Monday, June 25, 2012

The Best Defense is a Good Offense!

Proverbs 4:23 (NLT) Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

Have you ever had a broken heart? Many of us have experienced terrible tragedies; the loss of a spouse or child, to death, drugs, or divorce. I have witnessed people robbed by these things and, unfortunately, because of the heartbreak, have been robbed of the wonderful, God-given gift of life.

Life is a gift. A broken heart can steal your life. The Bible tells us to guard our heart. It even teaches us how to do it (Prov. 4:20-23). However, I believe that a New Testament believer has access to something more than just a protected heart. I believe we can have a powerful heart. God wants us to flow in wisdom, knowledge, and joy. He wants us to have a heart that not only gives life, but one that provides an above average life.

If you are born-again, the Holy Spirit is inside your heart (2 Cor. 1:22). We need to take advantage of this. The Bible teaches us a way to do it. It says in John 6:29, "This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent." This is all we have to do; believe in Jesus. When we believe in Jesus, we can tap into that power He has placed inside us. The more we believe---the more power is released.

If you want to believe in Jesus, get to know Him personally. You can study His word, which is a good place to start, but to really get to know Him, you have to see Him. He is always with you. The Bible says in Matthew 9:28-29, "They [the blind men] went right into the house where he was staying, and Jesus asked them, "Do you believe I can make you see?" "Yes, Lord," they told him, "we do." Then he touched their eyes and said, "Because of your faith, it will happen."

Just as the blind man believes and then sees, look for Jesus in every moment. You will see Him; you will believe even more in Jesus and experience the greater life.

Why just keep what you have, when you can have so much more.

Be Blessed!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Grace--forgiven once and for all.

And Jesus said to him, "See that you tell no one; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them." Matthew 8:4 (NKJV)

Matthew 8:2-4 is the first time the Bible gives details about a healing performed by Jesus. These details set the stage for Jesus ministry before the cross, which is why these points were made at the beginning of the Gospels. I want you to notice in the verse above it says, "offer the gift that Moses commanded." This was a requirement of the old covenant (Lev. 14:3-7).

When Jesus ministered on the earth, the law covenant was still in full force. The ministry of Jesus was to reveal our need for a savior. He made statements like, "if your eye causes you to sin pluck it out" (Mat. 5:29, Mat. 18:9, Mar. 9:45). He made these statements for two reasons, first---to stress the importance of obtaining righteousness, second---to reveal how difficult it was to obtain it.

It is important to understand this, to grasp the full grace message. A great example is in the Gospel of Mark. The Bible tells us in Mark 11:26, "if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses." In the absence of Jesus as our mediator---before the cross---our Father could not forgive us if we harbored resentment in our hearts. In the new covenant, after the crucifixion, the Bible contradicts this. In Colossians 3:13 the Bible says, "Christ forgave you, so you also must do." Our forgiveness came to us first, and then we forgive others. NOTE-The words, must do, were not actually in the original text, that is why they are in italics.

So what is the big difference? In the old covenant, it was mandatory, in the new covenant of grace, it is a desire that comes when we know the truth. After years of trying to be a good Christian to please God---so I thought---I realized how short of good I really was. I would pick an area of sin in my life and try to correct it. Even if I could get it under control, another weakness would show itself to me.

Then there is the Scripture in 1 John. It says in 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Every morning, in the shower, I would start confessing all my sins. This is where I began to realize I could never keep up. Instead of feeling righteous by the gift of salvation, I felt unworthy and undeserving of any good thing.

The disciple John said a few verses earlier, "that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ" (1 John 1:3). Notice it says, "that you may have fellowship with us." Notice there was two groups, you and us; you the unsaved and us the saved. Obviously, John was preaching to the unsaved. He was telling them, if we admit we are sinners; we can have His forgiveness. This is the message of salvation.

God does not want us to meditate on sin. He tells us in Philippians 4:8 (NLT), "Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." Grace meets this criteria.

Now that I am learning the grace message, I am overwhelmed daily with the Father's love. I see bondages broken and new desires replacing them. God is changing me from the inside out. I still have quite a ways to go but I am amazed how far I have come.

Study the Gospels with grace in mind, as you do you will appreciate how big a deal it was to have the gift of Jesus. You won't change because you have to, you will just change. Experience the true freedom from bondage grace provides.

Be Blessed!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Faithless?

If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself. 2 Timothy 2:13 (NKJV)

Experience It!
Most of us---me included---have dreams. Huge dreams that can only be fulfilled by a big God. Of course, the enemy continuously likes to remind us we do not deserve these blessings and tries to make us change our direction. How do we continue our path and see the dream come to pass?

