Monday, January 28, 2013

How much time in the Word?

John 11:42 (NKJV) And I know that You always hear Me...

These were the words of Jesus just before He called Lazarus from the tomb. I believe this verse gives us a wonderful insight on prayer and fellowship.

If you are a child of God, you have heard more than one preacher tell you to spend more time in your Bible. I do not want to take anything away from the importance of Bible study and prayer time, but---How much time is appropriate?

I do not believe you can measure the strength of your faith by how much time you spend in prayer. When Jesus raised Lazarus from dead, the only prayer time indicated in Scripture comes from John 11:11, Jesus said, "Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up." There is no indication of Jesus spending hours in prayer to release the power of God in such an amazing way.

There is an old saying that says quality is better than quantity. Chances are if you preach, you likely spend hours in prayer and study. If you are an accountant during tax season, you are probably lucky to get in a few minutes a day.

When I worked in a busy environment, I would force myself to spend time in my Bible. My time in the Bible did not hurt me, but it did not benefit me as much as it could have. I just did not understand the benefits of continual fellowship with God. I just did it because it was supposed to be good for me.

God is always with me. He listens intently to every word I say. He does not judge me; He is more like a best friend who enjoys our fellowship together. When I acknowledge His presence, it allows Him to be involved in my life. The more I acknowledge Him, the more I see Him.

Now when I spend time in my Bible, I understand what God is telling me. One verse can have amazing revelation. A couple of minutes here and there can give so much more life, than a rigid schedule that I force myself to do.

I enjoy time in my Bible more than I ever did before. It is not about how much time I spend in study, it is about the relationship I have with God.

Be blessed!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Only one sin.

Luke 22:61 (NKJV) And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, "Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.

When Jesus was arrested, the apostle Peter denied Him three times. This story has been preached from many pulpits, typically expressing God’s love for us, even when we do not honor Him. However, the story carries another powerful meaning.

Jesus said in John 16:9 (NLT), "The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me." There is only one sin that sends a man to hell—disbelief in Jesus. Jesus paid the price of sin for all who believe in Him. To deny Jesus is to accept the penalties of our own sins. Peter denied Jesus. The penalty for denying Jesus is hell. Hell was created for the devil. God created heaven for mankind. God gave His Son to save man from hell. Soon after, Peter declared Jesus as Lord three times (Jn. 21:15-17). Peter declared Jesus as Lord 45 times in the New Testament. We will see Peter in heaven.

I do not want to imply sin is okay. I do think we give it too much attention. The Bible says in 1 John 3:23, "And this is His [God's] commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another." I want to learn about love.

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT), "Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance."

The closer I get to God, the more I can affect the world around me. The best way to affect the world is to love the world. I have discovered that as I focus on love, God subtly takes care of my sinful behaviors. I want the love of God to flow so strong through me that sin is no longer an issue in my life.  Love is very powerful.

God gives His children a heart for those that do not know Him. I believe I will have a greater impact if my focus is love instead of sin. Of course, I do not want to overlook the one sin that can send a person to hell—denying Jesus.

Be blessed!

Monday, January 14, 2013

What is God saying?

Proverbs 3:6 (AMP) In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.

Recently in church, a friend asked me to pray for him. He wanted to have more confidence in his decisions and to know God's will in some important matters. So how do we know God's will in our choices and gain the confidence we need to run with them?

Several times, I have been in the same predicament. I have a heart for God. I want Him involved in everything I do. Jesus came to break bondages in our lives and worrying over the right decision is bondage. I inquired of God on the matter and He revealed something interesting in the Bible.

The story is about Elijah, a prophet in the Old Testament. There had been a drought in the land and food was scarce. God provided Elijah with food and water alongside a creek. Eventually the creek dried up and the Bible tells us in 1 Kings 17:9, 10 (NKJV), The Lord said to Elijah, ""Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you." So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, indeed a widow was there gathering sticks."

Take notice that God told Elijah, "I have commanded a widow to provide for you." This is past tense. The Bible goes on to say Elijah asked her for some bread (v. 11). "So she said, "As the Lord your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die" (v. 12). Apparently, she did not know the Lord had commanded her. She did end up providing Elijah with food and received a huge blessing in return.

I have learned that the voice of God can be so subtle; I cannot always tell whether it is His voice or my own thoughts I hear. Looking to my past, I realize every worthwhile Idea I have ever had was His idea, even though I often never heard a voice. I realize by continually acknowledging His presence in my life, my decisions always work. Romans 8:28 says, "All things work together for good to those who love God." Our passage at the top says, "He will make straight your paths." I believe even when I mess up; he still makes my crooked paths straight.

I ask God about everything. Sometimes I get a clear answer, sometimes I do not. If I do not know the answer, I choose what seems to make sense to me. I never have to worry about making a wrong choice!

Be blessed.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Release the Power!

Matthew 2:18 (NLT) “A cry was heard in Ramah—weeping and great mourning. Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted, for they are dead.”

This verse in Scripture seems to be mysteriously out of place. It is a prophecy from the Old Testament (Jer. 13:15). Matthew quoted this verse after King Herod murdered the children trying to destroy the Messiah. What is unusual is that there is no mention of a place called Ramah, or a person named Rachel---anywhere else in the New Testament. Herod's decree to kill the children was apparently fulfillment of this prophecy (Mt. 2:17). The slaughter took place in Bethlehem, not Ramah, and Rachel was a woman in the Old Testament; she was married to Israel (Jacob).

I believe the verse at the top reveals God's heart. The verse says a cry was heard in Ramah. According to Strong's dictionary, Ramah means a high place*. The cry was heard in heaven, a high place. The first time Rachel is mentioned in the Old Testament, she was taking care of her father's sheep (Ge. 29:9). I believe Rachel is the Holy Spirit, who takes care of the Father's sheep. When horrifying tragedies happen, the Holy Spirit weeps for Her children and refuses to be comforted.

On December 15, 2012, another horrific murder of children took place. The tragic event happened in Connecticut, at an Elementary School. More than twenty people were murdered; almost all of them were six-year-old children.

I was amazed that a church was planning to picket the funeral services. They were planning to display banners declaring this was a judgement from God. This church needs to read their Bible!

The Bible says in John 3:17 (NLT), "God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him." The whole reason for Jesus was to release the love of God into a messed-up world (John 3:16).

God gave man dominion on this earth (Gen. 1:27). God needs man to flow through into this messed up world. If you are a born-again believer, you are an avenue for God to work through. Pray for these families. Pray for others in this world. Release the power of God in this place. You will see the love of God. You will see miracles and good things.

You may think you have to be especially good to release the power of God. The most powerful military force in the Bible was King David's army. This army never lost a battle yet, it was made up of "losers, vagrants and misfits" (1 Sam. 22:2 MSG).

If you are born-again, you are an avenue for the power of God---even if you think you are not good enough for God to flow through. Declare wonderful things over those in your life and good things will happen. Oh, and do not forget to declare good things over yourself too.

Be blessed!
* Strong’s Greek and Hebrew Dictionary, copyright 1890 by JAMES STRONG, MADISON, NJ. Strong’s numbers, G4471, H7414, H7311