This site along with its sister site, It's About HIM is undergoing maintenance so some links may not be working. Due to circumstances beyond our control, there are some broken links. Several websites hosting material linked to on this website have either shut down or made changes which have broken the links. We are working to correct this problem. If you have found any links and would like to help by alerting us to which link, you may email me and let me know. I know I haven't found them all yet. Thank you for your patience.

Hello, Beloved...

How nice of you to drop in and visit my page. It's actually not really about myself, but about the Lord Jesus Christ. This is a place you can come, should you find time, and find encouragement and free resources for spiritual growth. I pray you will be blessed and provoked to follow on to know the Lord intimately yourself. Seek HIM and HIS Face for HE alone is WORTHY!! He alone is lovely! Most of what is written on this blog is written by myself, during my study time with the Lord unless otherwise stated. If it's otherwise, the author's name will be included.

God is our refuge, a very present help in trouble. Psa 46:1


Must Hear Messages!

Media that has been removed may still be accessed Here

RSS | My Utmost For His Highest

Sermon Index

Friday, December 26, 2008

A True Disciple/Apostle

He called His disciples together. He summoned, He invited them to come to Him. A disciple is someone taught, pupil-and in this case taught by the Master Himself. They come to Him and learn of Him. They learn directly from HIM. You can't be a disciple without spending time with Him and listening to Him. This means you know His voice, you listen and follow Him closely. Another important point, these have left everything to follow Him. They have forsaken their jobs, their own agendas, their own plans, and hopes and dreams that were founded in this world, and their personal lives and now follow the plan and purposes of the Master. We would do well to remember what exactly a disciple is when we consider the authority and power He gave to the disciples. This kind of spiritual authority is not available to casual, lukewarm people who claim the name Christ.

He called them together, to Himself, in a private place, so He could give them specific instruction. Before they went out to preach, He had to equip them.

Here's a radical thought: before any preacher gets up to preach anytime, should he not have first spent time with the Lord, being equipped in prayer, in the Word, drawing from the Lord what is needed to deliver the message the Lord wants delivered? This is the pattern laid out here in these Scriptures.

When they went out to preach the Gospel, He spoke some things to them, granting them dunamis (G1411) power-which means a miraculous force, mighty power to do what the natural man cannot do. This is an abundant ability. In Mar_6:7 the word for power is G1849 exousia, and it is the same word used for authority in Luk_9:1-the authority of the Potentate-by delegation. He gave them mastery, delegated influence and jurisdiction over all (that means more than one) devils. All demonic beings. All unclean spirits. No matter what vice has gripped a person's life-be it occult, lust, drugs, food addictions, fear, regardless, this power is available to break that thing-resident in one who is a true disciple, and called by Him, and then sent by Him. He gave them power to cure diseases. In the Greek this word is therapeuo, and it is where we get our word therapy. It means to wait upon menially-as a servant, to relieve one of their disease. It also applies to adoring God, in worship-becoming a living sacrifice.

Mat_10:1 He also mentions they are to heal-or cure-same word used for cure in Luk_9:1, every infirmity, disease or sickness, AND every disease-but this word disease (G3119) translates to weakness, softness, debility. He said His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2Co_12:9) When the disciples-those who have forsaken earthly and temporary pleasures and passions, to follow in the footsteps and purposes of the Lord, when those kind of people who are mere containers of the power of God, and the Spirit of God, minister this power of God to needy people, it's like a fragrance of worship and adoration to this wonderful God. Consider this: you see the pictures with a crucified Christ spread on a cross and the caption reads: I asked Jesus how much He loved me and He spread His arms wide and said this much, and He died. When the Lord's disciples sacrifice themselves, to go His way, then they can minister His healing and powerful life to the poor and needy, those who are bound and broken hearted, captives of the evil one, their sacrifice, their willingness to do His will is a testimony of their love and worship for this awesome God they serve. The next verse starts off with three vital words for any preacher: And HE SENT THEM. They didn't go because they thought they should. They didn't go because someone said they needed to. They waited on HIM to equip them, and then they waited until He sent them-prepared containers of the power needed to do the job correctly. That word sent (G649) apostello, means "set apart" and sent out. You can't be sent BY Him if you aren't set apart FOR Him. This word is where the word apostle comes from. It's misused and abused much, I think today. I do not believe man has a right to label himself an apostle. I think his life should testify to it if he is an apostle-it's a sacrificial life led by and lived for Another. That is what being an apostle will cost you. Nothing will build up the man, but everything will be to build and work and labor for Another-for HIS glory, not for the man's reputation. They go to speak the message of Another-not their own. They go to minister the life of Another-not their own. It is all about HIM not themselves-for they are just a vessel, a carrier of the True Power. It does not originate in them or from them, it comes from above. They preach their is a life, a realm that is not earthly or sensual or natural in which you can be granted access if you will come and submit your life to the Lord Jesus Christ. You can have an entrance into a supernatural life, walking with this great and awesome God, a son or daughter of the King of Kings, serving Him, and serving others, led by His Spirit, used for His awesome glory, and obtain an eternal inheritance with His children. You can be set free from what binds you, you can be given a supernatural life, and receive His Spirit to live in you that will fill up that empty ache inside that never goes away no matter what you try to fill it up with. He can give you power over the things that would bind you and hinder you. Set free from darkness and blindness and brought into a glorious truth and light. You can come and experience His love that will take your breath away. You can find peace, security, and endless resources of help to face any trouble that will ever come your way. You can be relieved of that terrible burden of guilt and sin you carry through the blood of this precious Jesus Christ. What a transforming, and powerful message. But a message so powerful must be lived by the messenger to be effective. You must be a living testimony of this message. A true witness.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Hope of His Calling

2Co 1:8 For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life:

2Co 1:9 But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:

2Co 1:10 Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;

Do not misunderstand God is fully aware of the pressure that is squeezing many of His children mentally right now. There is a pressure unlike any previously known and the intensity is increasing. Many saints are struggling with anguish, burdened down, many are enduring persecution, or some form of tribulation. This will weigh you down, make you feel heavy with despair and cause you to struggle with depression, even. It will truly make you wonder about the purpose of your life, make you feel like your life isn't amounting to much, and seems so fruitless, so pointless, how could God ever be satisfied? Have you caught yourself wondering why, Lord? Of course the enemy will be right there to whisper God is mad at you. He'll throw your failures in your face, constantly seeking to harass and accuse. Why does God allow these things into our lives, those of us who love Him and truly desire to know Him and live for His glory, not for self?

I think Paul tells us in the next two verses. The word for sentence in verse 9 means answer. There is a judicial answer for the problem. There is something in us that has been sentenced to death-and that is self will-it has to die and God will allow things to press and come against us so we will learn that we cannot trust in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but only in God who once we are dead to ourselves, (no longer relying on or looking to please self) is well able to raise us up and make good use of our lives. Just as He rescued us from sin, and darkness, which truly was an awful death, He is well able to deliver us and will deliver those who trust in Him. No matter how it looks right now, no matter how you feel right now, He loves His people, and is working things out for their good and His glory. And He will yet deliver us. Think about what He delivered you from in the beginning. Look at how much your thinking, your desires, your life has been changed since He saved you. He saved us from our sins, but He wants that self will pressed out of us. Why does He want to empty us of self? He has something better to pour in us in its place.

