Monday, November 28, 2011

The more trouble, the more double!

Zechariah 9:12 (NKJV) 12 Return to the stronghold, You prisoners of hope. Even today I declare That I will restore double to you
The word stronghold here is something that "won't let you go". In this case it's hope. And according to the Bible, hope does not disappoint so don't let go of your hope (Romans 5:5). I really like how the NLT version of the Bible records the above passage from Zechariah; "Come back to the place of safety, all you prisoners who still have hope! I promise this very day that I will repay two blessings for each of your troubles." Two blessings for each of your troubles.

There has been times in my life when I simply can't understand why a problem isn't fixed immediately. After all, we are connected with God who created time, space, matter and light (Genesis 1:1+3), and He did all of this before morning the first day (Genesis 1:5). So we know He can, but why doesn't He?

I may not be able to tell you why. I can tell you that He will make up for it. If it takes you twice as long to fix a problem as it should, then you can expect twice the blessings. I know from my own experiences that you may even arrive at a place of rest, believing that you have finally made it to the land of milk and honey. Then along comes another storm. Be encouraged, there is a place of rest. Joshua, King David and Joseph are a few of the men that finally arrived there.

One of my favorite examples of this would be Joseph. He gets a dream and shares it with his brothers. His brothers where already jealous of Joseph and the dream pushes them over the edge. They throw him into a pit and then sell him to a slave trader. The slave trader sells him to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the King of Egypt. Potiphar lives in a palace and puts Joseph in charge of everything he owns. The Bible says that Potiphar held nothing back from Joseph except his wife (Genesis 39:9). Joseph lived in the finest quarters and ate the finest foods.

Joseph could have thought that he finally arrived at that place of rest. If you know the story, then you know that Joseph later gets thrown into prison for something that he didn't do. From prison, Joseph gets promoted even higher. He gets put in charge of all of Egypt. Egypt was an extremely wealthy country. There was no one higher than Joseph in Egypt except Pharaoh (the king). Pharaoh said in Genesis 41:40, "You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you."

If you ever feel like giving up, I really encourage you to read this story. Ask God to give you a personal message as you read. The story begins in Genesis chapter 37 and continues in chapters 39-41.

If life seems to be one difficulty after another, be encouraged. The bigger the problem, the bigger the palace; the more trouble, the more double!

Be Blessed!

Monday, November 21, 2011

He wants to talk.

Philippians 2:13 (NKJV) 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

Every believer has a desire to hear from God. The Scripture above reveals that the source of this desire comes from God. Many of us struggle to hear Him, especially when we need some special direction in life. God continuously talks to all of us but many believers just don't recognize Him.

First we need to know the nature of God. When we learn about things that are important to God, we learn about His character. The Bible tells us in Psalm 56:8 (NLT), "You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book." He records it in a book! Yet what doesn't God record? The Bible tells us in  Hebrews 10:17 (NLT), "Then he says, “I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds.” Your sins! God wants you happy and satisfied in life.

Most of the time when God speaks to us, He is very subtle. By knowing a few things about how God leads His people, we can filter out what isn't Him. For example if you have a good Idea, it was God. Wisdom comes from God (James 1:5). If your thoughts condemn you, that isn't God. God did not send His Son to condemn (John 3:17). Do you have compassion on those that are hard to love? God so loved the whole world (John 3:16). That compassion is God.

There is nothing more valuable to a believer than to recognize God's voice. It also brings pleasure to God. He has built in the desire and has given us the ability. The Bible says in Isaiah 48:17, "...I am the Lord your God, Who teaches you to profit, Who leads you by the way you should go."  These are some of the benefits we receive by knowing the voice of God.

Be blessed!

Monday, November 14, 2011

According to the Spirit

Romans 8:1 (NKJV) 1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

This verse states that if you walk according to the flesh you will be condemned - rightfully so. The whole reason we need a Savior in the first place is because we can't do it on our own. We could never in this life obtain the level of righteousness required to stop any condemnation. If we walk mindful of this we are walking according to the flesh. You couldn't possibly look at yourself in the natural sense and say there is no justification for condemnation.

