Tuesday, February 2, 2016

John 5: The Vice of Vainglory

John 5:44 

Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

44 How is it possible for you to believe [how can you learn to believe], you who [are content to seek and] receive praise and honor and glory from one another, and yet do not seek the praise and honor and glory which come from Him Who alone is God?


Vainglory, it's not a word we think about much nowadays. Yet, we should think about the implications of becoming entangled in it, because it is a sin that entices even the most sincere Christian.

The definition of vainglory listed in my copy of the Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary of the English Language states that it is "Glory, pride, or boastfulness that is vain; vanity excited by one's own performances; empty pride; undue elation of mind" (original copyright 1904 and printed in 1965).

None of us can boast about our accomplishments, because any good we have done is because of Him!  He bestows gifts and talents.  He empowers us to be successful.

It's up to us to utilize those gifts and talents for His glory and not our own.  

Have you ever been in situations where everyone is attempting to one-up the others?  When we act like that, it's like we are saying to God, "I don't need You.  I can do it all by myself."  That thought process is not only childish, but arrogant.

Personally, I have asked the Holy Spirit to convict me of any vainglorious attitude.  I am well aware I need God's power to be successful in all that I am and do.  Yet the temptation remains for me, for all of us.

The verse above asks an important and eternal question.  How can we believe when we focus on seeking and receiving praise and glory for ourselves, when God is the One Who is responsible for the blessing of success?  

The moment a person thinks they are free from pride (vainglory), is the moment this insidious vice has rooted in their soul.

It's a sobering and humbling thought, isn't it?

Holy Spirit, please reveal any vainglory in our lives.  Open our eyes to see Your power flow through us which yields success.  All honor and power and GLORY be to the One called Jesus.  AMEN!!!


Saturday, January 23, 2016

Mark 2: Constantly Questioning

What strikes me in today's reading is that no matter what Jesus and His disciples did or did not do, he was constantly questioned about it.

The scribes questioned in their hearts about the authority Jesus had to forgive sins (Mark 2:6).

The Pharisees questioned Jesus about His choice of dinner companions, citing them as sinners (Mark 2:16).

John's disciples fast, but not Yours.  Why? (Mark 2:18)

But Your disciples are picking grain on the Sabbath! That's against the law!!! (Mark 2:24

Have you ever been in a situation where every move and decision you make is questioned?  I imagine it would have the potential to be extremely frustrating.  Yet, Jesus doesn't appear to be frustrated or irritated.  He answers the unbelieving questions with wisdom and power.

It's difficult to believe that they would continue to question Jesus when they witnessed with their own eyes His power.  But they continued to question Jesus because they did not trust in Him.

Asking the Lord a question opens a personal dialogue between you and He.  He desires heart to heart communication.

Questioning the Lord out of a lack of trust reveals just that, a lack of trust.  OUCH!

How many times have we questioned the Lord because we didn't trust Him.  When I catch myself questioning the Lord due to a lack of trust, I ask Him to help me to trust Him.  He really likes that kind of request.

Lord, when the things around seem to be going the opposite of our prayers,  we ask You to help us to trust You.  Show Your hand hidden among the situations and circumstances, in the Name of Jesus, AMEN!!!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

John 2-4: Honesty, i,e., Worship in Spirit and in Truth

John 4:23-24

Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

23 A time will come, however, indeed it is already here, when the true (genuine) worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth (reality); for the Father is seeking just such people as these as His worshipers.
24 God is a Spirit (a spiritual Being) and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth (reality).

Jesus had just spoken to a woman who, most probably, was a societal outcast.  She had been with five men and the man she was living with now was not her husband.  In that point in history according to Jewish law, she could have been stoned to death.  Yet Jesus talked to and encouraged her to "worship the Father in spirit and in truth (reality); for the Father is seeking just such people as these as His worshipers"(John 4: 23).

This woman was honest with Jesus about her living arrangements (living with a man who was not her husband). Jesus spoke to her about her lifestyle (having been with five men previously).  He did not mention that she was sinning; she already knew that.  Instead, Jesus spoke to the true passion in this woman's heart...worship.

Could it be that this woman went from man to man searching for a means of release for the passion within her?  Jesus identified this woman's true desire, to worship God the right way!

Others probably ostracized this woman for her behavior, yet Jesus spoke to her true passion.  Although wrong in her behavior, she was honest about it with the Lord.  

