Don't Look Back . . . 12/27/10
Our walk with the Lord may be close and sweet, but all around us we see life being touched by sin. Destructive words are spoken, and selfish behavior gives off a stench that is difficult to ignore. These things used to upset me and occupy my thoughts for far too long. But now I fret much less about the actions of other people. The Lord has even set me free from anxiety about my own behavior.
Sin is something to repent of, then walk away from—rejoicing that we're forgiven. Continually looking back at our failings allows the negativity of the past to have power over our minds and emotions today, letting the sins of others wound us repeatedly and letting our own sin condemn us.
But Lot’s wife looked back as she was following behind him, and she turned into a pillar of salt -
Genesis 19:26 NLT.
God's promises always lay ahead of us and not behind.
By not looking back, we guard against letting our own sinful past entice us to return. Lot's wife was turned to stone when she looked behind her after being told by the angel to only look ahead. This event in Genesis is a highly symbolic warning for us to heed.
Regarding the sins of others, God tells us to forgive them. Whether the offense occurred five minutes ago or ten years ago, we must leave it behind us where it belongs. If Satan can keep our thoughts focused on an upsetting event of the past, then he'll effectively have us trapped in that place and time. (Lot's wife was stopped in her tracks; unable to take another step.) Choosing to remember offences from the past is choosing to give them power.
After reviewing the destructive effects of looking backward, the Lord enlightened me about the blessings of looking ahead to Him and His holy purpose: Prophetic power resides even in your thoughts, so the act of looking ahead to Me and My word will stir up your faith and thereby hasten the arrival of all that is good.
Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert - Isaiah 43:18-19.
We have a choice: We can follow Satan's lead and dwell in the past, or we can keep our eyes on the Lord who is always calling us forward—"onward and upward" to the place in His glorious plan where we belong.
Dear Lord, we thank You for leading us forward with Your enthralling presence. You lead us to places of enlargement where holiness and purpose abound. You lead us straight to Your heart of love.
Expectancy . . . 12/11/10
Within God’s Word are so many promises! Obedient, submitted Christians should always be expecting good to come their way. Nevertheless, the enemy tries to convince each of us that “now is not the time,” or that “these words don't really apply to us.” Countering this attack, the Holy Spirit speaks to us individually, giving us personal visions of the future and promises that have our names engraved on them. These messages will never contradict scripture. Instead, they magnify the Word by giving it specific form and personality.
Now here is a critical truth: We must hear God’s voice and see His visions. To receive personal guidance for today along with a map to our purpose-filled future, we have to interact with the Lord. If we don't communicate with Him, then we won't expect anything, and we won't give birth to His promise.
The voice of God is comforting. I cannot count the times that He’s told me to “Relax. Don’t worry. I see what’s going on. Give it to Me, then trust me to take care of it.” (I trust Him, and He certainly does take care of things.) These words get me through the rigors of daily living, but my favorite communication is the kind that causes me to look ahead:
Over ten years ago, the Spirit told me to “Write. Just keep writing.” Those words are not in the Bible, but they are in the heart and mind of God for me. This direction came with the understanding that He would be present in my writing ventures. I look ahead with great expectation regarding the purpose and power of these written words as they're read, already, by people around the world.
The Spirit has given me important insight and promises about the people I love. Because of this, I can pray with confidence and with tactical precision, always looking forward to their salvation and the fulfillment of their destiny.
A few years ago, I received a personal promise about my future that has kept me afloat on some dark and stormy seas. This peek into the years ahead has resulted in bright expectancy; just like seeing a lighthouse on shore. The Lord has spoken to me often about this promise, and He recently told me that my time of receiving is near. He gave me a simple, meaningful vision with words to accompany it. Now, I’m about to burst with excitement over this "update" from the Lord!
So what about you? Are you holding tightly to a word or a vision? Do you anticipate the glory of days ahead? Are you filled with expectancy, looking for promises to unfold? Do you believe what God has told you and remind Him of it often?
Remember Your promise to me; it is my only hope. Your promise revives me; it comforts me in all my troubles - Psalm 119:49-50, NLT.
If you have a promise from God, then you hold the strongest possible assurance. Everything else dims in comparison and falls considerably short. If God's promise is your "only hope," then you live in a place of great favor. You're enriched every day that you wait on the Lord, and you're blessed beyond measure when His promise arrives.
God is With the Godly . . . 11/27/10
It is God alone who judges; He decides who will rise and who will fall. For the Lord holds a cup in His hand that is full of foaming wine mixed with spices. He pours out the wine in judgment, and all the wicked must drink it, draining it to the dregs. But as for me, I will always proclaim what God has done; I will sing praises to the God of Jacob. For God says, "I will break the strength of the wicked, but I will increase the power of the godly" - Psalm 75:7-10 NLT.
Whenever "the dark side" seems to be winning, the books of Psalms will show us otherwise. The Bible always gives us the true perspective—that God is loving and good. He's on our side if we're submitted to Him, and He goes with us into battle.
