Archive for July, 2017

It’s Your Party

Sunday, July 30th, 2017

Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper (Luke 14:16–24, KJV).

It’s All About the Party

Jesus told many different parables in Scripture; however, in this particular instance, He taught about a feast. And, to this parable, there was a purpose—to teach the believers there was a side of God we don’t normally think about. God has a portion of His Kingdom that’s all about rejoicing and celebrating. It’s all about a party.

God wants to bring His people to a place of rejoicing and celebration. God doesn’t care if we are lame, broken, or poor—He wants everyone at His party and wants His children to celebrate. If there is space, He will seek additional people to celebrate and rejoice in His house.

Plan to Party

In Scripture, God taught the Nation of Israel to plan times on the calendar to celebrate. They celebrated the time when God brought His people out of bondage in Egypt. They celebrated God’s harvest at Pentecost. And, they learned to celebrate in the bad times too. They knew there was always a reason to celebrate because God was the source of their joy. It’s not the circumstances that dictate our praise, but the Lord of Creation.

We don’t have to wait on someone else to celebrate. God has given us His Spirit—the Holy Ghost—to help us celebrate and rejoice everywhere we go. We will always have a reason to praise and worship Him (Zephaniah 3:17). We should always rejoice in the Lord (Philippians 4:4), and choose to worship Him.

How to Start Your Party

Some people don’t know where to start their celebration. Scripture tells us to enter into His gates with thanksgiving (Psalms 100:4). In order to get to the party, we have to walk through the front door. And, when we come in, we need to come in with praise. Our soul needs to cry out to Him!

There’s No Excuse to Party

We can’t give excuse as to why we can’t come to the party. In the parable, people said they were too busy working in their fields, trying out their oxen, and focused on their marriage (Luke 14:18–20). This was a lesson to us that there will be 3 things to get in our way to celebrate and praise the Lord: our home, possession, and relationships.

Jesus is painting a picture for His followers that a time will come when we need to choose what is important for us. Will we come into the presence of God and join the party? Let’s get ready to celebrate!

Sons of God

Thursday, July 27th, 2017

There are different kinds of “sons” mentioned in Scripture: son of the bondwoman, children of the wicked one, the Son of God (Jesus), etc. But, for this study, we’re going to focus on “sons of God.”

Adopted Sons

For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God (Romans 8:15–16, KJV).

Adopted sons of God are born of the Spirit. Adopted in this sense refers to a position and privilege we have in God. We’re not just small children, but adult sons, and therefore, sons of God. God has given us His Spirit so we have freedom from sin and a loving Father-son relationship with Him. He’s conferred His riches and benefits to us through this adoption process.

We’re redeemed at Calvary—bought with the blood of Jesus Christ—but our adoption comes at our own personal Pentecost (repentance, baptism in Jesus name, and the infilling of the Holy Ghost). It is God’s Spirit, alive in us, that cries out to our Father.

Intimate Relationship

Jesus used the same terminology when He cried “Abba, Father” as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane before His death (Mark 14:36). Calling God “Abba, Father” was not disrespectful, but renders His great affection for the Father. By calling God, “Abba, Father,” this denoted great familiarity—an intimate relationship with the Father. This is the same way a child would address his/her own earthly father by calling him Daddy.

Be Separate

We have a promise of sonship if we come out from the world and be separate; God will be a Father to us and we His sons and daughters (II Corinthians 6:16–17). Coming out from the world means we cannot have the world’s thinking, values, idolatrous worship, etc. in our lives. Many times we fall prey to translating our conception of our earthly father to our Heavenly Father. We cannot think the way the world does, but realize we have a much different relationship with God. We are admonished not only to view this relationship differently, but we act differently because of this relationship. Because we’ve been separated from the world, and consecrated to the Lord, we are to be like our Heavenly Father in every way (I John 3:1–3). God’s will must be worked in us daily, and we must let the light of Jesus shine through us in this darkened world (Philippians 2:10–16).

Grow Spiritually

We must learn to grow up in God. We’re His “sons” but we cannot stay in a child-like nature forever. While we must receive God’s ways and thoughts like a little child, we must “grow up” in Him (Matthew 18:2–4). We cannot be wise in ourselves (Romans 12:16), but seek out Godly wisdom and understanding. If we seek His wisdom, He will give unto us liberally (James 1:5). In our pursuit to grow spiritually and to glean heavenly wisdom and understanding, we must change our mindset from carnal to heavenly.

