THE FLAME OF REVIVAL…

JEREMIAH 17:14: “Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; Save me, and I shall be saved, For You are my praise.” NKJV
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OBSERVATION: Have you ever felt like you were stranded on a deserted island in the midst of the ocean? Perhaps you have taken an unpopular stand that has caused others to distance themselves from you. Or, perhaps the Lord has called you to do something that many do not understand. Regardless of the circumstance – you feel alone.

Jeremiah was alone. He was called by God, even before he was conceived. He was given the difficult task of prophesying to the nation of Judah at the height of their rebellion and sin. He stood alone against all the corrupt prophets and priests. No one wanted to hear what Jeremiah had to say. And, at the same time, they were conspiring to bring harm to Jeremiah to shut him up.

Jeremiah was faithful to the word of the Lord. Yet, Jeremiah also struggled with his calling. Many times he would question the Lord. He would ask – “Lord, why me?” This is a question that I have found myself asking many times in my life. There have been times when I knew I was in the center of God’s will but everything around me was going wrong. Alone, on the deserted island of obedience, I asked – “Lord, why me?”

In these times of isolation and questioning, we need to position ourselves as Jeremiah did when he cried out these words.

  • “Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; Save me, and I shall be saved, For You are my praise.”

Jeremiah, in the midst of rejection, persecution, and despair, placed his life in the hands of Almighty God. Jeremiah knew that there was only one healer. Jeremiah knew that there was only one Savior. Jeremiah focused his heart on the Lord God Almighty in an attitude of prayer and worship. When we find ourselves in these solitary times we need to do the same.

There are times when we will be called to take a stand. I believe we live in such a time. In the midst of a world that embraces an upside-down morality, the believer stands as the only light of God’s truth. If we hide our light under the bushel then darkness will win. If we let out light shine then we will bear the same opposition and rejection that Jeremiah experienced.

The question is – “What will I do?”

I have never been afraid to stand up for what I believe. I have faced the upstream battle for truth all of my life. Yet, can I be truly honest? I am tired. Like Jeremiah I find myself asking – “Why me Lord?” Why can’t someone else stand up for the truth? Why can’t I sit this one out? Why is my light so important?

Now, I know that my light is not any more important or significant than anyone else’s light. However, if I buy into the argument that someone else will do it, then there will be one less light. And, if the enemy can convince me, he can convince others also. If we all lay down our lights, thinking that we are insignificant, then there will be no light at all.

My light, my willingness to stand up for the truth, my obedience to the Word of God, is a small light. Yet, when this small light encourages someone else to join me, and this causes a chain reaction, the small lights that are gathered become God’s pillar of light to a dark and broken world.

All over this nation, people are gathering in public squares to worship. There is a flame of revival that is starting to be in ignited. You don’t see coverage of this on the nightly news. There are no burning buildings left in their wake. Yet – this fire is igniting hearts. When the enemy comes in like a flood – God always raises up a standard. And, just like in the 1970s, this movement is filled with young adults. As they lift up their hearts in worship and praise you can hear the words of Jeremiah.

  • “Heal us, O LORD, and we shall be healed; Save us, and we shall be saved, For You are our praise.”

May our hearts be ignited together with the flames of revival! Lord, heal us, save us!

In Jesus Name!

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JESUS IS PRAYING FOR ME!

HEBREWS 7:23-28: “Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever.” NKJV
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OBSERVATION: Have you ever asked someone to pray for you? The answer to this question is obvious. We have all asked for prayer as we faced difficult decisions and circumstances in our lives. Yet, do we really believe that these prayers will be answered? Do we even know if the people we have asked to pray for us really will?

When you consider the life and ministry of Jesus, what stands out? What made Jesus’ ministry so effective? Was it because He was God in human flesh? We need to remember that when Jesus entered this world as a humble baby, He had emptied Himself of all His glory and power. When Jesus walked this earth He had at His disposal all the resources and tools that we have. Although He was born without sin, in His ministry and life He relied upon the Word of God, the power of the Holy Spirit, and prayer. Jesus prayed!

As we study the Gospels closely we will see a pattern in Jesus’ life. Over and over again He would slip away from His disciples, and the demands of ministry, and find a secluded place to pray to the Father. I believe this was the key to the effectiveness of Jesus’ life and ministry. Jesus said that He only spoke that which He heard the Father speak. Where did Jesus hear the Father speak? Jesus heard the Father speak as He abided with Him in prayer.