Right now, the enemy seems to be accelerating its agenda with increased attacks, making our minds and emotions the prime target. If we become discouraged, depressed or overly angry, then we're less likely to pray. But passing up a chance to pray is like removing the bullets from our guns. It's something we dare not do in this time of war.
Scripture is our blueprint for praying effectively. The verses above tell us that God will "break the strength of the wicked" and "increase the power of the godly." Applying these words to a certain situation and proclaiming them aloud is like aiming our weapon and pulling the trigger.
God's Word is more powerful than any fearful thought the enemy can throw at us. The Word will strengthen us for battle, and it will put the hordes of Hell in their place beneath our feet.
We praise You, Lord, for giving us power and victory! We thank You for guiding our prayer with the light of Your word.
by Susan Rose
Laying Down Our Anger . . . 11/9/10
. . . don’t sin by letting anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil - Ephesians 4:26-27 NLT.
A few years ago the Holy Spirit began shining a light on my increasing anger. This came not in the form of a reprimand because His purpose was simply to open my eyes. He wanted me aware of the anger within my heart. And, I could not disagree with what I was shown.
Yes, I was angry quite often. There was a lot to be angry about. Everywhere I looked, society was in shocking moral decline. My country, "the home of the free and the brave," had been hijacked by corruption. My closest friends didn’t always act like I thought they should, and problems within my family appeared to be increasing. My neighbors’ dog barked so loudly that I could hear it from my bed at night, a half mile away. Sometimes I was angry with myself for letting things bother me. If it wasn't one thing, it was another. My list of grievances was long.
In spite of all this, I didn’t think of myself as an angry person until the Holy Spirit revealed it to be true. Then, I had to concur. But after some thought, I reminded the Spirit that anger is a God-given emotion, justifiably aroused by bad behavior. Sin and evil will always fan its flame.
The Spirit did not disagree with me. Instead, He asked, “What are you going to do about all that is wrong?” After just a few minutes, He graciously gave me the answer I needed: “Don't ever forget—I've given you the powerful weapon of prayer. I want you to pray about everything you see that isn’t right. Pray for every dysfunctional person and every bad situation you encounter each day.”
How wonderful! Instead of letting anger fester within me and monopolize my thoughts, I now had direction from God to transform this energy into prayer. Not only would my anger be vented, it would also be appeased. God wasn't disappointed in me for being angry. He was waiting on my prayer so He could act!
Today, instead of being burdened with anger, I'm determined to change the world with prayer. If the enemy tries to spoil my day with an "incident," I sincerely pray for the offender, refusing to be upset for long or to analyze the matter for hours. And if I start to get anxious about governmental abuse, I fervently pray, often binding evil spirits and loosing the Spirit of God into the situation. All of my friends and family are now heavily covered in prayer. And instead of grumbling about difficult associates, I lift them up to God. The mighty sword of prayer I've been given is changing the world, while it also changes me.
Remember, God's Word says effective prayer is for all who believe, and that includes you. Are you ready? Do you have enough faith to lay down your anger daily, exchanging it for the sword of prayer? With love and humility, will you bring God's will to Earth?
Building the Future . . . 10/30/10
I feel a strong call to pray for my grandchildren. I'm always on the lookout for scripture to proclaim over them, to build their future according to God's word and His will. I also pray continuously for their parents; my daughter and her husband. These four people have an important place in the Kingdom of God, and I'm determined that they won't miss their destiny. Because I know the Lord agrees with me, I can pray for them with confidence.
One evening as I lay in bed, I asked God to give me a scripture to pray for my sweet little granddaughter. He told me to pray that she will begin to "walk in the good works that He has prepared for her" (Ephesians 2:10). Knowing that I can depend on the Spirit for guidance in prayer is a blessing that boosts my confidence. I am not alone in the task of paving the road ahead for these precious children.
Our families are in the domain for which God holds us responsible. We witness their needs and weaknesses, so we have the knowledge to pray specifically. And as we discover the longing of God for each one of them, we can boldly pray for their salvation, their sanctification and their life's work.
Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned - Song of Solomon 8:7 NIV.
Christians have the heart and mind of Christ. We are endowed with a supernatural love that is powerful and indestructible. This tough, tenacious love works miracles when it's activated by faith. Because the Lord sanctifies us, our prayers for family are heard. Because of His love, they are answered.
Do Good . . . 10/15/10
. . . to him who knows to do good and doesn't do it, to him it is sin - James 4:17.
God is a giver and a helper. Therefore, we are to do the same. We are required to do good.
Should we give to everyone who asks? Certainly not. Should we help every person who is needy? No, we don't have the time. We are told to be good stewards of our resources, whether that is money, time or energy, so we must expend our blessings wisely. Even with our wisdom, we should not "throw pearls to swine" (Matthew 7:6). So how do we choose which people to help? Where do we sow our seed?
