her that day would be the one that God used to fulfill His promise to her – Pastor John Hagee. She prayed every day that God’s will would be done in the lives of her sons. Pastor John avows that this woman was the force that Christ used to shape his life.
She believed that winning the lost was the most important thing that any human being could ever do. Because of her sacrifice, millions of people have heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, millions of lives have been changed through Cornerstone Church and its ministries. Because Vada laid down her life and invested it in her children, millions of souls have been won to Jesus.
|5/11/2023||Psalm 37:3-5 “Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.”|
The Greatness of God that lies within each one of us, by virtue of our relationship with Jesus, requires a wholehearted commitment. This Greatness merits more than excuses, procrastination, and carelessness.
We must be committed to this Greatness. We must consistently pursue the purposes that God drops into our hearts. The difference between a wish and a reality is hard work. We will never accomplish the destiny that God designed for each one of us if we are unwilling to commit to the necessary work to achieve it.
God designed us for industry and achievement. When He blew life into the dust that was Adam…poof! Adam became a living being. Even as he was still rubbing the dirt from his eyes, God said, “Get to work!” He built a garden, and He instructed Adam, “Go tend it.” He created all of the animals, and He directed Adam, “Give them all a name.”
Adam could have responded many different ways, but he didn’t. God designed him. God created him. God put him to work.
In the same way, God designed us. He created us, and if we intend to realize the Greatness within us, we must be willing to get to work. What would you attempt if you knew that you could not fail? What would you try if you knew that whatever you set out to achieve, you were guaranteed success? Jesus Himself gave us this promise: “Everything is possible for one who believes.” (Mark 9:23). If we will believe, that belief will spur us to act. Whatever we pursue from His purpose and plan – that Greatness inside of us – will come to pass.
Commit to greatness…Don’t procrastinate any longer…The first step is the most difficult…Don’t sabotage those plans with indifference or idleness…Stop dreaming and start doing – no more excuses…For those who commit to the Greatness within, greatness lies ahead!!!
|5/10/2023||Proverbs 18:22 “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the LORD.”|
In honor of Mother’s Day and in fulfillment of Proverbs 31:28, Pastor Matt Hagee shared this sweet story regarding his wife, Kendal. She was born at Santa Rosa Hospital in San Antonio on May 10. Just a few months later in July, Pastor Matt was born at the same hospital. In anticipation of things to come, he assured us that she left her name and number at the nurse’s station.
In 2001, he was not married, was not dating, and his parents were getting worried. He took matters in hand, and on October 21, 2001, he wrote and taped this note into his study Bible:
“Dear Heavenly Father, these things I promise to pray every day without ceasing until You provide the desire of my heart, a wife.
That she would love You and Your kingdom with all of her heart, her soul, her mind, and her body.
That she would love me for me and nothing else.
That she would have a good understanding of family because I’ve got a big one.
That her parents would value and cherish marriage.
That she loves children.
That she loves people.
That she has a servant’s heart.
That I could trust her with my heart.
That I would be able to tell her anything.
That I could be me in front of her.
That she’d never be ashamed of me or what God has called me to be.
That she would be pure under the blood of the Lamb.
That she would have a deep hunger for God.
That she would love to be treated like a queen.
That she would have dark hair and blue eyes.
… when God heard me praying for a wife, He answered my prayers with you, [Kendal].”
If you are single and longing for a spouse with whom to share your life, if you are married and yearning for a child to hold in your arms, even if Mother’s Day has little to do with you and your dreams, follow this simple step…Take your longings, yearnings, and dreams and write them down, make them plain, and pray them out to our loving Heavenly Father…He knows how to answer those prayers!!!
|5/9/2023||1 John 4:4 “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”|
In today’s verse, John the Apostle writes to the believers at Ephesus to make a very important point. Greatness lies within them. They did not need to go in search of greatness, and neither do we. As believers of Jesus Christ, we have received His greatness by virtue of Him living in our hearts.
All around us, creation testifies of His magnificence. From the rising to the setting sun, from the tiniest atom to the far-flung galaxies, there is no one like Him — no one above Him or beside Him. He laid the foundations of the earth. He established the boundaries for the oceans and told their proud waves where to stop. He stores up snow in heaven’s treasuries (Job 38). That same God Who hung every star and called it by name knows your name (Psalm 147:4). He keeps count of the hairs on your head (Luke 12:7).
Before you were born, God masterfully wrote on the blank pages of your life. He inserted beauty, pain, struggle, tears, joy, and, yes, greatness — some verses and chapters that you might have chosen to omit. Every day has been recorded in His book! (Psalm 139:16)
If you choose to surrender to His quill — His plot line with its twists and surprises, your divine destiny — He will redeem all the pages and weave together a story of adventure, passion, mystery, and the greatest of loves. He will make you His living love letter to the world (II Corinthians 3:1-3), pointing them to the author and finisher of our faith of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).
Before He even formed you in your mother’s womb, He knew what you would need for this life. He has equipped you with great gifts and talents to use to bring glory and honor to His name. Most importantly, He has brought all that He is and all that He has to live inside of you.
He empowers you to do the impossible…Not only are you His workmanship — His masterpiece — He will show you the way to complete the good works that God has planned for you, the unique purposes for which He created you (Ephesians 2:10)…Look no further…You have Greatness inside!!!
|5/8/2023||Genesis 2:23 “And Adam said: ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’”|
In the beginning, Genesis tells us that God created light, the sky and sea, the land, the sun and moon and stars, and all living things. He spoke, and all things came into existence. He declared it all good.
On the sixth day, God formed a man, Adam, from the dust of the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils. God made him a living being. At the end of the sixth day, He looked around at all the things He had created and declared it “very good.” On the seventh day, He rested.
In short order, though, God declared, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him” (Genesis 2:18). After bringing all of the animals to Adam to be named, they recognized that no other living being existed that was a complementary companion for Adam. So, God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and He took a rib from his side and formed the woman, Eve.
This world that God created does not work well, does not function properly, does not exist as it should without the presence of a woman. God created a man with a specific role and responsibilities. God created a woman with specific roles and responsibilities. Neither is more important than the other. Neither subsists without the other. Ephesians 5:23 proclaims the husband as “head of the wife.” Some have taken that to mean that the man is in charge. Not so!
Can a head function without a body? Can a body function without a head? If the head is dysfunctional, does it not impact the body? And vice versa? When both work together, side by side, merging their unique strengths, this God-created plan comes together perfectly…Bringing their differences, the sum of the parts into a beautiful whole…Neither inferior, neither less-than…both as God created!!!
|5/7/2023||2 Corinthians 2:14 “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.”|
The greatness of God living inside of us causes us to be “more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). We must rediscover our identity as the Church Triumphant. We are the salt of the earth. We are the light of the world. We are the hands and feet of Jesus. The way to triumph is not by force, but with the power of God’s love through Jesus Christ.
The church cannot afford to remain silent in the face of evil. Romans 12:21 commands that we do not be overcome by evil, but that we go on the offensive to overcome evil with good. We triumph over deception and lies with the voice of truth.
When the church sees a need, we must move to meet that need. We triumph over poverty and lack with empowerment and kindness. We triumph over selfishness with sacrifice, over greed with giving. We triumph over sorrow with joy, over despair with hope. Where does that triumph originate? It does not come from a government plan or a social service. That kind of triumph flows from a God Who is greater and Who has placed that greatness in us!
He is greater than every enemy. He met His enemies at Calvary and conquered them there.
He is greater than every sickness. He bore our diseases on His back. By His stripes, we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).
He is greater than every need. Our God shall supply all of our needs according to His riches in glory (Philippians 4:19).
He is greater than every bondage and addiction. He is the Anointed One Who breaks the yoke of bondage and Who sets captives free. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed (John 8:36).
He is greater than every mountain that you face. He can take that mountain and cast it into the sea (Matthew 21:21).
He is greater than every sorrow. In His presence, we can find fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11).
This Greatness is not a secret to be kept…Let’s use it into a waiting world…We are His light shining forth…We are like a city built on a hill — impossible to hide…God uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere like a sweet-smelling perfume…He causes us to triumph!!!
|5/6/2023||Psalm 18:35 “You have also given me the shield of Your salvation; Your right hand has held me up, Your gentleness has made me great.”|
Nineteenth century English dramatist, Henry Taylor, once said, “The world knows nothing of its greatest men.” Two hundred years later, this statement still rings with truth.
In our media-saturated culture, superficial notoriety is often substituted for true greatness. People have traded the valuable for the vain, dignity for disrespect, kindness for callousness, and restraint for rebellion. They think that money, power, and fame represent the marks of true greatness.
Many people are willing to do many things for their fifteen minutes of fame. Grasping for short-lived celebrity, they break boundaries and push limits. Fame may garner some notice, but it does not constitute greatness. Attention spans are short. Spotlights fade.
Some equate money with greatness. People invest their lives in the pursuit of wealth and gain. The principle of living simply within one’s means has been discarded for a more-is-better, pay-with-plastic mentality. Money may fill someone’s life with stuff, but it cannot buy greatness.
Some correspond power with greatness. Since the dawn of time, people have striven for power. Armies have marched, emperors have schemed, kings have killed, executives have plotted. People scrabble over others to climb to the top of the heap, to demand deference and force fear, but coercion does not constitute greatness.
To ever be considered great, we must submit to the Source of greatness Himself. Jesus had much to say about true greatness in the Kingdom economy. For those who wish to be genuinely great, learn to be the least (Mark 9:35). He pulled a small child onto His lap — the picture of unassuming innocence, no fortune, no fame, no power — as He said those words.
True greatness lies in the character that is forged through a relationship with the One Who emptied Himself, became as nothing, and humbled Himself to go to His death on the Cross…He came seeking no fame, fortune, or power…He came only to do the will of His Father Who sent Him…And therein lies true greatness!!!
|5/5/2023||Psalm 8:3-4 “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?”|
Greatness is more than a catch phrase, much more than a campaign slogan. If we pause long enough in any moment of any day, we will become aware of the greatness all around us.
Genesis 1 tells us that God created light on the first day. On the fourth day, He set lights in the heavens — a greater light to rule the day, and a lesser one to rule the night. He also set the stars in the sky — so numerous that they are impossible to count. Every morning, that greater light rises over the eastern horizon and sets in the west. It warms our planet to create an ecosystem finely balanced to sustain life. Greatness!
At night, those smaller points of light twinkle against a black velvet sky. For many years, humankind believed that our solar system was the only one that existed. We now know that many galaxies spin outside of ours, that innumerable stars shine beyond our sight. Telescopes have given us the ability to gaze deeper and deeper into space, and the deeper we search, the farther it stretches — beyond our vision and our mathematical calculations. God’s greatness on display!
Amazingly enough, Psalm 147:4 assures us that God knows the number of the stars. Not only does He know the number, He knows all of their names.
The breathing process? The easy, unconscious inhalation and exhalation, the act of taking in oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide, comes from Him. God breathed the breath of life into Adam and created a living being. Job declared that the breath of the Almighty gave him life (Job 33:4). Let everything that has breath praise the Lord for His greatness!
Consider the handiwork of God all around us…See it in the watercolor of an evening sky…,Smell it in the raindrops…Hear it in the birdsong, and in the moment…Breathe out a prayer of gratitude to the Creator for His greatness!!!
|5/4/2023||Proverbs 4:20-22 “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 to all their flesh.”|
Healing comes through the Scripture and the Spirit. Not only does He forgive all of our sins, He promises to heal all of our diseases, too (Psalm 103:3).
The Word of God speaks healing to us. When we cry out to the Lord in our troubles, He sends His Word to heal us, to deliver us from distress and darkness, even the very shadow of death. He breaks our chains into pieces (Psalm 107:13,14,20).
Our verse for today says that His Words bring life and health to our flesh. As we read His Word, as we memorize and internalize it, as we apply it and walk it out, it translates into healing and wholeness for us. One of the most powerful things that you can do to improve your health is to read God’s Word.
Not only does God heal through His Word, He heals through His Holy Spirit. According to Romans 8:11, the Holy Spirit raised Christ from the dead. As believers, that same Spirit lives in us. The Word tells us that Spirit will quicken our mortal bodies. He will bring new strength and new vitality to us — now and eternally.
As we immerse ourselves in the words of the Father, our faith unfurls and blossoms. Mustard-seed faith can move mountains of medical impossibility! As the Spirit comes alongside to convict us of our sin and convince us of His righteousness, we recognize our need to confess. He trades our sin for salvation and mends our broken hearts. As we heed His counsel, we find the power to forgive. When we find the strength to let go, we are set free.
Our Good Shepherd anoints our heads with the oil of His Spirit, and we flourish even in the presence of our enemies…The Lord is our Healer!!!
|5/3/2023||Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”|
One of the greatest barriers to receiving the healing of God in our lives is to harbor unforgiveness. The individual who holds an offense against another builds a barricade between himself and God.
The disciple, Peter, asked Jesus how many times he should forgive someone who had wronged him. Seven seemed a generous number! Jesus corrected him and upped the ante to seventy times seven. Essentially, Jesus said to forgive so often that it becomes a lifestyle. Forgive so many times that the practice becomes an ingrained habit.
We sometimes hold onto a long list of grievances against others. We believe that no one understands the harm they have done to us, the pain they have caused, the rejection they have inflicted, the burdens they have heaped upon us. Our Good Shepherd does. And still He urges us to forgive them and cast all of our cares upon Him (I Peter 5:7). He comprehends the weight of carrying around that unforgiveness which is why He wants us to let it go. As long as we hold that list so tightly, He cannot pour healing and blessing into our hands.
Jesus told the story of a servant who owed ten thousand talents — about 50 billion dollars in today’s terms — to his master. His master had every right to judge him, to sell him and all his family for recompense. However, when the servant begged the master to have mercy, not only did the master pardon him, but he forgave the debt entirely.
The servant went out and found a fellow servant who owed him fifteen dollars. He demanded immediate payment, and when the man could not pay, he had him thrown into debtor’s prison until he could pay back what he owed. When the master heard, he angrily reciprocated and threw the first servant into jail with the same sentence. Instead of two men going free, two people lived in bondage.
The King of Glory has forgiven us the debt of our sin…He paid the price to set us free when we had no ability to do so ourselves…we can forgive those who have offended us…Choose to forgive…Release the bitterness and the rage…Tear down the barricade between yourself and God to receive the healing you crave…When you set that person free, you open the door to your prison cell, too!!!
|5/2/2023||Proverbs 28:13 “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”|
Jesus is our Healer, but unconfessed sin can obstruct the blessings of God in our lives. As today’s verse points out, if we cover up our sins, we cannot prosper. Obtaining mercy involves two steps.
First, we must confess our sins to God and ask His forgiveness. Most of us find that step the easier one. Second, we must forsake our sins. This is the more difficult action. Repent actually means that we feel such regret for our actions that we amend our life; sorrow brings about a change of behavior.
God cannot bless our rebellious disobedience. It would deny His own character. If He did bless disobedience, it would enable us to remain in our sinful state…the place from which Jesus rescued us. He loves us too much to leave us there.
While God’s love is unconditional, available to all, many of His promises are not. Those promises are not based on Who He is, but on how we respond to Him. Consider I John 1:9 — “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.” His action hinges on ours. If we do what He commands, He considers us His friends (John 15:14). Exodus 15:26 tells us that if we heed the voice of God and do what is right in His sight, He will heal us.
Our Good Shepherd knows how far we stray…At our faintest cry, He will seek us out and bring us home…Restoration is as near as repentance…Maybe your healing is a confession away!!!
|5/1/2023||Matthew 21:22 “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”|
Jesus is our Healer! Evidences of this fact are scattered throughout the New Testament. He reached to touch a leper, He smeared mud in blind eyes, He stuck His fingers in deaf ears…and they were healed. Jesus is exactly the same — yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He still heals!
So, why do many go without a healing? One simple answer zeroes in on unbelief. The writer of Hebrews cautioned the believers to beware of an “evil heart of unbelief” that might cause them to be “hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:12-13). The children of Israel, because of their unbelief, were led astray to wander in the wilderness for forty years. Their rebellion and disobedience kept them from entering into the Promised Land.
James, the brother of Jesus, in his no-nonsense manner, said that a person who doubts should not expect to receive anything from the Lord (James 1:6-8). Indecisiveness, an inability to make up our minds, causes us to be unstable and wavering. Jesus was unable to do many mighty works in Nazareth because of their unbelief (Matthew 13:58). Their lack of faith tied His hands.
In the gospel of Mark, we read the story of a desolate father who came to Jesus. His son was possessed by a mute spirit that would seize him, throw him to the ground, and cause him to convulse and foam at the mouth. The father had taken the boy to the disciples, but they were unable to help him. If these men — who saw firsthand the miracles of Jesus, who looked into His face and asked the hard questions, who were sent out by Him – could not lay hold of healing for this boy, how can we do any better? But wait — there is hope!
The despairing father brought his child to Jesus and told Him that the spirit often threw the boy into the fire or the water to try to completely destroy him (Mark 9:14-29). Sadly, the father looked to Jesus, “But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”
Jesus already knew He could do anything, but He wanted this sad father to know, too. “If you can believe,” He told him, “all things are possible to him who believes.”
The desperate father, wanting to wholeheartedly believe but knowing there were gaps in his faith, cried out tearfully, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” And it was enough for Jesus. He rewarded the man’s mustard seed faith and healed his son. He will do it for us, too.
|4/30/2023||Psalm 107:19-20 “Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them out of their distresses. He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.”|
God declared Himself to be the Lord that heals us (Exodus 15:26). Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted, to give sight to the blind, and to free the oppressed (Luke 4:18). In all the places where we suffer, Jesus is our Healer.
Our verse for today tells us that God sent His word to heal, deliver, and save. In John 1, we read that in the beginning, the Word was with God and was God. Everything was created by Him. Life and light were found in Him. That Word became flesh and came to earth so we could behold the glory of the Father. He was sent to heal us.
In Isaiah 5:13, God says that His people have gone into captivity because they have no knowledge. In Hosea 4:6, He laments that His people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. In many of our lives, what the world says has taken precedence over what the Word says. We have placed our faith in other things and have learned to treat only the symptoms.
We cannot experience the healing power that the Gentle Shepherd provides simply because we do not take God at His Word. The power of this Word cannot work in our lives if we do not build our faith based on its promises. How do we build our faith? Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. The sound of it has gone out to all the world, to the ends of the earth (Romans 10:17-18).
We need healing – in our hearts, in our minds, in our bodies. Open God’s Word and read it. Ask the Father to open your eyes to understand this rich inheritance that He has given us, that the same power that raised Christ from the dead is at work in us to accomplish mighty things (Ephesians 1:17-21). As we read over the pages, we will find a Lamb Who took stripes on His back so that we would be healed. We will find a Good Shepherd Who comes to pour in the anointing oil that brings relief from our pain and suffering. We will find a Savior Who went about healing the lame, the blind, the paralyzed, the epileptic – all who came to Him.
Read His Word…Wrap your head around it…Wrap your heart around it…Wrap your hands around it…His Word was sent to heal you!!!
|4/29/2023||Psalm 23:1 “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”|
The Lord is our Shepherd. In Israel, making a living as a shepherd was not a status symbol; it was considered one of the lowliest positions of service. For the psalmist David to liken Jehovah God to a shepherd seems quite the paradox. How could our Lord Above All, Who created the heavens and the earth, be so down-to-earth as to walk among the sheep?
King David, who started out as a young shepherd boy, understood that God is with us, never far away, walking beside us, and providing all we need so we do not want for anything. David also understood that a good shepherd was not just a provider, but he was also a healer. David remarked that God anointed his head with oil, that his cup ran over (Psalm 23:5). Every shepherd carried oil with him – a mixture of olive oil, fragrant frankincense, and myrrh which was a natural pain killer.
In the rainy spring season in Israel, lambs graze in the fields. The sharp, new blades of grass cut the lambs’ tender noses, and something dreadful occurs. Flies lay their eggs in those tiny wounds. When they hatch, the maggots work into the nasal passages of the sheep where they cause serious agony. The sheep will run from place to place and butt their heads into rock or trees to jar those tormenters loose. When the shepherd realizes the situation, he pulls the oil flask from his belt and pours it over the head of the sheep. The fragrant oil runs over the sheep’s faces and into the wounds where it eradicates the pests and brings healing and relief.
