Thursday, February 14, 2019

The Prayer Acronym Named "ACTS"

AAdoration - Give God praise and honor for who He is, what He's done, and what He continues to do in our lives.  (I've also seen this letter listed as "Acknowledge")

CConfession - We will continue to fall short of His holiness and should confess our sins to Him with a sincere heart of repentance.

TThanksgiving - Telling God what we're grateful for and giving Him thanks for his goodness, kindness, mercy, grace, etc.

SSupplication - Bringing our requests to God for the needs of others and ourselves.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

"The Law & The Prophets" and "The Great Commandment"

Half of the original 10 commandments identify ways you can fail at loving God, and the other half identify ways you can fail at loving people (failing to honor God is deeply connected to failing to honor people).  This helps bring new and expanded meaning to the "great commandment" that Jesus spoke of in the New Testament (Matt 22:37-40 and Mark 12:29-33).  It's a combination of the two main themes of the original 10 commandments.

The great commandment is "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

What does Jesus mean by "On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets"?

If people obey the great commandment, they'll automatically be obeying all 613 laws (and prophets) from the old testament.  Jesus came to fulfill the law and show us by example how we should live (so that we too can fulfill the law).  The one who loves fulfills the law (Romans 13:8).

Friday, February 8, 2019

Growing & Using Our Faith

I heard the Holy Spirit tell me this today: "Faith comes by hearing (Romans 10:17).  If you're not speaking My Word, you won't hear My Word, and you'll lose your faith.  And when you're faith goes, your hope goes. (Hebrews 11:1)"
 
Faith is like the manna that the Israelites received from God in the desert.  They couldn't store it up.  They only had each day to collect and use it, and there was only enough for each day; they had to wait until the next morning for fresh manna.  Faith is a lot like that manna; we can't store it up (not in the way that you would think).  No matter how many weeks, months, or even years that we've been building our faith, it fades fast if we stop building it.  We have to fill ourselves every day in order to stay strong in The Lord.  And that's a good thing, because it continues to keep us grounded in Him (our ultimate source).



Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Strategies/Techniques To Win The Battle Against Stress


2 Corinthians 10:3-5
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;  (Any thought that doesn't line up with the Word of God, don't let it have a place in your heart or mind, and especially don't speak it)

Proverbs 18:20-21
A man's belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; and with the increase of his lips shall he be filled. Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.  (Speak ONLY life)

Proverbs 3:5-6
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.  (No matter how it feels, no matter how impossible the circumstances might seem, trust in HIM and refuse to let your mind ponder it in the natural)

Phillippians 4:4-9
Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.  (Even if you "feel" afraid, refuse to let yourself worry.  Meditate ONLY on victorious thoughts and expect God's peace to wash over you)

1 Peter 5:5-11
Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.  (You're not the only one who's struggling.  The same struggles you're going through, other believers are going through and have gone through the same struggles; you're not alone.  Keep yourself in a continual state of humility, continue to release your concerns to Jesus, and continue to trust in Him)

Matthew 11:28-30
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.  (Stay grounded in Jesus.  He IS the anointing, and He wants His anointing to rest upon His children)

Read Joshua 1.  In this account of history, Moses was now dead, and Joshua was expected to take over the ministry (a congregation of 3 million people!).  Joshua knew of all the miracles that God did through Moses (a mighty man of God).  Now the church was basically like "OK, show us what ya got".  He was likely under immense stress at the thought of taking over the leadership of so many people.  God tells him 3 times to "be strong and of good courage", and at the end of chapter 1, and even the men in Joshua's army said they would "only be strong and of good courage".  God KNEW Joshua was scared, but He needed him to be strong, to trust in Him and to do what He said.

