SEEK AND SET

Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to stay focused on God?  Think for a moment how many times the things of the world take center stage in our lives.  Take a situation with which you have been struggling.  Just when you think the challenge is under control, it reappears with its ingredients of doubt, anxiety, worry, and the “what ifs.”  Mixing these thoughts into our consciousness will tend to affect our spiritual life.  We know that we are to cast, throw down, and place all our cares on Him who cares so much for us. (I Peter 5:7)  But for some reason, we feel we need to use our human resources to combat life’s challenges.  It is true we have the human capacity to respond to all the aspects of life, but when the situations control our time and energy, we must reach beyond our own abilities and let God handle them.  Timing is so important.  If we hold on to the problem too long, it will make it harder and harder to disconnect from the situation.  Satan loves to have Believers second guess their actions.  The more the problem dominates our thoughts, the greater the challenge to our spiritual stability.  Thoughts like, “You should have…”, “Why didn’t you?”, “If only…”, will enter our thought compartment.  We must understand the limits to our human resources.  The sooner we do, the quicker we will learn to cast all our cares on Him!

One of the most neglected verses in the Bible is Colossians 3:1, 2.  Here Paul stresses two words that should be in every Christian’s vocabulary: Seek and Set.  We are to SEEK the things that are above, and to set our affection on Heavenly things.  To seek is to desire and enquire.  The things of the world are temporal, while the things of Heaven are eternal.  The foundation of our faith rests in the things “above,” not on the things “below.”  Would it not seem that our interests and desires should be about God and His Kingdom?  Jesus said to seek and we will find. (Matthew 7:7)  As we seek the things of God, we will find His Truths and will exhibit them in our daily lives.  We are also called to SET our affections on the eternal.  Set is to put in a specified place.  Affection is to exercise the mind, to interest oneself, to regard, and to think.  We are to set our interests on Heavenly principles.  Our interest should be in achieving the directives of our Heavenly Father.

When we seek and set our ways in the Heavenlies, we will learn quickly what His ways are.  How much of our day is spent dwelling on the negatives of life?  How much of our time is spent in self-centeredness?  How much of our prayer time is around our needs and wants?  How much of our life is around problems?  How much of our life dwells on things that are not really that important?  Let us learn to reverse our thought patterns and center on what is really important.

The Fruit of the Spirit is an example of seeking the things that originate from above.  The Holy Spirit reveals to us what He hears in the Heavenlies. (John 16:13)  The nine fruits mentioned in Galatians 5:22, 23 originate from God.  When we seek after the things of the Kingdom, we are putting our problems on notice that they will be short lived.  When we set our minds on the Heavenly, the earthly matters will be opportunities to bring glory to God.

 

 

 

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SEED PLANTING

If we claim to be a Believer, we will exemplify Jesus in all that we do.  Our words will be His words.  Our compassion will mirror the compassion He has shown us.  Forgiveness will flow as a gentle stream of relief and reconciliation.  Our communication with God will be a never ending experience.  Our love of one another will show no favoritism.  Our affection is set upon Him, while our actions reflect Him.

To be able to function as Jesus did, we need to be rooted and built up in Him.  To have a root, one must start with a seed.  The seed is the Word of God.  Once we accept God’s gift of His Son, we need to spend as much time as possible studying the Word.  As the seed germinates, a root begins to grow.  The more we study, the deeper the root goes.  Soon we begin to grow internally evidenced by our external attitude and actions.  People begin to see a change in our life.  As we continue this growth pattern, we eventually become established in the Faith.  Realizing the miracle that has happened to us, we celebrate with thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:6, 7)  That does not mean that we have arrived at the limits of spiritual growth.  We continue to study His Word and realize that this Seed can offer growth in so many other areas in our life.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all verbal Believers evidenced the reality of this simple teaching?  The biggest problem that faces Christians today is Biblical Fasting.  The Bible is read as an afterthought, not as a primary action.  How can we produce fruit without planting the seed?  Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly.  To understand what an abundant life is all about, we need to read the Word.  Satan wants to pollute the seed so that it will not be planted in the lives of people.  When he gets people to doubt the validity of the Seed, people will refrain from planting the Word.  Sadly, some self-appointed pastors are even planting “dead” seeds (misinterpreted word).   One example of a wrong seed is planting financial seeds into a ministry with the hope of reaping monetary increase.  Many read the Word with the purpose of picking Scriptures that will help them identify with the world’s values.  This kind of seed will produce thistles and weeds that will choke out the intent of the Word.

