Friday, September 30, 2011

UNBELIEF SHUTS OFF INTIMACY WITH GOD!

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

All the praying in the world will not do you any good unless you mix it with faith! You can fast and pray for three days or three weeks, but without faith, you will not please God. All your hours in prayer, all your petitions, all your “coming to Him” will profit you nothing unless your heart is anchored in faith!

“Let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:6-7).

If you are spending two hours with God and yet never believe Him to answer you, you are embarrassing Him for two hours! It may make you feel good or feel holy but in reality you are wasting time! You are giving God two hours of unbelief and doubt.

I know Christians who say they pray daily, often weeping before the Lord, yet nothing happens. They remain heavyhearted and depressed. Their lives are always in turmoil, all because they have embarrassed the Lord by coming into His presence not fully persuaded He will do what He promised!

“Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11:24).

“And all things, whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive” (Matthew 21:22).

Many of God’s people live as spiritual paupers because something happened that made them question God’s love. They say, “How can I trust God when I don’t understand why He would allow such a thing to happen to me?”

There is no human answer to their confusion. But God knows the end from the beginning and only when we are in heaven will we understand why some of these winds and waves have tossed us and why God allowed it all.

Isaiah gave an answer and I believe it is all we need to know for now: “Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb?... Yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands” (Isaiah 49:15-16).

God has given us His Word: “You are My child. You are written in the palm of My hand so trust Me!”

Thursday, September 29, 2011

UNBELIEF MAKES GOD A LIAR!

“He who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son” (1 John 5:10).

Consider all the ugly sins listed against Israel in the wilderness; murmuring, complaining, idolatry, ingratitude, rebellion, sensuality. Yet none of these provoked God’s wrath. It was their unbelief that angered God! “And the Lord said to Moses: ‘How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them?’” (Numbers 14:11).

God said to Moses, “These people make a lie out of everything I have done for them! I have performed miracle after miracle and delivered them time after time. When will they ever trust and rest in Me?”

Stop for a moment and think about all the things God has done for you: He has kept you, He has answered this prayer, that prayer. He has met you in a crisis here, a crisis there. He has brought you through trials, fed you with manna from heaven, done things for you that are nothing short of miraculous.

For thirty-eight long years Israel forgot God’s Word and dismissed His miracles from their minds. And because they fell back so often into murmuring and unbelief, God said, “I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them” (v. 12). He told Moses, “I am giving up on My people because they will never come to the place where they trust Me!”

When Israel was on the victorious side of Jordan, Moses made a solemn declaration: “Look, the Lord your God has set the land before you; go up and possess it...Do not be terrified, or afraid of them. The Lord your God, who goes before you, He will fight for you...Yet, for all that, you did not believe the Lord your God...And the Lord heard the sound of your words, and was angry, and took an oath, saying, ‘Surely not one of these men of this evil generation shall see that good land of which I swore to give to your fathers’” (Deuteronomy 1:21, 29-30, 32, 34-35).

God magnifies His Word above His name. He means every word He says and all of these things God told Israel are the same things He has told us. I ask you: Will we not also incur His wrath if we act in unbelief?

We read His Word and hear all His promises from the pulpit but then we go to our corner and fret because we do not see Him immediately doing what we think He should do for us. When we do not let His Word anchor our souls, when we hear great and precious promises and then act as if we have been abandoned, we make God out to be a liar!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

THE MOTHER OF ALL SINS

I could list a whole catalog of sins that believing Christians practice, but none of them would come near to the sin that I want to talk about. The mother of all sins—the one that gives birth to all others—is the sin of unbelief!

I am not speaking of the unbelief of a hardened sinner. The unbelief of reprobates, agnostics and atheists does not move God at all. No, what angers God more than anything else is the unbelief and troubling doubts of those who call themselves by His name! His children who say, “I am of Jesus,” and yet hold doubt, fear and unbelief in their hearts grieve Him more than all others!

How seriously does God take this sin of unbelief! Jude warned the church with these words: “But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe” (Jude 5).