How many Christians point the finger as those in sin, yet are not honest with the Lord about their own failings?

Worship Him in spirit and in truth! These are the worshipers He seeks.  Christians and non-Christians, He's calling you to be honest with Him.  Without honesty, there is no grace.  Without grace, well, we are lost!

Holy Spirit, empower us to be honest with You, so You can pour out Your powerful grace upon us!  Stop us from pointing the finger at others!  Instead, give us the ability to speak the true passion within others.  In the great and awesome Name of Jesus, AMEN!!! 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

John 1:15-51: Let His Light Shine, Reveal God!

John 1:18

 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

18 No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son, or the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known].

 Jesus revealed His Father to the earth.  We can know the Father's heart by reading how Jesus behaved while He was among us.  

What is even more awesome is that Jesus says that we can do "greater things."


John 14:11-13 

Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me; or else believe Me for the sake of the [very] works themselves. [If you cannot trust Me, at least let these works that I do in My Father’s name convince you.]
12 I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, if anyone steadfastly believes in Me, he will himself be able to do the things that I do; and he will do even greater things than these, because I go to the Father.
13 And I will do [I Myself will grant] whatever you ask in My Name [as presenting all that I Am], so that the Father may be glorified and extolled in (through) the Son.

In other words, you and I can reveal God to the world around us!  Who we are in Him tells a story of the Father.  What is His heart?  How would He speak? What would He do?  Wow!  This is a weighty revelation, but a true one.  Although we are not God, we are empowered to represent Him!  This can only be done as we follow the lead of the His Spirit, spend time with Him, turn away from what we know is wrong and embrace His definition of right.  

Then...the world will see Him.  Remember, we are lights in this dark world.  We may never know (until heaven) how that Light shining through us has impacted others.  

In the Name of Jesus, let's shine His Light into every place we go.  He can transform even the darkest place with His Light!  AMEN!!!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Luke 4-5: Amazing Surprises!

The Luke 4:1-13, wilderness account of the temptation of Jesus stirs courage in me.  Jesus was tempted in three domains...his physical need for food, his exclusive worship of God, and his trust in God's protection. 

On each point, Jesus prevailed by referencing the written Word of God.  In my case, I have been tempted to become anxious regarding some very specific prayer requests, which lay heavily upon my heart.  The Lord countered this ongoing temptation by His Word in my spirit.  I keep hearing, "Trust Me," yet the prayers seemingly remain unanswered.  

Last week, during the middle of the night, I had been tossing and turning because my hip was aching (I hadn't stretched properly after a workout).  The thought came to me that I hadn't yet asked the Lord about the coming year.  Before I could even finish the thought, the Lord said, "Amazing Surprises."  Immediately, I thought of the ongoing, unanswered prayers and how God keeps encouraging me to trust Him.  

I'm excited to experience 2016's "Amazing Surprises."  I am so thankful for God's continued and numerous interventions in 2015.

Friends, let me encourage you to seek God's Word for your personal 2016.  He is such a good Encourager and Guide!
 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Matthew 4: Every and All Diseases and Weaknesses


Matthew 4:23-24
Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

23 And He went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the good news (Gospel) of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every weakness and infirmity among the people.

24 So the report of Him spread throughout all Syria, and they brought Him all who were sick, those afflicted with various diseases and torments, those under the power of demons, and epileptics, and paralyzed people, and He healed them.
 
 
It is important to meditate on these familiar verses regarding the healing ministry of Jesus.  Every and all are commonly used words in the English language, but do we pause long enough to consider their meaning?
 
Every "precede[s a] singular noun and [is] used to refer to all the individual members of a set without exception"(Google, 2015).
 
All is "used to refer to the whole quantity or extent of a particular group or thing"(Google, 2015).
 
In other words, the identified verses could be rewritten for emphasis.  
 
Verse 23:  And He went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the good news (Gospel) of the kingdom, and healing all the individual members who suffered from disease without exception and all the individual members who suffered from weakness and infirmity without exception among the set of people.  
 
Verse 24: So the report of Him spread throughout all Syria, and they brought Him the whole quantity or extent of a particular group who were sick, those afflicted with various diseases and torments, those under the power of demons, and epileptics, and paralyzed people, and He healed them.
 