If we use a baseball analogy we could say that Jesus batted 1000! Every prayer that Jesus uttered before the Father was answered. And, every word that the Father spoke to Jesus was fulfilled. This is the difference between Jesus and us. Our sinful nature does not allow us to hear the Father’s voice the same way Jesus heard the Father. And, our lack of prayer limits our power and our effectiveness in carrying out the Father’s will. There is not a saint on this earth that bats 1000. The only one who holds this record is Jesus.

This may seem like a long preamble to make a simple point. Yet, it is a point that we so often miss. Jesus had a perfect prayer life. He abided in perfect communion with the Father and the Holy Spirit while He walked this earth. Every one of Jesus’ prayers was answered. And, here is what we need to grasp,

JESUS IS STILL PRAYING. AND HE IS PRAYING FOR ME (YOU)!

  • “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”

Jesus is our High Priest. He is “…holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.” (Hebrews 7:26-27). As our High Priest, He stands before the Father, and He lives to pray for us! And, here is what I need to grasp.

JESUS’ PRAYERS ARE ALWAYS ANSWERED!

Through Jesus’ intercession for me, I am assured that I will be saved to the uttermost. The word translated “uttermost,” literally means – entirely, to the full end. This means that Jesus is interceding for me this very moment, in this hour of need. It also means that He will continue to intercede for me until His will and calling for my life is fulfilled. He is a faithful High Priest. He is my living High Priest. He stands between me and the Father and He also stands between the Father and the enemy on my behalf!

  • “Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.” Romans‬ ‭8:33-34‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

This morning, no matter what I am facing, I have the assurance that Jesus is praying for me! He will not forget to intercede on my behalf. He will not allow an accusation to be lifted up against me before the Father. He stands as my Savior, Baptizer in the Holy Spirit, Healer, and Soon Coming King. He is my Great High Priest. He is working on my behalf to save me to the uttermost!

Lord Jesus, thank you for interceding for me today! May I walk in this assurance. May I walk in the hope of eternal life. May I always remember this truth,

JESUS IS PRAYING FOR ME, AND HIS PRAYERS ARE ALWAYS ANSWERED!

In Jesus Name!

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GOD ALWAYS DOES WHAT HE SAYS!

ISAIAH 55:11-13: “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. For you shall go out with joy, And be led out with peace; The mountains and the hills Shall break forth into singing before you, And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree, And instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree; And it shall be to the LORD for a name, For an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” NKJV
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OBSERVATION: Have you ever been so discouraged that you began to doubt the Word of God? As you read the verses of Scripture you wondered – “Will this ever be true for me?” Sometimes it seems like we are hanging on to life by a mere thread. We are waiting for the next thing to happen that will cause this thread to snap and send us hurling in defeat.

I think we have all felt like this. To be honest, I think there are areas of our life where we feel like this right now. Generally, things are going well. Yet, there is that one need, that one deep concern, that keeps us up at night. We wonder when God’s answer will come. Will, we really see His victory or will we be disappointed by continual delays?

In times like these, I love the book of Psalms and the book of Isaiah. The book of Psalms reminds me that I am not alone in my humanity. David, a man after God’s own heart, cried out in his times of doubt and uncertainty. The book of Isaiah reminds me of God’s faithfulness and that His promises always come true. Together they are like a rope held in tension that gives me the support I need in difficult times.

Today, as I pondered over the words of Isaiah, these verses came to life in my spirit.

  • “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

I am reminded that God always watches over His word to perform it. When God speaks – He always does what He says. His word never returns void. It accomplishes all that He pleases. It always brings an increase. It always prospers. It is like the precious seed that is planted in the ground.

  • “For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head.” Mark‬ ‭4:28‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

This is the way God’s promises take root in our lives. They do not spring from a seed to the full grain overnight. The seed is planted. It is watered by the Holy Spirit. The Lord tends to its growth. It sprouts forth – first the blade, then the head, and after that the full grain.

When God speaks – He always does what He says!

This is true with regard to His written word and the prophetic events that are unfolding in human history. It is also true with respect to the prophetic word that He speaks into our lives.