Jude is reminding believers of God’s attitude toward unbelief! He is saying, “I am bringing to your remembrance God’s utter hatred for unbelief among His saved people. Having saved the people, afterward He destroyed the ones who did not believe!”

Beloved, I believe that God has called me to put His church in remembrance of this same thing! “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Corinthians 10:11). God may no longer destroy His people physically as He did in the Old Testament but His judgments on our unbelief today are spiritual and they are just as severe.

Unbelief is just as destructive today as it ever was. We may not turn into a pillar of salt, but we do become stiff-necked and bitter! The ground does not open up to swallow us but we are swallowed by troubles, stress and family problems. Fire does not come down and consume us but our spiritual life is destroyed.

Many of us are guilty of the mother of all sins and we do not fear it. We do not take our unbelief seriously; in fact, we live as though God winks at it. And yet it is the one sin that opens our body and spirit to every other sin known to man.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

WHERE IS WISDOM?

“But where can wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? Man does not know its value, nor is it found in the land of the living” (Job 28:12-13).

Wisdom,
Who can find it?
Where?
The depth saith, “It is not in me.”
The sea saith, “It is not with me.”
It cannot be gotten with gold,
Neither can silver be weighed
For the price thereof.
It cannot be valued...precious onyx
Or...sapphire.
It cannot be exchanged for jewels,
Not to mention coral or pearls,
For the price of wisdom
Is above rubies.
Whence then cometh wisdom?
Where is the place of understanding?
God understands
And He knoweth the place thereof.
He who seeth under the whole heaven,
Who measures the weight of wind,
Unto men He saith,
“Behold
The fear of the Lord—
That is wisdom.
To depart from evil—
That is understanding.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning
Of all wisdom.
He who would have wisdom,
Let him in love
Fear God
And forsake his sins.”

Monday, September 26, 2011

HE WILL OPEN THE WINDOWS OF HEAVEN

The New Testament is filled with promises proving God loves to over-answer the prayers of His people!

One of the most familiar promises of all is Ephesians 3:20. We all know it well yet few of us live as if we believe it. “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.”

God is able to answer our prayers but He wants to do for us exceedingly above all we can even imagine! He wants to answer us not according to our puny requests, but according to His riches and might.

The Bible tells us He is inclined to answer us with abundance: “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over” (Luke 6:38).

“But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:9-10).

“By which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:4).

“[Trust] . . . in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17).

God is virtually begging us to ask for great things!

We like to call the Lord “our King” but do we pray large prayers worthy of our King’s greatness? A king is obligated to care for his subjects, and his people honor him by asking largely, believing he has all they need and will provide it abundantly. Dearly beloved, you cannot call God “king” and then accuse Him of letting one of His subjects continue in need!

Have you embarrassed God by your puny requests? “‘Prove Me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it’” (Malachi 3:10).

Friday, September 23, 2011

TOTAL VICTORY

“Moreover the people of Ammon crossed over the Jordan to fight against Judah also, against Benjamin, and against the house of Ephraim, so that Israel was severely distressed” (Judges 10:9)

Ammon had been used by God to correct Israel’s sins (see Judges 10:6-8). And now their army was marching toward Israel! God’s people were perplexed and downcast and they began to confess their sins: “Then the children of Israel said to the Lord, ‘We have sinned! Do to us whatever seems best to You; only deliver us this day, we pray’” (Judges 10:15).

The people were so haunted by their sin, they could not conceive of asking God for anything more than to spare them. Theirs was the simplest of prayers: “Lord, deliver us just this one time! Don’t let us be defeated or overrun by our enemy!”

They prayed for a single victory but God had something more in mind and He over-answered their prayer mightily! Not only did Israel get protection, they got the upper hand! They totally subdued the Ammonites!

“So Jephthah advanced toward the people of Ammon to fight against them, and the Lord delivered them into his hands. And he defeated them from Aroer as far as Minnith—twenty cities—and . . . the people of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel (Judges 11:32-33).

Not only did God deliver Israel, He gave them the courage and direction to defeat the Ammonites! They subdued them from that time on and they were never troubled by them again! They had total victory!

