Archive for August, 2019

An Eel About Your Feet

Wednesday, August 28th, 2019

Earlier this year, I took a trip down to the Caribbean. Each morning—English muffin in hand—I’d stroll down the beach, wade thigh-deep into the clear waters, and feed the reef fish. It was wonderful to see aquatic life of all shapes, sizes, and colors. Fish would scatter around my body, flitting to the surface to grab a quick bite of muffin.

It wasn’t uncommon for these fish to leap toward my fingers or brush up against me. Therefore, I wasn’t alarmed or agitated by the movement or constant physical contact I experienced whilst in the water. It’s difficult to be troubled when you can see straight through the crystal turquoise waters in a tropical paradise!

The day I felt a rather large and lengthier contact on my ankle, I wasn’t jolted. I was gazing off, watching the fish dart around in the water. I found it strangely therapeutic. But, after a while, I was driven to glimpse into the water toward my feet because something (what I had assumed was a piece of seaweed) hadn’t moved from my lower appendages. That’s when I saw a ringed snake eel woven about my feet.

I hadn’t really been moving my legs at that point, but my entire body went rigid. I rapidly sucked in the last breath I’d have for minutes and thought, “What do I do? What is that thing? Is it dangerous?” I was then fully aware that I was alone in the water; no one was around at that time in the morning.

Panic, fear, hysteria, and feelings of helplessness started to creep into my spirit in a matter of seconds. I cannot describe the wave of mental, spiritual, and emotional attacks that manifested at an incredible pace. But, as swiftly as they came, something else quickened in me—the Spirit of God.

I’d been in God’s presence early that morning and His presence was still with me. The Holy Ghost had already made intercession in prayer for the needs I would have that day (Romans 8:26). Immediately, an incredible peace washed over me, relaxing my mind and body. I slowly exhaled the air I held in my lungs and began to breathe naturally. Strength came, and the Word of God rose in my heart (Psalm 119:11) giving me the ability to combat the fiery darts of the enemy. A smile crested to my face as I ironically thought, how often do we get an opportunity to literally put Luke 10:19 into practice?

In our life, it’s easy to fall off the mountain top into the gorging valley in a matter of moments. That’s just life; it’s full of ups and downs. However, with the first sign of trouble, we allow our minds to jump to the worst-case scenario. But, why? We forget that we have God on our side!

And I will make all My mountains a roadway, And My highways will be raised…Shout for joy, O heavens, and rejoice, O earth, And break forth into singing, O mountains! For the LORD has comforted His people And will have compassion on His afflicted (Isaiah 49:11, 13, AMP).

God can immediately move a potential bad situation into a good one, if we acknowledge Him and give Him room to work. But, we can’t do this unless His Spirit aids us, and we choose to command every thought to obey Him and His Word (II Corinthians 10:4–5).

After my thoughts were redirected and the Holy Spirit began to work in me, I watched as God intervened. The eel slowly unwound itself from my feet and slithered away into deeper waters. Praising the Lord, I slowly edged my way back to land. I was done feeding the fish for the day…

God will make a way where there doesn’t seem to be a way and He’ll never leave or forsake us. He will perform a miracle and have compassion on us. The next time you have an “eel” about your feet, or are stuck momentarily in a valley, remember God will elevate you and cast that serpent off so you can live.

The Unstoppable in the Uncomfortable

Sunday, August 25th, 2019

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Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him…While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word (Acts 10:34–35, 44, KJV).

His Image

Wednesday, August 21st, 2019

Conformed to His Image

God had a plan to restore man after the fall in the Garden. Jesus Christ came to show us His image and model to follow to lead us to salvation. He taught us there are 2 key parts to our salvation: the gate (the new birth) and the way (Matthew 7:13–14). This is the way to regeneration (transformation) where we’re conformed to the image of Christ. Our end goal is to reach to His likeness (Psalms 17:15); we’re called to be conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). Conformed means to “be like,” “measure up to,” or “be similar in form or type.

Enemies and Trials Against Conforming to God’s Image

Anything that is good is going to take work. For us to be considered “good” in God’s eyes, we must strive in working to please God. We will need to endure trials and temptations to be conformed to the good image of Christ. We have 3 enemies that will come against us in our plight: the flesh, the world, and the devil. Each of these enemies will present specific trials for us to endure.

