Inspirational Spoken Word

“Mic Check” by Tina B

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.” John 15:16 (NIV)

This week we’ve been looking at who needs who more. Does God need us, or do we need God? If you’re one who regularly visits this site for the Hump Day Prayer, you know that we need God, desperately. We can’t go a day in this life without Him. Jesus says that with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:27), and yet, sometimes we still need a little reminding of who is God.

God said to Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” (Job 38:4), and sometimes He has to ask us this same question, especially when we start to think that we have the power, that we don’t need God. But where were we when God created the heavens and the earth? Waiting to be born (Psalm 139:13), waiting for Him to draw us to Christ (John 6:44). And while God has called us to do many great things for His kingdom—spreading the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ to the world (Matthew 28:19-20), producing the good fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) thirty, sixty, and one hundredfold (Matthew 13:23)—we have to remember that we are not God, that it is not by our own power that breakthroughs are made, chains are broken, sinners are coming into the light.

“But we have this precious treasure [the good news about salvation] in [unworthy] earthen vessels [of human frailty], so that the grandeur and surpassing greatness of the power will be [shown to be] from God [His sufficiency] and not from ourselves.” 2 Corinthians 4:7 (AMP)

We are just vessels. The New International Version of 2 Corinthians 4:7 calls us “jars of clay,” which definitely helps us to visualize who we are compared to God. 1 Corinthians 1:27-29 says that God “chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.” This basically means that God can use anybody to accomplish His will, that by using an insignificant little jar of clay, He reveals His great power, and by doing so, He will ultimately get all the glory in heaven, not man—who is like the grass while God is God from everlasting to everlasting (Psalm 90:2-6). This can be quite humbling for those of us who’ve gotten a little too proud.

Whether you’ve stopped praying and tried to handle various trials on your own, or you’ve gotten outside of the will of God and tried to take control of your own destiny, or you’ve experienced many successes in your life and have temporarily forgotten from Whom all your blessings flow, ask yourself one question: Where would I be if not for God’s grace and mercy?

“So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.” Ephesians 1:6-8 (NLT)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, forgive us for thinking we can make it without you. You said in your word, Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast in the knowledge of you. So we boast that with you, even in our weakness, we are strong. We boast that by your stripes we are healed. We boast that by your grace, we are saved, by the blood or your dear Son we are redeemed. We boast that you have blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places and that it is only by your power at work within us that all things possible. So we give you all the glory, honor, and praise, because you deserve it, for you are God from everlasting to everlasting, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, who was and is and is to come. By your wisdom and power, you created all things, and you created us to be your children. So we give ourselves over to your will. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

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Hump Day Prayer

Hump Day Prayer: We Need You

It’s Wednesday, also known as Hump Day. Do you need to get over the hump? Here’s a quick prayer to help you finish this week strong!

Today was not a good day. You slept through your alarm and didn’t have enough time for your morning prayer and scripture reading. You rushed through washing your face and brushing your teeth but spent the next twenty minutes in front of your closet trying to decide what to wear, because despite it being Fall, it’s still 80 degrees and humid outside. On top of that, there’s a steady mist, which is only going to give you a bad hair day, after all the time you spent doing your hair the night before (the reason you went to bed late and didn’t hear your alarm).

You curse yourself for not having enough clothes; you wear the same five outfits every week. You can’t find your favorite flats, which you’ve worn right down to the ground. All your other shoes are so old their talking back to you, and the two good pairs you do have are too big; they constantly slip off your heels, making them next to impossible to walk in. Half of the pants you own hang off you like on coat hangers because you recently lost weight. Not a bad thing, but you haven’t spent money on a new wardrobe in years. Budget is tight. There’s always another bill to pay, another family member to bail out of a bind.

When you finally put on something that looks halfway decent and style your hair to the best of your ability, you enter the kitchen to prepare your lunch only to discover you didn’t wash the dishes. The entire front of your house reeks of last night’s dinner: fish. You still have two more days before garbage collection, but your trash is already overflowing. You try to make a sandwich, but your cheese is molded. The milk in your soup has separated. You want to make a smoothie, but that would mean one more dish you have to clean, and you’re already late for work. You decided you’ll just buy lunch from the cafeteria, hoping they’re serving something good and not too expensive.

You go back to your closet for one last desperate search for those flats, give up and put on wedges that have seen better days. Outside, the humid air slaps you right in the face. You can already feel your hair lifting. You get in your car and all the windows are foggy, but you don’t have time to clear them, so you just put the car in gear and go.

On the highway, you’re caught behind the slowest moving truck EVER! When you turn into the complex, the parking lot is full, you have to park in the very back, which means you’ll have to walk, the last thing you want to do, given that your shoes are one sticky sidewalk away from talking too. As you search for a parking space, the SUV coming from the opposite end drives in the center of the lane as if it’s the only car in the lot, forcing you to nearly hit the parked cars to your right just to get out of its way. You try your hardest not to curse the woman driving it, but the frustration has been building. You let the word slip out.

When you’re finally parked, you sit in your car, turn on the radio, try to pull yourself together before going into the office, but then a song about suicide comes on, so you shut everything off, stomp down the concrete, grumble your “good mornings” to passersby. You finally get to your desk, and the weight of the next eight hours sinks on top of you; you burst into tears, echos of the song still playing in your mind; “I just wanna die today. I just wanna die.”

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 (NIV)

We’ve all had bad days like this. Maybe not as specific, but we can definitely empathize with someone who wishes they could crawl back into bed and start the day over. How do you react when everything that could go wrong does go wrong? Do you get emotional and cry? Do you fold into yourself and isolate yourself from others? More importantly, do you stop going to God and instead try to handle things on your own?