 
Holy Spirit please help us to wrap our heads and hearts around these two little words..."every" and "all."  Cause all doubts and lack of faith to flee in the name of Jesus!  Empower us to arise with His healing power in our hands, words and actions.  Let our whispers be filled with faith, not despair.  In the great and awesome healing name of Jesus, AMEN!!!
 
 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Luke 3: It Shall Be Made Straight


Luke 3:5-6

Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

5 Every valley and ravine shall be filled up, and every mountain and hill shall be leveled; and the crooked places shall be made straight, and the rough roads shall be made smooth; 6 And all mankind shall see (behold and understand and at last acknowledge) the salvation of God (the deliverance from eternal death decreed by God).



You are definitely speaking, Lord! This past Sunday, the Isaiah version of the above verse was used as a base for the sermon.  You highlighted this verse almost two weeks ago, Lord.   

What are You trying to say? 
 

Let's be real and raw...


Yes, You have filled up every valley and ravine!

Yes, You have straightened the crooked places in my life.

Yes, the rough roads have been smoothed.

I have been blessed so much more than comprehension, YES, YES, YES!!!

Yet, new valleys and ravines present themselves.  Although, much smoother and straighter than in previous seasons, my path remains in need of a Savior.  

Every moment of every day, I need a Savior!

I can't imagine living without my Savior!  

Jesus, stir my soul.  Breathe, new life on its embers.  Let passion and praise arise for You.  In Your holy and precious Name, AMEN!



Thursday, December 3, 2015

Mark 1: In You I Am Well Pleased


Mark 1:10-11

Amplified Bible Classic Edition (AMPC)
 

And when He came up out of the water, at once he [John] saw the heavens torn open and the [Holy] Spirit like a dove coming down to enter into Him. And there came a voice out from within heaven, You are My Beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.


As an adolescent, my self-worth was skewed.  Unfortunately, this lack of self-love continued on into my mid-thirties.  I had believed the lie that performance, perfect performance, was the means to gain the approval of others.  I reasoned that if I was accepted by others, then I could love myself.  I had been deceived. This mindset kept me self-focused, constantly evaluating the quality of my performance and people's reaction to that performance.  

Self-focus distracts from God-focus!

My healing from self-focus is a work in progress.  As human beings, all of have a self-focus pull, and a certain amount of self-assessment is healthy.  

In the workforce, I am constantly assessing my performance, not as a means of eliciting others' approval, but in order to provide the best possible care of others. This is wise.

My healing from unhealthy self-focus began when I slowed down enough to focus on God.  What was He saying?  Wow, what an Encourager!  

Years ago, the Lord directed me to invite a co-worker for a Bible study in my home.  I was so SCARED and the self-focused thoughts screamed...


Would she think I'm a holy roller?

Would she belittle and tease me?

Would her friends find out about the invitation and shun me because of my boldness?


Pushing through the fear, I obeyed.    

The next morning during my prayer time, I heard...
 "My beloved daughter in You I am well-pleased."

Let me make something clear.  God doesn't love us because we are perfect in our obedience.  He loves us because of Jesus righteousness covering our mishaps and mistakes.  He loves us just because.

We can make the mistake of thinking we need to maintain a "perfect performance" for the Lord.  This too, cause our focus to shift from Jesus and towards ourselves.  He is pleased with us when our heart desires to do right, no matter the outcome.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let's "chill out."   We don't need to work for His love, we already have His love!  

This Christmas season, focus on the beauty of Jesus and His precious gift to us.  Worship Him.  Retreat from the many responsibilities of this world to sit at His feet.  I promise you, the Prince of Peace will come and fill your heart with the true Spirit of Christmas!



Thursday, November 19, 2015

Matthew 3: Baptise With Fire


Matthew 3:11Amplified Bible 

Classic Edition (AMPC)

11 I indeed baptize you in (with) water because of repentance [that is, because of your changing your minds for the better, heartily amending your ways, with abhorrence of your past sins]. But He Who is coming after me is mightier than I, Whose sandals I am not worthy or fit to take off or carry; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.


The last few days, the Lord has been reminding me of what He told me many years ago.  He said, "The Chaldeans are coming."  This warning came somewhere at the beginning of the new millennium.  At that time, the Lord showed me that the invasion was a spiritual attack against our worship of the One True God (Isaiah 44-48: Let Worship Arise, Flee From the Chaldeans!).

