Archive for March, 2017

Ready, Set, Cook!

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

I have a confession. I’m the world’s worst cook.

There’s nothing about cooking that interests me, and I honestly don’t have any desire to improve in this skill. Because of my disinterest in cooking, I find I over-compensate in other area. So, unremarkably, I can be over-prepared in other spheres of my life, and severely under-prepared for life in the kitchen.

Because of my lack of “kitchen readiness,” I find myself—all too often—haphazardly throwing together a meal, realizing I need something on the other side of the kitchen when both hands are covered in food, my foot is holding the oven door open, pots are boiling over on the stove, and the spoon I was using a moment ago has disappeared, again…

I missed out in receiving the “how-to-cook” gene when God made me. And, thankfully He’s not calling me to be a chef in a 5-star restaurant any time soon. But, the moment He does, you better believe I’m going enroll in culinary school immediately, and spend a lot of time in prayer trying to talk God out of it…

I’m reminded of a story in Scripture about Ahimaaz. Was he a cook? No, but he was beyond eager to bring news to David about a battle. Joab told him it wasn’t time—there wasn’t a full story yet. And, Joab didn’t really want to send him being a little “green,” but Ahimaaz wanted to run. So, Joab relented and Ahimaaz departed (II Samuel 18:19–23). Once the full news was known, an Ethiopia man set off to deliver the news about the happenings on the battlefront.

Ahimaaz arrived ahead of the other messenger, but didn’t have much to tell King David (II Samuel 18:29). Without bringing any value with his presence (or news), he was asked to step aside. Shortly afterward—a mere few minutes—the Ethiopian arrived and relayed the full story to David (II Samuel 18:31–32). There were definitely too many cooks in this kitchen.

I’m not a cook. But, if God wanted me to be one, I’d be unsuccessful without taking the time to glean information about the best cooking techniques, practicing in the kitchen, and biding my time until the Lord released me to become a full-on chef. I wouldn’t turn on my heel, dart to the nearest kitchen, and say, “Let’s cook!”

Many times, the Lord calls us to do a work for His Kingdom, but we’re also told to wait. There’s information we have to learn, skills to glean, and the perfect season (or time) in which to operate. But, in our zealousness, we head off into the kitchen without the right ingredients, recipe, or even the knowledge of how to execute the creation of the entrée selection in front of us.

So, we go because we want to go, and find ourselves ill-equipped for the work. We show up, can’t even cook a frozen dinner, don’t know a tablespoon from a teaspoon, and wind up being nothing but a hindrance. We’re asked to step aside until someone who has been commissioned, and released by God to cook, arrives.

I’m sure there are some born-to-be chefs out there. God may have called you don the “white hat” in the most high-profile restaurant of our time. But, the call and vision God has projected for your life may be days, weeks, months, or even years down the road. It’s not time to cook just yet.

Before you start scrounging for the ingredients, measuring cups, and clearing off counter space, allow God to spend some time preparing you to work. He does this so we’re effective in what we’re called to do, at the right time, and in the right place. We’re not just “cooking to cook”—we’re no Ahimaaz. We cook with purpose, precision, and planning. The final outcome? An exquisite culinary masterpiece. That’s how things work in God’s kitchen.

You Are

Sunday, March 26th, 2017

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven (Matthew 16:18–19, KJV).

God has a plan for each of us. We may be content with what God is doing in our life, but God wants to take each of us beyond where we’re at. He wants take something that’s good and do something even better!

As God has a plan for us, His desire is for His children seek after that plan. We must pray for His will to be done in our lives and not our own. When we follow prayer model Jesus prayed, and pray His Kingdom come (Matthew 6:9–10), we pray for what God’s divinely orchestrated in heaven to be manifested in our lives.

When God speaks a Word into our life, it doesn’t matter what our present circumstances are—it will happen! Simon was a man blown like a reed in the wind; his actions were a direct reflection of life around him. He was impulsive and flowed with the wind. But, Jesus renamed him Peter, which means a stone/rock. Peter would no longer be a reed, swayed by life around him, but would be solid. Jesus called him by what He saw, not the way Peter saw himself (Romans 4:17). We must remember what happens in our life does not define us. What Jesus says is the only thing that matters!

