Monday, February 3, 2020

Matthew & Levi: The Same Guy!

I read in the book of Matthew where the tax collector that Jesus told to come "follow Me" was called "Matthew", but in the book of Mark, the same guy was referred to as "Levi".

I wondered, "Why does he have two different names?".

Matthew is the Greek name and Levi was the Hebrew name. As a tax collector, Matthew worked for Greek-speaking Romans. He gathered taxes from Hebrew-speaking Jews. We see, as an example, Peter also being called Simon (Matt. 16:16).

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Jesus is NOT Limited

Matthew 13:57-58
Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house." And He did not do many might works there because of their unbelief.

I always used to think that there were people there who wanted to be healed, but they just didn't have enough faith to receive it (which kinda blows my mind as I even write it now)... I guess I kinda thought, "Well, Jesus couldn't do that many miracles there because the majority of the people didn't have enough faith"

But I'm starting to think that it's more like, "Jesus knew that the people were offended with Him because of His wisdom and miracles, so He didn't waste His time on them because the miracles that He already performed didn't matter to them; they were absolutely faithless.  The few people who He did heal were the only handful of people who actually respected His authority and had true faith to receive it; so He freely gave to them."

Diligently Seek Him

Two verses in Matthew 13 really stuck out at me!

The Parable of the Hidden Treasure
44 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid. And with joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field."

The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price
45-46 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it."

We have God's Word via the bible and via His Holy Spirit, and we have a relationship with the Father through the Son.  These are the greatest treasures, and they are freely available to us.

Just like the man with the field and the man with the pearl, we should be sacrificing everything for the treasure that we have, because nothing is worth more.

I have a feeling that if we would truly put His Word and our relationship with Him above everything else (even if for a time), we would get to a point where our desire for other things would automatically fade away because we would be consumed by HIS desires (which will produce fruit in every area of our lives).

Let's keep digging in and watch what God does!

Thursday, January 2, 2020

The "Word of Faith"

As I spent time to get into God's Word today, verses started to come to my mind and I quickly started writing them down.

It's amazing at how simple God's truth is, and how easily we can screw it up and miss the mark.

Ultimately, if we don't put God first, and be the living sacrifices He called us to be, we won't have peace and we won't prosper (not even close to the degree that He wants us to be prosperous).

Hebrews 11:6 - Without faith it is impossible to please God, for he that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.

Isaiah 7:9 - If you are not firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.

Romans 10:17 - Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.

Romans 12:2-3 - ...do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed and progressively changed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, which is good and acceptable and perfect. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God has dealt to every man the measure of faith.

Matthew 6:33 - Seek first His kingdom (diligently putting His will and plans above everything else) and His righteousness (His way of being and doing), and all your needs will be met.

Proverbs 14:12 & 16:25 - Before every man lies a wide and pleasant looking road that looks harmless and appears to be "right", but it leads to spiritual and physical death. It may "feel good" for a short time, but it only ends in heartbreak.

Bottom line:  I've got to set aside the things of the world (at least for a period of time) and redeem my time for Him and HIS purpose(s) (and I need to be careful about what I let back in to my life so it doesn't lead me astray or try to elevate itself above Him).

I know it's a simple revelation, but I'm very aware of the fact that, when I'm struggling, I need to seek Him.  But when I'm doing well, I need to seek Him even more.  Seeking Him in the good times will prepare me for when the bad times come.

Psalm 1:1-3 - Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

Joshua 1:8 - This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

Proverbs 3:1-8 - My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.

Proverbs 4:20-23 - My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Why is it Better to Give than to Receive?

Acts 20:35 - I have shewed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Notice, it's not bad to give OR receive, but I think God focuses on the giving part more than the receiving part because He wants us to be like Him.  Jesus said that He came not to be served, but to serve (Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:45, John 13:1-17 - "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.")

When we give to/serve others, we become more and more like Jesus because our view of people and the world changes; our hearts change.

And, God says that He meets all our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19 - But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.)

I can't help but think that, if every member of the body of Christ focused on serving others, all their needs would automatically be met because it's a product of serving.

What do you think? :)

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Just Believe!

Mark 11:22-2522 Jesus answered, “Have faith in God. 23 The truth is, you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, mountain, fall into the sea.’ And if you have no doubts in your mind and believe that what you say will happen, then God will do it for you. 24 So I tell you to ask for what you want in prayer. And if you believe that you have received those things, then they will be yours. 25 When you are praying and you remember that you are angry with another person about something, forgive that person. Forgive them so that your Father in heaven will also forgive your sins.”

One of the things that makes Jesus' teaching here so powerful is this:  "Receiving" is not based on "seeing" or "feeling"; it's based on BELIEVING.  If it was based on seeing or feeling, then Jesus wouldn't need to tell us what He says in these verses.  He's trying to get across that we have to be so convinced in our hearts that we've received (that His promises are true) that it doesn't matter what the circumstances say or indicate.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Spiritual Food 001

(I'm calling this "Spiritual Food 001" because sometimes there are things I write that I don't know how to categorize due to the variety of content. Anytime I have more posts like this, I'll use this same naming convention)

(this was a letter that I wrote to my dad to encourage and lift him up in God's truth)

Just before Moses' death, God gave him some last words to write down for the future generations.  He says in Deuteronomy 30:19-20 - "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them."

Notice that God basically tells him "There will be many times in your life where you're going to have to make a choice: Life or Death.  CHOOSE LIFE!"

