Saturday, January 31, 2015

You have Turned My Mourning into Dancing!

11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,
12 To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.
Psalm 30:11-12

People love to quote this scripture as a promise, and we should. God, Jehovah, is going to turn our mourning, our times of sadness, into a time of dancing and rejoicing! This is true in your life, He is waiting to do it! 

But what is He waiting on?

This scripture gives us some hints. The first hint is in verse eleven:

You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,

What is sackcloth? Sackcloth is a very rough material that was worn by those who mourn as they fasted and sought God. In other words, the psalmist is implying that during his time of mourning, during his difficult times, he was seeking God through fasting and prayer.
Have you been actively seeking God?

This is often a prerequisite of the blessing. We must seek God and invite Him humbly into our lives, into our circumstance. Then He will come and turn our mourning into dancing and cloth us with gladness!
The second hint is in verse 12:

To the end that my glory may sing praise to You...

I find it interesting that the psalmist is talking about his own glory not God's glory. So it is okay to desire glory for ourselves as long as we have the right focus for that glory.
Our glory should bring Him glory!

Are you honestly planning on declaring His praise and glory through your blessing? If we seek to glorify God in everything we do then God will glorify us!
Keeping this in mind we still at times have to go through the night. We still have to go through the dark times. It is times of testing, of trials, of training and preparation for ministry. In my post Rivers Are About To Spring Forth I wrote about God making a way through the wilderness, but we still go through the wilderness. However the rivers are coming! 

If you seek Him then you will experience the rivers springing forth. 

In fact I believe that in this month of January you have already seen trickles of those rivers. You may not have noticed them, they may have seemed small and insignificant in light of your wilderness, but they are signs of the dam getting ready to burst! 

The river of the Spirit of God is about to burst forth in your life!

Friday, January 30, 2015

These Signs Shall Follow...

15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
Mark 16:15-18

Many people want the signs. They want to see miracles and healings worked through them or they want to see a healing in their own life, but they forget that there are two criteria to be met before we see that manifested:

1) You must "Go... and preach the gospel" (v. 15)

2) You must "believe" (v. 17)

If we don't see the supernatural daily then we need to check our lives by these two criteria. 
1) Are you adhering to the call to preach the Gospel?

This does not mean that you have to quit your day job and start out in full-time ministry necessarily. If God has called you to do that then you'd better do it, but that's not what this verse is about. In Acts, Luke writes that Jesus told the disciples; shall be witnesses to Me... (Acts 1:8)

A witness is simply someone who tells what they have experienced. If you are in a murder trial and a witness is called up they simply state that what they saw, heard, smelled, or felt. They are not even supposed to make any assumptions in regard to their experience but simply state the experience. 

Jesus told His disciples to be witnesses of Him, of their experiences with Him. 
We are to do the same!

What's your experience with Jesus? Have you talked with Him? Have you experienced His deliverance in your life? Healing? Comfort? Whatever you have experienced with Jesus is what He has asked you to share with those who don't know Him. Just be sure your experience matches up with the Word. 
If you have not experienced Him then you need to!

Go to my page What is the Gospel to learn how to experience Him. 

2) Do you truly believe?

Do you truly believe that the supernatural will happen around you? The Bible makes it clear that the supernatural requires faith. If you want to see healing then you need to believe in hearing, if you want to see devils cast out then you must believe in your authority over the devils. 

If you do not believe then chances are the miracles won't be present in your ministry.

Do you believe that God still heals today? 
Do you believe in your authority over the enemy?
Do you believe in the manifested power of God? 

If not then you need to get in the Word!

The Word of God is where we build our faith for the supernatural. Jesus tells us that we can do the same miracles He did, and even greater miracles! (John 14:12) 
Read the Word, meditate on it, listen to it, do whatever it takes to get the Word in you!

Meditate on John 14:12 until you believe it for your own life. Then study the Gospels and see all the miracles that Jesus did. That is what should be following your life and ministry as you preach the Gospel!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Call on the Name of the Lord!

For whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Romans 10:13

This is an awesome promise of the Word! Here Paul is debunking the thought that salvation was only for the Jews. He says whoever, whether Jew or Gentile, calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved! But to truly understand this verse we must ask ourselves two questions:

1) What does it mean to be saved? 

The Greek word here is the word Sozo. According to Strong's Concordance the word means "save, heal, preserve, rescue". HELPS Word studies further defines it "deliver out of danger and into safety". You can refer to Bible Hub as a further resource.

Of course, this ultimately is referring to salvation from sin and from hell. We know from other scriptures in Romans that "All have sinned..." (3:23) and that "...the wages of sin is death..." (6:23). So Paul is referring to salvation from this death, eternal separation from God in hell, to the safety of eternal life.

If you have not made the decision to call on the name of the Lord then please visit my page What is the Gospel. However I believe that the significance of this verse and this promise doesn't stop the moment we accept salvation. Let us ask one more question.

2) What is the name of the Lord?

The term 'Lord' is Kurios which denotes "a person exercising complete ownership rights". This means that by saying we are calling on the Lord we are giving up ownership over ourselves. From that point on we no longer belong to ourselves but to the Lord. However 'Lord' is not a name, it is a title. So what is the name of the Lord?

God announces His name to Moses when talking to him from the burning bush. God proclaims His name as simply "I AM" (Exodus 3:14). The English transliteration of this name is Yahweh or Jehovah. This names denotes the never changing nature of God. He is who He is and that will never change! The Bible says "I am the Lord, I change not" (Malachi 3:6).

Then throughout the Old Testament we see various attributes to this name:

Jehovah Jireh - Genesis 22:14 - The Lord will provide
Jehovah Rapha - Exodus 15:26 - The Lord that heals
Jehovah Nissi - Exodus 17:15 - The Lord my banner (victory)
Jehovah Mekoddishkem - Exodus 31:13 - The Lord who makes holy
Jehovah Shalom - Judges 6:24 - The Lord is peace
Jehovah Shammah - Ezekiel 48:35 - The Lord is there
(For a more complete list of the names of God go here)

This is just a small sampling of the names that God, Jehovah, has revealed Himself as. Already we can get a sense of the all encompassing nature of the above verse! Think about it, 

Whoever calls on Jehovah Jireh, Rapha, Nissi, Mekoddiskem, Shalom, Shammah shall be saved! Are you in need of provision, healing, victory, sanctification, peace, or simply the presence of the Almighty? Just call on His name! You shall be saved from your situation!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Martin Luther King Jr. and American Sniper

Monday was the day set aside by our government to honor Martin Luther King Jr. and his achievements in progressing Civil Rights in our country. My wife and I took the opportunity to watch some of his most well known speeches which if you haven't done, I suggest that you do when you get a chance. Here are a couple on youtube:

I Have a Dream

I've Been to the Mountaintop

Then Tuesday we went out to see the movie "American Sniper". It may seem that this movie has nothing in common with Martin Luther King Jr. but there was one line in it that stood out to me. Chris Kyle, the main character in the movie, flashes back to when he was a child and a conversation had at the dinner table with his father after he had defended his little brother from a bully. His father basically tells them that there are three kinds of people in the world sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. Sheep are the people who believe there isn't any evil in the world and are unprepared for when evil does come against them, wolves are the evil people who prey on the sheep, and sheepdogs protect the sheep from the wolves.

This is the beginning premise of the movie and basically presented as the driving motivation for Chris Kyle to become the "deadliest sniper in American military history". It implies that a sheepdog must protect the sheep through violence against the wolves.

As I started thinking about this I realized that there is truth to the assessment, however there is a much more affective type of sheepdog. It is true that Chris Kyle saved many lives in combat, but he did nothing to change the hearts of the wolves.

Martin Luther King Jr. was a sheepdog, but he was a different kind of sheepdog. He was a sheepdog that did more than just save a few lives, he changed history and he did it without violence. He based his life and philosophy on people like Ghandi and of course Jesus Christ.

Throughout history, time and time again, people have shown that the best way to change history and therefore to protect the innocent is not through violence, but through love and forgiveness. Along with the above mentioned there are people like Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. But of course the greatest example was Jesus Christ.