There have only been a few times that the Lord has spoken to me regarding my future in a way that was more than just an impression or an unfolding of circumstances. Although it was not an audible voice, it was as close to that experience as one could possibly have. I knew that I was receiving a prophetic word from God. The first time was when He called me into the ministry. The second was when He told me that I would speak before nations. And, the third time – I am still holding in my heart as it is still in seed form.

I had the privilege of pastoring for over 40 years. During that time I was granted the opportunity to create some training materials that have been sent around the world (speak before nations). And, now, as I enter the final lap of my life and ministry, I am holding His last word close to my heart. Like Mary, I am pondering it and praying over it. When I begin to lose hope, when circumstances don’t seem like they are moving me toward this end, I remember how faithful He has been in the other areas of my life.

What God has spoken into my life – He has done in my life!

When God speaks – He will do what He says! I need to be reminded of this. I need to be strengthened by this. I need to remind myself that God is for me and that His intentions are always for blessing and for good. And, I need to share with all who will hear – God is no respecter of persons! He desires to speak into each one of our lives to give us a word of hope, encouragement, and destiny!

  • “For you shall go out with joy, And be led out with peace; The mountains and the hills Shall break forth into singing before you, And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree, And instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree; And it shall be to the LORD for a name, For an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

God is not done with me yet. He is not done with you. His purpose for each one of our lives has been declared. He has spoken it – and He will do it! He will fulfill all the promises revealed in Scripture. And, He will fulfill the prophetic words that He has spoken over our lives. Even though we do not see the fulfillment of all these things, we are called to pursue them as if we do – in faith. Paul reminded young Timothy of this truth.

  • “This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare…”. I Timothy‬ ‭1:18‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

We need to live with this confidence – When God speaks – He will do what He says!

Lord, thank you for reminding me of this wonderful truth. When You say something – you will do it! When Your word makes a proclamation – it will come to pass! When you begin a work in my life – you will complete it! Grant me the grace and faith to hold onto this precious truth and by it wage the good warfare of faith!

In Jesus Name!

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THE ELECTION IS NOT THE ANSWER!

ISAIAH 48:17-19: “Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, The Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, Who teaches you to profit, Who leads you by the way you should go. Oh, that you had heeded My commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, And your righteousness like the waves of the sea. Your descendants also would have been like the sand, And the offspring of your body like the grains of sand; His name would not have been cut off Nor destroyed from before Me.” NKJV‬‬

OBSERVATIONS: The eyes of the world are focused on the election that will take place in the United States on November 3. There has never been a sharper contrast between two candidates. This year’s election makes the election of 2016 look like child’s play.

THE FUTURE OF THE FREE WORLD STANDS IN THE BALANCE.

I love my country. My father served in World War II. I have had the privilege of serving many veterans in my years as a pastor. I love the sacrifice and selflessness they have shown in standing up for the freedom of those they did not even know, as they fought for the freedom of their families and the country that they love. I too realize the great importance of the election on November 3. And, I am positioned in prayer seeking God’s intervention and mercy.

However, as I read these verses in Isaiah I am reminded that it is never about the election. The future of our lives, the source of our peace, the hope for our children, never rests in the hands of men. As Christians, we need to be reminded that Jesus is Lord. Jesus was Lord as a cruel Roman Emperor ruled the world. Jesus is Lord regardless of who is elected. Rest assured, this election cycle will not take our Lord Jesus Christ by surprise!

It is clearly evident that we are in the last days. As one reads the book of Revelation, we are reminded that difficult days are ahead. Personally, I take comfort in the hope of the rapture of the church before the Great Tribulation. However, it is clear that the stage is being set for a vast army of over 200 million who will wreak havoc upon the world (Revelation 9). Even now, China has declared its desire to be the number one military superpower by the year 2049.

So, if it is not the election that is the answer, what is it? It is our faith and obedience to Almighty God! The Gospel went forth in power under the cruel regime of the Roman Empire. The Gospel is exploding in Communist China. The power of God and our personal peace are not affected by who holds the White House. The key is,

WHO HOLDS OUR HEART?

  • “Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, The Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, Who teaches you to profit, Who leads you by the way you should go.”

We love to quote II Chronicles 7:14 – “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
‭‭II Chronicles‬ ‭7:14‬. Yet, quoting this verse is not what we need.

WE NEED TO DO IT!