Because of our relationship with the Lord, we communicate with Him about many things, including our choices of action. If we are abiding in Him, we will hear His voice when He prompts us to help someone. His loving heart will beat within our chest, and His Spirit will inspire us to act. These are the calls to which we must respond.
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God - Romans 8:14.
Many requests from God are for quick and simple acts of kindness. Something that only takes a few minutes of our time can alter the course of another's life. I feel honored when God uses me to meet a person's need. Because He's given me the gift of encouragement, He sends people to me who need uplifting words of truth.
We've all been given spiritual gifts that are meant to do good for others, but God is not limited by this. Opportunities to do good come to us in numerous ways, requiring a variety of responses. For example, God may give us private information about a person, then fill us with compassion so we will act and pray accordingly. He might bless us financially so that we can, in turn, bless others. Even the presence of temptation requires that we resist sin and embrace holiness, thereby blessing the Lord and the people around us.
As long as we respond when the Spirit calls, the occasions for doing good will come our way.
He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it - 1 Peter 3:10,11.
The Voice of the Lord . . . 9/27/10
The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders; the Lord is over many waters. The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty. The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars, yes, the Lord splinters the cedars of Lebanon. He makes them also skip like a calf, Lebanon and Sirion like a young wild ox. The voice of the Lord divides the flames of fire. The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness . . . - Psalm 29:3-8.
According to Amplified Bible footnotes, David composed and sang this psalm about God's voice while he was watching a violent storm—probably from a mountain hideout during his time of exile. David was in awe. The tempest around him was an audio-visual showcase for God's power. But any awe that David felt was not due to the raging display. It was because of Who it represented. When writing about the "voice of the Lord," David knew the God of Whom he wrote. He knew the God Who spoke.
David understood that the violent storm was a display with holy purpose. The Hebrew word he chose for voice is "qowl" (Strong's 6963), meaning to call aloud; to cry out; to proclaim.Through the elements of nature, God clearly demonstrated the power in His voice. Whenever He "proclaims" (voices) His will, power is released and great things happen.
For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast - Psalm 33:6, 9.
What the Lord showed David many centuries ago was recorded for us to see today. But the spiritual lesson is only received by those who are ready—to those who are ever mindful that Christians are the dwelling place of our holy God. God lives in us, and His voice through our lips can create a similar "tempest" in the spiritual realm. If we proclaim His mighty Word, then towering obstacles will splinter before us like cedars struck by lightning. Mountains like Sirion will do His bidding and quickly step aside. Any wilderness in the years ahead will tremble at our command.
David ends his song with these encouraging words:
The Lord will give [unyielding and impenetrable] strength to His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace - Psalm 29:11 Amplified Bible.
Today, let us be instruments of God's voice, proclaiming truth, life and peace over every person we know and every situation we face. When released with faith, the strength of God's voice from our lips will be felt throughout the world.
Now this is spiritual warfare!
Dear Lord, Your displays of might are breathtaking! As we read Your word, our fainting hearts are revived. Your Spirit speaks and we are blessed with peace. Your Spirit speaks again, and we are filled with purpose and power.
Pursuing Our Enemies . . . 9/12/10
Just like King David, Christians today are told to pursue our enemies and drive them from the land. We should never tolerate corruption and oppression, or make any compromise with evil. We can only have peace when we're determined to be the "spiritual offense" instead of a passive force that only musters when under attack.
We can read the book of Psalms as a guide to spiritual warfare. In fact, that's just what the Lord has asked me to do. He wants me to read it as a manual on how to pursue the enemy with the same heart as David did. Right away, Psalm 2 has taken on powerful new meaning. Will you meditate on these words as I did, with the mind of a spiritual warrior?
Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the Earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against His Anointed One. "Let us break their chains," they say, "and throw off their fetters."
The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. Then He rebukes them in His anger and terrifies them in His wrath, saying, "I have installed My King on Zion, My holy hill."
I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, "You are My Son; today I have become Your Father. Ask of Me, and I will make the nations Your inheritance, the ends of the earth Your possession. You will rule them with an iron scepter; You will dash them to pieces like pottery."
Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for His wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in Him - Psalm 2:1-12 NIV.
Our enemies within the government and everywhere else are walking on very thin ice. They don't know it, but a big spring thaw is on the way. As for Christians, we have nothing to fear but our own passivity.
I believe we should all read Psalm 2 aloud to God, expectantly reminding Him of His Word and what He has promised. We can do this with confidence because of Christ in us—because He abides in us to carry out the Father's will. When it comes to warfare, Jesus is the Captain, and He's commandeered our voice. One of our critical tasks is proclaiming the Father's will and advancing it by faith.
