Friday, July 31, 2015

Continually

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly as I should” (Ephesians 6:18-20).

Paul has just finished a description of putting on the whole armor of God for strength to fight the wiles of the devil. He finishes with taking up the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Now he turns to prayer and praying at all times for all things continuously.  This is one of the concepts, principles or commands in scripture that seems to be beyond human capability. I can’t do anything continuously.   For quite a while in my life it seemed that I could complain and grumble.  Thanks be to God, I no longer do this. But, to continuously pray? Paul takes this even further in 1 Thessalonians 5:16 by saying, “Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”  Being joyful and giving thanks for all things also seem impossible without God’s help.

Paul’s teaching on God’s behalf is throughout his writings. In Romans 1:9-10 he says, God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times…”  Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 2:13 that “we also thank God continually.”  This theme continues to the Colossians in 1:3, “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you…”   Paul gives a clear indication of how important this is by teaching his protégé Timothy, “I thank God, who I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.” (2 Timothy 1:3).

So perhaps for this admonition we need to ask the Holy Spirit for strength. This is what it means to pray in the Holy Spirit using the Scripture or the sword of the Spirit. Praying in the Scripture gives us the power of God’s Word through the Holy Spirit. So, we can praise God as the Psalmist saying, “My praise shall continually be of thee…” (Ps 71:6).  Or as Hebrews 13:15 says, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise, the fruit of lips that confess his name.”



Friday, July 24, 2015

God's Will

“The Holy Spirit reveals his will for us through prayer, his Word, other godly people and circumstances.” (Experiencing God, Henry Blackaby). This is a truth about God. The Counselor, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things” (John 14:26).  The Holy Spirit is your personal teacher. He is at work in you to confirm Scripture as your source of authority and truth. One of the challenges is that we must obey when we hear, as soon as we hear. The consequences are difficult to always know, but there will be missed blessings and probably some unpleasant circumstances. What do you do when you don’t know what to do? Wait for the Father, to speak through the Holy Spirit.

Jeremiah lived in a day when it was more common for God to speak audibly. He followed his direction to the “Potters House” where clay was made into useful vessels (Chap 18). God was speaking of Israel and each of us.  He is asking, “Are you in my hand?” (v.6).  Adjust your life so that you can do whatever he wants to do through you. Recall how in John 15 Jesus spoke of abiding or living in the vine, which is he. This is where we bear much fruit, for apart from him we can do nothing. God is always working and we need to be ready when he invites. Review how Abram and Moses followed his invitations. He accomplished through them what they could not do. His power was made perfect in weakness. Be moldable and remain in him.


I think you will find that life goes much better through God and our obedience and submission. We may plan but God guides our steps (Prov. 16).  Perhaps my most recent escapade was my attempt to retire. After less than two months my wife announced that I had failed retirement. That's a story in itself. But I sought the Lord and found Him directing my steps to hospital chaplaincy, my calling. It is no coincidence that I have spent more than 40 years in hospitals as a CEO and chaplain. Encouragement is one of my gifts, and the hospital is where I can use it daily or hourly.  I find great satisfaction in this work, because I am in God’s will. I know that God does not want us to ever retire. Yes, Scripture is clear on it. Perhaps we will not always work for a wage. Maybe we will be a mentor or volunteer where God leads us.  Remember, there is no better place to be than to be in God’s will.

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Friday, July 17, 2015

God is in Control

God is always In Control- I will not doubt- “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths.” (Prov. 3:4-6). Conquer the wave of doubt, live by faith, trust in God for He is sovereign.
God’s promises are an assurance God gives his people so they can walk in faith while we wait for him to work. God’s promises never fail. While I waited for healing of my new hip God caused me to write a book on his faithfulness.
“Soul Fear” grows in the soil of doubt.  Doubt torches the soul. Numbers 23 tells us that his promises never fail, therefore, we should not doubt.

James tells us no matter the trial or temptation to consider it joy to develop our persevering maturity. And if we need wisdom to ask of God and he gives generously. Don’t doubt, it makes us double minded and anxious- blown like a wave in the wind. Take heart don’t fear. Peter walked on water to Jesus (Matt 14:28), but looked at the waves and took his eyes off Jesus and started to sink. He cried, “Save me Jesus” and He did, saying,“ You of little faith, why did you doubt.”