Just as surely as every good citizen of the United States needs to go and vote their values in this upcoming election, so every believer needs to go to their prayer closet and seek the Lord. It is the Lord who teaches us to profit. It is the Lord who leads us by the way that we should go.

WE NEED TO RETURN TO THE LORD!

  • “Oh, that you had heeded My commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, And your righteousness like the waves of the sea. Your descendants also would have been like the sand, And the offspring of your body like the grains of sand; His name would not have been cut off Nor destroyed from before Me.”

It is important to notice that God’s promise to His people has nothing to do with the governments of this world. In fact, the governments of this world are controlled by the Lord and they are a direct reflection of the heart of His people. It is always God’s desire to send us peace like a river, righteousness like the waves of the sea. Jesus came to give us life and life more abundantly.

THE CHOICE IS UP TO EACH ONE OF US!

If we place our faith in our elected officials, we will always be disappointed. As noble as one may be, they are merely human and ultimately powerless to move the events of the world. The world and its trajectory are in the hands of the Lord. Everything that is happening is moving according to His prophetic time-table. We cannot stop its forward motion. We can only be obedient and cooperate with His plan to reach the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I want to spend my retirement years in health and safety, enjoying each day with the ones I love. However, it is more important that I spend each day engaged in the will of God for my life. The preaching of the Gospel, the making of disciples, is the most important calling in my life. If it means a sacrifice in my personal comfort, so be it. My hope cannot rest in a political system or a candidate. My hope must be anchored in the – LORD, my Redeemer, The Holy One of Israel – who teaches me to profit. Who leads me by the way that I should go!

Lord, direct my heart and my eyes toward heaven. Let me lay all my earthly cares at the foot of the cross. May I do my civic duty and vote on November 3 for candidates that support the values of faith, family, and the sanctity of human life. Yet, let me put my trust fully in You. May I seek You with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. May I look to You in faith –

FOR YOUR REDEMPTION DRAWS NIGH!

In Jesus Name!

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WHAT IS GOD’S FINAL REVELATION TO THE WORLD?

HEBREWS 1:8-9: “But to the Son He says: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.” NKJV
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OBSERVATION: Who is Jesus? This is a question that has been debated for centuries. It was debated when Jesus walked the earth. Jesus, Himself, even asked His disciples this question.

  • “When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭16:13-15‬ ‭NKJV

The answer to this question will determine one’s eternity. The answer to this question will also determine one’s spiritual health and growth. Josh McDowell, in his book “Evidence That Demands A Verdict,”‬‬ notes that Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic, or He was who He said He was, and who the Bible proclaimed Him to be. Jesus was not a liar. Jesus was not a lunatic.

JESUS WAS THE WORD OF GOD, MADE FLESH, THE MESSIAH, THE SON OF GOD!

Yet, there is one person that many do not ask regarding this question. Who is that? It is the Father. The Father’s testimony is what the writer of Hebrews records in the first chapter of this epistle. It is not the opinion of the disciples. It is not the opinion of God’s created angels. It is not even the opinion of the prophets.

THIS IS THE DECLARATION OF ALMIGHTY GOD!

  • “But to the Son He says: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.”

The Bible is clear, there is only one God. The Bible does not use the word trinity. This is a word that the church uses to declare what the Bible teaches. The word trinity means – three in one. The Bible declares that the Father is God. The Bible and the Father declare that the Son is God. And, the Bible, the Father, and the Son declare that the Spirit is God. Yet, we are to worship only one God – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!

The Father addresses the Son – “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever…”. Philippians, chapter two, shows us that Jesus laid down all of His power and glory as the Eternal Word of God to become the Son of God. Yet, He was still God. God in human flesh. Emmanuel – God among us. Jesus was not created. He existed from all time. He existed before becoming the Son of God. And, He will exist with the Father and the Son – forever and ever!

Why is this so important? The obvious answer is that it validates all that Jesus has spoken. When He declared – “I am the way, the truth, and the life..,” we must understand that there is no other way to have a right relationship with God, and to enter eternal life, then by faith in Jesus Christ alone. Jesus is the only means of salvation. If we dismiss Jesus as God, there remains no more provision for eternal life.

Yet, there is one more important reason why this truth is so important and foundational. In the opening verses of Hebrews we read,

  • “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” Hebrews‬ ‭1:1-4‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

JESUS CHRIST IS THE FINAL REVELATION OF GOD TO THE WORLD!

