Archive for July, 2015

Don’t Bet on Horses

Monday, July 27th, 2015

Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God (Psalms 20:7, KJV).

Daily Bets

We place bets every day that we’ll be safe, healthy, be financially secure, possess the right skills and intellect, and/or have the right morals to be “good.” These are our horses we take a gamble with on a continual basis.

In the Old Testament, it was common practice for nations to forge alliances with other nations with greater weaponry to help them fight their enemies. The most sophisticated weapon of the day was a chariot and horses—none of which the Nation of Israel had. God told His people in Psalms 20:7 while some people trust in chariots and horses, they could trust in Him.

Trust in a Sure Thing

Life is full of uncertainty. The gambles we take in life are just the same. But, God is neither a bet nor a gamble. When we trust in Jesus, is a sure thing. Trusting in Him, however, isn’t easy. We choose too often to bet on horses in life that won’t bring the desired results. When we trust in God, He will always provide the best and right solution.

Scripture tells us God is strong in power and never fails (Isaiah 40:26), He faints not and is never weary (Isaiah 40:28), He gives power to them that are weak and increases their strength (Isaiah 40:29) and, “they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk , and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31, KJV).

Trust in What We Can’t See

The world wants us to believe that we can only trust what we can see. This is a myth and doesn’t apply to God! God’s rules don’t apply to our rules (Isaiah 55:8); we are to walk by faith and not by sight (II Corinthians 5:7). We are to trust in the Lord with all of our heart (Proverbs 3:5–6) and never be afraid (Psalms 56:11). It is always better to trust in the Lord rather than man (Psalms 118:9).

The Syrian army surrounded the prophet Elisha because he was helping Israel escape from their hand. Elisha’s servant was beside himself and didn’t know what to do. Elisha told the young man, “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them” (II Kings 6:15, KJV). Elisha prayed for the servant’s eyes to be opened, and the young man saw the mountain full of chariots of fire (II Kings 6:17).

When we start to trust in God, we may not see how He’s working for our good. There are things happening in the spiritual realm we do not see in the natural, but they are much more powerful than anything we could see in the natural. We need to start walking in this dimension of faith—to know we don’t have to see the results, but that God is in control!

What’s Our Horses’ Name?

There are famous horses in all of our lives and they all have different names: job, money, government, friendships, health, etc. We have to stop trusting these horses and start trusting in God. Scripture says:

Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the LORD (Isaiah 31:1, KJV).

If we trust in things that are of this world, they will eventually fall and we too will fail. If we trust in God, nothing other than victory will occur (Isaiah 31:4). He is like a lion that has already conquered his prey and nothing can scare Him or overpower Him!

We won’t be able to trust in God if we trust in anything else. If anything else holds more of our trust, it’s an idol. We need to remember the name of our Lord, and realize that He is the one in whom we should trust. He is the one in whom we should serve. When we finally get to a place where we completely and utterly trust in Him, we’ll know the name to call—Jesus.

Adapted from Sunday Morning Service on July 27, 2015

Take Your Trumpet

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

When we made a decision to embark on this beautiful journey with the Lord, we soon realized that we had entered into the most important relationship of our life. In this relationship, we put off the former corrupt things and put on the new righteous and holy man (Ephesians 4:22–24). But, unbeknown to us, we also donned a bullseye on our back. This wasn’t an element God gave us, and wasn’t an “article of clothing” we put on by choice, but was bestowed upon us by our greatest adversary—the devil.

Satan hates it when he loses hold on a child of God! This is why he will wage an all-out war against us to convince us to give up on our relationship with God. He wants us to return to a life of bondage in sin and where he has dominion over our life.

Enduring the constant barrage of the devil’s attacks will cause us to grow weary. Many of us have reached a point (past or present) where we felt the battle was too much, we couldn’t go on living for God, or we wouldn’t make it to see the next light of day.

Satan has been oppressing God’s children for a long time, but we need to remember that it has never been the Lord’s will for His children to be downtrodden by the devil. God has given us ways to overcome our enemy!