God wants us to walk in freedom from condemnation. The Bible says in John 3:17, "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." The Word of God then tells us in 1 Corinthians 1:30, "But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God--and righteousness and sanctification and redemption--." This says that Christ is our righteousness so we don't ever have to feel condemned.

We will only feel condemned if we walk according to the flesh. God knew this would be a struggle for us to accept so He sent us the Holy Spirit to convince us. In fact as a believer you will never be convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit. Carefully study these three verses from the Gospel of John; John 16:8-11 8 And when He (The Holy Spirit) has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 of sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; 11 of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

Notice that the Holy Spirit is to convict the world of Sin because they do not believe in Jesus. If you believe in Jesus then that part is not for you. The next part says that the Holy Spirit is to convict us of righteousness. That is the part for believers. That's right to convince us that we are righteous! So according to the Spirit, we are righteous. Walk according to the Spirit and stop feeling condemned. This freedom will bring you life.

Why is it so important to get this? God has a wonderful purpose for every believer. He has equipped you for a purpose. You may be wondering what your purpose might be. You may even think you are not good enough to be used by God. That is where the enemy wants you. When you begin to fulfill your purpose, you will discover what life really is. If you feel condemned then you will not arrive at this place of fulfillment. Don't let condemnation separate you from God. He will not be able to work on you, or through you if that happens.

God loves you so much and paid a huge price for your fellowship. He knows all things past present and future so you will never take Him by surprise. Hang out with Him, you are good enough! He has lots to tell you.

Be Blessed

Monday, November 07, 2011

Are you clean?

Romans 10:9 (NLT) 9 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

In an earlier post that I titled "He cleans us with Truth" (October 10, 2011), we studied how Jesus washed the feet of the disciples during the last supper. We studied the meaning of Jesus washing our feet. The story is recorded in John 13:3-11. In this post we will look at what the Bible means by being bathed all over.

The Bible tells us in John 13:11, "For Jesus knew who would betray him. That is what he meant when he said, “Not all of you are clean.” He was referring to the disciple named Judas Iscariot. Judas was the only disciple that wasn't clean.

What was the difference between Judas Iscariot and the other 11 disciples? Why were the others clean and not him? The Bible says in Romans 10:9, "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." The word that is translated as "Lord" here means "supreme in authority" or "above absolutely everything". That is because Jesus is God.

Do you know that Judas Iscariot never addressed Jesus as Lord. In all four Gospels (The first four books of the New Testament are known as the Gospels), there is no record of it, not even one time. Even when Judas killed himself he said, "I have sinned,” he declared, “for I have betrayed an innocent man...” (Mathew 27:4) Judas believed that Jesus was only a man. In contrast, the disciple Peter is recorded at least 45 times in the Gospels addressing Jesus as Lord.

So all we have to do is declare that Jesus is Lord and believe what the Bible tells us is true. Once we do that, we are clean. In fact according to God we are entirely clean. God wants us to know this. John 13:10 says, "Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean..." Once you declare that Jesus is Lord and accept the Bible as truth, you are bathed all over. This is what entitles you to all of the benefits of being righteous. You now have a place in heaven. Sin no longer separates you from God.

Washing your feet is learning God's word, this is what breaks unhealthy bondages in your life. Always remember that God breaks those bondages not you. He will do it in whatever order and time He chooses. Wash your feet regularly with the Word and you will see results.

Sometimes we struggle with addictive bondages and bad behavior. Don't ever think it makes you unclean. The Bible tells us in Acts 10:15, "...Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean." He declared you clean the moment you declared Him Lord. If you wash your feet with the Word of God then you are clean. Once He has made you clean and connects with you through His Word, you are clean forever.

It's knowing God personally that produces Godliness. As you learn what the Bible teaches, you will know God more personally. This truth has broken many unhealthy bondages in my life that I could never do in my own strength. The Bible tells us in John 6:29, "Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.” He said so Himself. Just believe, this is the only work you have to do.

Be Blessed!