Month: May 2016

Be Careful What You Think

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Above all, be careful what you think because your thoughts control your life  (Proverbs 4:23, ERV).

One day, some of the Pharisees and scribes noticed that Jesus’ disciples didn’t perform the hand washing ritual before eating bread.  To them, the disciples were eating with unclean and defiled hands.  When they asked why they didn’t keep the ancient tradition, Jesus said, It’s not what goes in a man that defiles him because what you eat doesn’t go to the heart.  It goes in the belly and then comes out.  It’s what comes out of him that defiles him  (Mark 7:15,19).  They were so concerned about hands, but God is more concerned about our hearts.  For the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart  (1 Samuel 16:7).

It’s not what you eat, but it’s what you think that affects your soul (mind, will and emotions).  It’s those evil things that are in your heart (evil thoughts, fornication, adultery, murder, stealing, wanting what belongs to someone else, wickedness, lying, promiscuity, envy, blasphemy, pride, and foolishness)  that defiles you (Mark 7:21-23). These things not only destroy your soul, but they also destroy families, marriages and churches.

Satan doesn’t have enough power to hold you back.  It’s what’s you are holding in your heart that is holding you back. If you take a moment to think about what you’ve been thinking about lately, you will realize that your thoughts are the reason why you are up today and down tomorrow.  It is the reason why you’re in today and out tomorrow.  It is the reason why you go back and forth.  It is the reason why you can’t make up your mind.

A double minded man is unstable in all  his (or her) ways.  He is unreliable, uncertain and undecided.  He doesn’t know what he wants, he is not sure what he should do, and he doesn’t know who he should be. He is divided between the love of the Father and love of the world.  He is divided between his will and the will of the Father.  He is like the church in Laodicea.  He is lukewarm and serves God halfheartedly.

James never said that God doesn’t hear the prayers of the double-minded.  It’s not that God doesn’t hear you.  He just can’t trust you.  Let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord  (James 1:7).

The good news is that James gives us a solution for double-mindedness.  Purify your hearts  (James 4:8).  The word of God is truth and we are sanctified (clean) by the truth.  Philippians 4:8 also tells us what things to think on.  Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

What you think is what you become so be careful what you think on.

Prayer: Father, forgive our sins. Forgive us for sinning against our own bodies. We renounce evil thoughts, fornication, adultery, murder, stealing, covetousness, wickedness, lying, promiscuity, envy, blasphemy, pride, and foolishness.  Create in us a clean heart and renew a right spirit within us.  Wash us again. Restore our souls. I command every thought and every plant that our Heavenly Father has not planted to be rooted up out of our hearts, minds and souls. Lord, make us stable in all our ways. Help us to walk in perfect love and in forgiveness. Make us men and women after Your heart, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Perfecting Character

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In John 17, Jesus prays for Himself, His disciples and all believers, but He doesn’t pray for the world (John 17:9). Why would the Person who taught that love was the greatest commandment not pray for the world? Why would the Person who never rejected sinners not pray for the world? Because He gave us as believers a responsibility to the world. He said that if we would become  one and be made  perfect, then the world will believe that God sent His Son and they will know that they are loved too (John 17:21,23).

I know some of us would rather just preach or teach a good word, but this is not what Jesus did. Even though He was the Word, He didn’t just give the people a word. When He preached, He preached in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. He cast out devils, healed the sick and raised the dead. He demonstrated forgiveness, compassion and love. While on earth, He didn’t just tell the disciples what to do, but He showed them how to do it. He showed them how it worked. He proved what He said to be true. Signs followed confirming the word He spoke.

The world will never know how much God loves them by our words, but by our deeds.

Most people practice before they sing or study the word before they preach, but let us not be people who learn to perfect our gifts, but refuse to perfect our character. Character is a set of qualities that make you different from others. It’s your reputation and it has to be built. Tribulation and trials builds patience. Patience (and perseverance) builds character  (Romans 5:3-4).

Jesus told us to be perfect even as our Father in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48). James never said that a perfect man was one who did no wrong or never made mistakes because we have all stumbled or offended in many things (James 3:2).  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us  (1 John 1:8). A perfect man is one who is mature and fully developed in godly character. Yes, we have all done things that we shouldn’t have done, but we were never made to be sin. Jesus became that. We were made to be the righteousness of God.

Paul said, Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect, but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus  (Philippians 3:12). He never said he was perfect. He made it very clear that he hadn’t learned all that he should, but he was still learning. He wasn’t all that God wanted him to be, but he was going to get there. He kept pressing. He kept striving for maturity and perfection. Even while in his ignorance, God didn’t give up on him and now he wasn’t going to give up. He set a goal and he was determined to reach it.

In Hebrews 6:1, Paul was admonishing immature believers to press on to maturity. It was time for them to grow up and to live like they were from the kingdom of God. As I examine myself today, I realize that God is still going over the same material that he taught me years ago. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that we don’t sometimes need a refresher course, but what He is teaching me is what I should have already been teaching others.  God shouldn’t be trying to convince me to have faith or to trust Him. I should be believing Him for everything now. He still shouldn’t be telling me what sins to stay away from. That’s elementary teaching. I know right from wrong. I know what pleases Him.