The name Peter was a symbol of the life he would live. Jesus declared it for all to see; to announce what Peter would become. When we live for God, stay true to His Word, and declare who He is, He will declare to the world who we are.

We like to speak self-fulfilling prophesies to ourselves, but they aren’t positive. In fact, they’re the exact opposite. We should speak out and proclaim the reverse of what our flesh speaks, or what the devil is trying to tell us. Our own words need to line up with who God says we are; our words are powerful (Proverbs 18:21). If we speak negative words, our fear will validate it. But, if we speak faith and the promises given to us in Scripture, Jesus will validate it!

The devil is a liar and the father of all lies. He will agree with every false way our minds come up with. He will war against our spirit and tell us we cannot become what God has said. But, God has called us to be more than conquerors (Romans 8:37). He will give us the authority to operate by faith, overcome the enemy, and be what He’s called us to be!

The Benefits of the Glory of the Lord

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him (John 2:11, KJV).

God’s glory has a purpose. God wants to reveal (manifest) His glory in us! He does this so we can become a reflection of His glory—the power, presence, and essence of God. Part of our discipleship in Jesus is learning how to allow God to destroy the things in us others see and operate His glory in us.

There was a purpose to Jesus’ first miracle—turning water into wine. This was the manifestation of God’s glory, and a foreshadow to how He would operate His ministry while on the earth. His ministry would not only have power over man, but over nature. And, His ministry would be about helping others, operating in authority, and being engaged with humanity.

Miracles are events that demonstrate God’s power. Everything Jesus did revealed His glory. The miracles Jesus performed on earth were ones that renewed fallen creation—restoring sight, bringing the dead to life, the lame to walk, etc. His goal is to restore His glory in us.

Today, God wants to continue the manifestation of His glory, created in us (II Corinthians 5:17). His glory has become tangible for us. When we received the Holy Ghost our spirit was made perfect, but His glory will take care of the restoration on the outside.

Why God’s Glory is Revealed in Us

Revealed for Provision

The first time God’s glory is mentioned in Scripture is in Exodus 16:7. Israel had just departed from Egypt and realized they were hungry—they were in need. God’s glory manifested and the people had quail and manna to eat. God taught His people the lesson of provision through His glory (Romans 15:13). He will show us that He is the One who provides for us, and He will put us into circumstances that only He can meet our need.

Revealed for Instruction

When Israel left Egypt, they didn’t know how to live right, so God called Moses up on Mount Sinai to deliver the law (Exodus 24:16–17). The sight of the glory of the Lord was like fire on the top of the mountain. God’s glory will burn everything out that we don’t need to know and spring up something new in its place. He will put the right knowledge in our heart, mind, and spirit. We just need to listen and change (John 14:26).

Revealed for Correction

After a while in the wilderness, Korah rose up against Moses, the chosen vessel by God (Numbers 16:19). He rebelled against the authority God had set up over the Nation of Israel. Before the earth opened up and consumed Korah and his entire camp, the glory of the Lord appeared. God showed His people that He would not tolerate rebellion and purged it from them that day. God’s glory shows us that we cannot do some things and there are things we need to stop doing in our lives. We should appreciate His hand of correction and this manifestation of His glory in our lives (Psalms 94:12–13).

Reveals for Direction

When Israel was in the wilderness they didn’t know where to go. But, it was God’s glory that covered the tabernacle in the wilderness that led the people by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 40:34). God mapped Israel through 40 plus years in the wilderness. His glory showed them not to cross boundaries that He set up (Acts 16:6) and not to make boundaries where God makes roads (Acts 13:2).

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on March 22, 2017 with Pastor Nave

Pursue the Perpetual

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

I am a student of words. I adore them. I study them. I truly delight in them.

I read a lot and do so for the enjoyment of learning and filling my mind with information I don’t know. But, I think a small part of me loves the journey into uncharted knowledge territories because of the new words I’ll unearth along the way.

I have fond memories around my “word” discoveries. I remember where I was, when I heard word(s) used, or even what I was reading. In rare cases, I might even recall what I was wearing—if the word had a tremendous impact on my life…

I do remember the day I discovered the word perpetual; it means never-ending, uninterrupted, or unchanging. It’s one of my favorites, although I can’t say how long that list trails through the “word-cloud” of my mind.