That is just how God wants to over-answer His people today! Most Christians pray, “Lord, just give me victory in this one battle.” But the Lord responds, “I will give you that, yet I have much more in store for you. I want to subdue your enemy but not just one victory at a time. I want you to have total victory!”

Beloved, He wants to give you power not just to overcome, but to subdue every enemy! He wants you not just to conquer sin but to be more than a conqueror. Not just to have life but life more abundantly. Not just to have joy but joy unspeakable and full of glory. Not to be free of fear just for a day, a week or a month—but all the days of your life!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

GOD OVER-ANSWERS PRAYER!

One of the most often heard phrases in church is, “God answers prayer!” Yet that is only half the truth. The whole truth is, “God over-answers prayer!”

Hosea prophesied to Israel, “You are backslidden but you are still God’s people” (see Hosea 14:1). “Take words with you, and return to the Lord. Say to Him ‘Take away all iniquity; receive us graciously’” (Hosea 14:2).

Israel’s prayer was simple. All they asked of God was to take away their sin and receive them graciously. “Lord, have mercy! Cleanse us and receive us back into Your grace.” God not only cleansed them and received them back graciously, He also added blessings beyond imagination!

“I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely, for My anger has turned away from him. I will be like the dew to Israel; he shall grow like the lily, and lengthen his roots like Lebanon. His branches shall spread; his beauty shall be like an olive tree, and his fragrance like Lebanon. Those who dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall be revived like grain, and grow like the vine. Their scent shall be like the wine of Lebanon” (Hosea 14:4-7).

The dew of heaven (14:5) is the presence of the Lord. Up to this point there had been drought and everything was dying because God’s favor had been taken away. But now, because of true repentance and a heartfelt prayer, God said He would cause life to spring up on all sides. Israel not only would be forgiven, but revived as well! They would become well-rooted, spread out, and thrive!

All they asked for was mercy, forgiveness and acceptance. Instead, God opened the windows of heaven and poured on them blessings they dared not even hope for! God largely over-answered their prayer!

God has done the same for you! When you repented, all you asked God for was a clean heart, forgiveness and peace. Yet look at how He has over-answered you: He gave you a hungering heart—a thirst for more of Jesus! He gave you eyes to see and ears to hear. He has protected you from a raging, mad devil and flooded your soul with hope, joy and gladness!

You asked only to be saved and cleansed but God has poured out blessing upon blessing to you! He has over-answered you!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

JACOB’S BATTLE WAS WITH THE LORD

One of the greatest lessons we can ever learn is that our battle is never with people. It is never with co-workers, neighbors, or our unsaved loved ones—but with God!

If you settle things with God, everything else has to fall into line. When you are right before Him—sprinkled with Christ’s blood, having no sin in your life, prevailing in prayer—then all the demons in hell cannot make a dent in what God wants to do! He wants you to have that kind of holy strength.

Hosea said, “The Lord also brings a charge against Judah [His people]” (Hosea 12:2). What is this controversy God has with His church? It is spiritual laziness! We want miracles, blessings, deliverance, but at no cost, with no effort!

Who among God’s people today prays all night, wrestling, fighting, weeping, crying out to God as Jacob did? Who wants holiness, purity and Christlikeness so much they are willing to shut themselves in with God until they break through? Who is so consumed with pleasing God that they are desperate to be delivered from all habits, all lusts—and they cry out, fight and wrestle with God until He breaks all chains?

Hosea said to Israel, “All you want is prosperity and security! You are not willing to take a stand. You don’t want to live for Jehovah’s pleasure, but for your own!”

Jacob was a fighter from the day he was born. He prevailed “by his strength” (see Genesis 25:26) and so must you and I! We have His strength, but we do not use it! “Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy” (Colossians 1:11).

“He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man” (Ephesians 3:16).

The church of Jesus Christ is never going to see what God has for His body until He sees us seeking Him in earnest! “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16).

God wants you to lay hold of Him because He loves you! He is saying, “Here it is. If you want it, come and get it!” He wants to make a strong soldier out of you, fit for His army!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

GOD IS FOR ME

“I will cry out to God Most High, to God who performs all things for me” (Psalm 57:2, NKJV).

