Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…

In every area, let us follow the example Jesus gave us, in the Bible, in how to conduct GOD’s ministry in the earth and how to live our lives…

Jesus’ disciples ask Him, “who is the greatest in the kingdom?”

The greatest person in the kingdom will of course be Jesus.

After that, ranking the greatest is full of surprises.

Matthew 18:1–5 records, “At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’

[Jesus] called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me’” (see also Mark 9:35–37; Luke 9:46–48).

What are God’s priorities regarding His church?

Jesus speakings to Peter, after Peter had denied him three times:

“When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?’

Peter said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs’.

He said to him a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’

Peter said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’

Jesus said to Peter the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’

Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’

Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep’”
— John 21:15-17
———

GOD’s priority and instructions to the elders of the church, is NOT for them to become a CEO of a 501(c)3 corporation (who have, under the articles of their incorporation, made themselves the servant of the state), but rather it is to be a servant unto GOD’s people:

1 Peter 5:1-11
The Voice (VOICE)

1 Now for the elders of the church. I want to encourage you. As you know, I am an elder, too, like you.

I have witnessed firsthand the sufferings of the Anointed One as well as shared in the glories which are soon to be revealed.

2 When you shepherd the flock God has given you, watch over them not because you have to but because you want to.

For this is how God would want it not because you’re being compensated somehow but because you are eager to watch over them.

3 Don’t lead them as if you were a dictator, but lead your flock by example; 4 and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will be crowned with honor that will shine brightly forever.

5 You who are younger in the faith: do as your elders and leaders ask. All of you should treat each other with humility, for as it says in Proverbs,

God opposes the proud
but offers grace to the humble.

6 So bow down under God’s strong hand; then when the time comes, God will lift you up. 7 Since God cares for you, let Him carry all your burdens and worries.

[NOTE: Humility is rarely a virtue that our culture values.

We’re trained from an early age to show our strengths and hide our weaknesses.

This type of thinking also spills over into our models of leadership, as we learn to dictate to others how they should perform.

Peter, however, says that we should be humble in our relationships with one another and not lead as dictators.

In fact, this humility before one another and God is actually the position of the greatest strength.

Our enemy desires to consume us, but we find strength to resist him when we are dependent upon God for His strength.]

8 Most importantly, be disciplined and stay on guard. Your enemy the devil is prowling around outside like a roaring lion, just waiting and hoping for the chance to devour someone.

9 Resist him and be strong in your faith, knowing that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are fellow sufferers with you.

10 After you have suffered for a little while, the God of grace who has called you [to His everlasting presence] through Jesus the Anointed will restore you, support you, strengthen you, and ground you. 11 For all power belongs to God, now and forever. Amen.
———

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What does it mean to follow Jesus…

Learning to live by faith means…

Learning to live GOD’s way (in recognition that following Jesus is the way – see John 14:6), means trusting in Him with ALL our heart and NOT leaning on our own understanding (Prov 3:5-6).

Sept 21
The Spirit Filled Believer

LET DOWN THE NET
by Dick Mills

“Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.”
— Luke 5:5

Here is a rhema promise for everyone who has read the manual, followed all the rules and still not attained the desired results.

One leader complained, “I went to a church growth seminar. While I was away some of the folks in the church got discouraged and quit.

When I got back home from learning how to help the church grow, I had fewer people than when I went away. I must be doing something wrong.”

If anyone knew how to fish, it was Peter.

Prior to meeting Jesus, Peter had been a professional fisherman. He knew about fish. He knew their feeding habits, when and where to go looking for them, and how to catch them.

Peter had fished right the evening before. He knew that the fish fed at night up close to the shore, so that’s where he fished for them.

Yet he had caught nothing. Then along comes Jesus, a carpenter, who tells him to do two things, both contrary to all the rules of good fishing practice.

First, He asks him to fish at the brightest time of the day. (Any lake fisherman knows that when the sun is on the water, the fish all go to the bottom of the lake.)

Secondly, Jesus asks Peter to reverse his direction and fish out in the center of the lake rather than along the shore.

Peter knew the habits of fish. But he also knew the power of Jesus’ Word.

His response to these seemingly contradictory directions was, “Master, we have done it right, but have had no results.

However, at Your rhema (Word), we will try it again Your way.”

The Lord’s way worked! His way and His Word will work for us, too!