As a child my sisters and I would giggle endlessly about keeping something “for all the days and all the nights”—a phrase coined by my youngest sister. What she really meant (and was a philosophy we later adopted as siblings), was a perpetual, never-ending duration of ownership over some childhood possession. At that age, the notion of keeping something in a perpetual state was splendid!

As an adult, there’s still a small moment of endearment when I come across that word, but even more so when I find it in the Word of God.

They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten (Jeremiah 50:5, KJV).

Perpetual. The word in Hebrew is olam and means forever. As children in our naiveté, my sisters and I desired to keep something perpetually. But, we were seeking something in the natural and not the supernatural. We can lay hold of something that never ends and never changes—something we can keep “for all the days and all the nights.” That, dear reader, is our relationship (covenant) with God.

My childhood expectations weren’t that far off from our Creator’s. Remarkably, God in His complex, but simplistic nature expects that we pursue the perpetual. God doesn’t change—He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever (Malachi 3:6). When He commanded Israel to join themselves to Him in a perpetual covenant, the directive was extended to all of His children.

Our joining with God in a perpetual covenant (relationship) is never-ending. Just as a man and wife join together in a marital union until death, Jesus—our Bridegroom—desires to secure a covenant with us that doesn’t just last in this lifetime, but for all eternity.

If we are to be in a perpetual covenant with the Lord that is uninterrupted and unchanging, we cannot do anything that would cause any disruption in that bond. This is why living for God is a 24/7, 365 days a year, lifelong, perpetual pursuit. We cannot go one second where we “take a break” from living for God or else we will break that perpetual covenant.

Today, let’s pursue the perpetual. Let’s seek after something that this world cannot corrupt; something that we can take with us on our journey toward Heaven. That folks, is Jesus Himself.

A Lot for a Little

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now (John 2:1–10, KJV).

God’s Plans for Our Life

We take a lot for granted in our life—the air we breathe, the roof over our heads, etc. God sustains us with the basic necessities for living, and we go about each day without thanking Him for it. But, while God meets the basic needs in our lives, He doesn’t just want to stop there. He has bigger plans! God desires for His glory to be revealed in us!

Doing a Lot with a Little

This story in Scripture where Jesus turns water into wine doesn’t seem like such a big deal. Of all the things the Lord of Glory can do in us and through us, why did God choose this setting to perform a miracle? In the eastern culture, hospitality was very important; taking care of and providing for guests well enough was expected. Here, the bridegroom wasn’t able to or didn’t prepare to have enough wine at his wedding for his guests. But, Jesus came in and saved this man’s reputation; He turned a disgrace into an utter victory.

We feel God can’t do something great in our lives with just a little bit of what we have to give. But, in Jesus’ first miracle, He took the wash pots and filled them up to the brim. He then made the best wine out of water used to wash the hands and feet of people traveling in the dirty streets of the city. He used a little of what someone had, and performed a large miracle. A lot for a little

God Cares About What We Care About

Scripture tells us if we delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our hearts (Psalms 37:4). God wants to give us our desires in this life, but He wants to multiply and add to them as well! When God completes any work in our lives, it will always be greater than anything we could do, and greater than what we started with.

God Only Needs a Little to Do a Lot

Jesus took one of the most basic elements and performed a major miracle. Just as God did this back then, He can do the same in our lives today. He can take the most basic among us and speak a Word into our lives that will change us forever.

Limiting God

God’s potential impact in us is regulated by our faith. We need to believe that God is able to do anything and has no limit in our life. We must step out and believe the impossible—God is able to do something great with something we feel is insignificant. When we trust Him, the miraculous will happen.

Anything God does in our lives will require a faith step from us. We have to proclaim the promises of God even when we don’t see them. We don’t need “proof” of God working—we just need to believe (Hebrews 11:1). If we don’t have faith in what God will do, we can’t please Him. But, if we trust Him, God will reward us with a miracle (Hebrews 11:6).

A Little Driven by the Word

There is unlimited power in the Word of God. To work in our lives, all we have to do is give God room to step into our lives, and a flood of His presence will come. He’s not asking for much—we just need to give Him a little bit and see what He’ll do with it.