God spoke in times past by the prophets. Yet, in these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son. Jesus has been raised from the dead and glorified, with the glory He emptied Himself of when He came to this world. He came to reveal the Father. He came to restore all righteousness. His word, His testimony, and the truth of His life are God’s final revelation to this world!

There are many today who are chasing the latest wind of doctrine that is blowing through the church. They have become bored with simply seeking Jesus. They have become enamored with foolish doctrines that never produce true godliness. When they tire of these they race off to the next new thing. Having itching ears they seek speakers and teachers who will tell them what they want to hear. They forget this important truth,

GOD HAS IN THESE LAST DAYS SPOKEN TO US BY HIS SON!

Paul, when pondering on the nature of Jesus Christ, wrote these words.

  • “…That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians‬ ‭3:17-19‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

If the love of Christ is our goal, and, if the love of Christ surpasses our limited human knowledge, and, if the love of Christ is the fullness of God – then how can we ever become bored in our walk with Jesus? How can we allow ourselves to be tossed to and fro by various winds of doctrine? How can we ignore God’s final declaration?!

JESUS CHRIST IS THE FINAL REVELATION OF GOD TO THE WORLD!

CHURCH – IT IS TIME TO FALL IN LOVE WITH JESUS ONCE AGAIN!

  • “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” Revelation‬ ‭2:4-7‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

In Jesus Name!

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GRACE AND GOD’S TREASURE…

TITUS 2:11-14: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” NKJV‬‬

OBSERVATION: What is grace for? When we think of grace we automatically think of the gift of salvation. We have been saved by grace through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Grace, the unmerited favor and love of God directed toward us, is given for far more than to bring us to salvation.

God’s grace not only saves us – it teaches us!

Paul tells Titus that the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. This was fulfilled when God sent Jesus into the world. John writes,

  • “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John‬ ‭1:14‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Take notice of what John says. Jesus, the Word made flesh, came to reveal God’s glory. And, we beheld Him, full of grace and truth. God did not send Jesus to only reveal His grace unto salvation. The Father sent the Son to reveal His truth. Grace must always be accompanied by truth. While we all beheld Him, only those who received Him became children of God (John 1:12). And, only those who embrace His truth continue to grow and mature as His disciples.

  • “…But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…”. II Peter‬ ‭3:18‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

God’s grace has been given to us so that we might learn how to become like Christ. We can rejoice in our salvation. However, salvation is not the end, it is the beginning. I have witnessed many churches that make baptism the goal of all they do. They rejoice when they lead someone to Christ and that person enters the baptismal waters. Yet, they stop there and do not lead this person into the pathway of discipleship.

Grace calls us to grow!

  • “For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God…”. Titus‬ ‭2:11-12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Grace calls us to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. It teaches us to grow in the wisdom of God. It empowers us to live in the righteousness of Christ. And, it leads us in the pathway of obedience and devotion to His calling for our life. Grace is not an excuse to fail.

Grace is the power to soar by faith!

Grace not only teaches and transforms us. Grace also redirects our priorities and focus.

  • “…While we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.” Titus‬ ‭2:13-14‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I remember when I was a small boy. For whatever reason, back then, I loved to dress up in a suit and bow tie. Mind you, I was 4 or 5, but I can still remember it. I knew that getting all dressed up meant two things. First, we were going to visit my Nannie and Poppy. Second, we were going to Clifton’s Cafeteria. And, why was this so important? Because, if I behaved, if I stayed clean, and if I ate my food – I would get to reach for a prize from the treasure chest on the way out!

As a believer, I should have the same attitude. I have been clothed in the righteousness of Christ. These clothes, provided by grace, remind me that I am preparing for Jesus’ soon return and my eternal life with Him. As I look for this glorious day I know that there awaits for me a treasure in heaven that He will give to all who call upon His name. This hope, this calling, gives me the strength to live through the power of grace. His grace teaches me each day how to live, wait, and hope for the prize of the high upward calling of God in Christ Jesus!

Grace is our teacher as we wait for Jesus to return!

Lord, forgive me for thinking that grace is an excuse to fail. I thank you that when I fail, and when I confess my sin, You are faithful and just to forgive me and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. However, let me view grace as the power of Your love to lift me to a new way of living. By Your grace, let me soar like an eagle and live a life that is pleasing to You as I wait for the treasure that You have prepared!