If we receive the Lord and seek Him, He will give us power to become sons of God (John 1:12). The word sons in this Scripture is teknon, which renders the understanding of a young child or son. We can know this to be our spiritual immaturity in Christ. However, as we grow in God, and we exercise our faith and belief in Him, we shouldn’t perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16). We must transition to a child son (teknon), to an adult/spiritually mature son (huios).

Jesus taught many things to His disciples and there was much they didn’t comprehend. But, the disciple’s understanding of Jesus’ teachings help us know we can’t read Scripture at the surface level, and we cannot have a surface-level relationship with God. Jesus told the disciples “In your patience possess ye your souls” (Luke 21:19, KJV). Jesus was teaching them that through a faithful pursuit of Jesus in this life, we will acquire blessings for eternity, and He will help us all the way through this life as a faithful Father would do for His son.

Seek Him

We must be careful in our spiritual walk that we don’t let our old life creep back in. Paul warned the church of Galatia not to let their old life and the old law of the world overtake them again (Galatians 4). When we allow God to truly become our Father, and we His sons, we must maintain that intimate relationship and pursuit of Him for the rest of our lives.

Abraham was the perfect example of this in Scripture. He was faithful to God, answered the call to be separate, and spent a lifetime of learning to trust in God. It wasn’t until later in his life when he was asked to sacrifice his son Isaac, did he truly know what it was like to walk in as a “son of God.” God brought Abraham to a place where he had to be patient, have a relationship with Him, dwell in the secret place with Him, and be tested in their father-son relationship.

If we ask, seek, or knock, God will answer, give, and open doors for us (Matthew 7:7). The Lord is going to give good gifts to His children if we desire and seek after Him (Matthew 7:11). If we trust in God and let everything unfold in Him, we’ll glean the revelation of our sonship in Him and the promises He has in store in our own lives.

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on July 26, 2017 with Guest Speaker, Brother Bruce Melder

On the Line

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017

It’s a wonder my parents are sane today when I consider the constant bickering that ensued in our household growing up. My sisters and I were at a constant state of war, and would have fought to the death if it hadn’t been for the intervention of my mother.

We all tried our utmost to infuriate the other by any means necessary, and a methodology—most used by my sisters, I might add—was in occupying the doorway of said sister’s room, taunting the room’s residee.

I’d shout, “Get out of my room.” To which, I’d always hear the response sung as a tantalizing jingle, “I’m not in your room, I’m on the line.” It was then I’d approach my room’s doorway, come face-to-face with one of my sisters, and abruptly shove (or punch) her into the hallway. I know that’s harsh, but if you mess with the bull, you’ll get the horns…

Don’t think I side-stepped any sort of landmine here because I was always relocated to the punishment zone shortly thereafter. But, outside of the reprimands, my sisters and I all learned a valuable lesson. If you choose to walk on the line, or on the border of danger, don’t be surprised if you get hurt—in more than one way.

Residing “on the line” isn’t a cautionary tale that’s relevant only to my childhood. It exists in the world today:

He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it; and whoso breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him (Ecclesiastes 10:8, KJV).

In our spiritual walk, God has erected “hedges” around us to keep us protected from the enemy. These hedges are comprised of His hand of protection, angels, and guidelines given for us to live by so we don’t succumb to danger. These guidelines are supplied in Scripture and through the words God speaks to us in prayer or via the men of God in our lives.

Sometimes, due to our human nature, we’re rebellious, and don’t want to stay inside the hedged (protected) area God has designed for us. We like to live right on the edge of God’s outline. Whether we realize it or not, we’re getting as far away from God’s directives and presence before breaking through to the other side. We’re in danger of not living for God and coming out from under the ark of safety.

There’s a problem here. When we choose to live for God on the fringe, on the hedge, or on the line, we’re going to get hurt. As this Scripture shows, serpents live in the hedge. If you start to trample into the hedge line and break into it—even just a little bit because your leaning that way—you’ll irritate the serpent living in the hedge, and he’ll get you.

Our adversary is looking for someone to devour (I Peter 5:8). He’s that old serpent that deceived Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Where do you think he’s living in this world? Close to God or far away?

