The importance of our learning God’s ways and applying His principles in our everyday lives…

We’re going to start by looking at the Sermon on the Mount (in Matthew chapters 5-7), of which it has been said that it is the “Constitution for the Kingdom of Heaven”….

And next we’re going to learn the importance of our daily walking in the Shalom-peace of God, by doing what the above picture represents, and that is taking the time to pause, in between all the noise and distractions of life, and there to be still, in order to listen to what God is saying to us.

The Sermon on the Mount

It is no accident that the Sermon on the Mount is placed near the beginning of the NT.

Its position indicates its importance.

In it the King (Jesus) summarizes the character and conduct expected of His subjects.

This sermon is not a presentation of the plan of salvation; nor is its teaching intended for unsaved people.

It was addressed to the disciples (5:1-2) and was intended to be the constitution, or the system of laws and principles, which was to govern the King’s subjects during His reign.

It was meant for all—past, present, or future—who acknowledge Christ as King.

When Christ was on earth, it had direct application to His disciples.

Now, while our Lord reigns in heaven, it applies to all who crown Him King in their hearts.

Finally, it will be the code of behavior for Christ’s followers during the tribulation and during His reign on earth.

The Sermon has a distinct Jewish flavor, as seen in allusions to the council (i.e., the Sanhedrin) in 5:22, the altar (5:23, 24), and Jerusalem (5:35).

Yet it would be wrong to say that its teaching is exclusively for believing Israelites in the past or future; it is for those of every age who acknowledge Jesus Christ as King.

In Matthew 6:34, Jesus makes the point that planning for tomorrow is time well spent; whereas, worrying about tomorrow is time wasted.

However sometimes it’s difficult to tell the difference.

Proverbs 16:9 (AMP) tells us that,

“A man’s mind plans his way [as he journeys through life], But the LORD directs his steps and establishes them.”

For every Born Again Covenant child of God, our careful planning is when we’re thinking ahead about goals, steps, and schedules, and then trusting in God’s guidance along the way.

Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to,

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

When done well, planning can help alleviate worry.

Worriers, by contrast, are consumed by fear and find it difficult to trust God.

They let their plans interfere with their relationship with God.

The key is that, as God’s Covenant children, we must learn to be anxious for nothing (Php 4:6); and not to let the worries about tomorrow affect our relationship with God today.

In Matthew 6:25-34, we find the word worry or worrying mentioned six times.

The word “Therefore” at the beginning of 6:25 is important in helping us understand the relationship between a kingdom servant and the king.

In 6:19-24, the king expounded on His demand for unreserved devotion.

Beginning in 6:25, Jesus began to say,

“Now, when you enter into this kind of total commitment to Me, “I AM that I AM” is going to take care of you, so “Do not worry.”

Our commitment to Jesus and His commitment to us go hand in hand.

They are part of the covenant relationship He has established with His people.

The person who is totally committed to the King has no need for worry.

This entire passage focuses almost exclusively on God’s provision of (and our anxiety over) food and clothing.

However, we must see these two items as simply two concrete examples used to teach a broader principle.

We could just as easily insert any other basic need (shelter, a community of belonging, and so on) that can be a source of anxiety, which is also provided by the Father, and this principle applies equally in each of those other areas.

It is because of the ill effects of worrying, that Jesus tells us NOT to worry about the needs that God promises to supply.

Worrying may,

(1) Damage your health,

(2) Disrupt your productivity,

(3) Negatively affect the way you treat others,

(4) Rob your day of joy, and

(5) Reduce your ability to trust in God.

Just how many ill effects of worry are you experiencing?

Here is the difference between worry and genuine concern:

Worry (or fear) immobilizes you, like a deer in the headlamps, or it will cause you to run in the opposite direction; whereas God teaches us to face our fears (see 2 Tim 1:7), with the wisdom and power that He gives to us and thereby overcome them.

The subject of the devotion below about the importance of our being “Fully Present,” reminds me of another book I read a while back, “The Sacrament of the Present Moment,” written by an 18th century French author/priest, named Jean Pierre de Caussade (1675-1751).

In the Introduction to that book, which was written by Richard Foster, he quotes brother Caussade,

“God speaks to every individual through what happens to them moment-by-moment”

He goes on to say that, “Cutting through the maze of religious obligations that so often encrust the gospel, he declared,

“There remains one single duty. It is to keep one’s gaze fixed on the Master one has chosen and to be constantly listening so as to understand and hear and immediately obey His will.”

This brings me to another point, and that is I believe that God’s intention has always been to have 24/7 365 – unending fellowship and communion with His Covenant children.

And in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, we are instructed to” pray without ceasing.”

Prayer is a two way conversation between us and God, and mostly it’s our listening to Him, indicating that God’s intention is that we keep that connection with Him all the time, day and night.

As we read of Jesus, from the Bible, (who is called “the last Adam” – 1 Cor 15:45),” He said that He only did what He saw the Father do; and He only spoke what He heard the Father speak – and then He said,” As the Father has called Me, I’m calling you.”

One other thing that the Lord showed me sometime ago, and that is in the name that He gave to Moses on Mount Sinai, “I AM that I AM” (which is called the Tetragrammaton).

The name “I AM that I AM” indicates, to me, that since God exists in Eternity, which is the absence of time and space as we understand it, if we are going to commune with Him then we have to get in the present moment where He is, in order to hear what He is telling us.

Jesus tells us that “God is a Spirit, and those who would worship Him must learn to do so in spirit and in truth.”

God created time and space for us, and enters into it, from time to time, to commune with us, but He doesn’t dwell there.

So this name “I AM that I AM” indicates to me that God is only available to us in the present moment, one moment at a time.

He was with us yesterday and He will be with us tomorrow, but if we’re going to have communion with Him and hear what He is saying, then we have to be in the present moment, with Him, in order for us to hear Him.

One of my favorite Psalms is Psalm 46, which starts out by saying, “God is an ever-present help in our time of trouble,” and then it goes on to describing everything around us going to hell in a handbasket, and in the midst of all of that it says, (in verse 10) “to be still and know that “I AM that I AM” is still God!

All too often I mine is divided, we’re either feeling remote remorseful and sorry for something that happened yesterday, or worrying and fretting over something we think might happen tomorrow; and if our mind is in either one of those two places, then we’re missing God, who is only available to us (to commune with us) in the present moment.

Learning the Rhythm of the Holy Spirit

French composer Claude Debussy said, “Music is the space between the notes.”

The space between notes allows them to resonate, reverberate, and reach their full measure of expression.

Without this space, noise and cacophony would result.

The same can be said of our lives: too much white noise, clutter and distractions can stifle our life, and make our lives chaotic and discordant.

Conversely, it’s in the spaces and rest stops, between the notes, that God often speaks to us.

It’s in those rest stops that we learn to sit quietly and see one’s self pass by – to listen for “the sound of the genuine” deep calling to deep within – it’s here, in these moments, that we experience God, who is at the same time vast and limitless, and intimate and personal to each one of us.
———

Thu, March 31
The Winning Walk
by Dr Ed Young

FULLY PRESENT

“Therefore, do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
— Matthew 6:34

Years ago, Spencer Johnson wrote a popular book called

“The Present: The Secret to Enjoying Your Work and Life, Now.”

His premise was that, to have a life that is effective, you have to learn how to be “fully present.”

Most of us have trouble with that. We are too concerned about yesterday, even though we can’t do anything about it.

Or we are too apprehensive about tomorrow.

God provided a way for us to be “totally present” in every situation and every relationship.

It is the Sabbath Principle.

We need to set aside one day in seven in which we shut things down.

We don’t look backward; we don’t look forward.

We look around at our family – and we look up to God.

God provided this for us because we need it.

If you want to see the hand, and feel the touch, of Almighty God in your life – Find a Sabbath.
———

Hebrews 4 speaks of Jesus as our Sabbath rest.

Verses 9-10 in particular state,

“So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.”

And in Hebrews 4:9-11
(Amplified Bible, Classic Edition) we’re told,

“So then, there is still awaiting a full and complete Sabbath-rest reserved for the [true] people of God; for he who has once entered [God’s] rest also has ceased from [the weariness and pain] of human labors, just as God rested from those labors peculiarly His own.