These people were not afraid to speak out against evil and to call it like it was. They didn't ignore the evil and they definitely didn't condone it, but they changed it through love, forgiveness, and acceptance of the person. Martin Luther King Jr. continued a long line of history makers who changed history by loving his enemies while calling out the evil acts and philosophies.

That is a true sheepdog.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Walk in the Spirit

16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Galatians 5:16-18

In the book of Galatians Paul is confronting a group of Jews who were trying to make the Gentiles adhere to the letter of the law. Paul tells them that they were set free from the law and therefore do not need to step back into that bondage. Here Paul offers the counter solution to living under the law:

Walk in the Spirit 

In the old testament the way to not walk in sin (or in the flesh) was to follow the law. However, as the Bible shows, this was not enough to counter the carnal nature in us. We needed the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross to set us free and then we needed the constant presence of the Holy Spirit in us. Paul says that there is no need to go back to the bondage of living under the law but instead all we need to do is walk in the Spirit. 

Notice where the focus is in this verse. The focus is not on the flesh or the sinful nature but on the Spirit. In other words we should not be focusing on not sinning, we should be focusing on walking in the Spirit. As he continues in the chapter he does list the "works of the flesh" (Gal 5:19-21) but then counters that list with the "fruits of the spirit" (Gal 5:22-23). But our focus should be on exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit, not on trying stop the works of the flesh. 

As Paul says if we walk in the spirit we will not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

It is that simple! So many people waste years of their life fighting to stop sinning and all they had to do was start focusing on walking in the Spirit. Of course to truly walk in the Spirit does take sacrifice. It takes making decisions to feed the Spirit when it is easier to feed the flesh. It takes making decision to get in the Word instead of watching a movie. To spend time in worship rather than listening to songs focused on fleshly desires. It is simple but it is not always easy. However it is definitely worth it!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Show Me Your Glory!

18 Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. 19 Then they said to Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.

20 And Moses said to the people, “Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.” 21 So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was.
Exodus 20:18-21

This is a sad passage of scripture because it is the recording of an entire group of people, an entire nation, rejecting God's purpose for their lives due to fear.

In the previous chapter we see God telling the people of Israel his plan for them:

Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’...
Exodus 19:5-6

God had planned for them to be a "kingdom of priests". This meant that, like priests, they were supposed to approach God and then present him to the rest of the world. They were supposed to be a link between God and the world. Up until this point God had been only speaking with Moses and Moses was responsible for relaying the message to the Israelites but here God was announcing that He wanted to begin direct communication with all of the people of Israel. 

So we see in between these verses God gave instructions for them all to prepare to hear from God. They were to purify themselves through rituals and stand before the mountain at the appointed time and then God showed up and presented the ten commandments to the people. You can see in verse 18 that God didn't hold back. He showed up with thunder and lightning! And the people were scared.

I can imagine that it would be intimidating, and we can see from Moses' comment that intimidation was a part of the point for God to show up so strongly. However I still believe that God's desire was  to continue that direct communication with the people of Israel but the people didn't want it. It was after this point that God set up the Levites as priests and established the rituals and regulations of the priestly duties. 

It is true that at this point they didn't have Jesus' sacrifice to purify them and embolden them to experience God speaking firsthand, but as we see in verse 21, there was one person bold enough to approach. Now, through Jesus Christ, God has given us the ability to "boldly approach the throne of grace" (Hebrews 4:16). We can again approach God and be priests for the world, connecting them to God. Peter announces to Christians that we are again "a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation" (1 Peter 2:9). 

Let us take up that responsibility with boldness rather than reject it as the Israelites did. 

Let us be like Moses and approach the mountain amidst the thunder, lightning and smoke, constantly seeking that deeper, more intimate relationship with the Creator.

Let us cry out like Moses "Show me your glory"! (Exodus 33:18)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Lord, Open His Eyes That He May See!

