Wednesday, July 31, 2019


May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me. May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day! You know very well in how many ways he helped me in Ephesus.  1 Timothy 1:16-18
During the last days of the Apostle Paul's life, he was bound in chains in a Roman cell, awaiting his appeal to Caesar and ultimately his execution.  We know that in spite of these circumstances, Paul's faith remained strong. But being human like you and I, Paul was not immune to natural emotions that we all have in times of struggles and hardships. 
Paul had known prison life before now, but during his first arrest he was in what was known as a "house arrest." And with this he was allowed certain privileges such as friends to accompany him.  Now he was in a Roman cell, better described as a "Well Dungeon." Tradition speaks of these as damp, cold pits not fit for humans nor beast. During these dark days of loneliness, discomfort, disappointment and uncertainty the Lord provided for Paul a measure of refreshment through a man whose name is obscure to us. ONESIPHORUS is his name. Onesiphorus means "Profit-bringer", and his valuable ministry brought to Paul a means of refreshment he would value eternally.
REFRESHMENT: to brace up, to revive by fresh air. Think of a hot stuffy room in which those in the room are oppressed by the heat. Seeking relief, someone opens a window and allows a cool fresh breeze to flow into the sweltering room. The fresh air gives a new surge of strength and energy to everyone in its path. 
Onesiphorus had a "Ministry of Refreshment." Paul describes him as one who often refreshed him. As a Minister of Refreshment, Onesiphorus, sought to bring relief from pressures, weariness, loneliness and discouragement. 
What made Onesiphorus an effective Minister of Refreshment
Genuine Concern– He had a genuine concern for his brother in Christ. Paul speaks of his refreshing services as being on several occasions. Even before now, Paul mentions that he had come to Ephesus and ministered there in many ways.  
It is good intentions and common for people to say to someone in need – “Call me if you need anything!”  But usually the person in need does not call, and often we get busy and do not check back and the opportunity to minister is missed.  Onesiphorus was genuine in his concern and acted upon it.  
Risk of Being Ridiculed- Onesiphorus was willing to set aside his own concerns and risk his good name by helping Paul and others. Paul declared that “Onesiphorus was not ashamed of my chains.”  Apparently, others had abandoned Paul who were more concerned with their own welfare and reputation, than Paul's needs. Being a servant of the Lord means being willing to step outside the comfort zone of padded pews, and help someone in need, no matter of color, ethnic, financial status.
Onesiphorus was committed and persistent at being a minister of refreshment. He had to look for Paul and find him to minister to him. He sought him through a great obstacle in the maze of prison cells and he could have given up easily.  In spite of the difficulty, he persevered, found Paul, and ministered to him.  
Onesiphorus came to Paul in his need and ministered to him. Who can you minister to today? Are there those in your life that are lonely, hopeless, afraid, lost, or discouraged?  God can use you to minister to those just as he used Onesiphorus to minister to Paul.  Are you willing to bring refreshment to someone who needs it today? 

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Temptation in the Wilderness

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.  1 Corinthians 10:13

When we are in the wilderness, the temptation will always be stronger.  Like seeing a mirage in the distance, when we are in a desperate place, we will begin to see what we want. The devil is all too happy to lay a snare before us.  When we are hungry for attention, tired of our life, feeling unappreciated, we will reach for the nearest thing that we believe will satisfy us.  Satan will always tempt us in the wilderness because he knows we are weak in the wilderness. But God always provides a way that is better if we will look to Him – A way of escape.  God always has a plan to meet the needs of His people.  
The place we go to escape can become a trap.  A bad relationship, drugs, alcohol, food, shopping…These are substitutes for God, love, belonging, and family and are no part of what God has planned for us.  The need is met – it works for a little while, but then you are looking for another escape route, and dragging a new problem with you.  
When we are in the wilderness, God always provides a way out, but we have to look to Him to find it. God’s way out of the wilderness you are in will never be the way you would choose, or even a way that is visible to us.  He doesn’t do things the way we do things.  His ways are not our ways.  The Children of Israel were running from the Egyptians because they had fled Egypt and now the Egyptians decided they wanted them back as their slaves.  The Children of Israel came to what seemed like a dead end – The Red Sea.  There was nowhere to go, and The Red Sea definitely did not look like the way out. It looked like a watery grave.  If they hadn’t followed in faith and stepped into the sea, they surely would have died at the hand of the Egyptians.  
What we do in the wilderness determines how we stay enslaved or move into freedom.  Many battles will be fought in the wildernesses of our lives.  Sometimes God may deliver us from something and what do we do?  We turn right back to it again. When the Children of Israel had been rescued by escaping the Egyptians through the Red Sea, things got a little tough out in the wilderness and what did they want to do? They wanted to go back to Egypt.  Sometimes we want to go back or run to things that are easy but wrong.  We turn back to what is familiar but has no hope, no perspective.  It is sickeningly comfortable for a while. That leaves us running around in circles – right in the wilderness we are so desperately trying to escape.  
Battles in the Wilderness
We are no match for our battles, especially the ones the come up in the wilderness.  – only Jesus is equipped to fight our battles.  He never intends for us to do it.  He intends for us to take cover in Him and let Him fight for us. If you are in a wilderness today, I urge you to surrender to God and let him take control.  Let Him fight the battle for you and help you to see His plan for you outside the wilderness, as well as His escape route to get you out of the wilderness you are in. 