Trials of the Flesh

There are 3 trials that come from the flesh. These trials test us in trusting God, waiting on God, and believing what God promises. Trusting in God to move in our situation is difficult. But, we must know the only one we can trust in our lives, situation, and future is God. In addition to trusting in God, we need to wait for God to move and open up the right doors. We may walk an entirely different pathway than what we expect, but God will lead and guide us to reach our ultimate destination. Lastly, when God tells us a promise, we must believe He will fulfill it in our lives.

Trials of the World

There are 3 trials that come from the world. These trials test us in obedience to God, betraying God, and praying to God. The world tries to get us to disobey the Word of God, and convince us that being faithful will be a hindrance to us. But, we will find being obedient to God will benefit our minds, bodies, souls, and spirits. We cannot give into the world system! In addition, we must be careful we don’t go back on vows and commitments we’ve made to God and His Word. Lastly, we must remember to be faithful in praying to God. No matter what happens to us, we cannot forsake our prayer life.

Trials from Satan

There are 3 trials that come from Satan. These trials determine if we will live by God’s Word, if we will allow the devil to twist God’s Word, and if we’ll keep God’s Word higher priority in our life than material things. We have a ministry to live by God’s Word everywhere that we go. We cannot let Satan try to snuff out our passion and ferverency to live for God. In addition, we must watch to ensure the devil doesn’t misuse the Word of God against us. We need to know truth and discern when the devil is trying to deceive us. Lastly, we need to place priority on the right things in this life: God’s Word over everything else. We need to buy the truth and sell it not. There is more worth to conforming to God’s image than anything money could ever buy.

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on August 21, 2019 with Guest Teacher Pastor Melder

Don’t Stop

Wednesday, August 21st, 2019

When I was a college student, the Lord blessed me with an amazing internship at a University Publication’s Unit. It was incredible to glean first-hand experience with a legitimate business. What I had only learned about in books became very tangible. Hands-on experience is paramount to learning.

At first, I was overly eager to accomplish any task. I completed every assignment with the ultimate enthusiasm and vigor. It didn’t matter if I was licking envelopes, running documentation to the printer, editing a book, or organizing the supply cabinet—I was engaged and highly focused.

But, after six months, I started to become a little stir crazy; I desired more variety in my duties. After days of manually scanning pages, I’d long desperately to edit a book just to do something different than the task at hand. But, when assigned to edit a 500-page book following my page-scanning, I’d soon crave something new, as it felt like I was drowning in pages of printed words. I wanted something different.

One could argue that it’s okay to want a little variety in our day, ministry, or overall life. However, we should be cautious of the drive behind our want for change. Are we distracted? Are we discontent? Are we being disobedient to complete our current directive?

And he said, Open the window eastward. And he opened it. Then Elisha said, Shoot. And he shot. And he said, The arrow of the LORD’S deliverance, and the arrow of deliverance from Syria: for thou shalt smite the Syrians in Aphek, till thou have consumed them. And he said, Take the arrows. And he took them. And he said unto the king of Israel, Smite upon the ground. And he smote thrice, and stayed. And the man of God was wroth with him, and said, Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times; then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed it: whereas now thou shalt smite Syria but thrice (II Kings 13:17–19, KJV).

Joash, the king of Israel came to the prophet Elisha for help. He was being attacked by the Syrians and wanted the Lord’s help. In a faith demonstration, Elisha directed Joash to hit the ground with arrows. But, it’s here we read where Joash and I fell into the same mentality.

Joash threw his entire might into the first strike. He probably did the same with the second thrust. But, somewhere between the second and third arrow strike, Joash lost focus. He started thinking about other things. He started to wonder how long he must strike the ground with the arrows. He pondered about the significance of striking the arrows on the ground. And, after the third crack, he stopped.

At my internship, I never stopped working, but if I had given into distraction or discontentment enough, I probably would have. Several other interns succumbed to this and actually stopped. They got bored, became unfocused, and dropped out. The same thing happened to Joash. He became uninterested and stopped hitting the arrows on the ground. Because of this, he limited his victory over the enemy.

