Becoming strong in the Lord begins with our decision to do our part in becoming spiritually strong. God commands us to become strong, do what we must to allow His strength to grow. He does not want us to ask Him to make us strong. Strength has already been provided.Read More
Mix It with Faith
There were three problems the Israelites had which led to their death and failure to enter Canaan. First, a failure to mix God’s promises with faith, second, a failure to rest on the promises and third, the resulting hardness of heart they developed toward God Himself.
The first failure of Israel in the wilderness was not mixing the promises of God given to them for the past four hundred years with faith. From the time of Abraham and for generations following, God gave the Israelites promises of deliverance from Egypt and promises for a future home in Canaan, the land of abundance. Yet, even though the Jews knew the promises by heart, they did not mix them with faith. Instead, they acted in fear and unbelief toward God’s word to them.
James warned us as New Testament believers that being a hearer of the word is not enough. It is not a guarantee of success. We must be doers of the word, or act in faith on what God has told us in His word (James 1:22).
Application of the word of God to life’s problems brings success. You cannot look at a promise in the Bible and expect God to fulfill it if you do nothing.
Rest on the Promises
Whether you like it or not, conflicts in life will come. Whether you are resting on God’s promises or griping and complaining about your life, storms will come. The griping and complaining Christian will probably not come through the problem successfully, stronger and more mature. The one who rests on the promises will end up on the other side of the situation with increased peace, maturity and stability.
God never said we would not have storms in life. But He did promise to bring us through them. Jesus might have known a storm was coming. He might not have known. Yet, it did not matter. The promise had been given.
The greatest gift God can give you is His promise. It is His guarantee that you will be fine and taken care of. Jesus stood up and rebuked the storm for the disbelieving and worried disciples. Jesus then rebuked their unbelief and told them they possessed little faith. Think of the comparison. Jesus had great faith and they had small faith. Jesus slept, and they feared. When awakened, Jesus rebuked the storm and stopped it in response to their fears. Sometimes, it is a demonstration of greater faith to sleep through a storm than rebuke it. Jesus showed us the value of resting on a promise given.
You can find rest in the worst situations. Rest does not come from what you experience, but from what you know. Paul told the Corinthians, “Therefore we are always confident, knowing…” (2 Corinthians 5:6). Knowledge produces confidence. Confidence is another term for resting on what God has told us.
Hardness of Heart is a Choice
While it is said: (Psalm 95:8) “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion” (at Meribah). For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So, we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. (Hebrews 3:15-19)
The writer of Hebrews quotes the writer of Psalms and tells us hardness of heart is a choice, “Harden not your heart.” It is often the choice we make after the choice of unbelief toward God. Israel could not enter Canaan because of unbelief. Unbelief led them to hardness of heart. When you fail to believe God’s promises, you begin to move toward hardness of heart. Faith always has a vision and looks forward. Unbelief has no vision and finds its comfort in the past.
Here is something interesting. The second generation followed the first generation in refusing to mix God’s promises with faith. They also followed the first generation in refusing to rest on God’s promises. Both generations came to the point of unbelief. Yet, the second generation chose not to harden their hearts against God. Recovery is one decision away. The second Meribah incident was the fork in the road, the parting of the ways. The first generation hardened their hearts. The second did not.
The Promises of God
Someone said there are over seven thousand promises in the Bible. If the promise is in the Old Testament, it has not lost its power. A New Testament promise is as real today as it was in the day it was given.
What is your current storm? Are you struggling financially? Physically? The list of life’s problems could go on and on. Here’s the good news. God has provided promises for whatever you need. For your finances Philippians 4:19, “But my God will supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Health? Matthew 8:17 “He, Himself took our infirmities, and bore our sickness.”
You can learn from the failure of the Israelites. First, find a promise and mix it with your faith. Second, rest on the promise, knowing the God who declared it has already accomplished it and will cause it to come to pass.
“Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.” (Psalm 116:7)
The Word of God is consistent. It revolves around the same principle throughout. It is the same whether it be for healing, finances, salvation or anything we receive from God. You may say you are not going to believe it until you see it or feel it. You need to get it down on the inside of you that you do not believe with your eyes. Your eyes are made to see with, not believe. Your ears are made to hear with, not to believe with. Your hands are made to feel with, not to believe with. YOur mind is made to think with, not to believe with.Read More
Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:20)
There are certain ministries we have as individuals. Some are called to pastor or teach (Ephesians 4:11) while others are used by God as helpers, givers and exhorters (Romans 12:6-8). Our unique offices make us a powerful team called the body of Christ.
