Friday, 28 February 2014

Useless Vows

Proverbs 20:25 It is a snare for a man to devote rashly something as holy, and afterward to reconsider his vows.

      Vows, promises, and commitments are not well honored in these days of non-committal attitudes. Pay off my debt. Why? Just declare personal bankruptcy and start spending what we don't have all over again. Breaking a business deal, no problem, call a lawyer and make up some subterfuge as to why the contract is being broken.
      Divorce, simple, call it quits and blame it on irreconcilable differences to sound fashionable, and we can divvy-up the kids for the weekends. Tell the truth, Bah, what's the point, they will never know they got ripped off. No harm no foul. We all got to look out for number one.
 Hag. 1:5 Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.
      A lot of our vows and commitment to God and life itself is as reliable as a New Year's Eve resolutions; well-meaning, but absolutely without substance. What we fail to realise is that most of us will find it very difficult to follow through on anything of challenge or hardship without the help of God influencing our fortitude. John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
      We read in the story of Jonah - the shipmates find out that Jonah is the reason for the gale-force-winds that are about to sink their ship. So, the deck-hands throw Jonah overboard, as instructed, and the storm stops immediately. Jonah 1:15 So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging. 
      The next verse is the one that I find interesting because God does not respond to what is done. Jonah 1:16 Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the LORD, and made vows. I would go as far as to say, "Made vows that were never honored." Vows, promises, and commitments made in the thick of major fear, anger, and desperation are most often empty promises that end up resulting in useless vows. 
      I say this because God does not even acknowledge anything about these vows made by the sailors. God prepares a great fish to take Jonah onward to his divine appointment in Nineveh.
      There seems to be very little value that God put on these vows made from fearful hearts for self-preservation by these men. We have all heard these vows before. I promise, that was the last time I will get drunk or have a drink, it's the straight and narrow from now on. You can count on it, I will be there on time for you, and if I'm late, well, I'll make it up to you.  Honest, the payment is in the mail. 
      Prov. 21:8 The way of him that is laden with guilt is exceeding crooked; But as for the pure, his work is right. The Lord has a simple solution to all this false elaboration. God says in His word. Matt. 5:37 But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.
      When Paul says in Phil. 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me, he was also referring to the fact that he had the strength to keep his vows and promises that he made. Paul also made it clear that this ability came through Christ within and his relationship with the Lord. 
      We have this same Jesus living within our beings. A bit of self-diagnoses is in order and multiple trips to the counselor can be avoided if we would take a lesson from Matt. 7:16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Put the spotlight (the word of God) on our own hearts and see the fruit coming out of our lives. If the fruit is good, then praise the Lord. If not, repent. Prov. 20:11 Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right. 
      Keeping our vows, promises, and commitments should not be a grievous undertaking. It should be part of our born-again Christian character that is growing from glory to glory. 2 Cor. 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

The Rich Blessing

Proverbs 10:22 The blessing of the LORD, it makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.

      Solomon, in his wisdom, knew what the blessing of the Lord could do for a soul. The simple answer is the blessing of the Lord makes rich, and God adds no sorrow with His blessing. The incredible thing about the blessing of the Lord is that it brought no harm in itself to the one being blessed. James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. 

      It is a pure blessing, but the person who has the blessing bestowed upon their life could end up abusing it and causing the blessing to become a burden in life. When God hands us a blessing, it comes to us full and pure, but when we start thinking that we are above the law per se we can end up desperately wanting and the blessing becomes too hot to handle. We are the ones who end up turning the blessing into sorrow.
     
