Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Cancel the Debt

Forgive us our debts (or trespasses) as we forgive those who trespass against us. 

Do you remember the guy in Matthew 18 that was forgiven the two million dollar debt by the master but wouldn't forgive the $20 his fellow servant owed him?  Sounds fair enough that if he was forgiven so much, he should be more than willing to forgive so little. 

However, that is not the way the Lord's prayer reads.  It says that we establish the amount.  The way and amount we forgive is the way and amount we enable God to forgive us!  In other words, if you want to be forgiven completely, then you must forgive others completely.  

Lack of forgiveness only destroys you, not the person you are resenting.  There is a story about a man who was walking on the beach when a gull flew overhead and landed a dropping of his waste right on the man's forehead.  The man shook his fist at the fleeting bird and screamed, "You come back here and clean this up!"  I'm not cleaning this up.  So he went to work the next day with the bird dropping still on his head.  People started wondering about him.  He began to smell so they avoided him.  The point is that bitterness and unforgiveness is like a bird dropping on your head, it destroys you.  Almost always the person responsible for the hurt is not going to come back and make it right.  He may not even be anywhere around or may not even realize the pain he caused.  Don't let others' actions destroy you! 

Forgiveness is a decision, not a feeling.  You choose to forgive, to cancel the debt, to "let it go" as the song in Frozen goes.  Your feelings may still be agitated, but as you speak to yourself, "No, I forgive and cancel the debt. That person owes me nothing" the feelings lose their force and can begin to settle down.  You may be tempted to rehearse the offence and stir your emotions up again.  Don't.  Take every thought captive and remind your soul (your thoughts, feelings, and will) that you have released that person and canceled the debt.  It is finished.  Death and life is set before you, choose life.  Give and it will be given.  Forgive and you will be forgiven.  As you make this gracious decision and refuse to allow bitterness to ensnare you, you allow God's Spirit to heal you of the hurt and set you free. 

Jesus died for that sin and hurt which someone has afflicted on you.  He has paid for it.  God is clear in His command.  Forgive.  Even if it costs you your life.  It did cost Jesus His, and He forgave.  Romans 5 reminds us that the love and forgiveness of God has been poured into your heart by the Holy Spirit.  Perfect love casts out all fear.  It is the same perfect love which Jesus displayed on the cross.  As you choose to let this love enable you to forgive, God gives more grace to cancel the debt, and His peace fills your mind and heart in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6).  Be free.  

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Trusting and Thanking God for His Daily Bread

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? (Romans 8:32)  God is a giver.  God so loved the world that He gave...  It pleases the Father to give you the kingdom.  In Jesus' teaching about us giving our son a fish instead of a serpent, the obvious comparison is how much more will the Father give good things to those who ask Him.  

Give us our daily bread.  Two simple reflections; 1) Since God's nature is to give, it is not difficult to trust Him and give thanks for caring about your needs.  2) Daily bread refers to all that you may need today, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  In the incident where Jesus met the Canaanite woman (Matthew 15) who wanted healing for her daughter, Jesus calls healing the children's bread.  Just like the manna in the wilderness, it is the "what is it" that you need for today. 

Jesus taught us to ask, to seek, and to knock, with the assurance that your Father will cause you to receive, find, and have the door opened to you.  God waits to be gracious to you, but He won't override your free will.  He wants us to come to Him and ask.  He desires us to talk to Him about what is on our hearts and what we need.  God's purpose is always to deepen our relationship with Him until He becomes all in all.  In Philippians 4:6  the Word teaches us "in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let you requests be made known to God."  The point is we can already give thanks as we ask because we know God wants to give. 

Our Father is a good father who longs to meet our needs according to His riches in glory.  Come to Him each day trusting and thanking Him for your "daily bread."

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Come, Thy Kingdom!

