Archive for February, 2015

Rising Above Your Reputation

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

“Rising Above Your Reputation” is the fourth and final segment in a study of Judges, which centers around the story of Jephthah.

We find the story of Jephthah in Judges chapters 11 and 12. Judges 11:1–2 notes:

Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valour, and he was the son of an harlot: and Gilead begat Jephthah. And Gilead’s wife bare him sons; and his wife’s sons grew up, and they thrust out Jephthah, and said unto him, Thou shalt not inherit in our father’s house; for thou art the son of a strange woman (KJV).

Rising Above Circumstances

Jephthah’s brothers did not want him in their family because he had a different mother, and she was a harlot. This was an obstacle in his life he could not avoid, but Scriptures tell us in spite of his circumstances, he was a “mighty man of valour” (Judges 11:1). When we put our faith and trust in Jesus like Jephthah, our present circumstances will not matter. God will give us the power and resources to rise above our situation and overcome our enemies.

Numbers on Our Heads

We do not realize how much our past influences our present. We carry our past behaviors, circumstances, life events, etc. forward. Because of Jephthah’s birth circumstances, he had a horrible number placed on his head. His mother was a harlot, so he was placed in the lower end of society.

We need to realize that God is greater than our name or circumstances. It does not matter what other people think about us. It does not matter what we think of ourselves. It does not matter if the world tries to set the “bar” for our life. If God has a destiny in front of us, that destiny is greater than anything that can try to hold us back in life.

Jephthah’s Example: Rising Above

He Made Something Out of Nothing

When Jephthah’s family disowned him, he gathered up worthless men and went out raiding (Judges 11:3). While the world marked him and others as worthless, he made something out of his life. Jephthah is one of numerous people in the Bible who was mightily used by God who did not have a lot of resources—but he prospered because he used what God gave him. Jephthah was a mighty man of valour, so he built an army!

Scripture tells us to “prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (I Thessalonians 5:21, KJV). We need to hold on to good things in life and discard the things that are dragging us down. We need to seek out the positive things and do something with them!

Because Jephthah made something of himself, when the children of Ammon made war against Israel, the elders went to fetch Jephthah and asked him to be their captain (Judges 11:6–8). The very people who had rejected Jephthah wanted to serve him in the end. If we too stay positive, hold to the things of God, we will be blessed and have power over our enemies.

He Talked First and Fought Last

When we’re faced with a situation, our human nature is to fight first. Jephthah, when faced by an adversary, decided to try to talk out the difference first. Jephthah sent messengers to the children of Ammon to determine why they wanted to fight (Judges 11:12). The children of Ammon were incorrect regarding their justification for war, and Jephthah explained to them their error. Before Jephthah went marching into battle, he wanted to clarify the conflict, clearly articulate the issue, and try to resolve it.

Jesus gave a similar instruction to us when he said, “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother” (Matthew 18:15, KJV). If we have a conflict with someone, we need to go to them alone and try to resolve the difference. We need to reflect about the way we approach conflict. We need to be slow to anger (James 1:19) and seek to resolve conflict peaceably.

He Valued His Integrity

Due to Jephthah’s birth circumstances, people valued him little. They didn’t trust him or his word. But, regardless of what the world thought, Jephthah was a man of integrity—his own word mattered to him. Jephthah made a vow unto the Lord: if God would deliver the children of Ammon into his hands, he would offer whatever met him at his gate when he returned home as a burnt offering to the Lord (Judges 11:30–31). To his dismay, his only daughter met him at his gate. But, Jephthah did not go back on his word. He said, “…I have opened my mouth unto the LORD, and I cannot go back” (Judges 11:35, KJV).

Not only was Jephthah a man of his word, he shared this value with his family as well. When his daughter learned of his vow, she told him he must complete his vow (Judges 11:36). He passed on his values to his family—to keep your word, no matter how difficult, and to honor the Lord.

Lessons Learned

We can learn from Jephthah’s vow that decisions made in our emotional state never turn out well. We need to live our life with wisdom and seek after knowledge (Proverbs 4:7). When we do not make wise decisions, we make mistakes we wish we could go back to change. Wisdom helps us know and make the right decision before we know we’ve made a mistake.

Rising Above

Jephthah was a man that should have been forgotten, but he rose above his circumstances and made something of himself with God. He had faith that God was going to use him regardless of what others thought. He had faith that God would bring him through every trial and situation.

Because of his example, Paul mentions him in Hebrews 11:32–34. By faith Jephthah was able to “subdu[e] kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises…quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness [was] made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to fight the armies of the aliens…” (Hebrews 11:33–34, KJV).

We too have the power to rise above our situations if we just trust in God and seek after His plan for our life. Jephthah’s story is in the Bible for us to learn from. He is a witness unto us that even in our present circumstances, God is not done with us yet!

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on February 25, 2015

Can You Hear Me Now?

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

Remember the early cell phone days when over half of a conversation consisted of asking the other party, “Can you hear me now?” Depending upon the cell phone carrier, this could be a reality for many even today!

When we talk on the phone, or even in person, our goal is to ensure the other person can hear us! We want them to listen intently to what we have to say, hang on our every word, and—as we may secretly hope—ask to hear more of our “thought-provoking” comments.

Statistics show that an average person spends approximately 80% of his/her waking hours communicating: writing, reading, speaking, and listening. When it comes to time allocation for these communicative actions, listening falls into the shallow part of the pool. We spend more time jabbering than we do listening to what others have to say.

Our listening tendencies are consistent across every communication venue we participate in on a day-to-day basis. This includes our intimate prayer time with God.

When we approach the throne of God in prayer, we bring numerous petitions before Him daily as Philippians 4:6 instructs. During prayer, we constantly ask the Lord, Will You answer my questions, Will You supply my need, or in a general sense, Can You hear me? We talk, cry, plead, make intercession, etc. Before we know it, we’ve spent an hour or more on our knees and only heard one voice—ours.

We have a tendency to forget the purpose of prayer. Prayer is available for many reasons, but a key function is to allow us to communicate with God. Part of communicating involves listening; it’s not 100% dictation—especially on our end! Prayer is a time for us to not only make our requests known to God, but a time for us to hear from God—this may even include answers to the questions we’ve already asked Him! God is asking us, Can you hear me now?

Proverbs 8:34 notes, Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors (KJV). God wants to bless His children with words of encouragement, wisdom, direction, and sometimes correction (okay, maybe a lot of correction. We’re humans, right?). But, unless we seek out His voice, await His words, and make room for a voice (God’s) that’s not our own, we can’t and won’t be blessed.