I think we’ve all been guilty, at some point, of turning away from God when we needed Him the most, even if we were just having a bad day. But Jesus says in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Psalm 145:18 says, “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth,” and in the following verse, “he hears their cry and saves them” (v. 19b). Stress comes with life, whether it’s stress over the news today, stress over all the things you have to get done, or stress over the feeling that you have nothing to show for your time here on earth. Jesus promises that if you come to Him, rely on Him, lay everything down on Him, He will relieve you of that stress, He will save you from the burdens that weigh you down.

Most of us are familiar with Isaiah 40:31, which says, “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (KJV). Another word for “wait” is “hope in” or “trust.” Put you’re hope and trust in God, that He would turn your bad day into a good one, that He would give you the strength to finish this day with a smile on your face, despite the way it started. Don’t let the troubles of life come up and choke His comforting word out of you (Matthew 13:22). As 1 Peter 5:7 says, He cares for you, so don’t turn away from Him, give Him a chance to comfort you when the walls seem to be closing in. You may feel alone now, but Jesus promises, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20)

God Bless.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Hump Day Prayer: Heavenly Father, we need you. We can’t make it a day in this life without you always near. You said in your word that if we call on you, you will answer. So we seek refuge in you, for you are our rock and fortress, the source of our salvation, in whom we trust. Forgive us for believing we can handle the trials of life on our own, for you said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” We cast all our anxieties on you, knowing that you care for us, and that by your power, we are made strong, even on days when we feel weakest. So we give you all the glory, honor, and praise for being an ever-present help in times of trouble. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

Sunday Morning Word

Does God Need My Help?

Has God ever made you a promise that you were anxious to see fulfilled? Maybe He told you that you were to start your own ministry, that you would pastor over thousands. Maybe He promised you a future spouse with whom you would do many great works for the kingdom of heaven. Maybe He promised you that child for which you’ve been praying for years now.

After a while, did it ever seem like God was being too slow in bringing those promises to fruition? You wondered, Did He forget? Can He still do it? You prayed and asked for an update, but an answer never came. You felt like you wasted enough time already, so after waiting impatiently for God to do what seemed to amount to nothing, you decided to take matters into your own hands, do things the way you believed God should have done it. You gathered together a handful of members from your home church, without your pastor’s permission, and told them to leave and join your ministry. You married that person you met online even though you knew he or she was not the one and not even saved. You attempted to get pregnant through artificial insemination, stepping outside of your marriage, or as a last resort, you adopted.

How did those plans work out for you? Did you still receive God’s promise after doing things your way, or did you make a mess of it all? Your church never grew, your marriage fell apart, you strained your family so much going through all those processes to have a baby that the child you do have is not loved. Would things have been different if you had only waited on God?

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.” Acts 17:24-25 (NIV)

We’ve got to get out of the habit of thinking that God needs our help. He is God! Everything He needs is already within Himself to do. For crying out loud, He created the universe with one simple phrase— “Let there be . . . ” and there was, and it was good! What on earth could we possibly do to help? God says to Job in Job 38:4, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?” Where were we when God created heaven and earth? Where were we when He made land and sea? Where were we when He separated day from night? And did we happen to be present when He first breathed life into man’s lungs? No, not even close!

In fact, according to Acts 17:26, God has already marked out the appointed times when we will occupy the earth. So, if God created heaven and earth, if He gave us life and everything we’ll ever need to live this life, if He has already mapped out when we come and when we go and knows all that we’ll do within that short time span, why do we think we need to insert our own agendas into the things He has planned for us? We should get out of God’s way!

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8

Abram and Sarai thought God needed their help. God had made them a promise that was unbelievable, and truth be told, God will say some things to you that sound absolutely crazy in your own understanding and impossible to ever accomplish. But remember what Jesus said; “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible”  (Matthew 19:26). When Abram tells God his only heir will be his servant because he has no children, God says to him, “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir . . . Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them . . . So shall your offspring be” (Genesis 15:3-5)

And Abram believed him, at least for a little while, but as time went on, doubt must have crept in, and he started to question if God could really do it. Abram was nearly 100 years old, his wife well beyond child bearing age. How could they possibly have a child in their old age? So they went down to Egypt, picked up a slave girl named Hagar, Sarai instructed Abram to sleep with her, and she bore him Ishmael. But when God comes to Abram again to make his covenant and change his name to Abraham, for he is to be “a father of many nations,” He again tells Abraham that he will have a son with Sarah, that He will not establish His covenant with Ishmael, but with the son Sarah will have in the next year, Isaac (Genesis 17:15-22).

Despite their stepping outside of God’s will, taking matters into their own hands, despite trying to pull in God’s promise the only way they knew how, which only created problems (Genesis 16:3-6), God still tells them the same thing He said before, that Abraham and Sarah will have a child. “Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son” (Genesis 18:14). Remember, if God created the entire universe, is giving a 100-year-old man and 90-year-old woman a baby really that hard for Him? Jeremiah 32:17 says, “Ah Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.” There is nothing too hard for God. He’s sovereign, all-powerful, and He needs no one’s help but His own. And sure enough, a year later, Sarah had a baby.

“Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God has promised him.” Genesis 21:1-2

God’s promise is coming. Hebrews 10:36 tells us we need only patience. It also tells us to do God’s will. Have you done the will of God? And if He told you to do nothing, then listen and stay out of His way, don’t attempt to help Him out, simply wait on God to do what he’s promised. Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” The following verse says, “The Lord works out everything to its proper end.” The moment you accept that God created heaven and earth by Himself, that He made all things by Himself, that He turned an old man into the father of a people as numerous as the stars by Himself, then you will begin to accept that He can fulfill His promise to you by Himself, without your help.