I know that might seem obvious, but I think a lot of Christians miss the significance of this (I've sure missed it more than once in my own life!).

Take the example of when God was leading His people into the promised land (Numbers 13).  When they finally reached the promised land, it wasn't sitting there on a silver platter for them.  They were going to have to "possess" it.  BUT, the land was already inhabited by giants.  Moses sent out 12 spies to survey the new land that was waiting for them.  When the spies came back to the camp to give their report of what they had found, God's Word says that their report was "evil".

10 of the 12 spies basically said "The land indeed is rich with resources, but it's inhabited by strong people and giants, and the walls are large and tall. We are not able to go against these people. They are too strong for us. We feel like grasshoppers in the sight of these people".

But Caleb and Joshua said "Let us go up at once and possess it, for we are well able to take it in battle!".

I wanna point out something very important:  The "evil report" that was given by the 10 spies was pointing out the truth of the circumstances.  The land WAS filled with strong people and giants, and the likelihood of them taking the land in their own power was slim.  And they probably thought that Caleb and Joshua were nuts (as most people in that circumstance would've thought).

But Caleb and Joshua were speaking/acting in faith.  The reason that Caleb and Joshua believed that they could possess the land is because they believed in their God; the God that they had seen deliver them time and time again in past impossible situations.

Whenever I hear people say things like "The doctor said there's no cure!", it's really hard for me to listen to because it's not how our minds have been reprogrammed to think (and it's not how God wants us to think).

The bible says that when we accept Jesus as our savior, we become a new creation and that all our old traits have passed away and all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17).  The bible also says that we're not supposed to be conformed to this world, but we're to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2).

God says that He created us in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:26).  That means that we're supposed to succeed in this life by following His example.  Romans 4:17 says that God "calls those things which do not exist as though they did".  And Jesus told us that we're to speak to the circumstances in our life that don't line up with His will.  He not only gives us an example with a fig tree in Matthew 21:18-22, but he also uses the analogy of a mountain in the same chapter.

The sickness that has come against your body is not God's will.  It's a mountain that can be (and should be) chopped down with words (God's Words).

When satan tried to tempt Jesus, he spoke to Him with lies and perverted truths. And every time he did, Jesus responded by saying "It is written!...".  Jesus defeated the devil with WORDS! (God's Words)

There are more verses in the bible than I would have time or space to reference in this email, but I'd like to list a couple that directly tie in with what I'm talking about (and these are to be spoken as declarations over ourselves):

Romans 8:28:  "Father, Your Word says in Romans 8:28 that all things work together for good for those who love You and are called according to Your perfect purpose.  That's ME!"
Jeremiah 29:11:  "Lord, Your Word says in Jeremiah 29:11 that You know the thoughts that You think towards me. Thoughts of peace and good, and not of evil, and that You desire to give me a future filled with hope."

Have you ever heard of "The finished works of Jesus"?  The last words Jesus spoke before He gave His Spirit into The Father's hands were "It is finished!".  His declaration means that our healing, deliverance, prosperity, victory, joy, peace and everything else that His Will desires for us to have is already finished and ready for us to claim.  We're not waiting for God to heal you, He's waiting on you to receive it.  Healing is received in the same way that our salvation is received.  We believe that God's Word is true and we receive it.

Revelation 13 tells us that Jesus was "slain from the foundation of the world".  So God provided everything we would need before we were ever born (our healing for example).  1 Peter 2:24 says "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness; by Whose stripes you were healed".  Before we were even born, Jesus paid for our healing!

When we "get saved", there's no magic token or anything that we can show people that says "Look, I'm saved!".  The only "evidence" of our salvation is our "faith" (Hebrews 11:1 says "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.")

Some people can receive their healing by faith and see it manifest immediately.  But others don't always see it the moment after they believe and confess it.  That's when it's critically important for us to not say or do something that is contrary to the truth of God's Word that we believed and confessed (because Proverbs 18:21 tells us that "Death and life are in the power of the tongue" - we can speak death by agreeing with the lie of the enemy, or we can speak life by agreeing with the truth of God's Word).

As long as we live in this world, we're going to have times when the devil will attack us.  BUT, we can overcome him every time if we stand in faith and exercise the authority that Jesus died and rose again to freely give us.

In John 10:10, Jesus gives us a contrast/comparison of satan's plan vs God's plan:  "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."

Jesus tells us in Luke 10:19, "Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you."

We have to act in faith and stand in faith (Ephesians 6:13-17 says "Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God").

I could go on and on, so I'll stop and let you digest all of that, lol.

Bottomline: I love you more than I could ever say in words, and I desire for you the same thing that Jesus desires for you (3 John 1:2 - Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers).

I love you Dad, and I pray that my words will bless you and refresh your mind to His truth.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

"Man shall not live by bread alone..."

Matthew 4:4 - Jesus answered him, “The Scriptures say, ‘It is not just bread that keeps people alive. Their lives depend on what God says.’” (“It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ [Deut. 8:3]”)

This is what I'm hearing the Holy Spirit say about this verse:  It would be far greater for us to be spiritually fully mature but yet physically starve to death than it would be for us to be physically sustained but spiritually dead.

We desperately need to stay immersed in His Word and let it renew our minds so we can be transformed into the perfect image of His Son (2 Corinthians 3:18, Philippians 3:20-21, Romans 8:29, Romans 12:1-5).