Let us therefore be zealous and exert ourselves and strive diligently to enter that rest [of God, to know and experience it for ourselves], that no one may fall or perish by the same kind of unbelief and disobedience [into which those in the wilderness fell].

Come join the Adventure,

Skip 🕊️

The baptism of Fire…

And you shall receive POWER when the Holy Spirit comes upon you (Acts 1:8)…

In 2 Corinthians 10, Paul instructs us to learn and put into practice the spiritual weapons and tools that God has provided us.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

3 “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.

4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,

5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…”

Verse 4 talks about our “pulling down strongholds,” when we utilize these spiritual weapons and tools.

Strongholds are first established in the mind, and that is why we are to take EVERY thought captive.

Behind a stronghold is also a lie—a place of personal bondage where God’s Word has been subjugated to any unscriptural idea or personally confused belief that is held to be true.

Behind every lie is a fear, and behind every fear is an idol.

Idols are established wherever there exists a failure to trust in the provisions of God that are ours through Jesus Christ.

Some of the weapons that pull down these strongholds are:

God’s Word (Heb. 4:12, 13),

The blood of the Cross (Rev. 12:11), and

The name of Jesus (Mark 16:17).

Strongholds are pulled down and confronted bondage is broken as these spiritual weapons of our warfare are employed (see Eph. 6:13–18).

We all need to learn to start utilizing our Heavenly prayer language more, as one of the most important weapons and tools that God has provided us, because when we do the Bible teaches us that we edify ourselves… in other words we build ourselves up in our most holy faith.

1 Corinthians 4:14

“The one who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but the one who prophesies edifies the church.”

Jude 20-21

“But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”
———

Romans 8:26-27 tells us that when we pray in the Holy Spirit we are praying the perfect will of Jesus over our life.

Praying in Tongues Allows You to Speak Directly to God
“For if you have the ability to speak in tongues, you will be talking only to God, since people won’t be able to understand you. You will be speaking by the power of the Spirit, but it will all be mysterious.” –1 Corinthians 14:2

When you pray in tongues, you are praying God’s will, directly to Him. It allows your mind to get out of the way so your spirit can commune with the Father.

1 Praying in Tongues Keeps You in Tune With the Holy Spirit

“And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.” –Acts 2:4

2 Tongues is a gift from God. It allows you to pray the will of God by the empowering of the Holy Spirit.

When you pray in tongues, you are yielding to the Holy Spirit who dwells in you.

Then you are allowing that same Spirit to pray through you, so you are in tune with Him.

3 Praying in Tongues Strengthens Your Spirit

“A person who speaks in tongues is strengthened personally, but one who speaks a word of prophecy strengthens the entire church.” –1 Corinthians 14:4

4 Praying in tongues builds you up spiritually and helps you to live a Spirit-led life.

5 Praying in tongues allows us to pray even when we don’t know what to pray

“And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.” –Romans 8:26

Even when you don’t know how or what to pray, you can still pray…in tongues.

You can trust your spirit to pray for the perfect will of God, regardless of the situation.

Praying in Tongues is a Weapon Against the Work of the Enemy

“And then He (Jesus) told them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.

Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved.… and these miraculous signs will accompany those who believe:

1 They will cast out demons in my name, and

2 They will speak in new tongues.… and

3 They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.’” –Mark 16:15-18

Jesus proclaimed several things that would happen to those who followed Him and continued His work.

Speaking in tongues is one of those gifts, and it allows Jesus’ followers to stand against the work of the enemy.

Praying in tongues is a gift that’s available to every believer.

It allows you to pray God’s will to Him.

It keeps you in tune with the Holy Spirit and strengthens your spirit as you stand against the work of the devil.

Don’t discount this powerful gift from God.

Desire it. Embrace it and relish the strength it adds to your spiritual life.

So with that said, let’s partner with the Lord today, utilizing every one of the weapons and tools that He has provided us, knowing also that the Lord is working on our behalf in the battles we are facing.
———

Billye Brim Ministries
November 24, 2020

THE POWER OF PRAYING IN TONGUES
by Billye Brim

The Lord has emphasized to me, and I have been emphasizing in the platforms He has given us…

THE POWER OF PRAYING IN TONGUES.

As you know, if you have been taking part in our prayer calls, or noon live-streamed prayer meetings, others have heard us in the languages of Arabic and German and have told us what we said. (I believe this is to demonstrate and encourage our faith in praying in tongues.)

So—I was not surprised when an old partner letter, January 2008, “just happened” to come to my daughter Brenda’s attention.

It told of a dream I’d had in December 2007. The following is an excerpt from the partner letter.

The Dream

On the morning of December 11, I woke up during a dream, which I immediately sensed was spiritual.

There was a group of people. I recognized none of them.

Two men stood out from the rest. One was the spiritual leader, perhaps a pastor.

The other was a man the authorities were coming after to arrest.

He wore a checkered shirt buttoned at the wrists and to the neck.

He was dressed as a man might have been dressed around the time of the Azusa Street outpouring [1906].

This man had written a book. The authorities were coming to arrest him for having written this book. The crowd was awaiting them.

Then I saw the book.

The opened book filled the window of my dream.

On the right I saw the usual title page, with the title, the author, etc. all in black ink.

I did not read it for my eyes did not focus on that page. They looked at the opposite page.

Suddenly this page filled the window of my dream. The one-word title was written widely across the entire page in HUGE letters.

The letters were in bas relief; each one lifted up above the surface of the page.

The letters were of pure gold—not gold leaf, but pure gold. Each one looked as if it were carved from a gold brick [ingot].

The letters were in very stylized Old-English type.

They looked like letters from an ancient Bible that had been hand-lettered.

They were so fancy I could not make them out. I stared at the first letter. At first, I thought it was the Hebrew letter Tet. But upon close examination I saw it was the letter “T.”

Then I could read the one-word title:

T o n g u e s

Those bent on arresting the man arrived. I did not see them, but knew they were there.

The pastor took the man’s hands and said, “Let me pray for you.”

The people in the crowd turned toward the man and began to pray.
I woke up.

The Dream’s Interpretation
[As I saw it in January 2008]

[I’d been thinking about attacks against underground church leaders in China, attacks on individual churches and ministries, school shootings, etc. And I referred to them in the partner letter.]

I sensed the attacks were part of a coordinated plan, strategized from the head of the kingdom of darkness to be worldwide, and to happen at the same time.

Terrorists, for instance, behave like Satan. They attempt to strike in coordinated bomb attacks.

So, after I awoke, and certain Scriptures came to mind, I immediately sensed in my spirit that the focus of the attack was the POWER in the church.

Jesus said, “You shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you” (Acts 1:8).

Fewer than ten days later, on the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came upon them.

The POWER OF GOD came upon them. What was the initial sign of that power? They spoke in tongues.

The dream seemed to mark out as a point of focus for the attack TONGUES and specifically the POWER of God in the church which tongues evidences.

I saw that praying in tongues:

1) Prays in the plans of God (1 Corinthians 14:2).

2) Pulls down the enemy’s strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4).

I saw that the immenseness of the letters spoke of the importance of tongues.

I saw that the gold spoke of the value of tongues.

Kenneth Hagin Ministries published a book entitled Tongues: Beyond the Upper Room.

The book is wonderful and especially precious to me. The editorial department told me that much of it came from the very seminar in April 1967 during which I received the baptism with the Holy Spirit and first spoke in tongues.

It was the time of the Charismatic Renewal. God led Kenneth E. Hagin to teach a seminar on the subject in the fresh outpouring being experienced even in the denominational world.

So, after the dream, I picked up the book again. When my eyes read Brother Hagin’s words in the Preface, it enlightened my dream:

Then there are those in Pentecostal and Charismatic circles who also know very little about this subject, even though they themselves speak with tongues.

These Christians don’t realize the value derived from exercising that gift, nor do they understand the scope—the purpose and the use—of tongues.

The value! The Gold!
The scope! The Huge Letters!

Asking What You Can Do?
Use Your Tongues!
A Weapon of Great Power!

Just after the dream, I saw that tongues and the power this gift represents was the focus of the [then] recent coordinated attacks.

But I also saw that tongues and the power of God this gift manifests is a way to victory!

A weapon in our armory to overcome all the attacks of the enemy.