He is in control over rebellion. Jonah ran, yet His plans were implemented.
He has control over sin. Joseph’s brothers tried to kill him, and meant it for evil, but God meant it for good (Genesis 50).
God is sovereign over World events.  Esther trusted God and he engineered the circumstances. She was there for “such a time as this” to save the chosen Israelite people.

Trust in the Lord, not your own abilities.  I know how to fix issues like family members not having faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior- Really? God is bringing Godly people around them.
His promises can be conditional, meaning we must trust him.
Eph 3:20 says He is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond what we could ask or imagine.
He can listen to all our prayers at the same time, because he is sovereign.
We can be confident of this. Hebrews 6:18 says, “So that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.   We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul.  WOW
Ps 37: 1-7 gives us more encouragement saying, fret not, trust in the Lord- wait on the Lord, delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust in him and he will act.   Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.
God is always in control of all our circumstances- working all things together for good for those who trust him.

 “The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his sovereignty rules over all. “(Ps 103:19).  This is why believers can be sure that we will overcome every obstacle and problem; because God can handle whatever happens and is responsible for leading us to victory. 


Friday, July 10, 2015

Divine Weapons

Promises- God’s Strength and our Weapons
2 Cor 10:4-  “The weapons we fight with are not weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We can demolish GIANTS in our lives with His power. We know that nothing can separate us from his love. We studied the promise and that nothing in all creation above or below can win. We are victorious for He is with us.

 Paul tells us that the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds.  What are the weapons we have; the proclamation of the Gospel through which divine power is released?

2 Cor 4 reminds us of the Treasure inside our jars of clay- bodies- We have the light in the darkness of the world.  His light is shining in our hearts.  This is the Gospel in Jesus Christ to show us that this all-surpassing power is from God and not ourselves. We may be hard pressed on every side, but not crushed, perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted but not abandoned struck down but not destroyed. Why because we carry around in our bodies the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may be also released.

Paul tells us in Rom 1:16 to not be ashamed of the Gospel because it is the POWER of God for salvation for everyone who believes- Power to save and protect us from this world and its darkness.

Strongholds- what are they?  They are real Giants, like the Anakin people in Deuteronomy and Numbers that frightened the Israelites from going into the Promised Land. They were terrified of the bullies, except for Joshua and Caleb. They cast great shadows over everything we aspire to do, every land we seek to inhabit, every dream we hope to pursue.  Who can stand against the giants?  Caleb and Joshua tell the Israelites that the Lord our God is He who goes over before us as a consuming fire. He will destroy them and drive them out.
Of course the Anakin we face are Giants of different names: Fear, discouragement , loneliness worry, anger, doubt, failure. Call them what you want, they are giants like Goliath.   Whatever we face- He is with us and He will empower us to bring down strongholds.

Sometimes fear of these strongholds overcomes us. But The Gospel sets us free to overcome. Strongholds or arguments are raised against the “knowledge of God.”  We demolish them all as we proclaim and hold to his truths, which give spiritual power.   Do not let your faith be shaken.  David held onto it and proclaimed it against Goliath. Joshua and Caleb did too. They won!

John 1:14 reminds us that the word became flesh and dwelt among us. We as children of God have his divine power to fight spiritual towers or enemies. We have the truth.
Paul tells us to take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).  

Don’t let Satan’s lies get you off course. “You will keep in perfect peace whose mind is steadfast (on Him).” Is 26:3, because he trusts in God. Trust and obey there is no other way. This is an exercise of self-discipline.

We know that He that is within us is greater than he that is in the world. 1John 4:4. Yes, Jesus tells us, in this world we will have tribulation, but take heart I have overcome this world (John 16:33).

So we have confidence to stand- steadfast  in His promise of spiritual weapons to protect us against  “the spiritual forces of darkness in the heavenlies” Eph 6. We put on the full armor of God- buckled with the belt of truth, The breastplate of righteousness, the Helmet of salvation, sandals-feet of the readiness of Gospel of peace, the shield of faith to extinguish the arrows of the evil one, taking the Sword of the Spirit which is the word of God- which has the power to cut through everything against God.

We each like Paul should be meek and gentle yet all powerful in his weakness through Christ our Lord and Savior who fights for us. In this life we will have a spiritual battle, but take heart, He has overcome the world.