Lord, teach me by Your Grace!

In Jesus Name!

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HOW TO FACE EVIL…

II TIMOTHY 3:13-17: “But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” NKJV
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OBSERVATION: What do we do in the face of evil? Paul tells young Timothy that perilous times are ahead. Men will be lovers of themselves rather than lovers of God. They will hate what is good and rejoice in what is evil. We are seeing the fulfillment of these words right before our very eyes.

As evil men and impostors grow worse and worse, as more people are deceived by their words and actions, how are we to respond as believers? Like the captain of a mighty sailing vessel, Paul calls out to Timothy – “STAY THE COURSE!”

  • “But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of…”

What have we learned and been assured of? What is the foundation of all that we believe and hold dear? It is the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures. It is through God’s Word that we have come to a saving knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is through God’s Word that we have received the wisdom, knowledge, and understanding of God. God’s Word is our sure foundation. God’s Word is our map through the unchartered waters we now face.

But – is the Bible, God’s Word, enough? Can we really survive these perilous times with the Word of God alone? Many are tempted to reach for alternative methods and resources to address the times we live in. To simply look to the Bible seems too simplistic for some. How can a book, that is over 4000 years old, speak to the issues of our day?

The Bible is not just a book. The Bible is the breath of God. It is the inspired Word of God. It is living and active. By the Word of God, all things that exist were spoken into being (Hebrews 11:3). God’s Word is not lacking. It is the full revelation of all that we need to navigate through the troubling waters of life!

  • “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God…”

Words are important. God did not choose His words without forethought. When Paul writes – “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God…” – the Holy Spirit, speaking through Paul, meant exactly that! All Scripture, not some. The Old Testament and the New Testament. The Book of Psalms and the Book of Revelation. Every single word was given under the direct inspiration of God, through the Holy Spirit, speaking through His chosen vessels.

  • “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” II Peter‬ ‭1:19-21‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

God’s Word is – God’s Word! It is the full expression of His love and will for our lives. Within the sacred pages of Scripture, we find everything we need for life and godliness. Paul tells Timothy to hold fast to God’s Word, for in these Sacred Scriptures, Timothy will find everything he needs to remain faithful to the call of God in his life!

  • “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

God’s Word is all we need for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness. As I was driving down the road the other day I noticed a church sign which read – “We don’t change the message, the Message changes us!” Paul echoes these words. Paul is emphatic and unapologetic. He says God’s Word has been given to us so that we might be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

It is common knowledge that the Pilgrims, who settled America, relied upon God’s Word as they forged a new nation. Our founding fathers relied upon God’s Word as they wrote the Constitution and By-laws. Our courts, in their early days, relied upon God’s Word in their statutes and judgments. And, schools used to teach children how to read using the Scriptures in their English primers.

Today, our society has spurned the Word of God. Many churches have attempted to change the Word of God. However, regardless of how they have treated the Holy Scriptures, the truth still remains. Our only pathway through the perilous times we now face is the Holy Scriptures, the inspired Word of God. It is only as we return to God’s Word that we will be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Lord, give me a deeper hunger for Your Word. Let me delight in every word that proceeds out of Your mouth. May I meditate upon Your Word and lay it up in my heart. Let your Word truly be a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. Through Your Word, lead me through these difficult and perilous times. Grant me Your grace, and increase my faith, as I hold onto every word that You have spoken!

In Jesus Name!

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WHAT WE CAN CHANGE…AND WHAT WE CAN’T…

JOB 35:6-8: “If you sin, what do you accomplish against Him? Or, if your transgressions are multiplied, what do you do to Him? If you are righteous, what do you give Him? Or what does He receive from your hand? Your wickedness affects a man such as you, And your righteousness a son of man.” NKJV
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OBSERVATION: Have you ever wanted to change something? You may have wanted to change your job, your place of residence, your relationships, or your outlook on life. Yet, you soon learned an important lesson. Change does not come easy. And, there are some things in life you can change and some you cannot.

The one thing you cannot change in life is God. We live in a world that is continually trying to change God. They want to mold Him into their image. They want to create a God who accommodates their opinions, beliefs, and lifestyles. They want to redefine truth to justify their sin and actions. Yet, they are trying to do something that cannot be done. God does not change and He is not affected or changed by our behavior.