A few days after the dream I was led to consider what happened at the Tower of Babel where God confounded their language for this stated reason:

Gen 11:6
And the Lord said, Behold, the people are one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.

Today, November 2020, the Army of the Lord, the Body of Christ, speaking in unity, can bring a great power to bear on the happenings in this world.

Here are excerpts from a prophecy given through Kenneth E. Hagin:

Prophecy through Kenneth E. Hagin
Winter Bible Seminar 02/20/1997

Speaking by the Spirit,
not just speaking words out of your own mind or thinking,
but speaking by the Spirit;
Words that are inspired by the Spirit of God;
Words that well up from within you out of your spirit,
given to you by the Holy Spirit.
Those words, spoken boldly, bring forth great happenings.

… Speaking by His Spirit, yielding your tongue unto the Holy Ghost.

But, you see, taking time to pray in the Spirit,

Taking time to pray in other tongues,
will get you tuned up; will edify you,
and get your tongue hooked up to your spirit, so that then He who dwells in your spirit can give you utterance,

Then He takes over.

And you speak out what He says, not what you think.
Speak out what He wants. Hallelujah. Hallelujah.

Let’s get going to bring forth some great happenings in America and around the world!!!!!!!!!!
———

Come join the Adventure!

Skip 🕊️

Learning the Rhythms of the Holy Spirit…

We were never designed to live independent from God…  

If we want to see God’s original plan and purpose for Adam and his descendants, we have but to look at the Second Adam, who is Christ Jesus our Lord. 

The Bible teaches us that Adam was made after “a pattern of the one to come:”

Romans 5:14

“Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.” 

1 Corinthians 15 focuses on Jesus’ resurrection, which develops the contrast between “death through Adam” and “life through Christ,” explaining that, “since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man. 

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” 

1 Corinthians 15:21-22

“For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.” 

This means that Adam’s life set a pattern, and then, when Jesus came, Jesus followed that same pattern. 

However, whereas Adam disobeyed God and brought sin and death into the world, Jesus obeyed God so that the world could receive God’s free gift of righteousness and eternal life.

This is the life we were ALL created for, to walk in sync, fellowship, communion and harmony with our Creator God, just like Jesus did in His earthly ministry. 

He’s the one who has planned and authored each one of our individual lives; and has given to each of us a purpose and a destiny. 

Psalm 139:16

“You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!” 

Ephesians 1:4-11

“…just as He (God-the Father) chose us in Him (Jesus) before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. 

In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will…”

The truth of the matter is, that without this vertical connection with God, then we are ALL like fish, flopping around on the shores of life, looking for a way back home. 

And so it’s through the Good News of the Gospel, that Jesus is inviting each of us to come and reconnect with Him, who alone is the Source and Author of our life…

Matthew 11:28-30

The Message

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? 

Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. 

I’ll show you how to take a real rest. 

Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. 

Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. 

Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

———

And so with this connection, after having been born-again, by the will of the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit, that our spirit-man is born anew, and it’s through our innermost being, our spirit-man (which God has made in His image and after His likeness) that the Holy Spirit leads us; and the most dominant method He uses to accomplish this leadership is through the inner witness. 

Differentiating Between Spirit and Emotions 

Romans 8:14-16 talks about the inner witness of the Holy Spirit: 

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba-Father.’ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God…”

When you do things led by the Spirit of God, He will confirmed that you should make a certain decision by the inner witness of your spirit. 

And then with that inner-witness, the Bible teaches that we are to seek confirmation through two or more other sources. 

This is a pattern that we find throughout the Bible that, 

“By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established.” (2 Corinthians 13:1)

So in other words, when you’re trying to make a decision on a direction you should go, you should seek to get a confirmation from at least two or more other sources. 

When you make decisions as a Spirit-filled believer, make sure you have that inner witness, and that you have God’s Shalom-peace on the matter, before you make your move. 

And if you don’t have it, wait until you do.

———

Mon, March 26

God At Eventide  

by Two Listeners

KEEP STEP 

Go forward, glad indeed.

Walk with Me until your faltering, flagging footsteps learn to keep in step with Me, and gain a firmness and a confidence unknown before.

Walk with Me until a gladsome rhythm reveals the conquest-spirit that you draw from Me and your whole being thrills with the joy of being, doing, and even suffering with Me.

Thus in loving Communion with Me you learn to know my needs and My wishes for others.

“Hear am I, Lord, send me” shows very surely a child-like eagerness, the eagerness of love, even the eagerness for adventure for My cause

For in My Secret Service there is surely the thrill of adventure.

Now unto Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. 

— Jude 1:24-25

Come join the Adventure! 

Skip 🕊️ 

Walking by faith requires the risk of our stepping out on God’s Word…

When your back is against the wall and you have nowhere to turn, but to God, that’s when the real test begins…

At times like this, you get to find out who your real Source and Savior is, and upon what the foundation of your faith is built.

This is where the rubber meets the road for every believer!

Faith always requires the risk of our stepping out in obedience to God’s Word; and many times we’ll put that kind of decision off until we find our back is against the wall, as the following story illustrates.

Here’s the backstory:

In chapter 17 we are introduced to the Prophet Elijah. His ministry extends through 2 Kings 2:11.

God spoke to His people through prophets during times of sin and declension.

These prophets were really mouthpieces for Jehovah. They fearlessly cried out against idolatry, immorality, and all other forms of iniquity.

They urged the people to repent and return to the Lord, and then warned of dire consequences if they failed to do so.

Some prophets ministered primarily to Israel, some to Judah, and some to both.

Since Israel was the more wicked of the two kingdoms, God accompanied the prophet’s messages to Israel with miracles and wonders.

This left Israel without excuse.

Elijah is mentioned in the Gospels in connection with the ministry of John the Baptist.

John came in the spirit and power of Elijah (Luke 1:17).

Elijah came from Tishbe in Gilead, east of the Jordan River, and was thus called a Tishbite.

His history is recorded only in Kings.

We are told nothing about his background, family, or call to the prophetic ministry.

But that he was a man sent from God no one could deny.

He was God’s chosen instrument to bring adulterous and haughty Israel to her knees.

His prayers could bring down blessing (rain) or wrath (drought and fire).

He served his generation as a fearless, embodied conscience.

His first recorded act was to announce to Ahab that the land would suffer a drought.

This was obviously a divine judgment against idolatry.

God chose to use a severe drought to get the people’s attention.

They did not care that idolatry had brought a spiritual drought upon the land, but they could not ignore the physical drought that typified it.

In a nation that was required by law to care for its prophets, it is ironic that God turned to ravens (unclean birds) and a widow (a foreigner from Jezebel’s home territory) to care for Elijah.

God has help where we least expect it. He provides for us in ways that go beyond our narrow definitions or expectations.

No matter how bitter our trials or how seemingly hopeless our situation, we should look for God’s caring touch.

We may find His providence in some strange places!

Elijah and the Drought

When the widow of Zarephath met Elijah, she thought she was preparing her last meal.

But a simple act of faith produced a miracle. She trusted Elijah and gave all she had to eat to him.

Faith is the step between promise and assurance.

Miracles seem so out of reach for our feeble faith.

But every miracle, large or small, begins with an act of obedience.

We may not see the solution until we take the first step of faith.

Even when God has done a miracle in our lives, our troubles may not be over.

The famine was a terrible experience, but the worst was yet to come.

God’s provision is never given in order to let us rest upon it.

We need to depend on Him as we face each new trial.
———

Sunday, March 27
Today in the Word
Courage and Obedience

WIDOW of ZAREPHATH:
Now I Know…

Slowly the Israelite kings are drifting further and further away from God’s laws.

Hoping to remedy this, the Lord sends a prophet to guide the kings.

That prophet, Elijah, certainly lives up to his name, proclaiming his God (Eli) is the Eternal (jah)—Eli-jah.

He uses many methods: demonstrating God’s power through miracles, reminding of God’s purpose through oracles, and acting out God’s will through his appearance.

While his guidance sometimes reminds kings of the correct path and helps them return to it, ultimately nothing he can do will stop the Northern Kingdom’s destruction.

1 Kings 17:1-24

Imagine that your pantry is empty…even the shelves of your refrigerator are bare.

You have no idea where you will get your next meal.

That is what happened to the widow of Zarephath. She lived during a time when people often turned to idols to supply their needs, the most prominent being Baal.