14 Therefore he sent horses and chariots and a great army there, and they came by night and surrounded the city. 15 And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?”
16 So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 And Elisha prayed, and said, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 
2 Kings 6:14-17
This is a tremendous story relating the spiritual and the physical realm, the seen and the unseen. The king of Syria has kept attempting to attack Israel but his plans were continually foiled because Elisha, through prophecy, would tell the king of Israel what his plans were. When the king of Syria found this out he sent his entire army to go and take Elisha as prisoner. Naturally when the servant wakes up and sees that the city is surrounded by an enemy army he is afraid but of course God had a spiritual army much greater filling the hills, the servant just needed his eyes opened to the spiritual realm so he could see!

Paul talks about this same principle when he says,  
"we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal."
2 Corinthians 4:18
There are two realms, the physical and the spiritual. Our society tends to ignore the spiritual realm. We need scientific evidence to believe, something we can see, feel, taste, smell, or hear. But what we don't realize is the spiritual realm is even more real than the physical. Paul says what we see, or perceive with our senses, is temporary, it's going to pass away, but the spiritual realm, what we can't perceive with our senses, is eternal. It is what we don't see that will last forever and therefore it is what we don't see that we should be trusting. 

However just because you can't see it doesn't mean you can't see it!
This probably seems like a contradiction but through the Holy Spirit and through our faith we have the ability to see into the spirit realm. That is why the writer of Hebrews says,
"Now faith is ... the evidence of things not seen."
Hebrews 11:1
You could say that faith is our scientific proof of the spiritual realm. 
As people of God we are called to see into the spiritual realm with our faith! 
In what area do you need God to open your eyes? 
Do you feel surrounded like Elisha's servant? 
Do you feel that the enemy has been attacking you from all sides? 
Do you feel that there is no hope left? 
It is time to activate your faith!
In faith cry out to God and ask Him to open your eyes to the spiritual realm! Ask Him to show you how He is on your side. Ask Him to remind you that He is inside of you and that He is greater than the enemy (1 John 4:4).
If your faith isn't strong enough then start speaking the Word!
Speak the Word loud enough that you can hear it! Romans 10:17 says " comes by hearing, and hearing the Word of God.
Build your faith and ask God to open your eyes!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Two Questions of Eternity

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
2 Corinthians 5:10

The Bible consistently tells us about a judgement after our physical death. We don't know exactly how this judgement will happen but we do know that we will each be judged individually and we can decipher that our judgement will be based around God asking two questions:

1) What have you done with my Son, Jesus Christ?

2) What have you done with the gifts, talents, and abilities I have give you?

These questions are going to be asked us after our physical death so it is important for us to consider them now. None of us know when or how we will die. It could be that we live another 60 years or we may die tomorrow. It is possible that we will see it coming and have time to prepare, or it may happen in the blink of an eye. The only thing we know for certain is that we are currently alive on this earth and one day we will die and leave this earth. 

Keeping this in mind is essential to truly living our lives to the fullest and making the most of every moment. It should also direct us to consider the above questions now, while we can still make a decision to change.

1) What have you done with my Son, Jesus Christ?

Essentially this is the question of salvation. Regardless of what you have heard or believe Jesus Christ was a real man who was, and is, really God. I have conversed with Him consistently through out my life. Some may call me crazy but I know that my experience with Jesus is real. In the roughest time of my life, when no one else was there to comfort me or reach out to me, Jesus was the one who comforted me. When I faced what seemed like an insurmountable fear, keeping me from achieving (or even pursuing) my dreams, Jesus was the one who miraculously delivered me from that fear in an instant. Keep following my blog and I am sure you will get a chance to read more detailed versions of my testimony but the point is I can tell you with zero doubt in my mind that Jesus Christ is real and He is God and He is alive and working today!
Jesus did come to this earth as God in flesh, He did live a life as a human, He was beaten and bloodied, and He did die on the cross taking on all of your sins. He did that all for you! But the good news is that He also rose from the dead and conquered sin and is now calling you into a relationship with Him!

So what are you going to do about it?

Are you going to accept the call or are you going to ignore it? Are you going to accept Jesus' sacrifice and enter into the eternal life that He has provided for you or are you going to continue in your sins and ultimately enter the eternal death that He warned us about? 

Your answer determines where you spend eternity!