[Source: The Spirit-Filled Believer’s Daily Devotional by Dick Mills]
———

Learning to live by faith is all about taking a risk and jumping into the deep end of the pool; or to put it another way, it means leaving those safe harbors behind and casting your faith out into the deep, because that is where Jesus is.

This is where the adventure begins,

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Draw nigh unto God…

Draw neigh unto God and He will draw niegh unto you…

The Bible tells us that God has done EVERYTHING needful to bring us home; to forgive our sins and reconcile us back into God’s family; BUT WE ALSO HAVE A PART TO PLAY IN THIS RELATIONSHIP.

Matthew 11:28-30
The Message (MSG)

28-30 “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.”

The Bible tells us that Jesus is now seated at the right hand of the Father, meaning He has finished His work.

But in spite of that, we see in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, after having seen His son a far off, the Father comes running to him, indicating that He had been prayerfully watching for his return each and every day.

Luke 15:20-21
The Message (MSG)

20-21 “When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him.

The son started his speech: ‘Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’
———

Sept 18
The Spirit Filled Believer

DRAW ME, LORD
by Dick Mills

“Draw me, we will run after thee…”
— Song of Solomon 1:4

We are told in the New Testament to draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to us (James 4:8).

In this verse, the bride (a symbol of the Church) says to the bridegroom,

“You do the drawing, and we will respond.”

This attitude is one of compliant submission to the actions of the bridegroom as a forerunner.

In Jeremiah 31:3 the Lord expresses His love for us in these words,

“With lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”

In Hosea 11:4, He speaks of His children, saying,

“I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love….”

“Draw me” can be a statement of total dependence upon the Lord.

It implies a looking to God for all our needed help.

David says in Psalm 25:15,

“Mine eyes are ever toward the Lord….” Later he pleads to the Lord, “Send out Your light and Your truth. Let them lead me”
—Psalm. 43:3

Jesus told us that He was going to be lifted up (referring to the crucifixion) and that He would draw all men to Himself (John 12:32).

He also stated that no man could come to Him except His Father drew him (John 6:44).

This prayer in Song of Solomon 1:4 is a good prayer to pray:

“Draw me, Lord, and we will run after You.”

I do believe there is a restlessness expressed in this statement. It comes from a soul that does not want too great a distance between itself and the Lord.

It is the expression of an earnest desire we all should have for closer communion with our Lord.

David said it for each of us in Psalm 73:28,

“It is good for me to draw near to God….”

[Source: The Spirit-Filled Believer’s Daily Devotional by Dick Mills]
———

Come join the Adventure,

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Let us boldly come into GOD’s presence…

GOD never tells us to ask Him for things He doesn’t want us to have…

We need to understand that the Old Testament Believers were looking forward to the cross; and we, as New Testament Believers, are looking back at that same cross.

It’s because of the Cross of Calvary and the precious Blood that Christ (our Messiah) shed there, on our behalf, and also because of the New Covenant — which is better than the Old Covenant — that the Bible tells us that we can now BOLDLY come into God’s presence, with our petitions, just as we see that Jabez did.

Hebrews 4:16
“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

This is GOD’s will for EVERY Believer:

Ephesians 1:15-23
J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)

I thank God for you, and pray for you
15-19 Since, then, I heard of this faith of yours in the Lord Jesus and the practical way in which you are expressing it towards fellow-Christians, I thank God continually for you and I never give up praying for you; and this is my prayer.

That God, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ and the all-glorious Father, will give you spiritual wisdom and the insight to know more of him: that you may receive that inner illumination of the spirit which will make you realise how great is the hope to which he is calling you—the magnificence and splendour of the inheritance promised to Christians—and how tremendous is the POWER available to us who believe in God.

20-21 That power is the same divine power which was demonstrated in Christ when he raised him from the dead and gave him the place of supreme honour in Heaven—a place that is infinitely superior to any conceivable command, authority, power or control, and which carries with it a name far beyond any name that could ever be used in this world or the world to come.

22-23 God has placed everything under the power of Christ and has set him up as head of everything for the Church. for the Church is his body, and in that body lives fully the one who fills the whole wide universe.

1 John 5:14-15
Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

14 And this is the confidence (the assurance, the privilege of boldness) which we have in Him: [we are sure] that if we ask anything (make any request) according to His will (in agreement with His own plan), He listens to and hears us.

15 And if (since) we [positively] know that He listens to us in whatever we ask, we also know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that we have [granted us as our present possessions] the requests made of Him.