In fact, during the reign of King Ahab, Baal worship even became prominent in Israel.

The prophet Elijah arrived with an ominous message from God.

A terrible drought was coming that would prove Baal powerless (v. 1).

After Elijah delivered his message, God instructed him to go to a remote hiding place, where Elijah could drink from a brook and be fed by ravens (v. 4).

When the brook dried up, God instructed Elijah to go back into Baal territory—to Zarephath, where God would provide for him in another unlikely way.

The Lord had commanded this poor widow to feed Elijah. While we don’t know much about her, we do know she had no food to spare.

She had been planning her last meal for her and her son before they would die (v. 12).

Then Elijah made a miraculous promise:

The widow’s flour and oil would not run out until God brought rain (v. 14).

So the widow trusted in God’s promise, acting in obedience.

But her troubles were not over. Her son became ill and died.

In grief, she lashed out at Elijah, fearing that her own sin had killed her son.

Elijah took the boy’s body to his upper room and prayed until God restored his life.

She knew two things: Elijah is a man of God, and the word of the Lord is truth (v. 24).

There are times when we are called to walk by faith and not by sight.

We trust that God will protect us and act on our behalf, even when the way before us seems troubled.

If you are in that situation, turn to God for help and deliverance today.

PRAY WITH US
The pressures and fears of our daily lives often feel more immediate than Your presence, Father.

We ask that You provide us respite and remind us that You are in control. We turn to You for the peace we crave.
——-—

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God’s instructions for putting on the mind of Christ in everyday life…

A Look at The Sermon on the Mount

Matthew chapters 5–7 is called the Sermon on the Mount because Jesus gave it on a hillside near Capernaum.

This “sermon” probably covered several days of preaching.

In it, Jesus proclaimed His attitude toward the law.

Position, authority, and money are not important in His Kingdom—what matters is faithful obedience from the heart.

The Sermon on the Mount challenged the proud and legalistic religious leaders of the day.

It called them back to the messages of the Old Testament prophets, who, like Jesus, taught that heartfelt obedience is more important than legalistic observance.

Enormous crowds were following Jesus—He was the talk of the town, and everyone wanted to see Him.

The disciples, who were the closest associates of this popular man, were certainly tempted to feel important, proud, and possessive.

Being with Jesus gave them not only prestige but also opportunity for receiving money and power.

The crowds were gathering once again. But before speaking to them, Jesus pulled His disciples aside and warned them about the temptations they would face as His associates.

Don’t expect fame and fortune, Jesus was saying, but mourning, hunger, and persecution.

Nevertheless, Jesus assured His disciples that they would be rewarded—but perhaps not in this life.

There may be times when following Jesus will bring us great popularity.

If we don’t live by Jesus’ words in this sermon, we will find ourselves using God’s message only to promote our personal interests.

The Beatitudes can be understood in at least four ways:

(1) They are a code of ethics for the disciples and a standard of conduct for all believers.

(2) They contrast Kingdom values (what is eternal) with worldly values (what is temporary).

(3) They contrast the superficial “faith” of the Pharisees with the real faith that Christ demands.

(4) They show how the Old Testament expectations will be fulfilled in the new Kingdom.

These Beatitudes are not multiple choice—pick what you like and leave the rest.

They must be taken as a whole. They describe what we should be like as Christ’s followers.

Each beatitude tells how to be blessed by God.

Being blessed means more than happiness. It implies the fortunate or enviable state of those who are in God’s Kingdom.

The Beatitudes don’t promise laughter, pleasure, or earthly prosperity.

Being “blessed” by God means the experience of hope and joy, independent of outward circumstances.

To find hope and joy, the deepest form of happiness, follow Jesus no matter what the cost.

With Jesus’ announcement that the Kingdom was near (Matt 4:17), people were naturally asking, “How do I qualify to be in God’s Kingdom?”

Jesus said that God’s Kingdom is organized differently from worldly kingdoms.

In the Kingdom of Heaven, wealth and power and authority are unimportant.

Kingdom people seek different blessings and benefits, and they have different attitudes.

Are your attitudes a carbon copy of the world’s selfishness, pride, and lust for power, or do they reflect the humility and self-sacrifice of Jesus, your King?

Jesus began His sermon with words that seem to contradict each other.

But God’s way of living usually contradicts the world’s.

If you want to live for God, you must be ready to say and do what seems strange to the world.

You must be willing to give when others take, to love when others hate, to help when others abuse.

By giving up your own rights in order to serve others, you will one day receive everything God has in store for you.

Jesus said to be happy when we’re persecuted for our faith.

Persecution can be good because:

(1) it takes our eyes off earthly rewards,

(2) it strips away superficial belief,

(3) it strengthens the faith of those who endure, and

(4) our attitude through it serves as an example to others who follow.

We can be comforted knowing that God’s greatest prophets were persecuted (Elijah, Jeremiah, Daniel).

The fact that we are being persecuted proves that we have been faithful; faithless people would be unnoticed.

In the future God will reward the faithful by receiving them into His eternal Kingdom, where there is no more persecution.

Jesus also calls Christians the light of the world.

He spoke of Himself as “the light of the world” (John 8:12; 12:35, 36, 46).

The relationship between these two statements is that Jesus is the source of light; Christians are the reflection of His light.

Their function is to shine for Him just as the moon reflects the glory of the sun.

The Christian is like a city that is set on a hill: it is elevated above its surroundings and it shines in the midst of darkness.

Those whose lives exhibit the traits of Christ’s teaching cannot be hidden.

People do not light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they put it on a lampstand so that it will give light to all who are in the house.

He did not intend that we hoard the light of His teaching for ourselves, but that we share it with others.

We should let our light so shine that as people see our good works, they will glorify our Father in heaven.

The emphasis is on the ministry of Christian character.

The winsomeness of lives in which Christ is seen speaks louder than the persuasion of words.

In these verses Jesus used the emphatic “you,” and again clearly stated that this is already what a believer is, not something he might become.

It is the nature of a kingdom servant to be light in the world.

Any believer who fails to function as light is going against His nature as God’s new creation.

The believer has no light inherent in himself.

The believer’s light is a reflected light.

Believers are to make certain that nothing comes between them and their source of light (2 Cor. 3:18; Phil. 2:13-16).

LOVE YOUR ENEMIES

With regard to what immediately follows in Matthew 5:14-15, St. Augustine said:

“That you may be children of your Father who is in heaven,”

it is to be understood in the sense in which John also speaks when he says,

‘He gave them the power of becoming children of God’ [Jn 1:12].

For there is One who is the Son by nature, and He absolutely knows no sin.

But since we have received the power to become sons, we are made sons insofar as we fulfill the precepts that have been given by the Son.

‘Adoption’ is the term used by the apostle to denote the character of our vocation to the eternal inheritance, in order to be joint heirs with Christ [see Gal 4:4-5].

By spiritual regeneration we therefore become sons and are adopted into the kingdom of God, not as aliens but as His creatures and offspring.”
— Augustine of Hippo (430-354 BC)

Jesus goes on to say in verse 14,

“But to those of you who will listen, I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you…”

When Jesus said we are to love our enemies, He was creating a new standard for relationships.

He proclaimed to the crowds listening to His Sermon on the Mount that they knew they were to love their neighbor because the command to love our neighbor was a law of God (Leviticus 19:18).

That we must therefore hate our enemy was an inference incorrectly drawn from it by the Jews.

While no Bible verse explicitly says “hate your enemy,” the Pharisees may have somewhat misapplied some of the Old Testament passages about hatred for God’s enemies (Psalm 139:19-22; 140:9-11).

But Jesus replaced this idea with an even higher standard:

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:44-45).

Jesus goes on to explain that loving those who love us is easy and even unbelievers can do that.

Then He commands us to “be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:43-48).

Jesus explained to His followers that they should adhere to the real meaning of God’s law by loving their enemies as well as their neighbors.

A Pharisee once asked Jesus,

“Who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29).

Jesus then told the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

Here Jesus taught that His followers must demonstrate love to all kinds of people—no matter what faith, nationality, or personality—enemies included.

If you love your enemies and “pray for those who persecute you,” you then truly reveal that Jesus is Lord of your life.

By using an illustration of the sun rising and the rain falling on both the good and the evil, Jesus shows God’s undiscriminating love to all people.