Hearing God when we pray may be difficult because we don’t know how God’s voice sounds. This is because we don’t listen for it, and therefore, don’t hear it enough. John 10:27 tells us, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me (KJV). We need to be familiar enough with God’s voice that when He speaks, we can stop, hear Him, and follow Him.

Best friends note a key attribute in their relationship—the ability to talk to the other person about anything and everything. Both people find the relationship mutually fulfilling because as much as they get to talk, they also get to listen. Jesus is a friend that sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24)—the best friend we could ever have. In order to get close to Him, we need to listen. The next time you pray, stop asking God if He can hear you now. Can you hear Him now?

Loving You While You Get to Were

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

Crazy Love: Loving You While You Get to Were is the second segment in this series, focusing on Romans 5:8:

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (KJV).

Last week we learned how we have opportunities every day to show God’s love to others. But, in order for us to operate in God’s love, we need to understand how God’s love operates in us. We need to get to a point in our relationship with Christ, and a place in our life where we can extend love to others.

Living for Jesus is a Journey, Not an Event

Every day is a new day to seek and renew a relationship with Jesus. Every day is a new day to discover ways to live our life according to His Word. Getting right and living right is a process that we must endure on a continual basis; God works on our hearts as much as we allow Him to. But, getting to a place where we can allow His love to work through us is an ongoing process.

If we live our life for Christ as an event-driven follower, we will have intense moments of fellowship with Him followed by intense messes in our own life. Living for God is a journey, a race that is set before us (Hebrews 12:1). We aren’t perfect, but need to follow after God to get ahold of that crazy love that He’s extended to us, so we can let it work in us (Philippians 3:12). We need to keep moving ahead!

Learning to Let God Love Us

God loves us while we are learning and ironing out the wrinkles in our life. We are going to rise up and we’re going to fall, but Jesus’ love is there to cover us along the way. In our key verse, Romans 5:8, Paul said that God commendeth—He demonstrates—His love toward us. God loved us while we were yet sinners! His crazy love reaches to us through our distractions, disappointments, and disobedience. We need to learn to allow God’s love to operate in our life. His love and grace isn’t to cover up what we’ve done wrong, but is the avenue where we can learn from our mistakes and plan for future success. When we allow God to love us, we can then pour out that love on others.

God’s Crazy Love is Trying to Get Us to a Were

We cannot mistake God’s mercy for God’s approval. He has dictated in His Word how we need to live, and God doesn’t go against His own Word.  The unrighteousness will not inherit the Kingdom of God (I Corinthians 6:9–10). Scripture tells us that such (the unrighteous) were some of us, “but [we] are sanctified, but [we] are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (I Corinthians 6:11, KJV).

God love loves us where we’re at, but it is also His love that moves us beyond where we’re at. God’s love moves us into a position where we can look back and see where Jesus brought us from—where we are and where we were. God wants His love to us to get to a place so we have a were.

In Luke 19:5 we can read about a tax collector named Zacchæus, who took advantage of his role. He taxed the people beyond what they owed and became very wealthy. It was an encounter with Jesus that brought him forward to a were moment. Zacchæus said he would restore back to the people four times what he had taken (Luke 19:8):

And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this hours, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:9–10, KJV).

God’s love will get people to their were. Today is the day of salvation, which is different from our were.

Love Doesn’t Always Look Good in Its Work Clothes

We look at God’s love many times as acceptance, but this is incorrect. God doesn’t love us for who we are. God love us, but He hates who we are. He hates what the devil has done to us; He hates the unrighteous life we live apart from Him. But He love us.

Scripture tells us that love is kind (I Corinthians 13:4), but kind is not always comfortable. Revelation 3:19 says, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent” (KJV). God, through His love, tells us that we can’t stay the way we are. We need to repent, turn around, and head toward a life of righteousness through Him. Chasten means “instruction for learning.” God’s love wants to tell us what’s wrong in our life, to teach us so we can get better. God’s chastening is to help us make better choices, live a more abundant life, and make it to Heaven to spend eternity with Him.

God has promised to love us through our journey. He will tell us the truth. To understand God’s love, we need to understand that love is about embracing what’s best for us. Love may not always look good, it may not always feel good, but it’s right!

Celebrating the Were

God love us and wants to celebrate our were. “I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth…” (Luke 15:7, KJV).  When we continue on our journey to accept God’s love, to apply God’s love, and to emulate God’s love in our life, all of Heaven rejoices. God wants to celebrate our were, but more importantly, wants to celebrate where we are now in Him. God has a plan for our life (Jeremiah 29:11) and wants us to operate in His love. Today, let’s allow God’s love to be poured out in our life and see His abundant crazy love going to work.

The Power of “No”

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

“The Power of No” is the third segment in a study of Judges, which centers around the story of Samson. Samson is a character that emulates the rise and fall in Israel’s spiritual relationship with God throughout the entire book of Judges.

Samson was anointed by God, but was very much after the things of this world. His largest problem was that he couldn’t say, “no.” In our walk with God, if we are going to be successful, we need to tell ourselves, “no,” and more importantly, to allow God to tell us, “no.”

Samson’s Blessings

Judges 15:20 says, “And [Samson] judged Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years” (KJV). God didn’t give Samson victory over the Philistines one time and have him move on—He wanted to continue to bless Samson with victory each day. If we do not have consistency in life, we will not have victory in our spiritual life. The real miracle that God wants to give us, like Samson, is a day-by-day victory. He wants His people to be successful on a regular basis and not have “peaks and valleys” like the rest of the Judges in Scripture.

Scripture teaches us that God would move on Samson at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol (Judges 13:25). Because of Samson’s inconsistency, God was only able to move on him and use him in a ministry only at specific times. Romans 21:1 tells us to be a living sacrifice unto God; to live a life of sacrifice and dedication to the one who saved us. Our sacrifice needs to be offered again and again, which will allow God to receive our sacrifice and use us on a consistent basis.

The Lord also blessed Samson with supernatural strength. Samson tore a lion apart with his bare hands (Judges 14:5–6), he broke cords that bound him (Judges 15:14), he slew 1,000 men with the jawbone of a donkey (Judges 15:15), and he carried the gates of a city nine miles away (Judges 16:2–3). In all of these accomplishments, the Spirit of the Lord was always the catalyst. The Lord would move on Samson and he would have victory.