The word, in both Hebrew and Greek, for PRAYER means to supplicate; and the American Heritage Dictionary defines supplicate as to make “earnest petition,” which means to make a legal demand (petition) requesting a right or benefit in a court of law.

We as Christians, whatever trials and tribulations may be confronting us in the Earth, regardless of any accusations made, by the “Accuser of the Brethren” – who is Satan, we have to learn to make our appeal (our petition) in the Courtroom of Heaven, where Jesus is our Advocate and the Judge is our Abba Father.

So that whatever accusations are brought against us, by the “Accuser of the Brethren,” in GOD’s courtroom, all we need to do is request that the scrolls be opened and when that is done, we have no need to defend ourselves; all we need do is ask that whatever accusations are made that they be placed under the Blood of the Cross, and that one act frees GOD the Father to move on our behalf.

You see the cross of Calvary, and the shed Blood of Jesus there, has taken ALL the leverage that Satan had against us, on account of our sin, away from him.
———

Sept 15
God At Eventide
by Two Listeners

BOLD IN PRAYER

My child, there is no arrogance in your assertion when you say,

“I will not let Thee go unless Thou bless me.”
— Gen 32:26b

Have not I ever told you to claim big things. In so doing you obey Me.

You do right to wrestle boldly in prayer. There are times for demanding, for claiming.

Now is the time to claim. You are in no doubt about My Will. Claim its manifestations on earth.

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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We are more than conquerors in Christ…

The Bible says that, “We are MORE than conquerors in Christ,” and also that, “We can do ALL things through Christ that strengthen us” (see Rom 8:37 and Php 4:13)…

As Christians, our main objective in life should be to fulfill our destiny and become all that God created us to be; and this can only be done as we learned to live and walk, by faith and obedience, in Christ.

Psalm 139:16
The Message (MSG)

13-16 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!

Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!

You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.

Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,

The days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day.

Ephesians 1:7-14
The Message (MSG)

7-10 Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.

11-12 It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.

13-14 It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This signet from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life.

Romans 8:29-30
The Message (MSG)

29-30 God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son.

The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored.

We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him.

After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name.

After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.

———

Jesus our Creator, the author and finisher of our faith, has also told us that,

“I am come that you might have life, and that you might have it more abundantly.”
— John 10:10

If we are to experience that abundant life, which can happen only as we learn to fulfill our God given destiny; and if we are to go where God intends for us to go in life, then we have to learn to trust in Jesus and recognize that NOTHING of any eternal consequence or value can ever be accomplished, except we abide in Christ, as He is the Creator and author of each one of our lives.
———

September 3
God At Eventide
by Two Listeners

YOUR FAILURES ARE MINE

Lord I present to Thee my failures. Only Thou couldst . . repair the harm that I have wrought.

Because you are Mine I must identify Myself with all you are.

I play the harmony of which you made such discord. I sound the hope in ears you had no charm of Love to woo from sin and failure.

I lead to happier ways those you misjudged, despised.

I take your failures, and because your desire is towards Me, and you know Me as Lord, these, your failures, it is My sacrificial task to bear, to reclaim.

Step up from your slough of failure into the robe of faith and love I give you.

Be strong to save as you have known salvation, strong in Me, your ever-conquering Lord.

“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
———

Lastly, we know by faith (based on the scriptures I have already mentioned), that God has a plan for our life, and so it falls to us to trust in His plan; and to do so, by faith, in spite of any and all negative feelings and or circumstances.

We need to understand that God’s power is never cancelled by our negative feelings or circumstances; and that what God promises He is well able to perform and do in our lives.

The test and rub of life, where the rubber meets the road for all of us, is whether or not we can believe?

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
— Jeremiah 29:11

Come join the Adventure!

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Through it all, we learn to trust in Jesus…

Our problems come to make us strong…

God’s Purpose Behind Your Problems
by R Warren

“My troubles turned out all for the best. They forced me to learn from your textbook. Truth from your mouth means more to me than striking it rich in a gold mine.”
— Psalm 119:71-72 (Msg)

Life is a series of problem-solving opportunities. The problems you face will either defeat you or develop you – depending on how you respond to them.

Unfortunately, most people fail to see how God wants to use problems for good in their lives. They react foolishly and resent their problems rather than pausing to consider what benefit they might bring.

