Sunday, May 24, 2009

Keys to Success

Years ago, I started carrying a little black book around. And no, it was not filled with phone numbers or any such thing... it was a collection of scriptures that I had studied to help myself during times of spiritual warfare. Over the years, it covered everything from my health to my relationships to my employment. Referring to those scriptures has been a great blessing, since the tests of life are open-book tests. We can always open the word of God for protection against whatever may be facing us in life.

Our Powerhouse Publication, Weapons of Mass Destruction, was written as an expository on those scriptures... and is something that we made available to people who may be facing struggles in their lives. Still, it is important to study God’s word for yourself so that you may find answers that are specific to the issues that you may be facing... and that the Holy Spirit may bring these scriptures to your remembrance when you are facing times of test and trial.

Recently, we added a few scriptures to the start-up routine of our computer so that we might remind ourselves of the blessings and protection promised in God’s word. As time progressed, we have added to those scriptures as God has brought new revelation through those who teach and (spiritually) feed us. Let’s take a look at them right now... maybe you might add them to your daily prayer and/or study time?

The first of these scriptures is from the book of Isaiah and was brought to our attention by Joyce Meyer. This scripture admonishes us about the following...

Do not [earnestly] remember the former things; neither consider the things of old.

Isaiah 43:18 [AMP]

This particular scripture helps me immensely, as I am one of those people who does mental replays of situations in my life... particularly, those which were defeats or failures. I grew up in a household where I heard daily recitations of things that happened to my parents. I recall my mother and aunt getting into a vicious fight over some boy they both liked when they were teenagers... and they were in their late 60’s and early 70’s at the time. Can you imagine something from so many years ago getting you so agitated that you want to fight somebody?

Well, the Lord says to Isaiah that we should not dwell on old things... especially when God has given us new things. If you are happily married, why think about past relationships? If you are in a job you love, why worry about a job you lost? Keep your thoughts facing forward... in anticipation of the blessings of God. Don‘t spend hours... days... weeks... years... even decades mentally mired in the past when God has such a brilliant future for you. In fact, Luke 12:32 says?

Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the Kingdom.

Luke 12:32

Another interesting part of my childhood is hearing about how it probably isn’t God’s will for anything good to happen to you. When I was passed over for promotion, I was chastised for even wanting to get promoted. Well, I can understand how my parents grew up with such attitudes... but it was contrary to God’s plan for my life. Even when people got into my way, trying to hold me back... I knew that God had great things in store... because my life would give Him glory.

Our Father in heaven is pleased to give us the Kingdom. So then... as Jesus says... why should we fear? We should not be afraid. God takes pleasure in the prosperity of His servants (Psalm 35:27). That is the opposite of what I was taught as a youngster... that the Lord takes pleasure in seeing you wallow in the mud with somebody’s boot on the back of your neck. No, God wants you to overcome all of the works of satan. In fact, Luke 10:19 tells us that He gives us power to overcome all of satan’s works... which are to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10).

Instead of your [former] shame you shall have a twofold recompense; instead of dishonor and reproach [your people] shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore in their land they shall possess double [what they had forfeited]; everlasting joy shall be theirs.

Isaiah 61:7 [AMP]

Yes, satan comes to kill, steal, and destroy. But Jesus came that we may have and enjoy life in abundance... to the full... until it overflows. So then, instead of the shame that you experienced in the past... you will receive double for your trouble just like Job received double for his trouble. If you were dishonored in the past, just keep doing the honorable thing before God. This may include forgiving those who caused you problems. I have found that the Holy Spirit has urged me to minister forgiveness, as Jesus told us to do.

I recall a situation where somebody did something mean and hurtful... and I knew there was nothing that I had done to deserve this treatment. And so, the Spirit of God urged me not only to firgive, but also to bless that person. Well... that was a very difficult thing to do... but I prayed the blessings of Deuteronomy 28 upon that person and while I have no idea of what happened to that individual, I do realize that it set me free. In fact, I had a spring in my step... forgetting that past hurt and moving on into God’s excellence!

You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.

Psalm 128:2

When people steal from you, revenge should be the last thing on your mind. The reason we often seek revenge in those situations is because we want to get back what was stolen... either in kind or in the satisfaction in knowing that we hurt that person who hurt us. However, be aware of this one thing... that God has given us the promise that He will provide our needs, according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. What a great promise, huh?

