Sunday, February 27, 2011

Up Manure Creek Without a Paddle?

When life gives you lemons... you should make lemonade.  When life dumps manure on you... consider it fertilizer to grow more lemons so you can have even more lemonade.  When others are used by satan to attack you... do not fight against them. Rather, direct your energies against the spiritual forces at work!

For though we walk (live) in the flesh, we are not carrying on our warfare according to the flesh and using mere human weapons. For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds, [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One)

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 [AMP]

If you find yourself in a manurey situation and want to know how to fight with spiritual weapons... we suggest your download (for free) our book Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Meanwhile, the following blogs from Judypie and Brotha DC will prove valuable in your Christian walk through manurey situations.

Put Some Manure On It
by Brotha DC

6And He told them this parable: A certain man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it, but did not find [any].
7So he said to the vinedresser, See here! For these three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree and I find none. Cut it down! Why should it continue also to use up the ground [to deplete the soil, intercept the sun, and take up room]?
8But he replied to him, Leave it alone, sir, [just] this one more year, till I dig around it and put manure [on the soil].
9Then perhaps it will bear fruit after this; but if not, you can cut it down and out.

Luke 13:6-9 [AMP]

The above scripture presents an interesting situation. You have the owner of a vineyard who was hoping to enjoy the fruits from one of his trees. The tree, unfortunately, was not producing fruit. The owner’s reaction was to order the tree chopped down and discarded.

After all, the owner surmised, this tree was taking up space, sucking up water from the irrigation system... and blocking sunlight that the more productive plants and trees could benefit from.  Fortunately (for the tree), the vinedresser had a solution.

Let’s dump some manure n the tree and maybe it will bear fruit.

Unlike the Mary Poppins song that a spoonful of sugar will make the medicine go down... it would take several shovels full of manure to make the fruit pop up.  And God does expect His children to bear fruit.

If you are not bearing fruit... the alternatives seem to be to either be chopped down, or to have some manure  be dropped on you.


Think about it.  Those manurey situations that pop up in your life are not simply random sources of frustration or disappointment.  They are there for a reason. 

From Jehovah [are] the steps of a man, They have been prepared, And his way he desireth.

Psalm 37:23 [Young’s Literal Translation]

The steps of a righteous man are ordered by the Lord. Even when you are (figuratively) stepping in manure? Well, if that situation brings what is needed to perfect the spiritual fruits in your life, then yes!  But what if it is the devil wreaking havoc in your life?  If the Book of Job tells us anything... it is that satan has limits over what damage he can and cannot do to you.  Take comfort in the fact that God has it all under control.

So, then... when we find ourselves in a “manurey” situation, what do we expect as the outcome?  I think the outcome should be better fruits.  What kind of fruit specifically?

But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge].

Galatians 5:22-23 [AMP]

In our book Spiritual Fruits or Religious Nuts, we provided the following expository on spiritual fruits:

  • The Joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10).  We have more strength available to us than we often realize when we learn to rejoice in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4).

  • True Christians are in perfect peace because their minds are steadfast on the Lord (Isaiah 26:3).

  • True Christians are patient. They understand that the enemy works through other people and, rather than retaliate against that person, they stand against the devil in prayer and return that person’s negative behavior with God’s love.

  • God’s kindness is what leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). As we live lives of kindness, we can lead others to Christ. We don’t beat people over the head with our Bibles and call them sinners. Rather, it is with kindness and gentleness that we show them the kindness and gentleness of our Heavenly Father.

  • True Christians are faithful. If they say they will be there at 10:00, they are there no later than 10:00. They don’t wander in at 10:30 or 11:00. You can trust the word of a true Christian.

  • True Christians have self-control. They know when to shut their mouths and not say what is on their mind. They know when to push away from the table when they have had enough to eat – despite how good that dessert looks.

This forms a frustrating conundrum for most of us... because to live the Christian life goes contrary to our basic human tendencies.

How do you rejoice when your company gives you a pink slip?

How can you have peace when the evening news talks about terror and disaster?

How can you be patient when you have been waiting and waiting for that thing you so long for?

How can we be kind when people around us act like jerks?

How can we be faithful when it is so inconvenient to do so?

How can we control our basic Maslow Hieracharcy desires?

How?  How?  How?

The answer was given to us by Lon Solomon.  Lon’s simple explanation is that we cannot live the Christian life by our own power.  It can only be accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit.  He gives us His spiritual fruits to replace our, erm... rotten fruits.  And these fruits are often developed in the same manner that natural fruits are developed.

By fertilizing them.

With manure.

There is a saying that if life hands you lemons... make lemonade.  I like to embellish that one by adding that if life hands you manure... then fertilize your lemon trees to get bigger and better lemons so that you can have more and better quality lemonade. But the absolute worst thing to do is get a negative (or manurey) attitude when we find ourselves being fertilized.  After all:

My son, do not despise or shrink from the chastening of the Lord [His correction by punishment or by subjection to suffering or trial]; neither be weary of or impatient about or loathe or abhor His reproof, For whom the Lord loves He corrects, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.

Proverbs 3:11-12 [AMP]

And have you [completely] forgotten the divine word of appeal and encouragement in which you are reasoned with and addressed as sons? My son, do not think lightly or scorn to submit to the correction and discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage and give up and faint when you are reproved or corrected by Him; For the Lord corrects and disciplines everyone whom He loves, and He punishes, even scourges, every son whom He accepts and welcomes to His heart and cherishes.

Hebrews 12:5-6 [AMP]

God allows things into our lives for a reason.  We need to realize that it is only a test (and all of God’s tests are open book exams.  Just open the book (the Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth) to get the answers.

6And He told them this parable: A certain man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it, but did not find [any].
7So he said to the vinedresser, See here! For these three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree and I find none. Cut it down! Why should it continue also to use up the ground [to deplete the soil, intercept the sun, and take up room]?
8But he replied to him, Leave it alone, sir, [just] this one more year, till I dig around it and put manure [on the soil].
9Then perhaps it will bear fruit after this; but if not, you can cut it down and out.

Luke 13:6-9 [AMP]

A tree requires manure, otherwise it will be worthless and cut down. In Isaiah 61:3, we are referred to as trees of righteousness.

1THE SPIRIT of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed and qualified me to preach the Gospel of good tidings to the meek, the poor, and afflicted; He has sent me to bind up and heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the [physical and spiritual] captives and the opening of the prison and of the eyes to those who are bound,
2To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord [the year of His favor] and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,
3To grant [consolation and joy] to those who mourn in Zion--to give them an ornament (a garland or diadem) of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment [expressive] of praise instead of a heavy, burdened, and failing spirit--that they may be called oaks of righteousness [lofty, strong, and magnificent, distinguished for uprightness, justice, and right standing with God], the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.

Isaiah 61:1-3 [AMP]

As trees (oaks in the Amplified translation of the Bible) of righteousness, we must be properly fertilized in order to bear fruit. The fruit that we must bear, as discussed in last week’s blog post, is the fruit of the Spirit.

