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Monthly Archives: January 2014

Stand Firm

“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” II Timothy 1:7

Keeping this verse within its biblical context we should be reminded of where Paul is. He is in a Roman jail soon to be executed for his faith in Jesus Christ. He is now encouraging Timothy to continue on in the midst of trials and persecutions and stand firm in the name of Jesus.

The world that we live in today is becoming increasingly hostile to those who stand up for their faith. Christians around the world today are being murdered, tortured, and imprisoned for their faith. Although we don’t fear those things in the U.S. we clearly see attempts at character assassination on the rise for those who claim the name of Christ and stand up for biblical principles. Later in this same letter Paul told Timothy, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (II Timothy 3:12).

Paul was encouraging Timothy not to focus on what man is capable of but to stay focused on the Lord. Jesus said in Matthew 10:28, “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Our reverent fear should be the awe of God rather than the roar of man.

God has not given us a spirit of timidity, or fear. If God has not given it to us than who has? Satan! Ephesians 6:12 reminds us of who we are battling with,  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Our struggle is not with other people; it is with Satan and his demonic army. We as Christians need to make a choice; are we going to believe the lies of Satan or are we going to stand firm for Jesus? Satan will stop at nothing to prevent every Christian from standing firm in their faith. Why? Because he knows that the Christian who stands up in the Spirit of God is dangerous and deadly to his kingdom.

Remember though, God has not given to us a spirit of timidity. However, He has given to us a spirit of power. Power to stand firm in the name of Jesus and overcome all Satan throws our way. He has given to us a spirit of love. The kind of love that overcomes even the most fierce forms of hate and says, Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing, remembering that our struggle is not against flesh and blood. He has given to us a spirit of discipline. Discipline as of an athlete who stays focused on the goal regardless of the opponent’s efforts to stop him, knowing that the end result of faith and service of Christ is worth every effort. The faithful Christian knows once he reaches the goal the sufferings of this temporary life will be forever behind him and that his service to the Lord will be eternally rewarded. Therefore, stand firm.

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Posted by on January 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Stir up Your Spiritual Gifts

“For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” II Timothy 1:6 NASB

Paul, knowing the time of his death was soon approaching, wrote his last letter to encourage Timothy to carry on with the ministry. He reminded Timothy of his ordination to the work of the ministry and that it was Paul himself who laid his hands on Him. Paul also reminded Timothy of the spiritual gift of God that was in him.

The NASB tells us to, “kindle afresh,” while the NIV says, “fan into the flam.” It illustrates a picture of a fire that has dwindled down to embers and stands in need of being kindled afresh or fanned so it will grow from an ember to a flame. I like the King James wording the best. It says, “stir up the gift of God.” These words give a picture of a fire that is about to die out and stands in need of revival.

For eleven years of my childhood I lived in central California on Vandenberg AFB. That part of California had a very dry climate leaving the land parched and therefore susceptible to wild fires. We were constantly warned to be careful knowing that the smallest spark could set off a raging fire. However, it wasn’t the parched land in and of itself that caused such raging fires. The Santa Ana Winds would kick up out of the east quickly turning the smallest of embers into an inferno.

The Word of God teaches that all Christians have spiritual gifts. Those spiritual gifts are given to us for the purpose of building up the Kingdom of God. (I Corinthians 12:1-11). Clearly, God has called all His children to serve Him. If we chose not to use the spiritual gifts God has given to us, they will die down to a small ember and are of little use. However, if we chose to walk in the gifting and calling God has placed upon our lives the spiritual gifts will be stirred up, kindled afresh, and set aflame for the Lord. If you are unsure of what your spiritual gifts are pray to the Lord that He would show you.

There is no doubt we live in a spiritually parched land. I am thoroughly convinced that it wouldn’t take much of a spark to set off the fires of revival within this dry and weary land. People are hurting, and therefore searching today like never before. They don’t know it yet but what, or who, they are truly searching for is the Lord. It is our responsibility to tell them-whether by word or action.

Imagine, if God’s people as a whole stood up and started stirring up their spiritual gifts in service to the Lord. Imagine, those same people praying for the wind of the Spirit of God to blow a mighty anointing upon those spiritual gifts. Wow! What a fiery, inferno, of a revival we would see. The only question now is, what are we waiting for?  

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Posted by on January 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Shaping a Sincere Faith

“I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day,  longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy. For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.” II Timothy 1:3-5 NASB

 

As Paul reflected upon the life of young Timothy he thanked God for him and his sincere faith. This was the last letter of Paul. Paul told Timothy in II Timothy 4:6, “The time of my departure has come.” Paul was in a Roman jail persecuted for proclaiming the gospel and knew that the time of his martyrdom for the Lord was soon to come.