Eph 1:17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:

Eph 1:18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,

Eph 1:19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,

Eph 1:20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,

He can never give this kind of revelation, He can never have this kind of close fellowship with a carnal person. What will happen to a saint of God who gets a divine understanding of the Lord? When He manifests Himself to you, and reveals to you more of who He is then you are knowing Him yourself-you are learning Him. Intimately. As you begin to have this kind of deeper fellowship with Him, your faith is strengthened, your purpose in life is reaffirmed, redefined, and transformed. Now your focus has moved away from self and to HIM. When He begins to manifest His presence in your life, and open His Word to you more, drawing you in deeper, it's a thrilling thing. That aching longing deep in your soul that nothing around you satisfies, begins to find fulfillment in HIM alone as it was meant to do. In the knowledge and presence of this awesome God is fullness of joy. His precious Holy Spirit is working to this end. No matter what is wrong now, or how bad it may look, He wants to minister the cure to His people-His presence, and our divinely given awareness of His presence and who He is. He wants to reveal to us more of Himself. He wants us to understand and consider the hope or expectation of His calling which is an invitation. His calling us is His inviting us to something much better, much greater than what we have. He has such great richness, there is such a majesty about Him, and He has a glorious possession held in store for the saints, (the blameless, the consecrated, those who are HIS). What is that Possession? I believe it is His Beloved Son, the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ. Remember, beloved, many are called but few are chosen. If we don't yield to the stripping and pressing process, we won't be chosen. He has to strip away all the chaff of the carnal and worldly thinking, and living. He wants to replace it with spiritual understanding, spiritual thinking and living, and dependence on God, not self or the world. What is the hope of His calling? The expectation of this invitation God has given us? It is in His Son. Our life is in His Son.

Now there is something else we must know as well....He wants us to know the exceeding magnitude of His power-His mighty ability freely extended toward us who have faith in Him, who are committed to Him, and know that HE ALONE is our hope, our security. As long as we try to do it ourselves, then God will allow things to move against that to tear down that reliance on and confidence in self. If He can't fix it, it can't be fixed. If He started it, He will finish it. He that has begun a good work in you will continue to perform that work until it is finished, if you will allow Him to. That requires yielding to His leadership. And He has to give the grace, the understanding, and Holy Ghost power to do this.

This kind of power He has already shown us when Jesus Christ was crucified, put to death, and the power of Almighty God working in Him raised Him from the dead and elevated Him to the throne in heaven. He rules over all, that which was, which is, and which is to come. Hallelujah!

Col 1:9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;

Col 1:10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;

Col 1:11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;

Col 1:12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:

Col 1:13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

I know I was in terrible darkness until He opened the door! You never realize how awful that darkness is until you see the Light. Let us pray this way for one another, beloved. Pray the Lord of glory will open our spiritual eyes and ears and that we may be fully aware of His will for our lives, with a godly wisdom and spiritual understanding. That we no longer be carnal in our thinking or living. That we can mentally put the truth He reveals to us together-the pieces of the puzzle coming together so we can see the BIG picture-we can see beyond ourselves to His greater purpose. That we might live a life worthy of Him, pleasing and fertile-so His life is reproduced in us, no matter what work or labor we do, that we are continually being enlarged by Him in the recognition of Him, intimately knowing Him. That intimate fellowship produces a solid faith in us, which will enable and strengthen us, with His mighty power, that dunamis (G1411) power, that works the miraculous-that which only God can do. This will help us endure, patiently waiting for the completion of all things-when He comes for us. It all depends on Him revealing Himself to us. He can't do that if we don't meet with Him in prayer, if we don't pick up our Bibles and begin to dig in, and make time to get alone with God. We need to be filled with His Holy Spirit, we need to know HIM for ourselves, and we need to be depending on HIM and not ourselves. God help us once again to know how to tarry before Your presence, to be willing to tarry and not leave until we get filled. Help us be willing to put off any thing and every thing but You.

Dan 11:32 And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.

There is a temptation to want to prevent suffering, to give in to the desires of ourselves, and indulge ourselves. We need to realize that voice is an enemy of what God wants to do for and give His people. Don't be corrupted by a smooth voice whispering you don't have to go to the cross. You don't have to deny yourself. He did it for you. But we must pick up ours and carry it and follow His example. In this time we live in there is a heavy sense of impending disaster. People everywhere are struggling, the only difference is some have the Holy Ghost in them, and the Word of God is their foundation. If we are on the Rock, built on His Word, and on His promise, no matter what storm hits, we will not go under. Remember, when Peter stepped out on that raging sea, as long as He kept His eyes focused on the Lord, He did not sink.

Those who continually meditate on Him, His Word, and stay in close contact with the Holy Spirit, acknowledging His presence in themselves, communing with Him, hungering to know Him, He will reveal Himself. What He reveals will strengthen, and edify and build us up. It will always leave us longing for more of Christ and less of self. You can reach a place in God where the voices of this world, the things of this world, the temporary pleasures of this world no longer hold any fascination for you. God can be and wants to become so real to you that these things lose their grip on you. When what you read in His Word is more real to your heart than what you see and hear in this world, you have moved into a heavenly place reserved for those who are dead and dying to self. Why does self have to die? Oh, what an awful thing to say, if you don't understand the recompense and the reward! For the carnal mind is enmity (HOSTILE) against God. That is why it has to die. It will never yield to God. It has to be denied. That nature in us that wants to please only itself regardless of the cost to others, to God, it has to be crucified.

Php 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

I am learning, this is how the Holy Spirit is working in me. Through His power and His love, He draws me to dig into His Word, to seek a greater understanding of this lovely and all powerful Christ who gave Himself for me, so that I might give myself to Him and for Him, and in knowing HIM, in seeing Him, through eyes of faith, through divine revelation, I hunger for more of Him and less of me. In this way, the Holy Spirit, by revealing Christ to me, more and more, creates the desire to give up self and embrace Christ, to do His will, regardless of the cost, and He is the power and ability of God in me to see this accomplished. Hallelujah.

Now, if God had never allowed me to be pressed, troubled, afflicted, so I would be stripped of confidence in self and human ability, see what I would miss out on? He wants to strip us of filthy rags of self and cover us with His glorious presence, with His glorious truth! Nothing is worth missing out on knowing Him! He is our exceeding great reward and our shield!

See Him, being pressed by a crowd of people, on His way to raise a dead girl, and you see that trembling, fearful, and very ill woman pressing through a crowd, pressing through many voices, much opposition, just to touch the hem of His garment. She's lived like an outcast for 12 long years, lost everything but nothing has brought relief. See her trembling fingers touch the very part of His garment that was put there in remembrance of the law that marked her as unclean. See sin, and sickness touch holiness and be cleansed!! See Him stop and turn and fasten His wondrous eyes on Her, as she tries to slip unnoticed back into the crowd. See her fearful eyes lock with His as He says "Who touched Me?" She knows He's not going anywhere. She's exposed. Her heart is pounding like a frightened rabbit's, but she comes forward, completely exposed and vulnerable. Oh, she got healed, immediately, but there was something else she needed. See Him take away the reproach of 12 long years of living as one unclean, a social outcast. See Him recognize that pain of being ostracized. Hear Him speak to her "Daughter, be of good comfort, your faith has made you whole." What a lovely heart for us He has! See Him as He is and desire Him! Love Him! This is what the Holy Spirit wants to reveal to us! He wants us to know who this wonderful Christ is! Our lives will be revolutionized! We will never be the same. We will no longer be content to live mediocre, barely getting by lives. We will no longer feel like we are barely hanging on when we are holding His unchanging Hand and we KNOW IT! See Him and Love HIM! See His mercy and praise Him! He is so worthy!!!! Glory to GOD!! He will not fail you, neither will He forsake you! The Perfect One who lives in you will make you perfect-complete in HIM. You stand in God's sight, complete in Him, but He wants to make that finished work a reality in you now. It doesn't happen overnight, but each yielding of your will to His is a step toward that perfection. That completion.

