Don’t stop climbing, God has good things in store for you!

cropped-sawtooth-mountians11.jpgI began experiencing a whole new adventure growing up once we had moved to a ranch nestled in the midst of some of the most gorgeous mountainous landscape in central Idaho. Though in the beginning, this previous flatlander, was intimidating and claustrophobic, it soon became one of the greatest seasons of my younger life. It was through this experience that I learned many truths from nature and the mountains around. The first was that climbing a mountain is much like going through life, tough at times.

I think most of us can say there have been some mountain peaks and some valleys along our life’s journey. It is like the natural process when you climb to the summit of a literal mountain, you go through some valleys and ravines to get to the more elevated peaks. There seems to always be another valley before another peak, as we move higher and achieve greater heights. Existing in the lower bottoms of life or even camping in the higher plateaus might be more convenient and a whole lot easier, but there is no greater adventure or achievement then getting to the top. If you stay comfortable and not climb you will never get to see the incredible view or breath the fresh air that you do from the summit.

I believe that many, even though they haven’t reached their destiny have made some significant progress as they have pursued God’s will for their lives. We must realize that our walk of faith is a process and doesn’t come over night. Going forward in faith will never be defined as “smooth and easy” but it does hold a promise of achieving Godly rewards. (1 Cor 9:25-26)

Speaking to Christians in Corinth Paul relates our walk of faith as running a race to win not to just nonchalantly participating in it. (vs 24) Also, Paul at the end of his life describes his own journey in 2 Tim 4:7-8 saying, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness”. Paul shares some of his testimony and journey in 2 Cor 11:23-28, where he lists what he had gone through. His words and life experiences confirm the fact that our journey of faith is anything but apathetical or uneventful, having what we would describe as ups and downs along the way.

If we are not focused during these times in the valleys they can seem like “failures or setbacks”, but if we keep our eyes on Jesus as our Good Shepherd and are surrendered to His will, then we can stand in confidence as overcomers. Paul declares this in Phil 4:13 where he says, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.

Even when we have gone through extreme and unpleasant situations along life’s climb we can come out better and stronger in our faith on the other side. These low points allow us to see and experience His faithfulness as He takes us by the hand and leads us, as a loving shepherd, through the shadows of death into green lush pastures. (Ps 23)

In Heb10:35-36 Paul encourages the believers to not cast their confidence in Christ away, but to endure in their faith and finish the will of God. Not being hindered by anything that would enslave us and stop us from completing our journey or “running the race” of faith. (1 Cor 9:25) We do this by keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, who is the author and finisher of our faith. (Heb 12:2) So don’t Stop Climbing Now! God has good things in store for you!

Keeping the fire of God burning in your life

hqdefaultIn the midst of the early wintery conditions I found that my fire was essential during my time high on the mountaintop. It was at the foot of the summit overlooking a crisp mountain lake on one side and a steep intimidating ravine on the other, where I chose to set up camp. I had taken time out of my schedule to clear the clutter of the daily routine in my mind and refresh my passion for the Lord. Over the years I have found it necessary at different times to disconnect from the white noise of our society so to reset and re-ignite the fire of God in my daily walk with Him.

We read Gods instructions for the priests that He gave through Moses in Lev 6. It says in verse 12-13, “And the fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it; it shall not be put out. And the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, … it shall never go out.”

In like manner as it was the priest’s responsibility to keep the fire burning it is our responsibility to keep a spiritual fire burning on the altar of our hearts, since our lives are to be “living sacrifices” as Paul declared. It was God who started the physical fire on


God Starts the Fire but we must maintain the Fire


the altar as we read in 2 Chr 7:1, the “…fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices…”. Therefore, it is the same spiritually; God starts the fire, but it is you and I who must keep it burning.

This simple but over looked responsibility became very real as I began my adventure on the mountaintop. That fact is when the fire goes out after the Sun goes down, it quickly becomes cold, dark and so quiet it becomes deafening. It is the same for the believer when our spiritual fire goes out we become spiritually cold, our lives become darkened by our surroundings and the things of God become silent to us.

The pile of wood that I thought would last all-night rapidly diminished in the grips of the consuming fire. I can’t help but think King Solomon himself must of experienced this same phenomenon when he wrote in Prov. 30:16 “… the fire never says, “Enough!”.

