Thursday, January 31, 2019

The Power of the Word

For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.  James 1:23-25

Knowing what the Bible says is a great resource for Christians, but if you want your life to be changed by Jesus Christ, you have to apply God’s Word to your life.  You have to live out what you know.  It takes work, sacrifice, and diligence, but to not apply what we know is to waste the valuable instruction that God has provided us with His Word. 
In the verses above, James speaks of two different men, one who looks quickly at himself in the mirror and goes away and forgets what he is like.  The other man looks intently, and he is changed.  One looked at himself and was “gone away” without lasting results. "Just a glance and off he goes."  One looks “intently” and is transformed.  One man looks at “himself” and the other at the “perfect law of liberty”.
The Word of God is like a mirror as it reflects what is taking place in our hearts. It shows us areas in our inner lives that need to be cleansed.  A quick brush with truth will not produce lasting results. A fleeting vision of what God wants us to be will not produce character.  Our tendency is to quickly forget what we do not like in ourselves when we come under the steady, pure light of God's truth. We want to turn our heads from reality and go back to our selfish ways.  
Some of us has heard it all our lives.  We have grown up in church, going to Sunday School every Sunday, revivals and VBS.   But the practical side is, are we "doing" the tasks? The truth of our lives is revealed in our acts of doing. Jesus speaks of hearing and doing as a "wise" man in Matthew 7:24 - One who acts upon the word of God and thus builds upon the rock-solid foundation.  "Therefore, whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:”    
As long as we obey our own passions and emotions and desires, we are nothing less than a slave. It is when we accept the will of God that we become really free- free to be good, and free to be what we ought to be. His service is perfect freedom, and in doing His will is our peace.
The Word of God is not meant to be a forced code of external rules and regulations. It is our living power that enables us to find true freedom.  But crucial to everything is our attitude toward God, His Word, and our spiritual appetite. If I have the right attitude toward God's Word it becomes a living power in my life. Do I love His Word? Am I eager to obey it? Am I anxious to forget what I don't like as soon as possible? Do I make His Word my daily delight? 
The Word of God roots itself like the seed in our hearts. If we water it, it grows to be a part of our nature. It becomes a part of our thinking, emotions, and decisions.  When we are living out God’s Word in our lives, not just telling everyone what it says, we can reflect Christ to the rest of the world.  We can show others Christ in our lives, His power in our lives, and the transformation that we have experienced because of Jesus and His Word.  

Scripture to Claim:So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.  James 2:17

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The Word Applied

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.  James 1:22-25

There are unlimited ways for Christians to learn the Word of God these days.  There are Bible apps, Bible studies, books, podcasts, livestream, conferences, etc.  But just knowing what the Bible says will not change your life.   We must apply what we learn to our own lives to truly benefit from what we learn. 
Committed to Purity– Psalm 119:9saysHow can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word.  When we are saved, our past is forgiven and forgotten by God.  It is a new day.  We can move forward, throwing off the shame and guilt of past sins.  The consequences may linger but we are a new creature in Christ. What counts is everything from this moment forward.  We will still have temptations and struggles, and we will still fail, but our hearts commitment should be to walk in purity as Christ calls us to do.  When we have this commitment in our hearts, we can focus on the word of God in our lives and lean on that when trials and temptations come.
Good Attitude- The Word of God is a precious seed that is planted into the soil of the heart. Therefore, it is essential that we have the right attitude toward it. We must come with a gentle, open, and teachable spirit.  We must want the Word of God and our relationship with Him to change our lives.  If we think we can become a Christian and do not want anything to change in our lives, then we are not ready and neither God, nor His Word, can have an impact on our lives.  Through the Bible, preachers, teachers, and other Christians, God sows His truth into our lives.  If we are wise, we will listen and allow our lives to be molded by Him. A. W. Tozer said Too many Christians want to enjoy the thrill of feeling right but are not willing to endure the inconvenience of being right.-  
When we are ObedientBut be doers of the word, and not hearers only… It is not enough just to “hear” God’s Word we must act upon it. We must be doers. If we fall short and do not act on it, we become self-deceived, and self-deception is the root of hypocrisy.  For example, say there is a man who goes to the church meeting, and who listens to the reading of the word, and the expounding of it, and who thinks that that listening has made him a Christian.  He deceives himself by thinking that his attendance at public worship, and his hearing of what is read and said there, is enough. He has shut his eyes to the fact that what is read and heard in Church must then be lived and done in life.
God’s Word is full of instructions for us for this broken life we live.  It is not to punish us or keep us from having fun in life.  His Word is to help us, protect us, guide us, and when applied, it will give us life far more abundant than the life we have been living. 