Here are five ways God wants to use the problems in your life:

1. God uses problems to DIRECT you – Sometimes God must light a fire under you to get you moving. Problems often point us in a new direction and motivate us to change. Is God trying to get your attention? “Sometimes it takes a painful situation to make us change our ways.” Pr. 20:30 (GN)

2. God uses problems to INSPECT you – People are like teabags if you want to know what’s inside them, just drop them into hot water! Has God ever tested your faith with a problem? What do problems reveal about you?

When you have many kinds of troubles, you should be full of joy, because you know that these troubles test your faith, and this will give you patience. (James 1:2-3, NCV)

3. God uses problems to CORRECT you – Some lessons we learn only through pain and failure. It’s likely that as a child your parents told you not to touch a hot stove. But you probably learned by being burned. Sometimes we only learn the value of something – health, money, a relationship – by losing it.

It was the best thing that could have happened to me, for it taught me to pay attention to your laws. (Ps. 119:71-72, LB)

4. God uses problems to PROTECT you – A problem can be a blessing in disguise if it prevents you from being harmed by something more serious. Last year a friend of mine was fired for refusing to do something unethical that his boss asked him to do. His unemployment was a problem – but it saved him from being convicted and sent to prison a year later when his boss actions were uncovered.

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good . (Gen. 50:20, NIV)

5. God uses problems to PERFECT you. – Problems, when responded to correctly, are character builders. God is far more interested in your character than your comfort. Your relationship to God and your character are the only two things you’re going to take with you into eternity.

We can rejoice when we run into problems they help us learn to be patient. And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady. (Rom. 5:3-4, LB)

Here’s the point: God is at work in your life – even when you do not recognize it or understand it. But it’s much easier and profitable when you cooperate with Him!
———

Along with each challenge we face in life, comes an invitation from God to enter into a new experience with Him, in order to give us much needed “on the job training” and real life experience in how to apply God’s POWER, the promises His WORD, and His long-suffering perseverance through every trial that we face in life.

So that we may have, not just intellectual knowledge of God, but more importantly that we may gain experiential knowledge, as we learn to die to our self-will and self-determination (see Matthew 16:24-27), in order that God may channel His power through us (per 2 Corinthians 10:3-5) and remove those seemingly “mountain sized” obstacles Satan places in our path (see Matthew 17:19-20).

———

August 26
God Calling

ACCEPT TRIALS
by Two Listeners

Trials and troubles may seem to overwhelm you. They cannot do more than work My Will, and that Will you have said is your Will.

Do you not see that you cannot be destroyed? From now a new Life is opening out before you. Yours to enter into the Kingdom I have prepared for you.

The sunlight of My Presence is on your paths. Trust and go forward unafraid. My Grace is sufficient for all your needs.

“In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.”
— Psalm 56:11

[NOTE: These inspired messages where received from God, in London during WW II, by two ladies (who opted to remain anonymous), who endured the daily bombings of the London Blitzkrieg]
———

Come join the Adventure!

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Meditations on finding peace in the midst of the storm…

Don’t allow anything, person or situation to rob you of your peace…

These are the keys whereby you may enter into the Secret Place (see Psalm 91):

Psalm 100:4

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

16 Rejoice evermore.

17 Pray without ceasing.

18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Hebrews 4:11
You labour is to enter into God’s rest
11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

———

The Spirit-Filled Believer

A ‘COOL’ SPIRIT
by Dick Mills

“A man of understanding has a cool spirit.”

—Prov. 17:27 AMP

In our day, the word “cool” has taken on a new significance. Among our youth, it is often considered the height of sophistication to be thought of as “cool.”

An individual who is “cool” is “street wise”, “mod”, “chick”, “avant-garde”, “hip”.

A “cool dude” is one who has “got it all together”—he’s in control of his own life and destiny.

Everything about him is “cool, man, cool”. He listens to “cool music,” drives a “cool machine”, is always seen in the company of “cool chicks.”

Thus, the word cool is something of a buzz word to indicate those who are on to something or who have something that the rest of dull society is missing.

As far as we know, Solomon was the first man to use the word cool when he wrote: …a man of understanding has a cool spirit.

Wise Solomon was not trendy. His primary interest was not popularity or peer group acceptance. He didn’t follow fads or conform to the latest fashions—especially not in spiritual matters.

Neither will a man (or woman) of understanding.