If we were to summate what the Christian walk is all about, it would be, “Whatever we do, we do it in the name of the Lord and we do it heartily.” (cf. Colossians 3:17, 23)  Let’s take a moment and see if our daily activities meet these criteria.  Where we go, what we do, what we say, and how we react, is all to be done in the name of the Lord.  In other words, we are God’s representative figure on earth.  We are to be the audio and visual personage of Jesus Himself.   It is more than going to church on a specific day.  It is a daily life of servitude.  It is more than offering up a few sentence prayers.  It is starting and ending the day in constant dialogue with our Heavenly Father.  It is not what I want to do, but what God wants me to do.  It is so rewarding to end the day thinking back at what God has accomplished through us.

Let every day be a day of anticipation, knowing that the planting of more seeds will produce exciting results.  Read the Word and anticipate the seed germinating into a foundational root that will produce fruit which will grow into spiritual fulfillment.  We will then be able to say as Paul said “…I live: yet not I, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20)

 

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THE SHROUDED TRUTH

The Bible contains the greatest collection of written words ever assembled.  There has never been, and there never will be, anything that can parallel its power and authority.  The problem is the Scripture has been shrouded from the minds of so many readers.  To help assist the inquiring minds are commentaries and Biblical helps that consist of “cliff notes,” CD’s, and interpretative books and study guides, as well as a plethora of translations.  Still, the difficulty meter continues to red line.  Bibles are handed out to the “whomsoever” with the hopeful intent that the reader will be led into a spiritual epiphany.  But so many times the potential believer becomes confused as to the implication of its content.  Soon the Bible becomes a dust catcher.  It is true that there have been people that were so moved by what they read that it led them to a life changing encounter with their Creator, but those are the exceptions instead of the norm.

The Disciples experienced the Word by hearing and seeing, yet they failed multiple times in illustrating its reality.  As we go through the Scriptures, we see a continuity of misunderstanding by His followers.  Time and time again, Jesus would expose their shallowness in implementing His truth.  From the Sea of Galilee to the hills of Judea, the Disciples lacked understanding of the things Jesus taught and did.  There were times when they introduced their own spiritual ignorance by their actions and statements.  Many of their questions were intended for their own self promotion.  As we read the Gospels, we need to be more aware of the actions of the Disciples.  As we do, we will soon be sympathetic to what Jesus faced in preparing them to carry on His ministry.

To simply read the Bible with the hope that the spiritual mysteries of life will be answered is to face disappointment.  The Bible is a closed book to the unsaved.  They will never understand Its truth until the Holy Spirit opens their heart.  The Ethiopian Eunuch, who had acquired a copy of the Scroll of Isaiah, was on his way back to his country when he stopped his chariot and tried reading from the Scroll.  A layman by the name of Philip was led by the Spirit to approach the Eunuch and ask him if he understood what he was reading.  The Eunuch simply said, “How can I, accept some man would guide me?” (Acts 8:31)  Philip, under the power of the Holy Spirit, led him into such an understanding of the Scripture that he turned his life over to Jesus Christ and was baptized in a stream not far from where they were.  After Jesus resurrection, He appeared to two confused and unbelieving disciples as they journeyed toward their home in Emmaus.  They had heard rumors that Jesus was alive, but there was no proof.  Jesus then gently led them through the Old Testament, beginning with Moses and then through the Prophets, showing how it applied to Him.  It was shortly after this revealing that their eyes were opened and they recognized Jesus.  As quickly as He appeared, He vanished.  They shared, “Did not our heart burn within us…while he opened to us the Scriptures?” (Luke 24:32)  The two disciples immediately ran back to Jerusalem to the locked upper room to tell their story.  While they shared their excitement, Jesus suddenly appeared to His assembled disciples and proceeded to fine tune His previous teachings.  The Bible says that “He opened their understanding that they might understand the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:45)

The reason there is so much diversity in the Church is man has been too eager to interpret Scripture through human understanding.  False doctrine is presented when man attempts to interpret Scripture through experiential knowledge instead of by revelation.  The reason for Paul’s spiritual success was clearly evidenced when he shared that the message he brought was not what someone taught him, but “by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 1:12)   I know there are many good meaning organizations that distribute Bibles with the hope they will change lives, but it is like putting the cart before the horse.  We need to be a living Bible for all to read.  Through our lives, let us show them the way to the foot of the Cross.  Let us then open the Word with them, and through the Holy Spirit open their understanding to the Scriptures.  To the unsaved, the Bible is a closed book.  To the Saved, it is our guide book through life!