I believe in a God who performs,
Who can deliver my feet from falling
And sustain me through every calamity.
When I am afraid I will trust in Him.
He will deliver my soul in peace
From the battle that is against me.

I will call on God
And He will save me.
He will bottle my tears
And mark my every step.
When I cry to Him,
My enemies will be turned back
Because God is for me.
In Him I put my trust.
I will not fear what man can do unto me;
My heart is fixed.
I will sing and give praise;
My soul shall be satisfied.

He will bring me through fire and flood
Into a desired haven.
He will cause His face to shine upon me
And daily load me with His benefits.
His face He will not hide,
But will hear me speedily.
He will never put me to confusion,
For He has given commandment to save me—
Because God is for me.

Monday, September 19, 2011

JACOB WAS IN A CRISIS—AGAIN!

Jacob was in a terrible crisis—again—and he did not know what to do. The Bible says: “Then God said to Jacob, ‘Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there’ . . . And Jacob said . . . ‘Let us arise and go up to Bethel; and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me in the way which I have gone’” (Genesis 35:1-3).

Bethel is a place where we can go in our time of distress! The lesson for Israel and for us today is this: Whenever Jacob was in danger or trouble—when things looked foreboding and hopeless—he knew where to go and what to do!

God was saying to Jacob, “You know where I will speak to you, where you will hear My voice. Go back to Bethel! Go to the altar where I met you. Get down on your face before Me and cleanse your house of all idolatry!”

Jacob called his sons to bring forth all their idols, and he buried them under an oak tree. Then he led his family to Bethel, and there he erected an altar before God. Again God told Jacob, “I am with you” (see Genesis 35:9-13). Scripture says, “The terror of God was upon the cities that were all around them, and they did not pursue the sons of Jacob” (Genesis 35:5). The surrounding cities were afraid of Jacob—this little Jewish clan—because God had put a dread in them!

The Lord is still God of Bethel! And He is saying to us, “Go to Bethel because I am going to meet you there! Every time you are in trouble or distress, run to the altar! Cry out and get alone with Me!” He is waiting for us to meet Him in the secret closet of prayer!

Jacob knew where to go to get a clear word from God Himself! He went to Bethel—to the altar! He shut himself in with God in a secret place! I believe God talks to us; I believe He gives us words. But it happens on our knees! That is where God says He will meet us!

God is calling you today to get your eyes off all circumstances. Do not judge anything by your present condition. Do not try to figure it all out. Do not let fear cast you down. God will meet you in prayer!

Friday, September 16, 2011

NOT READY TO FIGHT!

Suppose a boxing trainer took his fighter to an isolated training camp and then spent the whole training session psyching up his man for the big fight. He tells him, “I will be with you at ringside—I will never leave your side. Here is a list of great boxers of the past, so study their every move. You do not have to suffer through hard workouts. I told you that you are a winner and my word is all you need! I will give you some diagrams on how to defeat Monster Man when you step into the ring with him!”

What kind of trainer is this? Absolutely foolish! What would a good trainer do? He would find the best boxer he could, put his man in the ring with him, and let them have it out!

Beloved, how many Christians call themselves warriors without ever being tested or trained? We hear so much about the many prayer warriors in this nation. But the sad truth is, the vast majority of them have never been in battle! They have not been trained and they are not ready to fight!

Recently I asked the Lord why so many true believers are going through such heavy, hard times. Why such deep suffering? I asked, “Why are so many being tested to their limits?”

God knows that Satan is going to be loosed on the earth for his last hour of warfare. And the Lord is going to need well-trained warriors who will prevail over all the powers of hell. Right now He is doing a quick work in His remnant—it is called crisis training!

These suffering, deeply tested saints are becoming the captains of His last-days army. God is putting Holy Spirit fight in them and He is bringing forth warriors who are tested and tried, because they have wrestled with God. The more they suffer and the more intense the trial, the greater the work He has for them to do!

This kind of training calls for physical discipline as well as spiritual. Jacob threw his whole body into the battle, all his human ability. A fighting spirit had risen up in him and Scripture says, “In his strength he struggled with God” (Hosea 12:3).

