Posts Tagged ‘Scripture’

Contending for Promise

“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through Him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.” (2 Cor. 1:20)

“Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus. In Him, this is what we preach and pray, the great Amen, God’s Yes and our Yes together, gloriously evident.” (2 Cor. 1:20 MSG)

The Church that we see spoken of consistently in Scripture is a people of promise. Jesus said the very gates of hell will not prevail against her (Mt. 16:18). She is a people of promise (Lk. 24:49), called out of darkness and established upon a platform of Holy Spirit activity (Acts 2:4) and supernatural love (Col. 1:13-14). She has stood in the midst of persecution and multiplied in the midst of division. Her character has been challenged from every angle and she has advanced in every culture. Yet, she fights her greatest battles from within, from the very people who carry her promise. She will prevail, but not without a people who know how to maintain their sense of promise.

Agreement with God’s Promises: (2 Peter 1:2-4)

  • Brings Miracles: (Acts 3:1-9) In this story, Peter and John were going into the temple together to pray when they met a lame man at the gate. Peter told him to rise up and walk in the name of Jesus Christ and immediately he received his strength and was healed. Your prayers of agreement can bring miracles into your lives also, just as they did for Peter and John.
  • Brings Great Power: (Acts 4:31-33) Here is an account of the Apostles praying together for boldness. After their prayers, the place was shaken and filled with the Holy Spirit. They were of one heart and one soul.
  • Brings Abundance: (Acts 4:34-37) After the Apostles prayed for boldness, and gave witness to the resurrection of Jesus, land and house owners sold their possessions and brought the proceeds to the Apostles and they then distributed to everyone who had need.
  • Brings Freedom: (Acts 12:5-11) These verses tell of Peter when he was in prison. The church prayed to God for him constantly. Peter was bound by chains with guards and soldiers next to him. One night an angel of the Lord came and he released the chains from Peters hands and set him free. These prayers of agreement gave Peter his freedom.
  • Brings Deliverance: (Acts 16:25-26) Here Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God. Suddenly a great earthquake shook the prison and all the doors opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. (Rom. 15:30-31) Here Paul is asking for prayers that he may be delivered from those in Judea. (2 Cor. 1:8-11) Here is another account of Paul in Asia where the help of others praying together delivered him from a sentence of death.

Silence and Double-mindedness:

Offers Nothing:  Remind yourself that without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6).  The Apostle James emphasizes this point by telling us of the foolishness of doubting, saying that it makes us double-minded and unstable in all of our ways(Jms. 1:5-8).  He also contends that we have lack and confusion, because we are not even asking or we ask amiss, that we can spend it on our own pleasures(Jms. 4:2).

Contending:

When the Church does not contend for the promises of God they are stolen by deception, intimidation or religion. The Christian lifestyle was never meant to be a stroll in the park… we were made for dominion and occupation of the Earth!

We are at war! And we are advancing for both, the very victory won by Christ and the promises acquired through crushing the enemies hold on society (Col. 1:9-13). The very purpose for Christ’s coming in the flesh was to destroy the works of the devil and render him powerless over the people of promise (1 Jn. 3:8). Every time we stand on a promise of God, hold our peace in the midst of the storm or trust God in the midnight hour… all of heaven leans in to offer its resources. Our “Amen” reverberates in the atmosphere and the devil does not doubt the character of our resolve! For Christ Himself is our Advocate with the Father, making sure that the promise is fulfilled and His people are established in truth.

“And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.” (Rom. 16:20)

Encountering Glory

Beauty is released

Encountering Glory

The Glory of the Lord is the most awesome sight in Heaven. It moves the Angels to sing of His holiness and bow to His majesty. Although, the Glory of the Lord may be experienced; it is often misunderstood and seen as a rare occurrence here upon the Earth. The Bible talks about the Glory in many ways in both the Old and New Testaments. Still it remains only a vague concept to most Christians. It is my belief, that the Glory of God should be a central focus for the Church and a passion for all who long to know Truth.

“For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” (Hab. 2:14)

In Scripture, Moses contends for God’s Presence with a passionate plea, ”If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here.” (Ex 33:15-17). We need to contend for the Presence of God in our lives and never settle for our perception of reality.  Note that Moses pulled upon God’s Presence with earnest expectation and God says, “I will do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.”  He wanted God’s Presence to go with him, but he wanted something greater. He wanted to see evidence of God’s goodness and encounter His Glory.

He said, “Please, show me Your glory” (Ex 33:18).