Scripture to Claim:
Therefore, put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.  James 1:21

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Treasuring God’s Words

I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11

We need to memorize God’s words to have in our hearts always so anytime we need them we have them.  Of course, everyone has their Bible on their phone these days, but let me play the Devil’s Advocate.  Suppose there was a glitch.  A big glitch. Suppose one day we find ourselves with no power, no WIFI, no data.  It could happen.  We are going to be a big bunch of crybabies if it does happen.  Even if there is never a big glitch, technology is not always dependable.  But God’s word is and He tells us in His Word that we should hide it away in our hearts so we have it when we need it, because we will need it.  
Memorizing God’s Word Gives us Power Over our Sin Nature- Memorization is not just the repeating of words in order of recollection.  It is planting truth in our minds from which we draw our wisdom for living.  Jesus showed us in the wilderness that the Word will cause Satan to flee.  God will use His Word in our lives to alter our decision making.  Every sin in our life is the result of not appropriating the Word of God in that area.  If you desire victory over a certain area in your life, I challenge you to do a scripture study on that area and then repeat the Word of God when you are tempted. Scripture reveals sin for what it is. 
Memorizing God’s Word Helps us Submit to Godly Instruction – 
When the Word reaches the heart, it creates a desire for learning.  The more I memorize, the more I want to understand what I have learned. To prepare for service and witness. With my lips I have told of All the ordinances of Your mouth.  v13   God gives us something to say when his Word is in our minds and hearts.  People will listen to what God says much more than what I think.  Preparation to teach is based in Bible knowledge that anyone can gain with PERSEVERANCE and FAMILIARITY.  You don't realize what you know until you start to share.
To value and rejoice in God’s wisdom.  I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, As much as in all riches.  v.14  Praise will result from memorizing because it will create joy as it is repeated in our mind or heart.  Knowing the promises of God, we will be more prone to seek them in our lives.
Meditating on God's WordI will meditate on Your precepts…v15a; To gain a respect for God's ways   and regard Your ways…  v15b
To meditate is to “digest, draw out, mull over" – When we meditate on scripture, it involves our heart and our head.  We are thinking and feeling.  Receiving truth from another is not the same as DISCOVERING truth for yourself.   We gain a respect for the Word of God for we discover its ability to challenge and fulfill. 
If we would think about what we do many of our actions will change.  We will soon find that we "delight" in doing the right in life as our life develops a new character and purpose following God's plan.  People don't forget what brings lasting joy and fulfillment.  Remembering and meditating on the Word of God will bring every blessing that God has provided into reality in our lives.
In order to understand the Bible, you must know the author.  It is amazing how much defeat, despair, sin and loss we suffer because of a poor relationship to the Word.  You may feel that you honor the Word and that is good.  But it is not enough to guide and protect your life.  You can read it, listen to it, respect it, quote it and love it…but until you walk in its truth, you will never know its power and purpose.
Scripture to Claim:
Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes! With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.  Psalm 119:12-14

