God has a plan for your life, but so does the enemy. Satan desires to kill you, steal from you and destroy you (John 10:10). If he cannot kill you, he will at least try to wound you. If he cannot steal from you, he will at least try to hide what is precious from you. And if he cannot destroy you, he will at least try to damage you in some form or fashion. But if you have a firm foundation in Christ; if you are securely rooted in the identity as a Child of God, then life proceeds much more confidently. This is why Believers can sing the song Blessed Assurance with boldness.
Many people are spending much of their lives searching for an identity. Some will not care at all about making an impact in life. However, there are others like Tim Tebow that believe in a firm foundation, an Unshaken identity. To Tim, staying grounded means being accountable with his life, calling and talent(s) to God which God has loaned him. I agree, not only because God is watching, but other potential Christians are also. As the owner of the casino in Oceans 11 said, "Somebody is always watching."
Relationships make life meaningful. So, it should be relationships that Christians invest in. In one analogy about investing in people Jesus said, I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest (John 4:35). Another analogy of a purpose driven life is Matthew 4:19 - “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” However, it is not enough that the Kingdom has a new member. No. Now the new member along with the rest of the family must be loved.
Throughout John's, Paul's and Peter's books and letters - loving one another was important. John 13:34-35 cites loving one another as a command. But it also displays loving one another as a barometer for Discipleship of Christ - By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. How could we not be of the Discipline of Christ if we did not love each other? Because God is love (1 John 4:8). Remember your identity is not only who you are but Whose You Are.
"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." - 1 Peter 2:9
Friday, October 28, 2016
It is interesting to me that two of the greatest Leaders in Scripture, apart from Christ, came from the enemies camp. These two were called out of darkness and into His marvelous light in dramatic fashion. Both experienced physical push-back on turning sides. These two men were Moses and Paul. A leader for the Old Testament/Covenant and a leader for the New Testament/Covenant.
Observing the two in parallel - Moses was a Hebrew baby, but was raised not in any Egyptian home, but in Pharaoh's palace. Paul came from the house of the Pharisees - a legalistic, well-off, knowledgeable kind of religious group of Leaders.
Moses was involved in killing an Egyptian who was beating up on one of the Hebrew people. Paul was involved in the killing of Stephen, who was a part of The Way (what Christianity was called at that time).
Moses fled into the region called Midion and stayed for a while, where he married and had the Burning Bush Experience. Paul was traveling to Damascus to execute the orders in hand when he had his conversion (Donkey) experience.
Moses was not allowed to cross into The Promised Land. Paul was not allowed to enter Asia and Bithynia.
I could go back and forth like this through their stories and parallel their life events to expose the amazing similarities. However, what strikes me most about these two leaders is the perseverance while leading in challenging times.
As a leader, they both had physical challenges. Among some of these physical challenges, Moses had the Red Sea and Paul was involved in 3 ship wrecks.
As a leader, they were both challenged mentally. Moses had a million people to lead and Paul had to figure how to start and maintain The Church.
As a leader, they both faced spiritual mountains. Moses endured spiritual challenges by attempting to observe and enforce The Law passed down to him from God. Paul tried to head-off Satan at "The Pass" within The Church by offering Godly instruction through letters to the churches.
The main observation God has revealed to me and now I unveil to you is they did not stop being a leader nor did they pause in their leadership capacity while under these challenges. Yes, these men placed their trust in God and their help came from God. However, these men displayed there was still leading to do even under pressure from inside influences or outside influences. They proved to me that in my distresses, in my life challenges, I should be Leading Regardless.
Thursday, October 27, 2016
In Isaiah 15:12, God's presence covers the believer's front and back.
- for the LORD will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard.
Then on either side of the believer, David declares in Psalm 91:7 that God's presence is positioned to protect and defend.
- A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.
Another instance in Scripture that displays God's presence beside the believer is John 14:26. Here John uses the Greek word parakletos as the descriptive word for the Holy Spirit who comes alongside of the believer as a counselor, comforter, advocate, and/or representative of the believer to God and God's Word to the believer.
