It’s time to FIGHT!

IMG_1318My heart is broken by the violence taking place in the world today. You can’t turn on the television or look at social media without seeing a stream of shootings, rioting, hate being spewed out against our fellow man. Watching it makes my blood boil. My human reaction is to lash out in anger, “What’s wrong with these people?!?” And then I am reminded of Ephesians 6:12  “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

We must realize we are fighting the wrong enemy. It is as if a demonic spirit of rage has been released over the Earth. This is not a battle that can be won in complacency. It is not a war that can be won by retaliation. This war will only be won when we carry the fight to The Father. This is a battle to be fought on our knees. Our violence and vengeance must be directed toward the hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places! 

Satan has three goals: to KILL, STEAL and DESTROY. (John 10:10) An epic war is coming and He knows his time is limited. He could not overthrow Heaven, so he directs his hated of God towards the sons and daughters of man. He doesn’t have to kill us … he only has to compel us to kill one another! Never in my lifetime have I seen the disregard for human life I am seeing today. 

Jesus came to give us LIFE … abundant life. He commanded us to LOVE our enemies, not stoop to their level by repaying evil for evil. “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44) This goes against our flawed human nature. “But, what about justice Lord?” His reply, “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” (Romans 12:19)

Loving, in the face of such atrocities seems impossible, BUT with God … “all things are possible!” (Matthew 19:26).

I’m not suggesting we do ‘nothing’. Far from it! I am suggesting we take up the weapons of warfare provided by the Spirit and wage war against the REAL enemy. Satan belongs under our feet. Call forth the hosts of Heaven. I implore you today, and everyday, drop to your knees and fight for humanity. 

Plug In and Recharge

IMG_1316“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”  Matthew‬ ‭5:16‬ ‭NKJV‬‬  

I wonder what it would be like if we could physically see how bright we are shining as a reflection of the Lord.

I imagine some days I look like a 25 watt bulb; other days hopefully a 60 or 100 watt. Then there would be those days where my light is covered in the darkness of self absorption. Those would be the days when I allow my flesh to get the best of me and I react rather than respond.  Or maybe I have over extended myself and have nothing left to give. I need to recharge.

If I want to shine bright, I have to PLUG in to my spiritual power source. Instead of solar energy, I need SON energy.

I attended a staff meeting at church last night and my Pastor, Blake Bennett talked about how to avoid burnout in ministry. One of the nuggets of wisdom he shared was this: “The spiritual input in your life has to be greater than the output in your life.”

We live in a culture that praises busyness. Jesus took time everyday to: (a) Get alone with the Father and (b) Rest. I am one of those people who lives with a never ending TO-DO list and I have found that I have to be intentional about fitting God time and me time into my day. If it isn’t on my schedule it doesn’t happen.

How about you? Are you making time everyday to meet with the Father? Are you making time for yourself each day? You need both! How bright you shine will depend on both. I want to have more 100 watt days than 25 watt days. That means I have to plug in and recharge. I can’t give what I don’t possess. Neither can you.

 

 

Power Hungry

 

IMG_1307Have you ever met someone so power hungry they didn’t care who they had to step on to succeed? There’s nothing wrong with success or power in its self. It’s what you do with that power that determines your legacy. 

Before Jesus ascended to Heaven He left the apostles with a promise … 

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts‬ ‭1:8‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

These simple men who had given up everything to follow Him carried both the hope of the gospel and the responsibility of seeing it spread to the ends of the Earth. The Lord knew it was beyond their natural ability to accomplish. They needed to be empowered by The Holy Spirit.

On the day of Pentecost as they gathered together, the promise was fulfilled. The Holy Spirit arrived as a rushing mighty wind. The same Peter, who had denied Christ 3 times out of fear, now stood before a huge crowd and boldly proclaimed the gospel. Three thousand souls were converted that day, and the birth of the Church began … just as Christ had prophesied. 

“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”  Matthew 6:18

That’s power, and that power is still available for you and I today! I’m hungry for the power of the Holy Spirit of God to flow through me so that others can be transformed by the message of the cross. If twelve men could change the world under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, imagine what you and I could do! Imagine the impact millions of POWER hungry, Spirit filled Christians could have if we became motivated to be His witnesses to a lost world. 

The power of the Holy Spirit has purpose. It is not simply meant to help us live victorious lives … but to pass that power on to others. Jesus called us to be light to the world. When the Holy Spirit appeared He was represented by tongues of fire. I think that is significant in that while fire provides heat (power) it also provides light. 

Are you power hungry? I hope so. 

 

 

 

The True Value of a Woman

IMG_1303Many women suffer from low self esteem because our world puts so much emphasis on external beauty. King Lemuel’s mother knew the true value of a woman is found in her relationship with God.

We don’t hear a lot of messages these days on “the fear of the Lord”. People think of fear as a negative emotion. According to Matthew Henry’s commentary to fear the Lord means to revere, serve and worship Him. There is nothing negative about fear in this context. In fact Proverbs 1:7 teaches us: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

A virtuous woman doesn’t allow culture to define her worth. Her relationship with God enhances her relationship with others because her priorities are in order and she can love from a place of authenticity. When we seek to attract others through charm we become deceptive because we slip into people-pleasing mode.

