Friday, 31 May 2019

What's In A Name?

Proverbs 18:10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.  

      I found my name in the Bible. Rom. 5:6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. The ungodly. Yes, that was my name before I received Jesus as my Lord. I qualified on all counts in having that name as my own. I was ungodly in all my ways and lost in my trespasses and sins. 
      I lived an ungodly life that brought no value to anyone or anything. Then, Jesus took control of my life and gave me a new name through the finished work of the Lord's cross. Because of His holy blood that was shed for me, I was given a new name - the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. 
      What a transformation this new name has made in my life. Decisions that were once made by regret, and from an ungodly sin-consciousness - are now made from an eternal position in Christ's righteousness. 2 Cor. 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 
      I once wore and lived under the weight of dirty sackcloth, but now, I wear a robe of righteousness in the freedom of the Lord's peace. God truly gave me a beautiful name for the old one that was written in ash. Isa. 61:3b To give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.
      Jesus has the only name that is above all names and has covenanted with me to give me an eternal name that is relationally ours. Rev. 2:17b I will also give him a white stone inscribed with a new name, known only to the one who receives it. What a personal Lord we have. 
      The Lord has given us a relationship that has true intimacy, honesty, and honor. Why would anyone take back the old name - the ungodly - when we can have the name of our God flowing through our being? Through Christ, we have the name of Jesus living in our hearts. 
      Wow! All I can say is, "Thank you, God, for the name you have given me. Jesus, the name to be praised." Phil. 2:9 Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name above all names, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in the heavens and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
      The only sacrifice that was acceptable to God, our Father, was the sacrifice Jesus offered on our behalf. The Lord gave Himself and took our place for the eternal punishment that was due by each one of us. This is one of the reasons the name of Jesus is strength and power to those who are in relationship with Him. Prov. 18:10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. 
      I don't think we will ever know the extent of grace we have received through the gift of salvation that Jesus secured for us. Our names were anything but righteousness. However, while we were still sinners, Jesus loved and died for us. Rom. 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. What an amazing love.
      I ask it again. "What's in a name?" In Jesus' name, there are volumes of blessings that could never be measured or even explained. Jesus is the Lord of all, and His name is above every name that is named. There is healing, restoration, peace, and eternal life in His name. 
      The name of Jesus is the power that will resurrect us from the dead. What other name in the universe can do that? None whatsoever! Acts 4:12 There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved. Thank you, Lord, for giving me an eternal and righteous name in Christ. Amen!

Friday, 24 May 2019

Imitate Me

Proverbs 8:33 Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not disregard it.

      The Apostle Paul said, "Imitate me." 1 Cor. 4:16 I urge you, then, be imitators of me. The early Christians did not have the full New Testament at the ready to find out the way to deal with different situations in life. Some of the assemblies and gatherings of like-minded Christians had a letter or two from the Apostle Paul. Other Apostles like Peter, James, and John had written God-inspired epistles by the anointing of the Holy Spirit. However, no one had the complete collection of writings as we have today.
      What did Paul have in his heart to be able to say with confidence? "Imitate me." 1 Cor. 11:1 You are to imitate me, just as I imitate Christ. That was the key. Paul was saying, just as I imitate Christ, imitate what you see me being and doing as a result of Christ living through me. Paul said that once Christ becomes the Lord of our life, we will be read and scrutinized by the world. 2 Cor. 3:2 Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: 3 you show that you are Christ’s letter, delivered by us, not written with ink but with the Spirit of the living God — not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
      Would you have the confidence in Christ to boldly say to someone, "Imitate me, because I imitate Christ." Wow! What a responsibility we have as living epistles and letters of God that express His love for all of mankind. What are the people reading in us when they are looking for answers to life? Do as I say and not as I do, does not work here. 
      Imitate me as I walk in Christ, is imitating what I say and do. Of course, we are fallible people. When we fall, do those who are reading us see us repent, get up, and go forward in Christ? Do they see us making up excuses, shifting the blame, and shrinking back from our accountability to God and each other? I hope they see Christ at work within us doing what the Lord has instructed us to do in His name.
      Our heart and confidence in the Lord should be a declaration that gently says, "Trust in the Lord, and listen to His instructions as you see me following Him with all my heart." Prov. 8:33 Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not disregard it. We are not talking about comparing ourselves with others, but rather sharpening and encouraging each other in the admonition of the love and power of God in order to be epistles that can be read clearly, as we point to Christ. Prov. 27:17 Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.
      As I get older, I have found it important to teach, direct, and give away everything I know about my Lord Jesus to the next generation. I am not trying to create clones of myself, but rather help develop the calling and gifting that is in every individual God has created. Jer. 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you” — this is the LORD’s declaration — “plans for your well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 
      The thoughts and intent of God's heart toward everyone is that none of us should perish, or be eternally lost. 2 Pet. 3:9 The Lord does not delay his promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance. God has made a way for all mankind to come to Him through Christ. We who walk in Christ are His hand extended and read of men. May we remember this awesome responsibility the next time we open the pages of our heart to allow a lost and hurting world to read of God's grace that is available to them. What will be read from your living epistle? Blessings to you in Jesus name!