We read in God's word some of the people who could not or would not give reverence to the blessing that had been given to them. Eli, who had the blessing of priesthood on himself and his sons, lived to see the blessing of the Lord turn into sorrow. 1 Sam. 4:11 And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain. 
      King Saul was anointed with the blessing of being king, but Saul turned this blessing into sorrow through his arrogance and fear. 1 Sam 16:1a And the LORD said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? 
       Ananias and Sapphira were blessed with property and wealth. The possessions that were a blessing of the Lord, over time possessed Ananias and Sapphira, ending up a great sorrow and loss of life. Acts 5:3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
       In our own time and church history, we have seen the same thing with some unfortunate TV Evangelist who suffered great sorrow when they mistook the blessing of the Lord as some personal lawless license to live without regard for the heart of God. There seems to be a running theme among all these examples. There is a lack of reverence for the blessing itself and a sense of entitlement or a stout heart that says, "It's about time this blessing happened, I've been believing for it to come in and not too soon at that."
       Let's look a bit deeper than just material blessing. The blessing of the LORD, it makes rich, and He adds no sorrow with it. God wants us in a receptive position of His blessing so we could be God's people and He would be our God. Jer. 24:7 And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart. That is the blessing of the Lord. Psalm 133:3-B For there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.
       The blessing of the Lord is an amazing gift because it puts us right in the center of His love. If we could think outside the box of our limited stuff-owning-lifestyles and direct our hearts to what is the true blessing of the Lord, we would see how rich we really are in the saving grace of our God. Rom. 4:6 Even as David also describes the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputes righteousness without works, 7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. 

      When we start seeing the priceless value of our salvation and bless the Lord for the way He has taken all sorrows from our hearts, we will begin to see how rich and blessed we truly are. Happy is the man whose sins are forgiven, happy is that man. 1 Cor. 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Breakthrough

Proverbs 19:8 He that gets wisdom loves his own soul: he that keeps understanding shall find good.

      Have you ever seen a plant pushing through the cement causing a crack in the sidewalk? What force and determination it took (if plants have determination) for that small shoot to breakthrough a five-inch layer of cement or pavement. This illustration can be an example of the growing power of God that is within each one of us who reach for the love and grace of our Lord to accomplish what God has put within our hearts. Luke 1:37 For with God nothing shall be impossible. 
      God admonishes us to come out from beneath the built-up debris in our lives. He has equipped us to breakthrough that crusty layer of rubbish that has brought limitations and bondage into our relationship with our Lord. 2 Cor. 17:6 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 7  And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. 
      With the help of the Spirit of God from within us, we can breakthrough the heavy brass ceiling that has pushed us down to non-effectiveness within the body of Christ. The truth of Phil. 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me becomes a reality when we act and believe the power of Christ working within our hearts. We can breakthrough the heavy cement-like force of problems and temptations that are pressuring us to give up and fall down.
      We sometimes think that we are so buried under sin and worldliness that God cannot find us because of the thick piles of carnality that has enveloped our beings. This is not to be believed because Jonah was in the deepest place of despair and disobedience one could imagine and yet God found him. Jonah 2:5 The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head. 6 I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God. 
      God does not give up on us. We tend to give up on ourselves because we forget the redeeming factor of our salvation. We can push through the hardship and sometimes demonic bondage with our trusting that Christ's redemptive work was and is complete. Rom. 5:9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 1 Cor. 1:20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
       God knows how strong we truly are because He knows how strong He is. The Lord knows He has overcome the world and sin, and now lives within us by faith, so we have the power to breakthrough because of what Christ has done. John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. 

      It is no wonder God wants us to say we are strong in Him and can breakthrough and break out because He is in us. Joel 3:10b Let the weak say, I am strong. Am I oversimplifying this? Have we become so accustomed to tolerating defeat that we learn to live with it, like that squeaky cabinet drawer? The fix for the drawer is oil and adjustment, and without sounding trite, would that not be the same for us? 
      The oil of the Holy Spirit and the adjustment of our faith in God's word toward our situation would go a long way in breaking out. Have faith in God concerning our victories. The Lord has not brought us this far in our walk with Him to drop us on a technicality of a perceived transgression invented out of our own ignorance. 
      No, God has done too much to secure our souls. We have to believe the love God has for us and the breakthrough will come with Christ leading the way. Jude 1:24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

We Want To Be Heard!

Proverbs 5:7 Hear me now therefore, O ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth.
    
      The cry of God's heart is that we hear Him and come into fellowship with what the Lord is saying, because what God is saying to us will work for our lives if we apply it. One of the first words from God the Father, when speaking about Jesus, is that we should know that God the Father is pleased with Jesus. Matt. 3:17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 
      The next thing that our heavenly Father wants us to do concerning Jesus is to hear what Jesus says and do it what He says. Mark 9:7 And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him. 
      God wants to be heard, and interestingly enough, we were created in God's image and we all want to be heard also. Psalm 5:1 Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my meditation. 2 Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto thee will I pray.
      Like the psalmist, we desire to be heard and it does not matter what language we come to God in prayer with, we need to be heard and understood. It is a fundamental necessity of our well being and existence. The psalmist is asking that his meditation be considered as in, thought about, and taken seriously; also, that the voice of his cry be listened to. 