So does God need our help? The short answer: No. We need only to keep our faith, continue to trust in Him to do what He said he will do. Sit still and let God be God.

God Bless.

“Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who at of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. As it is written: ‘I have made you a father of many nations.’ He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.” Romans 4:16-17

Prayer: Heavenly Father, forgive us for ever doubting your ability to fulfill what you have promised, for your are able to do exceedingly abundantly above all the we could ever ask, think, or imagine. Help us to remember the great things that you have already done so that we may strengthen our faith in what is yet to come. You redeemed us from sin and death. You came down from heaven to die on the cross and rise so that we could be saved if we just believe. If we believed you then, we must believe you now, for there is nothing too hard for you, there is nothing you cannot do. So we relinquish everything into your hands, knowing that your plans are far higher and greater than anything we can think, and that they always come together for our good. We thank you for all that you have done, and all that you will do. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Music for the Spirit

“Spirit Break Out” by William McDowell

“Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:

‘Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,
who was, and is, and is to come.’

Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:

‘You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being.'”

Revelation 4:8-11; NIV

Have you ever dreamt of heaven? It can be both an exhilarating and terrifying experience. Just to imagine living in God’s glory forever and ever, rising with Christ and transcending sin, death and darkness, praising our Lord day and night like the angels, seeing Him face to face. Doesn’t you heart skip a beat? I can’t even fathom what it would be like, but as long as God my Savior is there, I know that’s where I want to be. As the author writes in Hebrews 13:14, I look forward to the home that is yet to come.

But what about while I’m still here on earth?

In His teaching on prayer, one of the things Jesus tells His disciples to pray is “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10; Luke 11:2), and for the longest time I wondered what He meant by “thy kingdom come.” Did He want us to pray for His speedy return, to take us back with Him up to heaven, or was it something a little less literal?

But as I started to read and study the Bible more, I came across verses like Matthew 10:7, which says, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand [is near],” and Matthew 16:19, where Jesus tells His disciples, “I will give you the keys (authority) of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind [forbid, declare to be improper and unlawful] on earth will have [already] been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose [permit, declare lawful] on earth will have [already] been loosed in heaven” (AMP), and also Matthew 18:20, where Jesus says, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them” (KJV). And it hit me— It’s not that we should necessarily pray that we go to heaven, but the heaven comes to earth.

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” John 4:23; NIV

In the William McDowell worship song, “Spirit Break Out,” the choir sings, “Our Father, all of heaven roars Your Name. Sing louder; let this place erupt with praise. Can you hear it? The sound of heaven touching earth.” On Wednesday, we learned that there is power in our praise, and what power would that be to bring the kingdom of heaven down to earth with our praise!

You see, there’s no need to wait to go to heaven to sing to your Father in worship and adoration. Revelation 21:3 says that God’s dwelling place will be among the people, but don’t you know that if you’re saved, He is already living in you, through His Holy Spirit? In John 14:17, Jesus describes the Holy Spirit as “the Spirit of truth . . . you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” And Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3:16, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” And we already know that if we gather together in His name, He will be in the midst of us.

So God’s kingdom, the one we so often dream of, is already here, inside of us. Our problem is, we won’t let it out, not in our praise, our worship, how we live, if we’re obeying and doing the will of God.

I pray that will change. That we will let His Spirit break out. That His kingdom will come from without our hearts and touch the hearts of others who wish to enter. That we will project His kingdom through our praise, through our obedience, through our living, through our spreading of the gospel of Jesus Christ. That we will be the light of this earth, a city on a hill (Matthew 5:14).

So do you want to go to heaven? More importantly do you want to see the people around you in heaven? Then bring heaven to earth. Show them what it is you so desperately hope for.

God Bless.

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4; NIV

Prayer: Heavenly Father, let your kingdom come. You said in your word that if we call on you, you will answer. So we call on you and invite your Holy Spirit in, to come out and fill this place. Let your kingdom come in our praise, in our lives and in the lives of others. Help us to promote your kingdom to the world through our faith and good works. We set our hearts and minds on things above, on doing your will, on letting our light shine, on making Jesus Christ clear and visible, so that others can come out of darkness into this marvelous light. And we praise you always, as we prepare for your return, for our home that is yet to come. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Hump Day Prayer

Hump Day Prayer: Help Us to Recognize the Power in Our Praise

It’s Wednesday, also known as Hump Day. Do you need to get over the hump? Here’s a quick prayer to help you finish this week strong!

How often do you praise and worship God? Is it every day? Is it every Sunday in church? Is it Sunday in church only if the choir is singing your favorite song? For many of us, it’s the latter, and while there’s nothing wrong with being moved by music, we’ve got to get into the habit of praising God in all circumstances.

“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; the humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.” Psalm 34:1-3; NKJV

When we praise and worship God, we invite Him into the atmosphere to dwell among us. Jesus says in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.” James 4:8 says, ” Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” Moreover, God says in Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” When we praise God and call on His name, not only does He show up, but He shows out. The power of God is made manifest right in that very place.

There are many examples of this in the Bible. One includes the fall or Jericho in the book of Joshua. God instructed the Israelites to march around the city six days, but on the seventh day they were to march seven times, with the priests blowing on the trumpets. At the sound of the long trumpet blast, the army was to give a loud shout. I’d like to think it was loud shout of praise and honor to God, who would deliver the city into their hands. And that’s exactly what He did.