His disciples then must reflect His character and exhibit this same undiscriminating love for both friends and enemies.

Jesus is teaching us that we must live by a higher standard than what the world expects—a standard that is impossible for us to attain by our own efforts.

It’s only through the power of God’s Spirit that His people can truly love and pray for those who intend to do them harm (Romans 12:14-21).
———

Saturday, March 26, 2022
Anchor Devotional

PRAYING FOR OUR ENEMIES

Matthew 5:44-45

“But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good.”


Why would Jesus command this in the Sermon on the Mount? And why would Paul command us to bless those who persecute us?”

Because our enemies are people who need a saving relationship with Jesus Christ (Romans 3:23).

By praying for our enemies and not just those who love us and think like us (Matthew 5:46-47), our own hearts soften.

Without harboring anger or malice toward our enemies, we are free to follow Jesus for His glory, to the amazement of a watching world.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German pastor who stood up to the Nazis, was imprisoned, and was executed in a concentration camp at the end of World War 2.

He understood well the challenge it was in his heart to love his enemies.

He said, “The enemy was no mere abstraction for the disciples. They knew him too well.

They were those who hated them for leaving all they had for Jesus’ sake” (1937).

Jesus didn’t just present these commands to us. He lived them out and even prayed while on the cross for those who were crucifying Him (Luke 23:34).

INSIGHT
“It is possible to move men through God, by prayer alone.” (Hudson Taylor, 1832-1905)
———

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There is now no condemnation in Christ…

Don’t let the “Enemy” (aka Turkey-Satan) play with your mind, for in your mind, your thinking and your attitude is where the battle for your life begins…

So let us start by setting our focus on Jesus, who is the Author and Finisher of our faith:

We are more than conquerors ONLY as we dwell in Christ, which means we must learn to wage war, not in our flesh, which is at enmity against the Spirit — “For the weapons of our warfare are NOT fleshly but powerful through God for the tearing down of strongholds, by tearing down false arguments and every high-minded thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God (as found in His Word); as we are taking EVERY thought captive to the obedience of Messiah (2 Cor 10:3-5)!

To walk in the Spirit and wage war in the Spirit requires that we put on a whole new mindset and paradigm way of thinking; it requires that we put on the mind of Christ everyday, and in the process, reconcile ourselves as dead to sin.

Galatians 2:19-20
Tree of Life Version

“For through law I died to law, so that I might live for God.

I have been crucified with Messiah; and it is no longer I who live, but Messiah lives in me.

And the life I now live in the body, I live by trusting in Ben-Elohim (Jesus)—who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

We must learn to fight in the spirit, using God’s rules of engagement in spiritual warfare; and as the Bible instructs us, we must resist the enemy and he will flee from us (James 4:7)!

The battle starts with the knowledge that there is now NO CONDEMNATION to those who are in CHRIST!

Romans 8:1-11
Tree of Life Version

Life in the Spirit
8 Therefore, there is now NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Messiah Yeshua.

2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Messiah Yeshua has set you free from the law of sin and death.

3 For what was impossible for the Torah—since it was weakened on account of the flesh—God has done.

Sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as a sin offering, He condemned sin in the flesh—

4 so that the requirement of the Torah might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Ruach.

5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Ruach set their minds on the things of the Ruach.

6 For the mindset of the flesh is death, but the mindset of the Ruach is life and shalom.

7 For the mindset of the flesh is hostile toward God, for it does not submit itself to the law of God—for it cannot.

8 So those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

9 However, you are not in the flesh but in the Ruach—if indeed the Ruach Elohim dwells in you.

Now if anyone does not have the Ruach of Messiah, he does not belong to Him.

10 But if Messiah is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the Spirit is alive because of righteousness.

11 And if the Ruach of the One who raised Yeshua from the dead dwells in you, the One who raised Messiah Yeshua from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Ruach who dwells in you.
———

Paul wrote this letter to the church in Rome.

Neither he nor the other church leaders, James and Peter, had yet been to Rome.

Most likely, the Roman church had been established by believers who had been at Jerusalem for Pentecost (Acts 2:10) and by travelers who had heard the Good News in other places and had brought it back to Rome (for example, Priscilla and Aquila; Acts 18:2; Rom 16:3-5).

Paul wrote the letter to the Romans during his ministry in Corinth (at the end of his third missionary journey just before returning to Jerusalem; Acts 20:3; Rom 15:25) to encourage the believers and to express his desire to visit them someday (within three years he would).

This letter may well have been the first piece of Christian literature the Roman believers had seen.

Written to both Jewish and Gentile Christians, the letter to the Romans is a systematic presentation of the Christian faith.

When Paul, a devout Jew who had at first persecuted the Christians, became a believer, God used him to spread the Good News throughout the world.

Although he was a prisoner, Paul did eventually preach in Rome (Acts 28), perhaps even to Caesar himself.

Paul humbly calls himself a slave of Christ Jesus and an apostle (“one who is sent”).

For a Roman citizen—which Paul was—to choose to be a slave was unthinkable.

But Paul chose to be completely dependent on and obedient to his beloved Master.

What is your attitude toward Christ, your Master?

Our willingness to serve and obey Jesus Christ enables us to be useful and usable servants to do work for Him—work that really matters.

Obedience begins as we renounce other masters, identify ourselves with Jesus, discover His will and live according to it, and consciously turn away from conflicting interests, even if these interests have been important to us in the past.

[Some of the prophecies predicting the Good News regarding Jesus Christ are found in Genesis 12:3; Psalms 16:10; 40:6-10; 118:22; Isaiah 11:1; Zechariah 9:9-11; 12:10; Malachi 4:1-6.]

Paul states that Jesus is the Son of God, the promised Messiah, and the resurrected Lord.

Paul calls Jesus a descendant of King David to emphasize that Jesus truly had fulfilled the Old Testament Scriptures predicting that the Messiah would come from David’s line.

With this statement of faith, Paul declares his agreement with the teaching of all Scripture and of the apostles.

In verses 3-5, Paul summarizes the Good News about Jesus Christ, who

(1) Came as a human by natural descent,

(2) Was part of the Jewish royal line through David,

(3) Who died and was raised from the dead, and

(4) Who opened the door for God’s grace and kindness to be poured out on us.

The book of Romans is an expansion of these themes.

Christians have both a privilege and a great responsibility.

Paul and the apostles received the privilege of being called, but they also received the authority and the responsibility to share with others what God has done.

God also graciously forgives our sins when we believe in Him as Lord.

In doing this, we are committing ourselves to begin a NEW LIFE.

Paul’s new life also involved a God-given responsibility: to witness about God’s Good News to the world as a missionary.

God may or may not call you to be a foreign missionary, but He does call you (and all believers) to be Christ’s ambassador and to witness to the changed life that Jesus Christ has begun in you.

Jews and Christians alike stood against the idolatrous Roman religions, and Roman officials often confused the two groups.

This was especially easy to do since the Christian church in Rome could have been originally composed of Jewish converts who had attended Pentecost in Jerusalem.

By the time Paul wrote this letter to the Romans, however, many Gentiles had joined the church.

The Jews and the Gentiles needed to know the relationship between Judaism and Christianity.

Paul says that those who become Christians are invited by Jesus Christ to:

(1) Belong to God’s family, and

(2) Be His very own people.

What a wonderful expression of what it means to be a Christian!

In being reborn into God’s family we have the greatest experience of love and the greatest inheritance.

Because of all that God has done for us, we strive to be His holy people.

Rome was the capital of the Roman Empire that had spread over most of Europe, North Africa, and the Near East.

In New Testament times, Rome was experiencing a golden age.

The city was wealthy, literary, and artistic. It was a cultural center, but it was also morally decadent.

The Romans worshiped many pagan gods, and even some of the emperors were worshiped.

In stark contrast to the Romans, the followers of Christ believed in only one God and lived by His high moral standards.

Christianity was also at odds with the Romans’ dependence on military strength.

Many Romans were naively pragmatic, believing that any means to accomplish the intended task was good.

And for them, nothing worked better than physical might.

The Romans trusted in their strong military power to protect them against all enemies.

Christians in every age need to be reminded that God is the ONLY permanent source of our security and salvation, and at the same time He is “our Father!”