Satan, whom Jesus referred to as Beelzebub (meaning Lord of the Flies), seeks out the wounds and sore spots in our lives. He embeds himself there and begins to torment and terrorize. He brings such agony and pain that we will not know what to do except to run from place to place, pounding our heads against anything that might bring a measure of relief – anything that might deaden our pain.
We have a Good Shepherd Who will leave the other ninety-nine sheep to come looking for you…He will take you in His arms and pour in the oil of the Holy Spirit…He will tenderly anoint you until it runs into every wound, every spot that brings anguish and torment to bring relief and healing and peace…In His arms, you will know what it is to want for nothing!!!
|4/28/2023||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.”|
Our God is a Healer. Jesus purchased our salvation at Calvary, and He paid for our healing. He was wounded for what we did. He was crushed for our crimes. He was punished so we could find peace. He was hurt so we could be made whole (Isaiah 53:5).
We serve a Deity who loves us. He is not mad at us; He is mad about us. If we need healing in our emotional lives, in our spiritual walks or in our physical bodies, He is our Healer. If we want His joy to return and be our strength again, if we want His peace to be our portion, if we long for our broken hearts to be restored, He has power to heal. He sent His word to heal us. No sickness, no disease, no ailment or infirmity exists that He has not conquered.
He not only forgives our sins, but He heals all of our diseases. He redeems our lives from destruction and makes us young again (Psalm 103:3-5). He heals the brokenhearted and bandages our wounds. He renews our hope and heals our bodies (Psalm 147:3). Malachi 4:2 paints a beautiful picture for those of us who honor and worship His name. He promises that the Sun of Righteousness will arise with healing in His wings, and we will leap forth like well-fed calves released from the stall – healthy and happy in the presence of our Healer!
Jesus, our Father in the flesh, went about healing all kinds of sickness and disease. The leper and the lame, the mute and the maimed, the blind and the brokenhearted, the hopeless and the helpless – He healed every one. Yesterday, today and forever, Jesus remains the same (Hebrews 13:8). The stripes on His back that He received at Calvary still have the power to make us whole.
If you are you hurting ask Him to heal you…If you are tormented ask for the touch that brings liberation….If you are you brokenhearted ask Him to bind up your wounds…If you are afflicted with disease ask for the word that brings deliverance…From the very beginning, God has assured us, “I am the Lord Who heals you” (Exodus 15:26)…Take Him at His word today!!!
|4/27/2023||Psalm 97:12 “Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.”|
Because of the work that He completed at Calvary, God has given Jesus Christ a name above every other name (Philippians 2:9). Faith in that name makes us strong (Acts 3:16). His name justifies us (I Corinthians 6:11). The name of Jesus brings life (John 20:31).
In the name of Jesus, signs and wonders are accomplished (Acts 4:30). Miracles occur! In the name of Jesus, demons are cast out (Acts 16:18). They must flee! In Jerusalem, after the Day of Pentecost, the disciples preached the word with boldness. Thousands were saved and baptized. The disciples healed the sick. They cast out demons. And they did it all in the name of Jesus. The religious rulers were so disturbed by their behavior that they arrested them, beat them, and commanded that the disciples no longer speak or teach in the name of Jesus. They departed from the council, rejoicing that they were worthy to suffer shame for His name, and they did not cease to teach in His name (Acts 5:41-42).
The name of Jesus Christ has dominion today! When we speak that name, all of heaven stands behind it. When we speak that name in prayer, all of the power and authority of God come to our aid. Speak it out loud and often! In the name of Jesus, leave my family alone because they belong to the King of kings. In the name of Jesus, leave my marriage alone because what God has brought together, let no man separate. In the name of Jesus, leave my body alone because by His stripes, I am healed.
Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” How would your life be revolutionized if you brought every action and every word that you speak under the name of Jesus? How would it look different? Sound different?
Let’s see how our homes, workplaces, and cities change when we declare the banner of Jesus over them…It’s a comfort and confession, a hope and a healing, a bandage and a battle cry…Speak the name!!!
|4/26/2023||1 John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the Blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”|
The Blood that Jesus spilled at Calvary was no ordinary Blood. His Blood washes every stain. His Blood breaks every chain. The Blood of the Lamb of God reaches farther than that of any other lamb ever sacrificed. The Blood of the Only Begotten soars to the highest heaven and plunges to the lowest hell. It knows no limits.
His Blood makes all men acceptable to God. Slaves are now set free because Christ became the Servant of All. The One Who knew no sin became sin for us so that we could become the righteousness of God in Him (II Corinthians 5:21). We were once far away from God, but we have been brought near through the Blood of Jesus (Ephesians 2:13). We now have access to the place where grace abounds and mercy is poured out. We once were enemies of God, but we have been reconciled to Him through the death of His Son (Romans 5:10).
Because we are justified by His Blood, we are saved. Saved to live our best lives. Saved so that the stain of sin has been washed away. Our past is forgiven. The weight of shame has been lifted. What the Law demanded was satisfied when Jesus shed His Blood. Our debt has been paid. Through His Blood, we are now adopted as children, and we can call God our Abba Father (Romans 8:15). We have been made free indeed.
Do not allow the guilt of yesterday to keep you from where God made it possible for you to go. Do not allow any yoke of oppression or chain of bondage hold you back. The Blood of Jesus makes you righteous. Your sins have been washed as white as snow.
Satan, the accuser of all of our brothers and sisters, is overcome by the extraordinary Blood of Jesus, our spotless Lamb, and by the word of our testimony…Jesus has shed His Blood…Let us stand and testify to His work in our lives…Because He died, we are alive…Because His grace is greater, our sin is forgiven…Because He endured the shame, we do not carry it…The promise of our future is greater than the guilt of our past…Only through His Blood!!!
|4/25/2023||1 Corinthians 1:18 “For the message of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”|
Jesus was no ordinary man nailed to no ordinary Cross. He was the Son of God sent at the appointed time to rescue us in our broken state. His death on the Cross, this gospel story, is the power of God to bring us to salvation.
At Calvary, God acted to silence the cynics. He wanted the doubters to know that this was not just another criminal, but His Son. Jesus was there when the mountains were formed. He exulted when the seas were fashioned. He flung the stars against the velvet of a night sky. He delighted in the dust that became a living soul with the breath of God. For all those who ignored a baby born in a stable, He became the Lamb.
At Calvary, the earth trembled as rocks saluted the Rock of Ages. At Calvary, those who were sick began to be healed because He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, and by His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5). The One Who made the lame to leap had His feet nailed to the Cross. The One Who brought the dead to life died for all mankind. The darkness of this earth wrapped itself around the Light of the World.
At Calvary, Jesus cried out, “It is finished!” And God ripped the veil in the Temple. The sin-separation was over! The distance between us was dispelled. Jesus Christ, the Sinless One, died so that we could be set free. The relationship that God longed for since Genesis could now become a reality. He is heaven’s hope! He is hell’s dread! He is the Great I Am! He is the Conqueror over death, hell, and the grave! He is the King of Glory!
God moved heaven and earth to be with us. He defeated hell and all its principalities. We no longer need a priest. Jesus is our High Priest Who sympathizes with our weakness. We do not need to wait for a specific day. Jesus is our Mediator at the right hand of God always interceding for us. We do not need to come in any certain way. His arms are open to whosoever will. Every moment, He is poised to listen and respond.
Enter in behind the veil…Don’t wait for another to lead you…Walk boldly in where Jesus gave us access…Approach the throne and raise your hands, bow your knees, and pour out your heart in worship to our worthy Savior!!!
|4/24/2023||Exodus 40:21 “And he [Moses] brought the ark into the tabernacle, hung up the veil of the covering, and partitioned off the ark of the Testimony, as the Lord had commanded Moses.”|
Sin separates us from God. It comes between us and cuts off the blessings of God in our lives. Scripture details God’s holiness and His zero tolerance for sin. Even though our culture has become comfortable with sin, God has not. Without grace and mercy, His holiness would consume us.
In the book of Exodus, God told Moses that He wanted to dwell with, to tabernacle with the children of Israel. However, the sin issue had to be addressed. He commanded Moses to create a barrier, a veil, in the Tabernacle. He dwelt between the cherubim above the Ark of the Covenant behind the curtain in the Holy of Holies. The priests and the people lived on the other side of the curtain because if they approached God in their sin, His holiness would destroy them.
This was no ordinary curtain. God gave specific design instructions to Moses. Bible scholars say the veil was 50 feet wide and 30 feet high, made of fine linen with blue, purple, and scarlet yarn. It was so heavy that it took 300 priests (150 to the right and 150 to the left) to pull it back for the high priest to enter through the middle. To raise and lower it, 150 oxen were used to pull it into place. It was comprised of 200 embroidered squares that, when put together, displayed beautiful gold cherubim.
In the Old Testament, forgiveness was not a simple matter of confession. A significant amount of effort had to be extended. On the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies to atone for all the sins of Israel for the year. Bearing the sacrifice, he went in with bells around the hem of his robe and a rope around his ankle. If the bells ceased to ring, the priests would use the rope to pull out his body. The sacrifice was unacceptable. This was serious business.
When Jesus died on the Cross, Hebrews 9 tells us that He, as our perfect High Priest, entered the heavenly Tabernacle with His own Blood to make atonement once and for all for all of us. As Jesus breathed His last, God ripped the Temple veil from top to bottom (Mark 15:38).
His body was torn on the Cross…His Blood was shed…We now have bold access to the throne of grace where we can obtain mercy…No ordinary Savior became no ordinary sacrifice to tear through no ordinary curtain!!!
|4/23/2023||Romans 5:19 “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.”|
Sin has always created a barrier to entry into the presence of God. Sin separates us from the Lord. It always drives a wedge and hinders our relationship – sin rips it.
Sin became a problem for Adam, for the children of Israel, and it remains a problem for us today. The prophet, Jeremiah, extolled the faithfulness and goodness of God. He said that if it was not for the mercy and compassion of God, we would be consumed. Those mercies are renewed to us every morning (Lamentations 3:22-24).
As faithful as God is to mercy, He does have a threshold. That limit is always pushed by sin. Whenever sin enters the relationship equation, that rips it. God, Who is holy and Who cannot be in the presence of sin, decides that He has reached the place where enough is enough.
We see it in His relationship with Adam and Eve. When they ate the forbidden fruit, sin cut short their lives in Eden. God drove them out of their perfect home and placed cherubim at the east side of the Garden to guard it (Genesis 3:24). Sin separates.
A few generations later, God was grieved by the great wickedness that abounded on the earth. He decided to destroy everything with a flood. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord, and when he and his family were safely aboard the ark, God closed the door. Those inside escaped judgment, but those outside had forfeited their choice. God had reached the place where grace was no longer extended.
Because He is holy, He cannot abide sin. Not because He cannot handle it, but because we cannot handle Him in His holiness. We would be consumed. Separation is God’s way of protecting us in our sinful state.
In the book of Exodus, God told Moses that He wanted to dwell with, to tabernacle with the children of Israel. However, the sin issue had to be addressed. He commanded Moses to create a barrier, a veil, in the Tabernacle. He dwelt behind the curtain in the Holy of Holies. The priests and the people lived on the other side of the curtain because if they approached God in their sin, His holiness would destroy them.
Sin is still the issue…Every effort should be made to purge our lives from sin…If we wish to draw near to God, we must separate ourselves from sin…If we desire closeness with Him, we must cut out what divides…In our relationship with God, sin rips it!!!
|4/22/2023||John 4:24 “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”|
When we find ourselves overwhelmed by circumstances, surrounded by the enemy, and mired in the midst of the trial, the temptation is to doubt God’s good heart towards us. It is easy to slip into believing that He has abandoned us.
When we lift our eyes to Him, though, our perspective changes. When we worship Him in spirit and in truth, we begin to look through the eyes of faith. We begin to consider the greatness of our God, not the circumstances that threaten to pull us under.
When we consider how He came through for us in the past, faith begins to burgeon in our chests. When we look back and see the rubble that was our mountain, we are reminded that the same mountain-moving Defender can bring down what we face today. A shout begins to build inside of us. Walls are about to crumble in His mighty name.
Praise reminds us of what God has the power to do in the present. Worship, in spirit and truth, stirs up our faith for the future. We begin to believe for what is on the way.
Instead of fear, we thank God in confidence that He has a plan not to harm us, but to prosper us, to give us hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). We thank Him that He gives His angels charge over us; He is our Refuge, our Habitation, our Fortress (Psalm 91).
Instead of doubting, we thank God that He will not withhold any good thing from us; He is our Sun and Shield, our Provider and Protector (Psalm 84:11). His goodness and mercy follow us every day of our lives (Psalm 23:6).
Through eyes of faith, we begin to see what we could not see before. The servant of Elisha cried out in fear as the Syrian army surrounded them. All he could see was their ultimate demise, certain death…until Elisha prayed that his eyes would be opened, that he could see “those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (II Kings 6:16). Suddenly, his eyes opened to see that they were surrounded on every side by horses and chariots of fire. The Armies of Heaven still charge to our rescue.
No matter what is happening around us, we have safe passage with Him…Through the eyes of faith, we see that we never stand alone, that we never fight in our own strength…Just open your eyes…See it and believe it!!!
|4/21/2023||Philippians 2:9-11 “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”|
When God saw the extent of Jesus’ sacrifice, our verse for today tells us that He exalted Him. He elevated and extolled Him. He gave Him a name that is above every other name. There is no one above Him or beside Him.
At the sound of that name, every knee in heaven bows. The book of Revelation tells us how the twenty-four elders will fall down before the Lamb. All the angels pause to revere the Great High Priest, the Victorious One.
At the name of Jesus, every knee on earth will bow. Every human being on earth will bow their knee to Him. Each person will choose to honor His sacrifice and humbly serve Him here now or will be forced later to bow to Him Who sits on the throne of a kingdom that has no end. Every one will worship the Almighty One, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.
At the mention of that name, every knee under the earth will bow. Every power and every principality that was already defeated at Calvary will submit to the Alpha and Omega, the Lord of All. Jesus is now at the right hand of God in heavenly places. He is far above these powers and principalities, all power, all might, and dominion, and every name that has been named not only in the present, but in the time that will come.
It is not a matter of if – but a matter of when – knees will bend…Every created being will, one day, confess that He is indeed the Lord of lords…He is incomparable and unrivaled…God has put everything under Jesus’ feet…As Joshua of old declared: Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve!!!
|4/20/2023||Acts 5:30 “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree”|
Freedom comes at the expense of sacrifice. Thomas Jefferson once said, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” His statement has been proven true from Valley Forge to Afghanistan. Citizen soldiers raised their hands and swore to protect and defend this nation against all enemies foreign and domestic.
God loved us so much that He sent His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to become the sacrifice for the sin that separated us from Himself. Jesus humbled Himself, wrapped Himself in flesh, and obediently went to Calvary. He became cursed for us by hanging on a tree (Galatians 3:13). The Lamb of God shed His Blood to wash away our sins. His sacrifice bought our freedom. When we were captives to sin, He paid the ransom that released us.
Unlike the tree of liberty that is watered with the blood of patriots, Hebrews tells us over and over that Jesus made this sacrifice “once for all” (Hebrews 7:27; 9:12; 10:10). Jesus, our High Priest, entered the Most Holy Place – not with the blood of goats or calves – with His own Blood to suffer once for all. Every separation, the barrier that sin had erected between us and God, was destroyed.
At the moment that Jesus died, the veil of the Temple was torn from top to bottom. This veil separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Temple. The veil itself was about 60 feet tall and six inches thick. It prevented people from entering the presence of God unworthily. The Holy of Holies housed the Ark of the Covenant, and it was there that God’s presence presided. It was there that the High Priest entered – only one time a year – to make atonement for the sins of the people.
As Jesus breathed His last, God Himself tore the veil from the top down…No more separation! No more barrier…We now have direct access to the Father because Jesus bought our freedom once for all…As the Blood and water flowed, as the light and the love rushed from the Holy of Holies, a new covenant was born…Jesus Himself is our Mediator…The Cross truly became our Tree of Liberty…There, once for all, He purchased our salvation through His suffering and through the shedding of His Blood…His sacrifice bought our freedom…Oh, what a Savior!!!
|4/19/2023||Philippians 2:9-11 “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”|
Jesus Christ stretched out His arms and gave all that He had to give at Calvary. He emptied Himself to pay the price for our sin. His blood washed over our I.O.U. and set us free. In our lives, that sacrifice demands a proper posture and a proper proclamation.
As today’s verse signifies, our proper posture is a bowed knee in reverence to His name. That bending of the knee is an outward symbol of an inward work – a bowing of the heart that recognizes our deep need for Him and humbly accepts Him as Savior and Lord.
Our proper proclamation is the confession that Jesus Christ is Lord. Paul assured us that if we believe it in our hearts, if we confess with our mouths that God raised Jesus from the dead, we shall be saved (Romans 10:9). The word that saves us is as close as the tongue in our mouths, as near as the heart in our chests. This word of faith – boldly said right out loud – welcomes Jesus in and sets things right between us.
Our bowed heads and surrendered hearts acknowledge that He gave Himself in our place for a debt that we could not repay. How amazing that we will never receive what we truly deserve – mercy! Instead of being slaves to sin, He has given us power over it. Instead of condemnation, He gives us confidence to approach Him boldly. Instead of death, we are raised to life eternal.
Our bent knees and proper proclamation pay homage to our King of kings in recognition of a battle that He waged, for an enemy that He vanquished for us. How amazing that we receive what we could never deserve in our own puny efforts – grace! He made it possible for us to become co-inheritors with Him of all that heaven has to offer. His very presence enriches and enlivens our days.
Let us bow our knees…Let us surrender our hearts…Let us speak the welcoming words that make Him Lord…His sacrifice merits the proper posture and proclamation that position our hearts with His….Let bow in reverence and boldly confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!!!
|4/18/2023||1 John 2:22-23 “Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also”|
In today’s verse, the apostle John has harsh words for anyone who denies the Father and the Son, for anyone who rejects Jesus as the Christ. He declares that person antichrist – not the Antichrist, as the man who will rise up against God in Revelation – but one who exhibits a spirit that rejects God and His plan. Those who are not for Christ have pitted themselves against Him in an antichrist attitude (Matthew 12:30).
John goes on to say that the spirit of the Antichrist already abounds in the world around us (I John 4:2-3). Most of us would never blatantly deny Jesus, but can an antichrist attitude subtly invade our thoughts and the manner in which we live our lives?
When we refuse to read the Word of God to pick up the latest bestseller instead, what does this omission say? When we reject Jesus’ admonition to give and hoard every resource as if it were ours and not His, where have we placed our trust? When the Bible instructs us to pray without ceasing, and we fly through our days without giving Him a thought, how deep is this relationship that we claim? When we stand against His instructions, when we deny what He requests, isn’t this, in essence, against Christ? When we know right, and we do not choose to do right, it is antichrist.
We can easily point an accusing finger at the spirit of Antichrist in the culture all around us, but every time we choose to fall back on comfort rather than take a stand for conviction, the antichrist attitude wins. Every time we excuse corruption rather than speak against it, every time we soften the message of the Gospel rather than proclaim it unashamedly, antichrist wins. When we hide His light, when we do not stand in the day of evil, when we are more concerned with public opinion than honoring God, we bow to the antichrist attitude.
If we are for Him, if we are on His side, let us cast off our lukewarm lives…Let us fully embrace all that He requires…Let us deny ourselves, choose to sacrifice our will for His, and embrace the responsibilities, as well as the rights, of a life hidden in Christ…We are for Him!!!
|4/17/2023||Ephesians 3:19 “that you know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God”|
French philosopher, Blaise Pascal, alluded to a God-shaped hole inside of each one of us in his work, Pensees. Augustine, in his Confessions, declared that “our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.”
We can find ourselves attempting to fill that aching void with the obligations, pleasures, and busyness of this life. We earn advanced degrees. We pursue careers with single-minded ambition. We devote ourselves to the health and welfare of our children. We aspire and achieve more and more, yet never seem to arrive. We often are left exhausted and empty by the pursuit. We can become so full of ourselves that there is no room for the God we claim to serve.
Make it your own ambition to serve Jesus…There is a place of surrender where our will is exchanged for His, where we submit to His purposes, where we are filled with the fullness of God…We may need to draw boundaries, to be stingier with our “yes” to lesser things…When we pour out our lives to Jesus, we find ourselves empowered and energized by the Holy Spirit…When we co-labor with Christ, His plan is brought to fruition in our lives…Along the way, we find love, joy, peace, and goodness…Let us be filled with the fullness of God Himself!!!
|4/16/2023||1 Peter 2:17 “Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.”|
We find ourselves in the middle of an all-about-me culture. We live out our lives in selfies and social media. This is me waking up. This is me eating breakfast. This is me working out. This is me arriving at work. This is me walking. This is me talking. This is me. This is me. This is me.