The intensity of work that it took to keep a fire burning in my camp was totally amazing. I have always loved sitting and enjoying the soothing crackling and popping of a campfire, but when it is a necessity you find that it goes from enjoyable to just plain work. A fire demands your time, strength and attention to keep it going. Getting plenty of firewood to last through the night must become a priority. You see once the fire goes out it is much harder to remake a completely new fire than nurturing one already burning or at least having embers that you can blow on to rekindle the flame.

In the same manner, as believers we must make fueling the fire of passion for the Lord, a priority! Though it can be exhausting and even inconvenient at times, it is our responsibility. It will take “roll up the sleeves” kind of work to tend the fire of your souls. Prayers, communion, worship and Bible study are all part of keeping the fire burning on the altar of our heart. For God calls each of us to be His ministers a flame of fire. (Ps 104:4) We must do our part! Remember, it is God who started the fire within us but we must keep the fire burning!

 

The Convenience of Instant everything has Brought a slow death to Tenacious Prayer

a1 InstantA society surrounded by the convenience of instant everything, brings a slow death to the tenacious spirit. Many people want prayers answered before their lips stop moving, unfortunately, many times, it doesn’t happen that way. The scriptures teach us in Colossians 4:2, “to continue earnestly in prayer,” and in Romans 12:12, it says “continuing steadfastly in prayer.” We are exhorted to be persistent in our prayer life. Jesus shares a parable in Luke 18:1-8, driving home the point of persistent prayer. It says, “Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’” Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily…” When I was young, I was told that if I asked or prayed for something more than once I would be


Many people want prayers answered before their lips stop moving, unfortunately, many times, it doesn’t happen that way


praying in unbelief. That’s totally contrary to scripture! The continual knocking or coming to the judge brought the widow’s answer. The Bible does say in James 1:6-8, that we must have faith when we pray, but being continuously in prayer doesn’t mean you have unbelief. On the contrary, I think it indicates that you do have faith in God. Your action of continual asking shows you believe He will answer. I like what Marilyn Hickey says, “Prayers are like seeds that are watered daily. Different ones take different lengths of time to sprout and to grow.” If you think about the farmer’s process, he plants his seed then waters it day after day until he sees a sprout breaking through the soil. The farmer is like the diligent believer who plants his seed and then through continual prayers of faith waters it until the answer breaks through and comes to pass. Keeping with this analogy, if praying continually is wrong then the farmer watering his seed daily would also be wrong. Let’s look at I Kings 18:41-45. We see Elijah telling Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of an abundance of rain.” Then Elijah went to the top of Mt. Carmel to pray. That’s when this story gets very interesting. After Elijah prayed, he sent


“Prayers are like seeds that are watered daily. Different ones take different lengths of time to sprout and to grow.”


his servant to look for rain clouds. Six times his servant checked and didn’t see anything, Elijah continued in prayer. The scriptures say, “Then it came to pass the seventh time that he said, ‘There is a cloud, as small as a man’s hand, rising out of the sea!’ The downpour from that small cloud broke three and a half years of drought. This all happened because Elijah wouldn’t quit praying—he had faith to be steadfast in prayer. Living a life of prayer will always be a life of adventure and power. Ephesians 6:18 tells us, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication … with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” In other words be tenacious and persistent in prayer. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see the answer to your prayers immediately. Keep knocking on Heaven’s door.

His Eyes are on us because He Passionately Loves Us!

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I am reminded how growing up, my brothers and I were a little bit rowdy, well maybe not just a little. So often we would hear my mother say, “I have my eye on you”. This was not necessarily a negative statement dependent upon our actions. If our actions were disruptive it would bring correction and if they were good then it always brought reward and affirmation. My mother’s words were rooted in feelings of endearment. Her eyes were on us because she knew us and loved us.

In a time of corporate prayer and seeking the Lord, I was reminded of what God spoke to King Solomon at the end of a Solemn Assembly. God’s people had gathered together for the dedication of the new temple and now God speaks to the King saying in 2 Chron 7:15-16, “Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually”.

When God’s people come together in a unified heart, focusing and positioning themselves on God and His will, not only will He come in healing, physically and spiritually. But we see that Gods eyes and ears will be on them. For where His heart is, His eyes and ears are also. God loves His children!