 

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what are we doing?

Whenever I venture into the arena of the social media, I am immediately inundated with political propaganda.  To my surprise, many of the pundits are “card” carrying Believers.  I imagine the effort extended in searching out biased information must be exhausting.  Much of the publicized data is excerpts from off-center organizations that have an agenda to promote division and partisan rhetoric.  Many people have the attitude that whatever is reported or written about must be true.  They then become the conduit in which the unverified information is released.  It seems Believers are spending more time exposing the flaws of political candidates than they are in presenting the One who will eventually determine who will assume the Presidency.  Some Christians are so worried about the up-coming election that they have deleted their spiritual time for depression time.  Secular news reporting is occupying the consciousness of so many Believers.  The bad news has overshadowed the good news of the Gospel.  Christians are facing diversions to their faith at an alarming rate.  Satan’s tactic is to get the followers of Jesus to leave their first love and get entwined with the things of the world.

Many are believing that the outcome of our Presidential election will determine whether America will survive or self destruct.  I guess I am carnally naïve, but I believe I am spiritually aware that American’s longevity is not based on who assumes the leadership of this Country, but by the determinant will of our Creator!  Christians need to stop expelling the carbon monoxide of negativity.  We need to breathe in the breath of God and release the positiveness of His Word.  It is time to back away from the arenas of political conflict and trust God.  He does not need our help in determining who should lead our Country.  He is well aware of who is running for office.  He knows what they are saying, thinking, and doing.  He is aware of how this Country has turned its back on Him.  There is nothing that the Believer can say that God does not already know.  When Christians enter the political war, their spiritual growth is affected.  Their joy and appreciation for life begins to disappear.  It is like being on the Sea of Galilee with the Disciples as they experience a life-threatening storm.  They thought it would be the end of their lives.  Jesus, who was in the boat with them, simply asked them where was their faith.  Sure, this Country of ours is in a heavy storm of chaos, but the captain of our boat is God.  He has a purpose and plan for this Country, and we will see it fulfilled in His time.

Everyday we get up, it is a gift from God.  It is exciting to see God working throughout our great Country.  Lives are changing everyday because of the message we are conveying.  Our message is that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son to redeem us from a sin-filled life.  As Believers, let us not lower ourselves into issues and platforms that are dictated by the world.  Let us stand tall with the message of hope.  We have our conventions every Sunday as we present the agenda that will change America forever.  Let us nominate at our next CNC (Christian National Convention) Almighty God to be the head of our country.  We need to get out and spread the message.  Let us urge people to vote the Christian Party.  This is not the time to speak about other candidates, but to promote the author and finisher of our Faith and to share what the Christian platform is all about!

 

 

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MAKE THE CHURCH GREAT AGAIN

After Paul’s great conversion, he spent the next three years attending the University of the Wilderness (Arabia) and its satellite affiliate at Damascus.  Upon completing his undergraduate work, he attended graduate school in Jerusalem under the tutorage of  Apostle Peter.  After graduation, he began his itinerate ministry.  Paul was not a self promoter: it was not the “Paul Evangelistic Ministry,” or the “Paul Ministries;” it was all about Jesus and Him crucified.  All that the people knew about him was that he was preaching the faith that he once tried to destroy. (Galatians 1:17-24)  After fourteen years of circuit preaching, Paul went to Jerusalem with two fellow servants to present his case as an Apostle to the Gentiles.  It was more of a courtesy call than a petition for credentials.  It was not a permission seeking mission, but a showing of what God was directing him to do.  When the Church leadership perceived the Grace that was given to Paul, they extended the right hand of fellowship and Paul was ritualistically established as the Apostle to the Gentiles.  The only request the leaders made was for him to remember the poor. (Galatians 2:9)

