Sunday, April 10, 2011

Armed With a Promise

1 Samuel 17.40
“And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd's bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine.”

Armed With a Promise

David was about to enter into a battle.

Weapons extend the power and reach of the individual combatants. Primitive weapons caused the opponents to come face to face. Then the science of weaponry advanced. We went from clubs to swords, from swords to spears, from spears to bows and arrows, from bows and arrows to guns and grenades, mortars, missiles, and Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM.) We have advanced to the place where we can kill our enemies and never see their faces. We don’t even have to see their shores. The US uses drones, unmanned ships and planes, to carry our eyes and power to places where we don’t want to venture. A few coordinates programmed into a computer guidance system and the enemy is no more.

It would be considered foolish to enter into a battle without weapons.

On the surface it seemed that David was hopelessly out-sized, out-manned, out-equipped, and out-matched. There appeared to be no hope for his survival.

Let’s take a moment to set the stage:
· The Philistines set up camp in Ephesdammim (Boundary of Blood)
· The Israelites set up camp by the valley of Elah
· Both stood on mountains with the valley between them

The Philistines sent a man from their camp to challenge the greatest of the men of Israel. The challenges was that they would do battle. If the Israelite prevailed, then the Philistines would be servants to Israel. If the Philistine prevailed, then the Israelites would be servant to the Philistines. (Without going into a great deal of detail here, I must point out a fatal flaw of Christians. Satan does not set the terms for our battles. These terms have been and are set by God. When Satan presented himself before God in the book of Job, God determined what Satan could and could not do to Job. The terms and the extent of the battle are not set by the devil.)

We see Goliath:
· A man trained in war
· Six cubits and a span (approximately 9’ 9”)
· Helmet of brass
· Coat of mail weighing 5000 shekels of brass (just over 150 pounds)
· Greaves of brass on his legs
· Target of brass between his shoulders (protects throat)
· His spear shaft was as a weavers beam and the head was iron weighing nearly nineteen pounds.
· A man went before him bearing a shield

He had the finest armor, the finest weapons, and the finest training. He was a war making machine. It was little wonder he was the hope of the Philistines.

Every one of us has a mechanic we trust. If anyone is looking for a mechanic, we offer them. Most of us have a barber/hairdresser we trust. If someone is looking for one, we offer their name. In his day, Goliath and his brothers were the best at what they did. If you needed a mercenary, they were your first call. If you needed help in a battle, they were your first choice. It was what they did better than anyone else.

We see David:
· No weapons save a shepherds sling
· No breastplate or corselet, only his plain shepherds coat
· No spear, only his shepherds staff
· No sword or bow, only a shepherds sling
· No quiver, but his script
· No arrows, but instead, five smooth stones picked from a brook

By this it appeared that his confidence was purely in the power of God and not in any sufficiency of his own. Neither his size, nor his attire, nor his weaponry was in any way, shape or form, comparative to the size, attire, or weaponry of Goliath.

Do not fool yourself. There is no sufficiency in flesh to overcome Satan and/or his minions.

It is time we learn about the Big Stick Policy. Many of you will recall from history the words of then Vice President Theodore Roosevelt, at the Minnesota State Fair, on September 2, 1901, just twelve days before the assassination of President McKinley which thrust him into his presidency. It was part of a West African proverb. “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.” Roosevelt spoke of the US’s diplomatic efforts that were backed up by the considerable might of the US’s military. Diplomacy was our soft speech. Our military was our big stick. We, as Children of God, carry a mighty big stick. We are armed with a promise.

As stated earlier, David appeared to be hopelessly out-gunned and out-matched. It appeared that his plan was useless. What could David hope for? Was his hope that Goliath would laugh himself into a heart attack? Perhaps, his hope was that Goliath would trip and break his neck. Surely, David held out no hope for victory! After all, David was not a man of war. His complete lack of armor and his choice of weapons all but insured his defeat.

Ephesians 6.12-20

· The world cannot fathom the warfare of the church.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

. They cannot comprehend the armor of our warfare.

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation,

· They cannot comprehend the weapons of our warfare.

and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

· They do not know our soft speak.

And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Men and woman of real power seldom need to raise their voices. They know the power and authority which they carry. They do not need to booster their image with screams. That is a bluff, a show of fear, or a sign of doubt. If you possess real power and real authority, and are convinced of its reality, you need only speak!

We have an invisible armor. It is not pack away in a closet, to be taken out when we are challenged. It is worn daily. The world (physical) cannot see this armor. We cannot see it with our natural eye. It is invisible, yet impenetrable. Isaiah 57.14 “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; …” Why? Because, our armor is impenetrable.

Not only do we have an invisible invincible armor, we also have mighty weapons.

1 Corinthians 10.4-5
(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Rest assured, we are engaged in a great conflict. Paul told the church at Colosse that he “would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you.” My uncle Malcolm Lawson used to say, “This is a battleground, not a playground.” We are engaged in a warfare that has raged for nearly 6000 years. However, we do not enter this battle without provisions. Like David, we appear, to the world, to be greatly over-matched. To them, it may appear that we do not stand a chance.

They do not understand what drives us
They do not understand what keeps us going
They do not understand why we still stand
They do not understand our hope for victory
To them, we do not stand a chance. We are but a shepherd’s dog to them. We are capable of watching a few easily led sheep, but we cannot possibly be victorious in a battle. We are not men of war, as those that oppose us. We are soft spoken … but … we carry a big stick.

We enter the battle for healing with a big stick.

We have a promise of healing. He said in His word that we were healed by his stripes. For our healing, Jesus received 39 stripes to His back. This is our promise. 2 Peter chapter 2 reiterates this promise. The Bible is rife with examples of Jesus healing. James tells the sick to call for the elders of the church. They will pray over them, anointing them with oil. The prayer of faith will save the sick. That healing is our promise. I come into the battle against sickness armed with the promise of God.

We enter the battle for salvation with a big stick.

His word says it is our promise. It is a promise to us, to our children, to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord, our God, shall call. He said, “Whosoever will...” I am armed with that promise. I come into the battle for salvation armed with a promise of God.

We enter the battle for deliverance with a big stick.

Psalms 34.19 tells us, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.” We need to talk about that “eth” as the suffix of deliver. In the Word, where you see this suffix, it denotes a continual action. In Exodus, where God spoke and said, “I am the Lord that healeth thee,” He was saying He was the Lord that heals us continually. Here, in Psalms, he is telling us that we will continually deliver us from our afflictions. We have this promise from God. I come into the battle for deliverance armed with a promise of God.