Joshua 1
Now after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord it came to pass, that the Lord spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' minister, saying, Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper withersoever thou goest. 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. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, Pass through the host, and command the people, saying, Prepare you victuals; for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land, which the Lord your God giveth you to possess it. And to the Reubenites, and to the Gadites, and to half the tribe of Manasseh, spake Joshua, saying, Remember the word which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, saying, The Lord your God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land. Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle, shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this side Jordan; but ye shall pass before your brethren armed, all the mighty men of valour, and help them; Until the Lord have given your brethren rest, as he hath given you, and they also have possessed the land which the Lord your God giveth them: then ye shall return unto the land of your possession, and enjoy it, which Moses the Lord's servant gave you on this side Jordan toward the sunrising. And they answered Joshua, saying, All that thou commandest us we will do, and whithersoever thou sendest us, we will go. According as we hearkened unto Moses in all things, so will we hearken unto thee: only the Lord thy God be with thee, as he was with Moses. Whosoever he be that doth rebel against thy commandment, and will not hearken unto thy words in all that thou commandest him, he shall be put to death: only be strong and of a good courage.

Monday, September 10, 2018

"Prayer Works Like A 'W'" (by Bill Winston)

Just heard this today during a sermon from Bill Winston.

\/\/

God initiates it, but He puts it through the Holy Ghost in your heart  \

You respond and pray (according to His will) - when you pray, it goes back up to God  /

Once it goes back to Him, He answers the prayer

God dispatches resources on your behalf in response to your prayer  \

Once you receive what you prayed for, you give praise to God  /


This is by no means meant to simplify the prayer walk, but it is an interesting way to hear it explained.

One reason I give the disclaimer above is because many Christians know and understand that our praise often times needs to be lifted up to God before we receive the answer to our prayers.  Again, it was still an interesting reference using the letter W :).

Angels On Your Side

(a re-post of an article many years ago from kcm.org)

"Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" (Hebrews 1:14)

Most of us heard about our guardian angel when we were just children. And, in those days, it was a comforting thought. With monsters lurking behind the closet door and creepy things crawling beneath the bed, it was good to know that someone was there to protect us when the light was out.

But, as the years passed, we left behind our childhood fears. The imaginary creatures that had once seemed so real disappeared from our minds. And sadly enough, for most of us, the angels did too.

Now it's time to set the record straight.

Angels are not just kid stuff. They're not little fat babies with long blond hair and bows and arrows in their hands. The Bible does not refer to these mighty beings as female. They are referred to as great and mighty in strength and ability.

Forget those pictures you saw on most Sunday school walls! Angels are big and strong. They are our protectors and our warriors. They are very real and VERY powerful. And, if you are a believer, they are a vital part of your life.

In fact, according to Hebrews 1:14, angels are "all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation."

Before you can really appreciate what that means to you, you need to realize that the word "salvation" in that scripture does not refer simply to the eternal, go-to-heaven-when-you-die, new-birth kind of salvation.

The Greek word translated salvation there is "soteria." And if you'll look up the word soteria, you'll find it "denotes deliverance, preservation of material, and temporal deliverance." Real biblical salvation not only includes eternal protection, but also it includes protection from all the material dangers of life right here on this earth.

Now, with that in mind, read Hebrews 1:14 again. "Are they [the angels] not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?"

Just think about that. God has created vast numbers of gloriously powerful spiritual beings for the express purpose of protecting us and delivering us from the evils of this world—from everything from hurricanes to plane crashes, from gang violence to diseases.

We see examples of what angels can do all through the Bible. When the children of Israel were fleeing from Egypt with Pharaoh's army hot on their heels, the Bible tells us that suddenly the wheels on the Egyptians' chariots just quit rolling!

Who do you think was the cause of that? Angels, of course!

And they haven't retired since then either. Angels are at work today just like they've always been.

Several years ago in one of Israel's major wars, the enemy had their guns trained on Israeli compounds. Those guns were the finest military equipment money could buy. They had a range of at least 20 miles and were equipped with electronic gun sights for accuracy.

But something very odd happened. Every time they fired those guns at the Israelis, they missed their targets, in some cases, at almost point blank range. We know there was nothing wrong with the guns because later the Israelis captured them and fired them back at the enemy with perfect success.

What happened? Angels, that's what! In another instance, an Israeli patrol composed of just a handful of men captured 600 motorized infantrymen and all of their tanks.

Why would any modern-day army surrender to such a small patrol? Because they said they heard a massive army approaching. They thought they were outnumbered!

What did they actually hear? They heard angels.

My friend, these are not fairy tales. They're real-life examples of the involvement of angels in the lives of God's people today. And, if you're a child of God, if you're an heir of salvation, then you have a right to expect those angels to minister such deliverance for you.