We climb into the car in our garage and drive to work where we sit in a personal cubicle and stare at a computer screen all day. On the way home, someone loads our groceries that we ordered online into the back of the car. We drive home, raise the automatic garage door, glide into the garage, and hit the button to close out the world. In an increasingly larger world, we have become ever more isolated and self-centered.
The Christian community to which we belong runs counter to our culture. We are adopted into this diverse, loving, noisy, happy, and sometimes messy family. We are called to love and unity, discipline and celebration. We are to live in affectionate relationship. We gather to encourage one another with songs and Scriptures. We restore those who fall. We reach out to those who are thirsty and hungry. We laugh with those who rejoice. We break bread and build bridges. We erase barriers and ease the burdens of those who are bowed down.
In an all-about-me world, place the spotlight squarely on Jesus Christ…We are all about His will and His way…He alone deserves center stage in our lives…He alone sits on the throne of our hearts…His mission has become our mission – to go and to tell…And always, our doors, our hands, and our hearts are open to those who need healing and hope…If you wish to be included, you are invited…If you long to belong, there is a place for you here…Come and stay…Welcome home!!!
|4/15/2023||Acts 1:11 “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven”|
Since the day that Jesus ascended, disappearing in the clouds over Jerusalem, the eyes of believers have scoured the sky. Could this be the day that Jesus Christ returns in glory? Even though the world and the church – even Jesus Himself – do not know the day or the hour when He will return, we can be assured, now more than ever before, that Jesus is coming soon.
When He comes, may He find you faithful.
When He comes, may He find you working in the fields to bring souls to salvation.
When He comes, may He find you shining His light and His love.
When He comes, may He find you serving one another with gladness.
Until He comes, child of God, put on the whole armor of God…Stand for righteousness in the day of evil…Tear down anything that exalts itself against the knowledge of God…When the world takes to the streets, may we take to our knees until God heals our land…When the world clamors for their rights, may we take up our crosses to follow Christ with all our hearts until the day of His return…May our eyes never cease to search the skies until the day our faith becomes sight!!!
|4/14/2023||Romans 14:11 “For it is written: As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.”|
In this country, we are blessed by the sacrifices of brave Americans who have served before we arrived and others who continue to serve in arenas around the world. The liberties and the freedoms we enjoy were not purchased by our own actions, but rather by others who were willing to take a stand in our stead.
Our grandfathers, fathers, aunts, cousins, and the friends who sat next to us in class are the individuals who sacrificed so we could continue to live in liberty. Freedom is the result of sacrifice.
In the almost 250 years that this nation has existed, we have not grasped the fullness of this freedom. In all of our history, our stories past, our painful pages, our difficult years, in all of the blood shed, and the sacrifices made, we still do not understand what we have in our freedom.
The Bible reveals the same truth: freedom is the result of sacrifice. Jesus’ death on the Cross bought us freedom from the weight of our sins, from guilt, and the shadow of death. He paid the price for our restored relationship with the Father, for our future, and our resurrected hope.
Someone fought. Someone died. Someone stood. Someone spoke. Someone sacrificed. How do we respond to such a sacrifice? Because we have a responsibility to do so. Freedom is not the liberty to do exactly what we want; it is the freedom to do exactly as we should. How do we exercise freedom responsibly? How will we protect freedom for the coming generations?
Responsibility for freedom begins and ends with us…Choosing to be responsible is a personal choice…If we do not choose well, we forfeit liberty…Choose this day whom you will serve…Choose to submit your life to Christ, the One Who bought and paid for it…Bow your knee to the only One worthy…Rise to fight for those who have not grasped the freedom available to all…Stand…Speak…Freedom is the result of sacrifice!!!
|4/13/2023||Philippians 3:7-8 “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.”|
We gladly embrace Jesus as Savior. As Savior, He becomes the sacrifice in our stead. As Savior, He sets us free from sin. As Savior, He delivers us from death. Making Him Lord in our lives requires a new level of submission and trust.
If Jesus is our Lord, we must obey Him. If He is Lord, He has the authority and the right to govern our lives. If Jesus is our Lord, our opinions no longer matter; His will is of the utmost and primary importance. We choose Him and what He says. Every. Single. Time.
As Jesus taught the disciples one day, He asked, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). The point is clear. Loving Him, serving Him, making Him Lord requires more than lip service. If we love Him, we must keep His commandments (John 14:15).
When He is Lord, He leads us. He is our Tender Shepherd. We know His familiar voice, and we will not follow another (John 10:4-5). We do not wander off on expeditions and adventures of our own. Always, He leads us in paths of righteousness for the sake of His name to do the things that honor Him most (Psalm 23:3). If we are careful to observe His commands, He will make us the head and not the tail (Deuteronomy 28:13). He will cause all the work of our hand to prosper abundantly (Deuteronomy 30:9).
Jesus came as the Suffering Servant. He did not come to do our will, but the will of His Father Who sent Him. Our responsibility is to follow His example. He is the Author and Finisher of our faith; He writes each one of our stories, and He alone has the ability to perfect them with every stroke of the pen (Hebrews 12:2). God has exalted Him and given Him the name above every other name. He truly is Lord.
He becomes our Savior in an instant, but making Him our Lord is a process…Some days, it can seem to be a minute-by-minute decision to place ourselves in the correct posture of bowed knee and submitted heart, to surrender to His purposes and His plan…Lay it all down to make Him Lord!!!
|4/12/2023||John 5:19 “Then Jesus answered and said to them, Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.”|
Most of us do not respond positively to a dictator, someone who barks out orders with no regard or respect. Effective parents, employers, and leaders do not dictate responsibility, they demonstrate it.
Jesus remains our unparalleled example. He never imposed His will on another. He never sought to dominate or control. He watched His Father, and whatever He saw Him do, Jesus did the same in word and deed (John 15:15).
When we watch another demonstrate responsibility, we witness efforts that work. With his words and actions, he outwardly reveals what he believes inwardly. The importance of her words is made apparent by her behavior. The way that they act proves the value of the words that they proclaim.
When we believe and demonstrate the truths of the Bible, we can change our homes, our churches, our cities, our states, and even the nation. The New Testament church turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6). They took responsibility over their newfound liberty in Christ. They appropriated the newly-endued power of the Holy Ghost. They demonstrated to the world what Jesus did not dictate to them.
Jesus has called us to demonstrate the difference. If you are upset at the government and its policies and politicians, vote your conscience in every election. Campaign for issues close to your heart. Run for local office. If you are disturbed by trends in your local school, volunteer in a classroom, join the parent-teacher association or run for the school board. If you are concerned about the direction of your home church, pray fervently, serve humbly, and speak God’s truth in love.
When we truly believe the Gospel message, we will demonstrate what we know to be true in our hearts…We will take responsibility for the freedom Jesus has granted us…Even though He has freed us from the expectations and demands of everyone, we willingly choose to become a servant to all to show off the wonder of knowing Christ…The power of the Holy Spirit inside of us is brought to bear in every situation in which we find ourselves…Emulate Jesus’ example…Live it loud…Say it and display it…Demonstrate the difference!!!
|4/11/2023||Proverbs 25:28 “Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.”|
Personal responsibility begins and ends with each one of us. While we cannot control every circumstance around us or many of the things that happen to us, we are responsible for how we respond and react.
In every place that we refuse to accept responsibility, we forfeit liberty. People who forfeit liberty surrender to dictators.
Most dictators in this life are not elected. A dictator overtakes and sets up rule. A dictator quells opposition, hoards all the power, limits the rights of his subjects, and abolishes freedom.
When we refuse to accept personal responsibility – when we blame, avoid, or play the victim – it creates a power vacuum into which an emotional dictator will swoop. When we refuse to take responsibility for our personal attitudes, we submit to emotional dictators. Rage, bitterness, jealousy, and offense are dictators that will overtake us and leave us defenseless against the wiles of Satan. Like an Old Testament city without its protective walls, the enemy will breach the barricade and pour in like a flood to steal, destroy, and kill (John 10:10).
Poor financial decisions become dictators when we are careless stewards over the resources that God has gifted to us. When we owe more than we earn, when we rob God by withholding our tithe (Malachi 3:8), when we ignore those in need, we relinquish our responsibility and our rights. A financial dictator will destroy relationships, steal our peace, and usurp our power.
No matter how we like to consider ourselves masters over the universe, we truly control nothing but ourselves. We have the power to respond and react in ways that bring honor to God, as well as health and harmony to our daily lives.
That power is rooted in relationship with Jesus Christ. When we welcome Him into every aspect of our lives, the Holy Spirit empowers us to live with self-control. Through the spiritual weapons that He provides, we can capture every thought, impulse, emotion, and action to bring it under the rulership of Christ (II Corinthians 10:5-6).
When we choose to do so, when we act as the responsible men and women of God that He created us to be, the opposition of the enemy is quelled…The Holy Spirit fills us with power for right living…We embrace all of the promises and provision of God…We dance in freedom!!!
|4/9/2023||Luke 23:34 “Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.’”|
It was during that Last Supper with His disciples that Jesus announced that one of them, who was dipping his bread in the same dish that Jesus used, would betray Him. All of the disciples denied that they would do any such thing. Even Judas said, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi,” to which Jesus replied, “You have said it yourself” (Matthew 26:25, NASB).
Judas went on his way and Jesus went to the Mount of Olives to pray. He knew what was coming, and He knew who would betray Him. Yet, when Judas showed up with a loud, angry mob, Jesus said to His disciple, “Friend, do what you have come for” (Matthew 26:50, NASB). Even in the moment of being betrayed, Jesus calls His betrayer “friend!”
But that is not even the greatest act of forgiveness that Jesus did in His lifetime. In His final moments, having been beaten and torn and ridiculed and hung on a Cross to die, Jesus demonstrated the act of forgiveness that we, as Christian believers, are to follow. His exact words on the Cross were: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34, KJV).
Our Redeemer used His last breath to forgive a brutal Roman empire that had harassed Him and His family from the day of His birth. As blood flowed from His hands and feet, mercy flowed from His lips. They killed Him because they feared Him. They feared Him because He healed, He raised the dead, He used a boy’s sack lunch to feed a multitude, and He upset their sense of order.
They didn’t kill Him because they thought He was the Prince of Peace…They killed Him because He was considered an insurrectionist too dangerous to be allowed to live…Jesus was crucified because He fought a battle for your soul and mine…On that Cross He shed His Blood for the forgiveness of sin — my sin, your sin, the iniquity of the whole world’s sin — forgiven and forgotten, buried in the deepest sea, never to be remembered any more!!!
|4/8/2023||Romans 4:7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sins are covered.”|
Three days after the crucifixion, when the women went to the tomb to anoint Jesus body with special oils, they found an angel instead of a body. The angel said to them, “But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you” (Mark 16:7, NKJV). Tell His disciples — and Peter. Why the emphasis on Peter? Because prior to the crucifixion, Peter denied Jesus three times.
Peter, who liked to make grandiose statements that he couldn’t back up, said to Jesus in the Upper Room, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you” (Matthew 26:33, NLT). Peter then falls asleep while he’s supposed to be praying for Jesus, reacts impulsively cutting off Malchus ear, and then denies Jesus three times. Well done, Peter.
Let’s take a quick look at those denials. First, Peter lied to a servant girl who asked if he’d been with Jesus: “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Then he lied to another servant girl who said he most definitely had been with Jesus: “I don’t even know the man!” Finally, he lied to a group of bystanders who recognized his accent as Galilean: “I DON’T KNOW HIM!” (see Luke 22:54–62).
Peter is oblivious to his betrayal until a crowing rooster reminds Him of the Master’s prophecy. The sound triggers a flood of remembrance and understanding. He had vowed to go to jail or even to death for Jesus. Peter wept bitterly in shame and regret: What would Jesus, his Messiah and friend, think of him now?
Thus, it is no accident that the angel encourages Mary Magdalene to tell the disciples and Peter to meet Jesus in Galilee. Galilee! It was on the shores of that vast lake that Jesus had first called Peter and his brother Andrew to follow him. And there, the risen Jesus would instruct Peter to cast his net on the other side (see John 21). When Peter realized it was Jesus, he jumped ship and headed straight for his risen Lord. In that poignant reunion Jesus forgave Peter by giving the fisherman the opportunity to declare his love for Him three times — one for each denial.
Forgiveness is a full pardon. It’s a fresh start. It’s another chance. It’s a new beginning. It’s a lifting of a heavy burden and the canceling of a debt.
Where does this power to forgive come from? It comes from God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, and through the witness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The devil will try to trick you with his schemes, his devices, his sly ways…One of those strategies is to try to trap you in unforgiveness, which will completely destroy the quality of your life and steal the peace in your heart…Don’t give him an opening…Slam the door in the devil’s face…Forgive, and move on to new beginnings!!!
|4/7/2023||Matthew 6:14–15 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.|
Forgive me for being so blunt, but if you don’t practice forgiveness, it will destroy the quality of your life on earth and even put at risk your entry through the gates of heaven.”
Write that on your bathroom mirror. Forgiveness is that important.
Forgiveness is serious business, but it isn’t complicated. You don’t need a seminary degree to understand that when you forgive, you will be forgiven; and when you don’t forgive, God will not forgive you.
The Lord’s Prayer endorses heaven’s policy on forgiveness: “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12, KJV). We recite that prayer but seldom practice it. It’s not only important to know the words but understand its message and to obey it. Forgiveness is not optional. If the Bible teaches anything, it teaches that. The Word and the will of God are made perfectly clear: we can freely ask God’s forgiveness once we have fully forgiven others.
Saint Paul wrote, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32, KJV). When I was a boy, my mother made my older brother Bill, and me quote that verse to each other every time we got in a ruckus, which was about three times a week.
I had that verse memorized before almost any other. It still rolls off my tongue with ease. But the fact that my brother and I said it so much was an indication that we knew the words, but we weren’t getting the message. Get the message!
Paul continued teaching the New Testament Church by saying,
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. (Colossians 3:12–13, NKJV)
This truth is clearly affirmed by God, Jesus, and Paul—forgiveness is not optional! If you won’t forgive another person, God will not forgive you…The words “forgive” and “forgiveness” appear sixty-six times in the New Testament, and one-third of those are tied to the forgiveness of others…Why so many? Because the power of forgiveness is that important!!!
|4/6/2023||2 Timothy 1:8-9 “…share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began…”|
Have you ever gone house hunting on a budget? Whenever you do anything on a budget, you know you are not looking for something perfect; you are looking for something “as is.” As is, it may look like a disaster, but a person who can see potential will call that chaotic mess “good bones.”
When God looks at you, He doesn’t see a hopeless cause; He sees potential. He loves you “as is,” but He loves you too much to leave you that way.
If God has given each of His children unlimited potential to do great things in this life, why isn’t everyone living joy-filled, successful, abundant lives? There are two main things I see hindering people’s potential: excuse making and instant gratification.
There are people who make good and there are people who make excuses.
Stop whining. Stop making excuses. Take charge of your life. Believe in the power of your potential. When you blame someone else for your inability to do something, you have empowered that person to control you. They are now in charge of your life. Take charge of your life or someone else will! No more excuses!
The second way people destroy their potential is by demanding instant gratification. They want microwave Christianity. They want love without commitment. They want benefits without responsibility. They want success without work. Well, the only place you’re going to find success before work is in the dictionary!
The goal is not to be an overnight success, or to be in the right place at the right time. The goal is hard work, never giving up, and learning to be patient with the process.
The greatest tragedy in life is not death…The greatest tragedy in life is to fail to fulfill your purpose and potential…The fact that you were born is proof that God has an assignment for you…God has something special planned for every believer…Don’t you dare go to your grave with unused God-given talent, with unfulfilled God-inspired dreams, and with missed God-ordained opportunities!!!
|4/4/2023||Ecclesiastes 2:18 “Then I hated all my labor in which I had toiled under the sun, because I must leave it to the man who will come after me.”|
There is a difference between making a great living and having a great life. Plenty of people make a great living but lead miserable lives, lives that lack peace, joy, and hope.
Friend, contrary to what you may have been told, it is possible to be a Christian and still be happy. Many people believe that being spiritual means walking around looking like you’ve been sucking a lemon all day. But that is not spirituality, that’s religious legalism and legalism is a curse.
But I have good news! Salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ sets you free to serve the Lord of the Bible and enjoy the life He died to give you–a life filled with powerful potential.
Back when Elvis Presley was at the peak of his career, his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, arranged for me to meet and talk with him in his hotel room in San Antonio, Texas. Elvis had everything that money could buy. He had luxury cars. He had jets. He had diamonds. He had fame. He had the applause of fans. He had a telephone that was covered with gold. Yet, I’ve never met a lonelier person. At the end of our conversation, Elvis said, “Pastor, will you pray for me?” I prayed with him. Elvis was a good person. He had a great living. But he had a hurting heart and a lonely, empty, joyless life.
What kind of life do you have? Are you living with divine purpose? Does your life have meaning? Or are you lonely? Are you angry? Are you frustrated? Are you chasing illusions that never materialize? Is your home in crisis? Is your marriage a war zone? If so, then you are not living up to your powerful potential. God has made it possible for you to have peace that surpasses all understanding. He has made it possible for you to have joy unspeakable and full of glory. He has made it possible for you to experience unconditional love.
There is a Father in heaven who loves you more than you can possibly imagine…Even if your mother and your father forsake you, Jesus promises that He will never leave you…He will be with you in the darkest valley…Nothing can separate you from His love!!!
|4/3/2023||Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”|
“I wish.” We all have wishes for ourselves and other people for the future. These wishes are our perception of what we think would be best for us or believe would satisfy us.
When I was a boy living in the country in southeast Texas, my family called the Sears and Roebuck Catalog “The Wish Book.” As a six-year-old, I poured through the pages of that catalog at least three times a week wishing for a Daisy Air Rifle. That Christmas, my father gave me what I wished for. He gave me that BB gun. My older brother, Bill, tried to take it away from me on Christmas Day. He was twice my size, so I shot him. Don’t worry. I did the Christian thing and merely shot him in the leg.
I can assure you, when my father caught up with me, I was not singing “Joy to the World” but rather remembering that famous sermon of Jonathan Edwards’, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”
Fast forward to the twenty-first century, and fully understand that millions of Americans are looking in a “wish book” for our future and selecting the poison of socialism. Socialism is a fraud! In history, it has never worked. In the past century, it has killed over one-hundred million people under the leadership of socialists like Hitler, Stalin, and Mao.
The Daily Caller reports that one-in-three millennials in America see socialism as favorable, and seventy percent are prepared to vote for a socialist. Why? When we don’t educate our younger generation about the historical truth, we shouldn’t be surprised at their willingness to embrace the endless promises of socialism, which will be the absolute destruction of the United States of America.
But hope is not wishful thinking. Saint Paul writes, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Hear these two words: “substance” and “evidence.” Our hope is based on the “substance” of what God has done in the past and the “evidence” found in the Bible.
God’s provisions are in His promises, and they are all found in His Word…If God has done it in the past, He will do it today…Therefore, our hope is based on God’s performance knowing that He is faithful to His Word which accomplishes all He has assigned it to accomplish!!!
|4/2/2023||Acts 1:8 “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.”|
It’s dark out there.
If you had any doubt that our world is broken and fallen, a glance around should relieve you of all uncertainty.
Thus, it’s no surprise that many of God’s people are overwhelmed, pessimistic, and despondent. Some have lost hope and given in to despair. But that is not the appropriate mindset for a child of God. Believers have been given the power to turn things around — for ourselves, for our families, for our communities, and for our country.
I’m talking about heavenly power. Divine power. Supernatural power that changes circumstances and destinies. Power that turns the fate of nations.
Two-thousand years ago, Jesus lived on Earth. He raised the dead, He healed the blind, the lame, and the deaf; He touched the rotting flesh of lepers and healed them. Jesus calmed the violent winds and waves and walked on the waters of the Sea of Galilee.