Monday, January 28, 2019

The Importance of God’s Word

How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. 
Psalm 119:9

God's word is a treasure chest filled with jewels of joy for the one who will mine its riches – Psalm 119:162.  The Christian who wants to know the power of God in life soon discovers the importance of the Word of God in Living.  The Word of God does more than just reveal God.  It is the instrument of God in our life to accomplish His will.  It is the source of Divine comfort, direction, wisdom, and power.  The effectiveness of the Word of God in our lives is directly related to our relationship to it.
The less we know about the Word of God, the less we will get out of this life.  If we depend on the Word of God for daily direction and strength, there is amazing power and support.  Note the tremendous ability of the Word of God to perform the will of God in our lives.  
Listen to God’s Word– If we believe that God will speak through His Word and listen for His voice, we will definitely receive the greater blessing.  It is very important to listen to God’s word.  Our attitude is vital to proper communication.  Many find it hard to listen but are more invested in being heard.  Who do you really listen to?  Are you listening to God’s Word for your life?  For God’s Word to have in impact on our lives an open mind is needed as well as an open heart. If one is evaluating in place of receiving, the heart is not open for God to affect.  
Commit to Follow God’s Will - People continue to ask counselors and Pastor’s for guidance that they never intend to follow.  They are not looking for wisdom, they are looking for rationalization. To hear the Word of God and not respond is to decide to reject the wisdom of God for the folly of our own wisdom. 
Our sin nature makes us “wanderers”.  The Psalmist says, "Lord, whether willingly of my own desire or drawn away by earthly pursuits, do not let me wander from your will."   To recognize our "proneness to wander (aimless travel or pursuit)" is the beginning of requesting God's strength to follow what we know to be the truth.  This is recognition of our sin nature.
Evangelist T.D. Hall often said before he preached, "Lord, if you tell me to do something in this message or through Your Word then I promise that I will do it." Truly, that is how we should prepare each time we open God’s Word.  We should always be ready and willing to be spoken to by God, and then be willing to follow through in the direction He leads us.  

Scripture to Claim:
With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! 
Psalm 119:10

Friday, January 25, 2019


Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and solie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:13-18

Every day the prayer of my heart is for wisdom.  I truly believe it comes from God and God alone.  While a prayer for peace is worthwhile, it seems that peace is a byproduct of wisdom in all situations.  A prayer for almost any good thing will find its answer in wisdom. Need good relationships or health? Wisdom with others and our habits is foundational.
The beauty of growing in wisdom is that it is never-ending.  It is also like the breaking of a new day for when you gain wisdom all things in life look different; fears are diminished, emotions are controlled, worries are forgotten.
Wisdom is not selfish or even self-centered.  James’ list of the attributes of wisdom is beautiful: pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.  Who would not like to have these qualities in their life?
Wisdom, as we know, is not knowledge; nor is it merely experience.  It is truly a combination of those plus a God-given understanding of both of these things.  That’s clear when James under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit calls it the wisdom from above
My thoughts on this were triggered as I considered how much differently I think today than in my younger days.  I truly believe that life experience is a great teacher of wisdom and you just have to live long enough gain some parts of it.  The Bible encourages us to learn from our elders and it is clear there is much they can teach us.
If you will listen to God’s lessons in experience, there is much to be learned about what is really important in life and what is NOT so important after all.  You can learn about the true sources of joy in life and the emptiness of parties.  Lessons come about the real power of faith and the value of every human being.  You live long enough, and you can learn a lot of things.  But why wait?
The Bible is filled with wisdom and Christian elders can share a great deal from their experience. Maybe you can’t comprehend it all but the knowledge they share will certainly be valuable in the course of your own life.
Yes, I will still pray for wisdom above all.  I can’t wait to see what God will show me today.

Scripture to Claim:So teach us to number our days, That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.
Psalms 90:12