If you have not made a decision to accept the sacrifice that Christ made on the cross then I encourage you to visit my new page What is the Gospel. Just click on the link or click on the tab at the top of this page. There I have laid out the good news of Jesus Christ and how to accept Him as Lord and Savior.

If you have already accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior over your life then you are ready to go on to the next question:

2) What have you done with the gifts, talents, and abilities I have given you?

When God created you He placed in you certain talents and abilities. Are you using them or letting them go to waste? What are you doing to develop them? 
Jesus tells us a story in Matthew 25:14-30 about a man who goes on a journey. Before he leaves he calls three of his servants to him and gives them all a certain amount of money. When the man returns he finds that two of the servants were faithful and doubled the amount of money that was given them and the master responds with "well done, good and faithful servant" (v23). But the third servant was scared and buried the money that was given him. He returns it with no increase and the master calls him a "wicked and lazy servant"! 

That is a pretty stark contrast in responses to the two different servants! Think about your life. 

If you were to die today would Jesus consider your life thus far to be 'good and faithful' or 'wicked and lazy'? 

What do you need to change in order to be good and faithful?

Note: These two questions were inspired by Rick Warren's book A Purpose Driven Life.

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Power of Prayer!

Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. - Mark 11:24

Sometimes we underestimate the power of prayer.

Think about this verse: "whatever things you ask"! In other words, you can have anything as long as you pray and believe! Of course this verse must be understood in the context of the Bible in which we see that this comes with faith in God and in who He says He is. 

But your prayers have power! Have you ever encountered a problem too big for you to address? Of course we all have and in these situations we tend to simply respond saying "What can I do?" However there is always something you can do...

You Can Pray!

In one of my recent posts, Faith and Confession, I discuss briefly why God needs us to pray and use our faith to bring things to pass on this earth. When creating the earth He gave us, through Adam and Eve, authority and dominion on this earth (Genesis 1:26). In other words, He tied His own hands when it comes to acting on this earth unless He is invited by mankind. That is why, in order to fix what we messed up, He had to come to earth as a man. But again Jesus said, after His resurrection, "All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me, therefore go..." (Matthew 28:18). Through His death and resurrection He took back the authority and before His ascension He sent us out in it. To put it simply:

God gave mankind authority over the earth - Man, through Adam, handed that authority over to the enemy - Then Jesus took that authority back for mankind!

It is time for us to walk in our authority!

Our prayer is how we invite God's power to work on our behalf! It is through prayer that we can go beyond our own limits and possibilities and do the impossible (Matthew 19:26). Knowing this I think it is safe to say that none of us pray enough. Keep in mind that prayer, like faith, always needs to be coupled with action. As we pray we need to be always taking time to listen to the Spirit of God and allowing Him to direct us on what action we should be taking. I wrote about this recently as well in my post The Relationship Between Prayer and Action

Questions to think about:
What issue have you been ignoring because "there is nothing you can do"? 
Is there a family member or a friend that you should be praying for?

Where could you apply your authority in prayer to better affect your community?

I have always had a tendency to notice churches as I drive or walk through communities. Living in the United States it seems there are churches on every corner sometimes, but to me churches seem to stand out even more than to most. For example, I could name every church on my commute to work from memory. Recently I have felt it on my heart to pray for these churches. It is easy to say that my prayers are a waste of time. But I believe that as I pray for each of these churches I am inviting God to supernaturally encounter these pastors and congregations and in turn it will change the community that they are in. 

I believe we are about to see a revival in the Portland area and I believe that my prayers are going to help usher that revival in!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Faith and Confession

(as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; - Romans 4:17

There is a lot of controversy about this scripture. The end of this scripture is often quoted by 'Word of Faith' preachers in such a way to say that WE can call things into existence with our words. However, opponents of the 'Word of Faith' movement point out that it is clearly referring to God when read in context. Let's look a little bit deeper at this passage of scripture by expanding the context:

16 Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all 17 (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”[d]) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; 18 who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.”[e] 19 And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. 20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. 22 And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
Romans 4:16-22

We see that in this passage Paul is discussing the story of Abraham. When Abraham and Sarah were 'well advanced in years' God came to Abraham and told him that he would be the "father of many nations". There was one problem, Abraham wasn't even a father and was already approaching 100 years old. Of course we know the story and Abraham believed God, held onto the promise, and Isaac was born. 