In the book of Job, after Job had finished his defense, and after his three friends had finished their responses, a young man named Elihu speaks to Job. At the end of the story of Job, the Lord rebukes the counsel of the three friends but not those of Elihu. Elihu speaks these words to Job as he responds to all that has been said previously by Job and his three friends.

  • “If you sin, what do you accomplish against Him? Or, if your transgressions are multiplied, what do you do to Him? If you are righteous, what do you give Him? Or what does He receive from your hand? “

The essence of what Elihu is saying is that God does not change. Our sin and rebellion do not change God. Our righteous deeds and actions do not change God. God is holy. He is the Creator of all and He is completely separate from His creation. The wonder is that He chooses to become involved in our lives at all. It is God’s love that compelled Him to pursue us even while we were found in sin and rebellion against Him (Romans 5:8). His love never changes. His mercy is everlasting. He loves, not because of what we do or don’t do. He loves because – He is love – and His love never changes!

  • “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” I John‬ ‭4:10-11‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

In these two verses from I John, we find a complimenting truth to what Elihu spoke to Job. Our actions do not change God. Yet, His love can change us! And, we are called to act in response to God’s love. How we live our life will never change God. Yet – it will always have an impact on the life of others. No one is an island unto themselves. Our actions in life will either affect others for good or for evil! Thus, Elihu continues in his words to Job,

  • “Your wickedness affects a man such as you, And your righteousness a son of man.”

Our actions affect the lives of others. Our words hold the power of life and death. We can keep silent and watch as those in our life race toward the cliff of sin and death, or we can speak the truth in love. We can hide our faith and go along with the flow, or we can stand up in faith and let our words and actions be the light and salt of the earth. We can exercise our faith in the safety of the four walls of our churches, or we can proclaim the Gospel to all nations with boldness in the power of the Holy Spirit. Our actions, the way we live our life, will always have an effect on others!

While we cannot change God, we can allow God to change us! Through faith in Jesus Christ, we are given the privilege to become sons and daughters of the Creator of all things! We are transformed by His love and called to a new purpose in life. We are called to be His agents of change in a world that desperately needs to change!

  • “But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.” 1 Peter‬ ‭2:9-10‬ ‭MSG

In a world that is constantly changing, we are called to be God’s instruments to proclaim His love that never changes. As the tide of culture ‬‬ebbs and flows, we boldly procliam that Jesus Christ is the same Yesterday, Today, and Forever! (Hebrews 13:8). And, as the tide of public opinion changes with each changing wind, we uphold and proclaim that the Word of God, His truth, endures forever!

Lord, transform in the truth of Your unchangeable nature and love. As I draw close to You, change me so that I can be an instrument of change in the life of others. Let Your love, and the light of Your truth, transform my attitudes, my words, and my actions. Let me be a positive agent of change in a world that so desparately needs Your love!

In Jesus Name!

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WHY DO PEOPLE RAGE?

II TIMOTHY 2:24-26: “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.” NKJV
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OBSERVATION: Why do people rage? Why are they controlled by their anger to the point that they are willing to destroy individuals and property without any sense of remorse or discernment between good and evil? As we watch our cities burn, as we witness the senseless killings of innocent civilians, our hearts are filled with a sense of loss.

In my work, I have traveled often to Minneapolis to call on Target headquarters. It is located in the middle of downtown Minneapolis and is right across the street from one of its flagship stores. I have been to this store many times. Each time I have been there I found my visit very pleasant. Then, just the other day, I witnessed this store being destroyed by an angry mob. What would incite people to do such a thing?

The one thing I have learned about sin and brokenness is that it has no rational explanation. Just following the RNC Convention, Senator Rand Paul and his wife were both attacked. The attackers were chanting the name of a victim they claimed they were protesting on behalf of. As they wielded threats against Senator Rand Paul they did not even know that he was the one who had introduced a bill to address the very injustice that they were protesting. It simply makes no sense.

Sin is not rational. Brokenness dims reality. And, the devil sits back and revels over what he has accomplished to control and destroy lives. Our first response is to fight fire with fire! We want to shout louder against this senseless violence. We are tempted to think that our anger will counter their anger. Yet, if we let anger take control of our lives we are playing right into the hand of the enemy. This is why Paul counsels Timothy,

  • “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance…”

Our call is to be gentle, ready to speak the truth in love, patient, and in humility correcting those who are in opposition. Our goal is to lead them to repentance. Proverbs gives us a difficult instruction in this regard.