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Good vs Evil

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.  Ephesians 6:10-13

The good guys and the bad guys, the cops and robbers, the cowboys and the Indians.  It seems that is always a theme in movies.  Light vs. Darkness.  The ultimate battle of good vs. evil is being waged inand aroundus every day.  
In Revelation the bible speaks of the battle to end all between Satan and Christ, but even now truth and light is under constant attack from deception and darkness.  We are all warriors in the front line of this battle, for the battlefield is our heart and our Commander in Chief is Christ.  It is a battle of Spiritual Warfare, requiring special weapons of Spiritual nature.  
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.  2 Corinthians 10:3-4
The Bible depicts countless battles. From Genesis to Revelation, its pages reveal there are both physical and spiritual wars raging.  However, the primary focus of Scripture is the ongoing conflict between Christ and Satan. And like it or not, every single one of us is involved.  The battleground for this intense spiritual struggle is not some piece of earthly real estate; it is the human heart.  Both Jesus and the devil are supremely interested in winning possession of our minds and hearts.  For this reason, Christians are called to be more than peaceful spectators or mediators in this cataclysmic conflict.  We must be committed front-line commandos.
The Enemy is on the Prowl
We dare not underestimate our enemy, “who prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).From these words in 1 Peter, take it that Satan does not have false teeth. He not only desires to devour, he will devour those who do not take up the whole armor of God.”
Satan’s schemes are many, and he attacks us at any point he considers vulnerable. Thus, our armor must be complete. We cannot pick and choose our armor, but rather we must put all of it on. We must be completely equipped, or we are vulnerable to his attacks.  This is where many Christians fail. They take some of the armor but forget one or two parts of the suit-and pay an eternal price for their neglect.  We must be vigilant and always be ready, geared up and protected for whatever comes our way. 

Scripture to Claim:
He trains my hands for battle, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.  You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, And Your help makes me great. 2 Samuel 22:35-36

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Spurring On

To my dear friend Gaius: I love you in the truth. Dear friend, I pray that you may prosper in every way and be in good health physically just as you are spiritually. For I was very glad when some brothers came and testified to your faithfulness to the truth—how you are walking in the truth. 

In 1stand 2ndJohn, the author, who is believed to be John, talks a lot about truth. In the book of 3rdJohn, John is writing a speaking to one person, Gaius, commending him because he has heard from some others in the faith that Gaius is walking in the truth.  Gaius was a dear friend of John and John begins by telling him how thankful he is to hear he is still walking in the truth because during this time there were some in the church who were turning away, and some being led away by false teachers. He then goes one to encourage Gaius in his leadership in the church.  

Gaius was younger than John but John pours into him, wishing him the best and praying for him in every way. He encourages him in his ministry, spurring him on.  John praises Gaius for his spiritual life, but also, he shows care and concern for every aspect of Gaius’ life, praying that he would prosper in every way.  He cares for the whole person.  Supporting and cheering on the ones who follow us is so important – to our own faith and to the church itself.  Do not think that you have nothing to offer.  All through the Bible in many different circumstances, God encourages us to encourage those younger than us.  The wisdom we have will be valuable to someone else just starting down the same path we are on, or maybe to someone who is stuck along the way.  John gives us a great example in this small book – one of the last things he wrote.  
Therefore, we ought to support such men so that we can be coworkers with the truth. V 8
We are called to support those in ministry so that we can be partners in truth with them.  By supporting them, we are working with them. Those in ministry need the lay people to encourage them.  They need sometimes to even be supported by more physical means such as monetary donations and support.  There are thousands of ministers and laborers in ministry around the world that only exist on donations.  They depend on God and He meets their needs through supportive brothers and sisters in faith.  

Who do you know that you can encourage today?  Maybe it is not someone involved in ministry, but someone you can encourage in a situation they are involved in or just in their walk with Christ.  Who has God laid on your heart lately?  Maybe you need to give them a call or invite them over for coffee.  Who can you add to your prayer list?  What ministry is God calling you to support with a gift?  Consider the honor and privilege of spurring on others in this journey.  

Scripture to Claim:
For I was very glad when some brothers came and testified to your faithfulness to the truth—how you are walking in the truth.  3 John 1:3