Paul uses the phrase “I thank my God through Jesus Christ” to emphasize the point that Christ is the one and only mediator between us and God.

Through Christ, God sends His love and forgiveness to us; through Christ, we send our thanks to God (see 1 Tim 2:5).

The Roman Christians, at the Western world’s political power center, were highly visible.

Fortunately, their reputation was excellent; their strong faith was making itself known around the world.

When you pray continually about a concern, don’t be surprised at how God answers.

Paul prayed to visit Rome so he could teach the Christians there.

When he finally arrived in Rome, it was as a prisoner (see Acts 28:16).

Paul prayed for a safe trip, and he did arrive safely—after getting arrested, slapped in the face, shipwrecked, and bitten by a poisonous snake.

When we sincerely pray, God will answer—although in His timing and sometimes in ways we do not expect.

A reading of the first few verses of Romans relates Paul’s ardent desire to visit Rome and the sovereign hand of God that had prevented him from getting there for quite some time.

The combination of these two factors—Paul’s impassioned desire to go to Rome and God’s sovereign “no”—resulted in his sitting down to write this letter to the Romans.

This letter is a powerful exposition of the Christian faith and has helped countless millions of believers across the centuries since Paul first penned it to the group of believers in Rome.

Perhaps there are some “no’s” in our lives that God is planning to use greatly if we would just faithfully do what lies directly ahead of us instead of worrying about why we didn’t get our way.

More about this condemnation thing…

An unhealthy focus on the past will prohibit us from going into the future God has for us.

That’s why the Bible tells us that “Having set our hand to the plough we don’t look back” (Luke 9:62).

Listen to what Paul says about himself in 1 Timothy 1:15…

“Trustworthy is the saying and deserving of complete acceptance: “Messiah Yeshua came into the world to save sinners”—of whom I am foremost.”

If anyone had reason to self condemn himself, I believe it would be Paul because he started out persecuting, condemning and killing Christians.

He had to learn, as we all do, that the secret of letting the past lie in the past is that we put it ALL (all of our sins, past, present and future) at the foot of the cross; and because of that transaction – the propitious sacrifice and poured out blood of Jesus – all of our sins are wiped clean.

This is what the Bible says that God does with our sins:

Psalm 103:10-14
Tree of Life Version

10 He has not treated us according to our sins,
or repaid us according to our iniquities.

11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is His mercy for those who fear Him.

12 As far as the east is from the west,
so far has He removed our transgressions from us.

13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so Adonai has compassion on those who fear Him.

14 For He knows our frame.
He remembers that we are but dust.

So the very reason that we typically want to condemn ourselves because of mistakes we’ve made in the past, is the very reason why Christ came to die for us and to set us free!

Selah (let us pause and calmly think about this)

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The providence and synchronicity of God in our life…

It all starts at Calvary’s Cross…

What a wonder it is to know that this infinite God, that we serve, is intimately aware of every individual on the planet; and in the midst of over six billion persons on the earth, He even knows each and every one perfectly.

And as the Bible says, “And the very hairs on your head are all numbered” (Matt 10:30).

So we know from Scripture that whereas God is the Creator of all, under the New Covenant, He is only a Father to those who are born-again, through the propitious sacrifice of Jesus Christ and His shed blood on Calvary’s Cross — of all those who have entered into covenant relationship with Him.

So when we allow God to be the Captain of our ship and by faith make Him Lord over our life (by giving Him the keys to our life & signing the deed of our life over to Him), then there are some very strong benefits that accrue to us, for our being in Covenant relationship with Him.

And so when I think of the above two topics of God’s providence and synchronicity, one of the first Scriptures I go to is:

Psalm 139
For the choir director: A psalm of David.

1 O Lord, you have examined my heart
and know EVERYTHING about me.

2 You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.

3 You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.

4 You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, Lord.

5 You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too great for me to understand!

7 I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!

8 If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the grave, you are there.

9 If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
and your strength will support me.

11 I could ask the darkness to hide me
and the light around me to become night—

12 but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are the same to you.

13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.

15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.

16 You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.

17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered!

18 I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
you are still with me!

19 O God, if only you would destroy the wicked!
Get out of my life, you murderers!

20 They blaspheme you;
your enemies misuse your name.

21 O Lord, shouldn’t I hate those who hate you?
Shouldn’t I despise those who oppose you?

22 Yes, I hate them with total hatred,
for your enemies are my enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.

24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
——-—

Sometimes we don’t let people get to know us completely because we are afraid they will discover something about us that they won’t like.

But God already knows everything about us, even the number of hairs on our heads (Matthew 10:30), and still He accepts and loves us.

His total awareness of us, therefore, should comfort us because He stays with us through every situation and in every trial, protecting, loving, and guiding us, and knowing and loving us completely.

God is omnipresent, meaning He is present everywhere.

Because of this, you can never escape from His Spirit.

This is good news to those who know and love God, because no matter what we do or where we go, we can never be far from God’s guiding and comforting presence (see Romans 8:35-39).

David would be shocked at how easily the unborn are discarded and destroyed today, and how millions of abortions are occurring every year; and how the politically and socially accepted norms of today have numbed even some Believers to this ongoing atrocity.

In verses 13-16, David shows God’s love for the unborn and their mothers and fathers.

While every life is precious to God, unborn children warrant special care because they are “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40)—the most vulnerable, who do not yet have a voice and cannot defend or take care of themselves.

God’s character goes into the creation of every person.

When you feel worthless or even begin to hate yourself, remember that God’s Spirit is ready and willing to work within you.

Because of Jesus Christ we are new persons, so we should have as much respect and regard for ourselves as our Maker has for us.

In verses 21-24, we learn how David’s hatred for his enemies came from his zeal for God.

David regarded God’s enemies as his enemies, so his hatred was a desire for God’s righteous justice and not for personal vengeance.

David asked God to search his heart and mind and point out any wrong motives that may have been behind his strong words.

But while we seek justice against evil, we must also pray that God’s enemies will turn to Him before He judges them (see Matthew 5:44).

David also asked God to search for sin in his own life and point it out, even to the level of testing his thoughts and anxieties.

This is exploratory surgery for sin.

How are we to recognize sin unless God points it out?

Then, when God shows it to us, we can repent and be forgiven.

Let verses 23-24 be each of our prayers as well.

If you ask the Lord to search your heart and your thoughts and to reveal your sin, you will be continuing “along the path of everlasting life.”

God cares even about our anxious thoughts, both little cares and devastating obsessions.

Anxiety robs lives of joy.

All of us, from teenagers to retirees, face crippling performance expectations, fear of the future, and the scary daily news of this dangerous present world.

Our emotions lie to us, saying, “God doesn’t care” or “He isn’t involved.”

Movies and television lie to us, portraying the world as though all hope is lost.

Bringing our anxieties to God cools our overheated minds and connects us to Him, the Great Comforter (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

Practice this prayer:

“Lord, be near to me and soothe both my heart and mind.”
——-—

Mon, March 21
God Calling
by Two Listeners

ALL IS WELL

“Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.”
— 1 Peter 1:8

Remember My Words to My disciples,

“This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”

“Can you tread the way I trod? Can you drink of My cup?”

“All is well.” Say always, “All is well.”

Long though the way may seem, there is not one inch too much.

I, your Lord, am not only with you on the journey – I planned, and am planning, the journey.

There are Joys unspeakable in the way you go. Courage – courage – courage.

Now unto Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
— Jude 1:24-25
———

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Putting first things first…

You can take this whole world, but give me Jesus…

Jesus is the Source and Hub of our life, around which every aspect of our life should revolve.  

Like the Hub of a wheel, our lives don’t even work without Him at its center – and it was never intended that it should. 

The problem is there are too many nominal Christians who treat Jesus as an ornament, like the spoke of a wheel. If one spoke is missing, the wheel will work just fine. 

The point is, Jesus can’t be your Savior, unless He is also your Lord! 

In John 1:4-5, Jesus tells us that, 

“In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” 

Why does Jesus’ life bring light to everyone? 

Because physical death brings eternal darkness and ONLY Jesus’ eternal life (His light) planted in us will keep us alive in His new Kingdom for eternity. 

Jesus is eternally alive because He is God. 

He came to earth to offer humankind (the descendants of Adam) the hope and light of His eternal life. 