Where the scripture says He will keep His eyes on us, I believe it’s a direct result of His passionate love for us. In Deut 32:10, it refers to His children as the apple of Gods eye and earlier it says that His people are His portion. In other words you get the idea that God is crazy in love with His people. In Romans 8:34-39, Paul tells us that not only is Jesus interceding for us but that there is nothing that can separate us from His love for us. That’s a huge statement! He lets us know that we have security through the love of God. It is imperative that we understand that nothing can separate you and I from His love. Whether, natural or spiritual, there is not one thing big or small that can divide us from His incredible love.

He will take notice of their action and mark the place as holy, a place that is sanctified and separated unto Him. There is protection and blessing when He watches over us. He listens for our cry with a greater level of attentiveness, because we have touched His heart. Just as a mother can now purchase technical products, such as audio and visual monitors that help them keep their ear and eye on their babies. All because of there love and desires to be a good parent. How much more does God hear and watch over us.

Some individuals have a warped concept of God and His love for them. Whether it’s because of a bad example of a father figure or a lack of understanding, they see God as a cosmic kill joy keeping an eye on them to catch them in a mistake. This cannot be any further from the truth. In 2 Chron 16:9, we read that God is looking for an opportunity to move powerfully in behalf of His people. It says, “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.”

As we seek Him and move towards Him in prayer, we need to be confident in the fact that His eyes are on us. Understanding that He sees and moves towards us with the desire to show His love on our behalf.

We Need a Fire of Revival in our Lives

At the end of Charles Finney’s powerful lectures on revival, he exhorted the listeners. “It is not my design to preach so as to have you able to say at the close: ‘We understand all about revivals now,’ while you do nothing. Or will you spend the time in learning about revivals, and do nothing for them? I want you as fast as you learn anything on the subject of revivals, to put it in practice, and go to work and see if you cannot promote a revival…”. Let me gracefully agree with him in also exhorting you. Is it not time to be about Christ’s business? The church is saturated with incredible seminars, books and teaching about revival. Yet, we should not just learn more on revival, but walk in it.

The church doesn’t need more knowledge of revival but what it needs is to experience revival! It is imperative that we have a move of God beginning with the community of believers. Only with a true revival can there be any hope for this world and for us!

Here are some characteristics I feel come out of revival. First, revival is a


Revival shakes the dust off of us and restores God’s fire within us


refreshing of God upon our lives. It’s God breathing back into His church a breath of freshness. God revives the church, bringing it back from a state of complacency and apathy. In Psalms 85:6 it says, “Will You not revive us again”.

Secondly, revival is a renewing of the passion in us for more of God. It puts in us a hunger and thirst for the things of God. Bringing us to the point of restlessness, motivating us to a deeper walk with the Lord. Matthew 5:6 says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” The promise from the Word of God is we will be filled with his righteousness.

Thirdly, revival helps us to respond to God’s call on our lives. He has called us to be the salt of the world, a preservative in a rotting society. In Matthew 5:14 we read, “You


Revival stirs us so that we cannot keep silent!


are the light of the world.” Revival shakes the dust off of us and restores God’s fire within us, causing us once again to line up with God’s call to become a fragrance of beauty before Him.

Fourthly, revival gets us to a place of reproducing ourselves. In other words, it stirs us so that we cannot keep silent. In Acts 4:20, the apostles responded to the religious leaders by saying, “For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” We come to a place that we must share the goodness of God and lead others to Christ.

Let me end with a statement from Winkie Pratney’s book, Revival. “Do not think God has yet done all he intends to do. Revival is an act of mercy, and if ever the West needed mercy, she needs it now. God has too much of an investment in the West to easily hand her over to the Destroyer.” What are we waiting for? It’s time for revival! Don’t wait for another seminar or someone else to bring revival to the church. Let it begin with you! Ask the Lord right now to begin to stoke the fires of revival in your life, as well as, let a passion for revival burn in your hearts to the point of being contagious to whomever you come in contact with. Then and only then will we truly see a move of God in our churches and in our land! God start the Fire of revival!

 

 

Let us not wait till it’s too late to do something

IMG_1150The Scripture says whoever will come after Christ, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow Christ. (Mk. 8:34) It doesn’t come easy or cheap, but the effects are life changing. Leonard Ravenhill declares, “Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, GIVE ME REVIVAL in my soul and in my church and in my nation—or GIVE ME DEATH!”