What a prayer! He not only wanted to know that God was with him, he insisted upon the manifestation of that Presence… God’s goodness. We could say, he wanted God’s Presence made known to him, made visible and tangible. Think about it… if Moses could see the Glory of God, why shouldn’t we?

I believe as a Child of God; I can see the Glory too.

We must understand that the whole earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Glory of the Lord. The Bible speaks about our ability to see the Glory with the eyes of faith.

  • “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the Glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Cor 3:18)

The Bible also points to where we find the knowledge of the Glory of God.

  • “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Cor. 4:6)

Spending time alone beholding Him and worshiping Him, will cause us to have a greater hunger for His Presence and His revealed Glory in our lives. Seeing Him in the pages of God’s Word and knowing that there is more of God available in our lives, will cause us to search for deeper experiences with Him. We can begin to have Glory encounters of our own, where we get firsthand knowledge of His goodness and His power.

Into Faith

When we struggle with doubts, we as Christians should crave Scripture as God’s stabilizing force in life. We establish our faith in Christ when we develop a real hunger and thirst for the Words of God and they begin to bubble up within our minds to refute doubt.

At Jesus’ temptation experience He made the most clear identification of a truly sincere follower of God when He said,

“man shall not live by bread alone but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Mt 4:4).

All too often when we try to tackle our doubts, we want something tangible that we can see and taste or something emotional that we can feel. We would rather have Jesus just put His arm around us and tell us how everything will be all right. That might make us feel better, but I’m under the opinion that Satan loves that routine, because it makes us trust more in our “feelings” than in God.

Some things are not right and we must avoid deception that causes us to sow to the flesh and reap a harvest of corruption (Gal 6:7-9). Our spiritual discernment grows when we realize that being equipped to overcome doubt isn’t just about feeling better; it’s about getting back “into faith”!

Remember that Christian faith or the “God kind” of faith, only comes from the Word of God (Rom. 10:17).

There are at least two times recorded in the Bible when Jesus marveled at real faith. Once He marveled at a woman’s faith to receive healing for her issue of blood (Mk 5:34). In this story we notice that she took the initiative, because she heard about Him. She was coming to Jesus with an expectation of His authority being more powerful than her sickness. That was what she heard inside of her heart and mind that registered as a hope or expectation. She had endured 12 years of doctor visits which left her poor and in worse shape and she was not going to let this opportunity pass her by. She touches His garment “in faith” and is made well at that very moment, because she pulled upon His authority by believing rather than listening to doubts, fears, reasoning or feelings. Hope had put her into faith… it was Jesus Himself who acknowledged that her faith had made her well.

In another story Jesus marveled at a Gentile soldier’s great faith. A faith that Jesus called “great” because the centurion said,

“…speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority” (Matt. 8:8-9).

The centurion had a faith that was in Jesus’ Word alone. Because he understood “authority” (the power to enforce a word or command)- he understood faith (those actions that follow trust). It was expectation and his ability to recognize authority that gave him great faith. He didn’t need to have Jesus come to his house and wave His hand over the sick servant… he was not looking for drama or some big intellectual explanation. He was only after the results, because of a concern for his servant. If Jesus would just give him a word… it was all he needed.

Recognizing this authority places us into faith, because it engages our hope in God’s good will, purpose and plan for our lives. God’s Word is powerful and effective to crush doubt and move our hearts into faith (Heb 4:12).

Change is Coming

Scripture: “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.” (Psalm 139:23-24)

Thought for Today: “Welcoming the Crucible”

God knows the secrets of the heart (Ps 44:21). In fact, He knows us better than we know ourselves. Yet we still feel a bit vulnerable yielding our lives to change. We ask God to use us and we know changes are coming, but being in the crucible of spiritual discipline can feel uncomfortable even to the most mature Christian.

Our Resistance:

When God tests and tries our heart, there are always things that firmly resist, because they have become our safety net. We have relied upon ourselves and trusted in own strength at times when we could not see clearly. The Apostle Paul tells us that many have exchanged the Truth of God for lies by serving and the worship of things that offer no real peace (Rom 1:25). He reminds us that we have all gone astray and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). These issues represent the baggage of idolatry and must be rooted out for us to enjoy the freedom found in Christ.

Real Transformation:

As much as we would like to believe we can change, transformation is not really something we can do for ourselves. It takes the power of the One who knows us best. We can change habits and shift our focus, but it is God who changes the human heart. When we step into the crucible of prayer and fasting, we make the most important move toward God’s best for our lives. The refining process frees us from sinful behavior, renews our thinking and enables us to discern the will of God more clearly (Rom 12:1-2).