Paul reminded Timothy of how the roots of his faith were first formed. His grandmother Lois and mother Eunice were faithful women of God who taught Timothy the ways of the Lord from childhood. The mighty man of God Timothy grew to be was greatly attributed to his godly upbringing.

Paul, knowing his time of death was near, wasn’t concerned for himself. He stated he had a clear conscience. There is no mention of Timothy’s father; however, Paul had taken Timothy under his wing as a son in the faith. After many years of Paul investing into Timothy’s life through mentoring him Paul, now desired to give his last words as words of encouragement to Timothy. Words of encouragement from Paul to Timothy to stand strong, stand firm, stir up your gifts, and step out in faith, even after he’s gone.

Oh, how great a need we have today of children being brought up in a godly upbringing. Oh, how great a need we have today of mentors taking those who are young in the faith under their wing as Paul did Timothy and disciple them. One of the greatest downfalls of the church today is the lack of discipleship. One of the greatest ways of discipleship is for the mature men and woman of God to simply take the babes in Christ by the hand and say, “Walk with me, and I will show you how it’s done.” I am so very grateful for the Paul’s God has put in my path over the years. Timothy, who was now pastor of Ephesus, now had a sincere faith; a sincere faith that was shaped and molded by godly people that God had put in his path. Who has God put in your path? Your children or grandchildren? New believers or those with struggles? Are you shaping a sincere faith within them? Will they carry on after you are gone?

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Power from on High

“And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” Luke 24:49 NASB

Just before Jesus ascension into heaven He gave these instructions to His disciples. At this same time He instructed them to go into all of the word making disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28:19,20). Although the disciples spent three years under the teachings of the master teacher, Jesus, prior to His sacrifice, and then another forty days with Him after His resurrection, they were still unqualified and unprepared to proclaim the gospel. Jesus told them to go into Jerusalem and wait. He specifically told them to wait for the promise of the Father, the power from on high, which is the Holy Spirit Himself. Only after they receive the power of the Holy Spirit could they be His witnesses. (Acts 1:8)

Apart from the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, we too are unqualified and unprepared to do anything for the Lord. We may have the greatest education, the most well funded and organized programs, and the highest form of zeal in our heart, but apart from the power of the Holy Spirit these things are utterly useless.

The disciples were obedient to the instructions of Jesus. They went back to Jerusalem and waited. They waited in a constant state of prayer and expectation. On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit filled each one powerfully. After receiving the power from on high they went out into the streets of Jerusalem where Peter preached the gospel and three thousand souls were saved.

I believe one of the main reasons we aren’t seeing revival within many of our churches is due to the works of the flesh. We aren’t dependent upon the power from on high-the Holy Spirit. The other reason is unrepentant sin within the church which grieves the Holy Spirit and hinders His power. Both of these abominable acts leave the church self-sufficient making it inefficient.

Today when someone accepts Jesus as their Savior they receive the Holy Spirit. (Romans 8:9-11). However, as Christians, who have the Holy Spirit within us, we can still grieve His power. How then as Christians do we obtain this power from on high? The same way the disciples did. First, we believe and therefore are obedient to the words of Jesus. Second, we then wait in prayerful anticipation, dedicating ourselves to praying for God’s power until the time comes when we are so full of God’s presence and power within our lives it can no longer be contained. Third, we then leave our upper rooms, walk out into the world, and through the power from on high kick down the gates of hell. Fourth, we repeat these steps again, and again, and again.

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Help Wanted

“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” Luke 10:2 NASB

 

Just after Jesus sent seventy laborers into the fields to reap a harvest for His kingdom Jesus spoke these words. When we look into our world today, after two thousand years of the churches labor in the fields, we rejoice over all of the progress that has been made. However, this truth still remains today-the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.

When we look at the statistics of the America church we see a frightening truth. The harvest is multiplying while the laborers are decreasing. According to Thom Rainer, the CEO of Lifeway, Southern Baptist churches lost a little over one hundred thousand members last year and have had the lowest amount of baptisms since 1948. Unfortunately, in 1948 there were only six million Southern Baptist, today there are more than sixteen million. While this study was made specifically for the Southern Baptist Convention we realized that the statistics are not much different for most other denominations; some are much worse.