He is circumcising our hearts, cutting us off from that tendency to live by self rule. Be encouraged Beloved, the stripping process is very unpleasant and painful, but God knows what He is doing, and doesn't delegate this task to another. No, He is right there, doing this Himself. That is in itself a declaration of His love. He will not entrust such a personal, painful process to one of His angels. He does this Himself-through the power of His Holy Spirit. He will not leave you alone, defenseless and wounded and raw, having been stripped. No, He wants to replace that confidence in self, with the kind of faith and peace that comes from intimacy with Him. Sharing His heart, and learning who He is, how He thinks, and what He thinks. Don't believe the lie of the devil that what you are going through is God's judgment because He is displeased! God knows your heart, He knows if you truly desire Him, and if you hunger and thirst after righteousness! He wants to fill you! He has to empty you first. Nothing must be allowed to remain that would hinder the free flowing river of living water. He wants to pour it in us that it may flow freely out of us to others. He is a hands on God, Beloved. Let this truth comfort you today, and pray this truth be real to your brothers and sisters in Christ. We are all being pressed, being afflicted, and things are growing darker by the day-but if we yield to God, He will trim the chaff off us and we will shine brightly in this dark hour. He wants us to shine so the lost can see and come and be saved. Let us be found willing vessels, submitting to the Refiner's fire, so we can be purified, and shine brightly to the praise of His glory. Knowing Him for yourself will produce a confident faith and peace that is never dependent on circumstances-and never goes unnoticed by the lost. In our tribulation, He is our Rock, our Refuge, an ever present Help in an increasingly dark and evil world.

Friday, December 19, 2008

An Invitation From God in Hard Times

2Ch 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

He's not talking to the world here. He's not talking to sinners who don't know the Gospel. He is talking to His own. They are called. They are bidden to come to Me. They proclaim My Name-My character, My authority, who I AM. Yet they misrepresent Me. They are called by My Name, they are called Christians. If they want their prayers heard, if they want Me to cure their land, repair the damage, then they have some things they must do. If they will bend their knee, (bow their heart) and come under subjection to Me, humble that self life that rules most if not all of their decisions, on a daily basis, yet they call ME Lord, if they will judge their own selves guilty and and repent and begin to intercede for their nation, for their families, for homes, search Me out, and seek Me, desire Me, strive after Me, and turn away from evil ways then I will hear and I will pardon their offenses against Me, and will mend and repair the damage that has been done to their land. That land can be applied to our homes, our spiritual walk with God, our families, our lives, marriages, relationships, and yes, our country. Is their hope for America? I do not know. But I know God can always be taken at His Word.

What will it take before God's own people will realize they call Him Lord, but they make their own decisions? Oh, I am guilty. I see myself here. Father, forgive me, please. Do we decide when to sleep, when to rise, when to eat, when to and how much or how little we read His Word, do we neglect fasting and prayer because we are too busy, and don't spend enough time in His Word or His Presence, and yet we call Him Lord? We always have ready excuses, do we not? We make our own decisions, ruled by our own intellect, and yet we call Him our Wisdom? Then we look around, frustrated at the dysfunction all around us and wonder why it is this way. Dysfunction is always the result when self rules. No wonder the world doesn't take the Gospel seriously when they see such ineffective displays of it in our lives.

Consider this carefully and know the hour is late and it is time to stop playing religious games. It is time to stop thinking one day I will, by God's grace be different. It's time to pay the price and sacrifice, and get alone with God, and stop feeding the self life and start feeding the spiritual life He birthed in us, and repent, and do what He says. Faith is obeying what you know is true. Come back to our First Love. Pastor BH Clendennen said recently in one of his messages "Do we limit the Holy Spirit's operation in us by functioning in our own strength because of our selfish thinking and acting ? We are on the threshold of the coming of the Lord. Are you a foolish virgin, knowing what you ought to do and not doing it? Or are you a wise virgin with oil in your lamp waiting on His Coming?"

Monday, December 15, 2008

Serving God or Serving Self?

Rom 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?

What shall we say then in response? Shall we continue to miss the mark, to err and wander from the path of uprightness and honor, to do or go wrong? Sin is an offence, a violation of Divine law, in thought or deed. We are to be dead or dying to sin. Having been born again of the Spirit of God, we should not want to violate God's law, or miss the mark. We should be seeking the right way, seeking truth and understanding of the truth. Why would we want to continue to remain in the mire and muck God delivered us from? Then again, if we are continually striving in ourselves to serve and please God, frustrated at our lack of power to do so, frustrated by repeated failure, then we have missed the mark. If we are trying to live a Christian life in our own strength, when He said we had to be filled with the Spirit of God, the Word of God is asking us shall we continue in this sin, failing because of weakness, sin, confess and repent in a never ending cycle? Shall we continue to miss the mark or will we finally humble ourselves before God and admit we can't do this on our own, and repent that we tried for so long, in spite of His dealing with us, and seek to be filled with the Holy Ghost who is the ability of God in every believer to do what the Lord calls us to do?

When we were cleansed and immersed into Christ-into His life-have we not considered what that life was? Do we not understand that means we are also to be immersed into His death? This is what Paul is asking the Romans. What does that mean? His life was a life lived for others, a sacrificial, selfless life, led and governed completely-not by Himself, but by the Spirit of God. He was dead to self and sin.

When we consider this complete denial of self, it is an overwhelming thought. How can we do this? How can we reject ourselves? We have lived our whole lives in self, pleasing self, a slave to self. If self wants something, we sacrifice to get it. We will do without something else to get that thing self wants. The Spirit of God deals with us to get up early and pray before the rest of the family, but self is sleepy and denies God, because self wants its way. The Spirit says fast and seek Me for the deliverance of others, and self makes excuses, self is weak, and it whines, looking for a way out. Many times the Spirit of God deals and draws us to do something or go somewhere that self doesn't want to. Whomever we yield to, doesn't the Scripture say that is who we serve?

Still, when we have this God-given desire to please Him, when we have His fear in our hearts, and we start by His operation in our lives to see ourselves in His light, it is ugly thing we see. It can cause us to despair over ourselves. Still self focused. But it starts with us, minute by minute, day by day, one thing and one thought and one act at a time of surrendering ourselves fully to Him. Start with what He is dealing with you most about. Is it prayer? Is it fasting? Is it spending more time in His Word? Is it asking someone to forgive you for something you said or did? Is it paying your tithes? Maybe being faithful to come to church? Whatever it is, start with that one thing. Is there one thing He's wanting you to get rid of? He's recently ended my life long love affair with caffeine.

He's been a long time stripping me, but He has been and still is stripping me of self. I have seen enough of HIM that I have begun to want HIM more than self. This is the key to surrender. You can't preach and thunder "You must die to self! You must be crucified!" No, the message can't be self focused it must be Christ centered. He must be put on glorious display, and in seeing HIM we see self and then we realize what grace truly means and how costly it was.

Then it becomes precious to us-not ever to be taken for granted. For when we see Him, when we have a divine understanding, a revelation of who He is, of His holiness, we see our own self centered and pathetic attempts to be holy by how we look or act, by what we do or don't do, and all we can do now is fall on our face before Him and admit Oh, Lord I can never be like you. Do away with me and come rule and reign in me. Give Him more and more of yourself. Ask Him to and let Him draw you by the power of His Spirit into His presence, more and more. When we see Him, by default we see our failures, our selfishness, how totally unlike Him we are. He is completely all together different than what we are. The only way we can be holy is be filled with His Holy Spirit-that is His holiness in us. Humanity can't be holy-we can have nothing that we have not been given from above regarding this divine life and nature. It doesn't originate from self or in self. It comes from above-from HIM.

Whenever there is a temptation to put self over God, deny that self its desire and expression. Yield to God, not self, minute by minute, hour by hour, thought by thought, day by day. When self is crucified with Him, that body of sin, that self will in us that can never be satisfied no matter how much it has, is done away with. Then we are not enslaved to serve a selfish nature in us that is voracious in appetite-regardless of what kind of appetite, and demanding. Then we can be free to serve HIM. He provides the faith, the strength, the wisdom, the forgiveness, the power, the holiness, the promises, the ability, the Holy Ghost-who is the ability of God in us. We have nothing we have not received-we can't do this ourselves. Provision has been made for the one who is sick of serving self, and wants to be used by God to make a difference in these last days. But we have to choose to suffer some things, in denying ourselves. The Lord says if we will make the choice, He will enforce it. Now, think about that..If we are willing to deny ourselves, if we reject self as the master of this body we live in, and present it to Him, for Him, and ask Him for the power, He will enforce our decision. This requires stepping out in faith, into a way of life we have never known-and that requires courage and trust in the Lord. Again, He is the provision. He is everything we need to succeed.