 The torch has been handed to you.  "I have given you authority" (Luke 11:19)  God established His kingdom with the designation that you have His authority to declare with your mouth "life and death" (Proverbs 18:21), and tells you to "Choose life" (Deut. 30:19).  Both the phrase They kingdom come and Thy will be done are actually imperatives, translated in common English to read "Come, Thy kingdom" and "Be done,Thy will."  These are declarations that we as believers are instructed to make so God's power can be released on the earth.  God confirms His Word that we speak. (Mark 16:20)

Jesus declared repeatedly in His ministry that the kingdom of God "is here" and "has come."  It refers to God establishing a whole new order of life where Jesus is Lord and all things are transformed to submit to His love and rule.  When Jesus declared, "It is Finished," Satan was defeated and all the consequences of sin were totally paid for.  However, Hebrews 2:8-9 reminds us that even though everything is now in subjection to Jesus and under His feet, we don't see this complete victory manifested yet.  God calls on us to agree with His Word, to cry out "Come, Lord Jesus!", and to "hasten the day of His coming" by our declaring this simple request, Come, Thy Kingdom!  Revelation reveals the day is coming when the kingdoms of the earth will become the kingdoms of our Lord, on earth as it is in heaven.  Every enemy of love will be removed.  Every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.  Amen, let it be so.

Jesus also told us that the kingdom of God is within you. (Luke 17:21)  Paul describes the kingdom in Romans 14:17 as "righteousness, peace, and joy of the Holy Spirit," and in 1 Corinthians 4:20 as "not in word but in power."  Those who receive Jesus Christ, and believe in His name, have been given power  to become the sons of God (John 1:12).  Through salvation we have been made temples of the Holy Spirit and so the very presence of God dwells in us.  We speak and release the power of God to be "king" in us, that His righteousness, peace, and the joy of the Holy Spirit would dominate our lives.

We also call forth that His will be done.  We purpose to obey His Word and the leading of the Holy Spirit.  By praying this phrase, we align our will with His will, and "pick up our cross daily."  The cross is where His will and our will cross.  We choose and declare to walk in the Spirit of holiness and obedience as we will forever in heaven.  

Furthermore, we can extend this prayer petition to others.  May His kingdom (righteousness, peace, and the joy of the Holy Spirit) come upon our spouses and children, on our leaders and pastors, and on those whom the Spirit brings to mind.  It is releasing the power of God to bless and transform those whom we love.  May His will be done in their lives.  3 John 2 encourages us that He desires above all things that we prosper and be in health, even as our soul prospers.  Obviously, Jesus' kingdom extends to those who accept His saving work and leadership (making Him Lord.)  We become the Lord's ambassadors who cry out for all men to be reconciled to God and choose to do His will. 

Pray that His kingdom come on the earth as it is in heaven, and that men everywhere turn from their selfish fleshly desires to choosing to do His will. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

"Pray in this manner" Jesus

 "Let God be true and every man a liar," states Romans 3:4.  This simple statement has a lot of applications, especially when we try to put human wisdom, which 1 Corinthians calls foolishness, against God's revealed truth.  Today we will apply this principle to instruct us how God tells His people to pray.

In Luke 11, the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray.  He replied, "Pray in this manner," and then proceeded to give them what we often call the Lord's Prayer.  Rather than just a recognized, formal recitation, there is divine revelation in the infinite heart desires that He longs for those created in His mage to receive and to express.  Two Scriptural truths come to mind. The Father desires us to worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:23).  And how can two walk together unless they be agreed (Amos 3;3).  Clearly God gave us these requests so we would allow them in our hearts and declare them with our lips. There is great humbleness and strength in opening our hearts to cry out to God the very issues that are on His heart.  

What are these simple petitions?  Let's take time to consider these 7 prayer principles: 1) our relationship with God, 2) acknowledging how great He is through His name(s), 3) calling forth His kingdom to come and His will to be done, 4) trusting Him and thanking Him for our daily provision, 5) setting our hearts to walk in forgiveness in the same way we receive His forgiveness, 6) depending on God's deliverance and standing in authority over the evil one, and 7) finally, declaring His infinite and eternal praise.   "Holy Spirit, we ask You to open up to our hearts and understanding these powerful requests so we can learn to pray as Jesus taught." 

We will consider the first two petitions in this post, and continue this subject in the following. 