This verse has great meaning for all who want to prevail in prayer. It says Jacob won the battle “in his strength.” Dearly beloved, if you are going to prevail in these last days, you are going to have to put all your body and strength into it!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

IN A FIGHTING MOOD

Esau came forth from his mother's womb first—a baby covered with hair (his name means "hairy"). But his twin, Jacob, grabbed his heel while still in the womb. What a shock the midwife must have had when she saw Esau come forth with a tiny hand gripping his heel!

"He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and in his strength he struggled with God. Yes, he struggled with the Angel and prevailed; he wept, and sought favor from Him. He found Him in Bethel, and there He spoke to us" (Hosea 12:3-4).

In this very brief passage about Jacob, the prophet Hosea sums up how to overcome and prevail with God!

Hosea's message was, "Here was a man greedy for God, hungry for everything God had for him!" Jacob came out of the womb in a fighting mood, longing for the blessings of God! There was something of a godly instinct in this child. It was as if he was saying, "Brother, if you don't want the fullness of God, I do. Get out of my way! I will not be left behind in God's blessings!"

The birthright and blessing of Jacob's desire throughout his life represents all the blessings that are in Christ Jesus! Yet it was not the double portion of his father's wealth that Jacob was after nor was it the promise of the land. No, Jacob wanted something more. He wanted the blessing of God so he could be in the lineage of the Messiah! And he wanted the priestly blessing. This meant not only being priest of the clan, but also being able to bless others!

We see this priestly ministry throughout Genesis 27, and as Isaac laid hands on Jacob and blessed him: "…that your soul may bless me" (Genesis 27:19). It meant the high honor of having God's hand on him—and the power to bless others!

Beloved, this is what is being required of believers in these last days! God wants to raise up a people who are not concerned only about making their own living, owning a house or driving a nice car. He is seeking those who are greedy for the blessings of God—not to consume it on themselves, but to be used of Him to help others!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

FRESH ANOINTING POWER

God allows your trial because He wants to make you “devil-proof”! That does not mean you will not be attacked again but you will be trained to stand! It is all part of His preparing you for greater service, greater anointing and expanded usefulness in His kingdom.

Furthermore, the Lord is trying to strengthen you against the devil’s wiles. He is raising up a body of believers who have faced the devil, who have been strengthened against him, and who know his devices and are not afraid of him! God is saying, “Once you understand why you are going through this, you will have taken back all the ground you lost. You will be in control again—by the power of the Holy Spirit!”

Once Elijah’s trial was over (see 1 Kings 19) he would never run again. He now had a sense of direction and he was reassured in his spirit. You see, God was about to send him to nations to raise up kings, leaders and prophets!

God told Elijah: “Go, return on your way...anoint Hazael as king over Syria...anoint Jehu...as king over Israel. And Elisha...you shall anoint as prophet in your place” (1 Kings 19:15-16). Elijah had been given fresh anointing power. He was in control again!

“So he departed from there” (verse 19). Elijah came out of the cave to do God’s will! He did not have to shed a river of tears. No, he simply had heard the Word of the Lord!

Beloved, the only hold the devil can have on you is fear. And you must shake it off in faith! You have to say, “I am not going down. God is going to give me a fresh anointing from heaven—He is going to use me!”

Do you believe that God is not finished with you—that He is teaching and training you for better things? He wants to speak to you in your cave of despondency. He wants to tell you what to do and where to go—and He wants to bring you out!

So get up out of your despair and shake off the bondage of fear and depression! Depart from your cave. You will discover that the moment you get up and walk out, the anointing will flow!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

THE LANGUAGE OF REVOLUTION

“There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health” (Proverbs 12:18, NKJV).

With great and swelling words
The revolutionaries speak.
Like the piercing of a sword,
They lash with their tongues
The established order of the day.
An evil man diggeth up evil
And in his lips there is a burning fire,
The unquenchable fire of hell.
But the wicked man shall be snared
By the transgression of his own lips.
He that keepeth his mouth,
Keepeth his life,
But he that openeth wide his mouth
Shall have destruction.
For righteous men hate lying lips
And lips that have no healing.
The lamp of the wicked shall be put out
And his lips sealed;
For wicked language
Shall be overthrown
And the tongue of the wise
Shall send forth health.