“When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city.” Joshua 6:20; NIV

Jericho was a fortified city, securely walled up; no one could get in or out. And yet, at the army’s shout to God in heaven, the walls came crashing down, showing God’s great and mighty power we could never understand.

Another example comes in 2 Chronicles 20. The armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir had united to attack Judah. Fearful of the ensuing bloodbath, King Jehoshaphat gathered all the people Judah to assemble together and seek help from God, for this was a “great multitude” that was coming for them. Jehoshaphat began his prayer saying, “O Lord God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You?” (2 Chronicles 20:5). He recognized the great power of God and understood that only by His power could they win this battle.

God responded saying, “Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s” (2 Chronicles 20:15). And the people fell and worshiped Him. The next morning they continued to sing and praise, and God went out against the armies and turned them on each other so that when the people of Judah arrived at the place of battle, all they saw were dead bodies!

“Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated. For the people of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir to utterly kill and destroy them. And when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another.” 2 Chronicles 20:22-23; NKJV

The people of Judah didn’t even have to fight. All they had to do was stand still and watch the power of God at work!

Skipping ahead to the New Testament in Acts 16. Paul and Silas are imprisoned for casting out a spirit from a fortune-telling slave girl and preaching the gospel. But they don’t wallow in their own self-pity for being in prison. Instead, they live what is spoken in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” And once again, the power of God was made manifest.

“But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.” Acts 16:25-26; NKJV

But notice that Paul and Silas don’t immediately escape, although they have ample opportunity. Instead, they take this moment to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to the jailer, who has just witnessed this unbelievable miracle, and to his entire household. And that night, because of the power of God that came down through Silas and Paul’s praise, the jailer and his entire household were saved.

Are you seeing the power of God at work in your praise? Are obstacles in your path being torn down? Are the people who mean to do you harm falling away without you having to lift a finger? Have you been set free from unfortunate circumstances or situations that have kept you feeling imprisoned (ex. a bad relationship, addiction to drugs or alcohol, etc.)? Most importantly, are people around you receiving the gospel of Jesus Christ and turning their lives around?

Jesus said in Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Don’t let that power of the Holy Spirit sit dormant. Alone, we are very limited in what we can do, but Ephesians 3:20 says that God “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” So don’t bottle up that power inside you. Unleash it through your praise.

God Bless.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9; NIV

Hump Day Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us to recognize the power in our praise. Without you, nothing is possible, but with you, all things are possible, for with your power, we can pull down strongholds; with your power, our enemies are defeated; with your power, chains are broken; and with your power, salvation is brought to all who believe in the name of Jesus. There is nothing too hard for you. So we will praise you with our whole soul. We will bless your holy name. We call on you and invite you in to reveal great and mighty things beyond our understanding. To you be all the glory, in Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.

Sunday Morning Word

Are You Waiting to Get to Heaven to Praise the Lord?

There’s a popular gospel song that says, “Praise Him! Praise Him in the morning. Praise Him! Praise Him in the noonday. Praise Him! Even in the midnight hour. Praise Him! All night long!” It’s a catchy song, but do we truly mean what we sing? Do we praise God throughout the day and all night? Do we wake up thanking Him for His mercies? Do we bless His name when we have enough money to pay our rent and car note for the month? Most importantly, when we’re going through hard times, do will continue to worship Him and put our trust in Him?

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; NKJV

Are you one who often says, “When I get to heaven, I’m going to—“? Stop, and ask yourself why can’t you do it now. As the saying goes, if you’re not going to do it now, you won’t do it then. Yes, Revelation 4 gives us a glimpse into what it would be like to be at God’s throne, worshiping Him day any night, and Revelation 21 and 22 shows us the new heaven and new earth, where we will serve and worship God forever, and He will dwell among us, His people, and He our God. It’s a wonderful thing to look forward to, but don’t you know you can have that now?

Jesus said in John 4:23, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” The time is here now for you to worship God from your inner being, with your whole heart. He’s seeking you now, not after you get to heaven. Psalm 150:6 says, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” While you’re still alive and breathing His air, you should praise Him.

“For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name.” Hebrews 13:14-15; NLT

We have no excuse for why we don’t praise God, and I include myself in this lecture because I know I don’t praise Him enough, or as often as I should. So let’s look at why we ought to praise Him, because maybe one of the problems for our lack of praise is that we just don’t know, or we’ve conveniently forgotten, we’ve been too wrapped up in ourselves. Well, after today, my hope is that we would all be wrapped up in God. There are many reasons for why we should praise God now, but for the sake of brevity, I will give you three based on some of my favorite psalms.

Praise Him for Who His Is

“For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.” Psalm 95:3-5; NIV

Simply put, praise God because He is God. 1 Chronicles 16:29 (also in Psalm 96:8) says, “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him. Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.” Praise God because He deserves it. He is worthy of all the glory, honor, and praise.

God is great. Another song says, “I searched all over; couldn’t find nobody/I looked high and low; still couldn’t find nobody/Nobody greater, nobody greater, nobody greater than You.” There is no one greater than our God. Psalm 145:3 says, “Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.” Isaiah 40:13 says, “Who can fathom the Spirit of the Lord, or instruct the Lord as his counselor?” God’s greatness, His wisdom, His power is unfathomable, it’s beyond measure, it’s beyond our comprehension.

All things are possible with God; there is nothing He can’t do. Jesus says in Matthew 19:26, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Psalm 96:5 says, “For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.” Psalm 95:6 says, “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.” No one but God can say He created the heavens and the earth. No one but God can say He drew man from His own image and breathed the breath of life into his lungs. No one by God can say that all things were created by Him and for Him. Psalm 24:1 says the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it. Psalm 148 calls on all of creation to praise Him.

