Thursday, February 28, 2019

Dress Yourself For Battle

Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, "Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain." And God granted his request. 1 Chronicles 4:10
Jabez was an honorable man of God that prayed a bold prayer and God answered.  This week we are looking at the last part of that prayer…and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.
Dress Yourself for Battle - Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  Ephesians 6:11 
Dressing for spiritual warfare may sound silly, but in reality, it is what Christians need to do if they are going to survive the temptations and bumps in the road.  It is important because all of us are engaged in a spiritual battle.  Spiritual warfare, simply put, is a struggle between light and darkness, between good and evil. Spiritual warfare is not a new concept.  The Bible depicts countless battles. From Genesis to Revelation, its pages reveal there are both physical and spiritual wars raging
Scripture provides a basis for spiritual warfare and defeating it in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  On the one hand, there is Satan launching wave after wave of attack in various forms - from the obvious ones like specific temptations to attacks that we may not recognize. On the other hand, it is God who has clothed us for this battle. He has given us everything we need to fight and win this battle.
Dress for Spiritual Success – The Full Armor of God:
The outfit for living life is strategically designed by God. Therefore,to protect ourselves from evil is to wear what God has given us to be victorious in battle. This is a total and complete outfit that we have to have to fight. Leaving an opening is to invite defeat. 
The Belt of Truth Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth… Ephesians 6:14a
Girding your loins with truth means to be firmly established in the word of God.  Reading the bible and meditating on the word allows it to become a part of your mind set.  Saturate your being with God’s truth and make it a fortress to keep out the lies of Satan.  God’s word is truth and therefore makes it foundational to all other pieces of armor.  
The Breastplate of Righteousness and having put on the breastplate of righteousness. Ephesians 6:14b - When a man is clothed in righteousness he is impenetrable.  The life we live either fortifies us against Satan’s attacks or makes it easier for him to defeat us.  Satan is the accuser, but he cannot accuse the believer who is living a godly life in the power of the Spirit. When Satan attacks the Christian, it is the righteousness of Christ that assures the believer of his salvation. But our positional righteousness in Christ, without practical righteousness in the daily life, only gives Satan opportunity to attack us.  Be aware and stand guard. Allow Christ to work His life and will in you. Allow His Holy Spirit to give you the power to live above sin. Do this and you wear the breastplate of righteousness.  
Shoes of Peaceand having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace Ephesians 6:15 - Just as a Roman soldier’s shoes protected his feet and helped him to firmly stand, peace from the Lord provides us with emotional and spiritual stability. If we are going to “stand” and “withstand” attacks from Satan, then we need the shoes of the Gospel.
Scripture to Claim: 
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  Ephesians 6:14-15

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Distance Yourself From Danger

Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, "Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain." And God granted his request. 1 Chronicles 4:10
Jabez was an honorable man of God that prayed a bold prayer and God answered.  This week we are looking at the last part of that prayer…and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.
Distance Yourself from Danger  
The blessings of God are not intended to make us think we are invincible.  We are to be seeking God in the blessing. When it comes to praying for divine protection the answer may come in the simple command of "don't do that" … or "don't go there." 
By far our most important strategy for defeating the roaring lion is to stay out of the arena.  - Bruce Wilkinson
When God answered the first three requests of Jabez, Satan got angry.  When we're blessed so that we expand our ministry and trust the open hand of God, we begin to invade Satan's turf. Since Satan doesn't want us serving, he begins to send temptations our way.
You see, it is one thing to pray to God to help you resist temptation, but when you keep walking toward the door of temptation, you really don't want God's help. Instead, God tells us to run.  2 Timothy 2:22 says Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.  Job says it is just plain smart to run from evil.  Job 28:28 - And to man He said, "Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, And to depart from evil is understanding."
This begs the question, were you redeemed from something or to something? Turning from sin requires turning to righteousness for success.  Those who have left their friends and turned to loneliness have not lasted long. We need learn that God has given us the ability to say "no" to sin and to distance ourselves from the things that can cause us harm:
• Psalms 34:14 - Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it.  
• 1 Corinthians 15:33 - Do not be deceived: Evil company corrupts good habits.
• James 4:7 Submit yourselves to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.  
Did you catch a difference there? Look who is doing the fleeing now!!  When we draw near to God and submit ourselves to Him, we will resist the devil and HE WILL FLEE FROM US. That's great news
If you're struggling with sin and are tantalized by temptation on a regular basis, join the club. But, you don't have to settle for sin dominating your life. Claim Paul's words from 1 Corinthians 10:13: No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
Could it be that God is more interested in keeping us from temptation than we are? Ask Him to show you the way out when you're in a slippery situation. Ask Him to keep you from sinning. Plead with Him to take evil away.
We make a huge spiritual leap forward … when we begin to focus less on beating temptation and more avoiding it.  Bruce Wilkinson