Monday, September 12, 2011

THE POWER OF A CLEAN AND BLAMELESS LIFE

When you set your heart to walk blameless before God—living in a way that is pleasing to the Lord—you will be feared and despised by those who have lost the favor and blessing of God. Lukewarm or compromised Christians will be absolutely disturbed and repelled by your life!

We see this illustrated vividly in 1 Samuel: “Now Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with him, but had departed from Saul... And David behaved wisely in all his ways, and the Lord was with him. Therefore, when Saul saw that he behaved very wisely, he was afraid of him” (1 Samuel 18:12-15).

David’s blameless behavior struck fear in Saul’s heart! Whenever Saul was around David, he remembered the time he had enjoyed the favor of God and the high esteem of men. But disobedience, envy, pride and self-will had cost Saul every bit of power with God. And it robbed him of all respect of the people.

Now, Saul had come face to face with a younger man—a less experienced, probably less articulate, man—who exuded the power and integrity of holiness. He was pure in heart, full of the Holy Spirit and Saul was afraid of him!

Keep in mind that this was no idolatrous pagan who was afraid of David. No, Saul was a man who had known the power of the Holy Spirit! He had once been God’s anointed, a mighty man chosen of God!

David was simply living a clean life and God was pouring out favor upon him! “All Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them” (1 Samuel 18:16).

Saul did not want to be around David. Scripture says “Therefore Saul removed him from his presence” (1 Samuel 18:13). Sadly, Saul represents the compromised church of today, those Christians who have compromised and lost the anointing of God. He is a type of the believer who once was full of the Holy Spirit, baptized, on fire for God, but has been robbed of everything they once knew of God by their disobedience, pride and lust.

There is nothing scarier to a compromised Christian than a holy blameless life. And the more your life lines up with the Lord’s will and His holiness, the more repelling you will become to backslidden believers.

Friday, September 9, 2011

LIVING IN THE FAVOR OF GOD

God promises wonderful favor to the blameless believer. “ Keep my commands . . . let not mercy and truth forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart, and so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man” (Proverbs 3:1-4). God is saying if you set your sights to walk blameless before Him, you will walk in His favor and be pleasing to Him.

But that is not all. God’s favor also includes power! Paul said, “For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance” (1 Thessalonians 1:5). His favor brings the power of the Holy Spirit to all you say and do. Your words will not fall to the ground, because they will have Holy Spirit power.

Paul said those Holy Spirit-empowered words produce great results: “And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit” (1:6).

Why were Paul’s words so powerful, so effective? Because, he says, “[We] became examples to all . . . who believe” (v. 7). It was not Paul’s preaching nor his praying that won people to the Lord. It was his exemplary life! God had found in Paul a clean heart—one that He could favor with the power of the Holy Spirit!

God’s divine favor also brings high esteem among men. It is written of David: “David behaved more wisely than all the servants of Saul, so that his name became highly esteemed” (1 Samuel 18:30).

The man who protects the name of Jesus by living holy before others will be given a good name before them—by God Himself!

Some Christians say, “I don’t care about my name. It doesn’t matter what people think of me. I just want to be an unknown, a nobody. Let the Lord have all the glory.” That may sound humble but according to Scripture, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold” (Proverbs 22:1). God gives the righteous a good name so they can use it to glorify Him in greater measure!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

WHAT IS A BLAMELESS LIFE?

Here is the behavior of the blameless believer, according to the Apostle Paul:

1. To be blameless is to have no deceit of any kind. “For our exhortation did not come from deceit or uncleanness, nor was it in guile” (1 Thessalonians 2:3). A blameless Christian is one without any deceit in his heart. Paul was saying, “I was not a fraud, preaching one thing to you and yet living another. My behavior was an open book!”

2. To be blameless is to touch nothing unclean. “For our exhortation did not come from . . . uncleanness” (1 Thessalonians 2:3).