Notice that Paul’s spiritual credentials were not identified by his rhetoric, but by their perception of the Grace of God that was in him.  It is not a question of how well one knows the Scripture, but how the Scripture is exhibited through the messenger.  I have heard some great Christian orators that have flawlessly preached the Word, only to see their life exemplify the world.  To see a messenger of God exhibiting a monetary separation from the people he serves is to witness a self-centered leader.  To live an exorbitant life style while those he serves are in financial stress is to conflict the Gospel.  To receive a salary well above those of his congregation who are struggling to live from pay check to pay check is to miss the mark.  To say the supporting evidence of spiritual growth is having increased wealth is to present another “gospel.”

Many of the Church doctrines today are striving to be religiously, rather then Scripturally, correct.  One day, Peter traveled to Antioch for a little R&R.  During that time, he let his religious guard down and ate with the Gentiles. (Non-Jews)  To his surprise, some of James’ cabinet happened to be traveling though the city.  Fearing repercussions from his denomination, he immediately separated himself from the “heathen.”  By his action, others were swayed to separate themselves from the Gentiles.  Peter did not want to rattle the religious right wing, but by his action he put himself in conflict with God’s Word.  Years before, Peter was called by God (through a vision) to go to the home of a Roman soldier and show them that God was not a respecter of persons. (Acts 10:28)  By separating himself from his Antioch hosts, he placed himself back under the law and into religious quick sand.  Paul confronted Peter openly for his compromising actions. (Galatians 2:11)  His rebuke of Peter must have stopped Peter’s heart!  Peter talked the talk, but His walk told a different story.  Paul was willing to take a stand against the hypocrites of the Church.  It is time for the faithful to stand, as Paul did, and expose the inconsistancies of Believers whose talk is narrow, but their walk is broad.

As the politicians roll out their rhetoric of verbal promises, maybe we could paraphrase one of their slogans: “Let us make the Church great again!”  Let us oppose the “progressive”, “liberal” agenda of the Church and restore the integrity of the Word.

 

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RITUALISTIC HEARING

Probably the majority of those who read this article go to “church” on a weekly basis.  In some fellowships, a bulletin guides the participant through a ritualistic experience of worship.  Still others receive a mini-newspaper of current and future events that are offered to the constituency.  There may even be sermon outlines so one can follow the message and write notes on its content.  To leave the building uninformed would be the fault of the recipient.  In some assemblies, there is no organized ritual, just a free flow of energy culminated by a feeling of fulfillment.  What it comes down to is different strokes for different folks.  Whatever brings us into a true and appreciative experience with our Heavenly Father is what really matters.

The real issue is not the type of worship we follow, but how does the message we hear affect us?  Are we hearing what God is saying through His messenger, or are we just chair warmers fulfilling our obligatory attendance?  Every Pastor knows that the success of the message is weighed by the actions of the hearers.  To simply hear the sermon, congratulate the Pastor on a fine message, and leave with no intent to put action into what we heard is blatant hypocrisy.

For thousands of years the Word has gone out, and countless generations have failed to implement what they have heard.  In Ezekiel 33:31, the prophet illuminates a hidden problem that has continually crept through the centuries of proclaimed Believers.  Through prophetic utterance, Ezekiel expresses that God’s people came to hear the Word, but did nothing with what they heard.  The people regularly attended worship, but their listening was laced with indifference.  They professed love for one another, but their heart was centered on themselves.

Why is it so easy to accept the lies of the Devil and so hard to implement God’s Truth?  Why does the visible tend to overshadow our Faith?   Why do people fail to act on His Word?  Why do circumstances trump our Faith?  Why do we doubt God’s ability to fulfill His Word?  What is the basis for our failure to act on His Word?  There seems to be immunity to His Word.  WHY?