Tackling Temptation

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him (James 1:12, KJV).

What is Temptation?

We go through life with the mindset that temptations are only for evil; their sole purpose being a stumbling block in our spiritual life. But, what we don’t realize is that temptation is present in our daily life to teach us to do good—a stepping stone to take us into a deeper relationship with Christ. Today, we must look at temptation with a different perception.

Temptation all beings with a choice. That choice will be to resist temptation, or follow after the characteristics of Christ: bear the fruit of the Spirit per the operation of the Holy Ghost in our lives (Galatians 5:22–23). Just as fruit takes a while to don branches and grow, temptation proves to render spiritual fruit in our lives, but after a process of time.

Satan uses temptation to discourage and defeat the child of God. He knows where to tempt us, how often, and with what. But, we must always be vigilant and stay apprised of his schemes, lest he catch us unaware (II Corinthians 2:11). We can use temptations for our good!

Knowing the 4-Step Process to Temptation

Desire

Temptation starts in the mind, not the circumstance. If we don’t have a desire for something, we won’t be tempted to do the wrong thing. Ninety percent of every battle we fight starts in the mind. Scripture tells us it’s the “thought life” that defiles us (Matthew 15:7–27), not necessarily what we do. Whatever comes into our mind, we have the ability to discard it, but once we entertain the thought, it becomes a longing in our heart and will eventually manifest itself in our lives.

Doubt

Satan tries to get the believer to doubt the Lord, His Word, and what’s right vs. wrong. The devil will try to convince us that we should be happy in this life instead of following what God wants and God’s plan for our lives. It’s not about serving self, it’s about serving God. We must put on the whole armor of God to fight the fiery darts of the wicked (Ephesians 6:11–18).

Deception

Satan is the father of lies and spins a web of them throughout our lives (John 8:44). He would like us to be confused about truth, which is why the devil is so skilled at getting the believer to believe half-truths, or lies. In order to avoid making the wrong decision in the heat of the moment, we must stay prayed up and in the Word of God so we know what the truth really is when we’re tempted.

Disobedience

When we act on the thought we’ve been thinking about, temptation has transformed into disobedience to God. Temptation is birthed into behavior (sin) and sin gives way to death (James 1:14–15). We must allow the Holy Ghost to convict us when we’re headed in the wrong direction and lead us into the paths of righteousness.

How to Deal with Temptation

Refuse to be Intimidated

We cannot allow the devil to intimidate us with temptation. We must take the authority God has given us to challenge and combat the devil. Instead of playing the defensive in our spiritual life, we must be proactive and fight—be in the offensive position! Remember God will not allow us to be tempted above that which we can bear (I Corinthians 10:13). Jesus was able to overcome temptation, and His Spirit lives within us (Romans 8:9).

Recognize Our Pattern of Temptation

Satan is like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (I Peter 5:8). The enemy will watch out for when the child of God isn’t paying attention; then he comes in for the kill. We must be busy about the Kingdom and not idle in ourselves (Proverbs 16:27–29). We should determine when, where, with whom, etc. are we most tempted. Identify those areas and red flags in our spiritual life and get away from them (Proverbs 5:8)! It’s easier to stay away from temptation than getting out of temptation.

Refocus Our Attention on Something Else

Since the battle we fight is in the mind, we should focus our attention on something else! We cannot focus our thoughts continually on how to escape temptations. We should focus on overcoming it, and then move on to thinking about other things in God. Scripture tells us to think on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of a good report (Philippians 4:8). Thing on the good things!

Reveal Our Struggle to a Godly Friend

We need accountability in our spiritual walk, and we need the strength from the body of Christ. Scripture tells us to confess our faults to one another because the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous person is very effective (James 5:16). What we may struggle with, another Saint of God can bind together with us in prayer against it. Two are better than 1 in their labor (Ecclesiastes 4:9)—fight the devil and put him to flight (Deuteronomy 32:30)!

Resist the Devil

We must focus on submitting ourselves to God and resisting the devil (James 4:7). When we allow ourselves to become a conduit for Christ and yielding ourselves over to Him, there won’t be any time or room for the devil to come in and complete a work. Our greatest weapon against the enemy is the Word of God. We must learn the Scriptures and use them against the enemy when he comes knocking (Psalm 119:11). If Jesus was able to fight temptation in the wilderness with Scripture, so can we (Matthew 4:7)!