We enter the battle for the souls of our children with a big stick.

The Bible tells us to “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” The Hebrew wording used here implies a child as the time from birth until adolescence. This is our promise. I come into the battle for the souls of my children armed with a promise of God.

It does not matter the battle, we enter with our big stick. We have promises. For every need there is a promise.

Goliath disdained David for his stature. He belittled him. “Am I a dog that thou comest to me with staves?” A stave is an immature branch. It is a small stick with tender leaves. Goliath laughed at David. Perhaps he was looking for some better sport from this challenge he issued. Perhaps he was insulted that Israel thought he was nothing more than someone a boy could handle. Perhaps he was using this tactic to create a fear in his opponent. Regardless, David stood his ground.

Circumstances may seem to laugh at us, and at times, lord over us. Our problems sometimes seem bigger than we are. But, like David, we are not without defense in this battle, nor are we without offense. YES, we do have a great armor in our defense of the wiles and weaponry of the devil. However, we are also armed with a great array of weapons. We are armed with the promises of God. Daily, we go out as sheep in the midst of wolves, armed with these promises.

2 Kings 6.14-17 (NIV)
Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city. When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. "Oh, my lord, what shall we do?" the servant asked. "Don't be afraid," the prophet answered. "Those who are with us are more than those who are with them." And Elisha prayed, "O LORD, open his eyes so he may see." Then the LORD opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha."

Fear not, for greater are those that are with us than those that are against us. If God be for us, who can stand against us?

Elisha saw himself as safe. It was evident in his lack of worry or fear. His servant was fearful. He saw only with his natural eyes. In his vision of the situation, they were hopelessly surrounded and outnumbered. UNTIL, Elisha prayed for God to open his spiritual eyes. God enlarged his perception.

The opening of our eyes will be the silencing of our fears.

Fear dwells in darkness. The clearer the light we have of the authority and power of Heaven, the less we will fear the common calamities of this world. Elisha’s attitude showed that he saw the armies of God all along. The realization of the promise was hidden from the servant due to his fear or doubt.

We have a promise. When we are compassed about or facing an enormous problem, we have a promise. We are told to “fear not.” (To fear means to revere or sit in awe.) His Word tells us that we are not to be awed over our circumstances, problems, or situations. We are not to be daunted. We are not to be hindered. We are not to allow doubt or fear to cloud his words. We have a promise, rain or shine, clear or cloudy, uphill or down. His promises are true.

Satan has taunted you and disdained you. He has bullied or buffeted you. FEAR NOT.
Genesis 26 “Fear not,” He is with us.
1 Kings 17 “Fear not,” He will supply your needs.
2 Kings 6 “Fear not,” He is our protection.
Isaiah 41 “Fear not,” He will strengthen us.
Isaiah 43 “Fear not,” He is with us in our trial.
Matthew 10 “Fear not,” We are overshadowed by His care.
Revelation 1 “Fear not,” He is the first and the last. He will be with us beyond the grave.

In everything, fear not. We are armed with a promise.

Although the enemy comes against us like a flood, God will raise a standard against him. It is a promise.

When we walk through the rivers, they will not overflow us. It is a promise.

When we walk through fire, it will not kindle on us. It is a promise.

When we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we need fear no evil. It is a promise.

David came to Goliath that day, armed with a promise. He wore no unproven armor. He carried no unfamiliar weapon. He came with his experience as a shepherd boy and faith in a promise. Why did David choose five smooth stones? There have been suppositions back and forth. I am of the opinion (and you may discard this at your leisure) that it was to take care of Goliath and his four bothers. Further reading on the matter reveals that David and his armies did put the four brothers of Goliath to death.

Today, you will face a formidable enemy. He will try to set the terms. He will try to bully you. He will try to intimidate you. He will try to scare you.

Like Goliath, his fate is determined on your ability to stand on a promise.

Will you face tomorrow leaning on arms of flesh?

Will you face the devil with your logic and idealism?

Will you stand, armed with a promise?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Where are your eyes ?

Psalms 73.2-3

But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped.

Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.

Where are your eyes?

The psalm of Asaph

First, let us look at who Asaph was. Asaph was a Levite. When the tribes of Israel were settling in the new land, they were all given property to posses, except the tribe of the Levites, "because the Lord the God of Israel himself is their possession". They were to be ministers to the tribes and the other tribes were to pay their tithe (tenth) to them. They were to hold religious and political office in the Kingdom of Israel. He was listed by David in 1 Chronicles 6.39 as one of those chosen to be in charge of music in the House of the Lord after the Ark came to rest there. They were ministers of music. He is credited with writing the 50th and 73rd through 83rd Psalms. It was the events he witnessed in his ministry that brought about his writings in the 73rd Psalm.

He begins the Psalm by giving praise to the goodness of God to Israel, to those of a clean heart. Then he turns the light upon himself. How important it is for us to turn the searchlight of God on our own lives. He addresses his own state. He states his place as only he would know it. He continued in his ministering daily in the temple as was his position, but inside, something was wrong. His conviction, his diagnosis, and his prognosis are all found in this Psalm.

Allow me to take a moment to speak from the place of those ministering. We look up to and rely on those around us, upon whom God has placed this awesome burden to tend his flock. We see them sometimes as somewhat removed from the same cares and fears that we encounter. Let me assure you that is not the case. They face the same battles. They face the same cares. They face the same fears. They carry their cares and worries. We come to them carrying our own and they take a bit of them to relieve our load. That is added to the load they are already carrying. Is this an admonition to stop sharing your cares and asking for help and prayer? NO! If you were to ask those ministering is that was their wish, you would get that same answer. It is their blessing.

Here we find Asaph. He claims that his feet were almost gone and his steps had well nigh slipped. Something was taking the surety from his walk. I watch my 16 month old granddaughter walk about. She does great. She walks all over the house. She climbs the stairs to come see ‘Papaw’. She will climb up into my desk chair and sit, proud of her accomplishment. However, in the driveway, she will walk up the incline, but when it comes to walking down that same incline, she falters. She is afraid. She will even, at times, go back to crawling to come down the incline. If I take her out of my truck, from her car seat, and put her on the grass, she will wait until I am ready to walk, and hold up her hand. Once she has my hand, she will walk anywhere we go. Something about the incline or the grass takes away her confidence and surety. This is where we find Asaph. While his walk and ministry were one of surety, something happened to change that surety. What was different? What changed?