 First, "Our Father" suggests we know our relationship with God.  Because through Jesus we are born again into His family, we can come as His loving, grateful children (1 John 3:1) who trust their "Daddy" God.   All prayer starts and works because He is a Father who cares for His children.

Secondly, we acknowledge how great He is through His name, or through the names that God has given through His Word to describe His nature.  A name reveals the reality of what the individual actually is.  For example, several names of God share how He has dealt with sin.  Jehovah tsidkenu, the Lord is righteous, which informs me that with awesome gratitude I may  declare He is my righteousness.  Did He not become sin so I could become the righteousness of God? (2 Corinthians 5:21)  Jehovah M'Kaddesh is the Lord is my sanctifier, so my only honest response is, thank you, Jesus, for sanctifying me, transforming me from fallen nature that deserves death, into a new creation that now is a temple of God and can be Your light to the world.   To be sanctified means to be set apart for a definite higher purpose.  A person might "sanctify" a nest egg savings account so that he could build that special dream house.    

Our second area of names reveal how close and intimate God is and what He always wants us to know.  Jehovah Shammah, the Lord is here.  At this point when I pray, I imagine myself bowing before the very presence of God, totally satisfied and awed by His love and glory.  A testimony of a 23 year old Atlanta man who died and came back to life was that when he was brought before the Lord Jesus, he was totally satisfied, every thought and need was completely met, and he just wanted to be there forever and give all he had to Him.  That is the attitude and awareness I choose in taking a few moments to be still before Him.  This name reminds me that even though my flesh can't see it, He is actually here and through whatever happens I can know the reality of His presence. He is with me.  Likewise in His presence, Jehovah Shalom, He is peace and wholeness.  Philippians 4:7 reminds me that when rather than be anxious, I simply am to pray with thanksgiving and He will keep my mind and heart at peace in Christ Jesus.

The next set of names demonstrate God's concern over the challenges and practical needs of life.  Clearly Jesus has overcome sin, death, and sickness, or in other words, everything that has fallen due to the sin of man.  Jehovah Rapha, the Lord is healer, reveals His taking our sickness and His nature and power to make us whole.  1 Peter 2:24 reminds us that by His stripes we were healed.  Then Jehovah Jireh, the Lord is provider, shows that He sees what we need before we even realize it and has made provision so our needs are met.  Paul reminded the Philippians that their needs were met according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  Or 2 Peter 1:3-4 declares that His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness.

Jehovah Nissi, the Lord our victor or banner, allows us to enter into His victory over sin, death, and the devil.  He has not only won through His death and resurrection, but He declares that all those who believe in Jesus also overcome (1 John 5:4).  This is a good place to put on the armor of God: gird your loins with truth, put on the breastplate of righteousness, shod your feet with the preparation of the Gospel of peace, above all take up the shield of faith, put on the helmet of salvation, and take up the sword of the Spirit by declaring His Word.   Having put on the armor, it is time to stand.  Take authority over abortion, deception, violence, or whatever the Spirit leads you to exercise your victory and authority over.  God's plan is to crush Satan under your feet (Romans 16:20).  Using the name and authority of Jesus, every knee must bow.  

Finally, Jehovah Rohi, the Lord is my shepherd, gives a beautiful picture of God taking care of us completely and forever.  It summarizes all these names.  My needs are met: I shall not want.  I fear no evil because He is with me. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness.  He sets a table before me, anoints my head with oil (the Holy Spirit), my cup overflows.  Surely goodness and mercy will follow me.  I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. 

Hallowed by Thy Name.   Truly, He is love, our hope, our strength, our joy, and desires to be our "all in all."  We praise Him through the specific names that reveal how great He is and allow this truth to renew our mind and to open our heart to love and adore the great I Am.  Be still and know I am God.


Saturday, October 10, 2020

Life to the Fullest - Teach us the Fear of the Lord

"The reverent, worshipful fear of the Lord leads to life, and he who has it rests satisfied." (Prov 19:23 Amp).  Therefore, consider God's invitation in Psalm 34:11-12, "Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.  Who is the man who desires life, and loves many days that he may see good?" Do you see that walking in an attitude of fear of the Lord is designed to give you good, to fill you with abundant life, and cause you to rest satisfied?   Amazingly, this quality is so important to God, that He promises to teach whoever is willing to come to Him.  He has promised more blessings and powerful results from this attitude than any other in Scripture.  