- But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
David talks about the Lord's presence beneath and in front of him literally and figuratively. He describes God's instruction or "word" as a "lamp" or near-sighted source of light and a "light" for the "path" that is more broad in scope and nature in Psalm 119:105.
- Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
Staying in the Psalms, David continues to paint a picture of God's intimate presence in the believer's life, this time God is above us with His protective wings.
- Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings. (Psalms 17:8)
- Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. (Psalms 63:7)
- He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. (Psalm 91:1)
Last, but certainly not least, Paul tells the believer in 1 Corinthians 6:19 that God, by the power of His Holy Spirit, is within the believer also.
- Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;
Above, below, in front, in back, to the left, to the right, beside and inside the believer - God's presence can be visualized as an air-tight bubble - filled with His goodness, His mercy, His faithfulness and His love. For me, these promises and image emphasize two points -
- God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5)
- This is a "bubble" worth sharing and at the least having others take notice.
This is a bubble that will not ever be popped. He is ever-present. His gaze is unavoidable. (2 Chronicles 16:9) He is inescapable. With these assurances we, as believers, can surrender to Him better, live, move and have our being better by Living In His Bubble.
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Breaking through is a process. Breaking through comes in many different forms - writers block, slumps in scoring, customers for one's business, ideas for one's song, and staying in God's will for your life.
In a recent visit to Madrid, Spain, Daniel Kolenda received a message about breaking through and staying in God's will in - of all places - a bull fighting stadium. Yes, we are all familiar with the Bull. Yes, we are all familiar with the Matador with the red cape in the center of the ring/stadium. What we may not be familiar with or forget about are the men that come in from the sides - spears/lances in hand - and thrust their weapon into the bull as he is distracted by the Matador's movements. The men run back to their stations for another spear, the bull is distracted and pursues one of them, but then lines up once again for a charge at the Matador.
The catch in all these distractions is that they are slowly but surely draining the life-blood from the bull. This cycle the bull goes through eventually brings him to the point of weaker, slower and fainter attempts until the bull finally falls to the ground and the Matador moves in for the final blow.
In a e-newsletter I receive, Mr. Kolenda stated, "Through the Holy Spirit we are equipped to live fruitful and effective lives, accomplishing all that God has for us to do. The devil is no match for the Spirit of God who lives within us. Greater is He who is in us than he that is in the world. But like the bullfighter, the enemy has a secret weapon—distraction. If the devil can’t stop us, he will attempt to derail us with one distraction and then another. The devil knows something we so often forget—that we are in a race against time. As with the bull whose wounds are bleeding, time is running out for all of us. Every minute that we are distracted from what God has called us to do is a minute closer to the end of the fight."
So, for my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, I encourage you in your walk to discern the distractions and put them in place so that you may continue in God's perfect will for your life. Kolenda adds, "The devil will even use “good” things as distractions if he can to keep us from the best things that God has in store." Remember to - "Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses." (1 Tim. 6:12) Then you will be able to say in the end - "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." (2 Tim.4:7) and I know the process of Breaking Through.
Wednesday, October 12, 2016
The Holy Spirit recalled the event of the Gas Pipeline event to me recently. So, I replayed what happened in my mind and told the Holy Spirit, "O.K., Holy Spirit, teach me."
The bottom line is - just as we have a pipeline of gas from the Gulf of Mexico to the Southeastern part of the United States that keeps our cars running daily, so too we have available a Pipeline Of Prayer And Praise to God to keep us running properly and daily.
I am sure I am not the only one who has thought this, but what if, in the future, our gas pipeline was sabotaged by terrorists. This small 2 to 2.5 week inconvenience could become more like months or years to fix. We can't afford to place guards at every single mile marker of every single oil pipeline. However, we have the technology to place cameras and surveillance equipment to monitor the safety and condition of the pipeline.