We learn in Numbers 31 when Israel—God’s chosen Nation—was attacked by the Midianites. This wasn’t their first battle; Scripture records what seems like an endless number of them. It’s quite possible that Israel was tired of fighting (just as we can get today), but they continued in their plight:

And Moses sent [Israel] to the war, a thousand of every tribe, them and Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, to the war, with the holy instruments, and the trumpets to blow in his hand (Numbers 31:6, KJV).

In a nutshell, Israel emerged victoriously from this battle. What’s key about this passage of Scripture is that Israel knew their victory would be found in one necessary instrument of war—praise.

Not only does the devil desire to conquer us, but he wants to take our praise. He is well aware of the power and blessings that are activated in our life when we give praise to the Lord of Glory. While the devil is smart, he’s also missing a few brain cells. Satan mistakenly believes if we’re in the midst of a trial, we won’t give God praise.

When Israel went forth into battle against the Midianites, they took trumpets. Phinehas, the priest’s son, was about to make some noise. Israel knew power and anointing from the Almighty God would follow the tail end of their praise, and it was that which would defeat their enemy!

Saint of God, whether we are heading face-first into a trial, in the midst of one, or even heading out the other side into victory, we need to give praise to the Lord. Before we grab any other weapon of warfare to combat our enemy, we need to give God praise! Praise Him for the trial; praise Him for the victory! We need to recognize the power that is in our praise and recognize the blessings that are in store when we praise God in faith for the victory that isn’t yet in sight.

As we are encouraged to put on the armor of God each day before we leave our homes (Ephesians 6:10–18)—grabbing our helmet of salvation, breastplate of righteousness, belt of truth, “peace” shoes, shield of faith, and sword of the spirit—we need to find an extra hand to grab one more item. Our trumpet!

Uncovered and Broken Through

Sunday, July 19th, 2015

Pronounce Truth

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

Have you ever been conversing with someone who acted as if they knew what they were speaking about, but in reality you knew they really didn’t? A dead give-away is when s/he mispronounces a word that an expert—or at least a knowledgeable person—would properly articulate. Their mispronunciation isn’t just a slight difference between “potāto” vs. “potâto;” it’s so obvious a linguist would be rocked to their very core.

In a casual conversation, improperly speaking a word isn’t a life-and-death situation. But, in Biblical times it was:

And the Gileadites took the passages of Jordan before the Ephaimites: and it was so, that when those Ephraimites which were escaped said, Let me go over; that the men of Gilead said unto him, Art thou and Ephraimite? If he said, Nay; Then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth: and he said Sibboleth: for he could not frame to pronounce it right. Then they took him, and slew him at the passages of Jordan: and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand (Judges 12:6–7, KJV).

When this particular Ephraimite was asked to pronounce the word Shibboleth, he pronounced the letter “shin” as if it was “sin” or “samech.” Because he mispronounced this word, he was killed. (Are you now inclined, dear reader, to download a phonetic dictionary app?)

Let me put you at ease—not everyone who misspoke a word during Biblical times was killed. Today in casual conversation, a person won’t haul you off to your death for uttering a wrong syllable. This death instance occurred when Ephraimites were attempting to masquerade as people who “belonged.” But, the moment they were caught and determined to be fakes, they were eliminated.

We can learn a lot from this passage of Scripture as it relates to our relationship with God. We can profess our Christianity and vow that we have a true relationship with God, but do our actions and words pronounce a different truth?

We may be able to fool others in this life, but the moment we meet our Lord, and Savior, I pray He does not say, “…I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:23, KJV). God knows who we are and if we are fakes. We need to get alone with God in prayer and read His Word—it is only then when we speak will it be truly evident that we know Him.

When this Ephraimite incorrectly stated Sibboleth, this didn’t only sound different than Shibboleth, but it actually meant something different entirely. Shibboleth means depth of waters, but to these particular people, it meant ear of grain.

If we’re not careful, and what we profess and what we say don’t “match up,” we can give a wrong impression to others about what it’s like to live for God, have a relationship with Him, and how to live in accordance with His Word. If we say we have a relationship with Jesus, but live in opposition to His Word, we will become the blind leading the blind. Eventually we’ll both fall into the pit of destruction and despair (Matthew 15:14).