Today, I think we all need to complete an inventory check and determine how many bites we have on our spiritual skin. Do we need to take a step—or more than a few steps—away from the hedge and back toward God. Let’s be sold out to living for Jesus in every area of our life. Let’s submit to His will and to His Word. It’s time to stop living on the line. If we do that, we’ll all suffer a few less snake bites.

The Danger and Destiny of Decisions

Sunday, July 23rd, 2017

I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them (Deuteronomy 30:19–20, KJV).

Life is all about making decisions. The decisions we make can be the right ones or the wrong ones. Moses admonished Israel before he departed to consider the decisions they made. God had set the people up for success and under great spiritual leadership, but in spite of everything, they still could make the wrong decisions. He told them a basic truth: choose God and live.

Our poor decisions can impact us down the road—it may not be immediate, but there are long-term consequences. The decisions we make today can determine where we spend eternity. Right decisions are not always the cheapest, easiest, quickest, or the most comfortable. Most of the time, they can be expensive, hard, long, and uncomfortable.

We find a story about making decisions in Scripture about the young king, Rehoboam. His father had ruled the people harshly, but they wanted to know how he would rule (I Kings 12:3–4). We learn early on that we are all in control of the choices we make. Before we make decisions, we need to take time. Rehoboam set a good example by asking for 3 days (I Kings 12:5). We need to pray and ask the Lord to help us make our decisions. Don’t be hasty, but consider the cost (Proverbs 18:13).

We make the right decisions when we seek advice. God has placed leadership in our lives to give us knowledge and wisdom. When we don’t know what decision to make we need to seek them out! Paul said to follow Him as he followed Christ (I Corinthians 11:1).

The key to seeking an answer is to listen to the right advice we’re given—not the advice that matches what we “think” we should do. Rehoboam’s elders gave him the right advice (I Kings 12:7) but he sought out the inexperienced young men as well (I Kings 12:10). From their advice, he decided to be cruel and harsh to the people. The end result? The kingdom was divided and he lost everything. Remember, every voice is not the counsel of God.

We all have a direction to follow in this life. Our direction will determine our destination. God knows the plans He has for us (Jeremiah 29:11) and we need to follow that direct He’s set. We may not know where we’re headed, but we need to look to the things above (Colossians 3:2) and to the One who is the Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).

Testing Times

Thursday, July 20th, 2017

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ (I Peter 1:3–7, KJV).

What are Trials?

Trials can be defined in many ways, but it all boils down to 1 point—trials are challenges we face in this life. Paul defines a trial as anything tested, needing to be proved with set criterion, or time of proving our faith. The question that should be answered through our trials is, “Do I really believe God is going to come through in this situation?”

Who’s Responsible for Our Trials?

We deem the responsible party of our trials to be the fault of devil, other people, and circumstances. But, we don’t realize it is God Himself who allows us to be tested (Proverbs 17:3), and He is the One testing us more than these other so-called factors.

Why are We Tested?

So, why does God test us? James tells us trials are to strengthen us and to grow our stability in Christ. Trials will help us develop a greater spiritual walk with God—they aren’t just bad occurrences in life! Trials develop “spiritual endurance,” so at the outcome, we can be perfect and complete, needing nothing (James 1:1–4). We must remember there are benefits we’ll receive out of God trying our faith we won’t get anywhere else in life.

God tests us for many different reasons, several of which are overviewed below.

In Order to Slow Us Down and Keep Us Spiritually Safe

Paul talked about a thorn he had in his flesh (II Corinthians 12:7). It was bad enough he ascribed it to being “hell” or “Satan” manifested in his life. But, the reason it was there was to slow him down a little bit—to act like a governor so-to-speak. The thorn was put there by God to establish boundaries in his life. Boundaries God sets in our lives are only as safe as we allow them to be.

God puts many boundaries or “governors” in our lives. He places a man of God over us to watch out for our souls, and we’re required to submit to our spiritual authorities (I Peter 5:5–6Hebrews 13:17). God tests us to see how we submit and react when we’re told, “No.”

In Order to Increase What We Know About God

Testing is about learning something we don’t already understand. God tests us so we can learn more about Him (Titus 2:11–12). The Holy Ghost (God’s Spirit) desires to reveal deep things to us. We will never fully understand God, but He wants to take us on a journey of discovery in Him and of His Word so we can test it and prove it in our lives. We should always love the instruction the Lord wants to give us, even if those come through the form of trials (Proverbs 12:1). God could always be preparing us for a time in the future when we’ll need to know have the knowledge we only could have gleaned from a present trial.