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Walking in Truth

And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.  2 John 1:6

2ndJohn is the shortest book in the Bible, but not short on truth.  In fact, 2ndJohn is all about truth.  In the first three verses, John tells the church that he loves them in the truththe truth that abides in uswill be with us forever, and that grace, mercy, and peace will be with us from God and Jesus – in truth and love.  What an opening for a tiny book of the Bible!  He addresses the letter to the elect lady and her children, which many believe to represent a single house church in the community.  He identifies himself as “The Elder”, which just means exactly that – older man. John was the only living disciple and also, interestingly the only one to die of natural causes – the rest were martyred.  The book of Second John leaves us with three responsibilities to the truth:  
Know the Truth– Lots of us base truth on feelings, and then make decisions based on that truth – that was based on a feeling.  Many people believe truth is always relative to a person’s situation. To make decisions based on a truth we have, based on our feelings, is a very unstable decision. We cannot believe that truth is relative to our situation.  We have to see the truth above the situation or we won’t have the hope and faith we need to survive.  The heaviness of our situation is momentary, but the truth is lasting and as John said in verse 2, the truth of Jesus is in us and will be with us forever.  This is the truth we have to hold onto.  This is the truth we have to remember when the false teachers come.  We must know what we believe to be the truth so that when our feelings, our situations, or false teachers come we don’t waiver from what we know to be true.  The Bible is our source of Truth, our lifeline. It is a measuring stick for us to know what real truth is. 
Walk in the Truth -  And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments v 6a It is not enough to know the truth only, we need to walkin the truth.  We need to walk the walk.  We walk in the truth by walking in obedience to God…according to His commandments.  Walking according to His commandments will also mean walking in love.  Love and truth actually go hand in hand.  Try loving someone without truth or bringing the truth without love. An example would be to seem to be showing love to someone but instead you are only allowing hurtful behavior to go on unchallenged – because you may be afraid to confront them in truth.  On the other hand, it won’t go too well for you if you try to confront someone with the truth, without love.  
Protect the Truth- For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. v 7a  The deceivers are there.  We must protect the truth of God and we also must protect ourselves from the deceivers.  If we know the truth and walk in the truth we are building protection against the deceivers.  The protection of the truth is not against the lie because the lie stands out when compared with the truth.  The protection of the truth is against half-truths and deceivers who lead us away.  But in order to do this, we have to know what the truth is.  
So we know that we need to know the truth, walk in the truth, and protect the truth.  How can we do this?  If we are in the word, we will know the truth.   His word is truth.  Immersing ourselves in His truth, reading the Bible every day, learning all we can, and praying will help us to know the truth, walk in the truth, and protect the truth. 

Scripture to Claim:
Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for but may win a full reward. Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.   2 John 1:8-9

Monday, January 21, 2019

Famous Last Words

We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.   1 John 1:3

John, the beloved disciple, was the last living disciple of the original twelve.  It is believed that he wrote 1st, 2nd, and 3rdJohn, and Revelation in addition to the Gospel of John.  In 1st, 2nd, and 3rdJohn, he is addressing believers, some of whom have left the fellowship for various reasons.  He speaks with truth – boldly.  He has known Jesus personally, walked by His side and sat at His feet listening.  His wants the church to carry on the name and teachings of His savior. 
John knows his time is running out.  He is speaking with urgency to tell them all the important things they might not have retained from previous teaching, and to reaffirm important key theological truths.  It reminds me a little of myself when I finally get my 18-year-old son’s undivided attention.  A single conversation turns into an explosion of everything my mama’s heart feels like I need to drive home – again.  After all, I may not have this chance again for a long time!  John was giving them all kinds of information, including these seven tips on how to walk as Jesus walked:  
·      Walk in the Light – 1John 1:6-7 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
·      Confess Your Sins – 1 John 1:8-9 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
·      Obey His Commandments – 1 John 2:4 - Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him…
·      Act Like Jesus 1 John 2:6-Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. 
·      Love Like Jesus 1 John 2:9-10 Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling.
·      Do Not Love the World –1 John 2:15Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
·      Never Deny the Father or Son –1 John 2:22Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.
John hit the high points in this letter with very practical and valuable tools for us to follow.  