Embrace God's Peace . . . 9/5/10
Now is the time to live by faith—to embrace God's peace and cast off all fear. It's time to make up your mind. Will you resist every tormenting thought from the enemy? Will you seek God and His Word to thereby live in His triumphant will? From this day forward, let it be so. It's time to focus on God's truth instead of on what you may feel or imagine. Don't let the enemy upset you with constant reminders of past failures or with dark trepidation of what might happen in the future. We must refuse these thoughts.
God recently showed me a picture of demonic hands reaching through iron bars. From behind those restraining bars, demons were trying to grab Christians and draw them into a place of distress—a place where their minds would dwell on negativity and be consumed with depression, anxiety and fear. The message in this scene is that demonic hands can only "grab us" if we walk within their reach. We must stay far away from evil influence.
Walking close to God each day will keep fear from invading our minds. The choice is always ours to make. We can ask ourselves at every turn: "What has God said about this matter?"
Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit - Jeremiah 17:7-8.
Notice that the scripture says we're blessed if we trust in the Lord and if we make Him our hope and confidence. Will you make this choice today? Will you put down your roots in rich soil and produce good fruit for the Kingdom?
Thank You, Lord, that we need not be prisoners of fear. Thank You for Your living word that lights our way to safety and peace; a wonderful place that resounds with the voice of Your love. Thank You for teaching us Your holy ways so we can feel at home with You.
Fear No Evil . . . 8/21/10
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me - Psalm 23:4.
Many Christians think of "the valley of the shadow of death" as that final time on Earth when we lay on our deathbead. Others think of it as a dangerous situation where physical death is a real possibility. We've probably heard these definitions in a sermon or read them in a book. They're certainly not incorrect. But the Holy Spirit recently showed me a broader view:
Life is from God, but death and destruction are from Satan. Therefore, the "shadow of death" is the shadow of Satan's influence, however great or small. For example, a child living in a home with an alcoholic parent is living in the shadow of death. Or a woman employed in an oppressive environment is working in the shadow of death. If we're not in close contact with the Lord, this shadow can be destructive.
The good news is: God uses the shadows to draw us closer into His loving arms. In the safety of His embrace, God prepares us for what lies ahead.
What shadow of death is affecting your life? Quite often, the Lord takes us into the valleys for the sole purpose of "cleaning house" and routing the enemy. While getting the lay of the land, we may try to adjust to the problems and tolerate the sin. But the presence of Christ in us will never be at peace with any amount of darkness. The time will come to boldly pull out our weapons of truth and light—to draw the sword of prayer.
As we combat the evil of this world, it's important to remember: The shadows of death are not cast by human flesh but by the "rulers of darkness" (Ephesians 6:12). Difficult people must be handled with love, while the underlying demonic influence is met with our sharpest weapons. We dare not compromise. We are called to be skilled enforcers of God's will.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go" - Joshua 1:9.
God repeats this message throughout His Word: We need not be afraid. He is always with us, no matter how large and dark the shadows.
Your presence, Lord, is the perfect protection from evil. Your tender care for those You love sends a chill down the enemy's spine. We thank You for every shadow that pushes us closer to You. We thank You for Your beautiful light that makes the shadows flee.
God's Perspective . . . 8/3/10
We often get bogged down in the negative aspects of our circumstances and relationships. One of the enemy's favorite lies is that "things will never change." It's important to remember that the length of our days on Earth are just a drop in the bucket compared to eternity—but the impact of that short time will be known forever. Instead of fretting about our difficulties, we must turn our entire being to the Lord and to His purpose. When we do that, all fear and discouragement will flee from the light of His grace toward us.
When people don't love us like they should, it helps to think of how God is loving each of us, every minute of every day. You and I are adored by Him. He wants the very best for us, even if it requires our discomfort for a little while. (Times of discomfort are perfect times to pray for others.) Our loving responses are food for a spiritually hungry world. They’re a testament of the heart of God.
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ . . . - 1 Peter 1:6-7.
This day may bring loneliness to some. If that is you, then try spending the hours conversing with God. Acknowledge His presence in the room, and speak to Him throughout the day, wherever you go and whatever you do. The enemy will whisper depressing lies about your loneliness lasting forever. But your best friend, God, will answer your prayers for human friends and the restoration of family.
As we develop an intimate friendship with the Lord, He will speak to us about all that is important, whether it be relationships, health, ministry or financial matters. By giving us understanding, He is giving us His perspective. God's holy thoughts will be our thoughts. His truth will light our paths and guide our steps. His love will warm our hearts and replace every Earthly concern with the transforming power of peace and joy.
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You - Psalm 139:17,18.
Focus . . . 7/27/10
There comes a time for every Christian when God points us toward a major life assignment. At first the details may be fuzzy, but that's okay. Training and preparation will keep us busy while waiting for sharper instructions to arrive.
The most important part of waiting is staying focused on the Lord while He teaches and tests. This sounds like a no-brainer, but life has a way of distracting us. Most of us would love to retrieve the time we've waisted on wrong turns and wild goose chases. God is merciful and patient when dealing with His children, but we must not push Him too far. Time is a valuable gift, and we are its stewards.