In Order for Us to Grow Stronger in Our Spiritual Walk

Paul’s thorn in the flesh was something he eventually accepted. He learned a valuable lesson from his trial—it was to strengthen him. Paul noted his strength would be made perfect in weakness; God’s grace alone was sufficient for him (II Corinthians 12:8–10). We must endure trials so we can grow spiritually stronger in Christ. We can’t achieve strength through worship—strength comes through hardship and testing.

The church today is very focused on “pain” instead of the true purpose of our tests. Paul adjured the church to stop complaining about what they were going through. What they were experiencing wasn’t “pain.” And, their pain-focus was causing them to miss the lesson God was trying to teach them (Hebrews 12:1–4).

Sometimes the “pain” we think we feel is the automatic response system God’s placed in our lives to know when to stop. What we’re doing could be hurting us. But, at other times, God is trying to tear us down so that He can build us back up. And, the new development in us will make us better than we were before (Hebrews 12:5–13).

In Order for God’s Glory to be Shown in Our Lives

Some tests and trials we’ll experience in life will be for the sole purpose of giving God glory. In Scripture, when the man born blind was healed, everyone wanted to know who sinned to cause the blindness. Jesus said that no one had sinned, but that “the works of God should be made manifest in him” (John 9:3, KJV). We must ask ourselves if we’re willing to go through a trial so God can get the glory from it.

Anything we experience in this life isn’t even compared to the glory of God that will be revealed in us (Romans 8:18). If we want His glory to come forth, it’s going to carry some weight with it! We must realize trials are only temporary. There is a greater reward on the other end of our trial we can’t even comprehend in this life (II Corinthians 4:17).

In Order to Go

Paul wrote a personal letter to a man named Philemon in Scriptures about his runaway slave, Onesimus. Paul told him in times past Onesimus wasn’t useful to him, but now was changed since his conversion in Jesus Christ (Philemon 1:10–11). If this test had never happened, Onesimus would never be what he was going to be in God, and neither would Philemon.

God is trying us so He can develop us into something to be used in His Kingdom. If He doesn’t test us, we won’t be able to accomplish what He has in store for us to do. When we think about Paul, he wouldn’t be the greatest Apostle ever to walk the earth if he didn’t experience what he did. Testing isn’t easy, but it is a necessary time in everyone’s life.

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on July 20, 2017 with Pastor Nave

Are the Rocks Crying Out?

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

The other day when I was in a time of prayer with the Lord, a spirit of worship came over me. I normally worship and praise the Lord at various times throughout my prayer session, but this was a stronger urgency, one I have felt many times.

My weeping and praise was a bit loud, but I was impressed by the Spirit to grow louder still. In a moment of such boisterous praise to the Lord, I mentally pondered what my neighbors would think if they came too close to my house. The sound of my shouting and crying would assuredly alarm any passersby.

However, my heart became saddened at the thought. Such loud praise to the Lord isn’t common in all of our circles—in fact, some of you reading this very post may be thinking I’ve very well lost my mind. I know a lot of you worship and praise the Lord, but do you all do it loudly? If you don’t, why not?

I wondered for a while why I felt such urgency impressed upon my spirit, and later the Lord revealed an alarming truth to me:

And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out (Luke 19:37–40, KJV, emphasis added).

Jesus told the Pharisees if people didn’t praise Him, the rocks would cry out. I’d even argue that Jesus said if people neglected to praise Him loudly, the stones would. Peace in this Scripture setting is the Greek word siópaó, which means quiet. I’m reading into an implied truth here, but could this mean if we don’t praise God in a higher decibel, nature will do it for us?

I began to think about the various natural disasters I’ve read and heard about in the past few years, and some even very recently. Nature seems to be in turmoil rendering an onslaught of volcanic eruptions, landslides, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, and the like. Not one of these manifestations is quiet—they’re all loud and obnoxious by human standards.

I realize we’re told in the last days we’d see an increase in natural disasters (Matthew 24:17), but I believe the Lord opened my eyes to a critical concern. Could it be that the rocks—nature—is crying out loudly in the only way it knows how, in worship to the King of kings because humans aren’t doing it? Is what we perceive to be a terrible, frightening noise, actually nature singing beautiful praises to the Lord of glory?