Scripture to Claim:
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.  1 John 5:3

Sunday, January 20, 2019

After the Red Sea

Exodus 15:23-26
We do not have much control over how and when difficult situations enter our lives, but we do have the ability to control how we respond to them when they do. Bitter situations do not have to stay that way. To the believer, these situations become an opportunity to evaluate our faith and an invitation for the presence of God to transform our lives.
  1. I. Life is a Mixture of Sweetness and Bitterness
  • If life were only sweet, no one would ever long for God.  
  • To get our minds and thoughts on things that are spiritual and eternal, we must be pulled away from the physical and temporal
  • The trials and afflictions we suffer makes us an encourager for others going through similar situations. 
  • How quickly do we, like Israel, tend to forget the power of God?
  1. II. The Trials We Face In Life Provide An Accurate X-Ray Of The Heart.
  • You and I will never know the true attitudes we harbor in our heart until we encounter difficult people and circumstances.
  • The great quest of following the Lord is ridding yourself of your “self” and filling it with Jesus.
  • You are responsible for your feelings and emotions.
  • Thoughts lead to feelings; feelings lead to actions; actions lead to habits; habits lead to character; and character leads to destiny
  1. III. Only the Cross Can Transform Bitter Experiences
  • What have you been placing in your bitter situations to make them sweet again?
  • On the cross of Calvary, the Lamb of God paid for the sin of the world.

  • How long has it been since you've embraced the grace that God shed not only on you, but on those who hurt you? 
  • Place the cross of Christ in the middle of your bitter situation; not just for yourself, but for the one who hurt you.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Remember God’s Faithfulness

Joshua set up the twelve stones that had been[a] in the middle of the Jordan at the spot where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had stood. And they are there to this day.  Joshua 4:9

The Israelites had crossed the Jordan.  God had dried up the water, just like before, so they could cross on dry land instead of wading through the raging river.  For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when He dried it up before us until we had crossed over.   Joshua 4:23 
Now they were not just outside the promised land, but before they did anything else, they built a memorial so that the generations ahead would know what God did for them, and so they could remember.  The Israelites were divided into twelve tribes so twelve stones were used to build the memorial.  When all the people had passed over Jordan, Joshua commanded one man from each of the 12 tribes to get a rock from the river bed and build a memorial on the Canaan (Promised Land) side.  These verses tell us that the purpose of the memorial was to remind future generations of the power and faithfulness of God on behalf of His people. That memorial would be an important landmark to those who would come after.
There was actually a second memorial built with 12 stones in the river bed.  This memorial was not for the future generations.  This memorial was a monument to the faith of the Israelites. No one could see it but God.  Even though the Israelites couldn't see it, they knew the monument was there! They remembered that they had believed God then and it had worked. This was a monument in their hearts.
We need some memorials in our lives as well. We need to always remember that the Lord was faithful in the past and that He will be faithful now as well. Never forget what the Lord has done for you in your yesterdays. It is those yesterday experiences that will tide you over when the trials of today and tomorrow arise in your life!   
When you have trusted Him, and He has brought you through, never forget it.  Build that monument in your heart, where only God can see it, and where you will never forget it and when the tough time comes again, and they will, look at that monument of His faithfulness and of your faith and know that what worked before will work again.  Teach your children about the faithfulness of God and what He has done in your life.  Teach them the story of the Israelites and what God did for them.  Tell of God’s miracles and provisions in other stories of the Bible.  Tell of God’s miracles and provisions in your own life and teach them that they can trust Him to meet their needs too.  Make room in your heart to build a memorial so that you never forget the faithfulness and provision of God.  

Scripture to Claim:
He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.  Joshua 4:24

Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Other Side

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.  Hebrews 11:1

Everything you want is on the other side of fear. – Jack Canfield
This very profound, modern day motivational quote was spot on for the Children of Israel.  God had led them out of Egypt down a path straight through the sea, water curled up on either side as they passed.  Miracle after miracle God had manifested Himself to them, providing for them every step of the way.  Now, after wandering in the desert for so long, they were only a river’s width away from the Promised Land – everything they wanted.  

It seems like a river’s width is a small obstacle when that is all that is keeping you from everything you ever wanted. Really it is not that it was everything theywanted, but it was everything that God had promised them.  God had provided for these people for a generation, but it was not the Land of Promise. Many of them may had become comfortable. But the river was roaring, swollen to the banks. The rapids were fierce, and the river was a mile wide with lots of undergrowth where a person could get stuck. They had women, babies, animals, and elderly people.  Their doubts wavered as they believed that only the strong could make it. 