When God gives us a directive in His Kingdom, we’re initially eager to work, but as time goes by we get a little unsettled. We look at what someone else is doing and want to leave our plow and try digging in another field. But, we can’t get distracted, we can’t get discontented, we can’t lose hope, we can’t stop smiting the ground.

If God’s given us a task, we need to continue to do it until He tells us to stop and do it with the same passion and fervency we did on day one. Even if He never gives us another task we need to keep working. We can’t let go and leave a gap. We can’t miss out on the blessing in store at the end. For me, the longer I stuck with my internship the more interesting and challenging it became. Opportunities were opened to me because I persevered, because I redirected my focus, and because I was faithful.

God, help us redirect our focus today and be obedient to You. Help us be content with the work You’ve given us to complete. We’re thankful we can be a vessel in Your Kingdom and that You’ll give us the strength to continue. Help us to keep going and keep hitting our target over and over until You come.

The High Road

Sunday, August 18th, 2019

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Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes. And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there (Isaiah 35:3–9, KJV).

The Matter of Decisions

We all make decisions; they’re made in a moment but we walk along their pathway for the rest of our lives. We need to have a system of principles in place to help us make decisions instead of making decisions on how we feel. Remember, when Jesus is involved in our decisions, the end results always turn out right. Eternity will be impacted by our decisions in life; therefore, each decision we make needs to have eternity in view.

The Highway

Isaiah said a highway shall we created called “the way of holiness.” This highway can be interpreted as the “high road,” which is the best way. The prophet describes this road we must live by.

The Best Road of Any Road

When God establishes His road, the blind eyes are open, the lame walk, streams start flowing, etc. If we allow this road to come into our lives, it will make everything come alive. It truly is the best road we can walk upon in this life. This road begins with being honest and telling the truth with ourselves and with God (Proverbs 12:22; Ephesians 4:25). The road ends by taking us out of conflict and will helps us not do wrong in our lives.

Evil Won’t Walk There

The unclean will not pass over the high road. In our lives, there are some that won’t go all the way with us. Some will gather in the crowd, but they will never move toward the core; they don’t truly know Jesus (Matthew 7:22). We need to walk in the middle of the road, and we can’t be pulled into the world. If someone’s pulling us down, they’re already beneath us and not on the right road (Galatians 5:1). We must be conformed to the image of Christ and stay on the high road.

Predators Aren’t Allowed on the Road

Isaiah tells the church lions and ravenous beasts won’t be on God’s road. If we travel on this road, there is a protection God calls over our life. Our adversary is like a roaring lion who’s trying to devour God’s children (I Peter 5:8). But, he can’t get to us because the Lord encamps around us on the road (Psalms 34:7). If we stay on the road, and are obedient to the Lord, He will rebuke the devourer (Malachi 3:11) and protect us from diseases (Psalms 103:3). Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world (I John 4:4).

It’s His Road

The road is a prophecy of the Messiah. It noted what would happen in this world when Jesus came. God tells us to be holy because He is holy (I Peter 1:16). When we walk on this road, we must remember we walk His road. If we don’t want to walk the road, we’re dealing with pride in our lives (self-serving or self-preserving). We must determine where we’re at spiritually before we can walk on the road. God is strengthening our hands today so we can come before Him and ask for His help to walk on His road.

Find Another Gate

Wednesday, August 14th, 2019

Our family has grown so much in the last 10 years that we gave up trying to sit at the same dinner table a long time ago. Instead, we dine in various locations throughout the house, and because of this, it’s necessary to have a centralized location for everyone to fill their plates: the kitchen peninsula.

With dozens of people getting plates from different rooms and heading into the kitchen at the same time, there’s potential for a serious traffic jam. Therefore, I ordained an official traffic flow to the buffet to avoid any bottlenecks. Diners are required to enter the kitchen via one route and exit via another.

I’m always on traffic-duty at the beginning of dinner. Why? Because as simple as it seems, some people always forget how to navigate in and out of the kitchen via the established traffic route. Is it a big deal? Yes. Food-related accidents are treacherous. I’ve seen some close-calls in my day when relatives try to enter the kitchen via the exit route, almost dropping plates and/or spilling drinks. But in 10 years of service, we’ve had zero casualties on my watch. It’s very important not to return the way you came.