He ordered demons to come out with a word. He did not interview them or scream at them all night. He spoke a Word and they obeyed. He fed multitudes with a boy’s sack lunch and there was enough left over to start a Jewish delicatessen. He turned water into wine at the wedding in Cana. Jesus spoke with such authority that the politically correct crowd was stunned with silence.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the Gospel of Power…There is power in His Word…There is power in His blood…There is power in His name…There is power in His presence and in His presence is fullness of joy!!!
|4/1/2023||Revelation 19:16 “And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS”|
“Jesus is coming again! His return is imminent!” Those phrases have resounded throughout my life – from childhood through adulthood. Over and over, they rang out as an alarm and as a promise. As we look at the world around us, they take on greater urgency. As Bible prophecy is fulfilled in daily headlines, with confidence I say, “Jesus is coming soon!”
He Who is called Faithful and True, the King of kings and Lord of lords will split the eastern sky and return for His faithful bride, for a Church that is without spot or wrinkle. This time, He will not visit us as a lowly babe in a humble manger or as a suffering Savior, a Lamb led to slaughter. The One Who is faithful to redeem you is coming in power and great glory. The One who is faithful to provide for your every need is coming to reign from His throne for a thousand generations. The One Who is faithful to heal you is returning with healing in His wings to restore the nations.
The Fairest of Ten Thousand will shine like the noonday sun. The Bread of Life will restore the broken. The Lamb of God will bring peace. The Lion of the Tribe of Judah will rule from the city of Jerusalem. Out of His mouth will come a two-edged sword with which He will destroy the enemies of Israel. He will cast the antichrist and the serpent of old into the lake of fire. He will set his foot on the temple mount, split the eastern gate, establish His throne, and of His kingdom, there will be no end!
Most assuredly, Jesus is coming…When He returns, may you be found waiting and watching…May you be found alert and about the Father’s business…May you be found a faithful follower…Those who are will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and we will be with Him forever…Look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near!!!
|3/31/2023||Hebrews 9:22 “And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.”|
The idea that sacrifice is the purchase price of freedom is not new. In the book of Genesis, we grieve as Adam and Eve hide in humiliation after eating the forbidden fruit. God, in His mercy, sacrificed an animal to cover their nakedness and shame.
In the book of Exodus, we watch as God set His divine plan in motion to free His chosen people. As the Israelites packed their bags and prepared to walk out of Egypt after four hundred years of cruel slavery, God commanded a curious thing. Each family was to sacrifice a spotless lamb and apply its blood over the doorpost. God set apart and spared His own at the sight of that dark stain.
Later, as the Israelites wandered in the wilderness, God demanded that an animal be sacrificed, that its blood be poured on the altar for the cleansing of their sin. The blood was the means by which the Israelites could experience communion and relationship with God.
For those of us who did not belong to the nation of Israel, we stood outside of this arrangement that God forged with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and his descendants. Before the cross, we were far away from God, outside of this covenant, and without hope in the world.
But Jesus Christ was our Hope! He came as the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the earth (Revelation 13:8). When John the Baptist looked up and saw Him, he cried out, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Jesus came as the sacrifice for our sin.
When He went to Calvary, He shed His blood “once for all when He offered up Himself” (Hebrews 7:27). What the blood of goats and calves could not do, His blood accomplished. He “obtained eternal redemption” for us (Hebrews 9:12). Because of that sacrifice, every barrier, every separation, has been torn in two. We now have bold access to the Father!
We now have freedom to enter where we could not go before, to receive what we could not claim before…We have hope…We have salvation…We have life…Jesus, the Lamb of God, paid the purchase price for our liberty…His is the sacrifice that won our freedom!!!
|3/30/2023||1 John 5:14 “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”|
Jesus created quite a ruckus in the Temple after being hailed with a hero’s welcome when He arrived in Jerusalem. He drove out the money changers. He turned over their tables. He reprimanded them sharply. Afterwards, Matthew 21:14 tells us that the blind and the lame came to Him there in that holy place, and He healed them.
That seems fitting to us, the perfect place for Jesus to perform miracles. However, in Jerusalem, tradition dictated that the blind and lame – anyone who had a physical impairment – were not allowed to enter the Temple. Their imperfection denied them the right to be admitted to the very place where they could receive healing.
Jesus broke through the barriers, tore through the tradition to welcome the hurting. Can you imagine the crush of the crowd? Can you see their eager faces? Here, where they had only found rejection and resistance, Jesus reached out to heal blind eyes and lame limbs. Those who had never seen before received their sight. Those who had never walked went running and leaping and praising God. The Temple walls must have resounded with exuberant shouts. Tears of joy and gratitude must have wet their cheeks.
Throughout Scripture, we see Jesus reaching out in welcome: sharing a meal with tax collectors, pulling a child onto His lap, touching a leper, plucking Peter out of the sea, taking a dead girl’s hand, smearing mud on a blind man’s eyes. He welcomed their questions and their complications, their illnesses and infirmities.
He is still reaching, still welcoming…His arms are open…His eyes are smiling…No fear of rejection here…We can boldly approach the throne of grace with full confidence to obtain mercy and grace…We are surrounded by the spiritually blind, those who have overlooked the important and cannot see what is needful…We are surrounded by the spiritually lame, those who may see what they need but are too hindered to get to it…We can bring them to the throne, too – with full confidence of acceptance and love!!!
|3/29/2023||Jeremiah 20:9 “Then I said, ‘I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name.’ But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not.”|
Ezekiel was consumed with passion for the Lord. His zeal could not be contained. Even when he tried to control himself, the words burst past the barrier. Are you full of fiery faith? Or has your faith become so bland, benign, and boring that it is met with yawns?
When someone asks about Jesus, we must be ready to share the life, truth, and hope that has revolutionized our lives. Share the kind of Savior that no one can ignore. Proclaim a Redeemer that no one can forget. Leave them in no doubt that He is everything.
We were dead, lost in sin, bound for hell, but He rescued us. He saved us, set us free. Where there was sorrow, He gave us joy. Where there was weakness, He became our strength. When we were alone and lonely, He became our Friend. When we only deserved judgment, He extended mercy.
Jesus Christ is not some powerless, dead historical figure. He is alive. He is present. If you are thirsty, He is the Living Water. If you are hungry, He is the Bread of Life. He protects. He intercedes. He fills us up. He satisfies our souls. He is awesome in strength and mighty in power.
He is the Lamb of God.
He is the Lion of Judah.
He is the Indescribable Gift.
He is our Great High Priest.
He is our Mediator.
He is our Hope.
He is our Peace.
He is our Burden Bearer.
He is our Good Shepherd.
He is our Refuge.
He is our Strength.
He is our Rock.
He is our Sword.
He is our Shield.
He is our Way Maker.
He is our Miracle Worker.
He is our Wonderful Counselor.
He is our Everlasting Father.
He is Lord of lords.
He is King of kings.
There is no one beside Him, no one above Him..There is none like Him…He is an ever-present help in time of trouble…He is great and greatly to be praised…If we refuse to praise Him, the rocks will pipe up in our place…Stir up the embers within, and blaze forth His glory!!!
|3/28/2023||1 Peter 3:15 “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear…”|
Are you always ready to give a reason for the hope that is in you? We have found our hope in Jesus. Hope for salvation and strength, protection and perseverance, for safe haven and stability. This hope anchors our souls for today and gives us bright expectation for tomorrow. How do we explain the reason for this overflowing hope?
In Matthew 21, Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on the back of a young colt. An exultant crowd lined the streets shouting “Hosanna!” and threw down their coats and tree branches to line his path. Thousands of Jews from the then-known world had traveled to the city to celebrate Passover. The crowds were moved by this joyful parade. “Who is this?” they asked curiously. The multitudes answered correctly, but “just the facts” did not amount to the whole truth.
This is Jesus, a prophet. That was a fact, but it was not the whole truth. Hundreds of prophets roamed Jerusalem at that time. Some of them enjoyed fame; others ministered in anonymity. To call Jesus a prophet was to classify Him, to assign Him a place among a faceless mass of others.
He is from Galilee, a city in Nazareth. That was a fact, but it was not the whole truth. Nazareth was a hill country town in northern Israel. It was not Jerusalem, which was known as a religious center. It was not Athens, which was known as an intellectual center. It was not Rome, which was known as a political center. Creator of all…but they attempted to give Him a mailbox.
We live in a world that still wants to know Jesus. They do not know that He is more than a prophet. They don’t know the peace He brings to a tormented heart, the joy that He brings to those who are without strength. They don’t know the burdens He can lift, the yokes He can destroy, the chains He can break. When they ask, are you ready to give a reason for the Hope inside you?
Be careful not to make this great, big, beautiful Savior a small thing…Beware of putting Jesus in a box; it only gives opportunity for people to put a lid on it and push it aside…Be ready to make it all about Him, all about the Hope that fills our every waking moment and promises an even brighter tomorrow!!!
|3/27/2023||James 5:15-16 “And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”|
Few pains cut so deep as that of the Christian parent whose child has wandered far from God. We raised them in the fear and admonition of the Lord, but they have rejected the faith of their youth. We trained them in the way they should go, but they have forsaken that path for their own. Like the father of the prodigal son, our eyes scan the road each day, looking for signs of our child’s return from a far country.
Too often, we run to their rescue. We defend and debate. We coax and cajole. We aid and abet. Instead, with hearts full of faith, we can relinquish them to God’s hands. We can trust His good heart towards them. He alone can stir up a hunger and thirst for righteousness. He knows how to arrest their attention. Even if their hearts are broken, He will collect all the pieces and give them brand-new hearts. Even in utter desolation, He can restore and return the years the enemy has stolen. He knows how to capture their hearts again.
Now, more than ever, we should be full of faith for our children. We do not give in to despair or defeat. Every prayer will be a sharp, pointed arrow targeted to bring down the evil schemes of the enemy in the lives of our children. Now is the time to pray in faith without doubting (James 1:6). Now is the time to hold on tight to God with both hands. Now is the time to open our hands and release our children into His hands.
He will whistle, and our children will come running to be set free (Zechariah 10:8-9). In Isaiah 43, God encourages us to trust Him – don’t be afraid. He is in our corner. He will round up our scattered children and pull them in from the east and the west. He will send orders to the north and south to send back our sons from distant lands and our daughters from faraway places. “I want them back, every last one who bears my name, every man, woman, and child whom I created for my glory, yes, personally formed and made each one” (Isaiah 43:5-7, The Message).
Full of faith, we stand in the gap for our beloved sons and daughters…We won’t give up…We won’t back down…As long as we have breath, we pray for their joyous return!!!
|3/26/2023||Psalm 130:5 “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I do hope.”|
Incorruptible, infallible, inerrant – those are some impressive words that perfectly describe the Word of God! Scholars have dissected and debated it for centuries. Men and women were beheaded, exiled, burned at the stake, banished from their homelands, and labeled heretics so we may have the privilege of studying this sacred Scripture.
This Word has withstood the flames of the trial; it has been tried and been found true. Cynics have mocked it for centuries, but it has silenced its scoffers. It has been debated in classrooms, diluted in pulpits, and misused by scheming men. For all of the abuse leveled at it, the Word of God endures. It is sharper than a two-edged sword. Like a surgeon’s scalpel, it cuts through everything – all of our doubt and defenses – to open us up to believe and receive what God says. It exposes and sifts, analyzes and judges the very thoughts and purposes of our hearts. No one is impervious to its truth. We cannot escape its reach (Hebrews 4:12).
When we ingest it, this Word comes to abide in us. It takes root in our hearts to make us strong (I John 2:14). It establishes and steadies. The Psalmist declared that God’s words were sweeter than honey (Psalm 119:103). Jeremiah devoured the words of the Lord and declared them a joy and a delight (Jeremiah 15:16). Job said that he treasured God’s word like his daily bread (Job 23:12).
Isaiah assured us that the grass may wither, and the flower may fade, but the Word of the Lord endures forever (Isaiah 40:8). It will stand for eternity. Every jot, every tittle, every comma, every period, every letter, every line, every word – all will be fulfilled in Christ. No deception can be found in its pages.
Like Job, hunger after God’s words like the food that is necessary for life itself…Like Jeremiah, gobble them up…Take joy in all the discoveries and the mysteries that you unravel…Find the character and the promises of God in His Word…Allow its truth to become the bedrock foundation of your life…Allow that truth to transform your mind, your heart, and your very life!!!
|3/25/2023||Thessalonians 5:18 “…in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”|
Here we are – miles away from Thanksgiving! Months away from turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie. Many miles and months to go before the calendar turns, before the leaves turn, and before we turn to a table laden with scrumptious bounty and surrounded by those whom we love the most.
For the Christian believer, Thanksgiving is not just a holiday that we tick off our to-do lists the third week of November each year. Thanksgiving – gratitude – should be hardwired into our DNA, rooted in our hearts, and evident in our everyday lives.
In today’s verse, the apostle Paul instructs us to give thanks in every single thing. It’s easy to breeze over that verse with a confident, “Of course!” But are we giving thanks in everything? When we are satisfied and safe, happy and healthy, praises roll easily off our tongues. What about the other times though?
Paul practiced what he preached. The book of Acts tells us about a particularly tough time for this Christ-follower. In the town of Philippi, Paul and Silas were attacked, stripped, beaten with rods, thrown into jail, and restrained in stocks. That’s a bad day! Deep in the night, a sound reverberated through the prison cells as the other inmates listened. Was it crying, complaining, kvetching? No, it was the triumphant strains of praise, prayer, and the singing of hymns (Acts 16).
Paul had figured out how to be content. In poverty or prosperity. Whether famished or full, abased or abounding, thanksgiving flowed from his grateful heart. He recognized his Source in every situation and shared it with us: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
Our thankfulness demonstrates to God that we trust Him more than the affairs of the world in which we live. In everything – not for everything – but in every condition, under every circumstance, through every situation, give thanks to God.
In the big moments, give thanks. In the small, seemingly insignificant moments, give thanks. On the good days when everything goes according to plan, give thanks. On the bad days when everything seems against you, give thanks.
When you consider your past, give thanks that God carried you through it…When you are overwhelmed in the crisis, give thanks that God will never abandon you to cope alone…When you consider all of your tomorrows, give thanks that God goes before you to smooth the path!!!
|3/24/2023||Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”|
The reality of this Christian life, as the hymn proclaims, is “joy unspeakable, full of glory,” and “the half has never yet been told!” Because Christ lives in us, we overflow with His life. This present life is not the one we once endured, but a sins-washed-away, guilt-free, arms-wide-open, I’m-a-brand-new creation kind of life. All the old has gone, and His life has flooded in to fill every nook and cranny with lavish love, perennial peace, and jubilant joy. We should radiate that life.
Jesus proclaimed Himself the life (John 14:6). He brings His great big presence to so fill our hearts that it must spill out into our lives. Paul pointed out that “…in Him we live and move and have our being…” (Acts 17:28). Amazingly enough, He lives in us, moves on us, and works through us. As the irrepressible genie in Aladdin declares, “Phenomenal cosmic powers! Itty bitty living space!”
No matter the circumstances around us, the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). Too many of us are living a “someday out there” life. When things get better or when we get through this rough patch or when we all get to heaven, “someday out there,” we will live our best lives. This is a right-now kind of salvation! This is the in-the-moment life of Jesus working on the inside. When the clouds open over our heads, pop up the umbrella of joy, and dance in the rain. Under His protection and provision, we still live with gladness and contentment. Jesus inside of us brings all that He is to bear on all that we experience.
With that Life comes power. Power to live with joy. Power to live with peace. Power to live with laughter. Power to live with self-control. Power to live with hope. Dynamite power on the inside of us – impacting our families, our communities, and our world.
Jesus Christ is alive…The King of kings, the Lamb of God slain, conquered death, hell, and the grave to bring life everlasting…No need to wait and see…No need to postpone…He is alive…He is life…And He lives in us…We are filled with Life, full of life, and carrying that Life to the world…Live!!!
|3/23/2023||Luke 15:10 “Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”|
Whenever one individual on this earth professes Jesus Christ as Savior, the angels in the presence of God rejoice. Imagine a sinner who bows his head to whisper a “yes” to Jesus, the Friend to sinners (Matthew 11:19). Consider how God might lean down to catch that desperate plea, how all around the throne, activity ceases and silence reigns as He smiles a “yes” in response. And at that final amen, all of heaven erupts in a party of praise! Innumerable angels shout for joy as one more receives a Savior that is worth having.
Do you ever take time to think about heaven? John the Revelator describes “a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” (Revelation 7:9-10). Beyond the mysterious creatures, the crystal river, the thundering horses, and the Lion of the tribe of Judah, do you ever think of the people who might stand next to you before the Great Throne?
A nomad with stars in his eyes who believed the promise of God. A young upstart who felled a giant with one smooth stone. A woman of ill repute who hung a scarlet cord in her window. A frightened maid who unflinchingly said, “Let it be to me.” A brazen professor who nailed 95 Theses to a door. A frail woman who reached out her hand to lepers. These shadowy figures who helped to shape our faith – their faces and philosophies, their doctrines and disciplines, their treatises and tenets, their hearts and hopes – will emerge from the mist to sing the song of the redeemed alongside us.
And, of course, there will be those even closer to our hearts. A grandfather who prayed for the generations to follow. That parent who sang hymns of deliverance over her children. The lovingly-anticipated child who never knew his mother’s embrace. The pastor who sacrificed for his little flock.
Consider that moment when all those faces around you turn to the Lamb Who was slain for our sins, when the great song of redemption bursts from our lips in glorious praise, when the angels revel in silence as that melody rolls through heaven, and our faith finally becomes sight…And all because one Man emptied Himself and was obedient even to death on the cross…Jesus is a Savior worth having!!!
|3/22/2023||Romans 10:9-10 “…that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”|
Jesus is a Savior worth having. He is so rare that no other like Him has ever existed. He is so capable that nothing is impossible for Him. He is so reliable that He has never disappointed one person who chose to trust in Him. He is so loving that when everyone else has given up on you, when no one else sees any good thing in you, He reaches out His hand and says, “I choose this one.” He is so good that, if you have not accepted Him as Savior, He is waiting with outstretched arms.
Today’s verse tells us how to become a child of God, to accept Him as Savior. If you believe in your heart that Jesus exists, that He came to die on the cross to forgive your sins and that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. If you acknowledge Him in your heart and say it out loud, Jesus can be yours.
You may think that this is an impossibility, but the Bible tells us that whoever believes in Him will not be lost, will not perish, but will find eternal life (John 3:15). Whoever believes…every single person who looks up to Him, trusting and expecting, will gain a real life, an eternal one.
No matter what you have done, where you have been, whom you have let down, what you have gone through or what others say about you, as long as you want Him, He wants you…Find out for yourself the magnitude of His goodness, the unsearchable depths of His love for you!!!
|3/21/2023||Psalm 5:11 “But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name be joyful in You.”|
Jesus is a Savior worth having, One worth praising. He is not angry with you. His welcome mat is always out. His porch light is always on. His face is turned towards you. He does not tire of you or find you too needy. He knows your name. His thoughts toward you are too many to count (Psalm 139:17). His plans for you are good, and He is orchestrating every detail of your life to draw you closer and to make you shine like a star in the sky. He loves you.
When you sat in the ashes of a broken life, He loved you. When you were surrounded by the consequences of a thousand bad choices, He loved you. When you were stripped of dignity, He saw you clothed in majesty. When you were certain of your nothingness, He gave everything to call you His. While you were a sinner, He loved you. At the lowest point of your life, God loved you so much that He sent His only Son to die for you. Jesus took your place. He became the substitute, the sacrifice, for you. The IOU with your name scrawled across it? He drove a nail through it, signed it in blood, and paid the debt in full. He gave all to bring you near.
Does your heart thrill at the thought of Him? For those who profess faith in Christ, those who have asked Him to abide in their hearts, those who have received this Savior worth having, He merits our gratitude, our soul’s best song. If it had not been for the Lord on your side, where would you be? David instructed, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!” (Psalm 150:6).
Take a moment to celebrate all that Jesus is to you, all that He has done for you, all that He has given to you. Take a deep breath – oh wait, that came from Him, too! That beating heart? It keeps time because He set it in motion. Pour out your gratitude to Him!!!
|3/20/2023||Zephaniah 3:5 “The Lord is righteous in her midst, He will do no unrighteousness. Every morning He brings His justice to light; He never fails…”|
Jesus is a Savior worth having. Many people measure the value of something based on its reliability. Is it of good quality? Will it perform consistently? Can I trust it? If you have ever owned an old jalopy, you quickly come to appreciate the value of dependability!