Yet, there are ministries we all have without exception. In First Peter 2:9 we are all said to be “a chosen generation.” God has hand selected us above all generations and time periods which ever existed. We are also called “a royal priesthood.” Each and every believer is a priest in the royal family of God. Thank God, we no longer must go to a man in this earth to confess our sins and get right with God. We can all go to Jesus, our great High Priest, for ourselves. Finally, we are all called to be witnesses for the Lord Jesus to give the gospel to everyone (Mark 16:15, Acts 1:8). We may not all be evangelists, but we are all called into evangelism. We can all expect the power of the Holy Spirit to be present to lead others to the Lord. This is not a job to be passed off to the pastor or missionary, we all have the responsibility of telling the “good news” of Jesus.
What is an Ambassador?
Another term for a “witness” for the Lord Jesus, is an ambassador. As ambassadors, we are royal representatives in this earth for the Lord Jesus. We now stand in His place, in His absence, to tell others of the gospel of reconciliation, God’s message of peace. Let’s take a look at the profile of an ambassador:
1. An ambassador is a high-ranking minister of state chosen of royalty, sent to another state to represent his own country. We are all members of the royal family of God. We joined this family when we received the Lord Jesus as our savior. There is no higher family in the universe and no greater royalty than God’s family. We are chosen from the best family to represent the Lord Jesus in this earth.
2. An ambassador does not appoint himself. The king or president of his home country is the one who chooses the ambassador. We did not choose ourselves to represent the Lord Jesus, God the Father chose us. If God chose us, He must have faith in us. He also must know we can do the job. He has supplied us with the message of the gospel and the power to accomplish our task.
3. An ambassador is not a citizen of the country he is in, but of the country, he is from. In other words, an ambassador is in the country, but not of it. We also are in the world, but not of it. Philippians 3:20 says “...our conversation is in heaven...” The Greek says our citizenship is in heaven. The moment we became born again, our citizenship was changed from this world to heaven. One day we will get to go to the country we are now from, heaven.
4. An ambassador does not support himself. An ambassador does not live off the economy of the country he is in, he lives off the economy of the country he is from. He is not worried about his own needs when the local economy is tight, his needs are supplied from home. Philippians 4:19 tells us “But my God shall supply all of your needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” This should give a whole new meaning to “take no thought for (don’t worry about) tomorrow”. We know the economy of our home country is secure and God’s riches will never be depleted. Our needs are not supplied according to Wall Street, or the First National Bank. If our country went into a depression, God would still supply for us as He does for the birds (Matthew 6:25,26). The animals of the earth are not connected to our economy. Birds never even knew we had a depression in the 1930’s. We never read of birds committing suicide over the stock averages falling. Why then should we worry? Are we not more valuable than birds to God? After all, we are His ambassadors.
5. Ambassador’s instructions are always in written form, so he has no doubt as to what he should do. We have the scriptures of the word of God. The only way the world or Satan can deceive us, is when we are ignorant of our rights. We need to study the word and stay current on our daily instructions.
6. Ambassadors do not live off the laws of the country they are in, but the laws of the country they are from. In most cases the laws from both countries will be the same. Yet there may come a time when the laws will differ. The ambassador is obliged to honor the laws of his home over the country he is in. In this case, he is free from prosecution. He can claim diplomatic immunity. When the world or Satan tell us we have to accept their worry, sickness, sin, immorality or religious philosophy, we can claim diplomatic immunity. Our written instructions tell us “No evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling” (Psalm 91:10). There are seven thousand such promises in the word of God. This is another good reason to stay current with our written instructions, so we can have daily success.
7. An ambassador does not live in the country for his own personal interests. He does not treat any insult to himself as personal. This is our function, to represent Jesus Christ and hold no grudges. God will be our defense and He will vindicate His ambassadors. The apostle Paul called himself “an ambassador in bonds (chains)” (Ephesians 6:20). He left his deliverance in the hands of the Lord, His king and master. We are God’s prize possession, the apple of His eye. To touch us is to touch Him (Matthew 25:45).
8. When one nation declares war on another nation, the first ones removed are the ambassadors. In fact, the recall of ambassadors constitutes a declaration of war. You never bomb your ambassadors with the enemy. Ambassadors, good or bad, are brought back and dealt with at home. One day, the trumpet of God will sound, and the ambassadors will be recalled. Satan knows what this means. God has declared war on a Christ rejecting world. All ambassadors will be taken to heaven where we will all go through the Judgment Seat of Christ (Romans 14:10, 2 Corinthians 5:9,10). It is there we will be rewarded for our witness for Jesus, our ambassadorship in the earth.