Fear of the Lord is defined in Proverbs 8:13 as "to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way."  This attitude or spiritual quality is the description of Jesus in Hebrews 1:9, who loved righteousness and hated evil for which God honored Jesus by anointing Him "with the oil of gladness more than your companions "  Psalm 19:9 states that the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever.  Psalm 34 assures us that the angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him and adds that there is no want to those who fear Him  

Sometimes this term is confused with being afraid, which obviously is a negative result of anticipating evil, but the perfect love of Jesus casts out all fear.  The contrast is found in the words of Amazing Grace, "who taught my heart to fear, and by grace my fears relieved." He is truly an awesome God, all-powerful, infinitely wise and holy, the creator of the universe, so it is no wonder that Psalm 33 declares, "Let all the earth fear the Lord, let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him."  We could and probably should be afraid of Him if we did not know His heart.  However, knowing the love of God, who was pleased to have His own Son beaten and brutally slaughtered just to save us, makes us realize He also is awesome in His love which takes away my fear of evil and fills me with peace.  

Learning the fear of the Lord is an awesome realization of the glorious privilege of having the living God dwell inside us.  God Himself has chosen to make His home in us.  So in response to who He is and all He has done, what else can we do but desire and choose to please Him.  Notice the intimacy of this relationship found in Psalm 25, "the secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him and He will show them His covenant."  God delights in the fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:3).   

Each one of us has the most important appointment of our life still coming up.  That is the day when we stand before God and our whole life passes before us.   In Psalm 36, when the Word describes the wicked as "having no fear of God before his eyes" and that he "flatters and deceives himself in his own eyes that his iniquity will not be found out and hated.''  Wrong choices with be not only revealed but hated.  On the other hand, those who walk in fear of the Lord now, will experience the "Well done, good and faithful servant" and rejoice over every time we chose to obey the prompting of the Holy Spirit, love righteousness (and hate evil), and honor God by doing His Word.    

The purpose of this word is to encourage you, put another log on your fire to be holy, and remind you that the Holy Spirit is here to guide you into all truth.  Listen to Him.  May each of us be willing to learn the fear of the Lord and have no regrets when we stand before the living God to receive our eternal reward.  In the name of Jesus, let it be so. 


Sunday, September 27, 2020

Life on Earth - A Drop in the Ocean

How can you compare a drop of water to the entire ocean?  People have no idea, actually our finite minds can't fathom, how long eternity is.  How much more overwhelming is the thought when we consider eternal judgment!

Amazingly, Jesus describes it like this.  "This is eternal life, that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent."  Notice, His definition is not duration that it lasts forever, but rather a quality of life that comes only from knowing God.  So eternal judgment is this life's final exam, that is answered by whether one knows God and Jesus Christ whom He sent. 

When I was a dumb, little kid, I wrestled with the idea of how could we live forever, and what would we do, and how could I stand it.  So I thought it might be easier to just go to hell, burn up, and have it all over with, sort of like the mistaken idea some people have about suicide.  Then someone told me that hell is forever too.  Wow!  My unthinkable concept changed immediately!

There is a truth about God that is hard for us to handle.  Absolutely Just.  We somewhat grasp the concept of mercy, that God forgives the worst sinner, which Paul considered himself to be.  However, what do we know about Him being perfectly just?  Every sin will get perfect retribution.  It will be paid in full.  God is not mocked, what is sown shall be reaped.

There is a hint of this in the well-known John 3:16 verse, "For God so loved the world that He gave HIs only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."  Notice the contrast, either perish or have eternal life.  Then in verse 18, this truth is brought home stronger, "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."  Sin deserves death.  Man, who is sinful, is condemned already, and rightly deserve death.  