So praise God because He is God, the only true living God. Praise Him because He is great and worthy of the praise. Praise Him because He is the Creator of all things, including you.

Praise Him for His Love

“Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord.” Psalm 117:1-2

Don’t you know that God loves you? In fact, according to 1 John 4:8, God is love. Love can’t even exist outside of God. He says in Jeremiah 31:3, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Psalm 136 tells us over and over why we should praise and continuously give thanks to God: Because His love endures forever, and He would do anything for His people whom He loves.

Isn’t that truly a blessing, that God’s love for us endures forever, that it is everlasting, steadfast and unchanging? Another song says, “You love me through my good and my bad.” Certain translations of the Bible also calls God’s love “unfailing.” God’s love will never fail us, it will never hurt us, it will never let us down, it will never leave us feeling “high and dry.”

And we know all too well the fickleness of human love, how it is typically based on happiness, what one can do for the other; how we can tell someone we love them, yet still hurt them, or leave them when they hurt us. But God’s love doesn’t have any requirements. He loves us already, He loved us before the foundation of the world, and He will never stop loving us, no matter what we do. Think of His love as a parent’s love to his or her child, but infinitely greater. God loves us despite our flaws, all the mistakes we may have made or will make in our past, present, and future. As my Pastor often says, “He loves us through our good, bad, and our ugly.” And why wouldn’t God love His own creation (Psalm 104:31)?

John 3:16 gives us the greatest example of God’s love. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” No greater love, Jesus calls it, than someone who is willing to lay down his life (John 15:13). Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Remember what we said earlier, that there was nothing too hard for God, that God would do anything for the people whom He loves. God came down to earth as a man, took our place on the cross to die for our sins, and then conquered death three days later by rising from the dead, so that any and all who believe in Him and in His unfailing, unchanging, unending love, would live forever.

And with that, I am sealed. You don’t have to tell me anything else. For His love alone, I will praise Him for the rest of my days!

Praise Him for Where He’s Brought You From

“Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Psalm 103:2-5

Lastly, we should praise God for what He’s done in our lives. He’s forgiven us our sins. Psalm 103:12 says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” He says in Jeremiah 34:31, “For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” Through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, God has wiped the slate clean. Paul writes in Ephesians 5:25-27 that Christ gave himself up for us to make us holy, cleansing us through the word, to present us as radiant, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. Now, we can come to God freely. Romans 5:1 says now we have peace with God. 1 John 1:9 says He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness, and 1 Peter 2:9 says that God has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. No longer are we slaves to sin and death, but we are slaves to the righteousness of God, which promises us life.

In forgiving us of our sins, God has also redeemed us from death. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We were all on that path toward death and destruction, and whether or not we think one sin is greater than another, it is all sin to God. But thank God for Jesus Christ, who laid down His life for every one of our sins and took it up again so that we too may live. Jesus says in John 10:28-29, “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.” We have been brought back from the pits of death and now we have double security, through Jesus Christ and God our Father, and no one, absolutely no one, has the power to snatch us out of their hands and return us to that darkness we were saved from. Jesus tells us rejoice that our names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20).

A praise shout, made popular by Kirk Franklin says, “When I think about His goodness/ And what He’s done for me/When I think about His goodness/And how He’s set me free/I want to dance, dance, dance, dance, all night!” Have you danced for, shouted for, praised Jesus for where He’s brought you from? Isaiah 53:5 says, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.” Psalm 30:11 says “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness.” Psalm 23:3 says He restores our souls. All these things we should praise Him for— forgiveness, salvation, healing, a purpose for our being here (Ephesians 1:4-6).He didn’t have to do any of it, but as we’ve learned in the previous point, He did it because He loves us.

In closing, we can take all these reasons for praising God and combine them into one final conclusion. God, who is the one and only, true and living, great and mighty God, who created all things, loved us, His own creation, so much that He went above and beyond— coming down to earth as a man, living, performing miracles, dying, rising again—to reconcile His people to Himself, forgiving them, cleansing them, giving them eternal life. For that, we should praise Him always!

God Bless.

“Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise.” Psalm 96:1-4; NIV

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we thank you and we praise you for your goodness and mercy which follow us all the days of our lives. Lord, we know you are the one true God, the maker of heaven and earth. And you made us. You are the Great Shepherd, who laid down His life for His sheep, and we are yours, your people, the sheep of your pasture. You are great, Lord, and most worthy of all our praise and adoration. We will proclaim your love in the morning, and your faithfulness at night. We will give thanks and praise to your holy name, for you are good, your love endures forever, your faithfulness continues through all generations. You will never leave or forsake us, but you have redeemed us, healed us, forgiven us, saved us, and we thank you and praise you always. In Christ Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Inspirational Spoken Word

“American Persecution” by Jackie Hill Perry

“Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.” Daniel 11:32; NKJV

Do you know God? Will you stand firm in your beliefs of Him when someone tries to persuade you in the opposite direction? There will come a time, and some would argue that time is already here, when being a Christian in America won’t be so popular. It is even projected that in twenty-five years, America will become an atheist nation. I dread to see the day.

It is important for us not to waiver in our faith when facing persecution. Jesus never said this life would be easy (John 16:33). In fact, He said the world will hate you because He has chosen you to be his disciples (John 15:18-19). Remember that James tells us to “count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4). Various trials, persecutions, temptations, tests, etc. help us to mature in our faith, become better Christians, wanting nothing, not continuously asking, “Why, Lord? Why me?” but welcoming whatever trouble comes our way with joy.