A linguist will tell you that phonetics is the field of study which focuses on the sounds of human speech. Many people have devoted their entire life to this particular field of study as they are passionate about word origin and pronunciation. We too should “study to shew [ourselves] approved unto God…” (II Timothy 2:15, KJV). We must not only be knowledgeable about His Word, but when we are called to speak to His truth, we should able to pronounce it.

Bring a Gift, Leave with a Blessing

Sunday, July 12th, 2015

When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh (Matthew 2:10–11, KJV).

Bring a Gift and Leave with a Blessing

Scripture tells us the wise men came to see Jesus bearing gifts and left with exceeding great joy. The condition in how they left was a condition in how they came. If we come into God’s presence with joy, we too can leave with gifts. If we expect to receive something from the Lord when we come into His presence, we won’t leave empty-handed.

Psalms 100:1–2 says, “Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing” (KJV). There isn’t an exclusion given to those who worship and serve the Lord. All should make a joyful noise and to come into his presence with singing. We shouldn’t wait until we come into God’s house to praise Him. We are to come with our praise—praise to the Lord of Glory should begin before we come into church.

Praise the Lord for His Blessings

Praise is the key to never leaving the presence of the Lord un-impacted and/or unchanged. If we come into His presence empty-handed, we will leave empty-handed. We bring praise unto the Lord because it is respectful to return something to someone who has blessed you with something. God has given us victory (I Corinthians 15:55)—something we could never achieve on our own. Because of this gift, we need to respond. Our praise is our thanks to God!

Too many times we want to complain about what we’ve received from the Lord. We have our arms open wide to receive His blessings, and then we don’t like what we get. We do not have any right to complain about what we receive from the Lord if we don’t bring anything to the house of God!

Blessings in Giving

In Luke 17 we read about 10 men who had leprosy. They cried out to Jesus for mercy, He heard them, and told them to go and show themselves to the priests. When they were obedient to God’s word, they discovered in route to the priest, they were cleansed. When one of the 10 lepers saw that he was cleansed, he turned back to glorify Jesus that he had received his healing.

The one leper didn’t take his blessing and leave! He wanted to give something back to the Lord of Glory. He wanted to give praise to the Lord in receipt of his blessing. We learn that it was in his return that he received something even greater than a cleansing. Because of the praise he gave back to God, he became whole (Luke 17:19).

When we are willing to bless God, and bring praise into His presence, there is another blessing in store for us when we just give to God (Acts 20:35). Each time we come into the house of the Lord, there is something available to us. It’s up to us what we give and it’s up to us to get!

Resolving Our Identity Crisis

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

Identity. Crisis. Those two words have evoked fear in the hearts of millions all over the world. Middle age men and women dread the day they gaze upon themselves in a mirror and don’t know and/or recognize the person in the reflection.

As a Christian, an identity crisis poses no limitation on age, gender, socioeconomic status, and the like. At one point or another, we’ve all looked into our spiritual looking glass—the Bible—and not known the person staring back at us. Who are we? What are we called to be? What are we supposed to be doing? And, more importantly, how do we figure this out?

Scripture accounts the story of Zerubbabel and Jeshua who took the initiative and began rebuilding God’s house in Jerusalem (Ezra 5:2–11). Tatnai, the governor of Trans-Euphrates, demanded to know who they were and under what authority were they rebuilding the temple. Zerubbabel and Jeshua’s response was simple: “We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth…” (Ezra 5:11, KJV).

What’s key in this Scripture setting is both men didn’t give their names. In Biblical times, a person’s name was very significant. Names established a person’s identity and destiny. But, instead of a name, these men identified themselves as “the servants of God.” They replied without hesitation and complete assurance of who they were. There was no question of their identity that day. They were God’s servants!

The word servants in Hebrew is the word abad, which means slave or servant to a king. Our culture does not define “servant” as a sought-after identity, but Scripture tells us differently. In the Old Testament, when a servant determined he loved his master, he would allow his master to mark his ear. This symbolized his choice to willingly serve his master forever (Exodus 21:5–6).