Can someone be "carnal" and still be a christian? The two words almost seem to contradict each other. Yet, churches today are filled with carnal Christians, who look and act just like the sinners around them.Read More
What is a vision? It is our hope! A vision is the goal or dream set before each one of us. It is the target for our life. Without hope, a goal, we are aimless and without purpose in our Christian life. We have nothing to shoot for. Even though we may have all the faith in the world and know a great numbers of scriptures, if we have given up hope, these things profit us nothing.Read More
Think about how much love God has for you to have sent two of the members of the Godhead to assist you in your daily life. If God needs the other two members of the Godhead, how much more do we need them? Through daily prayer for power and daily study and meditation in God's Word, you cannot lose. you can declare with confidence, "If God be for me, who can be against me?"Read More
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided. So, the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. (Exodus 14:21,22)
The Red Sea was the first of two bodies of water the children of Israel crossed before coming into the Promised Land, Canaan. Although the people walked through both bodies of water, the two were different from each other and unique from each other.
The Red Sea is a Type of Salvation
The Red Sea is a type of the blood of Jesus, even down to its name, The RED Sea. The Israelites were taken out of Egypt, delivered from years of bondage and allowed to go free.
Israel did nothing to be delivered. God did everything. God sent the plagues, preserved Israel during them, and brought them out on dry land. His command for them was to do nothing but stand still and watch God do the work. We are saved by God's grace, not our works (Ephesians 2:8).
Israel was boxed in from the front, behind and on each side. The Red Sea stood in front of them, the Egyptian army was behind them and a mountain range was on each side. The only answer was through the Red Sea, by boat, submarine or through it, walking on dry land. The world needs to know there is no other name under heaven, given among men by which we must be saved, but through the name of Jesus (Acts 4:12). There is only one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus. Man is surrounded and boxed in by religions, brotherhoods and all systems of good works. Nothing can remove the sins and curses of Adam but the Red Sea, the blood of Jesus.
Israel's enemies were destroyed permanently. The same Red Sea which opened and allowed the Jewish nation to go free, swallowed up and completely destroyed the Egyptian army, it's horses, chariots and weapons. The blood of Jesus was our deliverance and Satan's destruction.
Israel left slavery and entered life of freedom in the wilderness. Although the wilderness was not the Promised Land, it was better than Egypt. It was a necessary place to unlearn Egypt and learn to totally trust in God. It was a place to grow up and prepare to enter Canaan. It was only an eleven-day journey by foot, but it took the first generation forty years to learn it's lessons. Forty years was not God's fault, but theirs. We all have a wilderness after the new birth to begin to unlearn the world's way of looking at life and begin to understand God's way. It’s called discipleship, maturity or the place of the renewing of the mind, preparation for the land of Abundance.
The water divided in two directions. No sin past or future was left uncovered in taking the children of Israel into their new life. There is no sin you have ever committed or will commit that will remove you from the Christian life or keep you from going to heaven. Cleansing of sins in your daily Christian walk are to preserve you from Satan's plans and devices in this life and help you maintain your joy.
The Jordan River is a Type of Daily Forgiveness for the Believer
Those who carried the ark came to Jordan, and the feet of the priests who carried the ark were dipped in the edge of the water (for Jordan overflowed all its banks at harvest time). And the waters which came from upstream stood and rose up in a heap very far back, to the city of Adam, that is beside Zaretan. And the waters which ran down toward the sea in the plain, the Dead Sea, stopped and were cut off. And the people passed over right beside Jericho. (Joshua 3:15,16)
The Red Sea was a standing wide body of deep, impassable water. The Jordan was a flowing river from one direction.
The Red Sea separated Israel from their freedom. The Jordan separated them from their blessings, their inheritance.
The Red Sea represents salvation through faith in Jesus Christ's shed blood. The Jordan represents forgiveness of sins in the daily life of a Christian. It was water in both cases, representing the blood of Jesus, which both saves us as sinners and cleanses us as saints.
Man had nothing to do with the parting of the Red Sea. But men, the priests, had to put the soles of their shoes down into the edge of the water before it moved back. In salvation, we simply believe in the finished work of Jesus. In forgiveness of sins for the believer, we must confess our sins for them to be forgiven. We approach God, no longer as a slave, but as a priest.
Back to Adam
The water backed up a long way, to the city of Adam. Nothing, back to Adam, can stop us from obtaining our inheritance in life when we confess our sins. Confession of sins for the Christian stops Satan from hindering us through demons, sickness, financial problems. It is also a guarantee from generational curses. Nothing back to Adam is left uncovered. Our past ancestor's sins, divorce, mental illness, temper, poverty or cancer no longer have dominion over us. We have a new bloodline, the family of God, in which there are no curses. I am no longer in Adam, but in Christ.