Samson’s Downfall

Samson had many great testimonies, but these great accomplishments were born out of a commitment in his life. When an angel told Samson’s parents they would have a child, they were told he would be a Nazarite from his birth (Judges 13:5). The Nazarite vow, outlined in Numbers 6:2–6, had three requirements: (1) Do not drink wine/alcohol or eat grapes or raisins, (2) Do not touch anything that’s dead, and (3) Do not cut your hair. Men throughout scripture would fulfill this vow for a space of time and then return to their regular lifestyle. Samson was called to live a life of a Nazarite—he was to follow these rules all the days of his life.

In the course of his life, Samson violated every one of the Nazarite requirements. Because he continued to violate this lifestyle (vow to God), he put himself in a place of vulnerability that eventually took his life.

Violation #1

When Samson killed the lion (Judges 14:5–6), he returned down the same path at a later time to find a honeycomb inside the carcass of the lion. He reached into the carcass to retrieve the honey, ate it, and then gave it to his father and mother to eat (Judges 14:8–9). Per the Nazarite vow, he was not to touch anything dead with his hands.

Violation #2

After eating the honeycomb out of the lion, Samson participated in a feast as the young men did during the time (Judges 14:10). The word feast in this context of scripture is mishteh (Hebrew), which means to drink alcohol and eat and be merry. By consuming alcohol, and possibly grapes, Samson violated a section rule of the Nazarite vow.

Violation #3

Samson’s wife, Delilah, was a approached by the Philistines and asked her to entice Samson to reveal where he received his strength (Judges 16:5). She came to Samson and asked him, “Tell me, I pray thee, wherein thy great strength lieth, and wherewith thou mightest be bound to afflict thee” (Judges 16:6, KJV). Delilah didn’t try to conceal why she wanted to know what strengthened Samson—she wanted to know how to bind him. Samson thought this was a game, and told Delilah three different ways to bind him that were lies (Judges 16:7, 11, 13).

But, finally he gave into her questions, and told her, “there hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother’s womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man” (Judges 16:17, KJV). While Samson was sleeping, Delilah shaved his head, and therein, Samson violated the third part of the Nazarite vow.

Us vs. Samson

Like Samson, many times we have encountered circumstances that alert us up-front that danger is ahead. We may know in our hearts that what we want to do isn’t in accordance with God’s Word and instruction. But, instead of running away, like Samson, we toy with the danger. We stay around it too long until it eventually overcomes us. Delilah bothered Samson to the extent that he became “vexed unto death” (Judges 16:16). In a moment of frustration, Samson revealed how he could be defeated. We need to stop and think about how to overcome and tell ourselves, “no” when our body wants to do something that our heart knows is wrong.

Overcoming Samson’s Failures

We, like Samson, get caught up in three different attitudes that keep God from moving in our life. But, we need to and can overcome these attitudes. Much of our triumph will come from listening to God, setting boundaries in our life, and telling ourselves, “no.”

I Want It

Our flesh drives us to desire things that God does not want us to partake in. An I Want It mindset comes from an attitude of lust. Instead of saying, “I want it,” we should say, “I want God.” We can turn our passion for worldly things into a passion for the things of God.

II Corinthians 10:4–5 tells us that we can turn our thoughts into the obedience of Christ. We have the power in our minds to think on good things and to desire the things of the Spirit instead the things of the flesh. We can put on a new mindset in Christ.

I Deserve It

Our flesh also makes us feel like we deserve things. But, an I Deserve It mindset comes from an attitude of entitlement. Instead of saying, “I deserve it,” we should say, “I deserve death.” Romans 6:23 tells us that the wage of sin is death. We were all born into sin and deserve nothing but death, but God in His grace extends mercy to us so we can rise above our sinful state—the gift of God is eternal through Jesus Christ our Lord.

I Can Handle It

We forget too many times that God created us and gives us the ability and resources to do everything in life. We can’t have an I Can Handle It mindset. Instead of thinking this, we need to turn our thoughts to, “I can’t do anything without God.” John 15:5 says, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (KJV). On our own, we are failures, but with God all things are possible!

We need to tell ourselves, “no” and turn our minds to Christ and the things of His Kingdom. God wants to set boundaries in our life to protect us. Part of the battle in overcoming our attitudes is realizing our problem areas, setting the boundaries, and abiding by them. We need to learn to draw a line!

Blessings in a “No”

Because Samson violated the Nazarite vow and continued to fail in his walk with the Lord, the Philistines overcame him, put out his eyes, and made him grind at the mill like an animal (Judges 16:21). During his imprisonment, the Philistines tied Samson to two pillars during a sacrifice celebration to their god, Dagon.

It was here Samson cried unto the Lord and said, “O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes” (Judges 16:28, KJV). God heard his prayer, and he was able to pull down the pillars, and the house fell on the people that were there. In his death he killed more than all he had killed in his entire life (Judges 16:30).

Samson could have done so much more for the Lord, but because he went after his flesh and didn’t say, “no,” he wound up a prisoner. His work could have been greater than his “last standing,” but he settled for just doing “something” for God instead of doing something great for God and His Kingdom.

God knows the thoughts He has toward us (Jeremiah 29:11)—He has a plan for our life. The worst thing we can do is revel in the greatness of God’s power to fall to the depths of our own humanity like Samson. We can’t slip into the three attitudes Samson displayed in his life. We need to tell ourselves, “no.” If we’re honest and transparent about our spiritual maturity, God will help us to set those boundaries and see the blessings in the “no.”

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on February 18, 2015

Be My Valentine

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

We’ve  just surpassed the greatest Hallmark™ holiday of the year—Valentine’s Day. The celebration is earmarked by cupids, hearts, flowers, and the overarching theme of love. In our culture today, we designate actual “days” to demonstrate an action, remember an event, etc. In the onslaught of daily activities, we have a tendency to forget to do things…

Love, however, isn’t something that God intended for us to mark on our calendars, set a reminder on our mobile device, fulfill one day, and then push it to the back of our minds until the next year. God created love, demonstrates love, and expects love to be a constant, habitual action in our life.

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth… (I Corinthians 13:4–8, KJV).

I Corinthians 13:4–8 is a well-known passage of Scripture, which focuses on love (charity). There are three types of love referred to and/or mentioned in the Bible:

  • Agapé—This love represents divine love; how God feels toward His creation.
  • Phileo—This love is described as brotherly love, or an ardent affection toward a person.
  • Eros—This love is one of desire, impulsive, and is self-gratifying.

The type of love referenced in I Corinthians 13 is actually Godly love: agapé love per the original Greek. God desires His children to exhibit and demonstrate a Godly love to others. This love should be employed daily—not just on Valentine’s Day, not just one day a month, or only excluded to weekends. We can show brotherly-love (phileo) with others, but God wants us to ensure that we display sacrificial love, which is a deeper love than phileo.