As believers in Christ Jesus, we have the assurance that He is with us everywhere and at all times. His presence is comforting because even with Christ's mantle upon us, the world will still attack us. I would even dare to say, especially since we have the mantle of Christ upon us this will result. Christ, Himself, promised "If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also." (John 15:20) In other words.......your pipeline is going to be threatened at least and terrorized at worst. However, Christ encourages us by saying, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) With the Holy Spirit as your empowering and directional agent in your life, many more benefits are available - like discernment, break-through prayer and break-through praise.
So, the next time you sense like your prayers are hitting a brick wall and dropping; the next time there is an inkling not to praise - your pipeline is under attack. The remedy? Pray through or pray anyhow. And praise through or praise anyhow. This is how much the enemy dislikes this kind of connection with God. By praying and praising our Savior, He inhabits or manifests His presence in a special way So That we can be fueled up with more of Him for then and the coming day.
This pipeline is particular - we need to fuel up every day and receive our goods directly from The Pipeline. So, be aware of your threats, stay in the Word of God and keep flowing in the Pipeline Of Prayer And Praise.
Friday, October 7, 2016
Ever had a falling out or falling away within a close relationship? There is a physical, vice-like condition that comes over my heart and chest area after something like bitterness, jealousy, anger or covetousness raises it's ugly head in my relationships. It is an unrelenting drive to restore the peace that has been lost. This condition is a state which does not depart until I go and make it right with whomever I am at odds. God has seen to it that I have an extra dose of this sense; this peacekeeping.
This attack on The Relationship is one of theft by the enemy of our souls. Satan desires to steal our peace. We cannot allow his spirits of bitterness, jealousy, anger, envy and so forth to divert the focus away from what makes our relationships precious. With the Holy Spirit's assistance, potential dividers must be confronted and dealt with to preserve our relationships.
Some excellent Biblical examples of Making It Right are:
- Jacob and Esau (Genesis 33)
- Joseph and his brothers (Genesis 42-45)
- The Lost Son (Luke 15:11-32)
As Jacob was approaching his brother Esau and his brother's army of 400 - Jacob sent gifts ahead of himself. As he was nearing, Jacob bowed seven times in honor of his brother's might and prowess. Meanwhile, Esau was in full run to meet his brother. They embraced, kissed and made things right.
Sounds like another event, doesn't it? But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. (Luke 15:20) Both the lost son in this case and Jacob in the previous, recognized the issue, dealt with it and moved on. For me, that vice grip would have been released, tears of joy would have ensued and floods of pure happiness would have resulted.
Joseph put his brothers through the ringer as possibly a little bit of power-play fun/revenge for selling him into slavery. He eventually caved-in to how God had used him throughout all those years, revealed himself to his brothers and embraced them once again.
Notice in each case - Jacob and Esau, Joseph and Bros., and Father and Lost Son - God could have addressed the lesser in each situation and dealt with them directly, but He didn't. God did not supply Esau with an animal right away so he could get it cooked and go to his father and receive his blessing. God did not have a slave trader turn around and return Joseph to Jacob and report everything to the Patriarch. God did not have pity on the lost son and bless him with more wealth, food or supplies so he could go on. No, in each case God allowed for each man to personally take care of their relationship woes. The restoration in each instance was an in-person affair.
I have also felt this way in my relationship with The Lord. I disobeyed Him, did not act the way I should have or had the wrong mindset/attitude about things. The Vice Condition returned. Then shortly I found myself before my Gracious Lord asking for a reinstatement of our relationship. Not that I had lost my Salvation, I had just stepped "out of bounds" and "out of sync" in our relationship and needed to re-align myself or Make It Right between the two of us. His Favor flows more smoothly that way.
In Matthew 5:23-24, Jesus instructs us - “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift." Whether it is in front of the altar or within your life, before God - take care of what would threaten your relationship with God and the precious people around you. I encourage you today - if the enemy has sent his hordes/spirits to try to steal the peace that exists in your relationships, rebuke that with God's help by taking the initiative and go Make It Right.