Across the Jordan was the Land of Promise, but it was also the land of uncertainty.  Stepping off the banks and into the water seemed terrifying to the Children of Israel so they just sat there for 3 days.  Going where you have never been before always requires courage and faith. Sometimes the answers we get about how it will work out are not encouraging.  God is the one who establishes the path and He is the one who provides for the victory.  The desire of God was for His people to move from the place of their wandering to the place of promise.  He had a plan and a future for His people, a way across the Jordan, and He has a plan for you and me too.  He may lead you to a thrashing river that you need to cross.  He wants us to have the courage to step into the raging water, trusting Him.  Not stepping out in faith stalls us in our fear and keeps our promised land a river’s width away.  

As soon as they were obedient, as soon as their feet touched the water, God curled up the water again and they crossed on dry land.  God always has a plan because God always has a purpose.  Men do not always have a plan because men forget their purpose and wander, or let fear keep them back.  We may not get to cross all our Jordans on dry land.  Sometimes the way across will be treacherous.  But if God leads you to the banks, He will part the waters or at least get you across.  The journey will be worth it.  The growth you will experience from following in faith and trusting Him, and the promised land He has for you across the river will all be worth it.  

Scripture to Claim:
And the priests came up out of the river carrying the ark of the covenant of the Lord. No sooner had they set their feet on the dry ground than the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and ran at flood stage as before.  Joshua 4:18

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Seeking Forgiveness from God

Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity And cleanse me from my sin. Psalms 51:1-2

David, a man after God’s own heart, had his own set of troubles just like everyone else.  Like so many of us, at this time David had pretty much run his life into the ground –he was guilty of adultery and murder.  I imagine he saw what was coming.  Have you ever been there?  Have you ever been in the middle of something you knew was not right and you knew that it would all blow up one day? Sometimes sin has such a grip on us that without Divine intervention, we aren’t going to get away from it. 
There comes a time when we can’t keep going in our sin anymore.  There comes a time when God brings us face to face with the sin in our lives and face to face with the realityof that sin.  We can live in sin and deny that we are sinning but that won’t work forever.  God deals with us at some point, and David was at that point.  Guilty.  Ashamed. Alone.  Realizing his sin and seeking God’s forgiveness.  David must have felt a little hopeless, but David knew God offers hope in forgiveness.  
Our hope is not found in our circumstances.  So often our circumstances seem impossible and certainly make forgiveness seem impossible or like it doesn’t matter. But our hope is found in the empty grave because that empty grave is what makes forgiveness even possible. The empty grave is the promise of forgiveness – our forgiveness for our sins and the only hope of the possibility of being able to forgive others in our humanness.  Because He has forgiven us, we can forgive others.  
The need of forgiveness or an awareness of sin and the damage it has done leaves man crying out for freedom from guilt and shame.  All of God's blessings are based in relationship. Forgiveness is the doorway for that relationship. The gifts of forgiveness are being surrounded by lovingkindness, joy and gladness. God has dealt with our sin on the cross.  The penalty is paid for those who will acknowledge their sin, and need, express their guilt and claim God’s provision. See your sin as God sees it and do with it what God wants done and receive BLESSED FORGIVENESS.

Scripture to Claim:
Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will be converted to You.  Psalms 51:9-1

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Waiting for the Olive Branch