Most of the tests which come into the life of the believer come from Satan. He comes to "kill, steal, and destroy" (John 10:10). He is "the accuser of the brethren" (Revelation 12:10). He tries to sift us "as wheat" (Luke 22:31). And he walks among believers "as a roaring lion...seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8).
However, not all testing comes from Satan. God also tests us - but unlike Satan who tests us with evil, God tests us with good things. In fact, every blessing of God comes with an accompanying test. With every good and perfect gift, God asks us, "Will you still seek Me and not the gift?" In everything, God wants to have the preeminence (Colossians 1:18).
Many Christians have passed Satan's tests and trials - they have overcome evil circumstances, gossip, sickness, and financial disaster - but then have failed God's test of prosperity. Sadly, these believers serve God when the circumstances are difficult, but desert Him when life is good. Once their bank account is full, their bills are paid, and their family is healthy and filled with joy, they stop reading and meditating on the Word, their church attendance drops off, and they are no longer in active Christian service.
Excuses or Reasons?
Jesus ran into many people who followed Him only until their need was met. He saw them fall away as soon as the pressure of need was gone. They treated Him - and His Word - like a magic genie: after Jesus granted them their three wishes, they figured He would disappear and leave them alone. Once their need was met, they lost their motive for serving the Lord.
In the following parable, Jesus challenged both His disciples - and us - to keep our motives pure and our priorities focused on Him:
"Then He said to him, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ But they all with one accord began to make excuses." (Luke 14-18a)
This story anticipates the coming of the Church Age and the local church. Jesus knew the dedication of His disciples would one day be demonstrated by their consecration and faithfulness to their local church. The same proof of our dedication to the Lord is demanded today by our faithfulness to attend our local church and our willingness to become involved in the work of God.
In this parable, the man who made the great supper is the pastor of the local church. Each time the church doors open, the invitation goes out to call those to come and eat of the great meal which has been prepared.
The ones who were invited to this supper had always come before - but this time, they offered excuses. Now, there may be a reason why you cannot come to church, but there is no excuse. A reason is the truth, while an excuse is a lie, a facade to cover the truth. A person who makes excuses never accepts personal responsibility, but always puts the blame on someone or something else. The Bible tells us that everyone who was invited to this feast began to make excuses.
"The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’ Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’" (Luke 14:18b-20)
The first two men had financial excuses. One said he could not come because he had to inspect a piece of ground he had purchased. The other said he had to go and try out some new oxen he had bought. Let me ask you a question: What kind of idiot buys a piece of property and then looks at it? What kind of idiot buys oxen and then tries them out? Everyone knows you need to inspect and prove before you buy! These were excuses, designed to cover the truth, blame the circumstances, and deny personal responsibility.
How did these men become prosperous enough to buy the land and oxen? These blessings came from God through His Word, from the spiritual meals served by their pastor every week.
These men, apparently, came to church because of great financial problems. The Lord was gracious to meet these need, and buy better equipment. But now their priorities have changed. They are busy with their possessions and are no longer interested in the things of God. They never had a great love for the Lord. He was there to meet needs and grant desires, but never to be loved and served.
Notice, these men had to be hunted down to discover their excuses. When people leave church because of a change in their priorities, they rarely tell anyone - they just leave. When you finally see them on the street or in the mall, they give you many excuses why the church and the Lord are not so important anymore.
The third man in this story excused himself because of his new wife. While this man was single, he was very dedicated to serving the Lord and active in local church. God was his top priority - until he discovered a mate. Now, instead of being involved, coming to church early, and studying God's Word, he spends all his time with his new wife, occupied with the trivial details of life instead with the Giver of life.
There must always be a pressure in our lives, pushing us to serve God. God's desire is to see that pressure, that drive toward godliness, move from the outside to the inside, from external circumstances to internal desire. In other words, God eventually wants us to serve Him because we want to, not because we have to. This is one major reason why God meets our needs and gives us abundance: He wants to test and prove our motives.
What is our motive for serving God? Let it be a heart of gratitude and love. Let the motive of love far exceed the motive of need.
A Godly Warning
Moses warned the Israelites about the snares of prosperity before they entered Canaan. He told them of hills filled with copper, gold, and silver. He told them of rich soil which would grow large crops with little effort. He also told them of the God Who would give them the great prosperity of the land after their time of fighting was over. They would live in houses they had not built and have such wealth they would become the envy of other nations around.