Just as Jesus Christ died unto sin, and self, He lived unto God. This is our pattern. If we yield to the inner promptings of the Spirit of God, at the expense of self, refusing it any expression, minute by minute, day by day, always looking to Christ for the power to do this, then we are overcoming ourselves. Remember you have been made a spectacle before angels and men. So is God, and So is Satan.

When temptation arises, a choice has to be made. Do you yield your body and your mind to what the Spirit of God wants you to do, or do you yield to self and its desires? When you reject the rulership of yourself, and choose to yield to the Spirit of God, He will enforce that decision. He will be right there with all the power you need. Let NOT sin therefore reign in your mortal (temporary) body. By saying let not, He shows us we have a choice in the matter-to let or not to let self rule. Neither yield your members-your tongue, your hands, your mind, as tools of that which is wrong. Yield to God as one who is alive and a tool of His righteousness. Sin shall not have dominion over you. We don't have to sin-we choose to sin. When we feel weak, do we just give in to that weakness or do we refuse and call on His strength to stand and make the right choice? We do have that right. We fail ourselves and Him if we choose not to exercise that right.

Don't you know that whomever you submit yourself to obey when that choice arises, that is who you are in reality serving?

Jud 1:24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,

Jud 1:25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

He has the power by virtue of His own ability and endless resources to do this. That word 'keep' means to watch, to be on guard, carefully observe, to save and preserve. He protects what is HIS and He is able to guard us and keep us from ourselves. This is one reason why I believe He chose to come and live IN us rather than with us. He is right there every step of the way-the very second temptation arises. He's able to keep you from stumbling if you look to HIM and not yourself. So, if we present ourselves to Him, then He is going to be able to present us before Himself without fault before the throne of glory with gladness and great joy. He truly is the only wise God, our Source of wisdom, and our Deliverer, to HIM be all glory, honor, praise and worship, and majesty, dominion, and power for He alone would never abuse these. Truly, we are our own worst enemy. Yes, there is a devil out there who seeks to devour and destroy, but there is a carnal, rebellious nature inside every human being that does not want to yield to God. To deny God is to deny life-for HE is the source of all life. Those who can hear and follow these Scriptures are those who will have the testimony of Jesus Christ. They will overcome by the blood of the Lamb, all those failures and sins, and they word of their testimony will be they loved not their own lives unto death-but rather HIS life. This is the testimony of Jesus Christ-a life lived for another, by the power of another. Father, teach us to walk in this truth, to live it, make it a reality in our lives, oh Lord, for You alone are able. The choice is ours, and by Your grace, we choose YOU, not self.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Go Back to the Beginning

Go Back to the Beginning Full Text

Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
Gen 1:2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

As I come to the Word of the Lord this morning, I do so with a reverence and careful determination. I must always remember this Word is pure, it is holy, and it is for me-for my benefit and yours, and I do very well not to come before this Holy Word casually or irreverently. For those who are struggling with confusion, who are going through a trial they don't understand, I believe these Scriptures will strengthen and encourage us as the Holy Spirit reminds us of some very basic, but vital facts. He wants us to understand His Word, and understand what it means to our lives and it is to this end I bow my heart before His Word, and come to sit at His feet, and learn of Him. I am so thankful this entrance has been granted-and that He would want to spend time with me, and teach me. In the beginning, before anything was, before there was an earth, before there were people and problems and devils, and temptations, and pain, and death and sin and suffering, there was God. There was Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. We know the Bible says the Lord dwells in unapproachable light. (1Ti_6:16) That light is inaccessible. No man can approach this light-it's so pure it would consume flesh. He truly is a consuming fire (Heb_12:29). He is the High and Lofty One who dwells in eternity. (Isa_57:15) Before the mountains were made, before the earth was made, He was there-inconceivably almighty, and magnificently pure. (Psa_90:1-2)

He sits high and lifted up on the throne of all Creation, including every single universe that exists or ever has existed. He sits surrounded by creatures endued with power inconceivable to the human mind, yet these creatures worship and hide their faces and feet from Him in reverence, and all they can cry is "Holy, Holy, Holy". They are so overwhelmed by His presence and holiness. (Rev_5:14) Isaiah calls them seraphim, (Isa_6:2) John calls them beasts in Rev_4:8. Isaiah says they have 6 wings and with two of them they hide their faces in awe of Him. They cover their feet-this tells me they won't go or do anything unless He tells them to. How my spirit hungers to reach that place in God where every step, every word, every thought is guided by His Holy Spirit.
Before there was anything, there was this Great God. There is no place for human pride here. No place for human effort. Just surrender. The earth was a formless, empty place. This word formless also means a place of confusion, desolation, a wasted place. Void, it's a great empty ruined place. It was dark-there was no light. This was the condition of the earth in the beginning when God created it.

When the Lord began creating the heavens and the earth, the earth was first a shapeless, chaotic mass, with the the Spirit of God brooding over the dark vapors. (TLB). The Amplified Bible includes the fact the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the deep waters. This word 'deep' means an abyss, a subterranean water supply. It was a surging mass of water, according to Strong's Hebrew. One translation says the Spirit of God moved gently on the face of the waters. The KJV uses the word "moved" (H7363) and it translates to brood, but with an implication of being relaxed-and that implies confidence. The word brood means to hover or hang over something. So as I considered various translations, I found most of them to be accurate when you consider the original Hebrew from which they were all translated.

When you read the direct word for word translation (and I was surprised by this) from the original Hebrew, here is what it says:

Gen 1:1 Created by the Elohim were the heavens and the earth. Gen 1:2 Yet the earth became a chaos and vacant, and darkness was on the surface of the submerged chaos. Yet the spirit of the Elohim is vibrating over the surface of the water.

This is the Concordant Literal Version. It is a direct translation from the Hebrew. He brings order out of chaos with His Word. Where there is darkness, and emptiness and chaos, His Spirit hovers over this, brooding. If something created by a holy God who is pure and powerful was without form and empty, dark and desolate, how can man expect to create anything that will produce order? As I look closely at these Scriptures, carefully, prayerfully examine them, I see HIM, hovering over this dark, empty place where there is only confusion, nothing is in right order. But He hangs over this and speaks, and at His Word, the darkness is gone. He says "Let there be LIGHT."
Light is required here. He speaks, (Psa 33:9) and it is done. Light means illumination. Things are clear now, in every sense. He speaks, darkness and confusion are gone. Man can create nothing that has any sense of order about it. When God created the earth, it took His Word to bring light and order to it. How powerful His Word is. Then He divides light from darkness. He is showing us, teaching us with every thing He does how it is to be. What fellowship has light with darkness? 2Co_6:14 The two can NOT co-exist in the same place.

Now, let us consider this: this awesome God brought order and understanding on a massive scale to this planet-with His Word. Let there Be Light! He said it. If you are struggling, if you have failed Him and feel you aren't accepted by Him, but you want Him then come. If your life feels like chaos, if it is desolate, and barren, and empty and everywhere you look everything looks dark, come. When everything feels like it has spun out of control, and nothing makes sense anymore, come. If you are fighting depression and all you want to do is sleep to escape, get up, and come. If the pain is bad, the emotional hurt you can't deny or escape, come. Whatever the problem, it is not too big for this awesome God.
Eph 5:14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. 2Co 4:6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

We don't minister ourselves, but HIM, His promises, His life is the answer. He commanded the light to shine out of darkness so we could see in our minds the understanding that the glory of God is Jesus Christ, our hope of glory. He puts this treasure of Himself in our earthen vessels, in our human bodies, made from dust of the earth, sustained by His life, naturally and spiritually. Like Paul, we can be troubled on every side, but we are not hemmed in. When it looks like there is no way out, He is the way. He is the Waymaker! When we are persecuted, pressed, and pursued by the powers of darkness that would love to flood our minds with despair and hopelessness, HE lifts up the standard. He will not let us drown. We can look to Him, even if we are so weak we are barely hanging on and He will reach down and save us when we cry out to Him. He will never leave us or forsake us. Hallelujah! Look up, Beloved, He has not left you alone. He has been there all along. Just call out to Him, He will rescue you, and bring you through victorious! There is no darkness too powerful for the light of His Truth. He is the First and the Last, He is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End of everything. It all started with HIM and it ends up with Him.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Light or darkness? Your Choice

2Pe 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
2Pe 2:2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.