A man who made this decision in life laid down his own agenda and sacrificed everything to serve the one whom he loved. The moment he made this decision and his ear was marked, his identity changed—he was known from that point on as a servant to one master.

When we make the decision to live for God, obey His Word, repent of our sins, and be baptized in the lovely name of Jesus, we too are marked, but with the Holy Spirit of promise (Ephesians 1:13). Our identity is changed at that point and we will have the same identity from that moment forward—we will be servants. Moreover, we have the privilege of being servants to the King of kings and the Lord of lords!

In our identity as a servant, we are dedicated to working for God’s Kingdom. When we give our all to the Kingdom of God, we will see rapid progress—just like Zerubbabel and Jeshua (Ezra 5:8)—but in church growth, soul-winning, and possibly building construction! In our identity as a servant, we also worship and praise the One true God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Shadrack, Meshack, and Abendego, in their refusal to worship anything other than the Lord were called the servants of the Most High God (Daniel 3:26).

We will find that servanthood is our identity. It’s how we live for God each and every day. It’s in our work for His kingdom, the love we extend to others, the praise we give God for who He is and what He does in our life, and everything else in-between. The next time we see ourselves in the mirror, we will know our identity. The answer is simple. We are servants!

Re-think It!

Sunday, July 5th, 2015

Let Freedom Ring

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

In just a few short days, we will celebrate the independence of our country. The United State of America will ring out celebratory exaltations about our Nation’s strength, power, and honor on July 4. Many lives were lost in our Nation’s fight for freedom, and in death we were awarded the freedom we have today.

Across the globe, freedom in any sense is becoming an exception and not the norm. Freedom—and or personal rights—is a coveted ideal for any human being. We desire to live how we want, make our own decisions, and have control of our lives during our earthly journey.

While freedom is a cherished paradigm in our physical existence, freedom is also something desired in our spiritual life. Whether we are aware or not, religious persecution is a very real and present issue in other countries. Many of our missionaries within the United Pentecostal Church, Incorporated, as well as other organizations, are in facing torture or execution. Missionaries sacrifice their wellbeing daily to spread the Gospel message to the world. They, as well as others, fight for religious freedom all for one reason—to save souls.

Missionaries, and their supporters, realize there is a freedom worth more than physical independence. This freedom is worth laying down a life and/or facing any kind of physical opposition to obtain. This most sought-after freedom isn’t earthly, but spiritual.

Scripture tells us in II Corinthians 3:17:

Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty… (KJV).

The word liberty in this setting of Scripture is from the Greek word eleutheria, meaning freedom, especially freedom from slavery. Freedom of this nature does not compare to anything else this world can offer. This is a God-given freedom, not man-made.

We will not experience true freedom or liberty—by entering into God’s presence—without first establishing a relationship with Him. In His Word, God promised to pour out His Spirit upon all flesh (Acts 2:17). If we will humble ourselves and seek Him first above all things, we will all have the opportunity to experience this freedom any hour, and day, and at any point of our life.

We as Americans are not enslaved to any other Nation in the earthly realm, but we face another form of bondage in the spiritual realm. We were all born into a state of sin (Psalm 51:5) and were doomed to be enslaved to our sin. But, God robed Himself in flesh, came and dwelt among us, became all of our sins, and died on a cross so we could be free.

It is only with God that we experience true freedom. Through repentance and baptism in Jesus’ name for the remission of sins, we are promised God’s Spirit (the Holy Ghost) (Acts 2:38–39). We do not have to be a slave to our flesh—or even to the devil! Jesus has broken every chain and set us free!

Today, we live in a state of liberty and freedom. The world didn’t give us our freedom and the world, or any demonic presence, cannot take it away. Our goal today is “…to know the truth, and the truth shall make [us] free” (John 8:32, KJV). Once we’ve obtained truth, know God and His power, and have experienced the infilling of His Spirit, we need to let true freedom ring out to all the world. We have freedom in Jesus!