The truly spiritual person is cool because he is disciplined and even-tempered. He doesn’t blow up, lose control, give vent to emotional outbursts, show temperament, or give in to moods.

In the original Hebrew, the word translated cool is qar (kar) and is defined as “quiet, calm, composed.”

The person with a “cool” spirit is self-possessed, free of anger, passion, or resentment. He is what every Christian should be.

One writer has stated it well: “The ideal for all of us is to have a cool head and a warm heart.” Let’s be cool the Bible way!

Source: The Spirit-Filled Believer’s Daily Devotional by Dick Mills
———

Keep Calm

“Keep your Spirit-Life calm and unruffled.”

Nothing else matters. Leave ALL to Me.

This is your great task, to get calm in My Presence, not to let one ruffled feeling stay for one moment.

Years of blessing may be checked in one moment by that.

No matter who frets you or what, yours is the task to stop all else until absolute calm comes. Any block means My Power diverted into other channels.

Pour forth – pour forth – pour forth – I cannot bless a life that does not act as a channel.

My Spirit brooks no stagnation, not even in rest. Its Power must flow on. Pass on everything, every blessing. Abide in Me.

See how many you can bless each day. Dwell much in My Presence.

“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” – Proverbs 4:23
———

AUGUST 19
My Utmost for His Highest

SELF-AWARENESS

“Come to Me…”
MATTHEW 11:28

God intends for us to live a well-rounded life in Christ Jesus, but there are times when that life is attacked from the outside.

Then we tend to fall back into self-examination, a habit that we thought was gone.

Self-awareness is the first thing that will upset the completeness of our life in God, and self-awareness continually produces a sense of struggling and turmoil in our lives.

Self-awareness is not sin, and it can be produced by nervous emotions or by suddenly being dropped into a totally new set of circumstances.

Yet it is never God’s will that we should be anything less than absolutely complete in Him.

Anything that disturbs our rest in Him must be rectified at once, and it is not rectified by being ignored but only by coming to Jesus Christ.

If we will come to Him, asking Him to produce Christ-awareness in us, He will always do it, until we fully learn to abide in Him.

NEVER allow anything that divides or destroys the oneness of your life with Christ to remain in your life without facing it.

Beware of allowing the influence of your friends or your circumstances to divide your life.

This only serves to sap your strength and slow your spiritual growth. Beware of anything that can split your oneness with Him, causing you to see yourself as separate from Him.

Nothing is as important as staying right spiritually. And the only solution is a very simple one— “Come to Me….”

The intellectual, moral, and spiritual depth of our reality as a person is tested and measured by these words.

Yet in every detail of our lives where we are found not to be real, we would rather dispute the findings than come to Jesus.
———

Stay in the Spirit, keep cool, allowing God’s Shalom (peace) to envelop you, and come join the Adventure!

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God’s purpose for every Christian is that we are to reflect His LIGHT and LOVE into this dark world…

GOD is our Source for ALL things needful in this life, and it ALL starts with Jesus…

James 1:17

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, with whom there is no change or shifting shadow.”

I remember once hearing the story about this great intellectual orator, who also happened to be a Christian, giving what I believe was a graduation commencement speech, and he was asked by someone at the very closing moments of his speech to give the meaning and purpose of life.

He thought for a moment and said that our God given mission and purpose in life is for EVERY believer to reflect God’s LIGHT and LOVE into all the dark places of this world; he said we aren’t the source of this light and love, only its reflection.

I would add that God’s purpose, for EVERY Christian, is that we die to ourselves and that we pick up our cross daily, as the Lord said WE ALL must do:

Mark 8:34-38

J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)

34-38 Then he called his disciples and the people around him, and said to them,

“If anyone wants to follow in my footsteps, he must give up all right to himself, take up his cross and follow me.

The man who tries to save his life will lose it; it is the man who loses his life for my sake and the Gospel’s who will save it.

What good can it do a man to gain the whole world at the price of his own soul?

What can a man offer to buy back his soul once he has lost it?

If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this unfaithful and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in the Father’s glory with the holy angels around him.”

[NOTE: The cross is the symbol of our death to self will and self determination outside the will and purpose of God]

God’s purpose is that we each, having been born-again, would become the conduit of God’s Agape (which is the God kind of love – meaning love given without strings), and that we would shine God’s LIGHT and LOVE into all the dark areas of this world.