But if you want to make sure you'll receive their ministry when you need it, you'd better start exercising your faith and getting your words and your actions in line with God's Word.

Why? Because, according to Psalm 103:20, His Word is what sets the angels in motion: "Bless the Lord, ye His angels, that excel in strength, that do His commandments, hearkening unto the voice of His Word."

When you're in trouble, don't speak about how awful things are. Speak the Word. Give your angel something to respond to!

Say, "I am an heir of salvation. I am an heir of preservation and deliverance. The angels are ministering spirits sent forth to minister that deliverance for me. And Mr. Angel, in the Name of Jesus, that's exactly what I believe you will do."

Once you've spoken that word of faith, stand fast. Don't waver. Give the angels time to work! They're real beings, and you've given them a real job to do.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Healing for the Hurt

(a letter that I wrote to my cousin in response to some struggles he expressed)

Don't feel bad opening up about this.  We're human and we're going to have times where we struggle with our thoughts and feelings and don't really know exactly how to deal with them.  If you can't talk to a loved one you trust, who CAN you talk to.  We all need someone we can relate to who can empathize with our struggles (without judgment).  And you're right; we have to have the mind of Christ and be filled with His love so we can forgive - otherwise the bitterness and resentment can eat us up (that's why I had that stint back in the late 2000's where I started getting so much grey hair; I was carrying a lot of resentment and bitterness inside and it was literally eating me alive).

As much as we want to be Christ-like, I really believe that the majority of us believers are not even close to being "good Christians" unfortunately.  I know that we have the ability to measure up to the high standard that Jesus came and demonstrated for the world, but it takes a level of sacrifice that most of us aren't willing to sacrifice :(... I've been a Christian for 27 years, and there was only ONE time in that span of time where I fully surrendered and started to see what it really means to be a Christian... And it started to fade as soon as I went back to work.  It's really challenging to "press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:14)  Again, it's not impossible, but unless you're a full-time pastor or evangelist, it's often times a battle to press toward that mark while you're immersed in the world (which is where most of us Christians are when we're spending a large portion of our time in the workplace).

I think one of the most important things we can do is to realize that we can't do it in our own power.  We need God, and we can't give up.  We have to keep doing what we know is right, and what the Spirit leads us to do (digging in to the Word, spending time alone with God, renewing our minds and hearts, etc).

So many people have wronged and hurt us, and they don't deserve our love or forgiveness.  And the world didn't deserve God's love or forgiveness, but He freely gave it anyway.  So we have to love the unlovable, and we have to forgive the unforgivable.  And often times, not for THEM, but for US.  Us choosing to do what Christ did changes OUR hearts.  And God willing, the people in our lives who don't deserve it will hopefully see something in us that is different from what's seen in the rest of the world (Christ in us, the hope of glory - Colossians 1:27).

Sorry man, I always seem to transition from an encouraging chat to a sermon, lol.  You know what though?  It's often times the Holy Spirit talking directly to me while also talking to the person I'm sharing with. I need this sermon just as much as you might need it!  I even have times where I'll re-read an email that I sent to someone because God used it to encourage and build MY faith.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Standing In Faith

(a letter that I wrote to my dad)

Hey dad, before we talk again today or this week, I wanted to say some things that are on my heart.

There are at least 110 places in the bible where we're told to "fear not" (essentially, "do not be afraid").  I believe that one of the main reasons we're told to "fear not" is because fear is toxic.  After all, the opposite of "faith" is "fear".  But I believe another main reason we're instructed to not be afraid is because fear blocks the blessings of God.

When God created us, He created us in His image and His likeness, and He also gave us authority.  We're to be like Him; operating in the same way that He operates (Genesis 1:26-28).

Along with that, "we've been given the mind of Christ", and "we've not been given a spirit of fear, but a spirit of love, power and of a sound mind" (1 Corinthians 2:16 and 2 Timothy 1:7).

There's an example in Mark 5 and in Luke 8.  The gist of the story is that there was a church leader whose young daughter was on her death bed, and then she died.  But despite the fact that the little girl was dead in the natural realm, Jesus told the church leader "fear not; believe only, and she shall be made whole".  As children of God, we have to renew our minds to the fact that the spirit realm is actually more real than the natural realm that we see and feel.  And everything that exists in the natural realm is first birthed in the spirit realm.