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
Olive branches symbolize peace. The expression “extend an olive branch” means an offer of peace or reconciliation.  Olive trees take many years to mature and it has been said that war is typically very hard on olives because people cannot take the time to nurture them and plant new trees. Thus, an offer of an olive branch means that person is tired of war, whether it is an actual war or just a disagreement between friends. In Ancient Greek and Roman history, people would offer actual olive branches.  Roman armies that had been defeated would carry olive branches as a symbol they were surrendering.  
So often in sermons on forgiveness, the focus is on giving forgiving others – because it is a very hard thing to do. Waiting on forgiveness is also a very hard thing to do.  When we are in an argument or we have wronged someone, and we really want to make things right, waiting for the olive branch to be extended to you can feel like an eternity. It is totally out of our control. We are the ones in the wrong, so it is their decision whether or not to forgive.  While you are waiting for forgiveness:
  • Pray - First and foremost, pray for God’s healing and forgiveness toward you for what you have done and for His guidance in this situation.  Pray for His hand to be on you, help you know what to say and give you some peace.  Pray for the person you have wronged as well.  Pray for their healing and peace in this situation.  Pray for the walls to be torn down so complete healing can take place.
  • Reach Out –Reach out to the person you have wronged, ask forgiveness, and try to bridge the gap. Be aware that this person may not react as quickly as you want them to.  You are hurting, knowing your part and wanting to make amends, but they are hurting and may not be open to you enough at this point to allow that connection.  
  • Wait –Keep praying and wait upon the Lord.  It is so hard, and it may seem like time is crawling by, but all you can do is give it to Him and let him be in control.  You have done your part and even though it makes you feel so bad and it hurts, you cannot control whether or not another person will forgive you.  
It is an awful feeling when there is discord in our lives, especially with people we love. Even one word of positive communication can make things much better.  So, remember if you are the one who needs to forgive someone, one little extension of an olive branch is so important.  It is like a drink of water in a dry and thirsty desert, a craving that consumes.  You long for the reconciliation provided by forgiveness.  If you do not receive the forgiveness you desire, you may just have to move on.  Know that you have done what you could and accept God’s forgiveness and forgive yourself. Unforgiveness is a sin also, and that is between them and God.   
Scripture to Claim:
By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.
1 John 3:19-20 ESV 

Monday, January 14, 2019

The Sweet Fruit of Forgiveness

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32

God's greatest gift was the gift of faith - enabling us to have a relationship with Him.  His second greatest gift is forgiveness which enables us to have a relationship with others and for God to have relationship with us.  The fruit of forgiveness is the sweetest fruit there is – the forgiveness we get from Jesus Christ and the forgiveness He expects us to pass on. Just as He has forgiven us, He expects us to do the same for others, no matter the offense.  Forgiveness is just as much for our benefit (If not more!) as theirs.  When we don’t forgive, it affects our relationship with God.  
Forgiveness means forgetting the past and moving forward. It doesn’t change the past or erase what happened, but it can change the future.  A seed of unforgiveness doesn’t stay in seed form.  It grows until it is full grown bitterness and can leave a wake of destruction in its path.  Unforgiveness will only cause us to hurt others and once you are bitter with one person, it is easy to become bitter at more and more people.  Sometimes those closest to us are the ones that hurt us the most and are the hardest to forgive.  
It is only through the grace we received when we were saved that we can even begin to forgive.  We have to be grace personified to pass it on to others.  We can do this through the power of the Holy Spirit. Christ in us brings peace, joy, love, and hope to the world.  Forgiving can change our spirit and make us more like God.  
There is nothing as sweet as forgiveness for a wrong. The feeling and weight that lays on a soul that is harboring guilt and shame is heavy and the blessed grace of forgiveness lifts all the guilt and shame away.  Forgiving others lifts the bitterness off our hearts and reminds us that we have been forgiven and desperately need that grace and forgiveness over and over again.  
Steps to Forgiveness:
Ask God to reveal to you those you hold resentment toward- If you feel bitterness in your heart, chances are you know exactly who you are bitter towards. We don’t easily forget who had wronged us.  But if you are not sure why you feel this way, ask God to reveal to you those you hold resentment toward.  
Bring the list to Jesuslay them at Jesus feet along with your hurts
Release them and pray God’s blessing for them– really pray for them – good things.  Then leave them there.  It is not yours to deal with now. Release them into God’s hands.  
Forgiveness is hard and sometimes there is no apology. Even without an apology you can still forgive.  Do it for your heart and for your relationship with Jesus.  Leave it in His hands and let go of the destructive  

Scripture to Claim:
Make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.  Colossians 3:13 NLT

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