I truly believe that is the mission of EVERY Christian, with the recognition that we are NEVER the source – only the reflection – and that God, our Abba Daddy in heaven – that He is our ONLY Source.

[NOTE: In Greek the word for Father is Pater, which implies, “the originator and transmitter of anything; the authors of a family or society of persons, animated by the same spirit as himself” — from Olive Tree Enhanced Strong’s Dictionary]

Some would claim that all people are “children of God,” but the Bible reveals quite a different truth.

We are all His creations and under His authority and lordship, and all will be judged by Him, but the right to be a child of God and call Him “Abba Father” is something that only born-again Christians have (John 1:12–13).

When we are born again (John 3:1–8), we are adopted into the family of God, redeemed from the curse of sin, and made heirs of God (Romans 8:17; Galatians 4:7).

Part of that new relationship is that God now deals with us differently, as family.

It is life-changing to understand what it means to be able to call the one true God our “Father” and what it means to be joint-heirs with Christ.

Because of our relationship with our Abba, Father, He no longer deals with us as enemies; instead, we can approach Him with “boldness” (Hebrews 10:19) and in “full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:22).

The Holy Spirit “testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:16–17).

Becoming a child of God is the highest and most humbling of honors.

Because of it we have a NEW relationship with God and a NEW standing before Him.

Instead of running from God and trying to hide our sin like Adam and Eve did, we run to Him, calling, “Abba, Father!” and finding forgiveness in Christ.

Being an adopted child of God is the source of our hope, the security of our future, and the motivation to “live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Ephesians 4:1).

Being children of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords calls us to a higher standard, a different way of life, and, in the future, “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade” (1 Peter 1:4).

As Christians, as Jesus stated in Luke 2:49, we too must be about our Father’s business; and that business is for us to be the distributors of GOD’S LIGHT and His LOVE into all the dark areas of this world. Selah (pause and reflect)

How do we do this?

Zachariah 4:6
JPS Tanakh 1917

Then he answered and spoke unto me, saying: ‘This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying:

“Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.”

Remember we aren’t the Source of God’s LIGHT and LOVE, only the reflection; and one of the last things Jesus said, before His ascension into heaven was that,

“ALL power has been given to Me, in heaven and earth, so that you (my disciples) may go out and do this job I’m calling you to do.” (see Matthew 28:18-19).

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What does it mean to be a follower of Christ – to be a Christian…

What does the Bible say about being a Christian and following Christ?

Being a Christian is much more than giving intellectual assent to an historic fact.

I should know because I was there once myself; after having been baptized as an infant and confirmed at age 13, I only knew about Jesus, as an historical figure, like I knew about George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and everybody else I learned about in history.

I was what you could call a Nominal Christian, meaning I was Christian in name only; in fact once I had been confirmed, by my denomination, I stopped going to church because I figured I had already made the club.

This historic Jesus that lived over 2,000 years ago was having no impact on my life today.

I just couldn’t relate to an historic Jesus and the miracles He did, all those many years ago, none of which was helping me today in the problems that were confronting me in my life.

That’s why Christianity is NOT a religion, it’s rather about our having a living (personal) relationship with a living Savior; and this is how it starts for ALL of us – we must be born-again.

John 3:1-21
J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)

Jesus and a religious leader
3 1-2 One night Nicodemus, a leading Jew and a Pharisee, came to see Jesus.

“Master,” he began, “we realise that you are a teacher who has come from God.
Obviously no one could show the signs that you show unless God were with him.”

3 “Believe me,” returned Jesus, “a man cannot even see the kingdom of God without being born again.”

4 “And how can a man who’s getting old possibly be born?” replied Nicodemus. “How can he go back into his mother’s womb and be born a second time?”

5-8 “I assure you,” said Jesus, “that unless a man is born from water and from spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

Flesh gives birth to flesh and spirit gives birth to spirit: you must not be surprised that I told you that all of you must be born again.

The wind blows where it likes, you can hear the sound of it but you have no idea where it comes from and where it goes. Nor can you tell how a man is born by the wind of the Spirit.”

9 “How on earth can things like this happen?” replied Nicodemus.

10-21 “So you are a teacher of Israel,” said Jesus, “and you do not recognise such things?

I assure you that we are talking about something we really know and we are witnessing to something we have actually observed, yet men like you will not accept our evidence.

Yet if I have spoken to you about things which happen on this earth and you will not believe me, what chance is there that you will believe me if I tell you about what happens in Heaven?