This is a serious warning Peter is bringing to the people here. Too often we read the Bible casually without taking time to stop and meditate and think carefully on what we have read. Let us pray the Lord will deliver us of such a bad habit. Peter warned these people will behave and minister in such a way that others will follow their error, and this way is a dangerous, destructive way that will lead straight to hell. There is a spirit of covetousness driving these false representatives, and they have these scripted little sermonettes which sound pretty and nice, and do not offend, and lead straight to your wallet. Before they ever were, judgment was set against this kind of behavior and God will not be mocked. What is sown will be reaped. Just because they have not yet been judged, they and others think God is okay with what they are doing, but He is nothing like them and He will not change His just laws, nor allow injustice to be unpunished. They sell their cotton candy sickly sweet preaching tapes to unsuspecting people for way too much money, making merchandise out of them, as the Scripture warns and it's like feeding poison to those who don't discern.
When you see ministers getting up and preaching prosperity and peace, with no mention of the cross, or the blood, no mention of this leadership and infilling of the Holy Ghost that leads us to the cross where our self life is crucified with Christ and He reigns in us, there is a problem. Jesus did not come to bring peace on the earth-He lived the example we must follow. He lived a self-less life poured out for the sake of others and there was much tribulation and suffering involved. Because of these covetous and selfish ministries, which talk religious but have no power, no fruit of the Spirit, the world looks on in amusement, recognizing the fake, and they mock and laugh and speak evil of the Gospel and the Lord. They provoke others to blaspheme, to defame the name of the Lord and His Holy Word.

Christianity is reviled, and those who stand for truth are demonized as extremists and identified as haters and intolerant. This is the spirit that rages even now and it is getting worse. It is going to get much worse. I saw on the news this morning, a humanist group has bought a controversial ad with a young woman dressed as Santa with her hands up in the air and a smile on her face. Above her, in big green letters "Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness' sake" It is a holiday themed ad, and has been purchased by the American Humanist Association to be placed on the side of BUSES in Washington, DC. Public buses. The anti christ spirit is alive and raging so we need to be drawing nigh to Him, fortifying ourselves and seeking His wisdom and truth so we aren't swept away in the flood of deception.

The righteous dwell among these, and see what is happening, and are vexed by the deceit, by the total misrepresentation of God. It grieves their heart to see people led astray by the selfish desires of their own heart which these false teachers and prophets are only too happy to cater to. There is an interesting Scripture here I want to pause and examine and depend on the Holy Spirit to open our understanding.

2Pe 2:4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;

God was not lenient with the angels that sinned. They erred, they missed the mark. They fell from their first habitation-heaven as angels of God. They followed an 'angel of light' into rebellion against God and the Scripture says there was war in heaven. That also tells me, by example, that if I were to follow an 'angel' of light, someone who represented something other than the True Light, which is Jesus Christ (Joh_14:6) then I will end up fighting against God, and the truth. I would end up lost, too in spiritual darkness. The only way free from this kind of darkness is divine intervention. Pattern set for all who follow this path of deception. Those who teach His Word to others really need to consider and to take heed to this Scripture-including myself. I am not a preacher, but those of us who even write about HIM and share it with others is included here, too. Any messenger of the Word is included.
Whether you bear witness of the Word to your friends and co-workers, or family, or preach or write about the Lord, we must know these things and be so very careful. That word angel is angelos, and it means a messenger, pastor, or angel sent from God as an ambassador or bearer of tidings. I am always aware as I study the Word and write down what the Holy Spirit shows me, (He shines that Light that helps me understand) that I am totally NOT smart enough to think all this up on my own, and amazed that the Lord would let me speak His Word and I pray HE not let me get it wrong. What an awe-inspiring responsibility and privilege. It's intimidating when I stop and think about it.

These angels have been cast down to hell, the Word says. The word for hell is G5020 tartaroo. It means these angels are incarcerated, locked up in the deepest abyss of hell or Hades. They have been imprisoned, with chains of darkness. I can't fathom in my mind that kind of blackness. When you apply this to human beings, recall the Lord Jesus Christ warned the people to walk in the Light while they had the Light lest darkness overtake them for those who walk in darkness don't know or realize where they are going. (Joh_12:35) If we err from truth, which is light or revelation of truth, the only thing left is to wander off into darkness. This is the same darkness (spiritual death and blindness) the lost are bound in until they come to Christ and surrender their heart and life and repent of their sins. What an awful thing. To be lost and not even know it. It takes the work of the Holy Spirit shining that light into their darkness so they can see; so they can understand they are lost.

The chains of darkness-is this a literal place of darkness in a place called hell so thick it can be felt or is He just telling us this darkness is so strong it binds? Exo_10:21 refers to the plague of darkness over Egypt sent by God and Scripture says it was a darkness that may be felt. The word used for darkness in Exodus is different. (H2822) It means a darkness that brings with it destruction, and death and sorrow. Jesus also warned them in Luk_11:35 to take heed or be very careful that the light (or understanding) they had was not of darkness. The light He is talking about here is (G5457 phos), it means a natural fire or light. That speaks to me of something dependent on the natural. Make sure your understanding of truth is not rooted in human effort, and human wisdom (which always tends to examine everything with a self-centered focus) for both will lead you astray. Then in the next verse, Jesus says this:

Luk 11:36 If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light.

This word for light is (G5460 photeinos) and it means transparent, bright, full of lustrous light. It's a pure light, so if the second light is pure, reason says the natural light mentioned in Luk_11:35 was not pure. There are no dark corners or hidden places, the whole being is well lit, full of light. If you are walking in a place that though lit, has dark areas, dark hidden places, it's hard to tell what might be lurking hidden in those places. The Scripture says in HIM there is no darkness at all. No darkness will be allowed in heaven, so let us pray the light of the Glorious Gospel shines brightly in and all through us, lighting up any hidden areas of darkness and exposing them so they can be removed. This kind of light will shine, illuminate everything so it can be seen and understood. (G5461 photizo) This is what the Holy Spirit does. Those who are seeking understanding of the Lord, of the Word, He has to come and shine this photizo light for us to understand. This is also the kind of light He shines in darkness so the lost can see their condition and come out of darkness.

2Co 4:6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

This God who said "Let there be light" when there was nothing but a dark, empty void, has lit up our heart-our minds with understanding that the glory of God is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. Hallelujah! It requires the working of God-we can't free ourselves from this darkness, and neither can the angels that sinned. You don't know how awful that darkness is until you have seen pure light. God help us never to wander off back into darkness. But if we don't accept and embrace the Light, the understanding that He gives us, that is exactly what will happen.
These false prophets and teachers are described this way:

2Pe 2:17 These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.

This is the result when men love darkness rather than light. God won't force Truth on people. If they want to remain willfully ignorant, He won't force His Word on them. He sends it to them and gives them an opportunity to accept or reject what He says. The choice is entirely ours. I thought about this because it is a disturbing verse. These are wells-a source or supply but they have no living water. They are like clouds-no substance, not anchored, but easily carried by the storm. They are unstable. Their understanding is not truth, their mind is held in custody by darkness-blindness to real Truth. What an awful condition. My God-when you see people railing against righteousness, demanding their rights to unnatural lifestyles, remember their understanding is guarded by darkness. You look up the word 'reserved' G5083 tereo, and that is what it means. To be guarded, held in custody, kept. It will help us when we understand these things not to rail on them when they rail on us. We won't return evil for evil when they speak evil of us, we should pray for them. We once were in that kind of darkness, bound, unable to understand truth, unable to save ourselves, hopelessly lost until HOPE shined the light that we could be free into our minds, and we joyfully surrendered in repentance, and embraced His sacrifice for our sins. Doesn't understanding this make you want to stop what you are doing and start praying for your lost loved ones? Oh, God help us be more concerned, for others, and not ourselves.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Comfort God Wants To Give You

2Co 1:2 Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
2Co 1:3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
2Co 1:4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

You hear the word "grace" a lot in church, and in the Bible. But what does it really mean? Have you ever stopped to think about it and meditate on this amazing word? In the Greek, it comes from a word 'charis' and pronounced khorece. It means God has bestowed certain favors and benefits and gifts upon us just because it is His character, His nature, to love us and want to help us. He knows better than we the flaws, inconsistencies and failures of our lives and our hearts, yet this does not cause Him to withdraw His grace from us. No, just the opposite-He extends it freely. His grace is His kindness, His willingness to offer His good will, and do what it took to offer us entrance into the goodness and blessings He has to share with us-which we did nothing to earn or merit.