Jesus had miraculously fed five thousand men, and the additional women and children with five loaves and two small fish. After this he sent His disciples away in a ship when he went to the mountains to pray. The middle of the night finds the disciples in the midst of the sea, tossed by waves as the wind was contrary. Here Jesus comes to them walking on the water. They began crying out in fear. Jesus told them not to be afraid. Brash and impetuous Peter said, “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.” Jesus answers him simply, “Come.” Peter steps out of the boat and begins walking on the water toward Jesus. THEN he begins to notice the wind and waves. The wind was boisterous. It lashed against him violently. It drove the waves higher and harder. Peter began to be afraid and began to sink.

As long as Peter was focused on Jesus, he walked on the waters. The wind did not get more violent. The waves did not get higher. The storm did not rage harder. The difference was in Peters eyes. He took his eyes off of his goal and began to look at his opposition. He noticed the waves. He noticed the wind. He realized that it is not natural for a man to walk on water. It is not within the scope of human ability to walk on water.

Serving God and relying on his blessings is not natural. It is not within the normal scope of mankind. We are, by nature, solvers. We are taught as children to rely on our own wits and strength. It is part of growing up. Mom and Dad tell us that they will not always be nearby. They will not always be a breath away. There will be times when we must rely on no one but our own selves. It is normal. Depending on an unseen presence is outside the normal thought process of man.

Take your index finger of either hand and place it about six inches from your eyes. Focus on it. What do you notice? The finger becomes sharper and clearer. Behind the finger, everything else becomes blurred. If you focus long enough, the background becomes indistinguishable. It all melts together.

So it was with Peter. As he walked on the waves toward Jesus and kept his focus on Him, he was fine. It was not until he took his eyes off of his goal and began focusing on his difficulties and impossibilities, that he began to sink. Asaph was the same. While he ministered in the tabernacle, he saw the lives of those around him. He witnessed the prosperity of the wicked. He saw the fatness of the wicked. He observed them go about without care or trouble. He saw their strength as firm. He saw them cover themselves with violence without concern. He watched them as they challenged and cursed the heavens even.

Where are your eyes, Asaph?

Where are your eyes, Peter?

Where are your eyes?

When we focus on those around us, we will lose the surety of our walk. It was the reason for the weakness of the walk of Asaph. He could scarce minister for a God in whom his faith was shaken. He could not find that firm footing he knew in days past. The knowing of this was almost too much for him. It was too painful to think on such matters.

Years ago (1984,) I had a little white sporty car. There are two colors of cars that are nearly impossible to keep clean. They are white and black. It isn’t that they are any dirtier than other cars; it just shows up on them better. However, the test of whether my car was dirty or clean was the white under the dirt. It was not the mud caked on the car beside me. It was not the sparkle of the car on the other side. It was dirty or clean, based on the white it was. I could look at other dirty cars and excuse myself for not washing it, but that didn’t make my car clean.

You live your life. You look at your goal.

Asaph began looking at other people. He began comparing his life to other people. It is one thing to look at others and excuse your own sins because they are so much more evil and another entirely to look at others and lose your footing. Asaph didn’t look at ‘Joe the plumber’ and say, “I must be okay. I am not as bad as that guy.” Asaph was not envious of those he complained about. Peter was not jealous of the waves. They were both distracted by them.

It does not matter how Joe lives. You must “Save yourself’” from sin.

How did Asaph change his footing?

How did Peter change his footing?

Both returned their focus to the place it needed to be. Asaph said, “Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.” Peter cried out, “Lord, save me.

Get your eyes on Jesus. Turn the searchlight of His Word on your life. Measure up to His Word for you. Take your eyes off of those around you and serve God for yourself. Take your eyes off of the impossibilities and see the possible.

Where are your eyes?

Are you focusing on your problems? Are your eyes on the obstacles?

The Bible says that “for the joy that was set before him,” Jesus “endured the cross.” What joy was there in Calvary? What joy could there be to his humanity in his suffering and death?

It was because Jesus was looking beyond the cross to the other side of Calvary. His focus was on what would occur on the other side. On the past side of Calvary was separation from God. In Calvary was suffering and shame. However, on the other side there was reconciliation and joy.

On the other side of your problems is joy and elation. On the other side of your hurt is sweet victory. On the other side of your pain is glorious peace. Look beyond the pain. Look beyond the sorrow. Look beyond the problem.

Where are your eyes ?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Keys

Psalms 100.4-5

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

“The Keys”

I have a slightly different take on these scriptures than I have heard others expound. I am not claiming to have a new revelation. I am just coming here from a different direction.

If you ask me how to get to my house, I will tell you to take Interstate 64 to the proper exit. I can give you turn by turn directions. There are a number of ways to get here. You can avoid the interstate and travel the old road, US 60. You can travel the bypass or drive through town.

Now, if you ask me how to get into my house, I will show you the key that fits the doors to my house. This is how you enter my house. Anyone that tries to enter any other way is not a welcomed guest. Friends come in the front door. Thieves and robbers try to enter another way. The proper way to enter my home is to use the key that unlocks and opens the front door.

The Psalmist David was saying, if you want to enter into his gates, you must use this key. You must reach within you and take out the key of thanksgiving. There is no other way to gain admittance beyond the gates of the dwelling place of God.

The thanksgiving and praise spoken of here in Psalms 100 is much more than a token. It is much more than the thank you card we send to Aunt Bessie for her Christmas check. It is far and above the thanks we utter for our neighbors gift of a fruit cake. The words are towdah and tehillah.


Towdah speaks of the open hand throw out in adoration. It is the emptying out of one's heart. It is the utter realization that we are lost and hopeless without the blessings and benefits of God. It is based on the revelation of where God brought you from to where you are now. It is born of understanding that without the gift of God, we would be as ships tossed on the stormy sea, lost and directionless.


Tehillah speaks of a song of laudation. It is akin to the fountains of your heart breaking open in song for the things that God has done for you. When the Children of Israel watched the Red Sea close in upon the Egyptians, Moses began to sing onto the Lord. He sang a song of laudation. This is the praise that God seeks. It is a praise that cannot be contained inside your heart. It is a praise that will be not restrained. It is created by the works of God and results in the utter pouring out of oneself. It is the emptying.

I accept that God is omnipresent. He is everywhere all at once. There is no place that you can go that He is not already there. However, God exists on a different plane than the plane upon which we exist. This makes Him no less omnipotent, omniscient, or omnipresent. He can still move where no one can move. He can still heal to the uttermost of all diseases. He can still lift up out of the darkest depression. He is still able to forgive all of our iniquities. He alone is still able to redeem our life from destruction.