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is - Ephesians 5:15-17
Let's give our whole heart to God—never neglecting His assignments or ignoring His direction—always seeking His face and worshiping Him. Nothing is more important.
Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus - Philippians 3:12-14.
I Am Blessed! . . . 6/17/10
"I am blessed because You, dear Lord, have given me hope. I look to the days ahead with joy because of Your words to me. I see a mountain of provision that sparkles on the horizon and appears ever larger as I travel toward it. My ears are thrilled by the sound of rushing water that is rising into a wave of healing power, coming to crash over me. I know this wave carries new anointing. My spirit rejoices at Your truth that invades this world like music that cannot be stopped. And while I wait to receive all of Your promise, I rest in Your wondrous presence, secure in Your perfect love."
I wrote these words to the Lord as an offering. They praise and honor Him for His presence in my life. I share this with you as an example, and I challenge you to do the same. Write a letter of praise to God. Tell Him how you feel about His blessings and His presence. Then share the words with at least one other person. Show the Lord that you are unembarrassed by your relationship with Him.
Then David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting and with the sound of the trumpet - 2 Samuel 6:14, 15.
David was not ashamed to dance before the Lord in the presence of all the house of Israel. Those who were like-minded certainly revered their King for his relationship with God. But those who didn't know God were disgusted by David's behavior (see verse 20).
Let us praise the Lord at every opportunity. Let's tell the world about who He is and what He has done for us! Filled with the Spirit, we can boldly display our love for Him. We can joyfully speak of our blessings.
We thank You, Lord, for the blessings of the future that are claimed today by faith. Thank You for the blessings we enjoy right now. We thank You for Your sweet abiding presence and for the freedom to worship You forever.
In the Flesh or the Spirit? . . . 5/29/10
That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit - John 3:6.
If we're healthy, growing Christians, we'll engage in one trial after another as long as we live on Earth. Whether dealing with a minor inconvenience or a major tribulation, victory only comes from operating in the Spirit instead of the flesh. Leaning not on our own understanding, we trust the Lord in all things (Proverbs 3:5). We're given increasing responsibility as we learn through trials to overcome the world and move "from glory to glory" (2 Corinthians 3:18).
This fundamental precept is learned by most new Christians, but it's often forgotten when we are busily entangled with the world. However, the Holy Spirit is diligent in reminding us. He warns us ahead of time that our flesh will not succeed, and if we fall flat because we didn't listen, then he tells us again so we can learn from our failure.
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life - John 6:63.
Many of our trials include the need to wait awhile for God to act. Impatiently stepping out in the flesh can take us back to the starting block, but watching and listening for the Spirit will strengthen our faith. The days, weeks or even months of delay are filled with learning. As we wait, our character is refined, and we're trained in spiritual warfare. The beauty of God's personality is revealed as we interact with Him and quietly reside in the hope of His promise.
But what if the trial stretches into years? The enemy will surely tempt us to throw in the towel. Thoughts of taking the matter into our own hands will come quite often and make perfect sense to our flesh. After all, we might have we misunderstood. Maybe it was wishful thinking that God would handle the matter in a supernatural way, or even subtly and quietly, being noticed only by us. When doubts like this arise, we should quickly turn to God for wisdom and clarification. While waiting in the Spirit, we must always pray for guidance.
Over two years ago, the Lord spoke to me about "something big." I was very excited, thinking that He would move right away to open a door of blessing. When the blessing didn't arrive as I expected, I chose to draw closer to the Lord instead of allowing a wedge to come between us. In answer to my prayer, He has spoken numerous encouraging words to me regarding what I'm waiting for. Many times He has confirmed that I didn't misunderstand Him. Just a few weeks ago He gave me a vision of an hour glass and asked me to "submit to His timing."
Much growth and blessing will happen during our trials, as long as we abide in the Spirit of our Lord. Submitting isn't always easy, but being rightly aligned with Him and His purpose brings peace and strength for the days ahead.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil - Ephesians 6:10-11.
A New Song . . . 5/1/10
When you pray, do you labor with much begging and pleading for God to act? When you fast, do you believe this sacrificial level of commitment will persuade Him to do what He has promised? Are you focusing your faith on one day getting the victory?
If any of your answers are "yes," then you have been forfeiting the victories that Jesus has already won. Here's an example to clarify what I mean: If a friend you know and trust has promised on Monday to take you out to dinner on Friday evening, would you call that person every day of the week and say, "Please take me out do dinner on Friday"? Of course not! Your lack of trust in their character would be highly insulting. If we dare to treat God this way, it proves our lack of faith in Him. And without this faith, we're disconnected from His victory.
Never forget: The amazing salvation of our souls came by faith. That first step was free and easy, so why make the remaining steps difficult? Simple faith in God is the power that fuels every kingdom activity.