The Bible gives an excellent example of this. The character is Jacob. Jacob had deceived his father to get the blessing that belonged to his older brother Esau (see Gen. 27). Jacob then had to flee for his life because Esau wanted to kill him (Gen. 27:42).

Several years later, the Lord said to Jacob, "Return to the land of your fathers and to your family, and I will be with you" (Gen. 31:3). This meant Jacob would have to confront his brother whom he feared all those years. The Scripture says, "Jacob was terrified" (Gen. 32:7). He was obviously feeling weak in faith. There are times where I too have a lack of faith.

It is interesting that our true enemy, the devil, has not changed after all these years. In Genesis 32:10, Jacob said, "I am not worthy..." The enemy always wants to remind us of our failures. When this happens, I just remind myself, "Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin (1 Cor. 1:30). But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time" (Heb. 10:12) (NLT).

What Jacob did next is important. The Bible says in Genesis 32:9 (NLT), "Then Jacob prayed, 'O God of my grandfather Abraham, and God of my father, Isaac—O Lord, you told me, 'Return to your own land and to your relatives.' And you promised me, 'I will treat you kindly.'". He prayed to God and reminded Him what He said.

God talks to us all the time. A dream from God will come from at least two different sources (see Gen. 41:32, 2 Cor. 13:1) and will always line up with the Word of God. If God has given you a dream that meets this criteria, keep reminding Him, especially when you feel weak in faith.

In the end, God blessed Jacob and gave him a new name too. The Bible says, "Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men" (Gen. 32:28, KJV). Jacob means "wrongfully takes hold" (see Gen. 25:26), Israel means "prince with God".

The name change tells us; someone grabs what does not belong to them [Jacob] and becomes a prince with God [Israel]. The Bible says we have been made kings (Rev. 1:6). This is the gift of salvation. Jacob was a picture of a modern day Christian.

If you have a dream, remind God what he said. You will see it come to pass, no matter how large it is---our God really is a BIG GOD, nothing is too difficult for Him.

Be Blessed!

Saturday, June 09, 2012

New Book


I have just released my fourth book. This is the first book I have had professionally edited and designed. I am offering a free paperback copy of this book, postage paid to anywhere in the world for an honest review.

Physical Description

The title is, “The Gifts of the Holy Spirit”, published by WestBow Press. The soft cover version is 5.5” x 8.5”. It is 112 pages.


Subject Matter

Enhance your prayer life with confidence and power of the Holy Spirit. The Gifts of the Holy Spirit takes an approach unlike any other teaching on baptism in the Holy Spirit. Studying both Old and New Testament, you will learn how to take full advantage of this wonderful experience.


Your review

Post your review on Amazon. The link is here. You can also find the book on Amazon by searching, Garry Stopa, in the Amazon search box.

I want your honest review---good or bad. The review should include the following disclosure:

“I received this book free from the author through his blog. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.”

Reply to this email with your mailing address or contact me through my blog to be included in this book review program. You can share this opportunity with friends who are willing to sign up for our weekly emails.

Thank you.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Breakfast of Champions!

Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them." Numbers 14:9 (NKJV)

When God delivered Israel from Egypt and attempted to lead them into the Promised Land, a bad report discouraged them. Moses had sent twelve men to spy out the land of Canaan. Ten of these men came back with discouraging news.

However, two of the men, Joshua and Caleb, came back encouraged because the land was; "exceedingly good, a land that flows with milk and honey" (Num. 14:7, 8). In the passage at the top, they told Israel not to fear the people of the land, "for they are our bread."

It is interesting that the ten with the bad report saw the people of the land as giants (Num. 13:33), and Joshua and Caleb saw them as food. Bread is food for our body. We need good food to maintain good health and keep our bodies fit. I have discovered that giant problems in my life have actually nourished me and made me stronger.

I do not believe that God wants us to have to face huge problems, nevertheless, the Bible says in Romans 8:28, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." Our creator God can do so much more than we can even imagine. He can take any ugly situation and turn it into something good. This a simple task for the creator of time, space, and matter (Gen. 1:1).

In every great challenge of my life, God has been faithful to deliver me. Each time this happens, I become stronger and better equipped for greater things. We all face battles. They can be an opportunity to see God work. Psalm 107 details how God delivers His children out of troubles and lack. This Psalm ends with, "Whoever is wise will observe [God in] these things, And they will understand the loving-kindness of the Lord" (v. 43).

Every time I see God involved in my situations, I understand His loving kindness for me. God is a loving God who wants the best for His children. He is always available to us when we are too weak in our own strength. Big challenges become big opportunities to see God.

Look for God in your situations. You will see Him if you do. When you understand His love for you, you will learn to tap into the peace of God and enjoy life---even when you face giants.

Be Blessed!