His existence in a non-tangible form does not abate in the slightest the power of His might. John tells us in the fourth chapter, the twenty-fourth verse, “God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and truth.” Stephen tells us in the book of the Acts of the Apostles, chapter seven, verse forty-eight, “Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands;” speaking of the words of Solomon in 1 Kings 8.27. Solomon said that the heavens and the heavens of the heavens could not contain Him.

His presence and power surrounds us completely. They are not in a tangible form that one can hold in their hands and put in their pockets. They exist as does He, in a metaphysical plane. Metaphysical come from two Greek words, meta and physika. Meta means ‘beyond’ or ‘after’. Physika means ‘physical’. God exists in a plane beyond the physical. It stands to reason that the way to enter such a metaphysical place would not be by a conventional vehicle or means. If God is indeed, and I do know in my heart that He is, omnipresent (everywhere,) omniscient (all knowing,) and omnipotent (all powerful,) then we are every in his presence. We are always in reach of his knowledge and power. If then, we are always in His presence, why do we need to go farther? Why do we need to get into the gates? Why do we need to enter into His courts?

What will we find inside the gate that is not everywhere we turn?

What do we find in the court that is not everywhere we turn?

In David’s day, outside the gate was to be open to marauding bands of thieves and murderers. Outside the gate you were protected only by your own strength.

Inside the gate, you fell under the protection of the city. Inside the gates, you were protected by the king of the city.

We are assailed daily by the wiles and temptations of Satan. Every day he buffets our souls. We have to be out in his world. We work jobs in it. We shop for groceries in it. We walk amongst his blind followers on a daily basis. Out there, we are open and exposed to his onslaught. Where do we turn for protection? Where is our refuge? Oh, if we could rest our burden for a time; if we could stop the attacks until our strength returns; if we could only step inside the gates; there is our respite.

I cannot reiterate it strongly enough; we must get inside the gates. There is peace inside the gates. There is rest inside the gates. There is strength inside the gates. There is protection inside the gates.

In Numbers, the command was given to set up six cities of refuge within the kingdom. These cities were set up in the cities given to the Levites. These cities were to be a place a person guilty of murder by accident could go and find safety until his case could be heard by the elders. The law of the day was an eye for an eye; a life for a life.

These cities were placed to where an Israelite or stranger could find them and get there quickly. The six cities were: Kedesh, Shechem, and Hebron to the western side of the Jordan River and Golan, Ramoth, and Bezer on the eastern side of the Jordan River. Many were set on high hills or mountains, where anyone that needed them could see them. Some were set in the open plains. The Children of Israel were commanded that the roads to these cities be clear at all time. Nothing was to impede a traveler needing refuge.

Once someone needing the city made it to the city, they were safe within. If the trial confirmed the death to be accidental, the seeker of asylum was returned to the city and there they would live under its protection. As long as the High Priest of that city lived, they were safe. When the High Priest of that city died, they were free to go, without fear of vengeance. The death of the High Priest was considered atonement.

Their safety was within the gates.

In the book of Samuel, there was a battle between warring sides of Israel. Following this battle, Asahel, the brother of Joab, pursued Abner, the first cousin of Saul. When he would not relent, Abner killed Asahel in self defense. Abner went to the city of Hebron for refuge. However, while there he was enticed by Joab to step out of the city and Joab slew him. David lamented that Abner “died as a fool dieth.”

Kedesh: the word means to be clean, to be holy. There is cleansing and holiness inside the gates of the city. Outside the gates there was decay and decadence. The prodigal son came to himself, craving to eat after the swine. He said to himself, “In my father’s house, the servants have bread to eat. If I can just make it back to the gates of father’s house, I will be alright.” Inside the gates of father’s house was cleansing and holiness. Inside the gates were a new robe of righteousness and a ring of reconciliation.

When you begin to give thanks, you are spiritually transported inside the gates of the city. There begins the work of cleaning your soul. There begins the washing. How do I get inside the gate of holiness?

Shechem: the word means shoulder. The Bible talks about the shepherd, having a hundred sheep, and seeing that one had gone astray, left the ninety-nine to find that one lost lamb. When he found it, he put it on his shoulder and carried him back to the fold. There is forgiveness inside the gates. There is a loving savior waiting to put you on his shoulder. How do I get into the gate of forgiveness?

Hebron: the word means the seat of association, fellowship. There is comfort in fellowship. There is strength in fellowship. There is victory in fellowship. When I begin to give thanks, I am joined in a fellowship of believers. Their strength becomes my strength. Their courage becomes my courage. Their faith becomes my faith. How do I get inside the gates of that fellowship?

Bezer: the word means inaccessible. All day in this world we are buffeted by Satan and his minions. This is the warring of the members that Paul spoke about. He said, “When he would go to do good, evil was present.” When I try to serve God, the devil fights me. When I try to do the right thing, the wrong thing presents itself as well. Paul went on to say, “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.” There is a place we can go where we are inaccessible to the devil. He cannot reach us there. How do I get inside the gates of that inaccessibility?

Ramoth: the word means heights, high values. The devil will tell you that you are not worthy of the blood of Jesus Christ. He will tell you that you are not worthy of salvation. He is right. We are not worthy. None of us have done anything that makes us worthy of the sacrifice of Jesus. However, the devil wants to beat you up with that feeling of unworthiness. The scripture says, “Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:” By the blood of the lamb and our thanksgiving, we can enter inside the gates of worthiness. How do I get inside the gates of worthiness?

Golan: the word means captive. Paul said that he was a prisoner of Jesus Christ. The word implies a bonding. The root word also implies to be knit together. Paul said that his goal and God’s goal were knitted together. Their aim was one aim. Their goal was one goal. Inside the gate, you will find a bond with God. How will you know the mind of God? How will you see His plan for your life? How will you know the direction He wants you to take? How do you get inside the gates of bonding?

It is all there for you … inside the gates. What is the key to take you through the gate? Thanksgiving.

When we begin to give thanks to God, we are metaphysically transported inside the gates. The cleansing begins. The comfort of His shoulder in forgiveness is there. The fellowship of like believers is established. The protection from the wiles of Satan is there. Worthiness is inside the gates. The bonding with Christ is there as well. How do you get into those gates?

The road is clear of obstructions. The way is known. How do you get inside the gates?

When we begin to give thanks to God for His marvelous works; for His gracious nature; for His abundant blessing, we are spiritually transported inside the gates of the tabernacle of God.