IMG_0616And what of  beauty? There is nothing wrong with trying to look your best, but don’t judge your beauty by comparing yourself to others. I always had low  self esteem until one day the Lord opened my eyes to my own misperceptions of my appearance. I found my high School graduation picture and realized just how attractive I actually was. It saddened me to realize how insecure I had been because I thought I was unattractive. There will always be someone prettier than you, but that doesn’t distract from your beauty unless you allow it to. And as today’s verse reminds us … “beauty is fleeting.” When you pass away people won’t care about how beautiful you were on the outside. They will remember you for the woman you were on the inside.

Focus on the internal and God will attract the right people to you. I’m not just speaking of romantic attraction. A well rounded woman has a circle of friends who also bring balance and fulfillment to her life. Surround yourself with Godly women who can be a source of wisdom, encouragement and correction in your life.

God created you uniquely and you are beautiful!

 

 

Check Your Motives

IMG_1300What motivates you to do the things you do? Today’s photo verse reminds us that we are nothing without love. I want to encourage you to read 1 Corinthians 13 today. It’s known as the love chapter, and it is an eye opener.  

Today’s devotion is one that is difficult to write. I love writing posts that encourage, but today’s word is a word of correction. 

I have always been a bit puzzled when disaster strikes and I hear of Hollywood actors putting together massive fundraisers to assist those affected, while the church fails to be on the forefront of the relief effort. Granted, Hollywood is  generally wealthy and when you consider their giving in proportion to their wealth it may seem difficult to ‘compete’ with their efforts. But that’s the point … it isn’t a competition. Jesus once honored a poor widow who gave two mites because He saw that while others gave out of their abundance, her gift was a true sacrifice of love. (Read Mark 12:42-44) It isn’t about the money, it’s about the motivation.  

Have you read the book, “The Five Love Languages “ ? In it we learn of 5 ways people generally receive and give love: 

  1. Words of Affirmation 
  2. Quality Time
  3. Gifts
  4. Acts of Service
  5. Physical Touch 

My primary love languages are words of affirmation and physical touch. If you give me a hug, or even a touch on the shoulder, I feel valued. But if I am trying to give physical touch to someone whose primary love language is acts of service or gifts it might come across as trivial to them. This “love” thing is complicated!  

The following verse used to puzzle me, but demonstrates the uselessness of good works IF they are not motivated by love. 

“Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”  Matthew 7:22-24 NKJV  

We can’t earn our way into Heaven through good works. Our salvation is a gift from God to those who believe. However, when our works are motivated by love we bless others and please God. I believe our rewards in Heaven are compiled though acts of love.  Do what you do because of love, not by coercion, people pleasing, selfish ambition or recognition. Another words … check your motives . 

 

 

 

 

 

Conquerors

IMG_1299Most of the time when we think of a conqueror we think of someone’s who has overcome by force. The conqueror in Romans 8:37 is not victorious because of their own ability to overcome, but simply because he or she is a child of the living God.

I always encourage people to research verses in context. It is vital in understanding the true meaning of the passage. Scroll up a verse and you find the author quoting Psalm 44:22 which states: “For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
From a human perspective this doesn’t sound like a conqueror. You and I only see things in the here and now, but God’s view is eternal. What this verse really illustrates is that we are victorious regardless of our circumstances. Why? Because we belong to the one who has conquered the ultimate enemy … death. There’s nothing Satan can do about it! You’ve been bought and sealed by the blood of Christ, the perfect lamb of God.

If we read all of Romans chapter 8 we learn 2 important reasons why we are considered conquerors in Christ.

  1. Because Christ is interceding for us! (Verse 26 and 34) Who better to petition God on our behalf? Our prayers are often misguided by our will. No one wants to suffer. However, the Holy Spirit and Jesus intercede for us with an understanding of the perfect will of God for our circumstances.
  2. Because NOTHING can separate us from God’s love. (Verse 38 and 39) “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”. You can be confident in God’s everlasting love for you. Don’t allow the trials of this life to discourage you. Don’t give up or give in to the temptation to quit. You are in a race and it takes perseverance to finish well, but you will finish. Jesus is waiting at the finish line. Keep your eye on the prize. You ARE a conqueror!

 

 

 

Love WHO?

IMG_1298“But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.” Luke 6:28-28 NKJV 

If you continue reading Luke 6 it goes on to ask, “if you only love those who love you what credit is that to you?” The true test comes when we love the unlovable. You know, that person who makes you cringe when they walk into the room. Let’s face it, this kind of love does not come natural to most of us. While I can’t think of anyone I personally consider an “enemy”, I can think of a few who rub me the wrong way. I am sad to say most of the time I fail the love test around those people. Are we really being honest when we say, “I love them, but I sure don’t like them”? 

What does love really look like? A look at 1 Corinthians 13 shows me just how far I have to go, to love like Jesus.  

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NKJV    

Why do you suppose Jesus asks us to do something so radical? I believe it is because He knows how powerful undeserved love is. That’s what sent Him to the cross. The longing to be loved is a basic human need. The worst punishment you can give a prisoner is solitary confinement. 

I am thankful I serve a savior who tells me to love my enemies. Too many wars have been waged in the name of religion, including Christianity. Jesus came to show us a new way. The way of love.  

As we close today, I want to challenge you to think of the person you find most difficult to love and ask God how you can impact their life by offering unconditional love. You might be astounded at the reconciliation God brings to pass through your obedience.