Monday, November 12, 2018


WHO IS GOD?


Through Him all things were made.
Without Him nothing was made that has been made.
 John 1:3 NIV

People have asked me, "Why should I pray to a God I can't see? To answer that question, we must first answer, "Who is God?" 

Many people have a skewed perception of God. Therefore, it is important to not only answer that question, "Who is God?" but to have it settled within our hearts that He loves us deeply and created us to have relationship with Him.  

Before I became a Christian, I believed that God was an unreachable disciplinarian, ready to punish me if I did not measure up to His expectations and standards. Thus, I struggled in vain to be perfect. I did not know that He is the loving, forgiving, nurturing FATHER, who sees us as His precious children, whom He lovingly knit each of us together in His image, in our mother's womb (Psalm 139:13-16)

God is the Sovereign Creator. Sovereign is defined as supreme, absolute, unlimited, unrestricted, boundless, ultimate, total, unconditional; ruling; and royal. "Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will, they existed and were created" (Revelation 4:11 NASB)"In His hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him. The sea is His, for He made it, and His hands formed the dry land"(Psalm 95:4-5 NIV; Romans 1:20) "He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together" (Colossians 1:17 NIV)

God is infinite. He is self-existing without origin. He is pre-eminent and superior. He says, "I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come" (Isaiah 46:10 NIV).

God is omnipresent (present everywhere). "Am I a God at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God far away? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord" (Jeremiah 23:23-24 ESV). God is accessible to us 24/7.

God is omnipotent (all powerful). He is Creator of the universe. He the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End (Revelation 22:13)God is abundant in power and His understanding is beyond measure (Psalm 147:5). For with God, nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37 NKJV).

God is omniscient (all knowing). He knows and cares about the smallest detail of our lives and everything that is around us. He even knows when a sparrow falls or when we lose a single hair (Matthew 10:29-30). Not only does God know everything that will occur until the end of history, He knows our every thought before we speak it (Psalm 139:4)

God is not man, that He should lie, or a son of man, that He should change His mind. Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not fulfill it? (Numbers 23:19 ESV) We can trust God to keep His 5,467 promises found in His Word. He is absolutely trustworthy (Hebrews 6:13-18).

God is immutable and never changing (Malachi 3:6). We can depend on Him and His Word. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change (James 1:17 ESV). He is light. In Him there is no darkness (1 John 1:15). We can trust in His Word.

God is all wisdom. The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable" (Isaiah 40:28). For the LORD gives wisdom and knowledge, and understanding comes from His mouth (Proverbs 2:6)Blessed are those who find wisdom and get understanding (Proverbs 3:13). If we lack wisdom, we are to ask God, who gives generously to all who ask (Proverbs 8:11-12).


God is faithful. "Because of the Lord's great love, we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is [His] faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:22-23; 2 Corinthians 120 NKJV). For all the promises of God in Him are "Yes," and in Him "Amen," to the glory of God through us (2 Corinthians 1:20)

God is good. Jesus said, "No one is good, except God alone (Luke 18:19). Therefore, there is no evil in Him, nor can He commit evil. His intentions and motivations are always good and pure. The LORD is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations. (Psalm 100:5)

God is kind. "God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:6-7).

God is just and holy. The LORD loves justice and hates robbery and wrong (Isaiah 61:8). He administers His laws fairly without favoritism and bias. "Who is like Thee, majestic in holiness, awesome in praises, working wonders?" (Exodus 15:11)

God is merciful. The Lord hears our cries for mercy and accepts our prayers (Psalm 6:9). For He says, "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion" (Exodus 33:19). His mercies are new every morning. Mercy is God withholding a just punishment when we repent.

God is love. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. He demonstrated
His love for us when He sent His only Son into the world, so that we might have life through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us first and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:8-10)

God is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness (Psalm 86:15). His greatest desire is that we love Him and bathe in His love and presence.

We can freely approach God in prayer as children approach their parents and make their requests known. Prayer is conversation that builds an intimate relationship with God, thereby enabling us to hear His voice within our spirit. Prayer teaches us accountability as we learn God's will. Prayer is intercession and our spiritual weapon of warfare that defeats the enemy and moves mountains. For that reason, we are not to be anxious, but in everything by prayer, supplication, and thanksgiving, we are to make our requests known to Him. Then the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6)

PRAYER: FATHER GOD, thank You for always receiving and embracing me with love. Help me to trust in Your sovereign will for my life and to know that You answer prayers in Your time. Help me to continually seek Your face, wisdom, and discernment. Make me aware of all forms of deception and guide me in making wise decisions. Thank you for giving attention to my every thought, concern, and need. I place my life in Your loving hands. In Jesus name, amen. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

SEASONS



I enjoy the beauty of the Tennessee mountains set aglow with their stunning hues of orange, red, and gold, exclaiming fall's last hurrah before winter. However, in our immediate area, the unseasonably warm weather and rain have confounded nature's cycle, creating faded and dried leaves, still clinging to their branches.