If humans actually did what we were created and admonished to do, the world (i.e., nature) just might be a little more peaceful. If we worshipped and praised the Lord loudly, nothing else would need to do it in our place. Even the very dust could keep quiet (Psalms 30:9) if we were loud in our praise!

A call for loud worship has already gone out to the people of God from Jesus Himself. Are we ready to fulfill our calling, or let a rock cry out in our place? I’m going to be loud. How about you?

Stop the Slumber

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

My husband and dad are nappers. It doesn’t matter where they are; they can take a nap—and this includes being seated in the upright position.

I become fearful the times I catch a glimpse my spouse or father falling asleep out of the corner of my eye. The head nod is the telltale sign, followed by the relinquished control of the head onto the chest or shoulders. My mom and I always croon to our husbands, “You’re going to snap your neck.”

As worried as I am at the onset of napping, in the case of my loved ones, I’m soon laughing hysterically as I watch them wake themselves up, or slightly injure themselves falling asleep. Hey, don’t judge me. If you nap sitting up, that’s a risk you’re willing to take, and you give license to anyone around you to make fun of you when something goes wrong.

In reality, these men sleeping with a crooked neck is the least of their problems. Worst case scenario is the forward propulsion of their bodies out of the seated position, away from their secured napping stance. (And, I’ve never seen this happen by the way.) This my friend, is no laughing matter, as was the case in Scripture:

And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight…And a young man named Eutychus, sitting at the window, sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer. And being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead (Acts 20:7, 9, KJV).

What we have here is the case of a young man, who fell asleep sitting in a window listening to Paul preach at midnight. Due to his seated position, at the onset of slumber, he propelled out the window to his death, three stories below. Paul raised him up, but the moral of the story—watch where you sleep!

Joking aside, what’s different here in Scripture is this young man didn’t choose to take a nap. (All you nappers out there can relax a little bit—I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with sleeping). The verb utilized here in the Greek signifies how the man was borne down, or overpowered with sleep. Due to the late hour, or maybe even the subject matter, the natural body became weary and sleep overtook him. He couldn’t resist it any longer.

We don’t know any more detail than what’s provided here in Scripture, but we can read between the lines and learn a few valuable lessons. Eutychus’ body was tired—we get it—but it overcame him with sleep. In our spiritual walk, our natural man (our flesh) has its own agenda and way of operating. But, we must resist the flesh! God sends His Spirit (the Comforter) unto us so we can overcome the things of the flesh (Galatians 5:17); He gives us power!

I don’t know if Eutychus was bored with Paul’s teachings, but this could be a warning sign to all of us. We can’t get too comfortable in our flesh (the natural), that we don’t hunger after the things of God (the supernatural). Church should never be boring to the believer—it should be the most exciting thing we do all week! And, if we have the Spirit of God alive in us, we won’t ever be tired of the Word—the Spirit never sleeps! The Holy Ghost will give us a continual hunger to fellowship with God, and we’ll never grow tired or weary in His presence.

Let’s be careful we don’t fall into a worldly slumber. If we “nap” at the inopportune moment, and find ourselves falling to our deaths like Eutychus, there won’t always be someone like Paul—full of the Holy Ghost and working on the Lord’s side—to wake us up.

Triumph has a Voice

Sunday, July 9th, 2017

O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph. For the LORD most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth. He shall subdue the people under us, and the nations under our feet. He shall choose our inheritance for us, the excellency of Jacob whom he loved. Selah. God is gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet (Psalms 47:1–5, KJV).

A Voice to Future Victory

Scripture admonishes God’s people to clap their hands and shout unto God. But, our shout isn’t just any shout—it’s one of triumph. Sports fans all across the globe act without regard to the concern of onlooker’s eyes. Their only purpose is to cry victoriously over the future actions of their favorite teams. While these fans may act strangely, they are actually following after a similar command given to us in Scripture. We don’t shout with triumph only over what God has already done in our lives, but over what He’s going to do! We need to shout with an anticipating cry of victory knowing nothing is impossible to God.

A Voice to Salvation

In the Bible, the Nation of Israel celebrated the year of Jubilee every 50 years. It was a celebration brought in with the sound of the trumpet, and the people were released from their debts. This was the precursor celebration to Pentecost (the 50th day after the Passover). It was on the Passover when the church was established in an upper room.