Jesus gave a teaching that all three synoptic writers each recorded to emphasize His teaching to the Jews, Romans, and Greeks.  Jesus simply said that you could not sew a piece of new material on an older garment or put new wine into old containers.  The results would cause a failure to fulfill their intent. (Matt. 9, Mark 2, Luke 5)  It is the same principle when it comes to Christians who try to fit the “new life” into their old ways.  It just doesn’t work.  We punch our Sunday morning time card and, when the service is over, we smile and walk away feeling we have fulfilled our weekly commitment.  The message’s effectiveness is judged by the action of the hearer.  When the message has no room in our lives, we convert the worship experience into a horizontal fellowship hour.

Many Christians are convinced that the way to eternal life is simply believing in the finished work of Jesus on Calvary, and that the evidence of that belief is their weekly attendance at a church of their choosing.  Is that what the Scripture teaches?

The Apostle Paul understood what following Jesus was all about, “…I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20)  There is no room for self in a Christ centered life.  To read the Word, hear the Word, live the Word, and share the Word, should be the desire of every Believer.  There is no flexibility in a Christ centered life.  The next time we hear the proclaimed Word, let us open our hearts and prepare to put works with our Faith.

 

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LESS OF ME

I have found the older I get, the more dependent I become on God.  In my younger days, my attitude was to petition God to support my endeavors.  It was more my desires than His.  Whenever my agenda succeeded, God would be recognized as my source of accomplishment.  Little did I realize that God was not the author, but, rather the observer of my actions.  Believers must be very careful when they invoke the name of God in a program they initiated.  If it should fail, God becomes the focus of the blame.   So much of our actions are based on interpretations of what we think is the normal response to Scriptural content.  When our behavior displays an interpretation of the Truth, rather than the intended Truth, there is bound to be separation of Believers.  This is how denominations begin, which in turn leads to independent ministries that claim to be the true representatives of Truth.  We are not the CEO, president, captain, or leader of our Faith, and the sooner we realize that, the greater confidence we will have in the creator of our Faith.  It is not what I want to believe, but what He wants me to believe.

Many Believers go on a spiritual shopping trip in search of Truth that will satisfy the questing of their minds.  Left to ourselves, we will accept teachings that cater to our whims and instant gratifications.   We pass by the basic Truths that will replace our mirrors with windows.  So much of our Faith is about receiving instead of giving.  It is what God can do for me, instead of God enabling me to do for others.

The sons of Zebedee, James and John came to Jesus and said, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.” (Mark 10:35 NAS)  They wanted Jesus to grant them positional authority in the Heavenly Kingdom.  The James and John syndrome is a very real problem in the Church today.  We desire financial restoration instead of learning fiscal responsibility.  We desire physical healing instead of learning how to treat our bodies.  We petition for forgiveness instead of learning how to forgive.  We are more concerned with “end times” than we are with the present.  We like the thrill of being “slain in the Spirit” instead of being alive in the Spirit.  We want the Gifts of the Holy Spirit for personal gratification instead of their intended use in empowering us to reach out.

Getting older brings a greater appreciation of the sustaining power of God.  The more our physical attributes head “south,” the greater the awareness of God’s ability to sustain and prepare us for the “hereafter.”  The things that I counted so important in my life have only been tools to bring me to where I am today.  I have come to a place in my spiritual journey where I can say with confidence that God is faithful in fulfilling His Word, even to every jot and tittle.  I can say with assurance that I now understand what the peace is that “passes all understanding.”  I have learned, as John the Baptizer did, that “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)  The older I become, the more it is about Him instead of me.  Instead of petitioning Him, it is worshipping and adoring Him.  When I look back on my life, I blush at the embarrassing abundance that I have received from Him.  He has given me more than I could have ever imagined.

I remember standing at Niagara Falls and witnessing the powerful flow of water pouring over the Falls.  I also was aware of the mist that vaulted up from the base of the Falls.  God has truly poured out His blessings on the Believers; maybe it is time to send up expressions of our gratitude.  When we exalt and praise our Creator, it is bound to affect those around us, just as the mist from the Falls covers those who are close to them.  God owes me nothing, but I owe Him everything.

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ARE WE DUE FOR A TUNE-UP?

Keeping mechanical things running correctly involves following the manufacturers recommended instructions.  Lawn mowers and other landscaping equipment must have our attention if we are to reap the benefits of their intended use.  Changing spark plugs, oil, and filters is essential to keeping engines running efficiently, and periodic tune-ups help to extend their usefulness.