Now you are there. You are inside the gates. You have availed yourself of the cleansing, forgiveness, fellowship, protection, worthiness, and bonding. What else is there for you?

When we begin to praise Him for His love; for His grace; for his blessings, we are spiritually transported into His courts. What will we find in His courts?

It is in the court of the king, that petitions are made known.

It is in His courts that we may ask what we will.

The Bible tells us that we are to approach the throne of God boldly. The word ‘boldly’ is a compound word. It is ‘meta-parreesias’. It refers to a beyond frankness. Why do we boldly approach the throne? It is because we have been brought to the court for just this purpose. It is the reason we are there. We know it. God knows it. There is no need to hem and haw around. Get to the heart of the matter. With your thanksgiving, you have made it inside the gates. With your praise you have made it into the courts. This is the place where prayers are answered. This is the place where petitions are met.

In the time of King David, sojourners would come with their petitions and complaints. They came to stand in the court of the king. They came to get resolution. Absalom would stand at the gate and intercept them. He would ask what country/tribe from which they came. When they would tell him, he would say there was no one in the court to hear them. He would offer resolution. “If I were the king,” he would say. In this, he offered no real resolution, but stole the hearts of the people.

Real resolution comes from the king. The devil will stand in the gate to prevent you from entering. You must make it to the courts. The answer is not outside the gates. The answer is not in the smooth talkers. The answer is in the courts. How do you get to the courts?

Are you discouraged? Get to the courts.

Are you hurting? Get to the courts.

Do you need to stand in the presence of the king?

How will you get into his courts?

There is a key. Praise is the answer.

Prayers are not answered unless we get into the courts. Restitution is not offered except in the court. Resolution is available only in the court.

When we begin to give thanks, we are metaphysically transported into the gates. When we begin to offer praise, we are metaphysically transported into His court.

When we go to court, we need an advocate. When we are transported to the court, we stand before God in all of our humanity. We stand in all of our frailty. We stand in all of our weaknesses. We stand in front of God in our sinful nature. We need an advocate. Timothy said we had just such an advocate. The word is ‘parakletos’. It is used in John 14.16, we Jesus speaks of the comforter that will come. The word is a compound word which means ‘one called alongside to help.’

He went on to say in verse 18, that He “would not leave them comfortless.” The word for comfortless is ‘orphanos’. In that day, when followers of a religious leader lost that leader, they were called ‘orphans.’ Jesus knew He was leaving his followers. He wanted them to know that they were not going to be orphaned. He was going to send a comforter. He was going to send an intercessor. He was going to send an advocate. The Bible tells us that this Spirit makes intercession for us. When we have a need, and we begin to give thanks and offer praises, the intercessor carries us to the courts of God. There we can ‘ask what we will.’ We can boldly approach the Throne of Grace.

Psalms 100.4-5

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Words, Thoughts, Emotions, Decisions, Actions, Habits, Character, and Destiny

Genesis 12.1-3
1. Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:
2. And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
3. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

Abraham, I am going to do all these things for you, but first we have to get you in the right place. The right place is firstly, away from the idolatrous inhabitants of Haran. Abraham lived in a land where the inhabitants worshipped their god through the moon. They worshiped the creation and not the creator.

There is much negative connotation when we start talking about destiny. I am not talking about an individual predestination. There are those that feel we have an individual predetermined destination. Some are destined from birth to fail God, while others are destined from birth to serve God. That is ludicrous and in direct conflict with the Word of God. Mark 8.34 says, “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.Revelation 22.17 says, “And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”

These two words are phenomenal. I call one, the great equalizer, and the other, the great divider.
· Whosever. This is the great equalizer. This applies to everyone equilaterally. It applies to every man as it does to every woman. It includes every boy as well as every girl. It spoke to the Jew as well as to the Gentile. It does not matter if one is an American or a Russian. It reaches out to every Democrat and to every Republican. This one word places us all on equal footing at the base of the cross. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” All of us are/were in need of a redeemer. The song says, of the blood of Jesus, that “it reaches to the highest mountain; it flows to the lowest valley.” It crosses the path of every man. “Whosoever” say we all stand together in our need of the sacrifice that Jesus provided and in the ability to access His forgiving nature and be washed in His blood.

· Will. This is the great divider. While ‘whosever’ makes us all equals, ‘will’ divides us all. Because, while His forgiveness is available to everyone, everyone will not avail themselves of it. To some, it will be too hard (Rich young ruler .. Luke 18;18-23.) To others, it will be too confining (a strait gate, a narrow way .. in the original text, narrowed by many obstacles.) some will be saddled with doubt, others with pride, and still other with desires. Sadly, as well as ‘whosoever’ joins us, ‘will’ quickly individualizes us. One writer says we are to work out our own salvation, with fear and trembling, before the Lord. When it comes to our own salvation, we are divided from the crowd.

When it comes to destiny:
· I fully believe the Church, the Bride of Christ, is predestined to spend eternity in the presence of God in a city He is building.

· I fully believe those that do not avail themselves of this simple plan of salvation, are predestined to spend eternity in a place of torment.

Beyond that, I do not, in any way, on any day, believe that when I was born, God stamped on my forehead the words “Saved” or “Lost” and that I could do nothing to change that.

When I talk about destiny, I am talking about an eventual destination. I determine that destination or destiny.

Words determine your thinking. Your thinking determines your emotions. Your emotions determine your decisions. Your decisions determine your actions. Your actions determine your habits. Your habits determine your character. Your character determines your destiny.

We need to learn to step back sometimes.
If you are not happy with your destination, change your character.
If you are not happy with your character, change your habits.
If you are not happy with your habits, change your actions.
If you are not happy with your actions, change your decisions.
If you are not happy with your decisions, change your emotions.
If you are not happy with your emotions, change your thinking.
If you are not happy with your thinking, change your words.

Negative words produce negative thinking … produces negative emotions … produce negative decisions … produce negative actions … produce negative habits … produce a negative character … produces a negative destination.

Godly words produce Godly thinking … produces Godly emotions … produce Godly decisions … produce Godly actions … produce Godly habits … produce Godly character … produce a Godly destination.

I have much for you to do for me, Abraham, but first, I need you to get away from that idolatrous nation where ungodly words are crippling your thinking.

Isaiah 55.6-11
6. Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
7. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
8. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
9. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
11. So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

God said, your thoughts are not my thoughts. My actions are not your actions. How do we change that? How do we bring our thoughts and imaginings into captivity?