It can’t be purchased, only received as a gift. 

But Jesus gives it only to those who want it—those who want to live the way God’s citizens will live in his future eternal Kingdom. 

“The darkness can never extinguish it” means that the darkness of evil never has and never will overcome God’s light. 

Jesus Christ is the creator of ALL life, and His life brings light to humankind (1:9). 

In His light, we see ourselves as we really are—sinners in need of a Savior. 

When we follow Jesus, the true Light, we can avoid walking blindly through the spiritual darkness that sin brings. 

Jesus lights the path ahead of us, illuminating the truth and clarifying our thoughts so we can see how to live. 

He removes the darkness of sin from our lives. 

In what ways have you allowed the Light of Jesus Christ to shine into your life? 

Let him guide you, and you’ll never need to stumble in darkness.

“Yeshua (Jesus) is the missing PIECE of the riddle of life. When He becomes the focal POINT, everything else suddenly falls into perspective. The presence of Yeshua is the enlightenment of the soul.”

“Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, 

“I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the Light of life.” (John 8:12) 

Jesus here was speaking in the Treasury—the part of the Temple where the offerings would be given (8:20) and where candles burned to symbolize the pillar of fire that had led the people of Israel through the wilderness (Exodus 13:21-22). 

In this context, Jesus called Himself the Light of the World. 

The pillar of fire represented God’s presence, protection, and guidance. 

Likewise, Jesus brings God’s presence, protection, and guidance to every born-again Believer’s life. 

The question is, have you yet made Him the Light of your world? 

What does it mean to follow Jesus? 

As a soldier follows His captain, we should follow Jesus, our commander. 

As a slave follows His master, we should follow Jesus, our Lord. 

As we follow the advice of a trusted counselor, we should follow Jesus’ commands to us in Scripture. 

As we follow national laws, we should follow the laws of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Jesus says in another place, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46) 

In verses 46-49, He makes the point, 

“Why would someone build a house without a foundation?” 

Perhaps to save time and avoid the hard work of preparing the stone. 

Possibly because waterfront scenery is more attractive or because beach houses represent a higher social status than cliff houses. 

Perhaps because they want to join their friends who have already settled in sandy areas. 

Maybe because they haven’t heard about the violent storms coming, because they have discounted the reports, or because they think disaster can’t happen to them. 

Whatever their reasons, those with no foundation are shortsighted, and they will be sorry. 

Obeying God is like building a house on a strong, solid (Rock) foundation that stands firm when storms come. 

When life is calm, our foundations don’t seem to matter, but when crises come (as they often will), our foundations are tested. 

Hebrews 12:25-29 warns us, 

“See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, 

‘Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.’ 

Now this, ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. 

For our God is a consuming fire.”

So be sure that your life is built on the solid foundation of knowing and trusting Jesus Christ! 

Our lives are ONLY made to work , with Jesus — the Author and Creator of our life — as He reigns at the center of our life 24/7 365 

As Paul says in Galatians 2:20 (and let this also be our daily confession), 

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” 

Selah (let us pause and calmly think about that) 

Come join the Adventure! 

Skip 🕊️ 

The God kind of love is different from the world’s love…

“Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.” 

C.S. Lewis

Greek is one of the richest languages in the world with an extensive vocabulary. 

However, love is often more complicated than any words can describe.

Whereas we have one word for love in English, the Greeks have nine. 

Agape is the God kind of Love, but the Greeks have eight other types of love as well. 

1. EROS: SEXUAL DESIRE

In Ancient Greek mythology, Eros (ἔρως) was a mischievous god of passion and fertility, who was shooting arrows into the hearts of people and immortals and making them feel a sudden overwhelming desire for each other. 

Although this desire can be interpreted as love, it is primarily physical attraction. 

That’s where the terms “erotic” and “erotica” came from that nowadays describe human sexuality.

It is common to mistake lust – or sexual desire – for romantic love. 

2. PHILIA: SOUL CONNECTION

In contrast to the physical, sexual nature of Eros, Philia (φιλία) is a platonic feeling. 

This Greek word for love implies spiritual connection, trust, and sharing of the same values. 

Philia usually grows between friends or family members. 

While it is not as overwhelming, euphoric, or exciting as Eros, it is often more fulfilling and rewarding in the long term.

3. STORGE: DEVOTED LOVE

Storge (στοργή) can be classified as a variation of Philia and usually relates to love within a family. 

4. PRAGMA: MATURE LOVE

Although probably the least exciting type of love, Pragma (πράγμα) is an essential component of making relationships work in the long term. 

Pragma is love based on duty, reason, and shared goals. 

5. LUDUS: PLAYFUL LOVE

Ludus (Παιχνίδια) is another Greek word for love that is perhaps the polar opposite of Pragma. 

While Pragma is long-term, cerebral, and based around responsibilities, Ludus is carefree and playful love.

6. MANIA: OBSESSIVE LOVE

Have you ever met anybody obsessed with a particular individual to the point where it seems unhealthy? 

And maybe you even called them a maniac? Greek philosophers labeled this type of love as Mania (μανία).

7. MERAKI (MODERN GREEK): CREATIVE ENDEAVORS 

A modern Greek word, derived from the Turkish “Merak” (μεράκι) means to do something with love, creativity, and devotion when you wholeheartedly put yourself into what you are doing.

8. PHILAUTIA: SELF-LOVE

The Greek philosopher Aristotle believed that self-love or Philautia (φιλαυτία) is a prerequisite to loving others. 

Healthy self-love is beneficial to every aspect of life, including relationships, and individuals who love themselves are usually more capable of both giving and receiving all kinds of love.

Many destructive behaviors in a relationship can often be rooted in a lack of self-love. 

However, self-love can quickly turn into an unhealthy form when a person loves themselves more than anyone else. 

Unhealthy self-love can be expressed through an inflated ego and usually dependent on social status, abilities, or accomplishments rather than genuine virtues.

9. AGAPE: UNCONDITIONAL LOVE

Agape (ἀγάπη) is an unconditional love that is not dependent on any external factors. 

Acts of charity and altruism are often born out of Agape love. 

It seems fair to argue that a society without Agape would be unable to function, as we are dependent on one another as a species.

Agape is the least selfish form of love and does not require anything in return. 

AGAPE and PHILIA are the only two types of love that are mentioned in the Bible. 

And as God’s covenant children, we are ALL to be distributors of His Agape-love and Light into all the dark areas of this world. 

And as noted below, this Agape-love has nothing whatsoever to do with our feelings towards that other person, rather it is based upon our treating that other person based on the value God places upon them. 

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Living Bible

4 Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, 

5 Never haughty or selfish or rude. 

Love does not demand its own way. 

It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong. 

6 It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out. 

7 If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. 

You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him.

———

Our society confuses love and lust. 

Unlike lust, God’s kind of love is directed outward toward others, not inward toward ourselves. 

It is utterly unselfish. This kind of love goes against our natural inclinations. 

It is impossible to have this kind of love unless God helps us set aside our own natural desires so that we can love without expecting anything in return. 

We can’t manufacture this kind of love when we don’t feel it. 

We gain it only through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). 

We never love perfectly; only Jesus can. 

Thus, the more we become like Christ, die to our flesh (our self nature), and give God permission to use us as His conduit, the more Agape-love we will show to others. 

Paul says that love “is not irritable.” Sometimes we’re irritated or angered by others, and we don’t know why. 

Not all irritability stems from sinful or selfish motives, although the irritable treatment of others is surely wrong. 

Much irritability comes from a love of perfection, a deep desire for programs, plans, meetings, and structures to be run perfectly. 

A desire to run things perfectly can erupt into anger at those who get in the way or ruin an outcome. 

When we get easily irritated, it helps to remember that perfection exists only in God. 

We need to love Him and our fellow Christians, not the visions we have for perfection here on earth. 

After all, we’re all still under construction. 

Before we trivialize these words about love by assuming they can easily fit us, we should pause to consider that they actually describe God’s character. 

These are not sugary claims. They are substantial descriptions of the way God perfectly relates to us. 

The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write a breathtakingly beautiful description of the nature of God. 

Only God can put His character in us and help us love like this.

———

Come join the Adventure! 

Skip 🕊️ 

Discerning God’s voice…

Our discerning God’s voice will require that we take the time to listen… 

John 10:27-30
J.B. Phillips New Testament

“My sheep recognize my voice and I know who they are.