One thing about our Father in heaven is that He will test us to show the quality of our fruits. I recall as a child accompanying my mother to the supermarket. I watched with fascination as she felt the pieces of fruit to see whether or not they would be good to take home to eat. I wondered how she knew whether fruit was ripe or whether it was rotten or whether it was perfect. The key, it seemed, was using touch to tell the quality of the fruit. Our Heavenly Father will often touch our circumstances in order to show us that true quality of our fruits. This might include placing us in those manure laden circumstances.

The week after we published that blog, we found ourselves enjoying a wonderful week. However… that wonderful week (from Monday until Friday morning) was merely a set up for something quite... what is the opposite of wonderful?  Well, it was quite painful. Quite alarming!  Quite disturbing!  What happened to us was an attack from satan. As this season of trouble entered our life, there were the usual emotional reactions.

  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Depression
  • Analysis
  • Worry
  • Pain

Fortunately, the Holy Spirit arrived and gave us comfort by reminding us of the promises of the word of God. It was during this time of testing that I faced a decision point. I could pray like the sons of thunder (James and John) to rain down fire upon those who caused me such pain. I could pray like the Lord Jesus who said “Father, forgive them… for they know not to what they do.” Ultimately, I decided to behave the way that my Lord and Savior behaved.

I wonder if any of you have been in manure this past week? Perhaps you might or feel that you have been in manure for as long as you can remember. I hope that the scriptures from last week were a source of comfort. This week, we hope to help deal with the second phase of a trip down manure creek without a paddle (grin).

The best advice and that I can give to you is the advice and that the Lord has given to me through the Word of God, through His Spirit, and through friends and prayer partners. That advice is to praise the Lord not because of your circumstances but in spite of those circumstances.

Fruit of the Spirit
by JesusLover Judy

Father, Your Spirit lives in me, and I am swift to hear. I have learned it’s more important to listen than to be heard. I purpose to be slow to speak, and choose the words I speak with grace. I am slow to become angry. May my recreated human spirit, under the control of the Holy Spirit bear fruit -- joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance, in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Understand [this], my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear [a ready listener], slow to speak, slow to take offense and to get angry. For man's anger does not promote the righteousness God [wishes and requires].

James 1:19-20 [AMP]

But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge].
Galatians 5:22-23 [AMP]

The Lord is my Shepherd
by JesusLover Judy

O my Lord, you are my Shepherd, and I have everything I need. You are ever true to Your Word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Your goodness and unfailing kindness shall be with me all of my life, and afterwards I will live with You forever in your home. Amen

THE LORD is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack. He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters. He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him--not for my earning it, but] for His name's sake. Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my [brimming] cup runs over. Surely or only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and through the length of my days the house of the Lord [and His presence] shall be my dwelling place.

Psalm 23 [AMP]

by JesusLover Judy

Meditation is very beneficial, spiritually, mentally and physically. This form of discipline will help you stay focused on eternal things, give you insight into the Scriptures, your energy will increase, and your youth will be renewed according to Psalm 103. Here in these quiet moments, you can Hear the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit and creativity is released. Purpose in your heart and mind... "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to my Lord". Meditation is deep contemplation or reflection that will bring the Word of God from your head to your heart.

In the name of Jesus, I am blessed. My Lord, I delight in your law, and on your law I meditate day and night. I am like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever I do prospers. Jesus, you have been made unto me wisdom, righteousness and sanctification, and I enjoy living in the Way of Truth. Thank you, Lord, for watching over the way of the righteous. Amen

1 Blessed is the man

    who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked

    or stand in the way of sinners

    or sit in the seat of mockers.

2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,

    and on his law he meditates day and night.

3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water,

    which yields its fruit in season

    and whose leaf does not wither.

    Whatever he does prospers.

4 Not so the wicked!

    They are like chaff

    that the wind blows away.

5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,

    nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous,

    but the way of the wicked will perish.

Psalm 1:1-6 [NIV]

Open My Eyes
by JesusLover Judy

Lord, I ask you to open my eyes that I may see the wonderful things in your law. Thank you for the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father has sent in your name. He will teach me all things and will remind me of everything you have said. Lord Jesus, thank you for opening my understanding and for showing me how to read my Bible. Amen

Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.

Psalm 119:18 [NIV]

He went on to open their understanding of the Word of God, showing them how to read their Bibles this way. He said, “You can see now how it is written that the Messiah suffers, rises from the dead on the third day, and then a total life-change through the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed in his name to all nations—starting from here, from Jerusalem! You're the first to hear and see it. You're the witnesses. What comes next is very important: I am sending what my Father promised to you, so stay here in the city until he arrives, until you're equipped with power from on high.”

Luke 24:45-49 [Message]

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

John 14:26 [NIV]

Godly Wisdom
by JesusLover Judy

Father, there isn’t a challenge I will ever face that will be too hard for You to solve. Nothing can outsmart You. The world’s wisdom is foolishness in Your sight. Your wisdom is increasing in me as I meditate on Your Word. It leads, guides and protects me. It gives me greater insight and credentials than the world has to offer. You have said in Your Word that the person who gets wisdom loves his own soul. I cherish understanding and I will prosper for your glory. Hallelujah! In Jesus name. Amen.

Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is there anything too hard for Me?

Jeremiah 32:27 [AMP]

For this world's wisdom is foolishness (absurdity and stupidity) with God, for it is written, He lays hold of the wise in their [own] craftiness;

1 Corinthians 3:19 [AMP]

I Run to Win
by JesusLover Judy

Father, I thank you for all the pioneers who blazed the way, all the veterans cheering me on. I will never quit! I lay aside every weight and every sin that would hinder me. I fix my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. I am running to win. I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Amen

Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

Hebrews 12:1 –3 [Message]

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

Hebrews 12:1 –2 [NLT]

You've all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You're after one that's gold eternally.

1 Corinthians 9:24-25 [Message]

I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward.

Philippians 3:13-14 [AMP]

All is Well!
by JesusLover Judy

Jesus is Lord, and everything is all right! Your plan is to prosper me and not to harm me. Your plan is to give me hope and a future. Thank you for listening to me when I call upon you, when I am praying to you. I love you because you first loved me. And I know that in all things, Father-God you work for my good because I choose to love you. I have been called according to your purpose. Even in the face of adversity I declare, “All is well.” Amen

Run to meet her and say, Is it well with you? Well with your husband? Well with the child? And she answered, It is well.

2 Kings 4:26 [AMP]

For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome. Then you will call upon Me, and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear and heed you. Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 [AMP]

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28 [NIV]

Petition Denied
by Brotha DC

God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.  However, satan hates you and has a horrible plan for your life.  Fortunately, greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.

And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired [to have] you, that he may sift [you] as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

Luke 22:31-32

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

Psalm 91:1

Little children, you are of God [you belong to Him] and have [already] defeated and overcome them [the agents of the antichrist], because He Who lives in you is greater (mightier) than he who is in the world.
1 John 4:4

If you are dedicated to God’s service, know this. There is a contract out on your life. The more serious you have taken your commitment to serve God, the more demons have been assigned to take you out. But rather than allow that to create fear in our hearts, we can take comfort in the fact that the hit man has been denied permission to whack you. No matter how many demons are trying to bring you down, God (who is greater) will lift you up!

The hunter is seeking a soul to drag down
Down into the pit of destruction
The lion is roaring, new prey he has found
but only if he has permission

The devil asked for me...
but God said, “NO!”
“he’s covered by My Blood...
you have to go!”
The devil pleaded, he begged, and he cried
Jesus repeated... “Petition Denied!”