And Moses said to the people, Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.  Exodus 14:13-14

Monday, July 29, 2019

As Long as I Live

I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. Psalm 146:2 
As Long As I Live
Let’s face it, life is full of distractions.  Ups and downs, hills and valleys, good times and hard times.  Praising is usually the last thing we want to do when the circumstances of life get tough.  It is not a secret that the things of this world, including humans, will disappoint us, let us down, and fade away. Everything earthly thing will return to dust.  Therefore, we should not put our trust in anything on this earth.  Yet we do, and we are grossly disappointed when things don’t work out.  David says in Psalm 146 that we should praise the Lord all of our lives, AND we should sing praises to God as long as we live.  That means praising God in the good times and the bad times.
The Lord our God is the only source of pure hope in this world.  God in all His goodness and all His majesty is our help.  Read what David says about all the wonderful gifts God gives us and all the great things He has done:  
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God.
He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
he sea, and everything in them—
he remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free,
the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
All these things He does, yet He wants me to bring Him my tiny trials?   They are big trials to me but tiny to the maker of the universe, still He still cares about them.  He is for us.  The God who does all these marvelous things listed above cares for us and has shown us that love in so many ways.  
God is good – that is what we need to remember when things are hard.  It is human to only see the hard things in front of our face, but God wants us to remember the good things He has done in our lives and the promises He makes that all will work out for our good.  He is God in every circumstance and He is in control of all the days of our lives – even the chaotic and painful ones. Often when we praise Him in the storm, we get such a special blessing and sense of peace.Sometimes it may not bring peace instantly, but our faith in God is not based on our feelings.  Our faith in God is based on our knowledge of God, which is why it is so important to remember how good God has been to us. 
Think about all the blessings God has given you throughout your life.  Think of the way He loves you.  He deserves all our praise, all our lives.  Are you remembering who He is and how He has shown up over and over again in your life? Lift your voice in praise to Him today and every day. 
The Lord reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the Lord. Psalm 146:10

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Faith Is…

Hebrews 11:1
Volumes have been written about the power of faith in the life of a believer. It’s possible to possess faith and yet never exercise it to develop it in our lives.  Let’s take a hard look at what faith really is. 
Faith is the eyeof the soul.  Our faith is the mediumby which we are enabled to see the invisibleorder.
Spiritual faith is confidencegrounded in the reality of God’s revelationthrough creation, history and the testimonyof men.
Faith’s character is, in a word, certitude— a dynamic certaintyabout what God has promised.
Faith is a solid convictionresting on God’s words that makes the futurepresent and the invisibleseen.
Our faith is often stronger concerning things of ENDtimes than PRESENTtimes.
1. We hope for Christ’s returnTitus 2:13
2. We hope for the resurrection1 Peter 1:3
3. We hope for glorification1 John 3:2, 3
4. We hope to reignwith him, 2 Timothy 2:12, Revelation 22:5
That is HOPE, not FAITH!  Faith changes the PRESENT!
Spiritual faith has been replaced with humanperceptionas the highest level of reality.  
Faith is not a mentalact or an emotion; it is a function of the HolySpiritacting upon the spiritof man to interact with the Spirit of God.
Faith is not when you decideanything; it is when your spirit is taken captiveby the Spirit of God and given hopethrough salvation.
Christian faith operates in the realm of meaning, not in the realm of fact.
Honest doubt exercisesand increasespersonal faith.
People who have really met the Holyare always humble.