God provides many examples of agapé love in Scripture, and even demonstrates love for His children on a continual basis. However, the greatest example of agapé love is when God robed Himself in flesh, inhabited an earthly vessel, dwelt among us for 33 ½ years, and died on the cross as the ultimate sacrifice for all mankind—everyone from the beginning to the end of time.

When we think about love, it isn’t just something we have; it isn’t just something we say. Agapé love is demonstrated in action—something we do or don’t do. I Corinthians 13:5 instructs us not to “behave unseemly.” Behavior is validated by demonstration; when we behave, we act. Showing love to others is in what we do (or don’t do) for and to them.

In our day-to-day life we need to take a step back and evaluate all of our actions and determine if they truly demonstrates an act of love. Then, we need to evaluate if the act of love equals God’s definition. When we allow God to instruct us in loving others, He will reveal to us many ways to display agapé love not only to others, but to Him as well.

Starting today, instead of allowing a “day” of the year to dictate when we should extend love to others, let’s be a “Valentine” every day of the year. Let us reciprocate the agapé  love that God shows us to other people so they may understand the fullness of God’s love and blessing in their life.

Love that Makes No Sense

Sunday, February 15th, 2015

Crazy Love: Love that Makes No Sense is the first segment in this series, focusing on Jude 20–21:

But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life (KJV).

In this Scripture, the love Jude mentioned is not our normal concept of love. It’s Godly love—the love God designed for His church; the love God intended His children to live by and operate in. Jude warns us to keep ourselves in love—to take our plans, thoughts, actions, behavior, etc. and ensure we stay in the same love that saved us and transformed our lives.

When we think about God’s love, it does more than change our life. God’s love has the power to change every life and relationship around us. His love is meant to flow through us into every situation and person we encounter on a day-to-day basis. We need to allow God’s love to saturate us to the extent that it flows out of us. His love was never intended to be dormant; it was meant to be put into action.

Our idea of love is one-dimensional. When God pours His love into us, we think it is only meant for us. But, God’s love should not be contained in us, but should flow out of us everywhere we go. We can’t just have a relationship with God where we consume His love and keep it to ourselves. We need to let it out!

God’s love is so powerful that we can’t contain it. We need to allow God’s love to operate in our life. We need to let it get crazy!

Crazy Love Happens Where We’re At

Jesus told a lawyer in Scripture if he loved the Lord with all his heart, soul, strength and mind, and loved his neighbor as himself, that he would live (Luke 10:25–28). But, who is our neighbor? Jesus defined our neighbor in a story about a the Samaritan who encountered wounded man—someone he didn’t know—and went out of his way to care for him by sacrificing his time and finances (Luke 10:30–37).

This example shows that our neighbors are the men and women all around us—the people we meet every day in all circumstances. The ability to show crazy love isn’t wrapped up in a ministry, or in specialized titles, but is demonstrated loving people. God will give us the chance to pour out crazy love everywhere we go. Opportunities to love people are at our doorstep every day.

God’s love—crazy love—is not a feeling. If we allow our relationship with God to be ruled by our feelings, His love cannot be fully operational in our life. God will put us into situations with people who need more from us than our feelings. They need to feel and experience God’s love through the Holy Ghost.

Crazy Love Gives Without Getting

When we love others, we cannot be consumed with what we’re going to “get” from the encounter. We need to think about what God’s love, in operation through us, can do for someone else. When we think about Jesus Christ and His ultimate sacrifice on the cross, He did not have the ideology of “getting” anything from mankind if He laid down His life. We don’t have anything that God needs! Jesus just has a heart that longs for people and He desires to help us when we fail.

We need to put on the Christ-like mentality of “loving to love.” God gave because He loves His people, but He also gave because He loves to love. If we have the same Spirit of Christ working in us, we need to love to love others as well.

Crazy Love Gives Over and Over

Loving people again and again is a foreign concept to us because in our human nature we think there should always be a limit. We should not think that we’ve ever done enough for others or that we’ve extended enough mercy to them. Crazy love is unconditional.

In the story about the good Samaritan in Luke 10:25–28, Scripture tells us that after taking care of the man, the Samaritan told the host, “Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee” (Luke 10:35, KJV). The Samaritan was coming back. He was returning to pour out more love on the wounded man again.

When Peter asked the Lord how many times he should forgive others, Jesus told him to forgive 70 times 7 (Matthew 18:22). We are to forgive and love others an innumerable number of times. Crazy love does not have a limit and will bring deliverance to others if we allow it to work through us.

Activating Crazy Love

Many people are too afraid to display crazy love because they have a fear of getting hurt and being vulnerable. I John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love” (KJV). If we are fearful to love, this is an indication that something is not right in us. Perfect love will cast out all fear.

Galatians 5:14 instructs us to love our neighbor as ourselves. If we can’t love others, the root cause is the inability for love to flow not only from us, but to us as well. We may have a hindrance in our life that prohibits God’s love to flow to us and through us. If we struggle with loving others, it’s because our own relationship with God is not where it should be. We need to examine ourselves and ensure that we’re allowing God to use us as a vessel to pour out His love on others.

Crazy love goes against all the rules; therefore, we have to get crazy about the idea of God’s love. Crazy love will always require work, but when it’s work is done—crazy love will ultimately work.

How to Answer God’s Call

Thursday, February 12th, 2015

“How to Answer God’s Call” is the second segment in a study of Judges, and focuses on Judges 4, 5, and 6.

Finding the Next

A constant truth in our walk with God is if we follow Him, and respond to the Gospel message, He will display His glory in our life. God has a purpose and a direction for our life once we submit to Him. Too many Christians cannot move into a deeper relationship with God—past spiritual “maintenance” or the beginning of the relationship—to seek out their purpose in the Kingdom. We all should seek after the deep things of God and be asking, What’s next? Seeking the next, is known as finding God’s calling for our life. When we find it, we need to respond.

In Judges, the 12 “heroes” mentioned in Part I of this study were just ordinary people. They were seeking out God’s plan for their life—looking for the next. These judges by far weren’t perfect, and had huge character flaws. However, they all shared two traits that we need to have in our Christian walk: willingness and obedience. They were submissive to God, and He used them.

Romans 8:11 says, “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you” (KJV). We have the Holy Ghost working in us; therefore, what happened in Jesus will happen in us. It is through His Spirit that we will be able to do even greater works for the Kingdom of God (John 1:50).