Have you gotten to the place that ordinary routine is nauseating? I believe just religiously going to church, receiving nothing more than entertainment causes decay and a slow spiritual decline. If we are not going to obtain the best God has for us, then we might as well just go home to heaven. The choice is easy—either it is life or death! We must press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God!(Phil 3:14)

In the story of Esther, we see the divine orchestration of God. The Jews were in a desperate situation, with death lurking at the door of their comfort zone. It looked hopeless for they needed a miracle to get themselves out of this tight spot. They didn’t go looking for the hottest and most fiery Jewish evangelist to bring in a change. No! They got on their faces and began to fast and pray. They began to beseech God with fasting and prayer for his intervention and deliverance. In the end the stamp of approval on what she had done was God’s great deliverance for the Jewish people.

Anywhere you look in our society, you can see the destroyer at the door. The thief comes not but to steal, kill, and destroy. (Jn 10:10) Whatever we have, whether it is our life, our family, or our nation, it is his aim to destroy it. America, the great unsinkable land of opportunity, is on a course headed for destruction. The signs are in the sky. The evidence is clear. It is now the time to lay hold of the reason for which Christ has laid hold of us! Let us seek the Lord while he may still be found. I cringe at the thought of ever having the Lord speak about me as he did about Jerusalem. In Luke 19:44 Jesus says, “Because you did not know the time of your visitation,” there would be no peace, and Jerusalem would have destruction. Now is the season of our visitation. It says in Joel 2:28, “I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh.”

The church must awake out of its slumber and receive God’s visitation on his people. Then the church will reap in righteousness and see revival. Let us not wait till it’s too late to do something. The night is far spent; the hour is at hand. Using the words of the Psalmist, let us cry out to the Lord, “Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You.” The church must humble itself and repent from its arrogance and haughty attitudes. Peter speaks to the men of Israel in Acts 3:19. He tells them to, “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” Only through our brokenness and turning away from sin will we truly see the refreshing of the Lord. The time is now for us to sow in prayer and fasting. Instead of decreasing our prayer time, we need to increase in prayer power. We must search the very intent of our heart and get , getting rid of every hindrance that would stand in the way of revival. Then ask the Lord right now to begin to stoke the fires and passion for revival in your hearts.

Not On My Watch!

knights-templar-prayingEvery young boy dreams of being a knight in shining armor protecting his castle—fighting off a vicious enemy’s onslaught coming to hurt and harm. Movies through the years have helped portray the stoic watchmen walking the wall and protecting their kingdom. Their keen and alert eyes are of utmost importance to those who live behind the walls trusting the watchman’s protection. A soldier must be loyal, alert and ready to lay down his life defending those who live in their community.

In the movie A Few Good Men, Demi Moore played a military attorney who defends two marines accused of killing a fellow soldier. After being asked, “Why do you love them so much?” she answers, “Because they stand on a wall and they say, ‘Nothing is going to happen to you. Not tonight; not on my watch.” That is how we should view the call of intercession. We stand on the wall and keep watch for the enemy’s attack, saying, “Nothing is going to happen to our families or the church on my watch.” We must stand on the wall of intercession for our generation.

God has placed different ones in key positions to stand watch with keen eyes of the Spirit. In Isaiah 62:6-7 the Word of the Lord says, “I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; They shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent”.

God has placed watchmen on the walls of His church, men and women to watch and cry out day and night. God has called them to knock on the door of Heaven continually. This word watchman refers to guarding and protecting as a hedge of thorns might keep the enemy away.

The Gospel of Mark says it like this, “Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is,” (Mk. 13:33-37). Every believer is called to be alert, standing on the walls of the church and guarding His kingdom.

Picture with me the Great Wall of China. Built thousands of years ago it has outlived warlords, dynasties and changing opinions. It spans over 5,000 miles and proceeds through mountains, grasslands and deserts. For centuries, it has kept out those who wanted to come against the kingdoms of ancient China. Today this magnificent monument stands as a great historical wonder but is empty of any significance. The kingdoms and territories that it once protected have long been defeated and plundered. All across Europe and even America there are incredible buildings, markers of great moves of God, now only empty religious relics. The body of Christ has built walls and stood watch over the many years of history, but at times the watchmen have been distracted, slack and weak. Isaiah 56:10 says, “His watchmen are blind, They are all ignorant; …Sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber.”

Unfortunately, those who once were energetic and zealous have become spiritually blind and ignorant of the coming danger. So many believers have chosen to shut their eyes or stop up their ears. The prophet Jeremiah spoke the word of the Lord, “Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’ But they said, ‘We will not listen,’” (Jer. 6:17). The watchman has the weight of responsibility on his shoulders to warn the people. Whether through an act of ignorance or rebellion, we will be found guilty if we do not warn God’s people of the danger at hand. It’s time to get back on the wall!