So God, in His perfect mercy and love for us, sent Jesus to pay the "condemnation" penalty because He wants us to be free and live with Him forever.  Ephesians 1:5 reveals that His eternal plan is that we would be "holy and blameless before Him."  That is why receiving what Jesus did on the cross and His resurrection is so crucial.  Either you accept that Jesus, God's Son, paid the supreme price and eternal consequences for your sin, or that incredibly serious debt still remains.  You are rightly condemned for not only your sin but also for rejecting God's love in the person of Jesus who took your punishment.

Why is eternal judgment in the foundational doctrines of Hebrews 6 that needs to be settled if we are going to mature?  Eternal judgment is an awesome reality that makes the whole issue of being saved absolutely the most important step anyone and everyone must personally take.  Understanding God's justice, and then His beautiful mercy in paying everything for us, will produce a heart of gratefulness and a strong foundation upon which our life always rests.  We belong to Him and are secure forever because of what Jesus has done.  Secondly, this need for everyone to receive Jesus changes evangelism  from a nice thing to an absolutely necessary reality.  This truth sets us free from our self-consciousness of how we feel or what others think, to being unashamed as God's representative to bring this good news to all men.  We are His instrument to share and be a witness of HIs love for each one. 

No one can know their purpose in life unless they understanding how eternal judgment is the climax of sowing and reaping.  God is not mocked, what one sows he will reap.  Standing before God is the most crucial appointment we will ever have with the most awesome possibilities: everlasting joy in the Father's presence or eternal separation from all that is good.  We need to see this life as an opportunity to be a light for Him, with eternal rewards.  No one will even give a drink of cold water to a child without reaping a reward, how much more sharing Jesus with a sinner who otherwise would be lost forever.  The time on earth may be only a drop in a bucket compared to eternity, but this life is the proving ground where God is revealing who He is, and empowering us to will and work for His pleasure.  So live today with the realization that every choice will have eternal ramifications, for good reward or evil consequences.  Your choice.   

Monday, September 21, 2020

All Rise!

 He is risen!  He is risen indeed!  The early church would celebrate the resurrection of Jesus by declaring this powerful truth and the response in agreement.  One Easter morning I was sharing the Word and encouraged my audience to respond in like manner, shouting, "He is Risen!" and they would respond "He is Risen indeed!"  Unknown to me, there was present a lady who had pneumonia but was allowed to leave the hospital to attend Easter services.  As she was leaving the church, she stopped to say there was a strange warmth and presence in her chest as we declared He is Risen, and that all of a sudden she could breathe normally.  Later doctors confirmed that she was healed.

There is power in the resurrection.  Jesus Christ "was declared to be the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead. (Romans 1:4).  The resurrection also establishes Jesus's complete victory over death, sin and sickness.  After the resurrection Jesus announced to His disciples "all authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth."  No wonder then, that the Word (Acts 4:33) records that the apostles "with great power gave witness to the resurrection from the dead."  

This overcoming power and authority is available to all who believe Jesus Christ is God's Son who died and rose for them.  Romans 6:5 assures us, "If we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall in the likeness of His resurrection."  Paul, even after all his preaching and miracles, had one overwhelming request, "that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection."  The person of the Holy Spirit makes this reality a part of our daily experience, as the Word says in Romans 8:11, "the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you."    

God's eternal plan for man is past, present, and future.  The resurrection of Jesus 2000 years ago settles the fact of Jesus' love and victory for all men.  Through the Holy Spirit this released power equips us today to walk in overcoming faith and victory.  However, 1 Peter 1:3 blesses God who "according to His abundant mercy, has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."  This living hope is a sure future promise to rise with Him and be with Him forever.

Therefore, this foundation doctrine of the resurrection provides eternal assurance that Jesus' "It is finished" statement from the cross is confirmed.  Man sinned and lost his dominion authority over the earth to Satan.  Jesus destroyed the works of the devil, brought man back to God, and paid the supreme price to re-establish man in the righteousness and authority of God Himself.  We are now called to rise up and walk in the triumphant, overcoming power of the living God.  Believers in Jesus Christ and His resurrection have passed from death to life.  We are now to reckon ourselves dead to sin (and its consequences) and alive to God.  All rise, and give glory to God by walking in His resurrection power.