Paul’s emphasis here is on sensuality or lust. He is saying, “Not an unclean word came out of my mouth. My conversation was pure, coming forth from a clean heart.” Paul had his body under control. No fleshly passion drove him—no spirit of lust or fornication possessed his mind. He was a free man!

A believer who tells dirty jokes, makes sexual innuendoes, or has roving eyes is someone whose heart has not yet been cleansed! God says, “If you are going to walk blameless before Me, you must have clean ears, a clean heart and a clean tongue!”

3. To be blameless is to be without error. “Our exhortation did not come from deceit” (verse 3).

The Christian without error or guile is not trying to be clever, crafty or manipulative. He has no hidden agenda and is totally open and honest. Paul said, “I did not manipulate you into the kingdom of God nor did I use clever words or try to play on your feelings. I gave the gospel to you straight!”

Paul never played word games; he never used psychology to get people to like him. Paul said, “But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children” (2:7). But when sin came in, he rebuked it with thunder out of heaven! He did not desire or need approval of any man, yet he loved people with all his heart. “For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others” (verses 5-6).

Paul was always mindful that God was watching him and checking his motives. He abstained from “every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22) and lived as if Jesus were coming within the hour!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

THE POWER OF A BLAMELESS LIFE

“You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:10).

That is a powerful statement to make—to call on God as a witness to your holiness! Yet, without flinching, Paul boasted to the believers in Thessalonica: “My co-workers and I lived blamelessly before you and before God. Our conduct was righteous and pure. God is witness to our holy behavior and you also are witnesses. You saw that we walked holy and blameless before God and men!”

Paul was an effective preacher and he knew the secret of his effectiveness in moving people toward God. He could stand boldly before every living soul, every principality and testify: “I live daily under the gaze of a holy God. I walk always as if His holy eyes are upon me. And you all are witnesses to my blameless life!”

The apostle desired every believer to have the same power he had in moving people toward God. He prayed night and day that all of God’s children would be established holy and unblamable before God: “So that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints” (1 Thessalonians 3:13).

The rich young ruler who came to Jesus had been good from his youth upward and that won him the love and respect of Jesus (see Matthew 19:16-20). But something was lacking and that one thing makes all the difference! Beloved, if you do not have this same purpose operating in all you say and do, you can never be blameless before God and man: “That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you” (2 Thessalonians 1:12).

This is what motivated Paul to live a blameless life: He was jealous for the glory and name of Jesus! He knew everything had to be built on that foundation—because all human goodness is as filthy rags! What distinguishes the blameless walk is a consuming desire to honor the name of Jesus before all men.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

POWER OVER FEAR

Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You (Psalm 56:3).

I am afraid.
Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me;
Terrors of death are fallen upon me.

AFRAID
Because there is more evil in me than good,
Lying rather than righteousness,
Weakness instead of strength.
I am like an unripe olive tree
Without fruit.
Oh, that I had wings like a dove,
I would fly away
And be at rest.
I would hasten my escape
From the windy storm
And tempest.

AFRAID
God may cast me off
And curse this green tree,
For He came seeking fruit
And found none.

AFRAID
So I can but trust in Him.
I will call
And He will save me.
He shall hear my voice
And deliver my soul in peace
From the battle
That is against me.
He will bottle my tears.
God is for me.
He will keep my feet from falling,
That I my walk before Him

IN THE LIGHT OF THE LIVING.

Monday, September 5, 2011

WHY GOD ANSWERED DAVID’S PRAYER!

David tells us why God answered his prayer: “He also brought me out into a broad [large] place; He delivered me because He delighted in me” (Psalm 18:19, NKJV).

Delight here means “to take pleasure or joy.” David was saying, “I bring pleasure to God. He delivered me simply because He takes pleasure in me!” And, beloved, He takes pleasure in you and me, as well!

You see, we who trust in the Lord are His holy Zion, His holy remnant. Remnant means, simply, “those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” They are those who have been called out of a lazy Christendom and are totally devoted to Jesus.

To the chosen of Zion, God says: “You shall also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no longer be termed Forsaken, nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called Hephzibah [My delight is in her], and your land Beulah, for the Lord delights in you” (Isaiah 62:3-4, NKJV).