The sound the believers heard in the room was as a rushing, mighty wind. God’s Spirit poured into 120 believers, and a sound came out of each one. They all spoke with tongues as the Spirit gave the utterance (Acts 2:1–4). With the sound that went up that day, it was the triumph celebration of victory over death from sin.

Triumph has a sound—winning doesn’t have a sound of silence. We need to break the silence in our lives and let the enemy know we’re not losers. If we don’t praise out loud, the enemy won’t know he doesn’t have a hold over us. The devil doesn’t know our thoughts—so we have to proclaim victory out loud!

A Voice to the True God

Jesus spoke to a man named Nicodemus and explained the way of salvation. Jesus told him that a man needed to be born by water and Spirit to enter the Kingdom of God (John 3:5). However, Jesus continued to explain how the Spirit of God could be understood. He described how the wind blows and we hear it, we feel it, and see what it effects. This is how we know how God is real and how His Spirit is alive and working—we feel it moving on us, we hear it, and see the effects of it. The same is true of those who have been born of the Spirit (John 3:8).

True Triumph

It’s time for all of us to let our voices out to today. It’s times to claim victory over some things in our lives. The devil needs to know that we don’t believe we’re going to fail, that we’re going to give up, or that we’re going to turn our backs on God. It’s time to cry out in victory; time to praise the Lord for our future miracle. It’s time to shout with a voice of triumph!

Running with the Ringleaders

Wednesday, July 5th, 2017

When I was a child I got myself into a lot of trouble, but I rarely exercised my wayward wiles solo. My younger sister was frequently my partner in crime. I led by example (and sometimes threatened), but we led a lucrative crime wave: the idiot and the lame.

If there was mayhem to be found, I was the one responsible—I was a ringleader of sorts. If my sister was caught, my parents sought out the (un)mastermind behind the operation. I always thought the ringleader was a cool person until I found myself grounded, face-first in a corner, or with the inability to sit down…

Due to my dabbling as a former ringleader, this is probably why I laughed aloud when I read the following Scripture about Paul the other day:

For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes (Acts 24:5, KJV).

Can you believe Tertullus called Paul (the greatest Apostle who ever walked the earth) a troublemaker and a ringleader of a cult? Just in case you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a ringleader, Merriam-Webster defines it as a person who is a leader of a group that causes trouble or is involved in an illegal activity. And, I find it even funnier than Merriam-Webster believes the first use of the term ringleader was used circa 1503. Apparently they never read the Bible…

Because God never does anything by accident, I believe there’s a reason why Paul was described as a ringleader. The word prótostatés, used only once in Scripture, means leader—someone who stands in the front, a soldier, a chief/captain, and a champion.

Tertullus viewed Paul as a menace to society; someone who instigated dissention among the people and throughout the world. A ringleader by Tertullus’ (and the world’s) definition, was someone who was up to no good.

In reality, all Paul had done was visited the temple to complete a purification ceremony and was never in the presence of (and/or caused) a riot (Acts 24:12). But, Paul took the opportunity then and there to fully adopt this ringleader label. He told his accusers he followed the way they defined as cultish and was in fact their chief ringleader (Acts 24:14). Paul told everyone he worshipped the God of their ancestors—Jesus Christ.

In a manner of speaking, Paul told all he was going to publicize Jesus’ name and the importance of living for Him everywhere he went. And, Paul would gladly be called a ringleader for Jesus.

While I’ve grown up and put aside most of my childhood schemes, I don’t think I’ve ever let go of my ringleader tendencies. Ironically, like Paul, when I started living for Jesus, I was accused by some of being “brainwashed” and a member of a cult. When I started witnessing to others about Jesus and His Word, I was definitely told I was stirring up trouble. But, regardless of what the world thinks, and what others have said to me, I still am pushing forward as a ringleader for Jesus—spreading the Gospel message everywhere I can. And, the term ringleader, isn’t so bad in my book anymore.

Scripture tells us we’ll be hated of men when we serve the Lord (Matthew 10:22). If someone wants to call you a ringleader, just remember you’re in league with the running of Paul, and others like Him. I challenge you to be a leader, and a champion for Jesus. Go into all the world and preach the Gospel!