So let's look at the argument about verse 17. As the Word of Faith opponents point out it is very clear that Paul is attributing this ability to God. This is an ability we not only see in the story about Abraham but also in the creation of the World. God started with nothing and spoke everything into existence (Genesis 1). 

However, looking at the entire passage it seems that, in this case, God needed something from man in order to complete this task. It seems that God needed Abraham to have faith in His Word. This may seem to go against the theology that God is all powerful but it actually does not. It simply brings to light a principle that God set into place since the creation of the world. He created mankind and said "let him have dominion over [creation]" (Genesis 1:26). This means that God handed authority of this earth over to mankind after creating us. So God will call those things that do not exist into existence but is looking for man to have faith in His words in order to believe it into existence. He is all powerful but has given authority on earth to mankind and we can use that authority to invite His power to work in the earth. This is one reason why Hebrews 11:6 says: 

Without faith it is impossible to please God...

Taking it a step further, we also see in Genesis 1:26 that God made mankind (both male and female) in His own image. It would make sense that if God made us in His own image we would have some of the same abilities as Him. This means that maybe we do have the ability to call things into existence. I can see how this may be kind of a stretch so let's look at some further evidence in scripture:

Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.
Proverbs 18:21

22 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. 23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. 24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.
Mark 11:22-24

The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed.
Matthew 8:8 

These are just a few examples of the evidence throughout the Word that there is power in our confession. Now I am not advocating the "Name it, Claim it" extremism in this area. However I do believe that we need to confess the Word of God over our lives in faith and watch our situations change!  

Saturday, January 10, 2015

"I gave in to God" - Bruchko

"I couldn't fight it. God made no demands. He didn't force me. But I found myself irresistibly interested in other countries and in other cultures... I gave in to God."
Bruce Olsen - Bruchko

In the book Bruchko, Bruce Olsen tells his own story of how God called him to preach the Gospel to the Motilone tribe in South America. God brought him from being a 19 year old kid with no support and no idea how to start to representing this tribe in front of the Colombian government and the United Nations! It is an amazing story of following God's direction and seeing His provision in the most difficult times. 

However Bruce did not begin with an immediate desire to be a missionary. He writes in the book that he had a plan to become a linguistics professor and that when he first encountered a missionary his impression was that missionaries were "ridiculous". He already had a dream and he didn't want to go on the mission field. In the above quote Bruce is describing how God changed his heart. This is a perfect example of something that I have written about previously on this blog. One example is:

In Psalm 37:4 it says:

"Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart."

As I mention in the above post, a better translation could possibly be: 

"Make yourself pliable in God's hands and he will place desires in your heart."

In other words, if you put yourself in the hands of God he will literally change what you desire. This is what Bruce Olsen experienced. At first he desired to have a comfortable life as a linguistics professor but as he continued to submit himself to God and to the Spirit, he suddenly found that desire changing. Soon it was no longer God pushing him to go to South America but he was the one wanting to go! 

This is how it should be for all of us. I've heard preachers say to never tell God what you don't want to do because that is then what He will call you to do. This may be true some times but I believe God will make sure that you want to do it before sending you. He will mold your desires. This is comforting to know but also it can be a big help in finding out what we are supposed to be doing if we are unsure. If you are desperate to find the will of God then chances are you have submitted yourself to Him. This means that you can begin to look in your own heart at your own desires for what God wants you to do.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Love = The Character of God

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
1 Corinthians 13:4-10

Love... Throughout the Bible we see various commands and directions telling us the importance of love. Jesus told us that the two greatest commandments in all of the old testament have to do with love:

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”
37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
 Matthew 22:36-40

John tells us shows us that it is impossible to love God and simultaneously hate our brother:

20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 
1 John 4:20

And there are many other scriptures telling us the importance of love, including 1 Corinthians 13. 