While considering the four seasons, I realized there is a correlation between seasonal changes and the spiritual seasons that we experience. "For everything there is a season" (Ecclesiastes 3:1). There is a time to be born and a time to die. Between  those two events are cyclical spiritual seasons.

SPRING is a time of renewal and rebirth as we watch the earth surrender new growth at winter's end. It is also the time when farmers go into their fields to plow and plant. 

Plowing is important, because it prepares the soil to receive new life, and it breaks up roots, which prevent weeds from growing and choking out the new crop. Equally, Christians must prepare the soil of their hearts by uprooting all destructive roots of bitterness, unforgiveness, resentment, and anger, so that a good crop of blessings can come forth.

Spring rains will come at inconvenient times, requiring farmers to work long hours throughout the night as they seed their ground. This is powerful imagery for those seasons of life when unexpected challenges prevent us from moving forward with our plans. But like the farmer, we cannot allow those interruptions to dissuade and sidetrack us. Instead, God calls us to persevere in prayer and seek His plans and purposes, for He is our shelter and strength and is always ready to help in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1).

Spring's rebirth and renewal are also a part of God's kingdom. We see this call for "rebirth" in Scripture, when the Pharisee, Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, asked Jesus, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3:4-8 KJV).

We entered the world as human flesh with an Adamic, unredeemed nature. Therefore, to be born spiritually, we must confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in our heart that God raised Him from the dead and we will be save (Romans 10:9 NKJV). However, that is only the beginning.

John the Baptist said, "I have baptized you with water, but [Jesus] will baptize you with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33). For it is the Holy Spirit that gives wisdom, direction, discernment, comfort, peace, knowledge, and all things pertaining to God. Jesus received the Holy Spirit before He began His ministry and He tells Christ followers to follow His example by asking the Holy Spirit to indwell them.

SUMMER is referred to as the growing season when farmers plant their summer crops. Spiritually, the summers of our lives are those times of spiritual growth, as God reveals Himself to us through His Word and prayer. As we pray, He calls us to stop, refresh, and quiet our spirits in the refreshing of His Holy Spirit. "The Lord is [our] Shepherd. [We] lack nothing. He makes [us] lie down in green pastures. He leads [us] beside quiet waters. He refreshes [our] soul" (Psalm 23:1-3). He promises, "I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint" (Jeremiah 31:25 NIV).

What does it mean to be refreshed? Refreshing follows repentance of disobedience, rebellion, unbelief, sin, and anything that opposes God and robs us of peace and joy. As we turn to the Lord, sins are wiped out and refreshing comes from Him. (Acts 3:19)

The antonym for refresh is to be weary. God wants to take us from weariness to His place of refreshing, where He strengthens, energizes, revives, restores, and awakens us to His plans and purposes. However, that spiritual strengthening and refreshing can only begin with prayerful communication with God.

FALL represents change, preparation, and harvest. The changing leaves tell us winter is near. Interestingly, leaves die and fall so that new buds may form on their branches, bringing forth life in the spring. 

Leaves have a lesson for us. We often cling to what is comfortable and safe, because we are afraid of change or of losing something that is important to us. As with dead leaves that eventually release from their branches, if we refuse to release those dead and weighty things that hold us back, we will never experience new growth and blessings. 

A harvest does not happen overnight. Like the farmer who, with great effort, prepares his land for planting, we must extend great effort in preparing the good soil of our hearts with patience, faith, endurance, and commitment to prayer and reading God's Word. In that resolve, there must be a removal of "weeds"—old fears, worries, false beliefs, unhealthy attitudes, and choices that prevent God's bountiful harvest from being produced in our lives.

WINTER is a time of death and dormancy when the earth rests. There are times in our walk with God that we come to a place of inactivity, which can lead to a disconnect from Him, if we are not careful.

The farmer is the perfect example of one who understands harvest and dormancy, because once the farmer has harvested his crops, the ground rests and remains cold and dormant until spring. Though the ground is resting, the farmer remains busy maintaining his equipment and making necessary repairs to insure everything is operational for springtime planting. His very livelihood and health of the farm depend on the proper care and maintenance of the farm equipment. 

Likewise, our spiritual health and potential harvest are dependent upon our continual communication with God, studying His Word, and fellowshipping with fellow believers in a church environment. Without fastidious preparation and continual maintenance of the spirit and soul, we can lose the harvest as we drift away from God. And without preparation, we will not be ready for storms that will surely come.

There was a time when I felt disconnected from God, so I asked, "Father, why have I not heard from You?" He gently spoke into my spirit, "Because you do not spend time with Me." Regrettably, I had allowed the cares and business of everyday life to rob quality time with Him. Thankfully, if we seek Him with all our heart, we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). For when we seek His kingdom first and His righteousness, all our needs will be met (Matthew 6:33).