Paul is writing to a people who came out of gross sin, were greatly blessed of the Lord, but promptly fell into error and division. This always happens when the Lord is moving and working among His people. The enemy will try to come in and conquer and divide. A house divided cannot stand. So, he is also writing to people he knows have been party to attempts to smear his name and service to the Lord, as well as those who have been led astray again since his last letter and visit. When Titus reports back the people repented and accepted the truth, Paul writes again. He doesn't come with an "I told you so" or harsh criticism. He writes reminding them they are recipients of the grace and peace of God.

Grace and peace. How do you truly have peace? Saying you possess it and truly having it are two different things. This peace by definition means God has no controversy with you. It means you can rest assured in His ability regardless of the situation around you. This kind of peace comes from knowing God yourself and learning who He is and how He works. Now, the Holy Ghost knows the hearts of men and women and He knows how to convict and convince them of sin and when they have erred, and repented, He comes offering peace and grace of God. Blessed-that word means adorable, worthy of praise, is God, the Father of our Lord Jesus. He is the Father of mercy-He has compassion and takes pity on His children. He knows the weakness of their flesh, and that they are but dust. He is the God of all comfort- encouragement, exhortation, urging His people to trust Him, look to Him, and lean heavy on Him for HE alone by His Word and His Spirit is able to hold them up in times like we live in.

In verse 4 the word for comfort is parakaleo-and it is used to describe one of the ministries of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It means to call near, invite or all for one to come closer so they can find the comfort and encouragement they need. He is calling for us to draw near to Him so He can teach and instruct us and that will strengthen and encourage us. This Scripture says He comforts us in all our tribulation. He is our Father, and He knows we are troubled about many things, and He knows what we need. He wants His troubled children to come to Him, not expecting harshness but help. There is such a pressure, and distress many are facing right now. We all have our own afflictions, be they mental, physical, financial or family problems. There is an all out spiritual warfare raging and God's children need to be edified, encouraged, and taught truth, more than ever. We need to have our minds saturated with the Truth and we all need to be praying for the Holy Ghost to fill us. As we are comforted by God through His Spirit and His Word, then we are able to comfort others. The word comfort used here is similar --"paraklesis" and it means to call those close who need help, so they can be encouraged, and strengthened. There is so much anguish and trouble in the lives of so many hurting believers. He knows this and He wants us to remember He alone can comfort and bring us through. Remember He said our faith would be tried by fiery trials, and sometimes we would be in heaviness because of these. But we can look to Him and know He will not let this take us under. No matter what storm is raging, He walks above the storm, and we will make it to the other side if we are obedient and seek Him. He doesn't want us depending on anyone or anything else but HIM and His Word. This is one of the reasons He sent the Holy Ghost to us.

Isa 25:1 O LORD, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.
Isa 25:2 For thou hast made of a city an heap; of a defensed city a ruin: a palace of strangers to be no city; it shall never be built.

The fact that He is OUR God, that He redeemed us and bought us, and saved us is a miracle and something to be so thankful for. We are not putting our trust in Buddha, or Mohammad, or self, or this new age religion that is so prevalent. We are trusting in TRUTH and TRUTH is Person. He is the Lord! He's real, He knows our needs, hurts and desire to please Him. He does not give up on us when we are ready to give up on ourselves. For that we can lift up His name, exalt HIM higher than our problems, or our failures and praise His Holy Name for what He has done-deliver us, time and time and time again, and for what He has not done-which is forsake us. Glory to His Name! Hallelujah!! He has worked so many miracles, He has parted seas and rivers, He has breathed life into dry bones, He has opened blinded eyes, He has raised what is dead and given it new life! His Word has always been faithful and true. He can take the strong hold of the enemy and reduce it to ruin in seconds with a Word of hope and truth.

Isa 25:4 For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.

He becomes the defense, the strength to those who are weak, though He always has been their defense, now they are made aware of this. Their back is to the wall, they are in a tight place, but He is there. He's an ever present Help because He knows there is an ever present evil that would swallow them up. He's drawn them close to Himself and sheltered them and they are learning by experience He alone is their hiding place. He's their Rock, a solid, unshakable place they can stand when everything around them is being shaken. He will never be moved. He will never be overthrown or caught by surprise. The enemy can never triumph over this glorious God.
The storm has been fierce and it has taken a toll on the people. That word 'poor' is dal (H1800) and it means dangling, weak or thin-barely able to hang on. They have been buffeted hard, they have fought this warfare and they are weary and in great need of help. He's the strength to those who are in need, destitute in a hard place, in real trouble. When I looked up that word distress (H6862) in verse 4, in the original Hebrew it means: They have an adversary who has afflicted them and brought great anguish into their lives, and much tribulation and sorrow. I was amazed. God is their shelter from the storm-and this is a demonic storm. This the flood of demonic activity that causes confusion, torment, sorrow, temptation, and grief. The enemy is sending forth this flood to try to overthrow their faith and sweep them back into darkness. He said in Isa_59:19 when the enemy comes in like a flood, He will lift up a standard against him. The standard is the flag that goes ahead of the army, and who is the Captain of our salvation, Church? The Lord Jesus Christ!
In the dry, desolate place that has been utterly wasted, a heavy toll has been exacted because of the prince of the power of the air who has laid siege to God's people, is determined to steal their faith in God and His promises. He wants you to throw the Book down and believe the lie out of hell that you have had enough that you don't need it anymore! He wants to snuff out the of Christ within you. The blast of the terrible ones-that word 'blast' is an interesting word.
(H7307) Both the New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance and Strong's Hebrew Definitions agree: It's an attack that comes on the wind, a spiritual attack, as a breath of cool air to try to extinguish faith in God, love for God, and zeal for God. The fiery darts are launched as a barrage as the enemy tries to manipulate your thoughts, provoke your temper and cause you to lose your courage and lose heart. He wants you to be despondent, grief stricken, in despair. This is the blast of the oppressor and it is a terrible, strong, and violent sifting within your mind to try to destroy your faith in God and in His promises. He wants to make you believe the Word of God is a lie and there is no hope and he has you backed up against a wall with no where to go.
Remember, he is the liar and the father of all lies. When you are against a wall, God is that very present help and He is there with you. He said He would never leave you or forsake you.

Isa 25:5 Thou shalt bring down the noise of strangers, as the heat in a dry place; even the heat with the shadow of a cloud: the branch of the terrible ones shall be brought low.

When Israel was up against a wall, God made a way through the Red Sea and they walked across on dry ground and God had His prophet leading them, and God Himself was their rear guard. He had their back and would not let the Egyptians rush in upon them. No, that fiery cloud was right there, preventing the enemy from following them until it was time-until they were safely across and then God moved to allow the enemy to rush in to their own destruction.