Reading the above passage in context shows us that Paul had a specific motivation to provide such a detailed version of what true love is. We can see that the church in Corinth was operating in the spiritual gifts and seeking after manifestations of the Spirit, but they had forgotten their motive. It seems that they were motivated by a desire to seem the most spiritual. This caused much chaos and division in their meetings and hindered the Spirit of God from truly moving because they were not acting in love towards each other. In the beginning of chapter 13 Paul reminds them that the manifestation of spiritual gifts mean absolutely nothing if we do not even love our brothers and sisters who we are trying to minister to. 

Obviously this is an important message and a reminder of how we are supposed to treat each other but there is another message that I see in this passage. John also said that "...God is love." 1 John 4:8. In other words God is the perfect manifestation of 1 Corinthians 13! Taking it a step further the Bible tells us that we are the recipients of God's love (John 3:16; Romans 8:37-39; Ephesians 4:2-5; Romans 5:8). 

 If you want to know how God feels and acts towards you read 1 Corinthians 13!

You could even take the above scripture and replace "love" with "God" because remember "God is love". If you would like to learn His character I encourage you to read the following out loud:

4 [God] suffers long and is kind; [God] does not envy; [God] does not parade [Himself], is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek [His] own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 [God] never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
1 Corinthians 13:4-10

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Relationship Between Prayer and Action

"if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." - 2 Chronicles 7:14

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
Mark 16:15-16

"Ask of Me, and I will give You
The nations for Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth for Your possession."

Psalm 2:8

If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?
James 2:15-16

Yesterday I wrote a post entitled A New Way of Looking At New Years. Feel free to follow the link if you missed but basically I challenged my readers to think outside of yourself when looking at this new year. We often make resolutions when approaching a new year but those resolutions tend to focus on our selves. I challenged readers to look beyond themselves and to pray for change in their nation. One of my readers responded to my post and inspired this follow up post. 

As Christians it is important that we start with prayer when looking to move forward and bring change into our nation and community. This allows us to reach beyond the natural and access the supernatural. Prayer brings us closer to God allowing us to walk in his guidance and power as we move out to act. However it is important that we don't stop with prayer. 

I recently had the opportunity to listen to a sermon by Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke. You can listen to the same sermon here. In that sermon he is talking to the Hillsong conference and he makes the example that if every Christian in all of Australia prayed 365 days a year 24 hours a day Australia would not be changed until someone steps out and preaches the Gospel. He talks about how praying without preaching is like walking on one leg but God has given us two legs. 

I believe that this is a biblical principle as we can see in the verses above. On one hand God commands us to pray and seek his face (2 Chronicles 7:14) but on the other hand he tells us to go out and preach the Gospel (Mark 16:15). On one hand he tells us to ask for the nations but on the other hand he tells us that it is no go to simply speak to the hungry unless we also give them food and clothing (James 2:15-16). 

Ultimately what we are coming to is James 2:20b " without works is dead.

Let us start 2015 as I challenged you yesterday, on our knees in prayer. However let us not end the year that way. Determine what it is that God has put on your heart to see changed in your community then find yourself seeking His face, seeking Him to show up in your community, praying for that change to be made. But the next step is to listen and hear from heaven. Let God guide you into how you are going to address that need and get out and do something!

If you feel that there are too many homeless and hungry people in your community praying for them is great and is important but at some point you will have to get out and give some food, provide some clothing, and maybe help to train them in finding jobs. Even if you just volunteer at your local homeless shelter at least you are doing something. 

If you feel that people need to be more loving towards each other, again it is great to pray for God to touch the hearts of people in that direction, but ultimately you are going to have to go and be loving towards others around you. 

In other words, while you are praying, and after you have prayed, go out and: 

"Be the change that you wish to see in the world." - Mahatma Ghandi

Saturday, January 3, 2015

A New Way of Looking at New Years

"if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." - 2 Chronicles 7:14

"Ask of Me, and I will give You
The nations for Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth for Your possession."
Psalm 2:8
"Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him,
That glory may dwell in our land."
Psalm 85:9

In the new year we have a tradition to make new year's resolutions. I've written my thoughts on these resolutions back at the end of 2011 with the suggestions of trading our own resolutions for the vision that God has for us in the new year. However there is one issue with these resolutions that I didn't mention in that post. 