The spring commencement ceremonies have begun and at some point, God expects us to grow up and to graduate to the next class (or stage in Him). God knows what He has placed in each of us and He desires to speak to us as spiritual, not carnal and worldly children. We live in this world, but we do not belong to this world. We are citizens of heaven. It is our job to display Christ. How can they want Him if they can’t see Him? We are to conform to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29), not the world (Romans 12:2).

Jesus not only prayed for the disciples, but He gave them what His Father gave Him. He wasn’t self-seeking. He considered others more important than Himself. For their sakes I sanctified myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth  (John 17:19). Whatever we do for the Lord from this point forward, let us do it for His sake and for their sake.

Prayer: I pray for all believers today that we become the light of the world and give light to those who sit in darkness. May the love God had for His Son be in all believers. Father, help us to walk in love. Help us to want You more than the things we’ve been asking for. Lord, make us strong, make us wise, make us one and make us perfect in You. Help us to grow up and to become men and women who walk in truth, integrity and godly character, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Get Understanding

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Knowing is not understanding. There is a great difference between knowing and understanding: you can know a lot about something and not really understand it.  – Charles Kettering

The word, understand, means to grasp the meaning, significance or importance of something you know (information). Jesus and his disciples had just entered the ship to go to the other side. The disciples had forgotten to take some bread and they only had one loaf of bread on the ship. Jesus told them, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.  Jesus made this statement because He didn’t want them to be contaminated by people who honored God with their lips, but not with their hearts (Mark 7:6). He didn’t want them to become like those who kept the tradition of men, but refused to keep the commandment of God (Mark 7:9). Instead of asking Jesus for understanding, the disciples reasoned among themselves. They saw when five thousand were fed with only five loaves and two fish and there were twelve baskets of leftovers. They saw when four thousand were fed with only seven loaves and a few small fish and there were seven baskets of leftovers. So, why were they fussing about who forgot to bring bread? There was something they didn’t understand. How is it that you do not understand?  (Mark 8:21).

Nicodemus was a ruler of the Jews yet he didn’t understand what it meant to be born again. Are you a master of Israel, and know not these things?  (John 3:10). Nicodemus thought an old man had to go back into his mother’s womb to be born again. Although his statement didn’t sound intelligent, he was smart enough to ask for understanding. How can these things be?  (John 3:9).

When we were in school, some of us raised our hands to ask questions when we weren’t sure of something while others pretended to know or understand what the teacher was saying when they really didn’t. Maybe we just didn’t want to appear stupid or maybe we were just trying to impress someone we liked or maybe we were just trying to fit in. What happened in school is what has been happening in the church. We know lots of scriptures and can quote them, but our life living, our actions and our disobedience are proof that we really don’t understand what we are saying or what we heard. To shun evil is understanding  (Job 28:28b, NIV).

There is something I’ve been doing for months now and recently the Lord told me that what I’m doing now is what He wanted me to do all along. Then, He reminded me of the things He told me to do (through men and women of God), but I missed it. All I could do was repent and tell the Lord I was sorry. I really didn’t understand. I heard, but I didn’t understand – neither did I ask for understanding. I was doing, but it wasn’t what God wanted me to do. I was giving, but it wasn’t the gift He required of me. When you are led by your feelings, you are going to either hit or miss, but when you are led by the Holy Spirit, you will never miss. God’s Spirit knows what is in God’s mind. There are things we don’t know, but He knows and understands all things. Nothing is hidden from Him. If you follow Him, He will guide you into all truth. He will let you know what is going to happen. He reveals what has been given to us from God. When He prays, He doesn’t pray amiss.

We are getting a lot of word and we are getting a lot of revelation– and that’s good, but with all your getting, get understanding. Some of us have been going to church most of our lives, yet we are blind. We have eyes, but we really don’t see. We have ears, but we really don’t hear and we forget what we should remember. Jesus doesn’t want us to be like the blind man who was brought to Him in Bethsaida. He wants us to see clearly. He doesn’t want us to be people who are not able to discern between men and trees (Mark 8:24-25). He wants us to recognize and to identify when it’s Him and when it’s the devil. There will always be a way that seems right, but He doesn’t want us to try to figure things out on our own. This is how we miss God. He gave the church true apostles, true prophets, true evangelists, true pastors and true teachers and He gave us the Spirit of Truth so that we wouldn’t be deceived like Eve.

People who are trained to recognize counterfeit money don’t study counterfeit bills. They study and learn every detail of real  money so that when the counterfeit appears, they can see (discern) the difference. Let us study the life of Christ so that we will know what is Him and of Him, and what is not.

Prayer: I pray that you receive your sight today. May God anoint your eyes with eye salve so that you may see. May the Spirit of the Lord rest upon you, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:3). Open our understanding that we might understand the scriptures (Luke 24:45). Father, You commanded the light to shine out of darkness. Now command Your light to shine in the hearts and minds of Your people. Thank you for restoring our sight, Amen.