God Loves and Receives Us:

Transformation happens in the safe place of His Presence, where the Holy Spirit gains access to those things that hinder our progress. God knows what is best for us and He always acts in our best interest by treating us as sons and daughters (Heb 12:4-11). We are reminded that when we are chastened by God, it is because He loves us and receives us as a father cherishes and loves his child. Remind yourself today that God loves and receives you as His very own son or daughter.

“Why do you spend money on what is not bread and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen diligently to Me and eat what is good and let your soul delight itself in abundance.” (Isa 55:2)

Getting out of Midian

This is not our destiny!

Midian is not our destiny!

There is a powerful story in Scripture about Moses running to the land of Midian. It happens after he kills an Egyptian who had abused one of his Hebrew brethren (Ex. 2:11-15). In this circumstance Moses expresses a common feeling… what most of us feel in the midst of injustice.

In verse 12 it states the problem… “He looked this way and then that; when he realized there was no one in sight, he killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand”. The spirit of strife arose inside of Moses to such a degree that it blinded his heart… forsaking the command of God in regards to murder.

Choices are the fruit of a heart’s focus!

Raised an Egyptian and coming to grips with the Hebrew heartbeat was like standing in an intersection and not knowing which way to turn. Moses’ wrong choice released the confusion that resided in his heart and created an enormous backlash among his brethren. The next day he went out to find two Hebrew men fighting. He spoke to the man who started it: “Why are you hitting your neighbor?” The man shot back: “Who do you think you are, telling us what to do? Are you going to kill me the way you killed that Egyptian?” Then Moses panics… “oh no, word’s gotten out; people know about this”. Secrets are often difficult to shake free from. Pharaoh hears about it and tries to kill Moses, but Moses gets away to the land of Midian. He sits down by a well with his confusion and there receives the call to be the “hand” of deliverance for God’s people (Ex. 3:1-4).

Midian is not the place Moses chose to go…

But God would meet Him there. Interestingly the word Midian means “striving” or “habit” and the Midianites were the descendants of Ishmael, Abraham’s son from another season of bad choices. Oddly enough its very rare that one generation’s poor choices do not become a crucible for our life later, but that is another blog topic. Yet now, in order to escape punishment for killing the Egyptian, Moses runs away to Midian, a place of habitual strife. He finds himself face-to-face with… “himself”.

Sounds like God’s intervention…

Running away takes Moses to a burning bush… with a broken heart.  Moses became a stranger in a strange land, separated from his home and family… and he needed a new identity. It took many years after this incident for Moses to be ready to serve God. The good news is that Moses did trust God (Heb. 11:27) and leave Midian. Moses found the God who transforms our identity!

We must recognize the God who transforms us as quickly as possible and allow His priorities to shape our life choices. If not, we may find ourselves visiting the land of strife. Leaving Midian can only happen when we have felt the crushing reality of God’s intervention in our character. Yet it must happen if we expect God to use us, bless us, or prosper us.

Character transformation is the defining reality of what makes a leader attractive to those who follow.

When I find myself on edge, offended or bitter toward others, there is a good chance that I am hanging out in “Midian, the land of strife”. There are spiritual realities that effect my thought life, choices and behavior patterns. God takes us into places that test us and show us what resides within our hearts. He does this for our good, as His way of chastening His children.

God chastens those whom He loves and accepts! (Heb 12:4-11)

The Christian attitude toward anger and strife should be consistent with God’s heart. There is just no room for angry outbursts or strife ridden behavior in the processing of Christian relationships. We should call it sin and repent of it or we give place to confusion. Like Moses, we could wind up in the land of Midian until it gets burned out of us.

Here is what the Bible says: (Ps. 37:8)(Prov. 19:19)(Prov. 27:4)(Eccl. 7:9)(Gal. 5:19-20)(Eph. 4:31).

Living in Midian is like living next door to a volcano that only explodes once every couple of months. I believe many folks live in Midian, a land cursed by a spirit of strife and although the erruptions only occur every few months; life is lived in confusion and fear, waiting for when and how destructive the next outburst will be. This must not be our legacy, because it is most certainly not our destiny.

Getting out of Midian is as easy as recognizing the sinful behavior and repenting of it. Ask the Holy Spirit to deliver, then begin to rest upon the Truth that God is faithful to meet you in Midian with the power to transform your heart.

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