 

Window Rattling Prayers will Change Cities!

images-71In the book of Acts we see believer’s praying so intensely that they shook the very building they were in. Peter and John had been arrested for teaching and preaching the Gospel (Acts 4:31). We read in the chapter before this where a lame man was healed at the gate Beautiful resulting in five thousand people believing in the gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:4). Then after being released, Peter and John reported to their friends what was told to them and they began to tenaciously pray. so hard that the walls began to trembled. It was probably similar to when a storm moves in with cracking thunder that rattle your windows and shake the house.

The story continues in Acts 4:31-32, when they had prayed together not only was the place shaken, but they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the Word with boldness. Prayers that shake foundations and rattle windows come when we understand God’s love toward us and have a personal relationship with Him. It’s because of those kind of prayers that they saw the evidence of His power in their midst and brought change in their cities.

Gordon Lindsay was the founder of Christ for the Nations Institute and also the key organizer of the Voice of Healing Fellowship along with being an author of the magazine by the same name. Many mornings as his wife was getting the kids off to


We must be people who bring down the rain of Heaven with our prayers.


school Gordon was just going to bed after being up all night praying and fasting. His accomplishments such as the many books and bible school he founded are a direct result of his life of prayer.

There are many different elements to praying, “window rattling” and “building-shaking” prayers but let me highlight a few. The first element is to be surrendered to God’s will when we pray. We read in John 5:14-15 that we will have confidence when we pray in His will. Why? Because He will hear us and if God hears us then we know He will answer us. Knowing God’s will is knowing the very heartbeat of our heavenly Father.

Second, we must be serious in prayer. In James 5:16-18 it says that Elijah was earnest in prayer. He was a serious prayer warrior and because of it the clouds were shaken to rain. We must be people who bring down the rain of Heaven with our prayers.


When we bring our prayers in line with God’s thoughts and desires, then and only then will we see radical results in our surroundings.  


Third, we must be relentless in prayer. We can’t have a wimpy, quitter’s attitude. In Colossians 4:2 we read, “Don’t be weary in prayer; keep at it; watch for God’s answers, and remember to be thankful when they come,” (TLB). Let us be relentless when we pray!

Fourth, we must have a humble spirit as we pray. A person who is puffed up with an ego or pride will hinder their prayers. Self-exaltation will cloud our perspective and will position our will before His will.

Fifth, we must not pray with idle words. Religious jargon and empty words are useless and insulting to God’s love. In Matthew 6:7-8 we read Jesus’ words, “And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do…”.

The bottom line is this, when we pray with a pure heart and press in with a tenacious spirit we will connect with God’s heart. Effective prayers come from individuals who live a life of communing with Him. When we bring our prayers in line with God’s thoughts and desires, then and only then will we see radical results in our surroundings. The course of cities and nations will be supernaturally changed before our eyes and God’s purposes will become reality. God is looking for those who will surrender their agendas for His.

Living a Life in light of the Resurrected Christ

images-70Isn’t it amazing how the weeks following the Easter holiday just slides back into routine? We find our children crashing from their sugar buzz from all the chocolate eggs and the new clothes aren’t new anymore. The family festivities all pass into sweet memories as well as the inspiring messages and church celebrations. The reality of the whole purpose also seems to fade so quickly into the next appointment on our agenda. I can’t help but think that this isn’t all Easter should be. A matter of fact, I believe the scriptural theme backs up a total different outcome. Easter wasn’t ever intended to be over and done with, but to increase more and more.

Several days of celebrating Jesus being falsely accused, scourged, crucified, buried and then risen from the dead for us, doesn’t fulfill the scripture purpose. Don’t get me wrong it’s good to celebrate and have a day of focus; but the whole reason for Christ dying and rising again is to give you and I a life more abundantly (Jn 10:10) as He intended not just an annual event. All of us were caught in inherited sin from Adam in the Garden of Eden, and plunged into a spiraling devolution. Paul describes all humanity


Christ’s death and resurrection is to give you and I a life more abundantly as He intended not just an annual event.


in Rom 3:10 as, “there is none righteous” and in Eph 2:17 “you who are far off”.   Bottom line is that we received a sin problem that separated us from our Heavenly Father, which we inherited through Adam. (Rom. 5:12) But through the incredible gracious and merciful free gift of God through Jesus sacrifice we are declared righteous and reconciled back to God. (Eph. 2:13, 1 Cor. 6:11)       Yes, we definitely have a great reason to be thankful and to celebrate our deliverance from enslavement of sin. But scripture teaches that being justified isn’t the end but a beginning of a glorious journey. Paul describes it as a great transfer. (Rom. 5:19) In what most acknowledge as Paul’s finest and most thorough work on doctrine, we find where he says in his letter to the Roman’s, in chapter 5:18 “Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, … even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life”.