God will bring down the noise of strangers, that strange voice that batters your mind trying to wear you out. Oh what a blessing and encouragement I got as I dug in these words, and examined these Scriptures. The word is
H3665 kana, and it means God is going to subdue this uproar and horrible noise of the enemy. The stranger, that profane, foreign stranger-who is the enemy and adversary of our soul, will have to bow his knee in humiliation, vanquished by OUR GOD, and be brought down low in subjection, under the mighty hand of God. He's going to make the enemy give account and answer for what he has done. The Scripture says the branch of the terrible ones will be brought low-(H6030) and it means made to answer or give account. As the heat in a dry place-He, God Almighty is going to dry up this flood. Hallelujah! Be encouraged, church. You really can be strong in the Lord. Has He not commanded us to be strong and of a good courage that we don't have to be afraid or dismayed for He is the Lord OUR GOD and is with us where ever we go! He knows what is coming and He wants you to spend time with Him, in His Word, in prayer, getting fortified, filled up with oil, now, while we can. He is calling us to draw nigh to Him and away from the things that would distract and vex us. He wants us to draw nigh to Him so He can draw nigh to us and comfort us, saints. What an awesome invitation. I pray you come. I encourage you to find a place, at an altar of prayer and be still, knowing you have been invited you will be received, and just understand He is GOD. Think about what that means. HE IS GOD. Nothing escapes His knowledge and He is never without a plan of victory! Hallelujah! Don't listen to the lies of the devil when he tells you that you have failed God that your life hasn't amounted to much. Little is much when God is in it. If he tells you that you are a failure, that means you are succeeding in getting somewhere with God. If you were a failure, he'd be lying to you telling you that you were a great success! He can't tell the truth, so when he tells you that you are a failure, rejoice! He lies!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

After the Cross

Peter and John had ran to the sepulcher and found His tomb empty, but they could not believe the women or the two who met the Lord on the road to Emmaus. There was some stressed out men in this room. They had all failed Him. They had all forsook Him. If He had truly risen, why would He come to them? But how could that be? They saw Him die. They didn't think it possible, but they saw it. But then again, they were talking about a Man who could walk on water, who told the wind and waves to be at peace and they immediately stopped raging. This was no normal Man they were talking about. There was some arguing going on in here, too, I think. Perhaps they were blaming each other for not doing something to help the Lord. Perhaps they were picking at each other's mistakes, in their misery. I think they were blaming each other, and then realizing there was enough blame to go around. Oh, Peter had denied Him, James and John had wanted to call fire down on Samaria. They had all ran away in the garden. Nobody had spoken up in His defense at that mockery of a trial. None of them had lifted a finger to help Him in His worst hour. Surely, their misery and guilt was overwhelming. They were all devastated and none of them had any peace with themselves or with each other. There was still mourning and quiet weeping going on in this place. (Mar_16:10) They had learned so much, they had seen so many miracles performed by this Man-even performed many themselves in His name. And this is how it would end? In utter helplessness with His own paralyzed with fear, unable to move forward, their faith and confidence shattered? How could He forgive them for their abandoning Him in His hour of need? How could they forgive themselves? Was there resentment among the disciples toward one another? I don't know. But I do believe there was friction and depression and despair.
But then Peace appears in their midst. Oh, hallelujah, the church may be down, but not out.

Joh 20:19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

Their eyes widen with astonishment. I can't imagine all the conflicting emotions that rushed through their minds and hearts. He knew they weren't at peace which was why that is the first thing He said. He didn't come with "I told you that you would all fail me." He didn't come to remind them of their failures. He came to put their fears at rest and give them peace.
Peace, He says, be yours. As My Father has sent Me to share the good news that there is freedom and hope possible, and to show the world who He is, and what He is like, even so I now send you. Then He breathed on them and said "receive ye the Holy Ghost."

In Gen_2:7 He formed Adam from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul. Every part, every organ, every member of Adam's body began to function correctly, in perfect harmony with the rest of the members of this body when the breath of God blew in his nose. That word receive (G2983) in the Greek is 'lambano' and it means to accept, to strive to obtain, hold, gripped, to lay hold of any person or thing, claiming what is one's own to one's self, to make one's own companion or attendant. It also means to take a thing that is due, receive what is offered. We must give Him access to ourselves. We must have regard for His power, His position, who He is, with HIGH esteem. We must experience Him and get to know Him and listen to Him. Consult Him first always.

Thomas wasn't with the disciples at this time. His name means 'twin'. He doubts their word, just as they did, when others tried to tell them Jesus had risen. Something about Jesus' death had hit Thomas particularly hard. Unlike the others, his reaction was "unless I see the prints of the nails in His hands and touch them, and put my hand in His side, where they pierced Him, I will not believe." This was the disciple who was so passionate, when he heard Lazarus had died, said "lets go that we may die with him". (Joh_11:16) He asked questions, because he had a desire to understand, when Jesus was telling them He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life. I believe there was a deep work going on in Thomas' heart. He was unable to take anything on faith now. He loved Jesus passionately. He had never given the Lord any trouble. There is no mention of the Lord ever having to calm him down or rebuke him as he had with Peter, James and John. But neither had he been included in some of the intimate times with the Lord they had. When they tried to tell him the Lord had appeared to them, and brought peace to their hearts, he would not believe. He would not listen to them.

This church is getting off to a slow start. They have been shaken. They seem to have no direction, or motivation to do anything but stay indoors, out of sight, in hiding. Eight days later, the disciples are again gathered together, and this time Thomas is there. And again, Jesus comes, offering peace. His attention is on Thomas this time.

"Thomas, reach out, see my hands? Here they are...reach out your hand and thrust it in my side..don't be faithless...believe."

At the sight of Him, hearing Him echo his own words, I believe it took Thomas to His knees...for He said "My Lord, and My God." Understanding lit up His mind. This truly is the Lord. He really did come back from where men couldn't come.

But, still, after these two episodes, the disciples were still struggling, unable to put it together. They seemed unable to function as He had said they would. I think Peter was just fed up, and decided to go fishing. That was something he could understand. It was simple. The others went with him. They toiled all night but caught nothing. It was a wasted effort, for their was no fruit produced by the efforts of their flesh. There was nothing accomplished except frustration and emptiness, and weariness. When we try to serve the Lord in our own strength, we can accomplish nothing of eternal value. All works done in the flesh, not in and by the power of the Holy Spirit will be burnt up. They will be as wood, hay or stubble.

Early the next morning, as they approach land, they see Someone standing there. He asks them if they have any meat? Have you eaten? The implication is have you found any fulfillment in what you are doing? They have found nothing.

He says cast the net on the right side of the ship and you will find what you come out here for." They did, and the net filled up so fast with fish they could not pull it in. Then they knew it was the Lord. Peter grabbed his outer coat and unable to wait until the boat reached land, jumped in the sea and hurried to the shore...
I find it interesting that when the Lord's people obeyed, the harvest (and we worry why people aren't being saved like they should be) was there and all they had to do was pull it in. When He tells you where to spread the net,it's because only He knows where the hungry fish are. Same with people. He knows where those who are hungry for truth are. How important it is that we can hear His voice and follow Him for ourselves. God help us if we are depending on the preacher for a word from God. Bring what you caught, He says, but come eat what I prepared. Come and dine, He says. Come eat with Me. As they all sit down together, something is different about this meeting. Simon, you love Me more than they do? Jesus asks him. This word Jesus uses is Agapao. (G25) It means to love much, beloved, cherished. I believe He is saying this because Peter has made this boast. Perhaps it was when they were arguing over who would be the greatest-who would do more for the Lord, or perhaps it was when Peter told the Lord he would go all the way, that he'd die for the Lord, or go to jail with Him, right before Gethsemane, and Peter's denial of the Lord three times.

Yes, Lord, he said, You know I love you.
Feed My lambs. Tend them, rule them, supervise them. This should go without saying, but I am going to say this: Tend them as I have you-diligently, passionately, kindly, and patiently. Bear long with them in love. The word for feed here is G1006, bosko, and it means to feed, to protect, guard, to keep safe.