Peter tells us to resist the devil, standing firm in the faith, because we know believers all over the world are going through the same kind of sufferings, and in due time, He will restore our strength and give us a firm foundation (1 Peter 5:9-10). Isaiah 40:31 says, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (KJV). This verse reminds us to trust in God, be patient with God. As we learned last previously, God is our source. Put your dependence in Him, not man. Acts 5:29 says to obey God rather than man. Men are fickle. We change, we change our minds, we change our laws, but God’s word is perfect and true—it never changes (Matthew 5:17-18). And God is not a man that He should lie, nor is He a son of man that He should change his mind (Numbers 23:19). So when we obey Him, we know the rewards will be greater (Proverbs 11:18), and whatever He promises, if we’d only have the patience, it will be fulfilled.

One of the best examples of men who stood firm in their belief of God is the three Hebrew boys, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. When King Nebuchadnezzar set up the gold image and gave the decree that everyone was to bow down and worship it lest they be cast into the fiery furnace, these three refused to bow. They remained strong and steadfast in their belief of God, and firmly resisted the king.

“If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” Daniel 3:17-18

There will come a time when the world will want you to go completely against what is commanded in the word of God. Will fear get the best of you? Will you silently agree so as to remain safe, to not be labeled, to stay within the bounds of being politically correct so as not to offend? But who’s punishment are we more fearful of—man or God’s (Matthew 10:28)? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego rejected the king’s decree because it directly violated God’s law, which states, “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3). When the king asked who could deliver them out of his hand, they confidently proclaimed God will, but even if He doesn’t, they will not bow.

Can we say the same? If God be for us, He’s more than the world against us (Romans 8:31). How much do we believe that statement when tribulations arise? Even when threatened with imminent death, will we remain strong in our confidence of God, in our faith, in our belief that He will deliver us even if He doesn’t, knowing that Jesus Christ has already given us the victory over death (1 Corinthians 15:56-57)? We believe in Him, don’t we? We believe that He rose from the grave so that we too can have life (John 3:16); that’s what makes us saved, right (Romans 10:9)? If that’s the case, then nothing a king—whom God Himself raised up (Daniel 2:21)—can threaten us with should be able to shake our faith.

Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” Daniel 3:24-25

In his anger, the king had the fire turned up seven times hotter and had Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego tossed in. The flames were so hot, the men who threw them in the fire died. But you know what, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego got up, they walked around, and I’d like to think that knowing they were saved, they praised and worshiped God right there in the fire! The king was in shock to even see a fourth person in there with them. You see, God goes ahead of us and is right there with us in the midst of our storms. The Bible says He will never leave nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:8). But we have to learn to trust in Him. That is our test. To trust Him. And when we do, miracles happen.

When Nebuchadnezzar saw how God delivered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego from the fiery furnace, he called them servants of the Most High God and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God”  (Daniel 3:28). The one thing we can look forward to when facing persecution is that when God stretches out His hand to deliver us, He brings all the glory back to Him, that He may be praised, because of our faith in Him.

“Dear Friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” 1 Peter 4:12

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us to stand firm in our faith. We know that without faith it is impossible to please you. We want to please you, Lord. Give us the strength to welcome persecution with rejoicing, knowing that you will deliver us, that we already have the victory through Jesus Christ, that your grace is sufficient for us, that your power is made perfect in our weakness. We pray that our sufferings in Christ’s name will help to bring glory and honor to you, O God, that more people will come to you, that sinners will be saved, that backsliders will rededicate their lives to serving you. We pray that we continue to renew our minds in the Spirit, and not be conformed to the patterns of this world, but rather clothe ourselves with Christ and become that city on a hill, letting our light shine, that others may glorify you in heaven. We thank you, we praise you, and we love you, in Christ Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

Originally published June 23, 2017.

Hump Day Prayer

Hump Day Prayer: Give us the Strength to Resist the Devil

It’s Wednesday, also known as Hump Day. Do you need to get over the hump? Here’s a quick prayer to help you finish this week strong!

How much power does the devil have over your life? If you truly know who you are in Christ, you know the answer to that question is none.

Despite having this knowledge, we often allow the lies of the enemy to get into our heads, disrupt our peace and take control of our lives. Maybe you’ve experienced setbacks this week—a flat tire that made you late for an important meeting at work, you lost power in your home after a bad storm and the food in the refrigerator went bad, you learned that your teenage daughter is pregnant and you didn’t even know she was having sex. Did you blame the devil?  Maybe you did something you know had no business doing—you cursed out an insensitive friend on Facebook, you drank alcohol when you know you’re trying to get clean, you lied about your criminal history on a job application. Did you say, “The devil made me do it”?

In Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People, we learned that nothing Satan does is outside of God’s knowledge and control.  We also know that God gave us the freewill to choose our own path—righteousness and reward, or evil and destruction—He doesn’t force us one way or the other. With that in mind, and knowing also that the devil is nothing but a creation of God (Isaiah 54:16), why then do we continue to blame the devil for every bad thing that happens? We are essentially saying that he has more power than God.

And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” Luke 10:18-19; NKJV

We have the power over the devil. Nothing he does can harm us unless we allow it. The Bible tells us in Ephesians 6 to put on the full armor of God—the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, feet fitted with the preparation of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God—that we may stand firm against the devil’s tricks and schemes.

James 4:7 says, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” That word resist means to violently oppose. Don’t let that devil get in your head and tell you your sins aren’t forgiven when the word of God says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). Don’t let him convince you that you’ve lost your salvation because of one mistake when you know that “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). Ask God to forgive you for whatever that mistake was, and continue to move forward (1 John 1:9). You know the devil is the father of lies (John 8:44), so why do you listen to him? Why do you argue with him? Simply call on the name of the Lord, and he will scatter.