People who’ve had any genuine spiritual experience always knowthey don’t know.  They are utterly humbled before mystery.

Friday, July 26, 2019

On Forgiving Others (When you don’t want to)

Then Peter came to him and asked, ‘Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?’ ‘No, not seven times,’ Jesus replied, ‘but seventy times seven!’” Matthew 18:21-22 (NLT)

Forgiving is love’s toughest work and love’s biggest risk.  It can be especially tricky when we are not ready to forgive, or someone has hurt us so badly we cannot do it.  Not forgiving someone who has wronged us or hurt us can lead to a life of agony and bitterness, not for them, but for us.  Dealing with the hurt and anger you may feel deep inside is necessary in order for true forgiveness to happen.  
When others hurt us in some way, either intentionally or accidentally, we can become bitter which makes it ever harder to forgive.  When you have someone close to you, like a family member, that continually hurts you over and over, it seems impossible.  Peter asked Jesus, How many times do I have to forgive someone?  It is really hard to forgive those who have betrayed us more than once, but that is what Jesus said to do.  Jesus’ response to Peter was 70x7.  That is 490 times to be exact – that’s a lot of forgiveness!  There were two things Jesus wanted Peter to think about in response to his question:
·     How many times would you want grace?  How many times would you want forgiveness?  I know I don’t ever want to find myself out of the grace of God.  Thankfully, His grace never runs out.  His grace and forgiveness are never ending and no matter how many times we fail Him, He always welcomes us back with open arms. He expects us to have that same forgiveness with others, even the hardest people in our lives.  You may be the only picture of grace and forgiveness they have ever seen.  
·     Unforgiveness turns to bitterness and resentfulness, and bitterness and resentfulness steal the joy and peace from our lives. Although someone may have hurt us, it is our own bitterness that causes the ongoing pain.  Forgiveness brings healing.  Chances are you are the only one suffering, or at least you are suffering way more.  Unforgiveness bears a weight that crushes and imprisons us.  
Not forgiving someone and harboring bitterness is not worth the negative impact it has on us.  We are not hurting the other person near as much as we are hurting ourselves, if at all. Forgiveness frees the other person, but it also frees us from being held prisoner of bitterness, hardness, and even hate.  It frees us to feel grace on this side.  It frees us to have the joy in life that Christ intended us to have.  It frees us to allow Christ to be Christ.  He is Lord.  He is over all – including all wrongs that have been done to us.  Let them go and give them to Him where they belong and release yourself by forgiving them.  Find freedom and joy again.  

Therefore, judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart.
At that time each will receive their praise from God. 
1 Corinthians 4:5

Thursday, July 25, 2019

How Low Can You Go?

Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower.  For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.  James 1: 9-11

Just how bad does it feel sometimes? How low can life bring you?  Maybe it’s family troubles, or job issues, but lots of times, it’s our financial situation that takes all the wind out of our sails.  The truth is, although money doesn’t really make the world go around, it makes life a lot easier.  James speaks directly to the down and out in verse 9 above.  He speaks to those of us in “humble circumstances” saying that we may have a low position on earth, but we have a high position in Heaven.  The greatest riches in life are not measured by what is in our bank account.  We can be poor on earth, but rich in the things that really matter.  We can be rich in a kingdom sense.  
We don’t have to wait until we get to heaven to be kingdom rich.  Kingdom richness is not dependent on what we possess in material belongings. Kingdom richness is in the heart. The riches of this world all fade like withering flowers.  The richness that God provides is everlasting.
The other half of the passage above is about the “well off”, or “rich” becoming lowly.  It is much harder to go from low income to rich than from rich to low income.  But James says, just as the believers in humble circumstances should rejoice in their high position, the rich should rejoice in their humiliation.  What?  We should be happy when we lose our wealth or go bankrupt?  Not exactly.  What James is saying is that those who are poor should forget their earthly poverty because of their heavenly riches.  Likewise, the rich should forget their earthly riches because their heavenly riches are far greater and never fade.  The “well off” may be comfortable in this life - but it is only this life – this fading life.  There is nothing at all wrong with making money or having money as long as we remember where our true riches are.  
If we pour into what fades away, we will fade away with it.  If we put our identity and life into Jesus Christ, it lasts forever. Everything that we have on this earth we will leave behind, including all the riches.  No matter what your social class or income bracket or where you live or what you drive on this earth, we all have the same high position in glory.  There is no poverty level or upper class, we are all sons and daughters of the King of Kings and heirs to the throne.  Think about what material things you have, or don’t have.  Whatever they are, they will fade.  What seems so valuable now, will one day amount to nothing.  Then think about what you have in Christ and live on that. It never fades, it never grows old or loses relativity.  It will always be all that you need. 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places… Ephesians 1:3