Just as the earth goes through seasonal changes each year, we are continually transitioning between spiritual seasons, "until we reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13-15 NIV).

PRAYER: LORD, help me to appreciate each season as a time for spiritual growth and spending time with You. I ask that You fill me with the Holy Spirit, Who provides wisdom and gives direction, discernment, comfort, peace, knowledge, and all things pertaining to You. In Jesus name, amen.

Monday, October 22, 2018

TWO MASTERS



In studying John 12:3-6, I thought it was odd that Jesus would recruit Judas Iscariot to be His treasurer, when He knew that he was a thief. We get a glimpse of Judas' heart when he chastises Mary for using a pound of very costly, pure nard to anoint Jesus' feet. "Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?" Judas said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was in charge of the donations and would help himself to the money. 


Jesus had taught the multitudes and the disciples, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." "No one can serve two masters for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money" (Matthew 6:19-24 NIV)

Jesus was speaking to the root of Judas' carnality and double-mindedness, which was his lust for wealth and possessions. Although he was given opportunities to repent and turn from his sin of greed, he chose the love of money instead of loving and serving Jesus.

Jesus knew the sin in Judas' heart and the choices he would make. Yet He gave him opportunity to accept or reject the truth; therefore, Judas could never say, “[ I ] knew nothing about this.” Does not He who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not He who guards your life know it? Will He not repay everyone according to what they have done?" (Proverbs 24:12) 

We might wonder how Judas, a disciple of Jesus, could have betrayed Him for thirty pieces of silver after being with Him and listening to His teachings? Sadly, there are "Christians" who are no different than Judas. Outwardly, they profess Jesus, attend church, and say all the right things. Inwardly, their hearts are far from Him. They are adulterers, fornicators, thieves in business, liars, greedy, rebellious, unbelieving, prideful, and refuse to turn from their sins. They believe that as long as they call themselves a Christian all is well with their soul. Unfortunately, they are deceived and live their life apart from God's truth.

The Bible warns us that, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?" (Jeremiah 1:0 NKJV) For that reason, we are cautioned to guard our heart, for everything we do flows from it (Proverbs 4:12). If we are not careful, both heart and mind will betray us. 

King David, whom God had called, "a man after My Own heart," let his guard down and committed adultery with Bathsheba and orchestrated the murder of her husband, Uriah. Despite David's intense love for God, in a moment of idleness and weakness, he succumbed to fleshly desires. 

God sent the Prophet Nathan to expose David's sin and give him a message. Then David repented, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the Lord, the son born to you will die” (2 Samuel 12:13-14).

Sin always has its consequences. Christian apologist and defender of the faith, Pastor Ravi Zaccharias says this about sin: "Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay."

The beautiful Psalms of David came after he had repented of his sin, "You have searched me, Lord, and You know me. You know when I sit and when I rise. You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down. You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue You, Lord, know it completely" (Psalm 139: 1-4 NIV)

David recognized his weaknesses as a man and called upon the Lord to help him discern when sin was crouching at the door of his heart. "Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (vs. 23-24).

Just as it was in the Garden of Eden when Satan packaged sin as a seductive piece of fruit, his methods have never changed. He seduced David with the alluring and beautiful Bathsheba. The enemy of our soul dresses up sin in ways that entice the double-minded (those who vacillate between two opinions) to mix sin with the things of God.  

Christians who profess Jesus Christ as Lord but knowingly sin are double-minded. They are unstable in all that they do, because they are tossed and blown by the world's false narratives. They do not have God's Word firmly planted within their heart, so they are unable to discern truth from the enemy's lies. Those deceptions affirm their choices and lifestyle, so that they love the world and all it offers, while believing all is well with their soul. 

The desires of the flesh are in opposition to the spiritually minded; therefore, a double minded person is easily drawn into immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and other sins of which we are warned that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21)

Why do some struggle between two opposing worlds? There is an exhausting and deadly tug-of-war between good and evil. Those who embrace both worlds are playing a dangerous game with the dark side of sin. That risk is too great to gamble with one's soul. Either we choose to follow God and His precepts and love Him with all our heart, soul, and strength, or we follow and conform to the things of this world. As Christians, we cannot have both.

The good news is that those who confess their sins, God is faithful and righteous to forgive them and cleans them from all unrighteousness (I John 1:9). For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus (Romans 3:23-24 NIV)

 God created us to fulfill His purposes and carry the light of Christ to the world, but it can only happen through willing, committed, surrendered, and obedient hearts. The question remains, "Are we double-minded or are we single-minded with hearts and minds focused on Christ?"

PRAYER:  LORD, like David, I ask that you search my heart, and reveal any thoughts, actions, or lifestyles that are wicked or displeasing in Your eyes. Help me to recognize the enemy's cleaver packaging of sin that would draw me away from You, for I desire to walk in holiness before You.  In Jesus name, amen.