Finish this week triumphant, knowing that you are a child of the Most High and that the devil will never take what Jesus has already paid the price for.

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10

Hump Day Prayer: Heavenly Father, give us the strength to resist the devil and his schemes. We know that no weapon formed against us shall prosper, and every tongue that rises against us in judgement we shall condemn. We call on your name when tempted by the enemy, and we rely on your word to help us through, for without you nothing is possible, but through Christ we can do all things. We put our faith and trust in you and thank you for the power given us by the Holy Spirit to stand our ground against the enemy, knowing that we fight from the victory you have already won. We give you all the glory and honor and praise. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

 

Originally published June 21, 2017

Sunday Morning Word

Will You Submit to God?

What is submission, and how do we submit? Over the years, the word “submit” has inherited a negative connotation; no one wants to submit to those in authority anymore. Wives refuse to submit to their husbands, children refuse to submit to their parents, citizens refuse to submit to governing authorities, and no one is submitting to God.

We tend to think that submission means that we are giving up the power and control to make our own decisions, that we lose our independence, the ability to use our own free will. But submission doesn’t mean that you accept a dictator over your life, who commands your every movement.

I think the best and most precise definition for the word “submit” comes from the Macmillan Dictionary, which states that to submit means “to agree to obey a rule, a law, or the decision of someone in authority.” I like the use of the terms “agreement” and “authority” in this definition, because I think they go hand in hand when it comes to submission.

Authority means that someone has been given power and permission to make final decisions, and agreement involves two consenting parties. Therefore, when we submit, we agree or consent, to giving authority or permission and power to someone for making a final decision over certain matters. In my church, we are taught nine spiritual principles by which we should live. When we let these spiritual principles govern us, we will live successful, abundant, and satisfying lives, not operating from crisis to crisis, desperate for God to work a miracle every other week. Of these nine spiritual principles are the spiritual principle of authority, which is God’s plan to protect our lives, and the spiritual principle of agreement, which is God’s plan to crown our lives with peace. So let’s look at examples in the Bible of how these two principles work together, particularly when we submit to God.

And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” Genesis 2:16-17; NIV

Going back to the very beginning, when God created man and put him in the Garden of Eden, He commanded that man could get from every tree in the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. By obeying this command, Adam had submitted to God. He was under the authority of God; he had God’s protection from death— as long as he did not eat of the tree, he would not die—and he also had God’s protection from sin, for the Bible says, “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame” (Genesis 2:25). Because he was in agreement with what God had commanded, Adam also had peace with God, who often came to fellowship with him in the Garden (Genesis 3:8-9).

Unfortunately the serpent slithered along with his cunning and trickery to get Adam and Eve from under submission to God. If we take a moment to look back at Genesis 2:16-17, we see that God gave the command not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil to Adam, not Eve. Adam was to relay that information down to his wife. Eve was under the authority of Adam, and Adam was under the authority of God (1 Corinthians 11:3; Colossians 3:18). The serpent disrupted this by going to Eve, who received the command second-hand, and questioning God’s authority (Genesis 3:1-3). He tricked her into thinking that the fruit would make her be like God (Genesis 3:4-5), and she took it, coming out from under the authority of her husband, and gave it to Adam, who was with her, and he came out from under the authority of God. And because they disobeyed God, they were cursed—they lost peace with God, for God is holy and cannot be touched with their sin (Leviticus 19:2; Isaiah 59:2; James 1:13)—and they were cast out of the Garden of Eden, not permitted to eat from the tree of life and live forever—they lost God’s protection, for the punishment of sin was death (Romans 6:23).

From this example, we know that catastrophic things can happen when we don’t submit to the authority of God, but thank God for Jesus Christ, who restored to us both power and authority over that pesky serpent, and reconciliation with God, which Adam and Eve lost in the Garden (Luke 10:19-20).

Another example of submitting to the authority of God, and indirectly to human authority, comes in 1 Samuel 24.

Afterward, David was conscience-stricken for having cut off a corner of his robe. He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, or lay my hand on him; for he is the anointed of the Lord.” With these words David sharply rebuked his men and did not allow them to attack Saul. And Saul left the cave and went his way. 1 Samuel 24:5-7

In 1 Samuel 24, King Saul of Israel was pursuing to kill David, who had been anointed by the prophet Samuel to be Israel’s next king. You see, God had rejected Saul as king of Israel for his disobedience (1 Samuel 15). This is another example of what happens when we don’t submit to the authority of God. Instead of completely destroying the wicked Amalekites as God had commanded—killing man, woman, child, and livestock— Saul and his soldiers pounced on the plunder, and for that, Saul lost the favor of God. He had came out from under God’s authority, was no longer in agreement with His commands, and lost peace—Saul was in constant conflict with the neighboring kingdoms, especially the Philistines—and protection—eventually dying in battle.

But in this particular passage, David had the opportunity to kill Saul and become king. Instead, he cut off a corner of Saul’s robe, and immediately felt guilty for it, remembering God’s command not to blaspheme Him or “curse the ruler of your people” (Exodus 22:28). Another verse of scripture says, “Do not touch my anointed ones” (Psalm 105:15). Last week, we learned that God is sovereign; He is always in control. He has the authority to raise up kings and bring them down (Daniel 2:21).  Instead of acting on his own accord, as Saul did, which resulted in him losing the kingdom, and as Adam and Eve did, which resulted in them being kicked out of the Garden of Eden and losing eternal life, David recognized both Saul’s authority given by God, and God’s authority—that He had the power to remove Saul Himself, and anything David would do would equal his disobedience and would require catastrophic consequences. So twice David was given the opportunity to kill Saul, and twice David spared his life. And for his obedience and submission to God, he was given the kingdom, and it was established firmly through his line of succession (2 Samuel 7:16).