      In the French bible it says, Psaume 5:2 Prête l`oreille à mes paroles, ô Éternel! Écoute mes gémissements! 3 Sois attentif à mes cris, mon roi et mon Dieu! C`est à toi que j`adresse ma prière.  The psalmist is saying, "God, lend your ear to my words, and hear my wailing. Be attentive to my shouting."  
      In the Spanish bible it says, Salmos 5: 1 Escucha mis palabras, oh Señor; considera mi lamento. 2 Está atento a la voz de mi clamor, Rey mío y Dios mío, porque es a ti a quien oro. The psalmist is saying, " Lord hear my words and consider my lament and be attentive to my loud uproar." No matter how we phrase it, we want to be heard and need to be heard by God and our fellow man.
      1 John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he hears us: 15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. When we know that we are heard, there is a confidence in God and our lives. 
      Most counseling sessions are in process and overbooked because someone is not being heard or understood. We can have the confidence that God understands our hearts when we come to Him with all of our requests, no matter how petty we might think they are. 
      We need to bring our full agenda and discussions so that we know we were heard. Psalm 31:31,32 Blessed be the LORD: for he hath shewed me his marvellous kindness in a strong city. For I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine eyes: nevertheless thou heard the voice of my supplications when I cried unto thee
      What I am advocating is that we do not stop coming to the Lord in prayer. Keep praying and making our requests known to God so that we hear God's heart through our persistent fellowship with Him. The peace that passes understanding will eventually guide our heart into asking his will in our lives. We will be fulfilled and the joy of the Lord will be our strength. 
      Father, in Jesus name, please help us hear your heart, and thank you for hearing us. Amen.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Bitter Sweet

Proverbs 27:7 The full soul loathes an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.

      There is nothing more pitiful then news coverages of starving people in the Sudan, Syria or any other man-made hell spot on this earth. There is a helpless feeling when the children are filmed displaying festering sores invaded by flies and their bodies emaciated to a skeleton's existence.
      Meanwhile, in North America, we are dieting to the point of the ridiculous, because we are gorging on a constant supply of ready to eat foods. The irony is not lost on anyone who asks themselves, "What is going on in this world? Why is it so hard to get this problem straightened out?" James 4:1 From whence come wars and fighting among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?

      We see this problem in the natural, but the same thing is going on in the spirit of man. Those of us who have a full portion of what God has been feeding our hearts with can attest to the fact that it is easier to say no to what the devil is handing out for sinful snacks when we are full of God's delicious grace. 
      When we are full on what God has fed us with and we are walking in His light, it is harder to fall for all the different winds of doctrine that rob us of our peace that the Lord has given us. Eph. 4:14  That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.
      Man was created with a hunger for God and yet this same man will look to control God by trying to fit Him within man's own ways. We often wonder how it is possible for someone to believe what they believe, even though their own doctrine is blatantly contrary to God and good worldly sense. 
      I once heard a man say, "Sex with a prostitute was not adultery for him because he was paying for the sex and therefore it did not count as adultery in his marriage." I thought, "Is he that stupid or is he just pretending to be." It turned out he was that stupid. Rom. 1:22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. This type of reasoning seems to be a human theme in that humanity will rationalize whatever they want to do as they go along in life. 
      These self-appointed humanists believe as long as whatever they are doing suits the consensus of personal interpretation of a self-written righteous code then for the moment all is well with themselves and God. Not true. Prov. 14:12 There is a way which seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. Prov. 14:14a The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways.
      To the hungry soul, every bitter thing is sweet. We are capable of making what is bitter seem sweet and acceptable but it never lasts. The fact is, we are hungry for God, and His love for us. We should be asking God Himself how to have this hunger fulfilled so that our human existence no longer stews in a place of bitterness. 