Looking at the vastness of the unreached people and the lost condition of our nation can be overwhelming. Truly the harvest is plentiful. When we look at how unreached our nation is for the Lord we shouldn’t be surprised at how wicked it has become. Lost people will act like lost people. However, our nation isn’t lost because we have fewer church members. It is lost because we have fewer church members laboring for the Lord. We cannot blame the world for its lost state, for, it is the church that Jesus commissioned, giving it power and authority, to go out and share the gospel across the globe.

Within the walls of the church most are discouraged with the entitlement society that is rapidly growing in our nation, not realizing they have created an entitlement society within the church itself. We go to church wanting to be blessed, but will not return a blessing. We go to church wanting to receive, yet we have no goal to give. We go to church wanting to be fed, although have no heart to feed. The problem with this is, God doesn’t call us to go to church, He calls us to be the church.

What then is the solution to this devastating and deadly problem? Jesus made it clear; we are to beseech the Lord of the harvest. We are to pray for God to send workers into His fields. We need to stop fussing about the problems and start seeking the solution by praying that God would send out the gospel seed sowers along with the harvesters out into the fields.

Set aside a daily time to pray for God to send workers into the field. Set aside a day or a weekend dedicated to praying for this need. If there are ministries in your church that are shorthanded, beseech the Lord of the harvest. Don’t stop praying until you see God stirring. Once you see God stirring, pray some more.

Yes we need to pray for the sinner that God would draw them unto Himself, yet at the same time, “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14). Pray! Keep in mind though; when you begin to pray, the first one God will begin to move will more than likely be you.

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Posted by on January 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Does God Turn a Deaf Ear?

“If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear but certainly God has heard; He has given heed to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, who has not turned away my prayer nor His lovingkindness from me.” Psalm 66:18-20 NASB

 

As the Psalmist clearly records, God will not hear us if we regard wickedness in our heart. If we have regard toward something in our lives we have feelings for it; feelings that cause us too long for and desire what it is that we regard. If we regard wickedness we have a desire for it.

The heart is often also referred to as the sole, or the mind. It is the emotional and spiritual state of an individual. If our heart, the spiritual core of our being, regards wickedness, God will not hear our prayers.

God’s standard for His children is clear, He told us to “be holy, for I am holy.” (I Peter 1:16). If we choose to disregard God’s standard, we grieve the Holy Spirit hindering every area of our spiritual lives. A heart with regard to sin stands in contempt to a holy God and cannot be used of God.

Holiness is a choice. But, it is also an act of God. We have no ability to live in accordance to God’s standard of holiness apart from God’s work of redemption within our lives. However, if we make the choice to repent of our sin and ask God to forgive us and cleanse us, He will. (I John 1:9).

With God’s redemptive work in mind Hebrews 4:16 says, “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Yes, I have committed many sins in my life, yet, I have repented. Because I have repented and trusted in God’s redemptive work I know I am also forgiven. “Blessed be God, who has not turned away my prayer nor His lovingkindness from me.”

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Preparing our Heart for Prayer

“We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God;and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.” I John 3:20-22 NASB

 

In reality there is only one way to prepare your heart for prayer and that is having a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. I Timothy 2:5 says, “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” Jesus is the one and only link between God and man. If we pray to or through anyone else we are wasting our time and blaspheming the very name of Jesus who paid the price for us to have relationship with God. James 5:16 tells us, “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” This now presents to us a major problem because the bible tells us, “There is no one righteous not even one.” (Romans 3:10). As a result of this problem we see our great need of Jesus.

Romans 3:22 tells us the righteousness of Jesus is applied to our lives when we place our faith in His sacrifice and Romans 3:26 lets us know, we are justified, (made righteous), through that same faith. Because of this amazing truth our prayer life is not dependent upon us, our abilities, or our righteousness-it is solely dependent on Jesus. When we pray, we pray through Jesus and His righteousness knowing that Jesus is personally carrying our prayers to the throne of the Father.

This does not however, give us a license to live as we choose and expect Jesus to be our errand boy at our beck and call. He is Lord! We need to live, breath, walk, talk, think, and exist with Him as our Lord. He died so we may live. The lives we live are to bring glory to Him and not ourselves. The prayers we pray to Him and through Him should honor Him.  

Now, when the devil comes bringing about his lies and accusations condemning your heart, telling you that you are not worthy to pray, simply say back to him, “Your right devil, I’m not worthy, but Jesus is, and it is through Him I pray.” Satan doesn’t want you to pray because he knows a prayer warrior is destructive to his kingdom.

Therefore Christian, I challenge you to be the prayer warier that God has called you to be. Don’t stand in condemnation but in confidence knowing that your prayers are righteous through Jesus and will accomplish much.

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Posted by on January 13, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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