But when the people of the land shall come before the LORD in the solemn feasts, he that entereth in by the way of the north gate to worship shall go out by the way of the south gate; and he that entereth by the way of the south gate shall go forth by the way of the north gate: he shall not return by the way of the gate whereby he came in, but shall go forth over against it (Ezekiel 46:9, KJV).

You might think my enforced mealtime traffic route is a bit excessive, but it’s a Scriptural principle. In the Old Testament, when God’s people came to the temple to observe appointed feasts, there was an ordained traffic flow. If you came in one way, you left through another doorway.

The obvious reason for this edict is common sense (this clarification is mainly for certain family members reading this post). You shouldn’t try to squeeze out the same doorway other people are coming in. Duh! But, in all seriousness, the traffic pattern had a spiritual significance as well.

My main reason for conducting meal-time traffic is to make sure people don’t create a mess by spilling food all over the floor (or each other). Who wants to slop food or liquid and then have others trek it all over the house? God wasn’t necessarily concerned about His people spilling food, but He wanted them to avoid another, albeit more critical mess—their sin.

When we come to God’s house to worship and commune with Him, we shouldn’t leave the same way. We should seek a transformation, to become new creatures in Christ. Thus, we don’t leave by the same spiritual doorway and return to our former sinful ways—language, thoughts, and actions that don’t please God. Instead, we choose an exit that leads to abundant life!

If we go out the same (old) doorway, we return to our former uncleanliness, which is a terrible mess God has given us the power to avoid. If we choose to return to the old, via the same doorway, we can easily knock into, delay, or dirty someone else in the process. Like spilled food, our sin has the same potential of spreading and no one is leaving that encounter stain-free.

Abiding by the “rules of the road” when it comes to entering and exiting our worship (feasts) with God may seem unnecessary, but in reality, is quite significant. God has put them in place for a reason because it’s eternally important that we enter one way and leave another. We need to leave changed after being in God’s presence and feasting at His table. The next time you come and dine, take a different pathway out of His kitchen.

Learning How to Appreciate Correction

Wednesday, August 7th, 2019

Positive Correction

Criticism is a hypersensitive subject in our world, even in the Body of Christ. Correction is all about God trying to turn us toward Him; therefore, His correction is a positive thing (Psalms 94:12). Correction isn’t pleasant, but it is necessary and helpful to us. All discipline seems painful, but later yields good fruit (peace and righteousness) in our life (Hebrews 12:11–13). We need to respond to God’s correction with the right attitude (and spirit) so we reap the benefits of godly correction.

We learn to appreciate correction when we realize it comes from God; it doesn’t come from people, pressures, or other entities. Don’t despise correction because God loves who He corrects (Proverbs 3:11–12). God’s motive to correct us is His love and delight for us. When God corrects us, this reaffirms our family connection; He deals with us as His sons and daughters (Hebrews 12:7). Ultimately, God is trying bring profit into our lives.

How God Corrects Us

There are many ways by which God corrects us. The first way God corrects us is by His Spirit in us. The Spirit (Holy Ghost) helps us to deny worldly lusts and live according to godly characteristics (Titus 2:11–14). God also corrects us by His Word to us. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, for correction, and instruction in righteousness so we may be complete (perfect) (II Timothy 3:16–17). Doctrine is what is right, reproof is what is not right, correction is how to get right, and instruction in righteousness is how to stay right. Lastly, God corrects by His leaders for us. He gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers to perfect and edify the church (Ephesians 4:11–13). Leaders will bring the church into complete unity and to make us more like Him.

How to Appreciate Correction

We can appreciate correction when we realize it gets us to where we need to go. We’re all on a spiritual journey and we need God’s correction to keep us on the right path (Proverbs 29:18). A lack of correction will always lead to a surplus of confusion and make us lose our way. We can learn to appreciate His correction when we realize it get us to our destination, and helps with an arrival time that’s sometimes quicker than we could ever expect. God’s correction can also be there to help protect us. Correction is many times needed, but we have a tendency to avoid it and instead ask for deliverance. The key to learning how to appreciate correction is having a correct response from our heart (Proverbs 15:10). Correction is truly a heart issue.