Request God’s Help

Temptation is real. But, God never created it so we could face it alone. We must ask for God’s help to overcome it. God is close to those who will call upon Him (Psalms 34:18–20). He knows what we go through and is there to help us overcome it (Hebrews 4:15). He has given us the ability to boldly come before His throne to obtain mercy and grace (Hebrews 4:16). Let’s reach toward our Savior, the One whom can deliver us from all things!

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on March 15, 2017 with Guest Speaker, Brother Casey Pollard

Ministering in Our Mess

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

Every day that we live, we must be intentional in our walk with God. Serving Him, working for His Kingdom, keeping our flesh conquered, overcoming the enemy, following holiness, and many more things, all take our time, energy, and focus. And, none of it is easy.

No one said living for God would be a piece of cake, but that’s one of our misconceptions in life. In fact, Peter told the church not to be surprised when fiery trials come (I Peter 4:12). Likewise, Jesus told His disciples they would be hated by all men for serving Him (Matthew 10:22).

This is why Paul and Silas found themselves beaten, torn, and locked up in a prison (Acts 16). They were facing a trial—more significant than anything most of us have endured in this life—and they were in the dark, bound in chains, and were seemingly alone.

This is where Christians today stop living for God. If everything isn’t going their way, they blame God for the mess they’re in, and don’t see the reward in their experience. They shut themselves away from the world to “deal” with their issue.

You see, we feel that when we’re in the press, we can’t help anyone else but ourselves. We really need a blessing. We really need an escape. We really need God to work in our life.

And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed (Acts 16:25–26, KJV, emphasis added).

In the middle of their dark hour, Paul and Silas sang praises unto God. They followed the Scriptural command to praise God in all circumstances (I Thessalonians 5:18). But, they also knew another truth.

Even in the middle of their situation, they knew there was a reason they were there. There was an opportunity to reach a soul. Even bound in their own chains, they knew they were in the perfect position to pray for a miracle that would loose chains—the chains of the other prisoners around them

And, that’s exactly what happened.

Paul and Silas sang praises to God, not just because God is worthy of the praise, but also to be the catalyst for a miracle. They knew the prisoners needed a supernatural experience with the King of kings and the Lord of lords. God showed up in the middle of their trial, and loosed everyone’s bands.

The God we serve is so awesome that we can experience a blessing of our own when we seek to help someone else—a double-portion of His blessing, anointing, and glory. God not only loosed everyone’s bands in that prison, but broke the yoke of bondage from Paul and Silas as well. God will not forget us when we sacrifice for someone else and when we’re faithful despite of what we’re experiencing in this life.

We need to keep ministering to others in the midst of our trials. We have no idea why we’re in the situation we’re in. God may have put us in chains, so we could see someone else locked down in need of freedom. And, through our prayers and praise, someone else will receive deliverance.

It’s All in Jesus

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him (Luke 4:16–20, KJV).

Jesus had just returned to Nazareth after spending 40 days in the wilderness battling His flesh and the devil. He was ready to embark on His earthly ministry. In Nazareth, Jesus went to the synagogue, and opened the Word of God to Scriptures the prophet Isaiah had penned many years prior (Isaiah 61:1–2).

But, Jesus stopped midway reading the Scriptures because He detected disbelief among the people. He rebuked the people in regards to their lack of faith. They believed there was a promise to come, but didn’t believe the promise was standing right in front of them.

We must realize everything we could ever need is found in Jesus Christ. He is the promise standing before us today; we can be complete in Him. We don’t have to wait for something to occur tomorrow, a month, or even a year from now. Jesus is on the scene, letting us know He will supply our every need, and that He’s here today to provide deliverance, healing, etc.

Because of their disbelief, Jesus left the synagogue in Nazareth and headed to Capernaum. The people of this city believed in His word! By their expression of faith, an atmosphere opened up that made way to cast devils out (Luke 4:31–33).

When we exercise our faith in God, the miraculous will happen. All we have to do is realize we don’t need to look anywhere else; Jesus is all that we need. What we have in Him is not religion, but relationship. He’s not just a God, but He’s our Lord and Savior. We must utter today it’s all in Him and see the power of His presence manifested in our life.