2 Corinthians 10.4-5
4. (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
5. Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

How do we become thinkers of God’s thoughts?

Proverbs 23.6-8
6. Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats:
7. For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.
8. The morsel which thou hast eaten shalt thou vomit up, and lose thy sweet words.

The bread represents the words.
John 1.1
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 6.32-34
32. Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.
33. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.
34. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.

How do we become thinkers of God’s thoughts?

We become thinkers of God’s thoughts when we begin to listen to God’s words.

Your brain is like a massive super computer. It is constantly taking in information and storing it for a time when it will need it. We consciously and unconsciously learn. On a computer we store various bits of information in binary code. When we ask the computer to do something, it searches ever bit of information to determine how to do what we have commanded. Our brain works like that. When we try to reason or think, our brain accesses all the information we have stored to determine how to respond or think. By inputting the right words we will think the right thoughts.

Thoughts become emotions

Back to Proverbs 23.7 “… as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” The heart is the seat of emotion. Thoughts produce emotions. When you are angered by something and you ponder it, turning it over and over in your thoughts, it begins to produce that anger and rage. That negative word/seed has tainted your thinking. It has marred the God inspired process of forgiveness. It has produced a negative emotion.

That negative emotion will contaminate the decision making process. Everything you do is stained by that negative emotion. Have you ever had someone cut you off in traffic with their bad driving? What do you do? You get mad. You speed up and try to get back at them. You become the thing that angered you. You become the bad driver. The bad seed has grown and choked the life out of it.

Luke 8.7
“And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it.”

The Good Word is being sown in our lives, but if do not exercise the proper caution, we will also incorporate the thorns of those with whom we come in contact and allow them to grow freely, and they will choke away the benefit of the positive Word of God.

There is a psychological process that occurs when we allow wrong thoughts to remain in our thinking. The process is in three steps: Association, Influence, and Transference. When we entertain these kinds of thoughts brought by the wrong words, when we do not bring them into captivity, we are allowing them to freely associate with our thoughts. Eventually that association will become influence. Those thoughts will begin to influence our emotions. They will bend our emotions in their direction. Finally, they will achieve transference. They will transfer into our thinking and become our emotions. The easiest stage to change this process is in the beginning. We cannot afford to allow wrong thoughts to become our emotions. We must bring them into captivity. Paul said that he brought his body (his words, his thoughts, his emotions) into subjection, lest he should end up a castaway.

Emotions become decisions

Be careful of the decisions you make based on bad words. Find the source. Ask the question. Pray about it. Know the will of God concerning it. Haste is generally the enemy of good decisions. I know there are going to be people that will tell you about times they waited and lost. Let me assure you, more is lost by hasty unsure decisions than will ever be lost by prayerful consideration.

The Word tells us that we are to try the spirits whether they be of God or not. It further tells us that every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist.

What does that mean to me? It means, in my opinion, that voice that tells me that God does not understand, that God does not care, that God is not interested in my problems, is denying that Jesus Christ came in the fullness of the flesh, and that is the spirit of the antichrist. It is the devil trying to twist my emotions to make a wrong decision. Bad words lead to bad (wrong) thoughts, which in turn lead to wrong emotions, which will then lead to the wrong decision.

We are emotional creatures. Rarely will a decision be made in our lives based solely on logic. Every decision is dripping with emotion. This is the reason we will defend our choices even in the face of overwhelming evidence that it was the wrong choice. We came to this decision based on our emotional state. In this, the decision is not separate from us, it is part of us. When someone criticizes the decision, they are criticizing us. For better or worse, we are usually married to our decisions. For this reason, we must exercise Godly caution when we are in the process of making a choice. Associate with the Words of God. Let His love influence you. Transfer His Spirit into your process. Make right decisions.

Decisions become actions

I wanted a pool for my kids. I wanted to spend about $400. I went to a pool store in Lexington. I told the salesman from the start that I was looking for a small above ground pool for around $400. He proceeded to show me a $10,000 pool. It was wonderful. It was well built (he went through the entire process of manufacturing and building.) I did the usual polite dodges. “Let me think about it and get back to you.” No deal. He called his manager in New York. Between the two of them they got the price down to under $7,000. (Uh … $400 pool?)
The NY manager asked to speak to me. He told me it was a once only offer. I could only buy that pool for that price on that day. I carefully explained to the NY’er that I agreed that the pool was well worth the $7,000 they were asking. However, I came in and told this salesman specifically that I was looking for a $400 pool. While I completely agreed that this was an incredible deal, it was still not what I was looking for when I came in.

Decisions become actions. I decided I wanted a $400 pool. I went to Montgomery Wards and bought a $400 pool.

In the Bible story of the building of the Tower of Babel, the Word says that the people were of one idea and one language. The Word tells us they had made a decision to build a tower into the heavens, to make a name for themselves, and so they would not be scattered. This was in conflict with God’s plan and command for them to multiply and fill the earth. There are many Bible studies in the story of the Tower of Babel, but I want to deal with this one aspect. They made a decision, albeit a wrong decision, and that decision became an action. When we come to a decision, action will soon follow.

Colossians 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”

We must make sure our actions glorify God in Heaven. Paul, in his letter to the church at Rome, told them that men should see their works and glorify God. Godly actions require godly decisions.

Actions become habits.

There are good habits and bad habits.

I have always heard that any action you do consistently for 21 days becomes a habit. Conversely, to break a habit, one must not do a certain action for 21 days consecutively. We are familiar with many bad habits. People do them without thinking.

I used to bite my fingernails. I would do it without conscience thought. Many times I would become aware of it after the fact, when I had gotten to the quick and my fingers were bleeding. The habit superimposes itself over health concerns. It places itself over common sense. It lays itself over top of thinking.

This is any habit.

It is another form of integration (a process by which an action becomes part of the whole.) An animal first responds to a stimulus, but if it is neither rewarding nor harmful the animal reduces subsequent responses. One example of this can be seen in small song birds - if a stuffed owl (or similar predator) is put into the cage, the birds initially react to it as though it were a real predator. Soon the birds react less, showing habituation. The stuffed owl simply becomes part of their everyday life and, to them, constitutes no threat. If another stuffed owl is introduced (or the same one removed and re-introduced), the birds react to it as though it were a predator, showing that it is only a very specific stimulus that is habituated (namely, one particular unmoving owl in one place). Habituation has been shown in essentially every species of animal.