The devil is waiting, refuses to quit
Just like a fly that keeps buzzing
he brings his battalion and bag full of tricks
but one little thing he’s forgetting

i’m covered by the Blood, the Blood of Jesus
His Spirit lives within, that’s how He frees us
And everyday i live in the Shadow of the Most High

The flames, they are raging and burning in hell
It’s filled to the brim yet, it’s growing
The devil desires to throw my soul in
but that’s not the way i’ll be going

The devil asked for me...
but God said, “NO!”
“he’s covered by My Blood...
you have to go!”
The devil pleaded, he begged, and he cried
Jesus repeated... “Petition Denied!”

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Living in Desperate Times

Reading about protests in exotic places such as Egypt, Iran, Libya and Wisconsin... we realize that the scriptures were correct that said:

They have made it a desolation, and desolate it mourns before Me; the whole land has been made desolate, but no man lays it to heart.

Jeremiah 12:11 [AMP]

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.

Romans 8:22 [ESV]

Classic blogs by Pastor Jake and Brotha DC remind us to put our focus on the right things as we continue to walk in a world that becomes more and more evil.

Perilous Times
by Brotha DC

Paul’s words to Timothy, written centuries ago, are as current as the front page of tomorrow’s newspaper.

1BUT UNDERSTAND this, that in the last days will come (set in) perilous times of great stress and trouble [hard to deal with and hard to bear].
2For people will be lovers of self and [utterly] self-centered, lovers of money and aroused by an inordinate [greedy] desire for wealth, proud and arrogant and contemptuous boasters. They will be abusive (blasphemous, scoffing), disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane.
3[They will be] without natural [human] affection (callous and inhuman), relentless (admitting of no truce or appeasement); [they will be] slanderers (false accusers, troublemakers), intemperate and loose in morals and conduct, uncontrolled and fierce, haters of good.
4[They will be] treacherous [betrayers], rash, [and] inflated with self-conceit. [They will be] lovers of sensual pleasures and vain amusements more than and rather than lovers of God.
5For [although] they hold a form of piety (true religion), they deny and reject and are strangers to the power of it [their conduct belies the genuineness of their profession]. Avoid [all] such people [turn away from them].
6For among them are those who worm their way into homes and captivate silly and weak-natured and spiritually dwarfed women, loaded down with [the burden of their] sins [and easily] swayed and led away by various evil desires and seductive impulses.
7[These weak women will listen to anybody who will teach them]; they are forever inquiring and getting information, but are never able to arrive at a recognition and knowledge of the Truth.

2 Timothy 3:1-7 [AMP]

Perilous times will come in the last days... the days before Christ returns... the days we are living in.

What Are “Perilous Times?”

The word “perilous” in the original Greek text is the word chalepoi which means fierce, perilous, hard to live in, troublesome, dangerous: harsh, fierce, full of troubles and dangers; times that are hard to bear.  It is not very surprising when we see such characteristics in the people of this world.

What is surprising is when we see these characteristics popping up within the church. In Matthew 13:24-30, Jesus tells us that the tares (a plant that looks like wheat) will be allowed to grow along side the wheat until the time of harvest. They may outwardly resemble Christians, but without any spiritual fruit.

Men Shall Be Selfish (philautoi)

Do you love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself (see Luke 10:27), or do you “look out for number one?”  God’s very nature is to give (see John 3:16). If we are to walk after the image of our Heavenly Father (see Ephesians 5:1), we need to walk after His example of selfless giving, not “get all you can... can all you get... then, sit on the can.”

Men Shall Be Covetous (philargooroi)

They will be lovers of money more than lovers of God or their brethren. They would rather spend extravagantly than bring tithes into the house of God. They would rather be gluttons than donate food to the poor. They would rather watch television than hear the gospel.  The world says to love things and use people. We need to love people, and use things to bring glory to our Father. The members of the early church shared all that they had. Why don’t we?

Men Shall Be Boasters (alazones)

This word was originally used to describe a “quack” doctor who went from town to town, trying to sell medicines that he claimed would cure illnesses. These people claim to have the answers, but they really do not. Their religion is just empty pretending.  Are you an empty pretender? Do you parade about, trying to pass yourself off as something you are not? Does God get the glory or do you pat yourself on the back?

Paul had much that he could have bragged about. He was a Pharisees’ Pharisee. He was an eloquent speaker. God handpicked him. Yet, Paul counted his credentials as worthless, in comparison to the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:8).

Men Shall Be Proud

The Greek word (huperǝphanoi) means “to show oneself above.” These persons not only think too highly of themselves, they despise others. We see an example of this spirit in Luke, chapter 18:

The Pharisee took his stand ostentatiously and began to pray thus before and with himself: God, I thank You that I am not like the rest of men--extortioners (robbers), swindlers [unrighteous in heart and life], adulterers--or even like this tax collector here.

Luke 18:11 [AMP]

Have you ever bristled upon encountering a drunkard, a homeless person, or perhaps a prostitute on a street corner? Remember it is only God’s grace that you are not out there.

Men Shall Be Blasphemers (blasphǝmoi)

These people speak evil, slanderous, or abusive words against God and/or men. They are quick with criticism and put-downs. Some comedians on television joke about growing up in church while reviling God and all that He stands for.  Although you may never have taken God’s name in vain, maybe your lifestyle has given God’s enemies an occasion to blaspheme. (see 2 Samuel 12 and Romans 2:24). Any sin in the camp may affect the entire church (see Joshua 7; Joshua 22:20; and 1 Corinthians 10:6).

Men Shall Be Disobedient to Parents

If you have unsaved parents, keeping your room clean and your chores up to date will win them to Christ a lot faster than nagging them about church or slipping gospel tracts into their sandwiches. Do you honor your mother and father? (Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16; Matthew 15:4-6 and Ephesians 6:2).

Men Shall Be Unthankful (acharistoi)

These ungrateful ones take and take, but never stop to say “thank you.” You should “Count your many blessings... see what God has done.” This brings glory to God and gives you strength in times of trial. David praised God for delivering him from the jaws of the lion and the bear. This, in turn, gave him the confidence and spiritual fortitude to defeat Goliath (1 Samuel 17:36).

Men Shall Be Unholy (anosioi)

They offend all that is holy, not satisfied with simply practicing their wickedness but desiring to drag others into their lifestyles.

Men Shall Be Without Natural Affection

The Greek word Astorgoi, is the opposite of “to cherish affectionately with family love.” Today, children shoot and kill without a twinge of remorse. Proverbs 12:10 describes these people perfectly... even their “tender mercies” are cruel.

Men Shall Be Trucebreakers

A trucebreaker (aspondoi) cannot agree to or refuses to enter a covenant. They are dishonest and not trustworthy. They reject salvation, since this is a covenant relationship between man and God (see Acts 3:25).

Men Shall Be False Accusers

If you speak Spanish, you will recognize the Greek word Diaboloi word as meaning, “the Devil.” Satan is a slanderer and a false accuser (see Revelation 12:10). If you accuse your brother or sister in gossip conversation, you are sitting in the devil’s seat.