A City Without Walls

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace, That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire (Nehemiah 1:1–3, KJV).

Background

The year is 446 BC and 90 years have transpired since the Nation of Israel has returned to Jerusalem from their captivity in Babylon. Before their captivity, Israel was in a state of complete disregard for God, so He sent the prophet Jeremiah among the people. Jeremiah prophesied captivity for the Jewish people for a period of 70 years (Jeremiah 25:11). But, Jeremiah prophesied at the end of the 70 years, the exiled families would be released, return to Jerusalem, and restore the temple and their worship to God (Jeremiah 29:10–14).

Israel was released in 536 BC after exactly 70 years of captivity by King Cyrus. The release of the people by King Cyrus was prophesied by Isaiah 2 centuries before Cyrus was even born (Isaiah 44:24–28). While the goal of the captivity was to abolish the culture of the Jewish people and to destroy their sense of self-worth, one positive thing came from the exile—polytheism was forever expelled from the Jewish mindset. Jehovah would be the only God they would serve (Deuteronomy 6:4).

Rebuilding the Temple

Ezra records the rebuilding of the temple, which took 20 years to complete. In 516 BC, the temple was rededicated. The forgiveness of the Jewish people was evident in their return to Jerusalem. The restored relationship with God is symbolized in the rebuilding of the temple. But, in all of this, there was still 1 thing missing. Jerusalem’s walls were broken down and the gates had been burned with fire (Nehemiah 1:3).

The city of Jerusalem was in ruin. The people were able to reestablish their worship, but unable to reestablish the rulership. They had a complete rebirth, but not a complete recovery. This story is a type of people who have a wonderful experience with God—they’re filled with the Holy Ghost and are momentarily “saved.” But, the struggles with the flesh don’t disappear overnight. And, the journey of a relationship with God is just beginning.

We must allow the Spirit of God to continually restore us; deliverance from a life of sin is a process. Salvation comes in a moment, but full restoration will take time. We must work to build up a spiritual walk with God that partakes in every day communion with Him. We all have “rubble” in our lives we need to eradicate and rebuild, and we sometimes get weary in our day-to-day life—we might need hope to keep us going. The Jewish people were getting a little run down in trying to rebuild the walls of the city and needed hope and encouragement. In this situation, hope came in the form of a man named Nehemiah.

Nehemiah

Nehemiah means consolation of God. When destruction is all around us, hope and consolation comes from the delivering Spirit of God. Our spiritual walk must be one of maturity; maturity will come as we continue to seek after God and allow the Holy Ghost to complete a work in our life. We must allow God, and His Spirit, to be the ruler over our life. We cannot walk after the fleshly desires and do what we think is right—the Spirit of God must lead and guild us (Romans 8:10–13).

In Genesis, with the fall of man, humans lost 1) our relationship with God and 2) rulership (authority) under God. In our pursuit of God and a relationship with Him, we must also seek to allow Him to be Lord over us while we’re on this earth even before we make it to Heaven!

Recovery of Rulership

Rulership is the recovery of self-control and personal identity. We cannot just be a believer, but a mature believer. We must be a city with walls! We have a life-long journey to repair what sin has done in our lives. Once we restore our temple (our relationship with God) we need to work on the walls (our behaviors) (Proverbs 25:28).

When we are filled with the Holy Ghost, we enter into a new dimension of responsibility. God has empowered us with characteristics He wants us to be and things He wants us to do. We need to work on us (inside and out) to strengthen and build up ourselves in God. We can’t stay the same!

There was a destroyed gate in Jerusalem symbolizing a lack of focus on government and ability to keep back the adversary. If we don’t watch our own gates, we’ll allow the enemy to come in and rule over our lives and have control over us. Without gates, Israel focused on God when they were inside of the temple, but once outside, their focus was not on God. The day-to-day life with God was missing. We need the rulership of God in our life every day—we need our gates!