Jesus told the leader to not be afraid because he knew that fear in the man's heart would block the blessing.  Notice also that Jesus instructed him to "believe only".  You can imagine how hard it would be to only trust in God and His perfect will if your own child was dead, but that's exactly what Jesus told the man to do.

Bad things happen to "good" people all the time, but that doesn't mean that God is ever bad.  We live in a fallen world, and bad things are going to happen.  But how we choose to respond to those bad things is what determines the final outcome in our lives.

God's will is always to prosper us.  God speaks directly to us in Jeremiah 29:11 when He says "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you," saith the Lord, "thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end".  God's will is that we would prosper in all our ways.  And the bible has a lot to say about it (https://www.trusting-in-jesus.com/Prosperity-Scriptures.html)

This reminds me of the number of times I've heard people say "God is in control".  Every time something good happens, you always hear people say "Praise God!".  But every time something bad happens, it's all to common to hear those same people speak a somber "well... God is in control.... I guess we just have to trust that He knows what He's doing".

But despite what a lot of people think, God is not in control.  If that were true, the world would not be so chaotic and filled with evil.  God was not in control when Adam and Eve were living in the garden thousands of years ago, and God is not in control today.  We are in control, and we can choose to seek God and allow His Holy Spirit to work in us and through us, or we can choose to exclusively take control ourselves.  That's exactly what Adam and Eve did when they ate the forbidden fruit.  There were commanded by God to NOT eat the fruit of that tree.  They were supposed to trust in Him and obey Him.  But despite the fact that, in their hearts, they knew better, they still chose to be disobedient and go against what God told them not to do.  And that one act of disobedience is what ushered in sin and death, and it's been at work in this world ever since.

But glory be to God!  Jesus came to die in our place, and He died and rose again to conquer sin and death.  His victory becomes our victory when we choose to believe in Him, and obey what He leads us to say and do in every waking moment of our lives.  Christ came to demonstrate to us how God desires us to live.  And Jesus was the perfect example of who we can be if we'll fully surrender ourselves to the leading of God and His Holy Spirit in our lives.  Here are three examples where Jesus showed us by example how we should live (like He did):
John 5:19, John 8:28 and John 12:48-50.

Remember the story of Job?  He was an extremely successful, blessed, prosperous man.  But he lost everything when satan attacked him.  And despite the fact that his entire family and friends wouldn't support him and actually turned their backs on him, he never stopped believing that God is good.  And he was eventually restored by God to an even greater place and status than he was at before the attack that had previously nearly destroyed him.

Every time something bad happens in our lives, we have a choice; we can either submit to it and ultimately let the enemy defeat us, or we can "fight the good fight of faith" (1 Timothy 6:12) and "overcome through Christ" (Philippians 4:13  and Revelation 12:11).

In Deuteronomy 30:19, we're told to "choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live".  Every time the enemy attacks us, we can either fall into a victim mentality and start being afraid of a bunch of things that haven't even happened, or we can do what Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to do: "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.", and what James 4:7 tells us to do: "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you".

This is the way we should think and act at all times: 
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:  "Rejoice evermore.  Pray without ceasing.  In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."

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."

My ultimate desire is to walk in God's ways and to please Him.  And in order to do that, I have to live by faith. There are four different passages in the bible that say "The just shall live by faith".  As "believers", we're not supposed to "try to be good people" or "do our best in our own power" or "go to church once per week and put something in the offering plate".  We're commanded to LIVE by faith.  That means that we're supposed to always be striving to live this life the way that God intends it to be lived.  We may not always understand or know exactly what He's doing, but we're never supposed to stop trusting in Him, and we should always be diligently seeking Him.

Hebrews 11:6 tells us "...without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him."


I could go on and on right now, so I'll leave you with that for now :).

One of the primary reasons I'm sharing all of this with you is because I want to prep your mind and heart for our next voice-to-voice conversations this week.

Last scripture/thought:  We're not supposed to be like the world.  We're supposed to look different, and operate on a higher level.  And the only way we can do that is by not leaning unto our own understanding, but instead "being transformed by the renewing of our minds so we can know and live in the pleasing and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Romans 12:2).