Men Shall Be Incontinent (akrateis)

This does not refer to a weak bladder, but a lack of spiritual or moral self-control. In Galatians 5:23, self-control (”temperance” in the KJV) is a fruit of the Spirit.

Men Shall Be Fierce (anǝmeroi)

These men are “brutal” or “savage.” Like wild beasts, they pounce upon their prey and mercilessly rip it to shreds.  Many people will walk past someone in the sanctuary and mercilessly rip him or her to shreds with their tongue. These people are savage... fierce.

Men Shall Be Despisers Of Those That Are Good (aphilagathoi)

They are opposed to goodness and those who stand for right. They campaign for animal rights but seek to kill unborn children. They bring homosexuals and lesbians into schools, yet protest the idea of the Bible in school.

Men Shall Be Traitors (prodotai)

This is treacherous behavior. Be diligent to lift one another up in prayer. Don’t betray your family in Christ. Stand in the gap for them lest the enemy hinder them.

Men Shall Be Heady

Are you rash, reckless, or hasty? Do you wait on the Lord, doing things decently and in order, or do you disregard leadership and do things your way?

Men Shall Be Highminded

The Greek word (teutphǝmenoi) literally means, “conceited.” Are you proud, or lifted up with pride? Do you become blinded with pride?

Men Shall Be Lovers of Pleasure More Than Lovers of God

The Greek phrase reads: “philǝdonoi mallon ǝ philotheoi,” referring to those who would rather seek their own pleasure than God’s will and purpose. Does evening service interfere with your game? Does prayer meeting interfere with your television watching?

That is not to imply that there is no pleasure in serving God. King David said that he was glad when they said unto him, “let us go into the house of the Lord.” Are you glad about serving God, or do you see your “religious duty” as a ball and chain?

Men Shall Have A Form of Godliness, But Deny the Power Thereof

You may have an outline or a semblance of piety towards God, but your actions show that you have an estrangement with the power (or, Dunamis... dynamite dynamic Holy Ghost power) of God. You talk a good talk but you don’t walk the right walk. You may sing and shout. Your tearstains may be on the altar. However, are you able to walk holy before the Lord?

Turn Away From Such Men (and Women)

Some of the most charismatic people in our society (politicians, entertainers and false religious leaders) fall into one or more of the categories that Paul describes.  If any of this applies to you, turn away from sin, submit yourself to God and resist the devil, then satan will flee from you (James 4:7). Submit yourself to the cleansing of God’s holy word (John 15:3).

Protect Your Family

In verse 6, Paul tells us that such people sneak (insinuate themselves) into the house/family/property/wealth/goods of others like an insect crawling through a crack in the wall. Be vigilant to protect your family from those who would lead them away from the path of righteousness.

Are You A WIMP?

These people capture or make captive weak-willed individuals. In verse 6, the KJV reads, “silly women.” However, the context of the Greek suggests that this is not strictly a reference to women, but may also refer to what we would call a “wimp.” If a man is not fulfilling his role as head of his family, he may be a “weak willed little woman” (see Ephesians 5:33 and 1 Timothy 5:8). Of course, this verse also applies to women who fail to maintain God’s standards of virtue (i.e., Proverbs 31:10-31 and Titus 2:3-5).  Paul says that these “wimps” are loaded with the consciousness of many sins (failure to hit the mark, committing bad actions or evil deeds; possibly through an error of understanding). They are “Prisoners of War” to satan and his army of demons. These people would rather fry their brains on lust-filled soap operas than feed themselves God’s word (see 1 Corinthians 3:2). They would rather gossip on the telephone than talk about the goodness of Jesus (see 1 Peter 4:11).  These people are setting themselves up to be “led captive” by the people of these perilous days. Do you want to be satan’s prisoner of war... or do you want to be free?

What Impulses Motivate You?

At the end of verse 6, Paul describes these people as being led away (literally, moved by forces and impulses affecting the mind) with many types of lusts, desire, craving, longing, and desire for that which is forbidden. Harlequin Romance Novels, “Swimsuit Editions” and R-rated movies create such impulses.

Is Your Bible Study Fruitful?

In verse 7, we see these “wimps” constantly increasing their knowledge, yet they are never able to come to the precise and correct knowledge of things that are ethical and divine (the truth of the gospel). They are implacable by virtue of their own ability and resources, their state of mind, and/or their customs.  The seven most dangerous words for church leaders is, “We’ve never done it that way before.” Don’t reject God’s moving because it clashes with tradition. Don’t resist change because you are not willing to accept the truth. Don’t hear sermons Sunday after Sunday without it getting out of your head and into your heart.
Many people have their own agenda for attending church. Some go for social or political reasons. Some go to find a husband or wife. Some go to have their good deeds outweigh their sins. The scriptures describe exactly what benefit they get out of their “religiosity” or “churchianity...”

1The promise to enter the place of rest is still good, and we must take care that none of you miss out. 2We have heard the message, just as they did. But they failed to believe what they heard, and the message did not do them any good. 3Only people who have faith will enter the place of rest. It is just as the Scriptures say,

"God became angry

and told the people,

`You will never enter

my place of rest!' "

God said this, even though everything has been ready from the time of creation.

Hebrews 4:1-3 [CEV]

Be steadfast in prayer and Bible study if you wish to survive these perilous times.  And... as Pastor Jake tells us... put first things first!

First Things First
by Pastor Jake

In the games men play, such as football, basketball, hockey and etc. there is the element of time, a time allotted in which the game is to be played. Every coach of a team has a game plan for defeating his opponent. He chooses, conditions and teaches the game plan to his players and expects them to adhere to his plan in order for them to win the game. While time is an important element in the game, it is not the most important.
  1. Complete trust in the coach and his plan,
  2. Working together as a team,
  3. Staying focused on the game,
  4. Sticking to and executing the game plan,
  5. Taking advantage of every opportunity to score points,
  6. While at the same time, with wisdom, defending against the schemes of the opponent is the common goal of every player.
  7. Being aware of the clock is important. Knowing that the clock is running, good players take advantage of ever moment, not distracted by looking back at past mistakes or by looking ahead to the end, but knowing that the signs on the clock indicate that time is passing, serves to encourage every player to work even harder as the end draws near. After all, victory over the opponent is the goal of playing the game; the rewards are for a job well done. This is the plan of victory.
In light of the current events in today’s world it is tempting for a Christian to get caught up in speculations of the outcome of these events as they relate to the coming of the Lord Jesus. The signs of the times are important to us, but we must realize these signs and their significance are not the most important.

The Holy Scriptures teach us that “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, ----” Deuteronomy 29:29f  [NAS]

Thus, our searching for truth must be confined to what is to be revealed. The thing our Lord has chosen not to reveal belongs to Him and we must not be found guilty of conjecture in even speculating about those things lest we drift into error. If we become occupied with God’s “secret things,” we will be found to be one who neglects the study of the things which God would have us to know and to do. Some of the things hidden are the day of our Lord’s return, the end of the age, the end of time and the beginnings of the new heaven and earth.

In answer to questions concerning these things our Lord Jesus said, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” (Matthew 24:36 [NASU])

We are taught to know the signs of the coming of these things, but only God knows the exact time that He will bring about these events and He will reveal them to us in due season.