How to Learn to Take Correction

We learn to take correction for our body. We need to possess our vessel in sanctification and honor (I Thessalonians 4:4). Also, we need to learn to take correction for our minds. Scripture admonishes us to think and dwell on the good things (Philippians 4:8). Lastly, we need to learn to take correction in our spirit. We do this by keeping God’s commandments (I John 2:3–4).

Why People Can’t Take Correction

There are 3 main reasons why people don’t take spiritual correction in their life (Proverbs 1:22). People don’t take correction because they’re ignorant, negligence, and rebellious. The simple can’t be corrected because they choose not to know what’s right (Proverbs 14:18). The fool knows what’s right but he doesn’t care (Proverbs 1:7). The scorner thinks he’s right (Proverbs 15:12). Regardless of the issue, there is one root cause: pride. If we can’t take correction, we ultimately have a humility issue.

The right heart response to correction is the example set by David. God sent him a leader who explained how David had sinned. David could have put the prophet Nathan to death, but instead, he choose to repent (Psalms 51:1–3). Firstly, he acknowledged his sin and then asked for God to create in him a clean heart and renew a right spirit within him (Psalms 51:10). We, like David, need confession and restoration in our life.

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on August 7, 2019 with Pastor Nave

Just Say Yes

Wednesday, August 7th, 2019

I’ve seen my fair share of doctor’s offices. Each time I visit, it’s mind-boggling to me that I spend 10 minutes with the nurse recalling every detail of my health history, symptoms, meals I ate last month, etc. Then the doctor asks me the gambit of questions all over again. I’m also flabbergasted with some of the inquiries, as the answer couldn’t be any more obvious. You could be bleeding from both ears, and they’ll look at you and ask, “So, what seems to be the problem?”

I’m sure there’s a valid reason for why they ask all these questions. But when I don’t feel well, I sure get agitated when I’m asked the same questions more than once. Interestingly, of all the questions I’ve been asked with plainly, obvious answers (at least to me), I’ve never once been asked, “Do you want to get well.” Realistically, isn’t that an important one? Or, do people show up at the doctor’s office, hospital, etc. with absolutely no intention of getting better?

When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole (John 5:6, KJV, emphasis added).

In Jerusalem, Jesus arrived at the Bethesda pool. All kinds of infirm people were strewn about because once a year an angel of the Lord would come down and stir the waters. The first one who took the plunge would receive instant healing. It’s obvious that those who were still around hadn’t been healed.

Jesus approaches one man, sick for 38 years. He asks him one, simple question: Do you want to get well?

If Jesus asked me this question, I might need to check my spirit (just as I do when I go to the doctor’s office). Why else would I be sitting by the pool? Isn’t it obvious? But, as Jesus asked the question, I ask this same proverbial question to all of us today. Why are we sitting by the pool?

Not everyone is looking to be made whole from the Healer. Many people are content with their sickness because they’ve made it a part of their identity. When engaged in conversation, they like talking about their infirmity; they like sympathy and attention. I don’t think people choose to be like this, but when sickness extends for period of time, our mindset shifts. We think there’s nothing else to talk about because the pain has consumed us. We think we can’t be healed because our sickness has become a part of who we are.

Additionally, some people ironically have an excuse for their sickness. Consider the man’s response to Jesus. Scripture tells us he answered and said, “Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me” (John 6:7, KJV). This isn’t what Jesus asked him. What ever happened to answering with a simple, “Yes?”

How hard is it for us to say, “Yes” when God asks if we want to get well? You think it’s easy? Alright—How often do we stay in our state of infirmity when the preacher calls for prayer? Do we go up or stay in our seat? When we pray, how often do we exercise our faith and actually believe God will heal us?

Trust me when I say I haven’t personally grasped the simplicity of this truth. When we’re sick and hurting, God’s only looking for a simple answer to His simple question. Yes, we want to be healed. Yes, we want to be made whole. Yes, we want God to work in our lives. Yes, we will believe.

Yes is a simple answer, and we need to ask God to help us give this response. Don’t let the devil to convince you being sick is who you are. Don’t give an excuse for it. Just say, “Yes” and see your miracle.