Friday, 17 May 2019

Bitter Root

Proverbs 14:10 The heart knows its own bitterness, and no outsider shares in its joy.

      Dante said, "Heresy is a form of intellectual bitterness."
      In Chapter six of the Gospel of John, Jesus had been expounding some very deep and profound teachings as to who He was. There came a point when the disciples would have to choose Jesus and accept Him as the God-given sacrifice to the world. Jesus was causing all His followers to make a choice to believe, or not believe, who He said He was. Many of the disciples were incredulous as to how Jesus described Himself because they were reasoning within their momentary thoughts and not by faith. John 6:60 Therefore, when many of his disciples heard this, they said, “This teaching is hard. Who can accept it? ” 61 Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were complaining about this, asked them, “Does this offend you? 
      Jesus was asking them, "Is what I am saying, causing you to become offended and bitter in your faith toward myself and God, who sent me?" John 6:66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. The Lord had drawn a line of belief in the sand that would either bring out the faith in a man's heart toward God, or a root of bitterness exposing a faith lived out of convenience and personal interpretation. 
      The Lord asked His closest disciples if they would also leave Him, because of who He said He was, and the depth of relationship that would be required of them. John 6:67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Like Peter, we may ask ourselves, "Where can we go? God is God, and we don't have all the answers." John 6:68 But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 
      Those who left in bitterness had to deal with the argument that was now aggressively clamoring in their hearts and minds. The peace that was once available to them because they had fellowship with Jesus, was now waning and the root of bitterness was sliding in. When bitterness finds its way into a heart, it is normally after a conflict of belief or disobedience toward God. If the person does not run to God to resolve the conflict of heart or repent of the sin of disobedience, then their heart is open to bitter thoughts and they are vulnerable to deception. 
      We know that Jesus taught anything but heresy. However, He was accused of heresy throughout His false trial. The intellectual reasoning that the religious leaders were using to rationalize their own heresy, was because they were looking for a saviour to deliver their physical lives from the oppression of Rome. Jesus was trying to deliver their souls from eternal death, and that would take faith in God's Son. Since the teachings of Jesus were contrary to the agendas of the religious leaders; in blind anger, they deemed it heresy. They wanted their interpretation of truth to justify their doctrines of nationalism. It did not matter how bitter of heart they became.
      We who are in Christ, are invited by God to come to Him and find the grace needed to deal with the hard things we are going through. We may not get the answer we want to hear, but the Lord, will meet the need of our heart and give us the courage to have faith in what God has said to be true. Heb. 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
      God does invite us to come and reason with Him, but the outcome of the reasoning is to clean our minds, hearts, and souls from sin and deception. God will welcome a contrite heart, but, will work on cleaning up a bitter one. Isa. 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
      If you have found yourself in a bitter place, or have had a root of bitterness displaying itself through your thoughts, words, and actions - then it is time to draw closer to God. Let Him heal your inner man so that your outer man becomes the person God made you to be. The Lord did not save us to become bitter. God has something better for us. He saved us to give us a full and abundant life now, and forevermore. John 10:10b I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