Motivation to Rebuild

Our spirit and soul must be subject unto God in everything (Luke 1:46–47). The soul is comprised of 3 parts: 1) mind (intellect/thoughts), 2) emotions (temperament/feelings), and 3) will (choices/decisions). What motivates us is generated by the mind and our actions are carried out by our will. Humans will determine the direction and destiny of their life. In the process of salvation, our soul (will) will repent, the body is baptized, and the spirit is filled with the Holy Ghost. If the soul is dysfunctional/disobedient, the whole person is affected.

Broken walls will hinder the control of a city just as the soul can hinder the process of us being a child of God. We must immerse ourselves in God’s culture and in the process of becoming more spiritually mature. We must allow the Holy Ghost to change us—this is determined by our will! We must emulate the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23). Once we get that motivation in our soul to rebuild a relationship with God, we’ll see results. Nehemiah helped to rebuild the city in 52 days! Jerusalem was no longer just a place of a spiritual experience, but a city!

How to Build Walls

Everything comes down to 2 things: 1) prayer and 2) practice. In Nehemiah, in 13 chapters, Nehemiah prayed 17 different times. He didn’t do anything without praying first—to understand the work, he prayed; to get direction, he prayed; to ask for help, he prayed.

In one of Nehemiah’s prayers (Nehemiah 1:5–11), he praised and worshipped first, acknowledged sin, prayed God’s will, prayed for obedience to God’s will, and then asked for a specific need. The most important aspect of rebuilding walls is to go and do after our prayer time. We need to put our prayer into practice! If we ask for help, God will empower us to get the job done—to rebuild the walls of our city. Let’s get busy and start to rebuild any broken down walls and gates in our lives today!

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on March 8, 2017 with Pastor Nave

The Caterpillar that Crossed the Road

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful little caterpillar. This little caterpillar and his friends were hungry. So, the little caterpillar and his friends decided they were going to eat from the huckleberry bush across the road.

As the little caterpillar approached the road, he stopped, looked, and listened for cars before crossing the road. But, His friends didn’t stop, look, and listen and crawled out into the road. All of a sudden, the little caterpillars’ friends were squished by an oncoming car! They didn’t cross the road when it was safe.

Because the little caterpillar stopped, looked, and listened, he was still alive. When he determined it was safe to cross the road—after he stopped, looked, and listened—he continued on and soon arrived at the huckleberry bush.

The little caterpillar ate, and ate, and ate until he was really full! Because he ate so much, he became a little tired. He borrowed a web from a friendly spider, and spun himself into a cocoon. After time passed, the caterpillar woke up. He broke out of his little cocoon. To his surprise, he was no longer a caterpillar, but a beautiful butterfly! The little butterfly lived happily ever after.

This made-up story—with a great amount of detail, and storytelling enthusiasm left out—was often told to my sisters and me at bedtime by my Dad. It was strangely one of our favorites, and one I remember years later into adulthood.

It may seem like a strange, and albeit terrifying story to you, but it was effective in teaching my siblings and me the value of looking out before crossing the road. Back when children used to play outside, watching for oncoming traffic in the road during our daily playtime was a necessity. My parents wanted to make sure we were safe and didn’t get hurt.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6, KJV).

Scripture admonishes parents to teach their children the way they should live their life when they’re young. When their taught values, given instruction in the Word, and shown how they should live by example, they grow up living right.

You might think my Dad was a little terrifying with his story, but I learned to watch out when crossing the road. I still do all of those very things as an adult today as a driver and pedestrian—sometimes to the aggravation of my husband because I really take my time to stop, look, and listen!

The world may look at us like we’re a little weird for the methods we use to teach our children and the things we make them do. But, our goal in this life is to make sure our children understand the Word of God and help them hide it in their hearts. Once the Word, love for God, and desire to live for Him is instilled in our children, it will be a part of them for the rest of their lives.

We need to be diligent about training up our children today. We must take pride in it! Or, like my Dad, have a little fun. My Dad knows I know how to cross a street because I’m still alive today. It’s because even as an adult, I remember the story about the little caterpillar that crossed the road. And, I’ll never forget it.

A Lot for a Little

Sunday, March 5th, 2017

After the victory at Jericho, Israel faced a nasty defeat by the hand of the Amorites. Joshua went before the Lord to understand their failure. God revealed to Joshua a certain man had taken something and hidden it within the camp (Joshua 7:6–12). At the Lord’s bidding, Joshua brought Israel together to unveil this wicked deed. God whittled down the people by tribe, selected Judah, a specific clan, and then called Achan out specifically in their midst. Achan noted:

When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it (Joshua 7:21, KJV).