They follow me and I give them eternal life.

They will never die and no one can snatch them out of my hand.

My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all.

And no one can tear anything out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are One.”
———

Starting with verses 27-30, these verses teach in unmistakable terms that no true sheep of Christ will ever die or perish.

The eternal security of the believer is a glorious fact.

Those who are true sheep of Christ hear His voice.

They hear it when the gospel is preached, and they respond by believing on Him.

The first job of every Christian is to come to Jesus and learn of Him (Matt 11:29) and part of that learning is getting to know God’s nature and His voice, all of which comes from having a 24/7 365 relationship with Him.

Jesus said that, “My Father is Spirit and those who would worship Him must do so in spirit and in truth (see John 4:23).

We as Born Again Christians are also Spirit beings, because we are made in the image and likeness of God (Gen 1:26-27).

In order for us to discern God’s voice, we must learn to do so in Spirit and not in our flesh.

1 Corinthians 2:14
New King James Version

“But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

Thereafter, we learn to hear His voice day by day and also to obey His Voice, and that starts as we daily immerse ourselves in His Word and in the Holy Spirit.

The Lord Jesus knows His sheep. He knows each one of us by name.

Not even one will escape His attention.

No one could be lost through an oversight or carelessness on His part.

Jesus’ sheep follow Him, first by exercising saving faith in Him, then by walking with Him in obedience.

Jesus gives eternal life to His sheep.

This means life that will last forever.

It is not life that is conditional on their behavior. It is eternal life, and that means everlasting.

But eternal life is also a quality of life.

It is the life of the Lord Jesus Himself.

So this must be our daily confession:

Galatians 2:20

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

This New Life is a life that is capable of enjoying the things of God down here, and a life that will be equally suitable to our heavenly home.

Note these next words carefully, in verse 28b…

“They shall never die (perish).”

If any sheep of Christ ever perished, then the Lord Jesus would have been guilty of failing to keep a promise, and this is not possible.

Jesus Christ is God, and He cannot fail.

He has promised in this verse that no sheep of His will ever spend eternity in hell.

Does this mean then that a person may be saved and then live the way he pleases?

Can he be saved and then carry on in the sinful pleasures of this world?

No, he no longer desires to do these things.

He wants to follow the Shepherd.

We do not live the Christian life in order to become a Christian or in order to retain our salvation.

We live a Christian life because we are Christians.

We desire to live a holy life, not out of fear of losing our salvation, but out of gratitude to the One who died for us.

The doctrine of eternal security does not encourage careless living, but rather is a strong motive for holy living.

No one is able to snatch a believer out of Christ’s hand.

His hand is almighty. It created the world; and it even now sustains the world.

There is no power that can snatch a sheep from Jesus’ grasp.

So as Christians we are followers of Christ (His disciples), so what does it mean to be a follower of Christ?

1 John 2:6
Expanded Bible

“Whoever says that he ·lives [abides; remains] in God must ·live [walk] as ·Jesus lived [he walked].”

Not only is the believer in the hand of Christ; he is in the Father’s hand as well.

This is a twofold guarantee of safety.

God the Father is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch a believer out of the Father’s hand.

Now the Lord Jesus added a further claim to equality with God:

“I and My Father are one.”

Here the thought probably is that Christ and the Father are one in power.

Jesus had just been speaking about the power that protects Christ’s sheep.

Therefore, He added the explanation that His power is the same as the power of God the Father.

Of course the same is true of all the other attributes of Deity.

The Lord Jesus Christ is God in the fullest sense and is equal with the Father in every way.
———

Sat, March 19
Beliefnet

5 Ways to Distinguish Between God’s Voice and Satan’s Voice

Don’t allow the enemy to sabotage you.
by Lesli White

As followers of Christ, we know how important it is to have a close relationship with God and listen to what He is calling us to do.

Yet, there will be times and circumstances that will move us away from God.

There will also be moments when satan’s voice will overpower God’s voice in our lives.

When these moments show up, we should avidly seek God, but it’s sometimes hard to tell what voice is speaking to us.

As simple as it is to call on God, sometimes we have a hard time distinguishing between God’s voice and the voice of the enemy.

If we want to have a solid relationship with God and walk boldly as believers, we have to know what voice is speaking to us.

Here are five ways to distinguish between God’s voice and satan’s voice.

IT CAUSES PANIC, NOT CALM

One of the greatest ways to distinguish between God’s voice and satan’s voice is to ask yourself if what you hear causes you to feel a sense of panic or peace.

Usually, when it’s satan’s voice, you will be left feeling incredibly anxious.

It won’t feel like there is any peace in your heart.

We know from Scripture that our God is a God of peace.

Second Thessalonians 3:16 says,

“Now may the LORD of peace Himself give you peace at all times in every way…” and Psalm 29:11 says,

“The LORD gives strength to His people, the LORD blesses His people with peace.”

If you feel like your inner sense of peace is lost, it may be the devil at work.

IT GOES AGAINST GOD’S WORD

A tell-tale sign that you’re listening to satan’s voice and not God’s voice is if it contradicts God’s Word.

Satan will tell you that it’s ok to sin and that the sin you’re committing won’t damage the people around you.

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

We are called to obey God’s commandments.

Deuteronomy 5:33 says,

“Walk in obedience to all that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.”

If the voice you’re hearing is leading you to sin and go against God’s Word, it isn’t of God.

IT WEAKENS YOUR PRAYER LIFE

As Christians, we are called to pray daily.

We are called to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Philippians 4:6 says.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”

Satan will spend time trying to pull you away from your time with God.

You will no longer be encouraged to pray because the voice tells you that you have too many other important things going on.

If you’re having trouble praying, call on God, and ask Him to open your heart again to active prayer.

James 4:8 says,

“draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”

God wants you to be close to Him each day, and prayer is the best opportunity to draw near Him.

IT GOES AGAINST GOD’S WORD

A tell-tale sign that you’re listening to satan’s voice and not God’s voice is if it contradicts God’s Word.

Satan will tell you that it’s ok to sin and that the sin you’re committing won’t damage the people around you.

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

We are called to obey God’s commandments.

Deuteronomy 5:33 says,

“Walk in obedience to all that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.”

If the voice you’re hearing is leading you to sin and go against God’s Word, it isn’t of God.

IT WEAKENS YOUR PRAYER LIFE

As Christians, we are called to pray daily.

We are called to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Philippians 4:6 says.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”

Satan will spend time trying to pull you away from your time with God.

You will no longer be encouraged to pray because the voice tells you that you have too many other important things going on.

If you’re having trouble praying, call on God, and ask Him to open your heart again to active prayer.

James 4:8 says,

“draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”

God wants you to be close to Him each day, and prayer is the best opportunity to draw near Him.

IT FEELS LIKE COMMOTION

Listening to satan’s voice will feel like commotion.

This is why it’s imperative that we turn down the commotion occurring in our lives so we can more clearly hear God’s voice.

Sometimes, it will feel like God is silent, but the truth is He is always present.

Jeremiah 33:3 says,

“Call to Me, and I will answer you and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”

If you feel like there is a great deal of chaos going on in your life, this may simply be satan stirring up trouble.

You must tune out the enemy’s commotion so you can draw closer to God.

IT MAKES YOU FEEL WORTHLESS

One of satan’s greatest tricks is to convince you that you are worthless.

Over time, you begin to become convinced that you are no longer valuable to God or anyone else.

You will begin to ask yourself things like,

“If God loved me, why am I experiencing this.”

This is satan planting seeds of doubt in your head so that you will disconnect from God.

Know that this is not of God.

Satan wants nothing more for you to doubt God and the value of your life.

If he can trick you into thinking this, he can move you far away from God.

God wants the opposite. He wants to uplift you. He wants you to know how important you are.

You are not worthless. Understand that you are important and bring value to this planet.

It’s time to pause and listen to what voices are speaking to you right now.

If something is going on in your life that is blocking you from hearing God’s voice, you must clear it from your space.

Psalm 66:18 says,

“If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the LORD would not have listened.”

Call on God this very moment and restore your relationship with Him.

The more time you spend speaking with God, the easier it is to distinguish His voice.
———

Come join the Adventure!

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