The purpose of Easter celebration, which is about our justification through Christ’s death and resurrection, is much more than a holy week or day. God’s intent was a change in the way we live, “a justification of life”. We are purchased from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of light, from death unto new life. Paul says in 2 Cor 5:17 “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away…” and in Rom 6:4 he says “…even so we also should walk in newness of life”. The cross is the beginning of


I choose to live a life of victory not just be a Easter believer


every Christian’s walk of faith. God doesn’t want us to stay at the tomb of Jesus who died for us. Jesus wants us to identify with His resurrection and live a life unto righteousness. We shouldn’t go back to the humdrum of mediocrity after Easter, but we need to move forward in victory of life. (Rom 12:2, 2 Cor 3:18) If we have been purchased by Christ’s own blood shouldn’t we live a life that reflex’s His great mercy and power. Yet, that can only be achieved when are eyes are opened to the living Christ. The two disciples were sad and perplexed in their journey to Emmaus until their eyes were opened to the risen Savior that walked with them. (Jn 21:13-35) It’s time to walk each day in the power of the risen Lord! (Titus 2:13-14)

 

Roll Up Your Sleeves and get it Done!

A1 roll up sleevesWords can’t explain the deluge of emotions that comes over you when you see your daughter walk across the stage of graduation! It’s as if an internal video automatically starts rolling in your mind. The day they were born, the first steps they took and so on. I wish I could say it gets easier, but the emotions just continue as time quickly goes down the road of life.

But, there’s nothing more awesome then to see your children who have your “DNA” begin the journey of life. Now that we’ve wiped the tears of emotions away let’s remember the reality of the process! Dirty diapers, screaming through the nights, acts of devilish fits, deceptive disobedience and last minute school projects after a long hard day at work. Wow! There is definitely work involved in the process


Don’t just sit on your blessed assurance but continue the journey of faith  


of life. They will always be our children and have our “DNA” but without rolling up their sleeves and doing some work they will never develop into a successful reflection of their parents. They must learn how to be a functioning member of our household. Their “DNA” never changes but they are fashioned into a true reflection of who we are as they yield to our guidance.

Paul addresses in his letter to the Romans some of these issues of growing as a believer. (Rom. 7:21-25) They hadn’t been raised up under Jewish traditions yet they came to the new birth through Christ Jesus. He exhorts these gentiles, in Rom 12:1-2 that the process of life in the Kingdom of God goes on even after the new birth. We now have a new DNA and have become children of light instead of darkness. (Eph. 5:8) It’s like Jesus said to Nicodemus we have been “born again”(Jn. 3:3), and now have started a glorious journey as a believer in Jesus! We are now citizens of the household of God (Eph 2:19) through the finished work of Christ on the cross. (Col. 2:11-15) But that’s not all there’s more!

Paul Exhorts the believers in Rome not to just sit on their blessed assurance but to continue the journey of faith. He says in Rom 12:1-2, “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”. It is Continue reading

Does A Spoonful of Sugar really help the Message go Down?

images-56I refuse to think that I was the only kid that would fake being sick for the sole purpose of getting a spoon full of sugar. It wasn’t until sometime later when I saw the popular Disney movie called “Mary Poppins” that I realized that my mother along with many probably adapted the same method of dowsing a little medicine with sugar just like the song in the movie. It was such a catchy jingle that most of us can sing it to this day, “A spoon full of sugar helps make the medicine go down”. My


Repackaging the Gospel so that it will not be offensive is a dangerous and slippery slope of deception


question is does the little bit of sweet really help or hurt in the long run? Have we sweetened the medicine so much that now society doesn’t want the medicine anymore just the sweets? What seemed like a good idea might have had some serious consequences.