No one has ever been up to Heaven except the Son of Man who came down from Heaven.

The Son of Man must be lifted above the heads of men—as Moses lifted up that serpent in the desert—so that any man who believes in him may have eternal life.

FOR GOD LOVED THE WORLD SO MUCH THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY SON, SO THAT EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM SHALL NOT BE LOST, BUT SHOULD HAVE ETERNAL LIFE.

You must understand that God has not sent his Son into the world to pass sentence upon it, but to save it—through him.

Any man who believes in him is not judged at all. It is the one who will not believe who stands already condemned, because he will not believe in the character of God’s only Son.

This is the judgment—that light has entered the world and men have preferred darkness to light because their deeds are evil.

Anybody who does wrong hates the light and keeps away from it, for fear his deeds may be exposed. But anybody who is living by the truth will come to the light to make it plain that all he has done has been done through God.”

Romans 8:28-39
Wuest – The New Testament: An Expanded Translation

28 And we know with an absolute knowledge that for those who are loving God, all things are working together resulting in good, for those who are divinely-summoned ones according to His purpose.

29 Because, those whom He foreordained He also marked out beforehand as those who were to be conformed to the derived image of His Son, with the result that He is firstborn among many brethren.

30 Moreover, those whom He thus marked out beforehand, these He also summoned. And those whom He summoned, these He also justified.

Moreover, those whom He justified, these He also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things?

In view of the fact that God is on our behalf, who could be against us?

32 Indeed, He who His own Son did not spare, but on behalf of us all delivered Him up, how is it possible that He shall not with Him in grace give us all things?

33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s chosen-out ones?

God, the One who justifies?

34 Who is the one who condemns?

Christ Jesus, the One who died, yes, rather, who has been raised, who is on the right hand of God, who also is constantly interceding on our behalf?

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword?

36 Even as it stands written, For your sake we are being put to death all the day long.

We were accounted as sheep destined for slaughter. 37 But in these things, all of them, we are coming off constantly with more than the victory through the One who loved us.

38 For I have come through a process of persuasion to the settled conclusion that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things about to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the LOVE of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 12:1-2
J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)

We have seen God’s mercy and wisdom: how shall we respond?
1-2 With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my brothers, as an act of intelligent worship, to give him your bodies, as a living sacrifice, consecrated to him and acceptable by him.

Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Wuest – The New Testament: An Expanded Translation

19 Or do you not know that your body is an inner sanctuary of the Holy Spirit, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you were purchased at a price. Now therefore, glorify God in your body.

John 14:15; 23

Jesus speaking:
15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.

23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.

Luke 6:46-49

Build on the Rock
Jesus speaking:
46“But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?

47 Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like:

48 He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock.

49 But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.”

1 John 2:4-6
Living Bible (TLB)

4 Someone may say, “I am a Christian; I am on my way to heaven; I belong to Christ.” But if he doesn’t do what Christ tells him to, he is a liar.

5 But those who do what Christ tells them to will learn to love God more and more.

That is the way to know whether or not you are a Christian. 6 Anyone who says he is a Christian should live as Christ did.

Jesus speaking: “My Kingdom is about changing into good what the devil meant for evil; and changing you to be more like Me.”

Having been born-again, Jesus’ promise is that He will be with us ALWAYS…

Jesus Calling
by Sarah Young

FIND ME in the midst of the maelstrom.

Sometimes events whirl around you so quickly that they become a blur.

Whisper My Name in recognition that I am still with you.

Without skipping a beat in the activities that occupy you, you find strength and
Peace through praying My Name.

Later, when the happenings have run their course, you can talk with Me more fully.

Accept each day just as it comes to you. Do not waste your time and energy wishing for a different set of circumstances.

Instead, trust Me enough to yield to My design and purposes.

Remember that nothing can separate you from My loving Presence; you are Mine.

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
—Philippians 2:9–11

The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.
—Psalm 29:11

But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”
—Isaiah 43:1

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GOD desires to have unending fellowship and communion with you…

The purpose for prayer is two way communication with GOD…

In 1 Thessalonians 5:17 we are instructed to “pray without ceasing.”

What does that mean and how do we do that?

Certainly it doesn’t mean that we are to stay in our devotional prayer closet all day, because we have other things to do in life – like earning a living; taking care of our families and the business of life.