No matter how we’re blessed by God, there will always be a voice telling us we don’t have enough—that there’s something out in the world that will bring more satisfaction and comfort than the Lord can in our lives. This is a voice from hell. The devil will give us “half-truths,” revealing the good part but not what’s to come in the future. We must remember there is nothing in the world that will ever compare to what God can do for us.

We make bad trades in brief moments—something in the world instead of a blessing from God. Bad trades will not happen to us if we take the time to evaluate and think! Achan gave up the very promise and blessing from God for something temporary. He gave up houses he didn’t build, land he didn’t till, and wells he didn’t dig for a garment, silver, and gold.

Humans have a tendency to base our values, morals, and decisions in the context of our immediate surroundings. We cannot focus on what we don’t have instead of what we do or we will trade, and make decisions, the wrong way.

Achan wasn’t a habitual criminal, but in a moment, he got distracted and was persuaded something in the world was better. We cannot love the world (I John 2:15) or ourselves (II Timothy 3:2). God has called us out and away from the things in this life (the flesh) and to love Him (II Corinthians 6:17).

If we’re going to live the right way and make the right trades in life, we must live conservatively. We cannot trade our life in God for anything else; we must lay aside the weight of the world and live for God with everything within us (Hebrews 12:1). Making the right decision is something we must do today and not assume we will have time in the future to “fix” our mistakes (James 4:14).

When we refuse to lay hold on the treasures in heaven, but instead seek after this world, we will face destruction. Achan, his family, their possessions, and the stolen goods were taken to the Valley of Achor (Joshua 7:24). There, Achan, his family, and everything else was destroyed by fire. If we’re disobedient and don’t desire the things of God, we too will face eternal destruction by fire. Today, we must seek after God and not the world if we are going to inherit something more valuable—eternal life with Jesus.

What Will Your Epitaph Say?

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

Do you know anyone who’s spent a considerable amount of time deliberating what their epitaph should say? They consider their qualities, characteristics, accomplishments, and the like, and try to come up with a concise statement reflecting the former. This is quite a challenge, and there are folks out there determined to accept and complete it!

Moreover, there are people who leave their epitaph entirely up to chance. There’s a goofy quiz out on the internet which can “project” a person’s epitaph statement. A quiz with select outcomes, predetermined by random people doesn’t really seem like a legitimate way to identify this for many different reasons.

Overall, who really wants to leave their epitaph inscription for someone else to decide?

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end (Jeremiah 29:11, KJV).

We’ve got a lot of plans for our life; things we want to do, what we want to be, characteristics to emulate… But, there’s a big problem with this—our life is not our own. Scripture tells us we are God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:10), purchased us with His blood (I Corinthians 6:20), and He has a plan for what He’s bought and paid for!

In all honesty, God has a preset pathway He wants us to take in life. He wants us to abide by and follow His will. And, metaphorically speaking, He’s already got an epitaph written out for us (Ephesians 1:5)!

Sadly, many of us choose not to follow the etching on our future headstone. We want to follow our own inclinations, walk contrary to God, and customize our own epitaph because that’s what “the world” is doing.

We don’t want to be called out; we don’t want to always be separate. And, we don’t want to give up what’s not rightfully ours in the first place. Because of this, at the end of our lives, we ultimately wind up writing our own epitaph, but it’s not for the better.

God writes our epitaph knowing our latter will be greater than our past (Haggai 2:9). He fashions the inscription with preset characteristics in mind He wants us to follow all the days of our life (I John 2:6). He writes our epitaph so He can tell us at the end of our days:

…Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord (Matthew 25:21, KJV).

We should be fearful as to what our own epitaph would say if we wrote them ourselves, or better yet, gave leave to the world to take authorship. God’s our Creator, knows what right for us, and has all of what we don’t know already figured out for our lives. Let’s let Him be Lord over our life!

Today, we need to accept the epitaph God has already written for us, penned with His own hand. We should know with all assurance if we follow a lifestyle set by God, and we abide by the destined inscription, we’ll make Heaven our home.