Today, we are faced with the physical "invasion" of the Chaldean.  Syria is one of the countries included in Chaldea of antiquity.  Please hear me.  I am not saying we, as Christians should turn our backs on people who need our help.  What I am saying is we absolutely need godly wisdom in how we help.

It is even more crucial that we listen and obey the voice of His Spirit.  His baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire, is essential for survival.  Obedience to the Lord and His commands is our most effective means of protection (2 Kings 24-25; 2 Chronicles 36: Return to God!).

We must burn with God's perfect love!

1 John 4:18

Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

18 There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love’s complete perfection].


We must turn out fear, while holding out hand to our neighbor; we must use holy wisdom!

Abba, these are times of trial.  Many are hurting and the evil one desires to kill, rob and destroy.  Protect us against physical assault.  Protect our hearts from becoming hardened against those in need.  Empower with Your fire to live according to Your ways, not our own.  Give us wisdom.  In Jesus' name, AMEN!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Core Beliefs: You’re More Than You Think!

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Saturday, November 14
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Core Beliefs: You’re More Than You Think!

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Positive mental health strategies will be presented from both a cognitive behavioral and Christian perspective (Philippians 4:8).
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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Luke 2:39-52: Favor with God and Man


Luke 2:52
Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)
And Jesus increased in wisdom (in broad and full understanding) and in stature and years, and in favor with God and man.

I have been thinking about this concept the past few days and contrasting this verse with Luke 6:26, "Woe to (alas for) you when everyone speaks fairly and handsomely of you and praises you, for even so their forefathers did to the false prophets"(Amplified Bible, Classic Edition).


I find these two verses in contradiction.  How can a person have favor and then be in danger of being found as false?

Could it mean that as we increase in wisdom and favor with God and man, that there is a danger of it "going to our heads"?  Pride comes before a fall. 


Proverbs 16:18
Classic Edition (AMPC)
 
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
 
It's a true blessing when God smiles on our lives, but in a way it is also a temptation as well.  The temptation is that we may begin to think that we, in our own power caused people to praise us and speak well of us.  Furthermore, another temptation would be to then say what others want us to say in order to maintain that good standing.  
 
This is where a false prophet is made.  No longer is the person God's mouthpiece, but a people-pleasing mouthpiece.  
 
These verses don't contradict each other after all, but offer direction and a warning to remain humble and thankful for the favor that God bestows.  And to never idolize the good things people say about us.

Bless you dear friends!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Matthew 2: Receiving Answers Requires Asking


Matthew 2:12

Classic Edition (AMPC)

12 And receiving an answer to their asking, they were divinely instructed and warned in a dream not to go back to Herod; so they departed to their own country by a different way.


One of the many privileges of a relationship with God is that we don't need to make decisions alone.  As a matter of fact, we shouldn't make our decisions apart from Him.

Being tuned in to His still small voice, heeding a dream, listening carefully to a sermon, reading the Bible are some of the ways to hear what God is saying.  

But the key here is asking!  

The verse above refers to the wise men who asked then received divine instruction.  This isn't the first time the Bible directs us to ask in order to receive.



Matthew 21:22
Classic Edition (AMPC)

22 And whatever you ask for in prayer, having faith and [really] believing, you will receive.
Asking the Holy Spirit for direction and wisdom takes the pressure off us.  Sons and daughters ask their dad for what they need.  Why wouldn't we do the same with our Heavenly Father?
Did the wise men sense the evil intent of King Herod after they asked him "Where is He Who has been born King of the Jews?" Was it their personal habit to consult God regarding their travel routes?  I don't know.  

What I do know is they received an answer to their asking.
Make it your habit to ask the Lord for direction and anticipate His answer.  He is a Perfect Father and will never give you faulty directions.
Lord, thank You for Your consistent direction over the course of my life.  I'm so thankful that I don't need to plot out my own directions and make my decisions independently!  Praise and honor be to You, my Navigator.  AMEN!!!  

Friday, October 23, 2015

Luke 2:1-38: Seeking the Face of God by Grace







Luke 2:36-38 

Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)


36 And there was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old, having lived with her husband seven years from her maidenhood,

37 And as a widow even for eighty-four years. She did not go out from the temple enclosure, but was worshiping night and day with fasting and prayer.

38 And she too came up at that same hour, and she returned thanks to God and talked of [Jesus] to all who were looking for the redemption (deliverance) of Jerusalem.