I believe in a similar way we have done the same thing in the church today with the message of the cross. Repackaging the Gospel so that it will not be offensive is a dangerous and slippery slope of deception. When we take the power of God out of the message of the cross, it becomes empty and hollow. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians said, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor 1:18) I believe


The message that Sin destroys but the Savior restores when there is Serious repentance must be preached!


we have put so much sugar on the message of Christ that we have lost the power of the cross in the church today! Some of our worship services have become nothing more than a Disney production! It might look as if they are useful and productive, but are powerless and un-effective. Salt that has lost it’s usefulness is how Jesus described it. (Matt 5:13) He says we are the salt, but when the salt looses its flavor it’s useless and should be tossed out. The flavor is the message of the cross, the death, burial and resurrection of Christ! The message that Sin destroys but the Savior restores when there is Serious repentance must be preached!

Many have veered from scripture and jump on the bandwagon of “feel good tickle my ear messages”. It might line up people at the door of the church but does it really bring a lasting change in peoples lives? I believe it’s time for the church to wake up and line up with the Word of God. We are called to be reflections and ambassadors of Christ.

In His letters to the seven churches Jesus tells the church of Laodicea in Rev 3:16-17 “…because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth”. Jesus goes on to say that this church was basically coasting along with a mentality of satisfaction and contentment. They arrogantly thought they had everything they needed yet Jesus says in verse 17 that they “…are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked”. What they thought and what was reality was very opposite to the truth. Because of this self-sufficient attitude Jesus declares He will spew them out of His mouth, representing His disapproval as one does with bad flavored food. Have we produced congregations with that same type of attitude and ineffectiveness?

We need to have such a passion and love for God’s word that we will cry out saying, “give it to us straight with no additives”. Our message doesn’t need to be covered in sugar or ear tickling, but full of truth. In John 8:32 it says, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

 

 

 

The Ultimate Parade of Victory!

images-47As far as you could see there was a sea of blue clothed fans packed in the streets. The atmosphere was filled with excitement and resounding shouts of victory as the crowds pressed in to see the oncoming parade. It was the fall of 2015 and the Kansas City Royals had just clinched the World Series pennant. The city couldn’t have been more committed in the celebration parade; schools were closed as well as some businesses and many took the day off to make a family day of it. The parade was filled with local marching bands, ticker tape and most important, the bigger than life team players.

After being involved in this city-shaking event it makes Paul’s words to the Colossians come alive more vividly. He says in Col. 2:14-15 concerning Jesus work on the cross, “…having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the


At the End of the Age we will be shocked at the devils weakly appearance!


cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it”. The word “triumphing” Paul uses here and also in 2 Cor. 2:14 is a figure of speech drawn from the ceremony that greeted a Roman general who had won a decisive victory over a enemy. This “Via Triumphalis” parade usually featured a display much like our “parade of champions” in our sports enthused societies.

The parade would wind through the most occupied places of the city. At the front would be musicians, dancers and maidens carrying perfumes and incense, throwing flower petals along the way, much like the flower girl at a wedding. The air and atmosphere would be filled with the smell and sounds of victory! Then in a chariot pulled by white horses, came with the conquering general wearing a crown on his head given by Caesar, and in his right hand a palm leaf symbolizing victory. Behind him came his son’s and officers sharing in the victory.

Yet there was one more group following and it was those captured. They were being displayed before the citizens of the city, stripped of weapons, armor, clothing, bound in chains and tied to the conquerors chariots. These defeated foes would be revealed as humiliated and powerless opponents in front of the cheering crowds.

The apostle Paul used this triumphal procession as an analogy of Christ’s victory at the cross. He was painting a picture for us so we could see that the enemy


 If the devil was defeated at the cross and we are victorious through Jesus why don’t we live like It!  


was totally defeated through Jesus’ work. Therefore, as a Christian we need to see the enemy of our souls as just that, a defeated foe! To often we still imagine the devil as a big bad threat in our lives instead of the humiliated spectacle beheld on the parade route!

Peter describes in his letter the devil as someone that roams around acting like a roaring lion. (1 Pet. 5:8) And if we look further at some other passages in scripture we can even paint a broader picture of satan being nothing more than a toothless fake lion on a leash with a bashed in head eating dirt! (Gen 3:14-15, Ps 3:7, Job 1:12) He is nothing that we should be intimidated by as sons and daughters of God. (Gal. 3:26) In Isa 14:12-17 it tells us concerning the devil at the “End of the Age” that we will “gaze at you, and consider you, saying: ‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms”. We will be shocked at his weakly appearance! So let’s not wait until then to get a right perspective. He is defeated and we are victorious through Jesus our Lord! So live like It!