Listen to the words of Jesus along this line, when He answers the question of what it mean to love GOD, from GOD’S point of view.

John 14:15-20
J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)

Jesus promises the Spirit
15-20 “If you really love me, you will keep the commandments I have given you and I shall ask the Father to give you someone else to stand by you, to be with you always.

I mean the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, for it can neither see nor recognise that Spirit.

But you recognise him, for he is with you now and will be in your hearts.

I am not going to leave you alone in the world—I am coming to you. In a very little while, the world will see me no more but you will see me, because I am really alive and you will be alive too.

When that day come, you will realise that I am in my Father, that you are in me, and I am in you.

John 14:23-24
23-24 And to this Jesus replied, “When a man loves me, he follows my teaching.

Then my Father will love him, and we will come to that man and make our home within him.

The man who does not really love me will not follow my teaching. Indeed, what you are hearing from me now is not really my saying, but comes from the Father who sent me.

Jesus asks the question, “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I say?”

John 6:46-51
43-51 So Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. Nobody comes to me unless he is drawn to me by the Father who sent me, and I will raise him up when the last day comes.

In the prophets it is written—‘And they shall all be taught by God,’ and this means that everybody who has heard the Father’s voice and learned from him will come to me.

Not that anyone has ever seen the Father except the one who comes from God—he has seen the Father.

I assure you that the man who trusts in him has eternal life already. I myself am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate manna in the desert, and they died.

This is bread that comes down from Heaven, so that a man may eat it and not die.

I myself am the living bread which came down from Heaven, and if anyone eats this bread he will live for ever. The bread which I will give is my body and I shall give it for the life of the world.”

Actually the purpose of our having this unending communion with God, called prayer, is not for us to give God our instructions and advice Him of our daily needs, though that’s part of it; but mostly it’s about our having a connection with Him throughout our day – every day – 24/7 365; and it’s also about our receiving instructions from Him and rhema revelation (see Matthew 6:31-33).

Jeremiah 33:3
GOD says: “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”

What Is Prayer?

Most people might say it’s talking to God, mostly to ask for what we need.

This is partially true, but a crucial piece is missing. In Jeremiah, God tells the Israelites, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jer 33:3).

As F. B. Huey Jr., says, this verse links revelation with prayer:

“The invitation suggests that divine revelation becomes reality when it is sought” (see Mt 7:7; cf., Jas 4:2–3).

Timothy Keller further explains how prayer is connected to God’s revelation:

What is prayer, then, in the fullest sense?

Prayer is continuing a conversation that God has started through his Word and his grace, which eventually becomes a full encounter with him. . . .

The power of our prayers, then, lies not primarily in our effort and striving, or in any technique, but rather in our knowledge of God.

This is why, as Donald S. Whitney says, “of all the Spiritual Disciplines, prayer is second only to the intake of God’s Word in importance.”

Prayer is second in importance because it relies on our knowledge of God, which comes from reading his Word.

Without engagement with Scripture, our prayers are lacking. It’s like having a phone conversation where the other person can hear us but we can’t hear them.

Hearing from God by engaging Scripture changes us. But does prayer change God?

The Bible doesn’t explicitly say how our prayers influence God. But it does say we can be confident he hears us if we pray according to his will (see 1Jn 5:1).

Our concerns about whether prayer changes God are lessened when we consider we would not want him to answer a prayer that was not according to his will.

Now that we have these missing pieces, we can craft a more comprehensive definition of prayer:

Prayer is an encounter with God that is initiated by him through his Word and that changes our hearts as we humbly communicate and worship the Lord, confess our sins and transgressions and ask him to fulfill both our needs and the desires of our heart.
(from Lifehacks Study Bible)
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And finally…

Charles Spurgeon said – “Prayer moves the arm that moves the world.”

“God has of his own motion placed himself under the law of prayer, and has obligated himself to answer the prayers of men.

He has ordained prayer as a means whereby he will do things through men as they pray, which he would not otherwise do.

If prayer puts God to work on earth, then, by the same token, prayerlessness rules God out of the world’s affairs, and prevents him from working.

The driving power, the conquering force in God’s cause is God himself.

‘Call on me and I will answer thee and show thee great and mighty things which though knowest not,’ is God’s challenge to prayer.

Prayer puts God in full force into God’s work.”

[E.M. Bounds “The Weapon of Prayer” Chap. 2]
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