Many times in Scripture (aside from Judges) we can read how God used people for His work that weren’t “good enough” to do what God asked them to do. We can’t fail to complete a work for God’s Kingdom because we feel that we aren’t “good enough.” God doesn’t call the qualified, but He qualifies the called!

Mightily Used by God

Deborah

We can read the story of Deborah in Judges 4:4–9. She was a prophetess and judged Israel at the time. It is quite significant that a woman would rise to such a rank because culturally, women were valued a little above cattle. People came to Deborah for advice, counseling, and leadership. Deborah was not a trained leader, but God used her. She was less than average, but because she was willing and obedient, she was able to rise up to God’s calling in her life.

Deborah always gave honor and credit where it was due: back to God. She knew it was not by her ability, but God’s ability that she was a successful leader. In realizing her calling, she did not deny her position in culture as a woman and a wife, but she did not allow herself to be hindered by it in doing something for God. She focused on what she could do, and not on what she couldn’t do.

In our walk with God, we need to look to Deborah as an example. We can feel that we are hindered by our cultural circumstances, walk of life, education, etc. But, we need to see what we can accomplish for God were we’re at. If we are willing and obedient, God will meet us where we’re at and help us to rise above it!

Gideon

We can read the story of Gideon starting at Judges 6:11. The angel of the Lord found Gideon hiding under a winepress, and said to him, “The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour” (Judges 6:12, KJV). God was calling him out to use him, but Gideon had many excuses as to why he should go, why he was in his predicament, etc. He told the Lord he was the least in his father’s house (Judges 12:15).

We can all find similarities in our walk with God—feeling that we are inadequate. But, we can’t tell the Lord anything He doesn’t already know about is. We can’t come up with excuses! As God told Gideon, He is telling us the same: Surely I will be with thee (Judges 6:16). God will always be on our side, and will help us through whatever He has called us to do. If we are willing and obedient, we will be successful in our calling.

Qualifications

The book of Judges is not the only place in Scripture where we can read about ordinary people, who answered God’s call, and did mighty things for His Kingdom. In Acts 6 the people identified widows were being neglected, and the disciples decided to appoint church leaders to take care of them. Acts 6:5 shows, “…and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost…” (KJV). Stephen did not have any other qualifications except that he had faith, and was full of the Holy Ghost.

We may not have any extensive credentials to do a work for God. But, if we have faith and have the Holy Ghost working in us, God sees us as a prime candidate to work in His Kingdom. In ourselves, we can accomplish nothing. But through God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).

We may feel that what God calls us to do for the Kingdom isn’t a much sought-after ministry, or that we’re just “filling in a gap.” But, if we’re faithful, willing, and obedient to seek after God’s call, we can have a very powerful ministry. As in the case of Stephen, Scripture tells us, “And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people” (Acts 6:8, KJV).

If we don’t activate ourselves in the Kingdom of God, the whole body of Christ suffers. Scripture tells us for the body has many members (I Corinthians 12:12) and we all need to work together for the body to survive. If Stephen didn’t answer God’s call, the sings and wonders God completed through him may not have happened. We need to think about what will be left “undone” in God’s Kingdom if we aren’t willing to be used and answer God’s call.

A Calling with Purpose

God’s glory always has a purpose. The “glory of the Lord” is referenced over 100 times in Scripture and is followed by correction or direction. We cannot find ourselves too infatuated with the “goose bump” feeling of being in God’s presence—His presence has a purpose. After we enter His presence, we need to leave with a direction and take action.

Romans 13:11–12 tells us, “…now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light” (KJV). Jesus is coming back soon for His church. If we knew just how close that time was, we would feel the urgency of doing something for His Kingdom. We need to get into action and seek out God’s purpose for our life.

Answering the Call

When we look at Deborah, it was hard for her to step into a leadership position during a time when men were the primary leaders and women were excluded to housework. It was a stretch for Gideon to step up in a culture where people didn’t serve God. When we answer God’s call, it won’t be easy—if it was easy, it wouldn’t be God’s work! He needs us to depend on Him. God wants us to know the work isn’t by our doing—it is by His anointing, power, and blessing.

If we don’t answer God’s call for our life, He will find someone else who is willing. In the story of Deborah, she prophesied to the warrior Barak that he would defeat his enemy (Sisera). However, because he was hesitant, and didn’t have faith that God would use him, Deborah answered and said, “…the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the LORD shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman” (Judges 4:9, KJV). Because Barak was not willing and obedient and work that God wanted to do in his life was given to another—a woman!

In the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14–29, the wicked servant who did nothing with his talent had it taken from him and given to the servant who did something with his talents. Scripture tells us if we don’t do anything, the little that we have will be taken away (Matthew 25:29).

If God is calling us to do a work for His Kingdom, and we refuse to answer, we are sinning against Him. God has commanded us to obey him in full—not in part. James 2:10 says, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (KJV). We need to seek out the Lord through prayer and fasting to determine our calling in His Kingdom. Once we find it, if we are willing and obedient, God will use us to do great things. If we don’t know what our calling is yet, start with the motto “See a need, fill a need.” We will be able to see what becomes of our work for the Kingdom.

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on February 11, 2015

The Journey Home

Sunday, February 8th, 2015

When God created man, He gave each man and woman an innate desire to seek out home. When we hear the word home, we think about friends and family, our birthplace, or even our eternal resting place—we all desire to see Heaven one day.

But, many of us in our Christian walk have deviated from a different home; the spiritual walk we have with our Creator every day, the intimate relationship we have with God. Because we are designed with an inner desire to seek out home (God), we set out many times to renew our relationship with Him. However, we face the looming question of How?

In Genesis, we read about a man named Jacob. The name Jacob by definition means supplanter and deceiver. In general terms, Jacob was a liar. Jacob deceived his brother Esau, and robbed him from his birthright (Genesis 25:31–34). Then, Jacob deceived his father, and took his brother’s blessing (Genesis 27:33–41). As a result, Jacob fled his family and his country because he feared the wrath of his brother.

Removing Roadblocks

Because of Jacob’s deceptive acts, he was separated from his family. He wasn’t home. His body was on the run for many years, but his mind was always on home. Fear that kept him away from his earthy family, but it also kept him away from God.

Jacob knew he had sinned against his brother and against God. And, like each of us, he questioned if he tried to return home, if he would be accepted and forgiven. His fear held him back from going home. His fear kept him out of the presence of God.