Wednesday, July 24, 2019


In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold Ephesians 4:26-27
The beginning of anger is almost always some form of hurt. An individual who is often angered is one who is often hurt. This may, or may not, because by those around them.  If that anger is left to reside for any length of time it becomes bitterness. Bitterness is like a cancer which begins as a single cell and yet rapidly divides and grows until it consumes its host. 
There is no way that God is honored by the presence of bitterness in the life of His children. The wording of Ephesians 4:26-27 does not support the assumption that anger in and of itself is sinful.  The four imperative verbs found in these verses make the translation clear. The apostle Paul commands us to "be angry." But he doesn't stop there. 
Be angry -God knows that anger is an important and necessary emotion for a healthy person living in a fallen world. As seen in this passage, its New Testament use can represent an emotion good or bad, depending on motive and purpose.
Paul realized the potential for devastating harm that can comes from unbridled rage. The first command to “be angry” is qualified by the three prohibitions that follow. 
Do not sin-The command is not to avoid anger, but to avoid sinful anger.  Anger is not momentary, outward, boiling–over rage or inward, seething resentment; but rather a deep–seated, determined and settled conviction. 
Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry- Don't nurse anger. This commands us to deal with our anger as soon as we are aware of it. 
·     Don't stuff it inside and brood over it. It will only fester.  Take it out of the dark and expose it to the light. 
·     Let the truth burn away your rage before it grows and deepens and hardens. 
·     Do not give the devil an opportunity.  In moments of anger, the devil has opportunity for a foothold to destroy families, divide churches, and damage testimonies.  He will feed our anger with self–pity, pride, self–righteousness, vengeance, defense of our rights, and every other sort of selfish sin.
·     It's alright to feel anger, but we should not allow it to rule. You may have the right to be angry, but it does not give you the right to be rude. 
As humans we often feel completely powerless over our issues like anger.  We feel we can’t control it sometimes, and we can’t.   But Christ in us can control and conquer anger.  It is all about recognizing that in our own power we are helpless against all sin, but in His power, our weakness is His strength.  He takes our weakens against sin and turns it into victory in His name.  
It is not okay to say It’s a problem for me and I just have no control.  Or That’s just how I am.  I can’t change.  God made a way for us out of every single issue we struggle with.  He gave His son so that we could be free from all sins.  If you are struggling with anger, turn it over to Him.   He will give you the strength to overcome.  Where we fail, He prevails.  Where we are insufficient, His is all sufficient.  Give it to Him and receive His power over your weakness today. 

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses,
so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
 2 Corinthians 12:9

Tuesday, July 23, 2019


Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.  Ephesians 4:15

It seems these days that we have erased a lot of lines that, in the past, would never have even been crossed, let alone erased.  One of those lines that has been erased seems to be telling the truth.  People no longer seem to care about lying. We accept it. It doesn’t bother us.  We don’t get upset anymore when someone exaggerates, falsifies, fabricates, or misrepresents the truth.  We live in a day when we’ve been bombarded with erased tapes, tampered evidence, illicit cover-ups, padded resumes, political posturing and exaggerated ads – to the point we’ve pretty much given up on truth being a viable enterprise. Like many other issues we have given up on, this is not what God has called us to do.
We are to speak the truth in love which means we weigh our words of truth before we speak them.  It doesn’t mean we don’t tell the truth for the sake of being loving. It just means we prayerfully consider ways to say the truth in the least hurtful manner. 
Truth is conforming one’s words to reality. Being real. Lying is pretending. Why do we lie? 
The main reasons we lie are: 
·     Fear of harm- The easiest reason to understand why we lie is for self-protection, including self-deception, to prevent harm to ourselves. This harm can be either physical or mental. 
·     Fear of conflict:To some degree, we all fear having an argument.  
·     Fear of punishment:When growing up, how often did we lie about how well we did in school, or who started a fight? 
·     Fear of rejection:Sometimes, our insecurities are why we lie to each other, because we want to remain popular in our relationships. Typically, it is harmless boasting to impress other people. 
·     Fear of loss:This is usually the loss of personal objects, such as money or expensive valuables. Greed is the foundation for this reason and can be found in each of us. 
·     Fear of losing opportunity: We often lie to make ourselves more desirable to other people too. Most common, people lie for fear of losing an opportunity to have sex. Other times, when our self-esteem starts to decline, we even lie to ourselves as means to prevent loss of morale. 
·     Fear of hurting another: We often lie to help our friends and loved ones. How often do we flattery someone just to make them feel better? This is the only selfless reason why we lie. 
Despite all the technical reasons why people lie, it all boils down to this: The fundamental reason why people lie is because it mostly works.  It usually gets people want they want in the moment, but it is not worth everything else that comes with lying.  Shame, guilt, and consequences, not to mention hurting the ones we love and sinning against God are all side effects of lying that destroy lives.  Whatever you are wanting so badly that you think you need to lie about it, you might want to reconsider.  Lying is never the answer.  Even when telling the truth is hard and will result in consequence, it will not be as bad as what comes with lying. 