Habituation need not be conscious - for example, a short time after we get dressed, the stimulus clothes create disappears from our nervous systems and we become unaware of it. When we first put on a shirt/blouse, we are aware of how it feels against the skin. However, very shortly thereafter, we become accustomed to that feel and no longer notice it. In this way, habituation is used to ignore any continual stimulus, presumably because changes in stimulus level are normally far more important than absolute levels of stimulation. This sort of habituation can occur through neural adaptation in sensory nerves themselves (our tongue is accustomed to the way our teeth feel against it and does not respond to that stimulus, but will respond to a tiny hair in the mouth,) and through negative feedback from the brain to peripheral sensory organs (the brain tells the skin not to respond to the feel of the fabric.)

The learning underlying habituation is a fundamental or basic process of biological systems and does not require conscious motivation or awareness to occur. Indeed, without habituation we would be unable to distinguish meaningful information from the background, unchanging information.

We need habits to allow us to see the difference in the world. When we are not caught up in the common day-to-day routine, we can see the differences in our lives.

That being said, we must guard ourselves against becoming common with the things of the flesh. The works of Satan must, now and always, bring up our sense of concern. We must be an ever vigilant as the watchmen on the wall. We stand between our families and the wholesale works of the Devil. We stand in the gap. We make up the hedge.

How do those around us know us? What dictates their opinion of us and does it matter?

We are known by the assemblage of our actions. We have all heard the old adage, “Actions speak louder than words.” I can tell you all day long that I am a good man, but if you see me kicking kids and drowning kittens, what will you believe?

I heard someone say recently, “Do not confuse the man for the moment.” We are all human and subject to that one moment of weakness. Rest assured, if you have a weakness, the Devil will exploit it. When it comes to works of the flesh, he is the master. He will allow you to progress until he feels it is the optimal moment to create the most damage to those around you. He will allow you to operate unfettered because he knows your actions will become your habits, and your habits will become your character.

Never mistake grace for approval.

When you make a mistake, when you sin by error, and the lightning doesn’t proceed from heaven, it does not mean God approves. He is graciously allowing you space to repent. “Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee, .. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, ..”

Repentance is essential to the life of a Christian. While repentance is so much more than saying one is sorry, it does begin with the vocalization of said sorrow or conviction. In Acts, following the message from Peter, the crowd was ‘pricked in their hearts’ and cried out, “What must we do?”

Your habits become your character. “Character is what you do when no one is looking”

Character is what we do in our lifetime. Have you ever heard it said of someone, “That was out of character.”? What does that mean? It means that the habits of an individual have defined his character and what they have seen is out of step with the expected actions.

Christians were first called Christians at Antioch. They did not call themselves Christians. They did not proclaim they were Christians. Someone saw their character and said they were ‘like Christ’. I knew a guy once that had a denim jacket that was covered with scriptures embroidered all over it. It was his walking billboard of his Christianity. It was the thing that identified him as a Christian. How sad, if our life does not identify us. What do others say about you? How do they identify you? What is your character in their eyes?

The things they see you do consistently are how they will identify you.

Do they see you leaving for and returning from church regularly?
Do they hear you talk about God in daily conversation?
Do they see you pray at neighborhood cookouts or at work before eating a meal?
Do they know you are a source of prayer when there is a problem in their lives?

What is your character?

Your habits become your character.

Finally, your character determines your destination.
Now, to clarify, it will take more than character to reach Heaven. There are steps to salvation, but right words will lead to rightful thinking, which will lead to the proper emotions, which will lead to the true decisions, which will bring about the accurate actions, which will create the proper habits, and create the appropriate character, and lead to the right destination. You will not come to know Christ in his fullness without these things.

Your character is the sum total of your words, your thoughts, your emotions, your decisions, your actions and your habits. If your words are not pure, if your thoughts are not untainted, if your emotions are not uncontaminated, if your decisions are not wholesome, if your actions are not uncorrupted, if your habits are not clean, and if your character is not spotless, you will not reach a heavenly destination.

Our old life is passed away, when we become a new creature in Christ. Paul said, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2.20)

Why are we here? This is the question that is said to have plagued the thinking of mankind throughout the ages. To the one that doesn’t believe in God, I can see how this would be a difficult question. However, to those of us enlightened ones (Satan has blinded those lest they should see this marvelous light) this is an easy question. Ecclesiastes 12:13 “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” We are here to revere God and keep His commandments. We are here to do the right thing. We are here to make our way to the right destination.

My friend,

Get your words right
Get your thoughts right
Get your emotions right
Get your decisions right
Get your actions right
Get your habits right
Get your character right
Get your destination right

Sunday, January 30, 2011

This is not your promise

Genesis 17.20-21
20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.
21 But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.

“This is not your promise”

He is seventy-five years old when God tells him to leave his homeland and to go to a place where “I will shew thee.” Now, I fully realize that in those days, seventy-five was not looked on like seventy-five is today, but he was still a man in his old age. He was one hundred seventy-five years old when he died. He is considered the patriarch of the Israelites, the Ishmaelites, and the Edomites.

At seventy-five, he does strike out with nothing more than a promise from God. He finds a promised land and is the founding father of the nation of Israel. He receives a second promise from God in that He would make him a great nation. Genesis 12:2-3 tells us “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”

This was the promise of God. The Word tells us that God is not slack concerning His promises as some men count slackness. (2 Peter 3.9) He will perform every good work He begins in us. (Philippians 1.6) the word ‘perform’ here is ‘epiteleo’ which means to ‘fulfill completely’.

If God makes the promise, it will come to pass.

Sarah, Abraham’s wife, bore him no children. In order for there to be a nation there had to be an heir. To this end, Abraham and Sarah take matters into hand and Sarah gives her handmaiden, Hagar, to Abraham, to bare him a child. As soon as Hagar conceives, Sarah despises her. She deals hardly with her. Hagar flees into the desert. The angel of the Lord finds her at a fountain in the way of Shur. He entreats her to return to Abraham and Sarah. He tells her that she has a son inside her. He will be the father of a nation. She will call him, Ishmael, which means, “God will hear” because the Lord had heard her cries.

Thirteen years later, Abraham is ninety-nine years old, and the angels of the Lord come to him to tell him that he will conceive a child with Sarah. They tell him that in one year’s time Sarah will give him a son. This is a marvelous story about God and His promises.

The angels continue after giving Abraham instructions concerning his forth coming son, Isaac. They tell him that Ismael will flourish and conceive twelve princes. He will be the father of a great nation. “BUT my covenant will I establish with Isaac.”

“Abraham, this is not your promise.”