In the book of Matthew, chapter 28, beginning with verse 18 we read, “Then Jesus came to them (His disciples) and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. (19) Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (20) and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 [NASU])

Here our coach, Jesus, has given us the game plan.


We must believe in our Coach and His game plan.


We must work together as a team.

To do this we must be “be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit— just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith , one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:2-6 [NASU])


And we must stay focused on our commission, that is, our game plan.


This means sticking to and carrying out the game plan, not drifting off into fruitless speculations about things that are still hidden. We are to preach the gospel, that is, the good news pertaining to salvation through faith in our Lord, Jesus Christ.


Before ascending into heaven our Lord spoke these words to His chosen, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”.” (Acts 1: 8 [NASU])

He told them to begin where they receive the Holy Spirit, Jerusalem. And then go to the surrounding area, Judea. Normally the Jews did not associate with the Samaritans, there was enmity between them. But Jesus commanded His disciples to preach the gospel to them also, and thought out the world.

The following may be seen as our system of scoring points; being filled with the power that the Holy Spirit brings, preaching with boldness, as the apostles did on the Day of Pentecost, leading lost souls to Jesus through the power of the gospel (Romans 1:16), baptizing them in His name and teaching them in the ways of righteousness, on every opportunity. We start where we first received the Holy Spirit, then in the surrounding community, and among those that we would not normally associate with, and then, though out the world.
The Apostle John writes, “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” (1 John 5:3-5 [NASU])


Our Lord, through the Apostle Paul, gives us the perfect plan of offence and defense, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:10-18 [NASU])


Study the prophets, study the book of Revelations, read chapter 24 of the book of Matthew, and other Scripture concerning the end of the age, know that our redemption is near, but do not neglect the preaching of the gospel. After all, leading lost souls to Christ for salvations, snatching them out of Satan’s grasp, is our goal in defeating him. The rewards that await us are for a job well done. Selah

James C Sanford

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Forgive and Forget

My small group read a very interesting passage of scripture this evening:

25And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him and let it drop (leave it, let it go), in order that your Father Who is in heaven may also forgive you your [own] failings and shortcomings and let them drop.
26But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your failings and shortcomings.
Mark 11:25-26 [AMP]

Forgiveness is vital to answered prayer… to having an unencumbered walk with God… and to having the right relationships with others. And, if we do not forgive others… we won’t see our sins forgiven.

The truth for many people is that forgiveness is something that never happens... the pain and anger of personal betrayal never attenuates and often grows beyond what anyone might have imagined. The reality, however, is that forgiveness is necessary. Not just for the other people involved... but for yourself.

I recall when a rift formed between a pastor and the leadership of his church.  The long drawn-out battle literally ripped the congregation in half.  One leader made the comment regarding the now ex-pastor, “I will never forgive him for what he did!”  Never is a long, long time... and the refusal to forgive is a dangerous, dangerous thing.

Not surprisingly, this is a common emotion.  And, as time has proven over and over again, is a potentially deadly emotion.

How Many Times?
by Brotha DC

Simon Peter asked Jesus a question regarding forgiveness. Specifically, how many times should his brother get away with a sin? Peter asked if seven strikes would tbe the magic number. Jesus upped the number to 490 strikes! Then, He added a bit of expository to make the necessity of forgiveness even more profound:

21Then Peter came up to Him and said, Lord, how many times may my brother sin against me and I forgive him and let it go? [As many as] up to seven times?
22Jesus answered him, I tell you, not up to seven times, but seventy times seven!
23Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a human king who wished to settle accounts with his attendants.
24When he began the accounting, one was brought to him who owed him 10,000 talents [probably about $10,000,000],
25And because he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and his children and everything that he possessed, and payment to be made.
26So the attendant fell on his knees, begging him, Have patience with me and I will pay you everything.
27And his master’s heart was moved with compassion, and he released him and forgave him [cancelling] the debt.
28But that same attendant, as he went out, found one of his fellow attendants who owed him a hundred denarii [about twenty dollars]; and he caught him by the throat and said, Pay what you owe!
29So his fellow attendant fell down and begged him earnestly, Give me time, and I will pay you all !
30But he was unwilling, and he went out and had him put in prison till he should pay the debt.
31When his fellow attendants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and told everything that had taken place to their master.
32Then his master called him and said to him, You contemptible and wicked attendant! I forgave and cancelled all that [great] debt of yours because you begged me to.
33And should you not have had pity and mercy on your fellow attendant, as I had pity and mercy on you?
34And in wrath his master turned him over to the torturers (the jailers), till he should pay all that he owed.
35So also My heavenly Father will deal with every one of you if you do not freely forgive your brother from your heart his offenses.
Matthew 18:21-35 [AMP]

Jesus told the parable about two men who owed a debt that could not be paid.  One owed an amount that would probably be ten-million dollars in our current economy.  The reckoning might have been devastating, except that he obtained mercy.

Later, when his co-worker failed pay the twenty bucks owed to him, the man failed to show the same mercy that he had received.  The end result of that guy was dismal... he was sent to Gitmo to be water-boarded until somebody came up with the $10,000,000 to bail him out.


Jesus makes it clear that if we do not forgive others, we will be in BIG TROUBLE.  So then, how many times are we expected to forgive?

Seventy Times Seven!
by White Heart

Mark Gershmehl wrote a wonderful song about forgiveness... stemming from a painful experience in his own life. This song spells out what Peter was asking... and delineates the response eloquently. If you would like to listen to this song, use the player below:

During the close of the song, take note of how Rick Florian provocatively emotes some of the difficulties of forgiving someone those 490 times:

  • Lord, You know just how hard I have tried…
  • Gotta see that I’m hurting inside…
  • Don’t you know that my pride is at stake…
  • So tell me how much one should take…

If we were to be honest... we would agree that those things add up to a prideful attitude. I have tried. I’m hurting inside. My pride is at stake. Get it?

It all adds up to a bad attitude. Once you lose that ‘tood, you can move closer to the state of forgiveness.

Lose Da Tood
by Brotha DC

Now comes the $64 question. How exactly does one manage to forgive someone who dealt something so painful to us? Joyce Meyer was kind enough to help us out with the following scriptures (thanks Joyce):

Now the mind of the flesh [which is sense and reason without the Holy Spirit] is death [death that comprises all the miseries arising from sin, both here and hereafter]. But the mind of the [Holy] Spirit is life and [soul] peace [both now and forever].
Romans 8:6 [AMP]

Or, as Lon Solomon put it… it is impossible for us to live the way that Jesus did... to forgive the way that He forgave, etc. We can only do so by allowing Christ to live in (and through ) us by His Holy Spirit. Of course, it is up to us to yield to the Spirit... since He has the right of way.

The natural mind finds it very difficult (if not impossible) to forgive. Those who have the mind of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 2:16) find it an accessible reality.

Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].
Romans 12:2 [AMP]

This does not happen to us instantaneously. Would be nice, granted. Still, it is a process that will continue in us until the day that we die. But ain’t it grand when we see those incremental bits of improvement in our lives. Maybe you used to stay mad for weeks, but now you only stay angry for a few days. Keep with it until those days shrink to hours... and hours to minutes... and minutes to seconds. When you reach the nanosecond and picosecond increments, let us know!  ☺

For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds, [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One)
2nd Corinthians 10:4-5 [AMP]

In our albums Non-Carnal Warfare and The Art of Fighting Without Fighting, we go indepth on this subject. We don’t fight the temptation to hold on to anger and unforgiveness through natural means. It is a spiritual condition that is battled via spiritual warfare. The weapons we use to win the battle are delineated in the following scriptures:

10In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provides].
11Put on God’s whole armor [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil.
12For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.
13Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place].
14Stand therefore [hold your ground], having tightened the belt of truth around your loins and having put on the breastplate of integrity and of moral rectitude and right standing with God,
15And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace.
16Lift up over all the [covering] shield of saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one].
17And take the helmet of salvation and the sword that the Spirit wields, which is the Word of God.
18Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints (God’s consecrated people).
Ephesians 6:10-18 [AMP]

But clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah), and make no provision for [indulging] the flesh [put a stop to thinking about the evil cravings of your physical nature] to [gratify its] desires (lusts).
Romans 13:14 [AMP]

The term “evil cravings of your physical nature” can also refer to the desire for revenge… the desire to have a pity party… the desire to wallow in your emotions. But putting on the Lord Jesus Christ (the Anointed One and His Anointing) gives us the ability to slough off unforgiveness, extinguish the pain of betrayal and annihilate the hurt and anger once and for all. Well, if it tries to do a Freddy Krueger and rise again to come after you, you can use that same spiritual armor to put it down as many times as is necessary. That is part of yielding to the Spirit (Who has the right of way).

Ultimately, what neutralizes the unforgiveness is the power of love. You are putting on the Son of God... and God is love (see 1 John 4:8 and 1 John 4:16).

The Love Solution
by Brotha DC

Again, giving credit where credit is due… we must thank Joyce Meyer for help in assembling the following:

And he replied, You must love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.
Luke 10:27 [AMP]

If you have ever seen the movie Ghost of Girlfriends Past, it is amusing to see one guy’s wedding destroyed because his bride-to-be refuses to forgive him for an infraction in his past. His bride flees the altar because she doesn’t want to forgive him.

What if she had messed up and wanted forgiveness? Well, in Hollywood logic, she would have excused herself and continued to hate on her man. But in God’s logic, we need to give to others what we would want to receive for ourselves. So, since we want to receive forgiveness, we must minister forgiveness to others.

I give you a new commandment: that you should love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too should love one another. By this shall all [men] know that you are My disciples, if you love one another [if you keep on showing love among yourselves].
John 13:34-35 [AMP]

To forgive is an act of love. Love is the new commandment. It not only reflects what Jesus did for us… but it is the only sure-fire method of showing people that Jesus is real. And sadly, there are too many atheists who are being fed by the failure of Christians to live up to that love commmandment.

You have heard that it was said to the men of old, You shall not kill, and whoever kills shall be liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the court. But I say to you that everyone who continues to be angry with his brother or harbors malice (enmity of heart) against him shall be liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the court; and whoever speaks contemptuously and insultingly to his brother shall be liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, You cursed fool! [You empty-headed idiot!] shall be liable to and unable to escape the hell (Gehenna) of fire. So if when you are offering your gift at the altar you there remember that your brother has any [grievance] against you, leave your gift at the altar and go. First make peace with your brother, and then come back and present your gift.
Matthew 5:21-24 [AMP]

Whoa! Now we are getting deep! The fruit of unforgiveness leads down a rocky path that can end in the fiery pits of hell. For those of you who want to keep your eternal fire insurance policy intact... keep this in mind!

And He said to all, If any person wills to come after Me, let him deny himself [disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself] and take up his cross daily and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also].
Luke 9:23 [AMP]

Jesus’ example is the one that we need to follow. And what did Jesus do? What did Jesus say?

And Jesus prayed, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
Luke 23:34a [AMP]

So then, how do we become children who grow up into the paradigm of Love set by our Father in heaven and our Lord Jesus? We need to make a few trips to the gym!

The Forgiveness Workout

♫ ♪  She ain’t heavy... she’s my lover!  ♪ ♫

Let us close with a bit more emphasis on the fact that forgiveness is something that takes constant effort... like the repetitions of a weight lifter... or the laps ran around the track... or the time spent on a cardio program...

And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude]
Ephesians 4:23 [AMP]

The word constantly is key.

This is not a one-time-good-deal. This is something one has to commit to for life. A hard beach body takes continual visits to the gym. Ha hard love spirit takes continual prayer, continual Bible study, continual fellowship with God.

And, like physical workouts, they have to be done correctly.

KEEP YOUR foot [give your mind to what you are doing] when you go [as Jacob to sacred Bethel] to the house of God. For to draw near to hear and obey is better than to give the sacrifice of fools [carelessly, irreverently] too ignorant to know that they are doing evil.
Ecclesiastes 5:1 [AMP]

Don’t worry.  Our tests are open-book tests.  And the book that we open is the BIBLE... Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.  And the number one instruction that Jesus gave us was to love.

It is kinda hard to be angry and love someone at the same time.  Love, as Larry Graham sang, covers a multitude of sin.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Mira… La Tormenta!

Mira... La Tormenta!
by Brotha DC

Or, for you gringos… look out, a storm is coming!

Of course, in most of the United States a major winter storm has wreaked havoc in the lives of millions of people -- causing traffic jams, airline cancellations, power outages and even deaths! But this blog is not about meteorolotical events. This is about those storms of life that test us. Sometimes, to our very core.

You might have a frightening medical diagnosis... or a bill that is beyond your current budget... or turmoil with your job or relationship.  Regardless of what is going on... you are being tested. 

God allows tests and trials into our lives in the same way that a coach has his players practice to the point of exhaustion. Or the way a platoon sergeant may have his troops march until they are ready to drop. It is not about being mean. Rather, it is to prepare them for greater challenges ahead.

I remember working out at a gym in Augusta Georgia with a great trainer. She would have me doing super-sets that had my arms so stiff and sore, I could barely bring a fork to my mouth to eat, or bring my hands up to the keyboard to write computer code.

Stinking of linament, I was asked why I paid money to let this woman do these things to me. But the eventual manifestations of strength and definition in my biceps, triceps and other muscles was well worth a few days of discomfort.

In like manner, the greater glory of God makes the things we suffer in life worthwhile.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:3-9 [AMP]

In fact, James (the half brother of Jesus) said that he could even glory in his trials.  How?  By the assurance that enduring those things will perfect and complete us.

2Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations.
3Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.
4But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing.
James 1:2-4 [AMP]

The tests and trials of life may cause us grief (1 Peter 1:6), but it will result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus returns (1 Peter 1:7). The things of this life are temporary. The kingdom of God, however, is eternal.

When facing a storm, think about this song written in 1905 by Charles A. Tindley… and rejoice in the fact that storms eventually pass over, and seasons always change.

O courage, my soul, and let us journey on,
For tho' the night is dark, it won't be very long.
O thanks be to God, the morning light appears,
And the storm is passing over, Hallelujah!

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
The storm is passing over,

O billows rolling high, and thunder shakes the ground,
The lightnings flash, and tempest all around,
But Jesus walks the sea and calms the angry waves,
And the storm is passing over, Hallelujah!