We live in a shifting-sand world. A man’s word is no longer his bond. Contracts and legal clauses are required to seal the deal; mere handshakes no longer suffice. Promises seem made to be broken. Conflicting voices make guarantees they do not deliver. The ground beneath our feet can be unstable and insecure. Stories are slanted. Perspectives are perverted. Expectations are exhausted. Vows are violated.
If you are weary of the disappointment, consider the Rock (Deuteronomy 32:4). In Jesus, we find the stability, the solid ground beneath our feet. In Him, we live in a kingdom that cannot be shaken (Hebrews 12:28). Across the centuries, no person who ever put their trust in Him found themselves disappointed or without hope (Isaiah 49:23). He will not walk away. He will not turn His back (Hebrews 13:5). He is not fickle. He does not change like shifting shadows (James 1:17). He is the tried and true, utterly reliable, the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
We can take Him at His word. Heaven and earth will disappear, but His word will remain forever (Matthew 24:35). His promises to us are always “Yes” and “Amen” (II Corinthians 1:20). His amen is a “truly,” a “let it be so.” John the Revelator called Jesus the “Amen, the Faithful and True Witness” (Revelation 3:14). He is proven. We can trust Him.
Unwavering, secure, dependable, trustworthy – Jesus is a Savior worth having…We find shelter under the shadow of His wings…He holds us lovingly, safely in His hand, and nothing nor no one can snatch us away…We can count on His welcome, His smile, His good heart towards us…He never falters…He never fails!!!
|3/18/2023||2 Corinthians 9:15 “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”|
Jesus is a Savior worth having. When it comes to something worth having, people want to know its worth. What is its value and how can we determine it? Often, the worth of something is dependent on its rarity. How available is it? How many exist? Can it be duplicated?
If you travel to Paris to visit the Louvre Museum, you might wander into the gift shop where you can purchase a poster of the Mona Lisa. You will only spend a few dollars because thousands of reproductions have been printed. However, if you went to the curator of the museum and asked to place a price on the original painting, you might experience a serious case of sticker shock. Many experts estimate that the work of art is priceless.
Jesus Christ is an original, a treasure beyond measure. No one like Him graced the planet before, and until He returns to set His foot on the Mount of Olives, no one ever will again. Paul declared that there is only one God and one Mediator between God and men, and that is the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all (I Timothy 2:5-6). Peter averred that there was no other means of salvation, that His was the only name by which we are saved. He passionately proclaimed that Jesus was the Christ, the long-awaited Messiah (Matthew 16:16).
Our Savior cannot be duplicated. He is irreplaceable. There is no substitute or alternative. This is wonderful news! Oftentimes, if given a multitude of options, we choose unwisely; we make the wrong choice. Here, we find no margin for error. We can choose with confidence.
For every person that needs deliverance from sin…Jesus. For every person who needs the pain of the past erased…Jesus. For those who need the weight of guilt lifted off their shoulders…Jesus. For those who need the chains of bondage broken off of their lives…Jesus.
Only He can step into your yesterdays and erase the regrets…He is the only One who sets free…He is the Lamb for sinners slain…He is the cornerstone precious and elect…He is the One Who died in our place…He is the One Who conquered the grave and transformed it into the gateway to glory…He has been given the name above every name, and at that name every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that He alone is Lord over all…Jesus is a Savior – the only Savior – worth having!!!
|3/17/2023||Acts 4:12 “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”|
We live in a world that places a premium on options. We like having choices. In fact, we are convinced that the more options presented to us, the better able we are to make the best decision. Our culture is consumed with preferences and having it our way.
Think about ordering a simple breakfast. Coffee? Would you like that black, with sugar or creamer, decaffeinated? How would you like those eggs: hard-boiled, scrambled, poached, over easy, sunny side up? Toast: white, wheat, multigrain? Breakfast meat, anyone? Your choice: bacon, ham, sausage patties or links, or steak.
Every day, the average person makes dozens of decisions. Our society affords us the luxury of many choices. We are so addicted to choices that we are offended when options are not available. However, that privilege can be abused. We become so accustomed to options that we begin to create choices where none truly exist.
The Pew Research Center released a poll of thousands of Americans. When asked if there is more than one way to heaven, 80 percent of Americans said yes. Forty percent of those claimed to be church-going Christians. Eight out of 10, under the age of 25, claimed that multiple religions offered multiple ways to find eternal life. They also believe that neither Satan nor hell exists. God, however, is not sitting on the throne, scouring poll results, and making adjustments to His plans based on our preferences.
God, in His infinite grace and mercy, has offered us ONE option when it comes to salvation. The only choice is Jesus Christ. No viable alternatives exist. “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). When it comes to salvation, there is no other option.
Jesus told the disciples, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Jesus did not speak on His own authority, but that of the Father (John 14:10). He did not create this claim or argument. God had already said in Isaiah 43:11, “I, even I, am the Lord, and besides Me there is no savior.” And again in Hosea 13:4, God says, “For there is no savior besides Me.”
No alternatives…No Plan B…No other options…Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation…He alone is the beloved Son of God, the Alpha and Omega, the Author and Perfecter of our faith!!!
|3/16/2023||Ephesians 4:4-6 “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”|
Jesus longs for all of the members of His church, His body, to become one just like He and the Father are one. We have an enemy who is just as determined to wreak havoc on our unity with one another. In John 10:10, his goals are clearly stated. He has come to steal anything that pertains to life – our relationship with Jesus, our marriages, our prosperity, our health. He has come to kill – our dreams, our purpose, our children’s futures. He has come to destroy – our peace, our joy, our very lives. He exults in driving us away from God and away from one another.
He knows that if he can disrupt the unity in the body of Christ, he can staunch the flow of blessing in the church (Psalm 133:3). He knows that, if he can sow doubt and discouragement, he can set us against the one true Source of help. As long as he can divide us, he wins. However, if we ever unite, if we ever band together, if we ever decide that it will be God’s will and not our own, Satan can do nothing about it. He will stand helpless in the face of the church victorious. He is indeed a defeated foe.
You and I have the authority of God’s Word. We have the authority of His blood. We have the power to pull down every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. These mighty weapons He has given empower us to wage supernatural war against the enemy who seeks to divide, isolate and overtake us. Jesus has come to lead us into abundant life.
We know better; let us do better…We know the Word of God; let us apply it…Until we are willing to seek unity, we will not accomplish it…Until we are willing to sacrifice for our brothers and sisters, we will not be joined as one…See what God can accomplish when we propose to stand together in unity…Let us join our hearts, our minds, and our hands…Here, His blessings will flow freely…Here, breakthrough comes…Here, peace, power and prosperity are poured out…It remains Jesus’ great desire – that we be one!!!
|3/15/2023||Acts 4:32 “Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul…”|
Solomon pulled no punches in the sixth chapter of Proverbs. He flatly declares that there are six things that the Lord hates, seven things that He loathes (Proverbs 6:16-19). Every single one of those detestable things inhibits walking together in unity.
A proud look. Conceit, comparison, and competition are the enemies of unity.
A lying tongue. The words that proceed from our mouths come from our hearts (Matthew 15:18). If lies, deceit, manipulation, and exaggeration pour from our lips, there is no basis for trust, no foundation upon which to build relationship. Lying destroys unity.
Hands that shed innocent blood. A man raises his hand against his wife. A lone gunman walks into a crowded theater. Children are sold into slavery. Everywhere abuse occurs, where innocent lives are poured out, where blood is spilled, life is diminished and destroyed. Separation and disconnection — not unity — preside.
A heart that devises wicked plans. The Joker and Lex Luthor might come to mind when we think of wicked plans. While global domination may not figure into our future, any plan that leads us away from God’s plan— a secret tryst, an illicit social media post, a dishonest business transaction — is evil. Such scheming leads us away from unity.
Feet that are swift to run to evil. Moral depravity pulls at us from every side. No need to plan – how easily our feet slide down this slippery slope. Sin — evil — always leads to broken relationship with God and with those we love here on earth. Those who hurry to pursue their own wicked desires break off unity.
A false witness who speaks lies. In a specific context, someone who perpetrates untrue statements about another can lead to unfair judgments and imprisonment for the victim. In a broader sense, slander and gossip can initiate and perpetuate untruths against another that lead to ruin. Marriages break up. Partnerships dissolve. Reputations are destroyed. False witnesses inhibit freedom and sabotage unity.
One who sows discord among brothers and sisters. The very word “discord” indicates conflict, friction, hostility and disagreement. Most of us say, “Well, I would never!” But it only takes a small spark — one eye roll, one raised eyebrow, one pointing finger, one whispered accusation, one well-placed insult — to stir up a conflagration that rages for years. Discord burns unity to the ground.
If we look around and see disunity in our relationships with spouses, co-workers or fellow Christians, let us examine our own hearts…When one of the practices above drives a wedge, God has provided a way back…Repentance leads to restoration…
|3/14/2023||1 John 3:16 “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”|
Many people today suffer from serious “I” problems. They have a chronic condition that plagues their everyday lives. It manifests itself in some persistent symptoms:
The way that “I” want it.
The way that “I” see it.
The way that “I” think.
The way that “I” feel.
The way that “I” want to do things.
Christians often trip over that “I” issue. Real unity requires real sacrifice, but “I” is the enemy of unity. “I” demands its own way. “I” refuses to budge. “I” never prefers another. “I” is only interested in his own comfort or her personal agenda. Paul warns Timothy to be certain that church leaders are not self-willed (Titus 1:7), and Peter warns against false teachers who are self-willed, insolent egoists who despise true authority (II Peter 2:10-11). Self-will sabotages unity. Self-will refuses to submit to God, our true authority, and refuses to sacrifice to promote unity within the family of God.
Self-will makes unity impossible. As long as our preference takes priority over our purpose, unity will be impossible. The body of Christ can be divided by preferences: “I didn’t like the song selection” or “His sermon was too long.” Churches split over issues as unimportant as the color of the carpet. When we finally put “I” aside and come into the sanctuary to gather in HIS name, to lift up HIS Son, to read HIS word, and to worship in HIS presence, preferences are forgotten as we remember that our purpose is all for HIM.
When brothers and sisters in Christ dwell together in unity, God commands His blessing in that place (Psalm 133:3). Where unity exists, the blessing of God is guaranteed. Those blessings come when we sacrifice our will for His, where we lay down our lives for others. The wind of the Holy Spirit blasted into the upper room as 120 believers cried out as one voice (Acts 2:1-4). Three thousand people rushed to salvation when Peter stood, with the eleven disciples beside him, to preach the Gospel (Acts 2:14). A lame man went running and jumping when Peter and John shared what they had (Acts 3:8).
“I” must submit to him…Self-will must succumb to sacrifice…His purpose must take priority over our preferences…Only there will He command His blessing…Only then will His anointing and power rush from the throne of heaven to fulfill His purposes through us!!!
|3/13/2023||1 Peter 5:5 “Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”|
Unity requires sacrifice. The price of unity is the sacrifice of self. In the final prayer that He spoke over His disciples, Jesus asked repeatedly that all believers would be one. He prayed over those men who had toiled with Him, but not them only. He also looked ahead to include those of us who came to believe in Him because of the word of those first disciples (John 17:20). His great desire was for all believers to be joined in unity, one heart and one purpose.
Unity is a lofty goal, but the difficulty arises when we do more than talk about it. We advocate for unity until it requires more than words. Sacrifice is required – which is wonderful if the other person is willing to do so. We get along well with others – to the point where they disagree with us. We can live in harmony as long as everyone else follows our agendas. To be so all-encompassing, unity can get pretty personal.
The apostle Paul gives us a beautiful analogy of unity between marriage and the church (Ephesians 5). God ordained marriage as the sacred institution where two separate people, a man and a woman, are united in marriage; the two become one. This union is not without its struggles. However, the Bible instructs the woman to submit to her husband; she sacrifices herself to honor him. The Bible instructs the man to submit to his wife; he sacrifices himself as an expression of love to her. When these two separate people submit to one another in love and respect, they operate in harmony, agreement, and oneness of mind and heart. As separate members of one body, we must learn to mutually submit to one another in respect and love.
Jesus loved the church so much that He gave Himself for her, the bride of Christ. He sacrificed Himself. He emptied Himself, became nothing, took on the form of a servant, and humbled himself to obedience to death on the cross. In our relationships, we are to do nothing less (Philippians 2:5-8).
He is our example…We must empty ourselves…We must lay down our self-will…We must humble ourselves to become a servant of all…As we reason together and honor one another, we become unified…When we dwell together in one accord, there God’s blessing is found…Make whatever sacrifices you need to make…Make your relationships benefit from your obedience!!!
|3/12/2023||Psalm 133:3 “For there the Lord commanded the blessing – life forevermore.”|
A person’s last words often carry much weight. When the end looms near, the extraneous is stripped away. No more patience for pretense. No more time for tiptoeing around the edges. Here lies the most important, the vital thing that must be conveyed.
After sharing a meal and bowing to wash their feet, Jesus must have looked around that somber circle of faces in the Upper Room. James, the son of thunder. John, the beloved. Peter, the rock. These men had deserted all to follow Him. For three years, He had taught them in synagogues. He had instructed them on hillsides. He had demonstrated His power over death and demon possession. Jesus knew this was their final conversation – no more reclining around campfires together, no more laughter over shared meals, no more miracles or marvels, no more questions or corrections. He did not hesitate. Leaning in, He began to speak with urgency. Over their bowed heads, He spoke one final prayer.
As He neared the conclusion of His earthly ministry, what was on His mind? Did He pray for their prosperity? He knew the weight of the mission that they would soon undertake. He knew the painful sacrifices and the price that ministry would exact. Knowing the toll, He could have prayed for their prosperity, for the success of their assignment. He could have asked for all the resources of heaven. But He did not.
He could have prayed for power. He could have petitioned for crowded coliseums and standing-room-only stadiums where supernatural miracles and divine wonders would draw unbelievers into the presence of God. But He did not.
Over and over, He asked for this one thing: that we all would be one. God is in Jesus. Jesus is in us. Perfect in unity so that the world may know that God has sent Him. He loves us in the same way that God loved Him.
He knew that if we walked in unity, if we sacrificed our will for His, that all of His power and prosperity would be evident in our lives…When we dwell together in unity, it is here that He commands His blessing…It is here that His anointing flows…It is here that heaven and earth collide…His prayer will be answered in you!!!
|3/11/2023||Mark 1:41 “Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, I am willing; be cleansed.”|
The Son of God – sent by love, motivated by love, and reaching in love. We often see Jesus with His hands extended, reaching out to touch a wounded world.
He demonstrates His love with actions – reaching beyond racial, cultural, and gender barriers, beyond sin, shameful pasts, and societal condemnation, beyond time and space to heal and restore.
Standing at a well in the midday sun, Jesus reached out to the Samaritan woman. Rejected by Jews and Samaritans alike, Jesus gave her living water so that she never need thirst again.
The scribes and Pharisees caught a woman in the very act of adultery. Instead of pointing an accusing finger, Jesus challenged the man who was without sin to throw the first stone. When they retreated, He sent her home to “sin no more” with no weight of condemnation.
When the disciples shooed away the children, Jesus took them in His arms and blessed them. When the blind man came seeking sight, Jesus took Him by the hand. When the leper begged to be made clean, Jesus reached out and touched his diseased body.
At the border of the cross Jesus still stands with hands extended…He longs to gather every person under the shadow and safety of His wings…May He teach us to reach with the same love that drove Him to the ultimate sacrifice…He is right beside you…All you need to do right now is drop to your knees in humble submission and He will show you the way…
|3/10/2023||John 17:20-21 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You…”|
As Jesus looked, in turn, at each beloved face gathered around the Passover table that last evening, He knew what lay ahead – for Him and for them. After the meal, the King of kings and Lord of lords laid aside His garments, picked up a towel, and knelt before each one to wash their feet…even the one who would betray him in just a few short hours. After He sent Judas into the night, He opened His heart to share those final, important truths that the disciples would need to carry them through the next terrifying hours. He concluded those precious moments by praying His heart over them, reaching out to the Father on their behalf, on our behalf.
He could have prayed many things. He alone knew the horror, the mind-numbing grief, the overwhelming disillusionment that would follow His benediction. He understood the transformation that needed to occur so that this ragamuffin band of rough men could turn the world upside down (Acts 17:6). Only He could foresee the faith explosion that would shake the very foundations of the formidable Roman empire. He could have asked for and imparted many things, but He asked for one thing over and over: that we all may be one.
Five times He prayed that we might be one. Just like He and the Father are one, He asked that we would be united, that we would stand together in the Word that He gave, that we would radiate the glory that He shared. And somehow, this unity between us, this unbreakable bond will testify to the fact that God sent Jesus to this world and that He has loved us with an unsurpassed love. God loved the world so much that He sent His only Son so we could believe in Him, so we could be united with Him in love and share in this great big, messy, wonderful family. We will never be on the outside, never be without a friend or advocate or helper again. We stand as one. This is our forever family.
Today, are you the answer to the petition that Jesus prayed on that night long ago? Are you unified with the body of Christ? Are you making every effort to live in harmony with your brothers and sisters? Are you humbly kneeling to wash their feet? Are you surrendering your will to stand united in heart, mind, purpose and action? A world is waiting to be turned upside down again!!!
|3/9/2023||1 Samuel 17:47 “Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.”|
King David is the quintessential example of a warrior. Even as a boy, he demonstrated remarkable courage and faith in God.
In 1 Samuel 17, he stands on the hillside overlooking the Valley of Elah. Below him stands Goliath, the mammoth giant, who mocks God and taunts the Israelites. “Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us” (verse 9). While the grown men around him trembled in fear, courage blossomed in David’s heart.
He remembered the cause for which Israel fought. He looked at his older brother, Eliab, and those around him, “Is there not a cause?” (verse 29). Why would Israel not stand up to Goliath? God had not brought them this far to hand them over to Goliath. David’s courage hardened into conviction: God would deliver them from the blasphemous giant.
David developed his battle plan. He went to the brook and selected five stones. Was this in case he missed? No! Bible scholars tell us that Goliath had four brothers. David was sending a message. He was not going down to the valley to start a fight; he was going to finish one!
David marched out to meet Goliath with five smooth stones and a slingshot. Goliath scoffed at the sight of the lad: “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” (verse 43). David sized him up, but he did not flinch. He knew where his strength originated. He had no doubt in Whose name he stood. He confidently called out to the mammoth: “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied” (verse 45). One smooth stone sailed unerringly through the air to bring down a formidable foe.
Across the centuries, a triumphant cheer still rises in our hearts…If God came to David’s aid, certainly He will come to ours…In the face of our invincible enemies, God can bring them to dust with something as simple as a small stone!!!
|3/8/2023||Psalm 139:23-24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.”|
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference.” Most of us can quote the familiar words of the “Serenity Prayer” penned by American theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr. To anyone who has ever struggled with change, it can prove exceedingly difficult, and like Niebuhr, we know that it requires courage.
Even Paul, battle-hardened apostle though he was, declared himself a wretched man. “For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice” (Romans 7:19).
The first step towards change is admitting the issue. While it sounds simple enough, we recognize our humanity. We blame; we avoid; we ignore; we justify; we put off the inevitable. Whining about what we wish to change is futile. Ignoring what we are afraid to change leaves us powerless.
We cannot change what we will not confront. Often, calling the issue for what it is – putting a name to it – brings it out of the darkness into the light of Jesus’ love, and it breaks the power of it to harm. Satan does his best work under cover of night. When we bring our situations boldly to the throne of grace, Satan’s lies drop powerless in the presence of God’s absolute truth.
Once we confront, change requires commitment, a walking it out by faith. First Corinthians 3:9 refers to us as co-laborers with Christ. He does not leave us to confront and change on our own. When we come to the end of our puny self-discipline, His strength is perfected in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). He supernaturally accomplishes what we are helpless to address in our own strength. With Paul the apostle, we can then proclaim: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
That conflict in which you are engaged? That secret sin with which you struggle? That situation from which you cannot escape? In the power of Christ, confront it today…Call it by name…Bring it into the light…Rise up like a warrior intent on victory…Do not let the fear of change diminish the plans God has for you…He alone gives power to overcome!!!
|3/7/2023||Judges 6:12 & 16 “…Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man.”|
In the time of Gideon, the Midianites had terrorized the Israelites for seven years. They raided the country, destroyed the crops, and stole their livestock. Their land was ravaged, and the Israelites were impoverished, forced to live in caves and mountains.