But Moses knew the time for the Israelites to dedicate themselves to the Lord - and to make a strong commitment to Him - was before the prosperity came.
"Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, lest—when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; who led you through that great and terrible wilderness, in which were fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty land where there was no water; who brought water for you out of the flinty rock; who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do you good in the end— then you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.’
“And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day." (Deuteronomy 8:11-18)
Only pride and arrogance could cause us to give ourselves credit for something God did. God's desire is for us to remain dedicated to Him, even after we are blessed. It gives God joy when we, His children, worship Him, even when we have no pressing needs.
Passing the Test
The greatest worship comes from a heart of gratitude and love, not a life of need. God wants to meet our needs, so we can become true worshipers of Him. His ultimate test for us will be to see if, when our needs are met, our love for Him will be sufficient motivation for us to remain faithful and worship Him with our whole hearts. When we do that, we will have passed hardest test in the Christian life - the prosperity test.
The believer must cease from his own deeds to enter into what God has done, divine good. Faith is the absence of human merit. This requires faith in God’s finished word and works. So how are believers to be diligent to enter in? By mixing faith with the promises of God. This diligence to enter in is a great missing ingredient in faith circles today.Read More
God's righteousness is first said to be unto all. The emphasis here is that we, as Gentiles, were strangers and foreigners to the covenants of God. We have now been brought to the cross by the blood of Jesus and all that is required is our faith to receive the righteousness of God. This righteousness is first of all something we become, not something simply added to our life or something accounted us. We are not sinners just saved by grace. We used to be sinners, and now we have been saved by faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. And, as surely as Jesus became sin for us on the cross, we have become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).Read More
Don’t give up on God because He has promised He will come through for you. He is faithful. He is dependable. If you don’t have the answers you are seeking, remember He promised that those things that are hidden will be revealed. In other words, those things you don’t understand right now will be brought to the light one day. Then you will understand and be glad you continued to follow the One Who is faithful, the One Who can be trusted, the One Who has the answers, the One Who has given us everything we will ever need in this lifetime!Read More
Our salvation is a free gift from God. We don’t deserve it; we can’t earn it. All we do to receive it is accept it by faith. In the same way, our spiritual life after salvation is by grace; we can never deserve or earn it by our own efforts. It, too, is a gift of God received by faith.Read More
It is important for those who were wronged to forgive the one who wronged them. This releases the victim from anger and thoughts of vengeance. Although the person can never totally forget the act of wrong inflicted on them, they can leave the problem in the hands of God, knowing God will repay. But restoration is totally in the hands of the one who committed the wrong. With a contrite heart toward God and the ones hurt, the person may one day in the future assume their position in life and ministry again and even rise to new heights of responsibility.Read More
Paul declares twice that he knows how to be at the bottom of circumstances and he knows how to be on top. He has been broke and rich. He has been hungry and full. Yet, he is not moved by his situation, financial condition or lack of food, only by what he knows from God's word. In other words, what does it matter what the situation is? "My God shall supply all my needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19). God's promises do not change despite the circumstances. Yet, the circumstances will change when the Word of God is applied.Read More
Over the long run, our determination to remain free from bitterness or any other sin must come from the promises of God's Word. The Holy Spirit draws from our knowledge of the Scriptures to help us make daily decisions to forgive. Our spiritual vision becomes sharpened by each promise, and we are able to detect when Satan tempts us to fall into bitterness again.Read More
Worry is always future. Worry says, "I know God came through for me in the past, but it is all going to fail tomorrow or next week. I have had my rent payment before, but I will be evicted by this time next month." If Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever, how could He possibly fail to provide for you today or tomorrow?Read More
Some of us have never got it down on the inside of us that it's the fondest desire of God's heart to meet every promise that He's given in His Word. Not only is he able to give all things he wants to give them to you. It is His fondest desire to give to you.Read More
Our problems will not last forever; we are going to make it through because our future is in eternity! It does not matter what people say, what the doctors say, what friends and relatives say. It does not matter what your mind is saying. The same God Who prophesied that Israel would be preserved and the enemy would be destroyed is the same God who will preserve you and destroy every enemy in your life.Read More
Worship is being occupied with God. It is also the movement of a soul toward God that has been moved upon by God. Worship is drawing close to a God who has given us everything. Religion teaches us to work our way closer to God so God will work Himself closer to us. However, God has already worked His way to us and poured out His blessing on us. Therefore, there is nothing to do but praise, worship, and serve Him all the days of our lives. We need to draw closer to Him.Read More