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
The storm is passing over,

The stars have disappeared, and distant lights are dim,
My soul is filled with fears, the seas are breaking in.
I hear the Master cry, "Be not afraid, 'tis I,"
And the storm is passing over, Hallelujah!

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
The storm is passing over,

Now soon we shall reach the distant shining shore,
Then free from all the storms, we'll rest forevermore.
And safe within the veil, we'll furl the riven sail,
And the storm will all be over, Hallelujah!

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
The storm is passing over,

Remember that all of God’s tests are open book tests.  Just open the B-I-B-L-E (Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth) and you will find the answers you need to pass any and every test that comes your way -- and to graduate to greater glory with Christ walking beside you and His Spirit indwelling you every step of the way!

Pop Quiz
by Brotha DC

This past week was a very difficult one for your Brotha DC. There were many challenges that I had to face in my employment, in my personal relationships, in my health, and even in my walk with God.

Of course, such challenges are not necessarily a new or unexpected thing. Quite the contrary, we know that as Christians we are tested by the circumstances of life. Quite often, the enemy will throw things at us -- the Bible calls these “fiery darts” in one translation… “flaming missiles” in the Amplified translation.

Lift up over all the [covering] shield of saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one].
Ephesians 6:16 [AMP]

These flaming missiles are weapons of mass destruction in the spiritual warfare that we all must face. The shield of faith is the weapon of choice as we read in the above scripture.

But, what happens when it feels as if your shield of faith it is failing? In the science fiction world of Star Trek, the space ships have something called shields.  These shields protect the ship from phasers, torpedoes, disruptors, and even hostile aliens attempting to beam aboard your ship without permission. Those shields however are not impenetrable.  Enough hostile fire can cause the shields to fail.  When that happens, one must either abandon ship or face certain doom.

As I had originally stated, I had faced quite a number of these challenges and yet I was determined to maintain my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. This evening, my friends and I gather together to study the fourth chapter of the book of Romans. This is a powerhouse passage on the subject of faith. It chronicles how Father Abraham pleased God through his faith. The reality is that none of us caned please God without the essential element of faith operating in our lives.

But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out].
Hebrews 11:6 [AMP]

What happens when it your faith is so severely challenged that you believe that it no longer exists?  What happens when you are bombarded so violently that your shields are at the point of collapse?  What happens when it seems that you no longer have faith?

That seemed to be the dilemma faced by a dear friend. He too was going through fiery trials. And while our shared experiences seem to evoke the popular saying that misery loves company, it was rather alarming to hear that my friend was struggling under a situation in which the heavens were like brass (see Deuteronomy 28:23).  He expressed an inability to communicate with God and felt as if perhaps God Himself was bombarding him.

The Spirit of God used this to remind me that my tests were just that... tests.  Pop quizzes.  And, they are open book tests.  When I begin to feel the way that my friend expressed, I rely upon my faith in the veracity of God’s holy word. 

I know that I am always quoting my friend Charlie Peacock... but he has a knack for putting things on paper... and then setting them to music... that has blessed me even when it seems that all hope is lost. Check out these lyrics from Charlie’s Coram Deo project:
Promises of mercy
Promises of love
Faithfully given to me
Every word from Your voice
Solid as a rock
None like the sand of the sea
I meditate on every word You’ve spoken
Great and precious promises never to be broken
Great and precious promises
All of them are true
Given in love by You...
Many are the promises that I rely upon when faced with one of life’s pop quizzes.  Read through the spiritual crib sheet below and allow your shield of faith grow... because faith comes by hearing the word of God:

For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.
Jeremiah 29:11 [AMP]

Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the Kingdom.
Luke 12:32 [AMP]

God is for you, He is not against you.  He is invested in seeing you succeed in the end.  He wants you to inherit the Kingdom.

Do not [earnestly] remember the former things; neither consider the things of old.
Isaiah 43:18 [AMP]

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]

Past defeats are just that... things of the past.  Leave them there and move forward.

You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.
Psalm 128:2 [AMP]

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]

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]

You may not see it now... but God promises it will be yours.

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]

Again... it all comes down to your attitude.  Are you going to have anxious thoughts?  Are you going to have evil forebodings?  Or, are you going to raise your shield of faith and rejoice that Jesus has worked it out and you will see it come to pass?

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]

King David in the Bible prayed the above prayer... and we know from the scriptures that God answered him big time!  Make this your prayer and expect to see God move through your circumstances. 

Rejoice not when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles or is overthrown, Lest the Lord see it and it be evil in His eyes and displease Him, and He turn away His wrath from him [to expend it upon you, the worse offender].
Proverbs 24:17-18 [AMP]

If someone did something to you, don’t sit around with an unforgiving attitude, praying that some calamity falls on him or her.  And if it does happen... don’t dance and laugh at their misfortune.  Pray the way that Jesus prayed: “Father, forgive them...”

Surely He has borne our griefs (sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses) and carried our sorrows and pains [of punishment], yet we [ignorantly] considered Him stricken, smitten, and afflicted by God [as if with leprosy]. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole.
Isaiah 53:4-5 [AMP]

I shall not die but live, and shall declare the works and recount the illustrious acts of the Lord.
Psalm 118:17 [AMP]

If the enemy has attacked your health, stand on God’s promises for healing.

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]

But no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment you shall show to be in the wrong. This [peace, righteousness, security, triumph over opposition] is the heritage of the servants of the Lord [those in whom the ideal Servant of the Lord is reproduced]; this is the righteousness or the vindication which they obtain from Me [this is that which I impart to them as their justification], says the Lord.
Isaiah 54:17 [AMP]

Jesus has won the victory... so then why have a sour and dour attitude?  You have power... USE IT!  These are promises that are active and alive and full of power.  Put them to work!

And therefore the Lord [earnestly] waits [expecting, looking, and longing] to be gracious to you; and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving-kindness to you. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are all those who [earnestly] wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him [for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship]!
Isaiah 30:18 [AMP]

That last scripture above puts the icing on the proverbial cake.  God is waiting to be gracious to you.  His will is to bless you.

Remember, life is a test.  We often find ourselves facing pop quizzes.  The key is that whether or not we pass is based largely on our attitude.

The children of Israel had an attitude check when they left slavery in Egypt for the promised land.

  • They saw God mightily deliver them from Pharaoh
  • They saw miracles along the way... including the parting of the Red Sea
  • They saw  the drowning of Pharaoh’s army
Yet, despite those and many other blessings, they rebelled after hearing a bad report about the land of promise.

As a result, the rebellious Israelites had to wander the wilderness for forty years and die in the desert... leaving the promised land to their offspring. That is why, thanks to Joyce Meyer, we find the following scripture so very important:

And you shall [earnestly] remember all the way which the Lord your God led you these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and to prove you, to know what was in your [mind and] heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.
Deuteronomy 8:2 [AMP]

God had the children of Israel spend forty years making what should have been an eleven day journey. Why? To humble them (in the face of their faithless rebellion) and to prove what is in their mind and heart -- to show whether or not they would keep the commandments of the Lord. Quite often, we spend a lot of time trying to get somewhere that others seem to reach without much time or effort. When we find our dreams deferred... it is important to do an attitude check and to see whether or not we are obeying God.