      God has invited us to walk His way and no other. Matt. 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Through Christ, God has redeemed us to Himself. Isa. 44:22  I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee. It does not matter whether you think God should or should not do it His way, it is the only way. 
      God is God and we are not. Someone said, "Man does what he can, God does what He will." The Lord Jesus is God's will for us. Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. My quest is to be filled with the Lord's grace and Spirit so that I never thirst or mistake something bitterly destructive as a sweet blessing from God. 
      I want to fulfill in my life what God has created me to accomplish with and in Him. How sweet the sound will be when we hear Christ say to us. Matt. 25:21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

The Word That Works

Proverbs 30:5 Every word of God is pure: He is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.

      
      In that moment when we are reading the word of the Lord and the word opens up to our souls and starts to sing a victory song, you know that you know that God has just spoken to your heart, by His Spirit, and you are transformed. There is no doubt that your faith has just been elevated into a holy and joyful realm where you know God will come through for you. Rom. 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
      In affect, the Logos, the written word of God, has become to your soul the Rhema, the spoken word of God, and your spirit hears it clearly. Your faith comes alive to say what God has put in your heart to be declared. Mark 11:23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.

      In 1982 my wife and I were living in Maroochydore, Queensland. We had been trying to move back to Canada because I had good employment available to me in British Columbia and work was starting to slow down in Maroochydore. My wife had applied for her permanent resident visa with Immigration Canada at the Sydney office in New South Wales. 
      I thought the process might go smoothly because I was Canadian and there was good employment in Canada upon arrival. Well, there was nothing but problems with the process of the application and what came out of the Sydney office was nonsense personified. For nine months there were numerous phone calls and letters written, but this effort brought no help or intelligible advice. 
      During this time I had been reading the word of God, every day, looking for the word that would inspire faith and cause my wife and I to proclaim and make a decree in the name of the Lord that would give us favor in acquiring the resident visa. Job 22:28 Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee: and the light shall shine upon thy ways.
      One morning I was reading the word of God and there it was, the word of deliverance. It came out of my mouth and I knew it was the key that would set faith on fire. I jumped up and said in a loud voice, "In the name of Jesus, let my people go!" That was the word of liberty. John 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. I had been reading Ex. 8:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, Go unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve me. 

      The words, "Let my people go," jumped off the page and caused faith to manifest in my soul right in that wonderful moment. I phoned the Canadian Consulate and asked about the visa and with the agent's typical, sterile, and insipid voice she said she would inquire as to the progress of the visa. In that moment I heard the Spirit of God say to my heart, "No matter what she says to you, when she returns to the phone I want you to thank her for doing the very best she could for you." 
      I started rehearsing God's instruction in my heart. I was ready to say, "Thank you for doing your very best for me," when the Govt' agent came back on the phone. When she picked up the receiver she said, "You know what? You are absolutely correct this has taken too long. I am getting special permission for this visa today and it will be sent to you." I said, "Thank you for doing your very best for us," as God had instructed. The visa was at our home the next day by overnight courier. Shortly afterward we were living in Kelowna, British Columbia.
     The word that works has the ability to give confidence in the love that God has for us. 1 John 4:16-A And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. When we believe the love God has for us our faith becomes God-like, because God is love. We start moving in a Godlike kind of faith because the Spirit of God is directing our faith-filled words. 

      When the spoken word comes from our faith-inspired hearts, there is nothing that can stop it. Isa. 55:11 So shall my word be that goes forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper the thing whereto I sent it.
     The struggle that people have is overcoming the laziness in finding that God inspired word that will change the circumstance in their lives. In the case of the visa for my wife, it took us nine months of reading God's word every day while continuing in our Christian walk, because everyday life goes on. However, we continued faithful until the word of deliverance, for that particular need, jumped off the page of the holy scriptures. I say, no matter how long it takes it is worth the victory when it happens. 

      An example would be; it has been raining every day for two weeks and there is a weariness starting to set in our moods and attitudes. Then one morning we wake up to the most glorious sunny and warm day. We flock outside to do our different activities we have been longing for. You will notice in that moment it does not matter that it had been raining for such a long time, the victory of that sunny day is well worth being alive and full of the joy the day is giving to everyone. The rain is already a distant memory because the victory of the day is huge. 
      Finding the word of the Lord for each one of our situations is like that. It might seem a long time coming but when it does there will be shouts of praise and gratefulness when we know clearly that the word of God had been fulfilled because of His love for us. John 16:23 And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, He will give it you.