I remember when the Holy Spirit revealed to me the symbolism in these verses.  A feeling of Holy excitement stirred my spirit as I thought about the name of Anna's father, Phanuel.  

You might ask, what is so special about that name?  Often, the Bible uses genealogy as a descriptor of a biblical character.  The name Phanuel is special because of its meaning, "the face of God."  Think of it using your holy imagination.  As a child, Anna gazed adoringly into her earthy father's face.  See loved and sought for intimacy with her daddy. This was a foreshadow of what was to come.

The prophetess, Anna, was one who dedicated her life to God through fasting and prayer.  She sought the "face of God."  Intimacy with her heavenly Father through worship and prayer was her desire both night and day.  After eighty-four years of seeking the face of God through worship, was graced to see Jesus physically! 

That revelation was one that solidified my desire to worship God, to seek His face.  Anna's desire was stirred by grace, and it wasn't surprising to discover that Anna's name means grace.

Anna and I have much in common.  God has reminded us of His grace through our given names.  Over the course of my life, I could have been destroyed physically, emotionally and spiritually, BUT for grace, I continue to seek the face of my heavenly Daddy.  And for as long as I live on this earth, I will continue to gaze adoringly.  

As you walk your personal path into eternity, remember to seek the face of God, and His grace will flow.  Be thankful for life, for destiny, and for the season of New Beginnings!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Mathew 1: The True End and Scope of Life


Matthew 1:21
Amplified

She will bear a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus [the Greek form of the Hebrew Joshua, which means Savior], for He will save His people from their sins [that is, prevent them from failing and missing the true end and scope of life, which is God].


What makes this life meaningful?

...the perfect job

...the perfect marriage

...the perfect family

...the perfect friendship


I propose that this life is made meaningful as we find God and develop a personal relationship with Him.  Jesus was sent to this earth, not only to save us from our sins, but to bridge the gap between us and our Heavenly Father.  

The true end and scope of life is God!

A developing relationship with God will impact all other earthly relationships.  Let me caution you, that just because we are choosing to relate to others according to God's heart, doesn't mean that the other people involved will respond with God's heart.  

Our world is full of broken and scared people, susceptible to the influence of the evil one whose only desire is to steal, kill, and destroy.  

The best way to insulate ourselves is forgiveness!  Forgiveness is the heart of God!  

Forgiveness looks like praying for those who have hurt us.  

Forgiveness looks like proclaiming God's destiny over our "enemies."  (We truly only have one enemy, the evil one)

Our relationships may not always play out the way we imagine, but the impact of God's influence is evident in our lives when we do not count the hurt others have heaped upon us against them.  

Remember what Jesus said as he was dying for us...



Luke 23:34
Amplified Bible (AMP)

34 And Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing His clothes among themselves.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

John 1:1-14: I Open Up My Gate. I Receive You!


John 1:10-11
Amplified Bible (AMP)

10 He (Christ) was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. 11 He came to that which was His own [that which belonged to Him—His world, His creation, His possession], and those who were His own [people—the Jewish nation] did not receive and welcome Him.
 
When Jesus came to earth as a man, the Jewish nation as a whole did not receive Him.  Today, Jesus, calls us to "Open wide your gates, and let Me come in."  We have the opportunity to open the gated access of our hearts, and receive the King of the Universe, the One Who made all things, wants to come in.
 
Today, while worshiping Jesus, as we sang "Open wide your gates.  Receive Him," I experienced a beautiful mental picture.  
 
There was a city enclosed by high walls and the entrance was gated.  In the distance, I saw Jesus riding toward the gate on a huge, white horse.  He was dressed in a simple white robe, with a large, golden, jeweled crown.  
 
I was in the city and ran to the gate to open it.  I was dressed in a similar white robe, but mine was soiled and torn.  I fell to my knees with my head bowed as Jesus rode through the gate.
 
Jesus slid off his horse and approached me with outstretched hand.  As I placed my hand in His, my robe became clean and whole.  Jesus pulled me to my feet, and we began dancing.  As we danced, my white robe became a flowing, satin, purple gown trimmed at the sleeves with sparkling gold.  On my head, appeared a gold crown similar to the one on Jesus' head.  
 
I'm so grateful for all that Jesus has done for me.  He wants to do the same for you.  You can be made clean and whole.  You can shine with His magnificent glory and dance a dance of freedom with the King of Kings!  Open your gate now, let the King of Glory come in!  He wants to dance with you too!!!