These resolutions tend to focus on me.

Okay sometimes my family might be involved or I might have a resolution to spend more time with my friends, but first and foremost the resolutions are about how I can make my life better in the new year. Of course there is an issue with that because as Christians God is constantly challenging us to look outward towards others rather than to ourselves. 

Above you see a few passages about praying for our nation and with them as an inspiration I want to ask you as we are still in the beginning of the new year:

What do you want to see happen in your nation in 2015?
Let's expand our vision beyond our own little circle and look at the big picture this year. Rather than praying that God helps us lose weight, find the right spouse, earn more money, or spend more time with family, let's look beyond ourselves and start seeking God to show up in our community, our city, our nation, and in the world! As you answer the question above there's a natural follow up question:
Have you prayed for it to happen?
If not then what are you waiting for? 2 Chronicles 7:14 was a promise directly from God to Solomon regarding the Israelites and the temple that Solomon built. However I believe it is also a promise that expands across multiple generations. If we humble ourselves, turn from our sins, and seek His face God has promised to respond! He has promised to show up with forgiveness and healing for the land! If God has promised this then what are we waiting for? It is time for God's people to get on their knees and seek His face! It is time for God's people to pray beyond their ownselves and their own needs. It is time for healing and forgiveness to be poured out upon our land!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Rivers Are About to Spring Forth! - A Word for 2015

"Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert."
Isaiah 43:19

On December 19th I posted A Road Through the Wilderness, discussing my word for 2014 and how we often have to go through the wilderness in order to get to the new thing that God has promised. Well in praying for 2015 I believe this is the year for rivers to spring forth in the wilderness! In addition to Isaiah 43:19 I believe God led me to Ezekiel 47:1-9:

Then he brought me back to the door of the temple; and there was water, flowing from under the threshold of the temple toward the east, for the front of the temple faced east; the water was flowing from under the right side of the temple, south of the altar. He brought me out by way of the north gate, and led me around on the outside to the outer gateway that faces east; and there was water, running out on the right side.
And when the man went out to the east with the line in his hand, he measured one thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the water came up to my ankles. Again he measured one thousand and brought me through the waters; the water came up to my knees. Again he measured one thousand and brought me through; the water came up to my waist. Again he measured one thousand, and it was a river that I could not cross; for the water was too deep, water in which one must swim, a river that could not be crossed. He said to me, “Son of man, have you seen this?” Then he brought me and returned me to the bank of the river.

When I returned, there, along the bank of the river, were very many trees on one side and the other. Then he said to me: “This water flows toward the eastern region, goes down into the valley, and enters the sea. When it reaches the sea, its waters are healed. And it shall be that every living thing that moves, wherever the rivers go, will live. There will be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters go there; for they will be healed, and everything will live wherever the river goes. 

There are two things that God is bringing to me from this passage of scripture for 2015. I believe that this river is a representation of the manifestation and presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives and ministry and I believe that God is showing us through this passage of scripture, how we are going to experience this outpouring and what it is for. 

First, like the man in the vision, we will experience this river gradually. As we begin 2015 we will simply be placing our toes in the river but soon we will find ourselves ankle deep, then knee deep, then waist deep, and by the end of the year we will be fully immersed in new manifestation of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Seek after this! Increase your time in His presence and in His Word. 

Secondly, God is saying that this new manifestation of the Holy Spirit is specifically for healing and for bringing new life. Jesus said that He came to bring us abundant life! (John 10:10) As we experience this increase of the Holy Spirit in our lives we will begin to recognize this abundance in our own lives but also in all of those that we come in contact with. Jesus told us that rivers of living water would flow out of us. (John 7:38) If they are flowing out of us that means that they are not just for us. They are for those around us! As God reveals more and more of His presence and gifts to you be sure that you do not hold it in! Share with all you come in contact with. As God increases your boldness and anointing to pray for the sick make sure you actually do it. If He gives you a new anointing to preach then preach! If He gives you an increased anointing to write, or paint, or any other creative art make sure that you do it and share it with the world. 

This is the year for rivers to spring forth in you and flow out of you!