So what can we learn from these two examples? That submission doesn’t necessarily mean relinquishing all control and free will, but that it does mean recognizing the authority of a higher power. Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (NKJV). Sometimes we are not going to understand everything that God tells us to do. We are not going to understand why he allows certain people to come to power. But we do know that “all things work together for the good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose”  (Romans 8:28).

So instead of deciding for ourselves that we are going to do what we want to do, and having to face the possible disastrous consequences, why not just trust in God and see how His plans for us unfold? It doesn’t matter who we are or how high up on the authority scale we rise, we are always submitting to someone, whether it’s a parent, or boss, or ministry leader, etc. But imagine the rewards you will receive if you only submit to God. Adam and Eve had eternal life. David’s throne was established forever, and through his line came Jesus Christ, whose death on the cross and resurrection three days later returned to us eternal life with God forever (John 17:3). There’s no greater reward than that. So will you submit to Him?

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26

Prayer: Heavenly Father, teach us to revere you, to respect your authority, to come into agreement with you and submit to your will. Not our will, but yours be done. You said in your word that if we love you, we will keep your commands. Lord, we love you, and we have an urgency to heed your call and follow your commands, for we know that our rewards here on earth and in heaven will be great. Lead and guide us by your Holy Spirit to continue to do what is just, what is righteous, what is pleasing in your sight. We give you all the glory and honor and praise. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

Originally published June 18, 2017

Inspirational Spoken Word

“Love Revived” by John Reid

“Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Luke 6:37; NKJV

Has anyone ever accused you of being self-righteous, of not practicing what you preach, of acting as if you’re better than everyone else? Has someone ever said that they don’t come to church because they don’t want to deal with people like you? That’s a hard pill to swallow. To be labeled in the same category as the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, who “shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces” (Matthew 23:13). But that’s exactly what we do when we pass judgement on others.

Understand that no one—that includes us—is without sin. Paul writes in Romans 3:10, “There is no one righteous, not even one.” He continues later in verse 23 with, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” 1 John 1:8 says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us,” and then in verse 10 he continues with, “If we claim we have not sinned, we make [God] out to be a liar and his word is not in us.” We’ve got to get out of the habit of thinking that some sins are worse than others…

  • Sex before marriage is worse than watching porn, because at least I didn’t do it.
  • Murder is worse than cursing someone out, despite scripture saying, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21).
  • Homosexuality is worse than adultery because they were separated anyway, and we plan on getting married, and at least we’re of the opposite sex, which is what God intended, right? 

While we may feel that our sins aren’t as bad as others, it is all wrong in God’s eye. All sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2); all sin keeps us from hearing His voice. James 2:10 says if you are guilty of breaking just one part of the law, you’re guilty of breaking it all, because it all is sin against God, who told you to be holy (1 Peter 1:15-16). And no matter what sin we’ve committed, the penalty is still is death (Romans 6:23).

But let’s look back at Romans and talk about God’s love. That despite our being sinners, He still sent Christ Jesus to die in our place (Romans 5:8). Let’s turn to John, were He again confirms His love and His willingness to sacrifice His only Son, not to condemn us for our sins, but to save us, granting us eternal life (John 3:16-17). Let’s revisit 1 John 1:9, where he says we need only to confess those sins we’ve been trying to hide, and He will be faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Let’s keep reading to Romans 3:24, where we learn that by the grace of God, we are freely made right in His sight through the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

So let’s open those same opportunities to the people we love to call “bad sinners.” In Luke 7:36-50, when the sinful woman came to Jesus and washed His feet with her tears, wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with perfume from her alabaster jar, Simon, the Pharisee whose home they were in, looked at her in disgust because she was a sinner and unclean and was touching Jesus. But Jesus instead gave him a parable that caused him to judge himself. In this parable we learned that those who have many sins to be forgiven in turn love much more than those who have been forgiven little.

How great is your love for Christ? Have you humbly come to him with a broken heart and a contrite spirit seeking forgiveness (Psalm 34:18; Psalm 51:17)? Are you eternally grateful for the sins He’s forgiven you of, knowing where you could have ended up if not for His love and mercy and forgiveness? Do you show that same love to others who have sinned? When asked how many times we should forgive someone who has sinned against us, Jesus answered seventy times seven times (Matthew 18:21-22), in other words, indefinitely, for He forgives us for our many wrongs (Mark 11:25). Are you proving yourself a disciple of Christ through your love for others (John 13:35), through the mercy you show?

Has Christ’s love for you revived your love for others, that you no longer look on them with judgmental eyes but with a passion to see them saved, as you were? The answer from all of us should be YES.

God Bless.

“Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” James 2:12-13; NIV

Prayer of Salvation: Heavenly Father, thank you so much for your unfailing love. Thank you for loving me so much that despite all my wrongs, you still sent your Son Jesus Christ to die for me. Father, please forgive me of all my sins and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. You said in your word that if I confess with my mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead, then I shall be saved. So right now, I do confess that Jesus is my Lord and Savior, that He died on the cross, and that He rose again. And because of that, I am free from the penalty of my sins, because of that, I have eternal life. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for loving me so much that you gave your life. Fill me with that love, that I may pour it out on others, showing your love and your mercy and your forgiveness in everything that I do. In your name, I pray. Amen.