Ishmael is the son (product) of your human effort. Abraham, your promise will not come by your reasoning or your efforts. Your promise will come from God.

Spiritual blessings come from God.

With the proliferation of ‘prosperity ministries’ it is easy to become confused and gage our spiritual level by outside indicators. These ‘prosperity ministries’ preach serving God as a means of monetary gain. They talk about seed money’s.

The anthem of such ministries is that God wants us to prosper. God wants us to be rich. If we are not prospering, if we are not rich, then we must be missing the boat spiritually.

“If God isn’t prospering your wallet, then maybe you need to send some ‘seed money’.

This is not your promise.

In the book of 1 Timothy 6.5, Paul tells us that anyone supposing Godliness is a means of gain is destitute of the truth. The word Paul uses for ‘destitute’ is ‘apostereo’ which means to ‘keep back by fraud’. Paul is telling Timothy, in his letter, that those that preach godliness as a method of gain are holding back the truth by this fraud.

Here is a doubled edged sword, so to speak. It is God’s will that we prosper. John wrote in his third epistle, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” John uses ‘euodoo’ when he talks about prospering. This means to have ‘help on the road’. He is not saying that we will enjoy riches in this life. He is saying that it is God’s will that we have what we require here to make it to the next world. As the matter of fact, John goes as far as to say that we should have the help we need as our soul prospers. Jesus spoke in the book of Matthew that we are to “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

After listing many of the basic needs that seem to capture our time, Jesus further states that we are to “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” He did not say that we would be rich.

Let me emphatically state: I am not telling you that a rich person cannot be saved or that a poor person has any advantage in the salvation category.

I am aware that the Bible tells us that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. Looking at that scripture and applying it narrowly to our general knowledge today, it would appear to state that a rich man cannot be saved. However, upon deeper study, we find a startling fact.

In Jesus’ day, cities were protected by great walls. The strength of the wall was only as strong as the gate. Therefore the gates were fortified. When the night would fall, the gates were closed and protected. Any movement into or out of the city was by a much smaller gate to the side of the main gate. This smaller gate was called the ‘eye of the needle’. It was sized so that a camel could still go through it, but only if it were carrying nothing. In order for the camel to go through the eye of the needle, it had to be stripped of everything it was carrying. In this, no one could come or go with anything to cause harm to the city.

The rich ruler that came to Jesus seeking the way into heaven learned he had to give all he had to the poor and take up his cross and follow Jesus. It is not a sin to have. I have heard it wrongly stated many times that money is the root of all evil. Money is not the root. Love of money is the root of all evil. Solomon says that the man who loves money will never have enough. It is not what we have that is wrong; it is what we have between ourselves and God.

This is not our promise.

There was a certain rich man that had good grounds that brought forth plentiful. The story tells of no crime in this. There was no finesse charged. There were no claims of embezzlement. No one was charging theft in this story. There were no mentions of ill means of gain. It was simply the mixture of good ground, good seed, good farming technique, and a good harvest. Up to this time, the certain rich man was charged with no wrong.

What will I do? He asks. I know, I will tear down my barns, and I will build greater barns and there I will bestow my fruits and goods. Then, I will say, “Soul, take ease. Eat, drink and be merry.”

Thou fool, this is not your rest.

This is not your promise.

This is not the barometer of your spirituality.

This is not the fuel gauge of the Spirit filling.

The Word says that this is not of works. It is not of self. The promise was made on spiritual conditions. It is not determined by qualities of natural disposition.

Some will tell you that it is all in the dance and the shout. It is all spirit expression and little substance. They will tell you if you cannot shout the victory, then you must have ventured away from God.

I agree that we should never be far from our victory shout, but there are times all of us will walk through a dry valley.

The shout and the dance; this is not our promise.

“This” is not in the dance. It is not in the shout. It is not even in the tongues.

2nd Peter 2 tells us of those that speak just for speaking sake. They talk loudly, making great boasts, using swelling words. They talk about liberty. However, they were the bondservants of corruption. They were like wells without water. They used high sounding phrases to cover an evil life. They are like clouds that promise rain and then are driven away by strong winds, leaving the fields dry and parched.

This is not your promise.

There are cultists that try to convince us that it is in their dogged determination to a cause, however misguided, that will take them to heaven.

Our promise will not come by the efforts of human hands. Our promise will also not be taken away by the efforts of human hands.

Abraham and Sarah rushed the promise.

The promise will come in its time. It will never be early. It will never be late. There is a time for the promise. There is a place for the promise. All of our efforts will not rush the promise or cause it to be fulfilled early.

This is not the time.

This is not the place.

We have not yet arrived. We have not yet made it. We do not need to sit in our rocker with our feet up and say, “Soul, be at ease.”

The fringes of the promise are never to be mistaken for the promise itself. We cannot afford to be at rest in our spiritual lives. We do not need to rest in the stories of yesterday or yesteryear.

Our stories of healings need to be today stories. Our stories of deliverance need to be today stories. The blessing needs to come today. The shout needs to be heard today. The dance needs to happen today. The world needs us today.

There was a time that the disciples came rejoicing because the devils were subject to them. Jesus tells them, in Luke 10.20, “Notwithstanding, in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.” What is He telling the disciples here?

This is not your promise.

The promise comes from God. He is the author and finisher of our faith. Mankind was devoid of hope, devoid of any means of bringing salvation. Within our hands were no means to save us.

We were without; without God, without hope, without salvation, without deliverance. We had nothing until God made a promise unto all men.

God did not promise that I would be wealthy. He even said I might labor in poverty and obscurity. He did not say that I would always be shouting and dancing, but he did promise that I could make it out of this world amassed with confusion.

Out of the jumble of voices today, there rings a voice of clarity. There is a voice dripping of promise.

This is my promise.

There is rest that is promised

There is a way that is promised.

There is a refreshing that is promised.

“Abraham, my covenant (promise) will I establish with Isaac.”

Jesus, the promise from the foundation, not made by man, not produced by man, not established by man, and not founded on man. It is a better covenant founded on a better promise.

This promise is not based on financial status.

This promise is not founded on my joyful exuberance.

This promise is not locked into me determination.

This is a promised based on God’s character. It is founded on God unchanging, unwavering Word. It is locked into His marvelous majestic name.

He will bless our efforts, but this is not our promise.

We have the promise of riches in glory.

We have the promise of the joy of His ever abiding presence.

David faced Goliath armed with a promise.

We have a promise. We face each day with a promise. We face each night armed with a promise.