So then, let go of what somebody stole from you... God has something even better. If you work hard, the Bible promises that you will enjoy the fruits of your hard and honest labor. The Bible promises that you will receive and possess blessings. The Bible promises that you will enjoy prosperity. Why? Because your Father in heaven loves you. He is your Defender! He is Jehovah-Jireh, your provider. His grace is sufficient for you!

All the days of the desponding and afflicted are made evil [by anxious thoughts and forebodings], but he who has a glad heart has a continual feast [regardless of circumstances].

Proverbs 15:15 [AMP]

Now, what is a sure-fire way to extinguish the blessings from God? That is to lose faith... to buy into the devil’s lies. To mire yourself in negativity. What God promises belongs to you... but you must receive it. You could be hungry and starve to death even though there is a smorgasbord sitting right in front of you. Bread... meat... poultry... cakes... pies... everything you could possibly imagine. But guess what, if you don’t take from the table and eat, you will die of starvation... even though your supply is right in front of you.

God is known as El Shaddai. He is The All-Sufficient One. God has all that you need... and more than you can handle. However, are you willing to receive. Well, Proverbs 15:15 tells us that if we allow our minds to be captured by anxious thoughts and forebodings, we will live days that are made evil. What makes our days evil? We do! How? By thinking negative thoughts. We need to have glad hearts in order to enjoy the continual feast of God’s abundant blessings. Remember, the joy of the Lord is your strength (Nehemiah 8:10).

Show me a sign of [Your evident] goodwill and favor, that those who hate me may see it and be put to shame, because You, Lord, [will show Your approval of me when You] help and comfort me.

Psalm 86:17 [AMP]

When a group of people conspired against me and caused me great loss... I was reminded that “the best revenge is to live well.” If that is true, then I would seek a sign from the Lord of His evident goodwill and favor. Such a sign will allow those who hate me to be put to shame. Why? Because they will see that the Lord loves me and that He approves of me. That also reminds me not to seek the approval of man, but rather the approval of God.

There is honor that comes from man, and then there is honor that comes from God. Man’s honor is fickle. Think of performers and entertainers who are celebrated one day and barely tolerated the next. Think of people who were put up on a pedestal in the golden days of Hollywood, only to die alone and wretched in the Motion Picture Nursing Home. Once, they walked the red carpet in tuxedoes and gowns. Later, they sat in wheelchairs in ratty pajamas. No... I would rather have the honor from God that promises a mansion on streets of gold!

Return to the stronghold [of security and prosperity], you prisoners of hope; even today do I declare that I will restore double your former prosperity to you.

Zechariah 9:12 [AMP]

Going back to the example of Job in the Old Testament, we are reminded that God can give you double for your trouble. Zechariah prophesizes this to Israel... and as the spiritual seed of Abraham through Christ Jesus, we can have that same blessed assurance. You can be confident that God has the power to return twice of what was stolen from you. Just fix your faith on God’s word and watch with expectancy. Don’t put limits on God... don’t let your religious traditions nullify what He wants to do in your life.

I remember that song they used to sing in church... and probably still sing it today :-)

There is no secret
What God can do
What He’s done for others
He will do for you...

If you can accept what God did for Job... and look at how He has taken care of you in the past... or even look at our testimony... then you see that there is absolutely positively no need for doubt or unbelief in your life. The word of God tells you plainly that He will restore double your former prosperity. So, whatever you may have lost... believe that God can restore it. And, He will if you will have faith... which Hebrews 11:6 tells us is what pleases God.

Earnestly and diligently seek God out. But it is more important (and more satisfying) to seek His face, rather than to seek His hand. In other words, strive for a close and personal relationship with your Father in heaven above seeking a blessing from Him. As we heard from a preacher in Asia years ago, Jesus is the greatest blessing. To know God as your Father (and not as some sentient but impersonal cosmic power some trillions of miles away) is the true blessing...

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.

Numbers 6:24-26 [NIV]

This is an awesome blessing from the Bible... one that is often used as a benediction at the end of a worship service. Originally, it was how Aaron and his sons were instructed to bless the people of Israel. I like the part about the Lord making His face to shine upon you. Like the warmth and brightness of the sun... but, of course, much greater in magnitude and value, is the warmth and brightness of His love as He smiles upon you. Yes, God loves you. God is not looking for a lightning bolt to throw at you to annihilate you. No, He is looking for an opportunity to bless you.