As I approach fifty years of ministry, I am becoming more and more aware of an out of tune Church; once a powerful unit with singleness of heart and purpose, it has become more and more out of sync with its Biblical foundation.  Many teachings that are coming out of the Church today are man made doctrines that have stretched Biblical intent for the purpose of being more attractive to the hearer.  Financial prosperity has superseded spiritual prosperity.  Acceptance of people’s life styles has dwarfed the new life in Christ.  Sin has become a relative term.  Through different Biblical translations, the Bible has become more “user friendly” and, in so doing, has camouflaged the Truth.  Unity has given way to diversity.  Christianity without Divine representation has become the norm.  Emotional expression has replaced Faith as the evidence of spiritual growth.

Some feel that the best way to keep the Church running is to introduce “after market” programs that will generate enthusiasm and commitment.  These generic ingredients will only work for so long and then will be dropped for new ideas.  It is time the Church stops looking for quick fixes and realizes it’s time to return to the author and finisher of our Faith.  It is time for the Church to return to the “manufacturer specs” of its Faith and get in tune with God’s will.  When we return to our Biblical foundation, we will once again function as God intended.

The Scripture tells us of a man named Apollos who, one day, was holding an evangelistic crusade in the city of Ephesus.  He was quite a charismatic speaker.  He had a way of presenting the Gospel that captivated his listeners.  In the crowd on that day were two Believers, Aquila and Priscilla, who noticed that something was a little off.  Apollos knew the Word and was “eloquent and mighty in the Scripture.”  But something was lacking.  After the meeting, Aquila and Priscilla took him aside and “expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.”  What they did was give Apollos a “tune-up.” (Acts 18:24-28)  There is so much preaching and teaching today that either goes too far in interpreting Scripture or does not go far enough in promoting its real intent.  Instead of hitting on all 66 cylinders, the Church seems to center on Biblical books that cater to what people want to hear, instead of the whole counsel of God.  This applies not only to the universal Church, but the individual Believer himself.  Christians use their human “mental detectors” to seek truths that will feed their human desires.

The majority of saints that are struggling today will find they are not in sync with the word of God.  When was the last time we had a spiritual check up?  Maybe, because of the times we live in and the endless attacks against our faith, we should seek a weekly tune-up.  Nothing is more disheartening than to be in a spiritual battle and find we are not prepared to resist the challenges to our faith.  When we are out of tune, we will be limited in our performance.  The Psalmist understood the importance of having a spiritual check up.  He asked the Lord to search him and look at his thoughts, to test him and to see if anything was out of whack, and if there was, to fix him and lead him in the right direction. (Psalms 130:23, 24)   It is time for all of us to make an appointment with our Creator, to make sure we are “running the race” in the best shape possible.

 

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TO WILL OR NOT TO WILL

Every person has a “will.”  The “will” is what determines our response to life.  Believers should “will” to make a conscious effort to motivate their Spirit, Soul, and Body into an action that brings glory and honor to God.  It is a choice we make which is evidenced by the initiating of our “will.”  Whenever our “will” promotes self-gratification, we will face some difficult situations in our spiritual journey.  I have found that whatever part of our triune man is promoted, that is the compass by which we set our course.  If we are actively engaged in secular things, our interests will center on the fleshly aspects of our life.  If we pursue the spiritual things of life, our desires will center on pleasing God.  It is interesting to see so many Believers absorbed in the news and media propaganda that they become a conduit by which biased editorials are passed on to other “enquiring minds.”  If we must pass on news, let it be the unbiased Truths of God’s Word!  Some are so concerned about their bodily physique that they slaughter every diet man has promoted in an attempt to lose weight.  Instead of abstaining from “forbidden” foods, let us draw near to the Bread of Life and sit at the table He has prepared for us.  Jesus told His disciples at Jacob’s Well that He had “meat to eat that ye know not of.” (John 4:32)  Spiritual food can override physical food.  When we pursue manna from Heaven, the earthly food will serve as a secondary source and not the controlling interest in our lives.