 

Thoughts to Ponder:  

  1. Have you been one of those that have imagined wrongly the devil as a big bad scary enemy?   Why do you think you have believed that?
  2.  If the enemy of our souls is already defeated why do you think many people are in bondage by him?
  3. What must a person do to be included in the triumphant parade behind Jesus? In other words how do we become a son and daughter of God?

 

Quotes to Tweet:

At the End of the Age we will be shocked at the devils weakly appearance! www.billvirgin.com

If the devil was defeated at the cross and we are victorious through Jesus why don’t we live like It!    www.billvirgin.com

 

#TheDevilIsNothingButADeafeatedFoe        #WhyShouldIBeAfriadOfTheDevil

 

 

Let The Pit Produce Your Purpose

images-46It’s amazing how fast things can change around us. Many of us have had some event or situation in our life where something had happened which altered our surroundings and radically changed us from that moment forward. Those earth-shaking events can either bring a positive or negative outcome depending on our faith, support and personal fortitude.

In Genesis we read a story of a young man who’s life went from being spoiled and loved by his parents to separation and devastation throughout much of his life. We read in Gen 37:18-20 where young Joseph was going to check on his older brothers who were taking care of the family’s sheep. “Now when they saw him afar off, …they conspired against him …said to one another, “…Come therefore, let us now kill him and cast him into some pit”. These were his family, stepbrothers who should have protected him, but chose to bring hurt to him by throwing him in a pit. They stopped short of killing him physically by selling him into slavery aborting any life desires he might have had. Let alone they lied to their parents that wild animals had viciously killed Joseph. Needless to say, this was a life-altering situation brought on by selfishness and jealousy among family members.

It’s hard to believe that those that should bring safety and encouragement through life’s struggles can sometimes bring the most damage and devastation. Whether it is co-workers, teachers or even those you’re related to they can at times bring the worst destruction in our lives. Life can be fragile and altered many times


Earth-shaking events can either bring a positive or negative outcome depending on our faith, support and personal fortitude.


where we find ourselves in a deep pit very quickly. We can feel like the popular commercial that states, “I have fallen and I can’t get up”. This advertisement goes on to advertise an emergency button that you can have so during these serious situations you can call for help. You and I can also have in place a much more effective response for our cry for help. That is firstly, our personal relationship in Christ, secondly a strong support by family and friends of faith, as well as thirdly, our own fortitude that comes from confidence in God’s purposes for us.

It is so important that in these times we have our foundation already established in Christ so that our eyes are kept on the one where our help comes from. (Ps 121:2-3) Jesus said in Matt 7:24-25 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.” We will have storms in our


Life can be fragile and altered many times where we find ourselves in a deep pit very quickly. Who will you call?


lives for sure, but they don’t have to wipe us out completely. We can take our deepest pit and allow God to turn it into our strongest purpose to help others. Joseph went from the pit to Potifers house and even through a dark prison season. He could have and possibly did entertain the thoughts that God didn’t care or was punishing him, but ultimately we read that Joseph kept his eyes on the Lord. He knew God was a God that would bring justice in this situation. The end of this incredible story is that God used this incredible tragedy to bring triumph to His people through Joseph. God brought young Joseph from a pit to a palace with a purpose to help others!   I encourage you even though you have fallen into a pit to not stay there but look ahead for your palace!

 

Thoughts to Ponder:  

Have you ever had a situation in your life that has altered your future course? Or maybe you have a close friend that has gone through some tragedy that changed their life. Explain?

As you read the story of Joseph being thrown into a pit by his brothers and then being sold into slavery, what comes to your mind? What do you think brought on such hatred for their younger brother?

Describe what kind of support or helpful measures you have in your life to keep get you out of a pit if you ever fall into one? What do they look like in detail? How would you encourage others to be equipped to overcome adversity in their lives?

Quotes to Tweet:

  • Earth-shaking events can either bring a positive or negative outcome depending on our faith, support and personal fortitude. – billvirgin.com

 

  • Life can be fragile and altered many times where we find ourselves in a deep pit very quickly. Who will you call? – billvirgin.com

#IHaveFallenAndCantGetUp         #DontStayInThePitLookToThePalace          #LetThePitProduceYourPurpose