When God introduces us to Gideon in Judges 6, he is threshing wheat in a winepress. Usually, an Israelite threshed wheat in a wide, open space, but Gideon was lying low, hiding out from the Midianites in a pit dug into the ground.
Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared and announced, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!” Gideon must have looked over both of his shoulders, tapped himself on the chest, and asked, “You talkin’ ta me?” He did not hesitate to voice his doubts aloud.
How could this be true? If God was with them, why were these things happening? Where were the miracles they had heard about from their fathers? He was certain that God had deserted them. He blatantly declared that he was the weakest, least likely person to deliver Israel. He was not convinced. His eyes were closed to the possibilities. His faith in God wavered after so much suffering.
Perhaps you find yourself in a situation like Gideon. The enemy has attacked relentlessly, assaulted your health, waged war against your marriage, or even carried off your children. Your faith is eroded. Lying low, you long for deliverance.
When we met him, Gideon was not a warrior. He was a wimp and a whiner. God, however, looked beyond the pit and saw the potential. He had handwritten Gideon’s destiny with victory. When God opened his eyes, Gideon recognized the truth: God plus you make a majority. When God pressed a torch in one hand and a trumpet in the other, Gideon discovered that God equips you with the weapons needed for battle.
Whatever your situation, know this: God drafted a plan for your life before you drew your first breath…He lovingly wove in valor and victory…He created you with purpose and talents for your particular battles…Look up, mighty man and woman of valor…Climb out of the pit…Put on all the promise, potential and power of the plan God designed specially for you…He will provide the weapons of your warfare and send allies to fight beside you…God is with you, and His plan never fails.
|3/6/2023||Psalm 40:2 “He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps.”|
In the days when judges ruled, the children of Israel found themselves in a rut. Joshua and Caleb, those mighty, faith-filled warriors, had died. The generation that rose up after them did not know God nor the work that God had accomplished on their behalf. The Jewish people cast off the truth of God’s Word and did what was right in their own eyes. They were surrounded by social chaos, political turmoil, and lawlessness.
Please understand that the Israelites were not ignorant of God. They had grown up listening to the stories of how Abraham believed for a son, how Jacob wrestled with an angel, how Miriam danced a victory jig. All around, they saw signs of God’s handiwork—here are twelve stones heaped up in the Jordan River where God rolled back the waters, and here are the ruins of Jericho where the walls came down with a shout. This generation knew God, but they chose to act as if He did not exist. They fell into the hands of the enemy who carried them away as captives. They were in a serious rut.
Have you ever found yourself in a serious rut? In the course of everyday obligations, it is easy to find ourselves overwhelmed, bogged down and stuck. Preoccupation with the demands of life can cause us to act as though God does not exist. When we neglect to pray, we cut off the communication line that speaks power into every area of our lives. When we ignore His Word in favor of other pursuits, we can cross over into lawlessness where we are buffeted by a culture that declares good to be evil and vice versa. The enemy can carry us off into confusion and chaos, doubt and disorder.
If you find yourself in a rut, be encouraged…Call out to God Who is attuned to your every cry…You are divinely positioned to be sprung…You are His lamb…He will leave the ninety-nine to search you out, lift you from the ravine, lovingly place you over His shoulders, and carry you back to the safety of the fold…He will spring you from the trap, the rut into which you have fallen to walk again in freedom and truth!!!
Psalm 20:7 “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the Lord our God.”
Israel suffered under the Canaanite king, Jabin, for twenty years. The renowned general of his army, Sisera, commanded 900 iron chariots – more than any army in the Old Testament. These chariots were the tanks of their day – sleek, fast and deadly. Sisera horribly oppressed the Israelites until they cried out to God for help.
In response to their plea, God spoke to Deborah, the only woman to ever judge in Israel. She summoned Barak to tell him that “the Lord God of Israel” (Judges 4:6) commanded him to go fight General Sisera with 10,000 soldiers. God commanded! Not his father or mother, doctor or minister, but God Himself! He even promised unquestioned victory and to give Sisera into Barak’s hands.
And how did Barak respond? Did he suit up for war? Call for his sword and shield? Rally the troops? None of those things. He wimped out. He turned to the woman, the “weaker” fair sex, and staunchly declared, “If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go!” (Judges 4:8)
Deborah did not flinch. Proving her strong leadership and faith in God, she agreed to accompany Barak on his campaign. Just as God promised, General Sisera and every man in his army fell to the Israelites that day. But the glory for the battle belonged to a woman – not to Barak.
What is God commanding you to do today? Maybe He has asked you to apologize for an offense. Perhaps He has instructed you to share the Gospel with a coworker. Has a habit taken root that He is asking you to lay aside? Is He asking you to initiate a new discipline? Do not ignore or postpone.
Even though Barak eventually proved to be a worthy warrior, his initial hesitation cost him. He faltered at the Word of the Lord. His misplaced faith – in another human instead of God – testified to his fear and inability to follow God without doubt.
Whatever God is prompting, obey without delay…Attune your ear to His merest whisper…Align yourself to His request…You can trust His direction without reservation…He is faithful to accomplish every one of His promises…He will bless your “Yes”!!!
|3/4/2023||Romans 8:37 “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”|
Every person that you meet today is facing a struggle. How they meet that struggle determines the outcome. Wimps run away. Whiners play the blame game. Warriors, though, refuse to point the finger or wait for rescue.
A warrior determines to engage the enemy. He polishes his armor and brandishes his sword. A warrior is not concerned with the number of the enemy. She doesn’t ask, “How many?” She says, “Where are they?” Warriors choose to take a stand. They do not feel their way into being a warrior. They contend with the same fears, doubts and distractions that assail us all, but they make up their minds to draw a line in the sand, to fight for right, to charge into battle.
The Bible teaches that every warrior needs three things:
Every warrior needs to remember the cause for which he fights. Fathers, are you contending for the faith of your children? Ladies, are you combating the tendency to over commit? Keep that worthy cause at the forefront of your mind. Pray without letting up. Take the necessary steps to protect and defend.
Every warrior needs a battle plan. Armies do not stumble over a success. Soldiers do not drift into a victory. Warriors without battle plans are casualties. Fight with focus. Be intentional. Ask for the intelligence of God to be poured out in you as you strategize for success.
Every warrior needs to remember in Whose strength you fight. We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, powers, rulers of darkness and spiritual hosts of wickedness (Ephesians 6:12). You have an enemy – the devil, the serpent of old. In your own strength, you are no match for him. Alone, you cannot go toe to toe. Jesus has promised to stick close to your side. He will not desert you on the battlefield. He will provide the mighty weapons you need. In His name, you are undefeatable.
Choose to be a warrior…Remember the cause for which you fight…Prayerfully create a battle plan…Be aware that you do not wage war in your own strength…When you do these things you will be a warrior that becomes a winner!!!
|3/3/2023||Romans 8:37 “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”|
Warrior. Winner. Whiner. Wimp.
We all know people who fit neatly into these categories. No pointing fingers! Eyes on the page!
We celebrate warriors. We enjoy winners. We are irritated by whiners. Who has any use for a wimp? Each of these people earn the title. While they may be greatly different, they have one thing in common: they earned the title they wear based upon how they responded to struggle.
A winner is not crowned as champion until she overcomes the struggle. A warrior demonstrates valor only when he endures the adversity of battle. We recognize the whiner right away when trouble breaks out and the complaining commences. The wimp invariably puts her faith in fear, her head in the sand, and waits for someone else to solve the problem. The common denominator is struggle.
Job assured us that struggle is inevitable: “Yet man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7). The headlines shout at us – global conflict, economic inequities, political stalemates, racial strife, class discrimination. No shortage of struggles exists.
On the home front, you may be wrestling with questions that seem to have no answers. You may be staring at a zero balance wondering when provision will come. You may be contending for a marriage that seems shattered beyond restoration.
In this world, we will have trouble (John 16:33). How will you respond? Will you engage like a warrior? Complain like the whiner? Or ignore it like the wimp? Rise up, and be what God created you to be – a winner!
Jesus Christ bought you with His blood, so you are able to stand and declare, “I am more than a conqueror!” You were born to win. When you came to faith in Jesus, an amazing transformation occurred: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Regardless of the circumstances or the person that you once were, the day that you received Him by faith, you were born to win.
Through Him, you are a warrior not a weakling, a vanquisher not a victim…The battle belongs to you as a chosen champion…You were born to win!!!
|3/2/2023||Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”|
God calls us to first love Him with all our heart, and that is reflected in what we put in the treasury of our heart. There are many things that people tend to lay up in their heart as treasure—money, time, career, family, pleasure—but Jesus cautioned that we should rather lay up treasure in heaven. That means we need to bring all our earthly treasures to God, including our families, and give them to Him to use for His glory.
This is easily seen in our attitude toward giving money. Whenever God sees us put more love into our bank accounts than we do into the King who died for us, He says there’s a problem in the heart. This is why the Bible says, “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7 NKJV). If you cut God a million- dollar check with a begrudging attitude, the church board will be thrilled, but God won’t be because your attitude says more to God about the love of your heart than anything else. But if you have just a dollar to give and you’re delighted to give it, God loves it. It’s all about what’s in your heart!
|3/1/2023||Psalm 27:14 “Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!”|
The promises of God’s Word may take longer to come to pass than your impatient self wants, but if you wait on the Lord, He will strengthen your heart and keep His promises. He who began a good work in you is faithful to complete it. He will make a way where there seems to be no way. He is the God who can do exceedingly abundantly above all that you could ask or think. He’s the One who said that when you call on Him, He will answer you and show you great and mighty things that you know not. He’s the One who said that He will provide your every need according to His riches in glory. He’s the One who brings you peace that surpasses understanding and joy in the midst of great sorrow. He is called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.
Wait upon the Lord for He is worthy…He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the fairest of ten thousand, the Lamb of God for sinners slain…He has conquered death, hell and the grave…He is your Savior, Redeemer and Good Shepherd – faithful and true…What a mighty God we serve…Wait, I say, on the Lord!!!
|2/28/2023||Psalm 63:1 “O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water.”|
Have you ever read something in God’s Word and wished it wasn’t there? If His Word on certain points, such as “early will I seek You,” doesn’t line up with our will, we may try to forget or disregard it because we don’t want to do what it says. God’s Word sometimes requires us to change our perspective in order for us to be willing to accept it. But we struggle to want to conform to certain truths even though they are the very ones that can transform our lives to become what God wants us to be.
Let me remind you today that God desperately wants you to get to know Him. He’s made a way for you to have a relationship with Him that’s far greater than anything you could ask or think. But in spite of all He has done and can do on your behalf, until you’re willing, He will not. So for everything He can do, He won’t until you do. You have to seek Him, and by hearing His Word, you’ll begin to develop the faith that overcomes the world.
Child of God, whenever you begin to have faith in God and take a step in God’s direction, He’ll move heaven and earth on your behalf!!!
|2/27/2023||Acts 16:25–26 “But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.”|
Prayer is not getting God to do your will; prayer is getting you ready to do His will. In today’s Scripture, notice that if Paul and Silas had the kind of prayer life where they were going to talk to God about what they wanted, they would have said, “Lord, set us free!” Instead of asking God why they wound up in this difficult circumstance or asking Him to get them out of it, they were giving God thanks and praise. Even though they were still in prison, they recognized that He was still on the throne. And even though they didn’t necessarily understand why He allowed them to be put in prison, they believed that He was the God who could deliver them. Which is why at midnight they were singing hymns of praise to God; and suddenly, they were set free.
When you start talking to the King about who He is, about what He’s done, and about what He’s going to do, it means you’re willing to trust Him right where you are…And when you do that, all of a sudden, heaven and earth begin to move, the glory of God fills your life with power, chains of addiction are broken, and captives are set free!!!
|2/26/2023||Psalm 118:24 “This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.”|
Because this is the day that the Lord has made, it doesn’t matter if it’s a wonderful day or the hardest day of our life; we will rejoice and be glad in it. The reason we’ll rejoice is not because of the outcome, but because of the promise of what’s coming. Oftentimes we like to wait on the results before we start to celebrate, but the context of what David was writing about here was something that he didn’t live to see. He was talking about a day of salvation in which Jesus, the stone that the builders rejected, would become the chief cornerstone. David didn’t live to see that, but he said it because that day is coming. He was rejoicing in advance of its arrival because the One who promised it is faithful to complete it.
Child of God, you don’t have to wait for the mountain to move or the crooked place to be made straight before you can start rejoicing in the joy of your salvation, before you can start celebrating the great things that God has done because He can do exceedingly abundantly above all that you could ever ask, think, or imagine…He is great and greatly to be praised…Rejoice in the Lord, and again, I say, rejoice!!!
|2/25/2023||Psalm 118:23 “This was the Lord’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes.”|
When God does something, man does not deserve one ounce of credit. That’s why all glory, all praise, and all honor are to Him alone. There are things that happen in our lives that we can’t make sense of. We did the best we could, but it was not enough, so God took over, and it was His doing. Don’t try to make heads or tails of it; just get on your knees and declare, “This is the Lord’s doing!”
Take a moment to consider all that God has done…Everything in your life is the Lord’s doing…Your salvation is by grace through faith, the gift of God that no man can boast…It is the Lord’s doing…Every ounce of success you’ve ever known is not because you are so amazing…It’s because God has given you the strength to succeed and the mind to achieve…It is the Lord’s doing…Every struggle you’ve made it through, every battle you’ve ever won is not because you are so brilliant in strategy or so capable…It’s because God has a plan to protect you and pull you through that storm and bring you to the other side…It is the Lord’s doing, and He is greatly to be praised!!!
|2/24/2023||Luke 11:1 “Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.”|
None of us just wake up one day as a prayer warrior; we learn to pray. The disciples saw very clearly what was happening in the ministry of Jesus. They saw Him walking on water after He had spent the night in prayer. They noticed that when He prayed, the fishes and the loaves were multiplied and fed thousands. They heard what He said when He drove out a demon—that “this kind” only comes out when you fast and pray. If the disciples knew they needed to learn to pray, don’t you think we should learn, too?
How was it that Christ had the confidence to say, “He who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do” (John 14:12)? He could say that because He taught the disciples to pray.
When you learn to pray like Jesus prayed, and you learn to walk in the power of the anointing that gave Him the ability to move heaven and earth, when you learn how to live the life of “greater things than these shall you do,” you have the chance to turn the world upside down…Enter into the power and the privilege you have when you are willing to learn to pray!!!
|2/23/2023||James 4:2 “You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.”|
You know that God can do more for you in a moment than you could do for yourself in ten lifetimes. But what if He is waiting on you to participate in the process? You may know exactly what you want God to accomplish in your life and believe that He has the power to do it. The problem is not that the provision isn’t made. The problem is you’re not reaching for the provision and doing what God has asked you to do.
Here’s what I mean. God will not answer prayer until you pray. God “will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it” until you are giving (Mal. 3:10). God will not “forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” until we confess our sins (1 John 1:9). But the moment that you do, the moment you reach out to Him in faith believing, suddenly all of heaven and earth begin to move on your behalf because that’s just how much God truly wants to bless you.
Take the step that God is asking you to take, and you’ll move in the faith that overcomes the world!!!
|2/22/2023||1 Samuel 3:10 “Now the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, Samuel! Samuel! And Samuel answered, Speak, for Your servant hears.”|
Many people dismiss the concept that God wants to talk with them. The devil doesn’t want you to ever believe that God would talk to you personally, so he’ll give you a list of reasons to not listen for God’s voice. But I believe that God talks to a lot of people who either have the mute button on, or they engage in selective hearing. Like my own children, who tend to hear what they want to hear from me, God’s kids tend to turn off what they don’t want to hear and listen for exactly what they want to hear Him say.
You really need to read the story of young Samuel in 1 Samuel 3. What would happen in your life if you took on his attitude of “God, speak to me. I’m listening to You?” And then, what if whatever He told you to do, according to His Word, according to His plan, according to His purpose, you had the faith to do? That’s the kind of communication and relationship God wants with you.
The prophet Jonah heard God’s still, small voice and did just the opposite of what he was told, so God turned up the volume by sending a big old fish…God always has the final word…
|2/21/2023||Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, and let us reason together, Says the Lord, Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.”|
Most people consider prayer to be like a drive-through window. It’s where they pull up and don’t have time to stay, but they want to make sure their order gets in and they get just what they want before they rush away. They pull up to heaven, and God says, “Welcome to McHeaven. May I take your order, please?” As sad as that sounds, that’s what a lot of people think about prayer.
The first thing they…and we…need to know about prayer is that prayer is not a monologue; prayer is a dialogue. Prayer is not where I speak and God listens. It’s where God and I have a conversation. Not only do I get the opportunity to speak to Him, but God very dearly wants to speak to me. Prayer is how we invite the supernatural presence of the Almighty to invade our life. Prayer is where we take time to learn how God effectively communicates with us! Prayer is where we get to hear exciting things when we stop talking and start listening to the King of kings and the Lord of lords. We get to talk to the Commander in Chief and ask Him what He wants us to do here on this earth so we can wage spiritual warfare and overcome the enemy.
|2/20/2023||Proverbs 3:1–2 “My son, do not forget my law, But let your heart keep my commands; For length of days and long life And peace they will add to you.”|
We live in a world that is suffering with a tremendous lack of peace. Perhaps you’re concerned about the chaos you see happening all around you. You’re wondering about the indecision of leaders and what direction our future holds. Today, God’s Word promises if you remember His commandments and do what He asks you to do, you are going to have length of days, long life, and peace. You can be supremely convinced that if you do God’s will in your life, you can have perfect peace that God is a problem solver, and everything is going to be alright.
His Word also says you will have “long life,” which is God’s promise that you will get to enjoy your years of living, not just live long…But what does it mean to have “length of days?” A life is made up of decades and years, but days are made up of hours…When you have a “length of day,” God is saying that whatever you put your hands to in a day’s work, God will pour His anointing upon it, and He will give you progress…Rather than struggle in your own strength, when you submit yourself to God’s Word, whatever you put your hands to is going to prosper!!!
|2/19/2023||Romans 15:4 “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”|
When you look back at what God has done historically, you can build expectation about what He can do for you. When you see how He consistently blessed Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, you know that if He blessed a father, son and grandson, He will bless you, your children and your grandchildren, too. When you look back at how He delivered the children of Israel from the bondage of Pharaoh and brought them miraculously from their past into the full potential of their future, you recognize that He can destroy every shackle of sin and set you free from every bondage and addiction that binds you. And you can, with comfort, declare that whom the Son sets free is free indeed.
When you read about the manna and the water from a rock in the wilderness, about Jericho’s walls that came down with a shout, and how a giant was defeated with David’s stone, you can trust God enough to declare in faith believing,“Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world.” When you read how Jesus Christ touched multitudes of the sick and healed them all and how He fed the masses with a sack lunch, you know that our God is full of power and able to provide more than you could ask, think or imagine.
|2/18/2023||Mark 12:30 “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.”|
When we hear the word “currency,” we immediately think “money.” But did you ever wonder what the currency of the kingdom of God is? What does God find valuable in our lives as a heavenly currency? For a heavenly kingdom, you must trade in heavenly currency, which Jesus defines in these words: “you shall love the Lord your God.” That is what God values as the kingdom currency.
The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13 that our intellect is not kingdom currency. He says that even if he knew everything there was to know, or if he could tell you everything that no one could figure out, he would be nothing if he didn’t have love. And if he could speak all kinds of languages, he would be nothing without love. And if he could do great things for people, even sacrifice himself for them, he would be nothing without love. Why? Because God only values love as His currency.
You might not think you have much to give God, but it’s not about money…The capital that you can give to the King is love from your heart, soul, mind and strength…Today, consider what you have to invest in His kingdom and be generous in the love offering!!!
|2/17/2023||Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding”|
Trust is a deteriorating quality in today’s world. Coworkers play office politics because they cannot trust one another’s motives. The public doesn’t trust the government and vice versa. We have apps on our phones to check on the safety of our homes and bank accounts. We’ve learned how not to trust.
In the midst of a world where trust can be so difficult, you have every reason to fully trust the God whom you serve with your whole heart. When you see how He gave His only begotten Son to forgive and cleanse sinners, who sets free those who believe in Him and gives them everlasting life, you can declare, “If God is for me, who can be against me?”