I recall a friend testifying in church years ago that he was glad that he was penniless because he would spend any money he might have had on liquor and loose women. But does that mean that Gods will is for us to be broke and penniless? No! God wants us to be blessed by having money, not to wind up with a hangover and a disease. Change your attitude and the blessings will follow.

Though the fig tree does not blossom and there is no fruit on the vines, [though] the product of the olive fails and the fields yield no food, though the flock is cut off from the fold and there are no cattle in the stalls, Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the [victorious] God of my salvation!
Habakkuk 3:17-18 [AMP]

This is the attitude of a victorious Christian.  Granted, you may not feel victorious with an empty fridge... an empty bank account... and an empty growling stomach.  Yet, if you have the right attitude, you will see the hand of God move as you seek His face.

I recall being a starving college student with no clue how I would afford a four-year degree.  For that matter, I couldn’t afford a decent meal.  I would spend hours walking around the neighborhoods surrounding the campus, looking for coins people dropped in the street.  I would spend hours collecting enough pennies to get a sandwich.  But during my greatest desperation, a mother from our church was inspired to cook for the young men in our dormitory.  A knock at the door and an unexpected blessing -- a hot home-cooked meal from a woman who surely has great treasure in heaven. 

As my spiritual father Dr. David Durham used to say, “When you run out... God runs in.”
It is all a matter of your attitude.

The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds' feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]! For the Chief Musician; with my stringed instruments.
Habakkuk 3:19 [AMP]

Thanks again to Mama Joyce for bringing these scriptures to our attention.  Those who put their complete trust in God have a Mighty Warrior watching their back.

God Hears the Prayers of His People

by JesusLover Judy

Hear my prayer, O God; listen to the words of my mouth. The moment I pray, You send an angel for my words, and Your answer is on its way to me.

I purpose with the help of the Holy Spirit that I will always have an excellent spirit, and remain in right standing with You.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Hear my prayer, O God;
       listen to the words of my mouth.
Psalm 54:2 [NIV]

1 In the third year of the reign of King Cyrus of Persia, a message was made plain to Daniel, whose Babylonian name was Belteshazzar. The message was true. It dealt with a big war. He understood the message, the understanding coming by revelation:
2-3 "During those days, I, Daniel, went into mourning over Jerusalem for three weeks. I ate only plain and simple food, no seasoning or meat or wine. I neither bathed nor shaved until the three weeks were up.
4-6 "On the twenty-fourth day of the first month I was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris. I looked up and to my surprise saw a man dressed in linen with a belt of pure gold around his waist. His body was hard and glistening, as if sculpted from a precious stone, his face radiant, his eyes bright and penetrating like torches, his arms and feet glistening like polished bronze, and his voice, deep and resonant, sounded like a huge choir of voices.
7-8 "I, Daniel, was the only one to see this. The men who were with me, although they didn't see it, were overcome with fear and ran off and hid, fearing the worst. Left alone after the appearance, abandoned by my friends, I went weak in the knees, the blood drained from my face.
9-10 "I heard his voice. At the sound of it I fainted, fell flat on the ground, face in the dirt. A hand touched me and pulled me to my hands and knees.
11 "'Daniel,' he said, 'man of quality, listen carefully to my message. And get up on your feet. Stand at attention. I've been sent to bring you news.'
     "When he had said this, I stood up, but I was still shaking.
12-14 "'Relax, Daniel,' he continued, 'don't be afraid. From the moment you decided to humble yourself to receive understanding, your prayer was heard, and I set out to come to you. But I was waylaid by the angel-prince of the kingdom of Persia and was delayed for a good three weeks. But then Michael, one of the chief angel-princes, intervened to help me. I left him there with the prince of the kingdom of Persia. And now I'm here to help you understand what will eventually happen to your people. The vision has to do with what's ahead.'
Daniel 10:1-14 [MESSAGE]

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my [firm, impenetrable] Rock and my Redeemer.
Psalm 19:14 [AMP]

Guide me in Your truth and faithfulness and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You do I wait all the day long.

Overcoming Doubt and Unbelief
by JesusLover Judy

Father, I believe Your Word, and ask You to remove any unbelief or doubt concerning the integrity of Your promises. In the name of Jesus, I renounce the world’s allurements that attempt to pull me into sin—they are ineffective in my life. Your Word is my standard and because I am a doer of Your Word, I will not be deceived. The fresh Manna of Your Word keeps me on target with Your plans, Lord. My steadfast confidence is in You, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

12[Therefore beware] brethren, take care, lest there be in any one of you a wicked, unbelieving heart [which refuses to cleave to, trust in, and rely on Him], leading y to turn away and desert or stand aloof from the living God.
13But instead warn (admonish, urge, and encourage) one another every day, as long as it is called Today, that none of you may be hardened [into settled rebellion] by the deceitfulness of sin [by the fraudulence, the stratagem, the trickery which the delusive glamor of his sin may play on him].
14For we [a]have become fellows with Christ (the Messiah) and share in all He has for us, if only we hold our first newborn confidence and original assured expectation [in virtue of which we are believers] firm and unshaken to the end.
15Then while it is [still] called Today, if you would hear His voice and when you hear it, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion [in the desert, when the people provoked and irritated and embittered God against them].
16For who were they who heard and yet were rebellious and provoked [Him]? Was it not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses?
17And with whom was He irritated and provoked and grieved for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose dismembered bodies were strewn and left in the desert?
18And to whom did He swear that they should not enter His rest, but to those who disobeyed [who had not listened to His word and who refused to be compliant or be persuaded]?
19So we see that they were not able to enter [into His rest], because of their unwillingness to adhere to and trust in and rely on God [unbelief had shut them out].
Hebrews 3:12-19 [AMP]

"If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you."

Prayer of Affirmation

by JesusLover Judy

Father, I thank You for helping me as I enlarge the place of my tent and strengthen my stakes. In You there is hope for despair. In You there is stability for turmoil. In You there is prosperity for poverty. In You there is health and healing for sickness. In You there is peace for conflict, whether it is in a relationship, in my home, or in my land. In You, Lord Jesus, is well-being for every area of life!

Hallelujah! Thank You Holy Spirit for divinely orchestrating every aspect of my life! Jesus is Lord over my spirit, soul and body, and over my relationships. Amen.

2  “Enlarge the place of your tent,
       stretch your tent curtains wide,
       do not hold back;
       lengthen your cords,
       strengthen your stakes.
3  For you will spread out to the right and to the left;
       your descendants will dispossess nations
       and settle in their desolate cities.
Isaiah 54:2-3 [NIV]

Guide me in Your truth and faithfulness and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You do I wait all the day long.

A Healing Prayer

by JesusLover Judy

Jesus was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.

Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered Him stricken by God, smitten by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed. I receive divine healing for my spirit, soul and body in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 3 He was despised and rejected by men,
       a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
       Like one from whom men hide their faces
       he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
 4 Surely he took up our infirmities
       and carried our sorrows,
       yet we considered him stricken by God,
       smitten by him, and afflicted.
 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
       he was crushed for our iniquities;
       the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
       and by his wounds we are healed.
Isaiah 53:3-5 [NIV]

“I am the Lord that heals you”

“He sent His Word and healed them. And He saved them from the grave”
Psalm 107:20 (NLV)