Just like Jacob, we too need to determine what is holding us back from our walk with God. What in our life has caused us to reach a dead end in our road? Is something in life keeping us away from God’s sheltered arms? Are we a prisoner in our own minds? Once we remove the roadblock(s), we can continue on toward our destination. We can take our first step home.

Embarking on the Journey

Upon leaving his home and country, Jacob had settled with his father-in-law. Jacob dwelled many years apart from his family, thinking that he had reached a dead end in life, but God spoke to him:

And the LORD said unto Jacob, Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee (Genesis 31:3, KJV).

Jacob knew he had been gone too long and needed to go home. There wasn’t a question in his mind of where he should go. He felt the longing in his heart, and he received the direction from God. Return home.

Many of us know we’ve been absent in our spiritual walk for far too long and we need to go home. We need to remember that it doesn’t matter how long we’ve been away. We just need to make the decision to start on our journey back to God. We need to focus on going home.

God is the father of all creation. We are all His children. Just as no earthly father would want his child away from home for decades, or even days, God doesn’t want His children to be apart from Him. We need to start on getting home—back to prayer, back to reading the Word, back to the house of God, and back into His presence. The only way we can go home is to have an encounter with God and to allow Him to complete a work in us.

Protected Travels

God told Jacob in Genesis 31:3 that “[He] would be well with [him].” God was going to be with Jacob every step of the way. God was trying to tell Jacob that his life wasn’t over and he was going to make it.

God is telling us every day that the journey is long, but it isn’t over. We have a path in front of us that God sees and He wants us to travel forward. Just as God told Jacob it would be “well,” God is telling us that He will never leave and forsake us (Hebrews 13:5); He will be right there until the end.

Jacob left his family and his country empty-handed, but he came back with double (Genesis 32:10). God made his journey home worth it! If there are promised blessings living for God, we should ask ourselves: Why are we staying away from His presence? We need to listen to that still small voice and get back home into the presence and blessings of the Lord.

Keeping Our Eyes on the Destination

Jacob was on the border of his home country, full of encouragement, and possibly pleased he was doing the will of God. But the moment home was in sight, he started to feel discouraged. The fear that once had been removed from his mind started to return. He started to think again that he couldn’t make it home or maybe even that he shouldn’t.

We can’t allow the devil, others, or even ourselves to convince us that we can’t make it home, that we aren’t worthy of God’s love and forgiveness, or that we will never live a life under the protection of the most high God.

God had told Jacob, “I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude” (Genesis 32:12). We need to remember the promises of the Lord when we feel discouraged. We need to encourage ourselves in the Lord (I Samuel 30:16), and remind ourselves that we are a chosen generation and royal priesthood (I Peter 2:9). We aren’t just a “nobody” with the promise of “nothing.” We are somebody—we are a child of the King!

Completing the Journey Home

Just before completing his journey, Jacob went away and spent time alone with God. Scripture tells us that alone he “wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him” (Genesis 32:24–25).

Even after an injury, Jacob still would not release his grasp from the angel of the Lord until he was changed, until he received a blessing. In the end of our story, we read where Jacob received his blessing, received a name change, and completed his journey home to the open arms of a forgiving Esau.

Until we make it all the way home, we will never complete the journey. We know we’ve made it home when we have an experience with God that changes us. Jacob received a new name, and started a new journey with God. We need to do the same.

There is forgiveness in store for us if we just return home. We can’t live our lives and forget God. We can’t feel that we’re too proud to pray.  We can’t feel like God’s presence and blessings are for someone else; they are for each of us. We can’t let anything get in our way of going home. Don’t give up now. We’re almost home.

Breaking the Cycles of Spiritual Failure

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

“Breaking the Cycles of Spiritual Failure” is the first segment in our study of Judges. Studying the book of Judges has much merit to the Christian because the story of Israel parallels our spiritual walk with God.

Historical Background

The book of Judges, assumed to be written by Samuel, covers approximately 325 years of history. It records 6 successive periods of oppression and deliverance of Israel, with 12 different deliverers. The 12 “heroes” (deliverers) were simple men God rose up to stand against the culture around them. Through God’s guidance, they were able to bring a victory for Israel.

History vs. Today

The book of Judges is preceded by the book of Joshua. At the end of this book, Joshua assessed the culture around Israel and delivered a much needed warning:

If ye forsake the LORD, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good. And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the LORD (Joshua 24:20–21, KJV).

The people of Israel were convinced they wouldn’t need to be cautious about the people and the culture around them. They believed they would never do anything that would displease the Lord.

Many times in our walk with God we make a promise that we will stop committing a particular sin or that we will embark on a more committed relationship with the Lord. And, after a few days, weeks, or months, we find that we’ve returned to our previous state. We are much like the people of Israel who want to be changed and committed, but we follow a cycle of “ups-and-downs” in our walk with God.

If we don’t take precautionary measures, we could wind up like Israel. The book of Judges closes with this last statement: In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes (Judges 21:25, KJV). We need to overcome our cycles of spiritual failure, and not end up like Israel: doing what’s right in our own eyes.

Cycle of Spiritual Failure

Israel started a decline in their spiritual walk with God and began to partake in cultural practices, including idol worship. Because of their disobedience to God, God allowed them to fall into the hands of their oppressors and became slaves. Israel would wake up to their sin, repent, and cry out to God. And, God, in His grace, would raise up a deliverer to help them overcome their situation. Israel would be more committed to serving the Lord than ever, but then the cycle would begin again.

Israel’s story is our story today. Humans are prone to repeat actions, and we fail to live and learn lessons. However, the message of Judges is not how much Israel failed, but how often God was there to forgive them and deliver them when they were ready to repent.

We have the ability to walk right and live for God in a victorious fashion regardless of what the world tries to teach us! We don’t have an excuse to fall over the same stumbling blocks in our spiritual walk—God gives us power through the Holy Ghost to learn our lessons and move forward.

How to Break the Cycles

Complete Obedience

In our relationship with God, if He asks us to do something, doing half or part of what He wants us to do is not enough. We lose sight of the fact that sin isn’t just doing wrong when we should be doing the right thing. Sin involves missing the mark or falling short of what God asks us to do. If we find ourselves walking in the wrong direction away from God, the first step can be traced back to incomplete obedience.

Judges 1:19–36 shows how Israel started to disobey God. They had a mentality of “compromise;” they only did half of what God asked them to do. God gave Israel directions to eliminate the people in the culture around them because God, in all His wisdom, knew that Israel would be influenced—and not in a good way.