The faster we trust the Lord, the farther we can go…The delay between us receiving His blessing and His willingness to pour it out is the time it takes for us to trust that His promise is true…The less time we spend worrying about what if and what will be, and the less strength we waste in our own effort, the more we are able to accomplish because God’s goodness is being poured out the quicker we trust Him!!!
|2/16/2023||Psalm 24:1 “The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein.”|
Oftentimes we get together and talk about things we’d like to change in the world. When we see the conditions of morality in this nation and the current direction our country is headed, and we know that many churches are abandoning the truth of God’s Word to be politically correct, it’s easy to feel hopeless because we don’t feel as though we have the ability, the power or the strength to make a difference. The reality is that not much will change until we talk to Someone who can change things. Regardless of how corrupt our world has become, the truth remains that this earth is the Lord’s and all its fullness. God is still on His throne, and He still governs the affairs of men.
If we want to see change, we need to talk to the One who can change it…The only One who has the ability to change the direction of this nation is not running on a party ticket…The only One who has the ability to fix what is broken in your world is the One who created it…And the only way to speak to Him is when you pray….Now is the time to pray!!!
|2/15/2023||Psalm 119:11 “Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.”|
Have you ever heard something that was so profound that you immediately knew it was important? And you told yourself, “I will never forget what I just heard.” Then on your way to the car, you ask yourself, “What did he just say?” The mind has a way of taking information in and doesn’t necessarily forget it or lose it; it just can’t remember where it placed it.
David said, “I’m not going to hide God’s Word in the filing cabinets of my mind. I’m going to hide His Word in my heart.”
We need to place His Word as a treasure into our heart so that when life becomes overwhelming, we can open the treasure chest and receive what we need…When we’re in a hopeless situation, we will remember God’s Word because it’s our source of hope…When we don’t have the strength to carry on, we will reach into God’s Word because it will give us the power to take the next step…When the world around us is saturated in fear and afraid to move, we will go to the treasure of God’s Word and find courage because we know that we are more than a conqueror through Christ!!!
|2/14/2023||Job 37:5 “God thunders marvelously with His voice; He does great things which we cannot comprehend.”|
When we see what God does, we should marvel and give Him praise. When was the last time you just stood awestruck at God? It’s one thing when you see the waters of the Red Sea part, and then take the tambourine and dance and praise Him for His wonders. When you see Jericho’s walls fall or Goliath slain, it’s easy to be awestruck by God’s greatness.
But when was the last time you just closed your eyes in your everyday life, took a deep breath, and said, “My God, how great Thou art?” When’s the last time you got up to walk and thanked God that you could move? Or, you used your fingers and thanked God that you had strength? Or, you saw something beautiful and thanked God that He gave you the ability to see it? Or, you heard something wonderful and thanked God that He gave you the ability to hear it? When was the last time you said, “God, life is marvelous in my eyes, the way You’ve created this world, the way You’ve protected me and provided for me, and all the wonderful things that You’ve done?” Now would be a good time!
|2/13/2023||Matthew 21:42 “Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes’?”|
The birth of Jesus Christ fulfilled every prophecy given in the Old Testament, and the life of Christ painted the exact portrait of the One who was promised. Every action that He took and every word He spoke shouted in agreement with John the Baptist, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” But regardless of all that He did to demonstrate who He was on the earth, the men in that day rejected Him. Why? Because Jesus was what they needed, but He wasn’t what they wanted. They needed a Savior; they wanted a king. They needed someone to forgive them of sin; they wanted someone to run Caesar out of town. When they saw His miracles and His majesty, they said to themselves, “Maybe this is the guy who’s going to bring back the good ol’ days.” But having seen the priceless gemstone of eternity, they walked away from the priceless treasure for counterfeit traditions.
What a joy to know that our Savior is not just another stone; He is the Stone that our faith is built upon…Never put your faith in something that can be substituted…You can take lots of stones out of a building and replace them, but if you take the cornerstone away, the building goes flat…Put your faith in the Chief Cornerstone…You can’t live without Him!!!
|2/12/2023||Lamentations 3:23 “They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.”|
People who live in the Rocky Mountains, looking at the same mountains every day, can easily take for granted the majestic sights and the peace that surrounds them. It may take a visit from somebody who lives in the flatlands of Kansas to help them recognize the wonders they’re taking for granted. Somebody who’s never experienced it before will be filled with amazement.
We need to guard against becoming so familiar and saturated with the good things God has provided us that we lose our wonder. Sometimes I think we forget the power of God’s Word because we have unlimited access to it. We have 24/7 access to Christian television and radio. There is no shortage of opportunities for us to worship with others and receive excellent preaching. Sometimes our abundance creates complacency, and we just start to take it all for granted when there are places in the world today where people are being persecuted even unto death for professing their faith in Christ.
Let us never become complacent in our walk of faith and lose our sense of amazement at what great things God has done for us…His compassions and mercies are new every morning…Take time right now and give Him thanks for His wonders!!!
|2/11/2023||1 Samuel 16:7 “But the Lord said to Samuel, Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”|
If you ever feel overlooked for some reason, David knew what you feel. The day the prophet Samuel came to anoint one of Jesse’s sons for the throne, David’s family sent him out to the field. They didn’t see in David what God saw. He wasn’t considered worthy enough to even be considered by Samuel. David was overlooked and ignored until God reminded Samuel that man’s opinions do not determine one’s destiny. God Almighty is the One who ordained us. God Almighty is the One who says that when He begins a good work in us, He will be faithful to complete it. God Almighty is the One who makes the least one suddenly ascend to be the greatest.
Don’t let the small-minded perspective of others around you become your limitation…Believe in your life what David believed in his life: The Lord is on my side…God loves me, and He has chosen me…Nothing is too difficult for the Lord whom I serve…No giant is too big that God and I cannot take down…No valley is too great that God and I cannot walk through…No night is too dark that His Word will not be a lamp to my feet!!!
|2/10/2023||Exodus 3:14 “And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ”|
Have you ever done the best you could in your own strength to help someone, but it wasn’t enough? Or you tried to make a difference at something, but it still fell apart? You reached out as far as you could, but in the end, your efforts weren’t even appreciated. And you told yourself, “I’ll never try that again. I try to help and just get my hand slapped.”
Moses felt that way. He was compelled to be the deliverer of God’s people enslaved in Egypt. It was God’s destiny for his life. But his initial attempt to intervene failed, and he had to flee to the backside of the desert. For 40 years I’m sure Moses told himself, “I’ll never try to help again. People don’t even care.” All by himself, Moses wasn’t enough. But at the age of 80, after one conversation with El Shaddai, the great I AM, Moses recognized that he suddenly was more than enough.
Child of God, don’t struggle in your own strength because it is “not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” says the Lord…Wherever God sends you, be willing to go, knowing that I AM is on your side, and He is all you need!!!
|2/9/2023||Jeremiah 33:3 “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”|
When you first get married, you think the two of you know how to talk with each other. It’s only after being together for a long time that you come to understand what’s being said when no one else hears a word. You come to a communication level where your spouse can talk to you without saying a word. They give you “that” look, and you go, “I’m in trouble.”
When you begin to talk with God in prayer, you develop a relationship and a pattern of communication with Him in much the same way you develop communication skills with people whom you’re close with. You begin to know that it’s God who’s speaking to you, and you become familiar with who He is, what He’s saying, and how He communicates. You get to know Him intimately through His Word, through worship, and through prayer. You discover that God will tell you things that no one else will pick up on, not because He doesn’t want them to know, but because they don’t know Him in the way you do.
Be encouraged today that your relationship with God must be developed…Make it your daily priority to deepen your relationship with Him!!!
|2/8/2023||Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”|
Trust in another person is developed with two fundamental elements—consistency and capability. When you find someone who’s consistent, you can trust them to a point. When you find someone who is capable, you can begin to trust them. When you find someone who is consistently capable, you can trust them more, but you know they will falter eventually and disappoint you.
While all that is true, we have to remember that the God whom we serve does not change and is always capable of meeting our every need. He is the God who is from everlasting to everlasting. He is the One who said His consistent goodness and mercy will follow you all the days of your life; that His angels would walk before you, clearing a path in front of you; that He would open every door that was closed. He is the God who can move every mountain and calm every storm. He is the One who said that every weapon that is formed against you will not prosper. He promised you that every power and principality would be bound and muzzled in His mighty name!
Believe God to move mountains in your tomorrows that are greater than any mountain He’s helped you overcome in the past because He is faithful!!!
|2/7/2023||Romans 10:1 “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.”|
You may have heard it said that a prayerless Christian is a powerless Christian, but let me add that you’re not powerless if you’ll pray! You want power with God? Learn to pray. You want God’s blessings to be on your family? Learn to pray. You want your children to fulfill their potential in life? Teach them to pray. You want to know what it takes to change the world? Pray. Pray. Pray.
Do you have family members that you know need God in their lives? Pray. Don’t go to them and point out all their faults or quote 500 Scriptures about what would change if they would change. Don’t post little convicting messages on Facebook, hoping they’ll read them.
Pray…Get on your knees and call out to God on their behalf…Bind every hindering spirit that is enabling them to run from the plan and purpose of God…Pull down every spiritual stronghold that would keep them from understanding the love, the grace, and the mercy of God…Command every power and principality in the heavenly places that would rise against them to turn from them…Pray that the Father will wrap His arms around them and bring them to the throne of His grace!!!
|2/6/2023||Psalm 105:19 “Until the time that his word came to pass, The word of the Lord tested him.”|
When Joseph was a teenager, God gave him a vision that one day he was going to rule. But Psalm 105 tells us that God sent Joseph into Egypt fettered with irons and shackled with chains from his teenage years well into his thirties. The word of the Lord tested him as he was thrown into a pit, then taken from a pit to a prison, and from a prison to the palace. Joseph was made to be a world changer, but first he had to go through the work of character development.
I believe that God wants to use you to change the world where He’s planted you. It starts with the people you know the best. Today you’re going to encounter family members, friends and coworkers that you know don’t know Jesus. You can help bring change to them by loving them with the love that God gave to you. What kind of love is that? He loved you unconditionally when you were dead in your sins, and it was only through His love that you found grace for salvation.
When you’re willing to work on loving somebody like that, God will use you to bring change to your world…Ask Him today, “Lord, what work do You have for me to do for Your glory?”
|2/5/2023||Genesis 37:19–20 “Look, this dreamer is coming! Come therefore, let us now kill him and cast him into some pit; and we shall say, ‘Some wild beast has devoured him.’ We shall see what will become of his dreams!”|
Joseph was rejected by his brothers because their father favored him, and there will be people in your life that will not be able to accept God’s favor upon you. There may be a season when they’re willing to walk with you. But when God begins to promote you because you trust Him, they’ll try to pull you down because God is taking you places, as He did Joseph, and they can’t stand it. If you’re wearing a burden of rejection that’s been placed upon you by those who should have accepted you but didn’t, whom you reached out to and have been shunned, whom you attempted to embrace and were denied, Joseph has a message for you.
It’s in those moments of rejection that you, like Joseph, have to stand firm in the faith that you are blessed and highly favored…Never hang your head because God is blessing you…Square your shoulders and declare, “God’s promise is my portion.His goodness and mercy follow me. He will never leave me nor forsake me”…The world may not like it, but the world didn’t give it, and the world can’t take it away…God has been faithful, good, loving and kind…If that bothers someone, they can take it up with Him!!!
|2/4/2023||Hebrews 11:24–25 “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin.”|
Everyone whom God uses must go through the process of work in order to become the person God wants them to be. Moses was born with all the raw ingredients of a deliverer and leader of God’s people. But if you follow his story, including his forty years of shepherding in the wilderness, it wasn’t until he was eighty that God began to use him to the fullness of his potential and purpose. It took a long time to prepare Moses to be the man that God wanted him to be.
As was true of Moses, who you are right now has all the raw ingredients for what God wants you to become so you can accomplish His purpose for your life. But there are still some things that need to be refined, some things that need to be added, and some things that need to be taken out. There are some tweaks and some changes that must be made if you are going to accomplish what God wants you to achieve in your life.
The question is, are you willing to do the work that is required to improve and become the best you can be for Him?
|2/3/2023||Psalm 22:3 “But You are holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel.”|
You don’t have to be in a church service in order for God’s presence to inhabit your praises. You can be at home and turn your living room into a cathedral if you’ll start talking to God about who He is. Why? Because when you talk to God about who He is, you are praising Him.
Start saying, “Lord, You are the Ancient of Days. You met my needs in the past, You’re meeting my needs now, and You’ll meet my needs tomorrow. You’re the One who created the heavens and earth. That means that everything in my life that needs to be made new, You can do it because You’ve already done it before. You’re the Shepherd of the stars, and You’ve numbered and called them by name. You measure the mountains in a scale, and the hills You hold in a balance. You’re the God who has made the lame to leap and the blind to see. You are the King above all kings and Lord above all lords. Today I am speaking to God Almighty, and I declare that You are great and greatly to be praised!”
If you start talking to God you will have an audience with the Father!!!
|2/2/2023||Philippians 4:19 “And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”|
Today’s Scripture doesn’t say, “My God shall give me what I want.” It says that He’ll supply all my needs. I need a Savior. I need someone to wash sin out of my life. I need a scapegoat who can bear the guilt of my transgressions and iniquity and die in substitution of what I deserve. I don’t get what I want. But thank God, He loves me so much that He gives me the supplies I need.
I don’t know what you want in your life today, but I know that if you need something, Jesus Christ is all-sufficient. Jesus Christ is El Shaddai. He is a way maker. He is a yoke and bondage breaker. He is the Prince of Peace who can soothe your tormented mind. He is the Provider who can open up the windows of heaven and shower you with blessings that you cannot contain. He is the Healer who can touch a sick body and make it strong again. He is the Banner in battle who will give you victory when defeat looks imminent.
Stop begging God for what you want and start praising God that He has supplied your every need according to His riches in glory!
|2/1/2023||Psalm 100:4 “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.”|
An invitation to be with someone is a wonderful thing. When we receive an invitation, we suddenly recognize that someone has requested our presence; therefore, they must value us as important to them. Amazingly, our God has cordially invited us to enter into His presence to worship Him. Indeed,Jesus tells us that “the Father is seeking such to worship Him” (John 4:23), meaning those who worship Him “in spirit and truth.” And because Jesus has conquered and is now our High Priest before the throne of God, we have the opportunity to enter into the King’s presence and worship anytime and anywhere!
But we must remember that this is our privilege…We have become such a self-serving society that we sometimes forget that it is our privilege to enter into the presence of the King…Whenever we come into His presence, our purpose should be to magnify Him, not gratify us…When it comes to worship, it doesn’t matter if you’ve had a bad week, a bad month, or even a terrible decade—you’re not coming for you; you’re coming for Him…Remember, you have been cordially invited to enter His courts…Don’t ever take worship for granted!!!
|1/31/2023||Mark 7:28 “And she answered and said to Him, Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs under the table eat from the children’s crumbs.”|
This woman’s statement is a cultural statement. She was a Greek, a Syrophoenician by birth, and because she was not of the children of Israel, she was an idol worshipper and considered to be a dog. In her desperation for her demon-possessed daughter, she recognized her great need for Jesus, and she would not let the cultural barrier stop her from establishing a relationship with Him. But Jesus tests her faith in Him by stating that it’s not good to give the children’s bread to the dogs.
Her response, “Yes, Lord” was a remarkable declaration of faith. Do you know that those are the two most powerful words you’ll ever learn to say? “Yes, Lord” is the response of a disciple who in following Jesus must deny himself and take up his cross when it’s hard. She agrees to His terms, and in that moment, Jesus felt her faith in agreement with His, and He knew that she was ready to receive the power of God in her life. She said, “If I can get a crumb from You, it is enough to bring deliverance.”
Whatever you need, you have it in Jesus…You will receive that mountain-moving miracle when you believe that He is the only One who can make that miracle move!!!
|1/30/2023||Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.”|
Do you believe that your words are so powerful that they have the power of death and life in them? Notice how extreme those two positions are. God didn’t say that there’s a little bit of good and a little bit of bad in your speech. He didn’t say there’s a little sweet, sour, sassy or sincere. He said you have one of two things coming out of your mouth. One is life, and the other is extremely different, and that’s death.
How many dreams have been birthed by words of inspiration and hope? Words such as, “I believe in you” and “You can do it,” reminders that “all things are possible through Christ,” and statements such as, “God is able to give you exceedingly abundantly above all you could ask, think or imagine.” These are words that give life to your dreams. And how many dreams have been abandoned because of statements that have destroyed the thing that you desire in your heart? We can assassinate a dream and destroy a destiny with statements such as, “I don’t think so,” “You’ll never…” and “I doubt it.”
Today choose words of life from God’s Word that will change your life and others’ lives!!!
|1/29/2023||Mark 9:23 “Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”|
What would you do today if you knew you couldn’t fail? What would you attempt to achieve if you knew you were going to succeed at it? The Bible says very clearly, “All things are possible to him who believes.” If you’ll go to work and trust in God, whatever you pursue for His purpose and plan for your life will come to pass.
What would be different in your life, in your marriage, in your family, with your children, in your finances, in your career, and in your physical body if you took the responsibility and made the commitment to work toward what you know God wants for you? That’s how God designed us—to believe what He has said and work for it. You have to consistently pursue your goals so you can accomplish what you set out to do. You cannot talk about what you want and not be willing to go to work for it.
The difference between a wish and reality is work…The world is filled with those who talk about it…Don’t say, “Maybe tomorrow”…Make up your mind that right now is the moment that you’re going to begin walking toward the greatness that God designed for you in this life!!!
|1/28/2023||1 Samuel 30:4 “Then David and the people who were with him lifted up their voices and wept, until they had no more power to weep.”|
David and his six hundred warriors returned to their city only to find that their wives and children had been taken captive, their homes burned, and all their possessions had been taken. It was an unimaginable loss that broke every man’s heart, and they didn’t know what to do. The Bible says the first thing they did was to lift up their voices and weep until they could weep no more.
The world we live in is a heartbreaking place. Some heartbreaks and grief come without warning, and others come as the end result of rejection, betrayal or poor choices made over time. When your heart breaks, it’s right and good to cry. There is nothing strong about stoicism. David was brave enough to fight a giant. His men were so mighty that stories are still told about them today. Yet, these warriors wept.
But it’s what you do when the weeping is over that determines whether or not you’re going to be a victor or victim. In his great distress, David “strengthened himself in the LORD his God.” He refused to give up, and instead, rose up to be his best, defeating the enemy. You can do the same as David by tapping into the only true source of strength—our God!
|1/27/2023||1 John 3:8 “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.”|
Why did God send His only begotten Son into the world to go to Calvary, conquer death, hell and the grave, and rise on the third day? So that He might break the chains of sin from our shackled and tattered lives, mend our ruined lives, and give us the opportunity to see our lives changed, thus destroying the works of the devil. Every time you encounter Jesus’ presence, He has the ability to meet your every need according to His riches in glory. He can heal sickness in your body, lift the burdens and yokes off of you, and set you free from bondage and addiction. For whom the Son sets free is free indeed!
When you see what Jesus came to do, the first thing you have to ask yourself is whether you are willing to allow Him to do His work in your life. Jesus said, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes” (Mark 9:23).
You have to believe He can destroy the works of the devil in your life before He will…Today, recognize that you need to see Him as your only source and put Him first…Let Him in and let Him do His work!!!
|1/26/2023||Proverbs 18:10 “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe.”|
If there was ever a time in our modern society when we needed to hear from heaven, it is now. We need God to move on our behalf each and every day to keep watch over us and protect us, to lead us and guide us.
We need favor and blessing of God upon our lives and the lives of our family members. We need an infusion of the Holy Spirit in our households so that we may dwell in peace even when it seems that all hell is breaking loose.
Remember, our God is a strong tower! We can run to Him in the day of adversity and be saved. He is all-knowing and all-powerful. You have never faced an enemy that could not be defeated by the almighty God. When things appear grim and you are surrounded by adversity, look to the One who holds the world in the palm of His hand—who knows your every thought and counts your every tear—and rest assured that everything is going to be alright.
You may feel like the only one on the planet who is trying to live a righteous life, but stand firm, persuaded that the fight belongs to the Lord…He will protect and sustain you when you put your life in the His capable hands…Our God is an awesome God!!!
|1/25/2023||Psalm 34:4 “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears.”|
We all have fears. People fear failure, the unknown and change. People fear rejection, which is why they’re willing to morph into what other people believe they should be. People fear conflict, which is why they’ll do anything to avoid it. People fear death because they’re afraid that the promises of everlasting life might not be true.