  • “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Lest you also be like him. Answer a fool according to his folly, Lest he be wise in his own eyes.” Proverbs‬ ‭26:4-5‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

We cannot be pulled down into the mire of rage. We must draw upon the grace of God so that we do not find ourselves doing and saying the same thing we are standing against. Yet, we also must not keep silent. If we are silent, the fool, the one who does not know God or the truth, will be wise in their own eyes. Truth in love, and expressed in the posture of true humility is what is needed.

Finally, we must never forget who has bound these people who are engulfed in rage.

  • “…so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.”

It is the devil who has taken them captive to do his will. They are bound by his lies and spiritually blind to see the truth. Caught in a snare they rage on. Yet, we are not to despair. We have the only thing that can set them free. The TRUTH! The truth of FAITH in Jesus Christ. The truth of FREEDOM through His Word. The truth of the TRANSFORMING POWER of the love of God!

While people raise a torch in rage to burn our cities, let us lift our prayers toward heaven. Let us show love and compassion to our fellow man. Let us proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ with no concern for our personal acceptance, safety, or comfort. Let us rise up in love, compassion, forgiveness, and lead others to the truth. Let us lead the way to the cross of Jesus Christ our Lord!

Father, turn the tide of rage in our land. Let Your people rise up in love and model the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let truth and righteousness shine. Protect all in law enforcement and our first responders as they stand in harm’s way to uphold law, order, and peace in our cities. Out of the ashes of Minneapolis, and so many other cities, let revival arise and turn the course of this nation once again!

In Jesus Name!
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HOLD ON TO YOUR FAITH!

JOB 19:25-27: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” NKJV
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OBSERVATION: When you are facing a challenge that is greater than yourself, when you feel like you are all alone and no one understands, and when you are at the point of breaking and feel like giving up…

HOLD ON TO YOUR FAITH!

The book of Job teaches us so many things about life. It teaches us about perseverance through a prolonged struggle. It teaches us the need to show compassion to those who are suffering. It teaches us how easy it is to misunderstand one another when we are pressed beyond measure.

And, it teaches us the importance of faith.

As we read and meditate on the book of Job, it is important to remember the perspective that the cross of Jesus Christ brings to this monumental story.

  • “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand…My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.” James‬ ‭5:7-8, 10-11‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Job, after all that his friends said about him, and in the midst of all the misunderstandings he had regarding the nature of God (which would be corrected in the end) – Job was a man of faith. And, this faith enabled him to persevere in the midst of his great trial. At times it appeared that Job had lost his faith and forsaken all hope. He wished that he had never been born. He endured the miserable comfort of his so-called friends. Yet, Job held onto his faith. And, in one of his darkest and loneliest moments, Job proclaimed –

  • “For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!”

Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, faith in His return, faith in the glorious hope of the resurrection, will carry us through any trial that we face.

I have witnessed the lives of those who have been swallowed up by grief. It appeared that they would never recover. Hope seemed eternally lost. Then, something miraculous takes place. Their faith lifts them, restores them, and propels them forward. Their deep despair is turned into a glowing testimony of life and hope. True, their personal sorrow, and a deep longing for the one they lost, still remains. Yet, there is something greater than these that lifts them up to soar once again. That is their faith!

  • When you find your selves in the midst of a great trial – HOLD ON TO YOUR FAITH!
  • When the answer just does not seem to come – HOLD ON TO YOUR FAITH!
  • When your vision seems to die and the door seems to close – HOLD ON TO YOUR FAITH!
  • When even friends and loved ones do not understand, or they distance themselves from you because they no longer know what to say – HOLD ON TO YOUR FAITH!

Like Job, you too will be sustained and restored. Your day of resurrection will come from the Lord. Hope will spring up eternal once again. Vision will be clarified, breathed upon by the Holy Spirit, and restored. Your Redeemer lives and He has not forgotten you!

Remember Job! Remember his perseverance in faith. Remember the end of his trial intended by the Lord – “…that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.” (James‬ ‭5:11‬ ‭NKJV). And, most of all, remember to…

HOLD ON TO YOUR FAITH!

In Jesus Name!‬‬

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