When we compromise on God’s Word, we will find ourselves in a mess, just like Israel. I Samuel 15:22 tells us, “…Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice…” (KJV). God wants us to completely surrender to Him and obey His voice. If we start to desire the things of this world and not the things of God, it will bring forth sin in our life. And, when all is said and done, our sin will bring forth our death (James 1:15).

Sin—disobedience to God—never stays small. Paul warned the church at Galatia about sin in Galatians 5:9. Just a little bit of sin has the probability of becoming something much bigger that we could ever imagine, and it will consume our life. We need to overcome our sins while they are still small by repenting and turning back to God.

Never Stop Learning the Lesson

Once we identify a sin in our life, we need to make sure we don’t commit the same sin again. We need to keep the “lesson” at the forefront of our minds. When God teaches us a lesson (reveals sin in our life), it is always a foundation for more spiritual growth. If we discard lesson one, the second lesson does not have foundation to grow upon.

When people fail in their spiritual walk, they do not realize that lessons are meant to be practiced for the rest of their lives.

And people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD, that he did for Israel…And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel (Judges 2:7, 10, KJV).

The people in Israel stopped living their lessons every day, and eventually stopped teaching them to others. A generation rose up that didn’t know the Lord or His truths. We should not want our children, grandchildren, or great grandchildren living in a world where they don’t know God.

Because Israel failed to follow God and live a life that was pleasing to Him, God gave them to their enemies (Judges 2:14). Israel stopped living the truth each day, and assumed the generations after them would know what was right when they weren’t setting an example. We need to pass on spiritual truths to others so they do not wind up in the bondage of sin.

Scripture teaches us to pass on our spiritual lessons to others:

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God will all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up (Deuteronomy 6:4–7, KJV, emphasis added).

If we do not continue living the truth, our spiritual revelations will fade. Hebrews 2:1 reminds us to pay attention to the things we have heard or we will let them slip away from us. “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you” (Philippians 4:9, KJV).

Spiritual Submission

We need to submit ourselves and make ourselves accountable to a leader in the Gospel. God places people in our life to submit to (e.g., Pastor, leaders, mentors, etc.), but these people will only have as much oversight of our soul as we allow them to. There are insights God has for us that He will only give to spiritual leaders—we need to hear the message from others and then be accountable for it!

Israel chose not to be accountable to anyone—they didn’t have a king or a spiritual leader (Judges 21:25). The people decided what was right on their own. Their roots in independence was the catalyst of their moral downfall. If we do not have someone in our life that holds us accountable, has “veto” power in our life, we will fall into the consequences of our independent decisions.

Hebrews 13:17 reminds us to obey them that have rule over us—they have been placed there by God to watch out for us! God has given others the responsibility to watch out for our soul because our eyes alone on our soul is not enough. Our spiritual leaders, that hold us accountable, should be those who we follow and they follow Christ.

The worst leader in our life will be the one that tells us what we want to hear. A good leader will hold us accountable, and will tell us the truth in love regardless of how hard it is. We need to submit to our leadership, submit to God, and submit to His Word.

Broken Cycles

From this lesson we can relate to the experiences of Israel. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). But, we can overcome our sin, and break our cycles if we can follow these practices. God doesn’t want to see us living in a life of bondage. He wants to help us break those chains of spiritual cycles and set us free to live a life of spiritual freedom in Him.

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on February 4, 2015

Don’t Be a Groundhog

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

Groundhog Day was just two days ago—the time of year when humans leave the science of meteorology and weather prediction to a small, furry mammal. If the groundhog comes out of his hole and isn’t frightened back into his hole by the barrage of human activity, spring is right around the corner. But, if the groundhog sees his shadow, becomes frightened, and goes back inside, apparently we have six more weeks of winter ahead of us.

You might be thinking—as am I—obnoxious humans with flashing camera lights should be scarier than a small shadow. But, to a groundhog, his shadow may look bigger and is probably a lot closer to his proximity, which equates in his mind as a larger threat.

Although we can reason in our minds why humans may be scarier to an animal compared to his own shadow, we have more in common with a groundhog than we think. We too are afraid of our own shadow. And, we’re not just afraid of one shadow, we’re afraid of multiple shadows…

The Shadow of Our Past

We are all born into sin (Psalms 51:5) and we all have a checkered past—there are many things we’ve said, done, thought about, etc. that we wish we could turn back time and “undo.” That “shadow” of our past is always there looming to remind us of those things.

Because of what we’ve done in our sinful state, sometimes we think we aren’t worthy of God’s love and forgiveness, or that we can’t do a work for His kingdom. We need to remember that once we repent for our sins and ask for forgiveness, they are all covered under the blood of Jesus. And, through this covering, the blood causes God to forget! Isaiah 43:25 states, “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins” (KJV).

We need to stop being scared of our shadow and remember that we are a new creature in Christ (II Corinthians 5:17). Our sinful shadow is no longer with us because we are walking in the light of Christ and in newness of life! If we stay in complete light, there won’t be a shadow.

The Shadow of the Devil

The devil is our looming adversary (enemy) seeking to destroy us (I Peter 5:8). He wants to divert our path from light to darkness. In darkness we not only see our shadow, but we see his.

Have you ever heard the expression, “Looks can be deceiving?” The same is true of the devil. Not only does he disguise himself as an angel of light (II Corinthians 11:14), but he tries to make his shadow appear larger to try to evoke fear in the children of God. He thinks he’s all powerful…but he’s not.

We need to remember that we are children of God. All demons in and out of hell tremble at the very name of Jesus (James 2:19)!  Jesus said, “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you” (Luke 10:19, KJV).  Through the Holy Ghost living in us, we have more power in our pinky finger than all the devils in hell. We can rebuke the devil in Jesus’ name and see that “shadow” of his presence and supposed “power” shrivel up and disappear. We are God’s children and we don’t have to live in an enemy’s shadow. He will deliver us and keep us safe!

The Shadow of Others

When we are around other Saints and see what they’re doing for God’s kingdom, we sometimes feel inadequate. We feel like our talents, gifts, and abilities don’t measure up to the great “shadow” of another person’s ministry. The devil tries to discourage us in our work and make us feel what God has blessed us with and/or the work we’re doing is inconsequential.

I Corinthians 12:4 tells us that there are diversities of gifts, but they are of the same Spirit. Later, in verse 12, Scripture tells us that we are all a part of the body of Jesus Christ. We need to realize that we can’t compare ourselves to others (II Corinthians 10:2) or “grade” our work for God’s kingdom against another person. We all are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalms 139:14) and we all have our unique gifts and ministries that all work together perfectly to advance God’s kingdom here on earth.