Friday, 10 May 2019

Richly Blessed

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

      We are so richly blessed that we often do not see the blessings that are right in front of us. We have been given so much love and help from God, that our capacity to take it all in is beyond our comprehension. 2 Pet. 1:3 By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.
      Unfortunately, we don't always count our blessings, because they are immeasurable. Be that as it may, why are we no longer counting the blessings we do see in our lives? Have we become complacent with the generosity of God, and become blind to His goodness? I hope not, because the blessing of the Lord should make us rich in gratitude as well as in the provisions for living a blessed life. 
       We sometimes miss the greatness of God's plan, because we are looking afar off for answers that are close at hand. "The answer is in the house." This is one of my wife's expressions when looking for an answer to one of life's problems. Her faith is saying that God has already taken care of the problem. However, we just have to believe it by faith, and see how it manifests in God's timing. My wife sees this principle at work in the story of the widow in, 2 Kings 4:1-7. 
      There was a widow who had to pay off some big debts that the creditors had come to collect. She asks Elisha for help, and he says to her, "What do you have in the house?" 2 Kings 4:2 So Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?” And she said, “Your maidservant has nothing in the house but a jar of oil.” Through faith, and a miracle of provision, the widow obeys Elisha and borrowed many large jars and fills the jars with oil. She did not stop pouring until the last jar was full. She was able to sell all the oil and pay off all she owed, plus have enough left to live on. Wow! The answer was in the house.
      In another Scripture, Moses needs God's help and all he has is his shepherd's staff. Ex. 4:2 Then the LORD asked him, “What is that in your hand?” “A shepherd’s staff,” Moses replied. God used what Moses had within reach of Moses' hand to deliver Israel. The answer was in the house, so to speak. Moses did not have to go off on some quest and find a unique thing or weapon that would work against an Egyptian army. God was able to deliver a nation with what was available to Moses and that was his shepherd’s staff. The blessing Moses needed was right there in his hand. With God, all things are possible. Matt. 19:26b But with God all things are possible. Gratefulness to God for what we do have is what God can use to richly bless us.
       This is part of Earl Nightingale's article, The Acres of Diamonds story ”a true one” is told of an African farmer who heard tales about other farmers who had made millions by discovering diamond mines. These tales so excited the farmer that he could hardly wait to sell his farm and go prospecting for diamonds himself. He sold the farm and spent the rest of his life wandering the African continent searching unsuccessfully for the gleaming gems that brought such high prices on the markets of the world. Finally, worn out and in a fit of despondency, he threw himself into a river and drowned.
      Meanwhile, the man who had bought his farm happened to be crossing the small stream on the property one day, when suddenly there was a bright flash of blue and red light from the stream bottom. He bent down and picked up a stone. He had found one of the largest diamonds ever discovered. The farm the first farmer had sold so that he might find a diamond mine, turned out to be one of the most productive diamond mines on the entire African continent. The first farmer had owned, free and clear … acres of diamonds. But he had sold them for practically nothing, in order to look for them elsewhere.  
      What an amazing story of loss and gain. There are so many takeaways from this life lesson and significant teaching. How many people are walking through life looking for blessings that are right under their feet? In fact, they are walking in blessings galore but not able to see or appreciate them, because they have not been giving thanks to God for what they do have in life. 1 Thes. 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
      I say it again, "We are richly blessed." The Lord has blessed us with so many blessings that if we were to start counting them today, we would still be counting until the day we died. Look at what God has done for us through Christ our Lord. Psalm 103:3 He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. 4 He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. These are just a few blessings we live in every day. Let us all proclaim this verse together and out loud! Prov. 10:22 The blessing of the LORD makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it. Amen and amen!

Friday, 3 May 2019

What Is Your Cheat?

Proverbs 11:1 The LORD detests the use of dishonest scales, but he delights in accurate weights.

      The above Proverb says it plainly, "The Lord hates cheating and delights in honesty." A noncommittal attitude with no honest effort given to overcoming bad habits and strongholds in your life will not work. As a matter of fact, in most cases, the problem will get deeply entrenched and become harder to overcome because of the lazy spirit within the one who is in bondage. A sluggard learns to live with the personal prison that was made by his own attitude. Prov. 21:25 The desire of the sluggard kills him, for his hands refuse to labor. 
      "What is your cheat day? How many times a week do you get to cheat on your health system?" I have been asked these questions so many times over the last five years because of the large amount of weight I have lost and kept it off. My answer is, "I lost all the weight by the grace of God, and the strength He gave me to stay with the program the Lord laid out for me, and it did not include cheat days." 
      To regain my health, I had to stop cheating when it came to a lack of exercise and eating certain foods. There were no more gluttonous cheat days. It was my previous lifestyle of cheating that caused the illness in the first place. It was a lifestyle change God led me through and not another fad diet that brought health and self-control to my life.
      If your first question is, "What is your cheat day?" then whatever it is you are wanting to overcome will not get done. Your focus is on cheating and not conquering. God detest cheating and that includes when you cheat yourself. Why would God participate in helping you cheat yourself out of the blessings of God? John 10:10b I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. 
      There is ridiculousness to wanting to start off a new life with an emphasis on a cheat day. It is like saying, "Okay Lord, now that you saved my soul, when can I get back to sinning? Once or twice a week would be nice. What do you think Lord? Does that work for you?" You would not say that to God and yet you do say it to yourself when it comes to overcoming hard things in your life. You are either in it to win it, or not at all. We are no longer children befuddled by all the sparkles and glitter. 1 Cor. 13:11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
      This has become my cheat. I cheat the enemy of my soul by praying for the lost souls God puts on my heart. I cheat the devil by believing and praying by faith for the healing of those who are sick and suffering disease. I cheat the spirits of darkness by submitting to God and repenting when I sin. James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. If you want a cheat day, then cheat the enemy out of having control in your life. Satan has been cheating the saints of God for centuries out of the blessings that are truly theirs. 
      Don't cheat yourself out of the blessings of God. Get rid of the dishonest scales you have been using to justify a cheating and shallow lifestyle. Start using the honest and accurate scales God has given you through grace to live within the blessings of God. After all, they are our blessings. Prov. 11:1 The LORD detests the use of dishonest scales, but he delights in accurate weights. God delights in your prosperity and overcoming attitude that is lived through Christ. By grace, say it, and mean it! "No more cheat days!" Amen.