Whenever I look for a profile of courage to encourage me, the shepherd boy named David, who faced a giant with a slingshot, tops my list. But for all his acts of courage, he said he didn’t just have a fear; he had many fears. And when he considered his fears, no matter what they were, he had one solution—to seek the Lord. When he sought the Lord, he was “delivered” from them, which means the fears were taken off of him, but he was not delivered from the situation. Suddenly in the midst of conflict, he had the courage to do what he needed to do to solve the problem, whether it was a giant or to rule and build the kingdom.
Courage for David, and for all of us, is the strength to control our fears and to do what God calls us to do!!!
|1/24/2023||Psalm 25:2 “O my God, I trust in You; let me not be ashamed; let not my enemies triumph over me.”|
Today, I’m asking you to turn loose of the things that have held you back. Stop drowning in desperation and despair. Rise up! This year is going to be God’s year in your life. It is the year where doors will be opened in your favor while others will be closed that would cause you harm. Trust Him to handle things without trying to micromanage the details of your life. Turn loose of the reins and allow God to have His way in you!
This year, with the help of Almighty God, you can get over your heartaches, the rejection you’ve faced, and any controlling relationships! Get over what Satan has done to you, too! Turn loose of the resentment and bitterness…those who have abused you and lied about you. Turn it all over to the Lord and watch as your life becomes filled with joy once again.
Let the misery melt away…Let the Son shine in!!!
|1/23/2023||Psalm 23:5 “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.”|
Our God is the God of yesterday, today and tomorrow. He’s the God who can go into your past and erase the pain. He’s the God who can make a way for you today. And He’s the God who’s already working out details in your future long before you arrive in your next conflict. God is the One who is there whenever and wherever You need Him.
You and I have a common enemy. Jesus called him a thief who comes to rob, kill and destroy. And whenever the devil comes against you, your family, your physical health or your finances, because God has already gone into your tomorrows, He pulls out a chair at a table of provision. He says, “Sit down and be blessed while I defeat your enemies, build your business, open the windows of heaven, and pour out blessings that you cannot contain.”
If you are going through a difficult time, recognize that God has already charted the course…He is not hemmed in by your wristwatch…He knew where you’d be today and was already working out the answer to your problem long before you knew the problem…So rather than worry about it, sit down at His table, be thankful and bless His name!!!
|1/22/2023||1 Samuel 30:6 “Now David was greatly distressed … but David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.”|
Did you know that sometimes the most powerful motivational speech you’ll ever hear is the one you give yourself? That’s what David did. At the moment when he had suffered the greatest military defeat of his life and his own army was threatening to stone him, David found a way to strengthen himself in the Lord. There wasn’t anyone else to encourage him, so he made up his mind to encourage himself. He rose to his best when everyone thought he should be at his worst. He said to himself, “I might be knocked down, but I’m not staying down. I may be surrounded by bitterness, but I’m not letting bitterness get inside me. I’m not giving in to fear or worry. This did not come to stay; it came to pass.”
Today, decide that you’re not going to let anything get the best of you…Look yourself in the mirror and remember that people don’t see what God sees in you…When He looks at you, He sees a king or a queen…He calls you a joint heir with Jesus to His kingdom…He says you’re My child…You are the most priceless of all My possessions…I am the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and I’m on your side…Nothing is impossible with Me!!!
|1/21/2023||2 Corinthians 10:4 “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.”|
What would happen if you decided right now that you were going to do everything in your power to make today count for something? What if you decided that when you prayed, it wasn’t just going to be another prayer, but it was going to be a prayer that makes a difference? Prayer is your privilege. Prayer is where you get the chance to reach heaven from down here on earth. So when you take the opportunity to come before God, make sure you come boldly and make it a prayer of power.
Use your prayer as a moment to pull down spiritual strongholds and powers and principalities that are set against you…Use it to bind what is coming against you and loose the power of God within you…Use it to shape the destinies of your children…Use it to conquer sickness in your body…Use it to defeat the giants that are standing against you…Use it to move heaven and earth…But whatever you do, when you open your mouth to pray, make it count!!!
|1/20/2023||Mark 7:2 “Now when the Pharisees and Scribes saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault.”|
The Pharisees were of the right people and the right lineage; they just had the wrong approach. Rather than relate to Jesus Christ and what He wanted to do in their lives, they argued and found fault with Him based on their flawed religious knowledge. Jesus had already turned water to wine, fed the five thousand, healed lepers, walked on water, and raised the dead. Now the Pharisees come and just sit and watch to see what they can find Him doing wrong. Religious people always want to point out what’s wrong before they will talk about what’s right.
What did they find wrong to disqualify Jesus? His disciples ate bread with unwashed hands! The Pharisees had taken a law stated in Leviticus 16:28 that regarded the high priest washing before going into the tabernacle, and they built it into a long list of constant hand washings. That’s what religion does. You’re going to meet some religious people like that. Don’t become like them and start making a religion out of rules and regulations, building lists of do’s and don’ts.
When you have a relationship with the Son of God who died for you and set you free, never let religion get in the way of loving and obeying Him!!!
|1/19/2023||1 John 4:4 “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”|
If we’re going to be overcoming, triumphant believers, it’s time we rediscover our true identity. The way we triumph is not through force but with the power of God’s love through Jesus Christ. That kind of triumph comes from the God who is greater, and He placed that greatness in you. For greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world!
Our God is greater than every enemy because He took your enemies to a place called Calvary and conquered them there. He is greater than every sickness because He bore your sickness upon His back, and by His stripes you are healed. He is greater than every need because He will supply all of your needs according to His riches in glory. He is greater than every bondage and addiction for He is the Anointed One who breaks the yoke of bondage and sets captives free, and whom the Son sets free is free indeed. He is the God who is greater than every mountain that you’re climbing because He can take that mountain and cast it into the sea. He’s greater than every sorrow because in His presence is the fullness of joy.
Don’t let the world weigh you down today…Our God is greater!
|1/18/2023||Joshua 1:8 “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”|
For Joshua to become great, the first ingredient God told him he needed is courage. The second ingredient is to stay connected to His Word. In order for Joshua to be successful and prosper, he couldn’t just think about the Word, he had to live in the Word. God was saying “Keep this Word before your eyes in the morning and evening, in your mind during the day, and out of your mouth when you speak. Do whatever it says. If you’ll do this, no matter where you go or what you do, no matter the problems you face or the needs you have, no matter the giants that come against you or the cities that need to be defeated, no matter the land that needs to be conquered or the hour in which you’re living, you will be a success!”
God said it…observe it…speak it…keep it…don’t turn from it…and you’ll be successful wherever you go!!!
|1/17/2023||Isaiah 43:19 “Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”|
Our God is a God of new beginnings. Every twenty-four hours, He gives us a brand-new day; every seven days, a new week; every thirty days, a new month; every twelve months, a new year. And it is our prerogative to make sure that we maximize what God gives us every time He gives us the opportunity to do things new. I want to challenge you to unleash the power of God in your life and make a difference in other people’s lives more than ever before. Why every day? Because it’s not your day. Every day is the day that the Lord has made, and we, His children, should rejoice in it.
If you’re going to make a difference today, you have to decide what you will choose to do and not do, what you will choose to say and not say. If you’re going to see God’s greatness poured out in your life, you have to make up your mind that no matter what it takes, no matter what you have to go through, no matter what you have to do, no matter what you have to learn or become, you are going to make a difference.
|1/16/2023||Isaiah 62:1 “For Zion’s sake I will not hold My peace, And for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, Until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, And her salvation as a lamp that burns.”|
In March of 1965, Martin Luther King, Jr. led many civil rights activists in a nonviolent demonstration from Selma to the capitol steps in Montgomery, Alabama. After a 5-day, 54-mile march campaigning for voting rights, King told the crowd, “There never was a moment in American history more honorable and more inspiring than the pilgrimage of clergymen and laymen of every race and faith pouring into Selma to face danger at the side of its embattled [African Americans].”
Linked arm-in-arm with the leaders of this march, front row and center with Dr. King, was a rabbi by the name of Abraham Joshua Heschel. This Hasidic rabbi was born in Warsaw, but ready to take action to support his friend, Martin Luther King, Jr., who was a staunch supporter of Israel and a very outspoken Zionist.
“Peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity. I see Israel as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality. Israel’s right to exist as a state in security is incontestable.”
Today, we honor the memory of a man who stood up for so many…until the day he sacrificed everything for his beliefs. May his memory be a blessing!
|1/15/2023||Matthew 4: “But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”|
If you are a child of God, you are engaged in the same spiritual warfare that Jesus Christ faced in the wilderness temptation after His baptism (Matthew 4:1–11). The devil tried to get Jesus to question the Word of God, and that’s exactly what he’ll do with you. Jesus did not enter into a debate with Satan, but to each accusation, He answered, “It is written…” He spoke the Word of God, and finally He declared, “Away with you, Satan!” That being the weapon Jesus used, you need to do the same.
You drive the enemy out of your life by speaking the Word. When he tries to come into your finances, you drive him out by saying, “My God shall supply all my needs according to His riches in glory.” When he comes against your household, you say, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” When he comes against your marriage, you declare, “What God has brought together, let no man put asunder.” When he comes against your physical body, you say, “By His stripes, I am healed.” When he comes against your children, you declare, “No weapon formed against them will prosper.” You have power to drive the enemy out of your life in Jesus’ name!!!
|1/14/2023||Isaiah 55:9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.”|
Have you ever compared the difference between the power of God’s words and the emptiness of men’s wisdom? Men want us to live by their supposed wisdom, but the apostle Paul warns “that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:5). Why? Because men’s statements may sound good, but they don’t work.
Here’s one example: “Just follow your heart.” Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” If you follow your heart but your heart is not filled with the Word of God, you’ll destroy yourself. David said, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). He was saying,“God, if I don’t stay in close contact with Your truth, I won’t know the right way to go. And if I don’t follow Your light, I’ll go in the wrong direction. If I make it my way and just go by what I feel, I’ll destroy myself. I dare not follow my heart unless Your Word is in my heart, lighting the path of righteousness.”
Build your life on the only wisdom that is certain at all times— God’s Word!!!
|1/13/2023||Jonah 2:1-2 “I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction, And He answered me. Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, And You heard my voice.”|
Many people say that Jonah was the wayward prophet, but he wasn’t wayward; he was stubborn. God spoke to him specifically that he was to go to Nineveh and tell the people to repent. But Jonah was so prejudiced against the people of Nineveh that he said, “God, I’d rather die than do that,” and so he bought a ticket to a boat going the opposite direction. Some people would say that the ensuing storm that God sent was His judgment on Jonah, but the storm was actually God’s grace. Sometimes difficult times are God’s way of getting our attention, and Jonah knew why it was happening. But even then Jonah did not fall on his knees and say, “Lord, forgive me. Make the weather better, and we’ll turn the boat around.” He was so stubborn that he preferred being thrown overboard. Now that’s hardheaded!
Some people also mistakenly say that Jonah’s being swallowed by a big fish was God’s judgment rather than His grace. But in His mercy, God waited three days for Jonah to finally say, “I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed.” That was all of grace and miracle-working power. Don’t mistake trouble for judgment when it’s really God’s grace.
|1/12/2023||John 4:24 “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”|
If you read John 4, you know that the Samaritan woman whom Jesus had just met began to debate with Him about which mountain they should worship on. Jesus responded that worship doesn’t have anything to do with a place; it’s about how you worship. It has to do with what’s inside you. It has to do with the heart of worship—it must be in spirit and in truth.
That debate is not unlike what we sometimes hear today. Should we sing this way or that way, clap or not, lift our hands or not? Should we use a band like we’re at a concert? Or, should we sit in silent reflection? Do we really think that God prefers one over the other? I think what He said to Samuel still rings true today: “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). Regardless of the style or quality of the music, regardless of the enthusiasm, regardless of the appearance, you might not have God’s presence. It’s only when you have the heart of worship that you have the privilege of being in His presence.
God is seeking those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth.
|1/11/2023||Joshua 1:5 “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.”|
For at least 40 years, Joshua looked to Moses as the great problem solver for the people of Israel. He had seen the miracles performed and heard God’s Word spoken through Moses. But Moses was dead, and now Joshua needed the same power to solve problems. Joshua’s time had come, and sooner or later, your time will come as well. God will direct you to lead something for His purpose. When that time comes, the only way you’ll succeed is if you engage with God and hear what He has to say to you. God will move you out of every comfort zone and into what I call “the God Zone” where you hear His voice.
Joshua is in the God Zone, and the Lord opens the conversation with this promise:
“As I was with Moses, so shall I be with you.” God was telling Joshua the same thing He told Moses from the burning bush: “I AM the source of your power. I AM the One who parts the waters. I AM the One who rained manna on you in the wilderness. And I AM the same yesterday, today and forever.” He had been with Moses. He was with Joshua. And the same God is with you now!
|1/10/2023||Numbers 13:33 “There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”|
The twelve spies whom Moses sent in to report on the Promised Land saw the same things. Two of them declared in faith, “We are well able to overcome it.” The other ten said, “We are not able” because the people were “of great stature.” Giants were there who made them feel like “grasshoppers.” Now I’m a native-born Texan, and I know Texas tall tales when I hear them. Just do the math. If a grasshopper is an inch tall, and a man is five-feet tall, that man would have to be three hundred feet high by comparison. Those giants may have been big, but they weren’t that big. And while they were bigger than what the men of Israel could handle, they weren’t bigger than what God could handle.
We’ve all let our imaginations take over at times and made our problems too big for even God to solve…But when you keep your imagination submitted to God’s Word, suddenly, there is no problem that’s too big for God to solve…Suddenly, He will make a way where there seems to be no way…You might not know where your answer is coming from, but He’ll show you great and mighty things…Suddenly, you’ll be saying, “We are well able to overcome it.” That’s the God whom we serve!!!
|1/9/2023||Psalm 147:4-5 “He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name. Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite.”|
It is easy to forget how great our God is. Everything He has done is great. When He created the stars in the heavens, He made so many that we can’t begin to count them all. The deeper that scientists look into space, the more galaxies and countless stars they discover. And yet the Bible says God numbers the stars and calls them by name. God doesn’t look and say, “That’s star number fourteen trillion.” No, He calls it “Charlie.” How great is that!
That is amazing, but even more amazing is the fact that He created you…He knows you by name, He’s numbered your days, and He’s charted your course…Before He formed you in the womb, He knew what you would need in this life, so He equipped you with gifts and talents to use while you’re here so you can bring glory and honor to His name…He didn’t send you to the world to just exist or survive…He sent you here so that you would be more than a conqueror through Christ…Let the greatness of God arise in you, and let His enemies be scattered!!!
|1/8/2023||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.”|
On Wall Street they say, “Money never sleeps.” They want it to be constantly earning money, and to do that after the market closes, they invest their money in another market in the world so that it keeps producing. They want value to be constantly added.
The same principle applies to God’s Word: It never sleeps. It is constantly working in your life. God wants to invest in you so much that He bought you with the great price of His only begotten Son’s life. He is investing His Word in you, and it’s not going to return void. It’s going to accomplish its purpose in changing your life and causing you to prosper and grow. Whatever He has said He will do in your life, He will do it and nothing can stop it. No one can void God’s promises from working in your life. That promise that He’s given you may not show up for a month or a year, but it will come to pass. The apostle Paul said it this way: “He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Be encouraged today: God’s Word is always working.
|1/7/2023||1 Chronicles 29:11-12 “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, The power and the glory, The victory and the majesty; For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, And You are exalted as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, And You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; In Your hand it is to make great And to give strength to all.”|
Henry Taylor wrote, “The world knows nothing of its greatest men.” We as a world have deceived ourselves as to what greatness really is. We’ve taken the character qualities that make for true greatness, and we’ve substituted superficial things that really aren’t great.
Fame may get people to notice you for a while, but it will not bring you character, and character is what’s required for greatness. Money may enable you to buy and fill your life with a lot of stuff, but what good is that if you’re too tormented to enjoy what money has bought you. Money will not buy you peace of mind because peace was bought with the price that Jesus paid as the Prince of peace. Power may cause people to respect or even fear you, but you’ll constantly struggle to gain and maintain it.
In our culture, we think fame is great…money is great…power is great…But in reality, those things are anything but great…If anything in your life is ever going to be considered great, it must be in touch with the only source of greatness, the Almighty God…He alone is the greatness, and He alone makes great!!!
|1/6/2023||Psalm 100:4 “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.”|
My children know that whatever they need, I’ll give everything I have to supply it, but they can’t whine. I think God’s the same way in heaven. He doesn’t have a customer service department where you get to record your complaint calls. I don’t think He listens. Rather, He commands us to come before Him with thanksgiving and praise to bless His name! He says to give thanks “in all things,” and not just when everything seems right and you feel thankful. You have to be thankful “always.”
Did you know that the “gates” David wrote about were where the judges sat, and that the “courts” were where the judges ruled? What the Bible is saying is that if you want God to rule on your behalf, don’t go into the heavenly places complaining about what’s wrong. Rather, lift up your hands and say,“God, thank You that You’ve brought me through storms before, and You’re going to bring me through this one. Thank You that You’re going to give me strength to overcome, victory in this battle, and hope for tomorrow. Bring glory to Your great name!”
|1/4/2023||James 5:17 “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months.”|
James says there was nothing special about the prophet Elijah. He wasn’t an Old Testament Jedi. He was just a human being. But when you read how he faced 450 prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, called down fire from heaven, and brought Israel back to worshipping the Lord, here’s what made him stand out.When God needed someone to take a stand for righteousness, he was willing to be used. He refused to spend his life complaining about what was wrong. He had the boldness to do what needed to be done when others were afraid to speak up.
In today’s world, God needs you to be willing to speak up for Him…He might send you to the boardroom to speak to people who are only concerned about the bottom line and tell them,“What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?”…He might send you to your living room to declare that your family needs to be a household of faith…He might send you to the hallways of your high school to unashamedly tell your friends that you are a child of the living God…Whatever God wants you to do, have the courage to leave a mark!!!
|1/3/2023||Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”|
What is it that you want God to do for you, for your family, for your finances, in your physical body today? Whatever it is, no matter how impossible others declare it to be, regardless of whether or not you think it can be done, ask Him to do exactly what you’re looking for. In Jesus’ name, ask that whatever mountain needs to be moved will be moved. Ask that whatever door needs to be opened will be opened. Ask that whatever crooked way needs to be straight will be made straight.
Read Jesus’ words in today’s Scripture out loud and believe His promise.
Every hindrance can be broken, and every chain of bondage can be destroyed by Him who sets us free…Those who are without hope can be filled with hope by the God of all hope…Families that are broken can be restored by our great Redeemer…Weak bodies can be strengthened and diseases healed by His healing touch…New business opportunities can be opened and favor rest upon you…You can be blessed in your going out and in your coming in from this day forward…So ask Him now and receive!!!
|1/2/2023||2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”|
When I was a kid, on one particular evening after dinner, I was headed to the back door to play when my dad called out, “Matt, where are you going?” I said, “Outside to play.” He responded, “No, you don’t go outside in the dark. Bad people come out when the sun goes down.” Whoa! That didn’t just stop me in my tracks, but I got so afraid of the dark that if you put me in a dark room, I’d light it up like a SWAT team rolled in! That sounds funny, but it became a very real problem for me. Finally, my dad told me that when I was lying in bed afraid, I needed to say today’s Scripture over and over until I fell asleep, and eventually, that living promise from God’s Word prevailed.
My fears have changed over the years, but this promise from God that I’ve taken as my own has not changed. As I look at the world my children are being raised in and the culture that the world is changing to, I continue to declare, “God, You haven’t given me a spirit of fear, but of power.” When you speak His Word, it is alive, powerful, and sharper than a two-edged sword to bring you victory.
|1/1/2023||Deuteronomy 28:7 “The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.”|
Happy New Year! Today I want you to see the walls of resistance crumbling before you. I want you to see God taking on your enemies and handcuffing them—they are powerless when you hand them over to the Lord. I want you to see the mountains of impossibility that you are facing being cast into the sea.
Start telling God the desires of your heart and watch as He begins to make your paths straight. Watch as He begins to bring things to pass in your life that you never thought possible.
Focus your faith on the outcome. Right now the circumstances may look grim, but these are just mere stepping stones in the overall story of your life. Keep marching forward. God sees your end from the beginning! Stay focused on Him!
I have read the book of Revelation, and we win! Great things are in store for you when you turn your life over to the King of kings!!!