Friday, July 3, 2015

God is always Watching

God promises that He is always watching- I will not falter.
1Cor 10:13 “No temptation or trial has seized (come to) you that is not common to man, and God is faithful; He will not let be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out or through so you can stand up under it (escape).”
God looked through eternity past and he saw you and he chose to reach out and redeem you by his grace. It’s hard to imagine that kind of love. That’s why He can’t keep his eyes off you!!
Faltering is a sober word describing someone going down, under, giving in, losing it the battle. The pressure is great and at times in this world (losses, illness, fears of unknown- uncertainty) that we would be without his great and precious promises. Serious days require serious promises.
Is 43:1 says He who created and formed you O Israel- ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you, I have called you by name you are mine.’
He has redeemed us and He goes with us: Don’t be afraid- I have summoned you by name you are mine: When you pass through the waters I will be with you.  This is a great promise and treasure. It might get deep-His Presence is in the deep waters, rivers and fire. You’re going through it because that’s where you will find God.  Like the Hebrews, we have a spiritual heritage- He leads us in difficult seasons.   We are not going under or being swept away or even burned in the fire.  We will emerge.

Daniel 3- Is about God in the fire with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego-  You know the story. They would not bow to Nebuchchenezzer’s god. Into the oven made 7 Xs hotter, even killing the guards. But their God delivered them- He “Like the son of the gods,” a pre-incarnate Christ was in the fire with them. Not a hair of their heads singed or even a smell of smoke was present. “Blessed is the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Away we go” one preacher said.
You’ve got to know He sees you too- He’s not missing a single detail- He is watching. At some point of the trial He will say enough.
I love how He watches. In Zephaiah 3:17, “The Lord is with you He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with His love He will rejoice over you with  singing/gladness/dancing.” He is not like a hawk at 10,000 feet watching for you to fail- He is close not to condemn but to cheer and guide. Trusting in God’s promises leads to bold living. He is not like a judgmental or cantankerous Church Lady on Saturday Night Live.
Ps 31:8 says, “God has set my feet in a broad place” on a rock where I can stand firm. We are not going to fall.
1.The eyes of the Lord are on us- Prov 5:21- a man’s ways are before the eyes of the Lord..keeping watch of good and evil.
2. The eyes of the Lord are synonomous with what’s right and true. Do what is right in the eyes of the Lord- Honor him.
3.Eyes are attentive to His own- 1 Pe 3:12 “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil. Because you love Christ and He you, He pays special attention.
4. His eyes are searching for people to bless-  2 Chron 16:9- “His eyes run to and fro through out the whole world to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward Him.”
5. Grace- Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

Is 43:3-4- “You are precious in My eyes, and honored and I love you. You are valued by the Lord- He loves you and He choose you from the foundation of the world.
NO Trial or Temptation will take you down!
 God isn’t going to allow temptation and trial in your life that you can’t handle as you trust in Him.  God tempts no one, it is Satan.  Trials are meant to make you strong (mature and complete)- the trial is not going to last forever and you will overcome it- God is faithful.  Job had trials (aweful) but God protected him in the end.
You may think your trial is beyond you- God knows you better than you do- God is faithful.- I will not falter- I can keep going.- He will provide a way of escape. You may say, I could really use an off ramp – He will provide it.
·      God might end the trial right now-He can pull you out of the fire- Persevere.  My eyes are getting better
·      He might give you encouragement to keep going. You are not alone in the trial- encourage one another.
·      He gives you wisdom to act- Ask Him and He will give generously- He will show you a new angle.
·      He gives you strength to persevere. – He will energize you for a new season- enough for today.
·      He gives you someone to share the burden- Let others in on your struggle- He will bless us with comforting assurance of friendship. Someone walking the same road or who has walked it.
·      He gives you a few days of relief- an oasis in the middle of the desert.  He will give it- take it- look for His way of escape not your own. Humble yourself and He will lift you up. Rest completely in the promise that He is watching out for you. He’s looking for people who want to feel His strength, on whose behalf He can show Himself strong.


Lord, thank you that you are faithful. You are with me. You are in control . You are good. And you are watching. You know just when I’m in real need of a temporary or permanent way of escape- and you provide it! What an amazing truth that I can count on even though I may not see the exit until I need it.  I don’t have to fear no matter what circumstances come because you are with me. Thank you for the escapes you have already provided. Cause me to remember them when I’m tempted to think that I’m stuck in a situation with no way out. With you, there’s always a way out, through, around , or over! How good and faithful you really are. AMEN