David wrote some great Psalms.  We see his life through the valleys and mountains.  We see his victories as well as his setbacks.  The next time we experience a valley, let us journey through the white pages and see how David handled his challenges.  It is not so bad if we get knocked down as long as we “will” to get up.  The outcome of any circumstance is determined by our “will.”  So many times we call on God to do for us what He has already given us the power to do for ourselves.  It is all a question of whether we pursue an action or not.  I will stand on His Word.  I will not allow negativity to reign in me.  I will put on the armor of the Lord.  I will stand against principalities and rulers of the darkness.  I will show love and understanding.  The decision of what to do with our lives is in our hands.  What we decide to do determines what type of life we can expect.

David said in Psalm 34, “I will bless the Lord at all times…”  Notice, it was not just during the mountain top experiences, but in the valleys as well.  “His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” (v.1)  It is very difficult to speak negative things when our mouth is full of praise.  The world’s vocabulary knocks on the door of our mouth, hoping for the opportunity to be used.  Praise mutes the world’s words.  David states that he will boast in the Lord and, in so doing, those who are in dire straits will hear and rejoice that there is a way to victory. (v.2)  The Psalmist challenges the struggling to “magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.” (v.3)  Our “will” should be to bring people who are struggling to a place of victory, and that is through praise and exalting the name of the Lord.  (Required reading: Psalm 34)

Our “will” is a strong force that can be used either to contribute to or to deny the outreach of the Gospel.  It is up to us to decide what part, if any, we are to play in God’s plan.  Let us stand with Joshua and pledge, “…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)  Amen and Amen!

 

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REMEMBERING THE PLENTEOUS

Every so often I take a carnal sabbatical to reflect on the bountiful blessings that I have experienced through the Grace of God.  This constitutes stepping away from the tangible realities of life and focusing on the spiritual benefits and blessings that I have experienced over the years.  When I open the flood gates of my memory bank, I am overcome with emotional bliss.  Remembering what God has done in my life brings me to a point of unassisted adoration.  All I want to do is praise and worship Him.  Have you ever been so blessed that you could hardly function?  Your spirit explodes with jubilation, your mind relives the past victories, and your body demonstrates the joy of those spiritual victories.  These experiences not only refresh, but recharge us to the point of renewed service.

When we are confronted with the negative, we find it harder to remember the past victories.  In fact, we tend to add to the challenges of our faith by exaggerating the depth of the problem.  How many have taken a simple molehill problem and elevated it to a mountainous conflict?  We spend more time centering on how bad things are than on how good God has been!  Human nature will always look at things as they are and will have no understanding beyond what can be seen and heard.  Believers will look at things that are not and see the evidences of their faith.  Negative situations are meant to initiate the action of our faith.  Exercising our faith is essential to our spiritual growth.  Every time we flex our faith, we become stronger.  When we fail to use our faith, we will be drawn into the arena of sight and feelings.

When Joseph was summoned before Pharaoh to interpret his dreams, he spoke under the authority of God, and stated that Pharaoh’s dreams signified there would be seven years of “great plenty,” followed by seven years of famine.  He also warned that there would be such a great famine that the inhabitants of the land would forget their years of abundance. (Genesis 41:30, 31)  As the seven years of bounty filled the land, Joseph, who had been elevated to a high position, began to store the agricultural surplus in preparation of the seven years of famine.  When the years of dearth began its dreaded reign on the land, the people cried out in despair.  Joseph gave the order and the storehouses were opened and the people ate from the abundance that had been preserved for such an occasion.  Not only did the Egyptians benefit from the stored bounty, but those from other countries came to buy the Egyptian grain.

Storing up blessings and recalling them during our “spiritual famines” will not only bring relief, but the opportunity to share with those who are in the midst of their famine and have forgotten their past blessings.  Instead of dwelling how bad things are, let us remember how good God has been. Let us renew our strength as we draw on those past blessings, knowing that God who has blessed us in times past will never forsake us during our times of need.

Memorial Day is a time when we remember those who have served our Country and the monumental times in which our freedom was preserved.  Should not Believers set aside a time in which we remember those who served the Lord with uncompromising faith and service?  Should we not remember the Biblical Saints and those who followed their examples?  Let us pause to remember the times in our lives when we overcame our battles because of the shed blood of Jesus.  Let us set aside a day of the week to remember our times of “plenty,” so when those days of spiritual famine strike, we will be better prepared to deal with the trials.

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