Be an Empowered Child of God

God didn’t make humans like the rest of His creation. We are unique—God made mankind in His image (Genesis 1:26); He didn’t do this with animals. When God made us, He didn’t give us “the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (II Timothy 1:7, KJV). We don’t have to be afraid of anything—especially shadows. Next time you see a shadow remember that you’re a child of the most high God, not a groundhog.

How Much Faith is Enough

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

Sometimes in our walk with God, we may find ourselves comparing our level of faith to another person’s faith. Through comparison, we may determine we have a “faith” deficiency, and therefore, begin to feel sorry for ourselves, and take less steps in faith than we should.

Scripture tells us in II Corinthians 10:12, if we compare ourselves to others, we are not wise. Instead of comparing ourselves to others, we need to compare ourselves to Jesus—look to the Word of God. Our faith must be in alignment to what Jesus outlines in Scriptures. We have many great examples to follow.

In Scripture, we can read about exemplary faith in the story of two blind men found in Matthew 9:26–31. Three miracles had just taken place at the hand of Jesus prior to this Scripture setting; therefore, people had heard about these miracles, including the two blind men. As Jesus exited the door of a house, the two blind men were there waiting for Him.

Desperate Faith

Matthew 9:27 tells us that the two men followed Jesus and cried out to Him, but Jesus didn’t acknowledge them right away. Jesus continued on His course, headed to another house, and all the while the men cried out to Jesus, asking for mercy. Even though Jesus didn’t say anything to them, they still continued with their plight, vying for Jesus’ attention. They had a spirit of desperation—they didn’t care what anyone thought about them, who heard their cries, or how long they had to cry out. They were just tired of being blind men.

We need to get to a place in our life when we realize how much we need God in our life, and how much we may need Him to complete a miracle for us. We need to lay hold of that same spirit of desperation and cry out to Jesus. We need to make up our minds that we will do anything to get a change in our life. We need to exercise enough faith to press through regardless of circumstances, regardless of the outcome, regardless of what we even may feel could be the outcome. We just need faith that God is going to do a work.

Persistent Faith

Jesus was walking from one house to another (Matthew 9:27–28), and the blind men followed Him the entire way. They had no idea where Jesus was walking, but they pressed on through every obstacle. They had faith enough to know if they continued forward, Jesus would meet their need. The blind men had a spirit of importunity—a spirit of making a persistent request. They continued to reach out despite all odds.

Just like the blind men, we too need to press on and have the faith that God will meet our need. If our situation is faced with a closed door, we need to press through, be persistent in our knocking, keep going until we get an answer from God! God may just want to see if we have what it takes to “press through” our situation, if we have enough “faith” for Him to work.

Trusting Faith

Once Jesus arrived at the house, He asked the two men, “Believe ye that I am able to do this?” (Matthew 9:28, KJV). Jesus didn’t doubt their faith, but was asking if they entrusted Him with their need. Were they willing to give Him their need and allow Him to work? We need to ask ourselves if we are willing to go from being hands on to hands off. Are we willing to lay our need on the altar and leave it there for Him to take care of it?

The two blind men said, “Yea, Lord” (Matthew 9:28, KJV), and Scripture tells us that their eyes were opened. When we ask for something, and exercise faith, God will be waiting to meet that need. He is willing to meet our need today.

Enough Faith

Faith was the catalyst for the miracle that day. Jesus told the bind men, “According to your faith be it unto you” (Matthew 9:29, KJV). Jesus didn’t address the amount of faith, He just addressed the ownership of the faith—it was their faith. Matthew 17:20 says:

 …For verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you (KJV).

When we exercise faith, and pray, God will set in motion the things to transpire to meet our need. We don’t have to possess a mountain of faith for God to work miracles in our life; we just need it! God has given every man a measure of faith (Romans 12:3); we just need to use it.

Happy New Day!

Sunday, February 1st, 2015

It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness (Lamentations 3:23).

Happy first month of the year! This is the month when New Year’s resolutions are  made after a few months of pondering what they should be. This is also the month that resolutions are broken and hastily fade into the background of our lives. The holiday hustle and bustle has finally subsided, and we return to our normal routines—not integrating resolutions into our day-to-day schedule.

Like the majority of “resolution makers,” we may feel a cringe inside of us—knowing how we determined new standards to achieve in our life, and how easily they were broken. The tune, “well there is always next year” is constantly on repeat in our heads. We too feel like we’re failing ourselves and everyone around us who heard us boldly proclaim how this would be the year that we would…

Yet, there is something “sacred” about the first day of the month that gives us a sense of newness and freshness. There is something about leaving a year behind us and walking into a brand new year that puts a wind under our heels and a bit of hope in our hearts that this year could be different. But, the minute our resolution is broken, the newness of the year begins to lose its charm and appeal. But, may I propose a different way of thinking on the matter?

Not only is God’s grace sufficient for us in every New Year, but it is equally sufficient for us in every new day. His mercies are renewed like the morning sun. No matter if it is a New Year’s resolution, or mistakes that we make in the day, Jesus has a wellspring of mercy that is waiting for us the minute the new day dawns.

Yes, it is good to set goals. But, when those goals are broken, it doesn’t mean goals should be done away with. Every day is a brand new day with new mercies, new victories, new challenges, and new successes. We should treat every day like we treat the beginning of the New Year because in reality, no one has ever stepped into the new day given to us but God. He provides a brand new perspective for us if we will allow Him.

It’s said that it takes 21 days to create a habit. If we try to start a new habit and we fail before the “21-day habit” mark is achieved, we need to realize that God is right there with us. He is waiting on us in the morning, acting as our cheering squad, telling us, “we can overcome.” God loves for us to partake of His new mercies. We need to realize that God is not taking a tally of everything we do wrong. In repentance, God wipes our life clean. And, right along with new mercies comes a wellspring of forgiveness.

Ever wonder why we say, “Good Morning” to each other? There are many different opinions as to why, but I believe the morning is good because it is brand new, fresh, full of mercy and love, and all mine to explore. Each day, there are some who did not awake to a new morning. We should consider ourselves highly blessed that God chose us to arise in another new morning, packed full of His mercy.

I woke up one morning with a timeless song in my head:

Great is Thy faithfulness. Great is Thy faithfulness.
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have need of Thy hands have provided.
Great is Thy faithfulness Lord, God to me.

We can rest in the knowledge that as we walk into this New Year with an entire set of new challenges, new victories, and new failures, His mercies are renewed every morning. So, we can take each day a step at a time, and rejoice in the bountiful mercies of Jesus Christ.