Instead of pleading with God for healing, we should stir up our faith to thank Him that it's already done. The sooner we believe that Jesus' stripes have healed us (Isaiah 53:5), the sooner we'll see the physical expression of this reality.
In matters of financial provision, let's be sure we've done our part by tithing and by spending wisely. Then we can honor God by expectantly trusting in His generosity (Malachi 3:10). When the time is right, according to His purpose, we will receive from His loving hand.
While confessing our sin, we should thank God for His mercy that's new every morning
(Lamentations 3:22-24), and we can praise Him for the cleansing power of Jesus' holy blood (Ephesians 1:7). Then by faith we must stand tall as children of the King, resisting all feelings of guilt or shame.
When praying for someone's salvation, it's good to pray for specific saving action, especially
when we've been given specific insight. We can always pray using the words of scripture, and we can certainly fast when the Spirit leads. But we must never beg. Our faith in God's enormous love for an unsaved person is powerful. As we wait for any instruction, we should be praising Him for who He is and what He's done.
Sing a new song to the Lord, for He has done wonderful deeds. His right hand has won a mighty victory; His holy arm has shown His saving power! The Lord has announced His victory and has revealed His righteousness to every nation! He has remembered His promise to love and be faithful to Israel. The ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God. - Psalm 98:1-3 NLT.
Our new song to the Lord will be inspired by the Spirit. The lyrics will be glorious and full ofpraise for His overwhelming victory. We'll release a sonata of love and joy.
His Eyes, His Ears, His Heart . . . 4/18/10
To be victorious in our testings and trials, we must stay focused on the Lord. The majority of battles take place in our minds, so our best defense lies in knowing the perspective of God and aligning with Him: What does He see in the situation? How does He feel about it? What does He want to do?
I was talking with a young Christian friend last week. Her job situation has become unstable because of reduced funding. God has given her a good measure of peace, but as we talked, I realized she was too concerned about pleasing her professional peers. If she was laid off due to downsizing, she wanted to be seen as successful while she was there, even though she was just beginning in this career field. While my friend and I were talking, the Spirit gave me His perspective, so I passed it on: "Don't forget that God's measure of success is often entirely different than man's measure of success." This young woman responded immediately with excitement and joy. A reminder that God's opinion is the one that matters had quickly set her on higher, happier ground. Our conversation ended with my advice to stay focused on the Lord.
Within a few days, I was able to apply the wisdom of "staying focused on God" to my own life. I found myself having strong, negative emotions because of looking at a matter through my own understanding. I was seeing with my own eyes and feeling with my own heart. I think God was testing my willingness to set aside my intense feelings. He wanted me to see and accept His view of the matter. I obeyed, and the Spirit is already acting powerfully to tear down an enemy stronghold.
Obedience is good, especially when it's followed by a visible move of God. But let's not stop there. If we are willing, then our problems combined with His solutions can be doorways to a higher level of Christian life. We can move beyond our routine of merely "passing tests." We can step more fully into God's presence.
It's true! When we consistently choose to see with God's eyes, hear with God's ears and feel with God's heart, we are choosing to experience Him.
In that day the deaf shall hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness. The humble also shall increase their joy in the LORD, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel - Isaiah 29:18,19.
Dear Lord, we ask you today to open and enlarge our spiritual eyes, ears and hearts. Let us move through each day with Your vision, with Your hearing, with Your emotions, and with all we receive while abiding in You. Please give us grace to remain in this blessed condition and thereby walk with power to accomplish Your purpose on Earth.
Choose Joy . . . 4/9/10
Friends and family are a blessing, but they can sometimes bring us pain. Harsh words and actions may hit us like a crashing wave. Being hurt by others is part of the human experience, but whether we're victimized or victorious is always our choice.
God expects us to love and care for difficult people, but while doing so, we may be mistreated by them to various degrees. When this happens, our emotional response might be annoyance, anger or pain, depending on the person and the relationship.
Recently, while going through a hurtful time, I was trying to get the experience into perspective. I decided to “be still” and rest in the Lord’s character and in His word. I knew there was nothing I could say to change the situation. Besides, I was already wounded. I wouldn't return for more unkindness. At least not anytime soon.
In spite of this, I had no intention of giving up or wallowing in self pity. I wanted restoration for all involved. I asked the Lord to heal my wounds, ease my pain, and to help the situation. Before long, He spoke two words of life to me: “Choose joy.”
Yes, of course! The joy of the Lord is our strength! A few weeks earlier, God had blessed me with a heavy dose of His joy, and the experience was still fresh in my mind. I knew this divine energy was exactly what I needed. The Spirit was reminding me to look at the beauty of God instead of the troubling event.
When memories of unkindness arise, we can always draw near to the Lord by meditating on His goodness. We must trust in His integrity and in His love for the people around us.
You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence - Acts 2:28
I'm convinced that choosing joy is literally choosing the presence of God. This act of faith will move His heart and His hand. We will then be blessed and transformed, along with those around us.