Keep in mind that the Lord sent His only begotten Son to seek and save that which was lost. Even when we were lost in our sins... even when we were His enemies, Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6). The Lord looks upon you with His everlasting love, forgetting your sins and rejoicing over you (His child) with singing (Zephaniah 3:17). He will guide you with His eye upon you (Psalm 32:8).

Hmm... Psalm 32:8 brings back memories of this song that the deacons in the old Baptist church I grew up in used to sing...

If you cannot sing like angels,
If you cannot preach like Paul;
You can tell the love of Jesus;
You can say he died for all.

I will guide thee, I will guide thee,
I will guide thee with mine eye
All the way from earth to heaven,
I will guide thee with mine eye.

If you cannot give your thousands,
You can give the widow's mite
For the least you do for Jesus
Will be precious in his sight.

I will guide thee, I will guide thee,
I will guide thee with mine eye
All the way from earth to heaven,
I will guide thee with mine eye.

Hark! The voice of Jesus calling
“Who will go and work today?
Fields are wide and harvest is waiting,
Who will bear my shield away?”

I will guide thee, I will guide thee,
I will guide thee with mine eye
All the way from earth to heaven,
I will guide thee with mine eye.

Hark, the voice of Jesus calling,
To each one who passes by,
“All the way from earth to Heaven,
I will guide thee with mine eye.”

God will guide you and give you peace. The word translated “peace” in the original Hebrew language is Shalom -- nothing missing, nothing broken!

I shall not die but live, and shall declare the works and recount the illustrious acts of the Lord.

Psalm 118:17 [AMP]

Remember in John 10:10 we saw that satan comes to kill, steal and destroy. Yet, we have the promise from the Bible that satan can’t kill us. I will not die... I will live to declare the works and recount the illustrious acts of the Lord. Wow... this scripture brings to mind a song that my mother’s choir used to sing when I was in church as a child. It is Hall Johnson’s traditional spiritual Ain’t Got Time to Die:

Lord, I keep so busy praising my Jesus
Keep so busy praising my Jesus
Keep so busy praising my Jesus
Ain’t got time to die

‘Cause it takes all of my time
To praise my Jesus
All of my time
To praise my Lord
If I don’t praise Him the rocks gonna cry out
Glory and honor
Glory and honor

Ain’t got time to die

Don’t listen to news reports of swine flu and allow satan to take you on a mental tangent of evil forebodings that have you picturing your funeral... and what clothes they will bury you in... and how many of your relatives will snot and slobber over you... and which other relatives will be ransacking your house and stealing your things while the others are paying their last respects. Wait a minute! Why get mentally bound by that nonsense when you can better focus your mind on the promise that by Jesus stripes you were healed (see Isaiah 53:4-6).

Behold! I have given you authority and power to trample upon serpents and scorpions, and [physical and mental strength and ability] over all the power that the enemy [possesses]; and nothing shall in any way harm you.

Luke 10:19 [AMP]

We will close on this scripture which we referenced earlier in this teaching. Jesus gives us authority and power.

There are two words for power in this scripture... dunamis which is a Greek word that some people like to describe as dynamite dynamic power. Then there is exousia which is power and authority. Think of a police officer... that badge and uniform gives her power to pull you over. But... if you resist... that gun strapped to her side gives her miracle working power.

Or, like Marilyn Hickey said... parents can give the babysitter the authority to tell the children when to turn the television off and go to bed. But, if the children resist... the switch or belt or paddle for spanking the kids’ bottoms is miracle working power that will get them to obey.

Jesus has given us miracle working power over anything that satan can cook up. Nothing shall in any way harm you. Just be sure to avoid those evil forebodings... those negative thoughts that close your hands from receiving God’s blessings.

When watching baseball, notice that the catcher’s mit is turned upward to receive. Lift your hands in submission... lift your voice in confession... and lift your heart in reception... and then allow God to do the great things that He has chosen to do in your life. Don’t be the monkey in the wrench that stands in the way of your own blessing... God is able to give, but you must be willing to receive.

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