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Keep Me From Harm

Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, "Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain." And God granted his request. 1 Chronicles 4:10
Jabez was an honorable man of God that prayed a bold prayer and God answered.  This week we are looking at the last part of that prayer ,…and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.
Not even Jesus could live a pain free life because He loved. Neither can we because people will fail us. We can't keep from hurting some people because they place unreal expectations on us and are hurt by their own feelings. But the greatest pain we suffer in life is usually of our own making through our mishandling of our own emotions and sin.  
My thoughts
My reactions to others instead of responses to the situation.
My Desires and Lust
My emotions and anger
My pride and selfishness
My weaknesses and failures
Is our pain most often caused by others or the way we handle others?  Is it what someone did to us or how we handled it? 
The Problem is Me
If I turn hurt to hate the problem is me, not them.
If I turn disappointment to bitterness the problem is me, not them. 
If I turn being abused into being a victim, the problem is me, not them.
Every time we hurt there is a good chance someone else is hurt as well. No man is an Island!  Others are hurt by our weaknesses.  It is understandable that Jabez prayed “God!  Keep me from hurting myself and others in the process.
When Jabez prays to be free "from pain," he is acknowledging that sin always brings grief. We cannot sin and win.  Jabez had a healthy awareness of the evil lurking in his own heart and of the external temptations that were ready to pounce on him as soon as he let his guard down. 
Genesis 4:7 paints a vivid picture of what each of us face on a daily basis. God told Cain, If you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.
God gave us the power through His Holy Spirit in our lives to handle all that comes our way, the blessings as well as the temptations.  We, like Jabez, have to be ready and aware and in continual prayer that He will keep us from evil.  
Scripture to Claim:
What is the source of the wars and the fights among you? Don't they come from the cravings that are at war within you? You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war.  James 4:1-2b

Monday, February 25, 2019

Blessings = Responsibility

Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain." And God granted his request.  1 Chronicles 4:10
Blessings = Responsibility
Many of us are familiar with the story of Jabez, and how he rose above his circumstances to become a man of honorable and noble character. So noble, that He caught the ear of God in praying a bold prayer.  The Prayer of Jabez became a popular and well-known passage a few years back. This prayer asks for God’s blessing, His provision, His presence, and His protection.  Having received the blessings of GodJabez understood he now needed to live safe. He boldly asked God to enlarge his borders and for His blessing on him and God did it.  He gave Jabez what he asked for, a powerful example for us of praying a bold prayer that we believe God will answer.  Blessings tend to make us presumptuous to think we don’t need to depend on God so much now that things are going wellBut Jabez was wise enough to realize that receiving great blessing and having an enlarged territory would mean facing a whole new set of challenges along with opportunity.  Failure to grow and remain alert to the dangers of increased position and power could mean disaster; especially if he lost God’s direction and protection.
When blessings come, and added responsibility follows, our ability to hurt more people goes with it. Our area of influence increases.  We are going to focus on the last part of Jabez’s prayer.  This part of the prayer is a direct plea for God to intervene in his personal life, his heart.  Though he had received honor, blessings, and influence, Jabez knew he was not above making mistakes, andbringing harm and pain to himself and those he loved.   So he prayed, and that You would keep me from harm that so that I will be free from pain.  Bruce Wilkerson says of Jabez’s last request It is a brilliant strategy for sustaining a blessed life. 
Different translations have seemingly different perspectives on how to translate the Hebrew in this passage.
New American Standard - and that You would keep me from harm that it may not pain me!
King James- and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me!
New King James Version - and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!
English Standard Version - and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain! 
New International Version -and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.
So, which is it “evil” or “harm”?  Is it “that I may not cause pain” or “that I will be free from pain”? When studying the text in the Hebrewboth seem to apply.  I believe that Jabez didn’t want to cause pain to others, because in bringing pain into another’s life, it would also cause him pain. And isn’t that true in life, whenever we hurt someone we care about, we end up feeling a good deal of pain?
Jabez had experienced enough pain in his life and now he wants to be rid of causing pain and experiencing pain. I don’t think any of us would disagree with that being an appropriate prayer. None of us want to experience any more pain than we consider necessary and we don’t want to inflict pain upon others.  But when we pray in boldness, such as Jabez did … we threaten Satan … we step on His turf and that ticks him off and he is not about to make our life easy.  Satan knows that an uncommitted believer is little threat.  It is one who is being blessed that is a challenge to him.
Scripture to Claim:
And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.  2 Corinthians 9:8

Sunday, February 24, 2019

God’s Triangle of Grace

I Corinthians 13:13
We labor so intensely to do good works, to sing great songs of praise, to present powerful messages of hope and salvation, to study His Word, to faithfully come to worship. What is missing that is so important? The answer?  Faith, hope, and love.  Faith, hope, and love are imparted to our lives through the grace of God.
In the physical body, the organs are all present to aid the blood.  
Spiritual giftsare of less value than spiritual graces.

I. The Strength of aTriangle

Loveis the foundational piece of the triangle. The love of God causes us to have faithand the love of God gives us hope.    

II. The Elementsof God’s Grace Triangle

·    Faithwhich comes from God as a grace gift  

·  Faith unitesus to Christ; secures our forgiveness, justification, sanctification and final and complete redemption.
·  KnowGod, knowfaith.  NoGod, nofaith. 
·  Some would say that faith is the foundationof the triangle, yet it is the loveof God that draws us and sustains our faith and hope.
·  Faith is betting it all on one great premise: that God is in control.
·    Hopewhich comes from God as a grace gift
·  Faith believes that God cando, and Hope believes that God willdo.
·  Faith believes what hope expects. Hope expects what faith believes

·  Hopeis believing that the future is possible.  Hope means that you believe that your future has significance.  

·  Having FAITHin God will bringHOPEwhich is born again in our hearts through His everlasting LOVE.

·    Lovewhich comes from God as a grace gift

·  The evidence of God’s work in the life of a believer is not the worksthey perform, but the new naturethat controlsthem.
·  As truelovegrows in us, Godgrows in us.

·  You can give without lovingbut you can’t lovewithout giving.

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