Friendship With God . . . 3/22/10
Have you experienced the joy that comes when you feel God's love—when you know He is pleased with your progress—when you've received a personal word of direction or spiritual revelation? I'm feeling this joy today because God has encouraged me.
You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore - Psalm 16:11.
My encouragement came during a time of prayer. I asked the Lord a specific question which He didn't answer. But He quickly addressed the root of the matter which was much more important to me. The answer came as a mental image of an hour glass. Along with the image came a clear understanding of what it meant. God was telling me that what He had promised two years ago will come in His sovereign timing. He hasn't changed His mind.
I began pondering the contrast between this time of joy and some previous times of mild depression. Obviously, joy comes for Christians when we're feeling loved and accepted by God. Depression, melancholy and lethargy can come from the illusion that God has withdrawn His love. The enemy subtly tricks us into feeling that we're a disappointment to God. Because they're not conscious thoughts, these feelings can linger for weeks without being dealt with properly.
The truth is, God always loves us. He's extremely patient, and He never gives up. He has promised to finish what He has begun (Philippians 1:6).
God wants us to feel good about belonging to Him. He wants us filled with His joy and energy (Nehemiah 8:10). If you fall into a slump of negativity, your friendship with God is the perfect cure. Spending time in the Word is actually spending time with the Lord, and believing the Word is believing in His character. Being delighted by both your time and your trust, God will draw increasingly nearer to you. He can also be found in your quiet times as you entertain His abiding presence.
And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God - James 2:23 NLT.
Vision and Anointing . . . 3/8/10
What is the vision that guides you today? Do you watch the increasing darkness, or do you focus on the power and promise of God? If you find yourself afraid because of "bad reports," then let your emotions push you toward God's truth instead of pulling you into the Satanic muck of resignment and despair.
God has neither left us nor forsaken us. His holy Word still overrides the enemy's evil chatter. Immersing ourselves in scripture will elevate our levels of faith, hope and discernment, whereas fear will hurry us toward foolish steps of error. The Word always brings revelation while fear brings nothing but distortion and deception.
God has given us a choice. We can open our eyes to see Him at work. We can turn our ears to hear His voice. Or, we can be counted with those who don't believe. Will you glorify the Lord through faith, or will you discredit Him through fear?
Christians are destined to shine with God's glory during the dark days that lay ahead. The enemy knows this and is working overtime to tarnish our lamps and snuff out the fire within. In my personal experience, every time I take a determined step toward God, the forces of hell arrive to push me back. I sustain repeated "hits" of condemnation, deception, illness, rejection and discouragement—whatever it takes to dim my vision and weaken my resolve. The attacks are skilled and subtle, making the lies quite believable. But the Spirit has taught me to expect these attacks and to ward them off by faith. You can do this too:
Put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18).
Remember all that God has promised, both in His logos and rhema Words. Keep a journal to refer to when conflicts arise.
Look for God's hand of favor and protection. This can go unnoticed if our focus is misdirected. But if we discern His helping hand, we're encouraged.
Be aware of your personal anointing. If you don't think you're equipped and anointed for any type of kingdom work, then ask God to open your eyes. Once you're enlightened, ask God to increase your anointing so you can serve Him more effectively.
Always thank God for His sovereign power, for the hope within His Word and for the joy of His presence. Thank Him and praise Him for all things.
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. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come - 2 Corinthians 1:20-22 NIV.
A New Creation - 2/23/10
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new – 2 Corinthians 5:17.
At the time of our salvation we hear right away that we’re a new creation in Christ. We also hear that there is no condemnation for those who abide in Him (Romans 8:1). But twenty or thirty years after being born again, many Christians are not living in the freedom and power that is theirs. The enemy has methodically beaten them down so they’ve forgotten the practical reality of the words, “no condemnation.” The powers of darkness have coerced others to treat them badly, so they feel inferior, worthless and powerless, trembling under a heavy load of shame. Does this profile describe you, even just a little?
Now here is the truth of the matter: Jesus wiped our slates clean, so poor treatment from others is never a true reflection of who we are. God calls us His beloved. He tells us we're kings and priests who establish His kingdom here on Earth (Revelation 1:5,6). With this in mind, we can face each day confidently. The King of kings and Lord of lords has called us to purpose and honor. With the Holy Spirit to guide our hearts and lips, we can stand up lovingly and respectfully to family members, co-workers and any associates who make a habit of treating us badly. We can walk in peace and joy instead of sadness.
If you are one who's been wounded by long-standing mistreatment, God wants you to know that unkind people are not the real enemy. Satan is the ugly fiend behind the scenes, pushing buttons and pulling strings to stir up strife, judgement and condemnation—whatever it takes to keep us from reaching our potential and purpose in Christ.
He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap – Ecclesiastes 11:4.