In Christ, we should not only speak the truth, but speak it in love.  Raw truth is seldom appropriate and is usually destructive.  We have been saved in grace and we are kept in grace; therefore, we should live and speak in grace. When we need to share a hard truth with someone, we can show the grace and love we experience in Christ.  

Monday, July 22, 2019

What Did You Say?

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.  They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.  Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.  Ephesians 4:17-19

Every day the gap is getting wider between what the world sees as normal and what God’s truth is.  As we grow in our relationship with God, things that used to not bother us, now makes us uncomfortable.  We see things in a different light as our hearts and lives are transformed. This is a process of finding a new normal.  What once was normal and acceptable for us has changed.  We now look to the spirit of God within us to define what is acceptable and good for our lives.
But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.v.20-24  
The only way we can lay aside our old self is through the grace of God at work inside us.  Grace is the power to do what is pleasing in God’s sight.  Grace is what God gives us to bring the change we need and desire - the power to do what is pleasing to Him.  It is laying off the old behaviors, being made new in Him, and putting on the new self we have in Him.  
When we do this, there will be evidence in our lives that something has changed.  We will have a new, altogether different, nature.  We will still struggle and fail, but there should be an obvious difference in our lives!  
One difference that should be obvious is in the way we talk.  A Christian speaks differently than a person who is not concerned with pleasing God or loving others.  When we have Christ in our hearts, love for others naturally follows.  Kindness, gentleness, and goodness are all part of it.  We have a new responsibility to represent Christ and our words are a big part of that responsibility.  
Words are powerful – More harm has been done by the tongue than by the bottle, pill, or gun.  It is the sin of all ages of people.  Supervising our words is essential, and we desperately need the help of God to know: when to speak, what to speak, how to speak and to whom we are to speak. James calls us out on controlling our tongues - With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.  Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.  James 3:9-10
The tongue has great potential for good or evil.  God did not give us tongues so that we could hurt others with it. He intends for us to use our tongues to build up and bless and to spread the good news to the rest of the world. 

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Ephesians 4:29

Sunday, July 21, 2019

God of the Hills and Valleys

1 Kings 20:1-28

Is your God the God of the valley, or do you only know Him as God of the mountain? If God has privileged you to be in the valley, it’s to prove to you and show those around you that our God is the God of all.

I.              God is who he has revealed himself to be, not what you think or believe about Him.

·      Just because you believe something or say something, doesn’t make it true.

·      When we collidewith the God of the Bible, we see how much custom design we have tried to add or take away from Him. 

·      In our relationship with God, we are ever confirminginterpreting, and learning who God is as we go along.

II.            Our victory is often found in the valley, but we are scared to go into it because we have limitedGod’s ability in our mind.

·      The Lord is God for everyperson

o  Western Christianity has made a bad habit of labeling comforts, standard of living, and material fortune as blessingand any hardship a trial.

o  Your blessing is that you can know a God who gives hope to the hopeless, love to the unlovable, comfort to the sorrowful, and bring all who believe into His family.

·      The Lord is God in everystory

o  Everyone’s testimony is the same: You were a sinnerwho was saved by the graceof God, through faithin Jesus Christ.

·      The Lord is God for everyseason

·      The Lord is God in every timeand place

III.           God is greater than the contextin which we understandHim.

·      A Syro-Phoenician Woman (Matt 15:21-28; Mk 7:24-30)

·      The Apostle Paul’s Conversion (Acts 9:1-6)

·      The Church in Antioch (Acts 13:1-3)

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