It is the duty of a Christian teacher to promote, and instruct every member of the church in the way of truth. It is the duty of the teacher to be fully submitted to the Holy Spirit, to be in close communion with the Spirit of God because only then can the teacher get the food for the sheep that will strengthen, and prepare and keep them. The lambs have a hard journey ahead, with a deadly enemy stalking them, seeking whom he may devour. They cannot make it on milk alone. Milk alone will not help them grow strong as they need to in order to survive. They need strong meat, anointed and quickened by the Holy Spirit who alone knows when and how much they can digest. If the shepherd of the church-the pastor, or teacher is not in close communion with the Holy Spirit, the best he can come up with is milk. It will not do. The sheep will be sick and weak and fall away eventually on such a spiritual diet. The shepherd must feed on the Bread of life himself-in total dependence. Then there will be no arrogance, no harshness. You can't feed directly on HIM and it be any other way.

If you get in His presence, and He teaches you, and feeds you life, it will humble you, open your eyes to your own helplessness and you will know that there is no way you could have gotten this on your own.

This shepherd can then go and stand before the sheep and gently break the Bread of life he has been given, and ask and trust the Lord to bless and multiply it in the hearts and lives of the people, and deliver it to them. He will trust the Holy Spirit to convict hearts and work the work only HE can do as the seed is sowed. For then, the Word will be sent forth by the Lord, and it will accomplish what He intends it to accomplish. It's not just a man, searching for a message himself, with no spiritual leadership or guidance-or very little input, and get up and throw the Word at the people and dare them not to obey it. It grieves my heart when I see this happen. If you have to get up and threaten the people with God's judgment for their lack of worship, or their lack of being moved by the Word, and these folks have set under your leadership for years, then you need to go examine yourself and get alone with God and find out what the problem is. If the lambs are dying off, running away, or being devoured, and the sheep are sick and weak-the shepherd isn't feeding them right. The River of life is being hindered from flowing and the Spirit isn't moving in the midst like He wants to. Something is blocking the life of God working in the midst. Then, the shepherd can trust that the Master knows the difference between the tares and wheat and ministers to the wheat. He gives the sower the right seed to sow in the hearts of the people and the Holy Spirit is right there to water it, when it is done under His leadership.

Again, Jesus asks Peter, calling him Simon, Do you love me? Simon is one who hears, but he wasn't anchored by the Word. But he will become Peter, the rock, the one who won't be tossed about or shaken or go back ever again to the former things. That is the power of the Spirit of God.
Feed my sheep. He says this time. There is a difference between the sheep and the lambs. The word for feed here is different this time. It's G4165 pomaino. It means to feed, tend, and keep sheep, furnishing them food, and a place to feed, but also to rule, or govern them. This means dedication, as well, and diligence. The shepherd is required to protect, guard, feed, guide, instruct, govern, and provide a safe environment for the sheep. How we need to pray for our pastors. Theirs is a job that requires a complete submission to and close daily contact with the Lord.

The third time, the Lord looks at Peter and says "Simon, son of Jonas, do you love Me?" This time, the word for love used here is phileo (G5368) and it means to have affection for, with personal attachment to, be a friend to, in fondness as a matter of sentiment or feelings. Peter was distressed, remembering his denial of the Lord, and wondering why was the Lord asking him again. Peter most likely thought, well I denied Him three times, now He doesn't believe I love Him. But I think there was another reason the Lord was putting Peter on the spot-and it had more to do with the other disciples' thoughts and feelings about this, I think.

Something was being taught them here. Lord, help us see and hear what You are saying and what you mean in these Scriptures for there are none of us who have not failed You, who by our indulging self and following the desires of our flesh, have not denied You. Please forgive us, and please open our understanding to these Scriptures. May Your Word strengthen and prepare us to face the days ahead, and draw us to communion with Yourself...help us reject the fear and guilt that would hinder us from coming to You and remember You said those who come to You that You would never cast out or send away empty.

Again, Feed my sheep. This is the first word "feed" as with the lambs. (G1006) Then the Lord begins to minister things to come to this man. When you were young, you followed your own path, wherever you wanted to go, you went. But when you are old, you will reach out your hands and Another will bind you and take you where you wouldn't want to go. There is a two-fold application here. Yes, the Lord is hinting at the death Peter will die one day for the sake of the Gospel. But, he's going to be an apostle, led by and governed by the Spirit of God and he will be led into some hard places where his flesh is unable to go or to want to go. He will be jailed, beaten, threatened, persecuted, and vilified. He will have to deny himself, and surrender lordship of His life to the Holy Spirit. He will be shown that the Word is for all people, not just Jews. His religious prejudices will be overcome, and destroyed. This will be a growing and learning process that will continue after the Lord ascends back to heaven-one to which he will submit.

When we die to self, it glorifies God. When we are willing to reject ourselves and embrace HIM, HE is glorified. People might call you crazy because the preaching of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. Still, secretly they will wonder what it is about this great God we serve that would make us willing to go to such lengths to have Him. They will wonder and when they see Him in us, they will want Him or run from Him but they will not be able to be casual about Him. Then, Jesus said "Follow Me." I believe He is saying, I set the example by the life I lived here on earth before you. You are all witnesses to how I lived, what My life was about, who governed My life, and decisions. You saw the struggle in the Gethsemane, but My Father was faithful and saw Me through that hard time, when I had no one else to lean on. You saw a life poured out for others, so they might have hope and redemption and access to My Father. Follow My example. Live as I lived, walk and talk as I did. Follow Me, deny yourself and embrace ME and My way. My way means you have to die. But if you die to what you are, you will live to what and who I am. Will you follow Me?

Luk 24:49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.

He knows we can't do this on our own. We have to come to Him, and trust Him to be the strength in us to lay ourselves aside and embrace Him. Remember the testimony of Jesus Christ is one of self-sacrifice but it's also one of victory, power and it changed the world. If He told them to tarry and wait for the power to follow His example, then we must do this. If we try to follow His example in our own strength, we won't be able. We will make fools of ourselves and end up misrepresenting Him. Lord help us to bring our fears and failures to You, help us acknowledge it if we haven't been seeking You and we don't have the burden for the lost we should have. Help us to come running to Your presence, knowing You alone are our hope, and there is no other way. Help us to surrender ourselves fully to You, exchanging rags for true riches, and walk as You walked-totally devoted to the will of the Father. We need to be filled with the Holy Spirit and we can't fill ourselves. (Eph 5:18)

People are hurting, sin is destroying families, this nation is falling apart. All around the world, people are dying lost, miserable in life, and without hope in death because they don't know You. There are so many false teachers, false leaders and prophets leading the people into confusion. We know we've failed You, Lord. We read the Book of Acts, we read Your life on display in the Gospels and we battle shame and fear and confusion but we hunger to be like You and we can't fill ourselves. We have allowed too many things to hinder us from coming into Your holy presence and we just don't know how to fully give ourselves to You, but we want to. Lord empower us, draw us. Help us see You as You are! This poor and needy world has seen so much fake and phony they don't believe. Many are hard to You because of the deceit in religion. Religion truly does kill. Oh, Holy Spirit we need You to come, and breathe on us and set us in order in the Body of this Great Christ! Help us find our way to the place in Him we belong. Help us see the glorious hope placed before us is worth rejecting everything else so we might obtain Him and His glorious life. The sufferings of this time are truly not worthy to be compared to the glory which shall be revealed then. There is no comparison.

He is incomparable and one day all shall stand before Him. Those who surrendered fully to Him will be so glad they did and those who didn't will weep and wail when they behold His magnificence and see His love for them and know they are lost to Him forever because of a choice they made-many based on a misrepresentation of God to them in their lives. God help us not do that to someone. Forgive us for doing that. Help us, Holy Spirit, to follow you quickly to the cross and be done with self, trusting You alone can raise us up in the newness and power of a victorious life of Christ. We can't live this life in human strength. We can't follow you in our own strength. It's not by human might or human reasoning but by Your Spirit and Your Power (Zec 4:6). Have mercy on us and help us, Lord. You have given us the desire, but You must be the power in us working the work. We know You are more willing to do this than we have been to receive it in the past and we ask Your forgiveness. Make us willing to be willing to do anything it takes to have this victory over self, sin, the world and the devil. In Jesus' matchless and mighty name, we ask.

Rom 8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

Can I get an amen?