We must ignore those maligning winds that tell us we're not good enough. And the clouds that remind us of the past are only the enemy's "smoke and mirrors." God's voice is true, and He has declared that we're new and clean and strong. Through Him we are destined to overcome evil, and we will do it gloriously.
Salt - 2/5/10
Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one - Colossians 4:5,6.
People caught in the snares of sin can be set completely free by hearing the truth about their predicament. Because Christians are the salt of the earth, we're responsible to help the needy who God has set on our paths (Matthew 5:13).
Salt has amazing properties. It seasons our food and prevents dehydration. It is vital for normal functioning of the human body. Salt can even save lives by killing germs. But we have to remember that salt will always cause pain if sprinkled on an open wound, so those who are most in need of salt are the ones who may scream the loudest when it is applied.
Speaking truthfully to a friend, family member, co-worker, or even a total stranger, must be done in love. The Spirit may provide the perfect words right on the spot, but often we need to pray before we speak. I've been in situations where I've had to pray for weeks before I was allowed to say a word. My own attitude needed adjusting before I could hear from the Lord about what to say to another.
Unless the need is urgent, salt is best applied in small doses over a period of time, making it acceptable to the recipient. A sprinkle here and a sprinkle there helps the hearer save face and avoid the sting of humiliation. It also gives them time to test-drive each new truth before they receive another.
Alas, no matter how careful and loving we may be, there will sometimes be strong reactions to the truth we speak. Anger, outrage, icy silence, and even retaliation are normal responses from the prisoners of sin. But if we've followed the Lord's direction, we needn't worry. The Word and the Spirit will have their intended effect.
There will be times, nonetheless, when we ourselves are wounded by the sinner's reaction. As this happens, we must cling to God and His love for us so we don't lose sight of the task at hand. Just like Jesus, we will experience times of rejection because of speaking the Father's truth. So we need to remember—it's not about us. It's about setting the captives free.
1/19/10 - The Word is God
Sometimes when I get accustomed to hearing from the Lord in a particular way, He “changes the channel” so I have to find Him in a new place. And sometimes when I start to feel comfortably close, He moves to the left or the right so I’m required to seek Him with more determination. God stretches and expands us in mysterious ways which we often don’t understand. But if we love Him, we continue to follow and reach for more of Him. Our hearts are entwined with His, so we can’t be apart for long or tolerate much distance.
The Lord can be perplexing at times, but we always have the Word as our constant, guiding light. We must not forget that the Word IS God! It's alive with His breath and His heartbeat.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God – John 1:1.
God is often a mystery because His ways are so much higher than ours. But the Word will speak to us wherever we stand, whether it be on a bright hill of mature understanding or in a deep valley of confusion. The Word will flow in us like blood, carrying life to every hidden part. The Word is alive with revelation, power and deliverance. If we treat the Word as the living presence of God instead of a compilation of facts to be learned, then we’ll be greatly blessed as the Lord intends.
Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed – John 8:31.
Any pursuit that consistently displaces the reading of scripture should be considered an idol. We’re not disciples of the Lord if we’re not reading the Word and abiding therein. But if we submit to time in the Word, we’re submitted to Jesus as Lord.
If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you – John 15:7.
“Receiving what we desire” sounds very good to me. Jesus’ only requirement is that we abide in Him by abiding in the Word. Now that’s an excellent deal—one that makes us rich beyond measure.
1/10/10 - Passing Through Valleys
Hard times come as a result of sin and poor choices, but they will also come from the Lord as a form of testing. He will be glorified in these situations if we respond properly to the adversity. Will we turn to the world or to God for help? Will we praise Him, or will we murmur and complain? Will we obey, even when this prolongs our discomfort? Will we turn to God immediately or only after we've tried it "our way"? Are we willing to learn patience, humility and the holy art of "waiting on the Lord"?
Whether our difficulties are the consequences of sin or a form of testing, our response should be the same—to glorify God by turning to Him for guidance, protection and provision.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a spring; The rain also covers it with pools –
The word, baca, means "weeping." As we pass through places that are hard enough to make us cry, we must remember the Holy One who wants to comfort and refresh us. When we draw near to the Lord and abide in His presence, our “valley” becomes a place of beauty for ourselves and for others. I was recently pondering this verse when the Spirit told me that the Lord IS the spring, and as I draw near to Him for refreshing each day, I can expect to move deeper into His presence. I can be immersed in God the same as I would be immersed in a pool of deep, pure water.
While I was thinking of the valleys I’ve walked through during my life, the Spirit spoke to me clearly. He told me that my years of difficulty have not been a wasted time because He has brought a level of holiness into my life. Then He revealed to me the high value He assigns to holiness. It is a beautiful thing and is greatly prized by God. He is always pleased when testing results in a reflection of Himself.
Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord . . . - Hebrews 12:14.
As it turns out, hard times are a gateway to holiness. Of course holiness leads us to the presence of the Lord. And then we find fullness of joy in His presence!