Why does God come to my rescue, so willing to deliver me? It is because He delights in me! I am a pleasure to Him and He enjoys my friendship!

A precious young man told me: “I have never been convinced that I have truly been accepted by the Lord. I seldom feel good enough for God—like I just do not measure up. I keep trying to appease Him by doing something good for others.”

So many Christians feels this way! Over the years I have known many older Christians who never had assurance in the Lord. They felt unworthy, unclean, unloved. They never believed they were a delight to the heart of God, so they were always trying to work out something in their lives to please Him. If they failed in one area, they did three things in another area to try to make God happy.

Beloved, this can never be! When you come to Jesus, you cannot make up anything to Him. No, He makes it all up to you because that is who He is! He says, “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust, my great army which I sent among you” (Joel 2:25, NKJV).

No matter what your failure or shortcoming, God makes it all up to you!

Friday, September 2, 2011

IS GOD WILLING TO COME TO MY HELP?

Do you believe God is willing to come quickly to solve your problem?

Here is where many Christians fail. They know God has all they need—they admit He cares but they are not convinced He is willing to come quickly to help them.

When God does not answer their cry right away, they imagine hindrances and inner blockages in themselves. They think of all kinds of reasons why the Lord must not be willing to come to their aid.

On Mount Carmel, Elijah accused the pagan God Baal of child neglect:

“They . . . called on the name of Baal from morning even till noon, saying, “O Baal, hear us!” But there was no voice; no one answered” (1 Kings 18:26, NKJV).

“And so it was, at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, ‘Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened.’ So they cried aloud, and cut themselves, as was their custom . . . until the blood gushed out on them . . . but there was no voice; no one answered, no one paid attention” (1 Kings 18:27-29, NKJV).

Hear these words again: “There was no voice . . . no answer . . . no one paid attention.”

This is exactly how we accuse God of child neglect! We pray, we cry aloud to God, but we go our way not believing He has heard us! We walk away from the Lord’s presence—away from the church, away from the secret closet—wondering if He has even paid attention!

The Lord is always ready to hear and answer our cry for help. I love what David said of Him: “For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You . . . . In the day of my trouble I will call upon You, for You will answer me” (Psalm 86:5, 7, NKJV).

David said, “My God is ready and willing to answer me in the very moment I cry out to Him! I do not stop and contemplate my trouble. I do not grieve over it or try to figure it out. I go to my Lord and cry, ‘Help!’”

That is all God is waiting for—your heartbroken cry, uttered in child-like faith!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

DOES GOD SEE WHAT I AM GOING THROUGH—DOES HE CARE?

God asks, “Do you truly believe that I see exactly what you are enduring right now?” Perhaps as you read this, you are going through something that calls for Him to act on your behalf. The very nature of your problem demands an answer.

Beloved, do you believe God monitors your every move, as a father does his infant child? Do you know in your heart He is interpreting every thought you think? Do you believe He is at work—bottling every tear, hearing every sigh, hovering over you, loving and caring for you?

The Bible describes Him as doing just that!

“The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry . . . . The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles” (Psalm 34:15, 17, NKJV).

“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him” (2 Chronicles 16:9, NKJV).

Do you believe God is absolutely, totally aware of your every thought, grief, pain, trial, financial burden, family problem—and that He wants to see you through them all?

The psalmist tells us, “As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him” (Psalm 103:13, NKJV).

The Hebrew word for pity here means “to fondle, to cuddle, love, be compassionate.” Scripture is saying the Lord cuddles in His arms those who fear Him. God puts His arms around you, He strokes your cheeks, He holds you. He says, “I know your thoughts, your concerns, every battle you face and I care!” No matter what you are going through, no matter how you feel, the Lord sees it all! He feels the very feelings of your infirmities. He knows every move you make—all you say and do.

God is not mad at you right now. No! He is thinking precious, cuddly, loving thoughts about you. He knows the way you feel—and He cares! He is saying, “Yes, you are going through a great trial; you are being tempted and tossed. But you are My child and I will never allow the enemy to ensnare you. I am going to bring you through!”